Stick It Out!

February 19, 2010

Recently I’ve been looking to make a specific change in my life.  After talking to a few people, I’ve just discovered I can’t.  My idea can’t work.  Shoot! Lol
But that’s okay.  I know God will see me through situations I don’t like.
When Jesus was in the garden praying, knowing he was about feel the weight of everyone’s sins and be separated from God, he prays three separate times, “Not as I will, but as you will”.  When Jesus was teaching how to pray, He said we should say “your kingdom come, your will be done”.  I’ve got to accept it and yield to God’s plan. 
Now I think Ruth probably didn’t like picking up the leftover bits of grain after Boaz’s servants like some beggar-woman.  I can’t imagine Paul really loving being in prison, though he seems to have been one of those people that would say it was an amazing chance to serve God: I’m sure he would have liked to go outside and walk around sometimes.  David probably didn’t like Saul chasing him around the desert for years either, trying to kill him.  But it had to be done, so they got on with it.
God says through Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
If there’s some super cosmic life changing reason I can’t make the changes I want in my life, then awesome:  bring it on, and let God use me.  But even if there’s not, then I can stick it out if David can.
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scared… of wains

January 22, 2010

I was working this morning on writing the assembly for the Extreme Team’s February assembly, and Tim said I could do the close if I wanted.  That’s the important part where we really drive home how important God is.  I made the mistake of telling Tim that I don’t really want to because I’m a little bit scared, and guess what?  Now I have to.
Well, I have to do it sometime within the next few months.  But still, I’m a little bit nervous.  I see kids fidgeting and it freaks me out.  I know, they’re kids and they have to move all the time.  It doesn’t mean they’re not interested in what I have to say.  But for some reason it still hits me in my confidence to see kids squirming.
I have no problem running around the stage in swimming goggles pretending to botch a science experiment.  I actually look forward to acting like the Queen of Sheba and making her a southern black lady.  But when it comes to talking to the kids about something real, something that it’s actually important for me to communicate, I get scared and look for excuses not to do it.
I need to remember that god will convey the message that his children need to hear.  I need to remember that if I can be silly for kids, I can be serious in front of the same ones.  I need to learn to be as comfortable when clothed in the word of God as I am in a costume.
In Exodus, God promises he will give me the words to say.  So what do I have left to be scared of?  And eight-year-old?  Psshh, I could take on one of them!
 
 “The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’” Exodus 4:11-12
 

Wisdom

January 14, 2010

            So, God came to Solomon in a dream.  All He said was basically “Tell me what you want”.  Solomon knew he had some big shoes to fill, following his father David as king, and he knew he had a big job to do in the ruling of God’s people.  He asked God for wisdom.  He asked for the ability to know what the right course of action is, or the right idea to pursue is, or the right way to live is.
            What a thing to have!  I have no idea what to do with my life or what direction I want to go after I finish with the office at Cornerstone.  It would be so tempting for me to ask for a ton of money.  If I was rich I wouldn’t have to worry about a career or where I would live, so that would seem to solve my problems.  Or if I just asked for a good job, then I would have a direction in my life and some financial security.  But neither of those would make me happy because they just don’t answer all the questions I have in life.
            Wisdom is the key, for me.  It tells me where to go, what is good or not good for me, and what I need to focus on or forget.  It helps me not to worry, and it helps me make good decisions.
            It says in James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  Well wisdom is what I need for all the uncertainties in my life, and asking God is definitely what I will be doing.

Samson, Get Out!

December 16, 2009

            Samson is one of my favorite characters of the bible.  He wasn’t as good as Mary, or as close to God as Elijah, or as compassionate as Ruth, but his story is still so interesting!  One little part stood out to me especially as I was reading it this week, dealing with bad relationships and getting out of sinful cycles.

            One of Samson’s obvious mistakes was going out with a non-Israelite woman.  At that time God didn’t allow relationships like that because they tended to compromise the cultural values that God gave them and tended to lead to the Israelites worshiping other gods.

            This girl obviously wasn’t good for him either.  Clearly she didn’t have his best interests in mind.  She was selling his strength, literally letting his eyes get gouged out and sending him to a life of grinding in prison so she could get some silver.  Not a good person for him to be spending all his time with!  If someone I knew was in a relationship like that I would tell them to get out!

            And he keeps taking her back!  It’s obvious she’s trying to hurt him and yet he stays in that dangerous situation.  On top of that, he stays in a sinful relationship when he has these really legitimate grounds to get out of it.  He’s given so many reasons and so many opportunities to stop sinning, but he just pushes right past them.

            If someone I knew was being like Samson, I’d tell them to wise up!  Don’t be with someone who is wrong to be with.  When you see a chance to stop sinning, take it!  And don’t ever stay with someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.  If you see a chance to get away from someone who hurts you, go for it!

Mind Your Own Business!

December 3, 2009

So I struggle a lot with what other people think. It’s so easy to do! I worry that my clothes might be offensive to the older crowd, or not cool enough to the younger crowd. I worry that if I use my talents people might think I’m not very gifted, & so I just decide to myself it’s better to not use them at all rather than put a crack in the “cool” persona I’m trying to create. I can get so nervous of how people see me that I end up being really shy. I try really hard to overcome it, I do, but I still can be so nervous when talking to people I don’t know very well. You know that feeling you got when you first met someone you really liked, and you were trying to act casual but your mind was racing a mile a minute trying to figure out what to do or say? It’s like that for me all the time! Well, not all the time, but a ridiculous amount of time, because I don’t have the same personal confidence here as I did back in America. At home I had my family, the familiarity of my hometown, and lots of friends that I could take my authority and worth from. So when I lived in California I had a lot of self confidence. Now, though, I’ve left those things mostly behind. But I do feel like I have good self-esteem: like I know I’m cool, I’m just worried other people won’t agree!

So the root of the problem is this: I worry too much about what other people think! I am so nervous about what other people’s opinions are of me that I let it dictate my actions. And that pulls me away from the real Kelly, who I know is unique in “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,” as it says in Ephesians 2:10. Here’s what I need to just get through my head: Other people’s opinions are none of my business! They’re not my opinions, so I shouldn’t focus on trying to change them. And they’re not my problem either! If I’m living a life that glorifies God, he will give me friends or respect or love as his plan provides. And where else can I be happy if not the center of his will? I definitely can’t find happiness in the opinions and minds of others! I mean, look at the head case I am; I sure hope nobody relies on me to keep them happy!

So remember if you get worried about what people think, and remind me if I ever get nervous; what other people think is none of your business! So mind your own business!

Devil-Free

November 26, 2009

 

The other day we were hanging out with the kids at Oak Grove Primary School with our Extreme Team After-Hours program.  We were talking about the armor of God, and in particular the breast plate of righteousness. Oisin Shiels, who is what we in the Extreme Team like to call “A for Awesome”, said this: “it creates like a devil-free zone”.  I thought it was brilliant!  That’s exactly what it does!

Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of God.  I really like the metaphor used there of armor.   It protects us from Satan’s “flaming arrows”.  But what is the armor, really?  Righteousness, truth, faith, and salvation are some of the things mentioned that help protect us.  A few of these are virtues we need cultivate ourselves: things we need to work on like our faith and righteousness.  We can guard our hearts from harm by being righteous: hence the breastplate of righteousness.  When words are thrown at us that were not sure of, we can fend off any doubt by leaning on our faith: our shield of faith.  But when it comes to salvation and the sword of the spirit, we can’t improve on them at all.  Those are 100% God things: they can’t be worked on, can’t be done by ourselves in the slightest.  Once we have the helmet of salvation, the devil cant have any access to our minds.  But we can’t build our own helmet of salvation.  Jesus died because our sinful selves couldn’t have gotten to heaven any other way.  So in order to protect our minds from the devil, we have to yield to God’s power through salvation!

So I guess im trying to say that the armor of God goes both ways.  God will use his might to protect us, and we should work hard at these virtues to protect ourselves as well.  Ultimately, the armor of God is really important!  Like Oisin said, it creates a “Devil-free zone” or a “force field” around us to keep us safe.  So now were warriors, armed and ready face the world with the Spirit of God, our devil-free zone defending us as we share the Good News!

“…Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7ff

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

 

We all know not to look down on or judge people.  Ethnicity, gender, the way a person looks: there is a ton of ways a person can be looked down upon.

One can see a huge problem related to this going on right now in Derry.  Obviously there is been a ton of judgement in Northern Ireland based on religion.  But I think it s important to notice as well that not all of that is based on a Protestant/Catholic conflict.  I feel like there are issues as well between the churches who wouldn’t be as involved with those denominations.  I believe competition and judgement can be seen in the relations between these churches: attitudes that can only be detrimental to the fulfilment of their God-given purpose.

God loves everyone.  Building a church isn’t like a competitive team sport; there shouldn’t be any rivalry with other churches.  It shouldn’t be about loyalty, winning, having more members, or doing better services.  Focus shouldn’t even be on saving more souls! We should be concerned with glorifying God, and fulfilling the purpose He has for our church!  Competing with or putting down others doesn’t improve our ministry.  Keeping our eyes focused on God and the things He wants us to do will make our ministry all it can be.

I keep coming back to how God refers to us as the body of believers.  It says in 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”  We are all for one and one for all, connected in that we have been saved by the blood of Jesus.  It doesn’t matter if we go to Cornerstone or some other church.  As long as we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died and rose again, and as long as we’ve given our lives to serve Him, then we’re in this together!

So there shouldn’t be any competition, shouldn’t be any discord, and shouldn’t be any dislike.   Were all on the same team working towards the same goal! 

            “ Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace…” Colossians 3:15

what is worship to you?

November 5, 2009

 worship cartoon           If you’ve worked with the kids around church at all, you’ll know: we teach kids from and early age that it’s really important to worship God.  It’s hard to know what that really means though.  Defining worship isn’t too easy without being really vague, like “loving God”.

            Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines worship as “homage rendered to God which it would be sinful (idolatry) to render to any created being”.  Right.  Well, I don’t like that definition much either, mostly because it’s so wordy and hard to understand.  Homage would be like respect; so, respecting God in a way you shouldn’t respect others?  I suppose that’s a valid interpretation of worship, but it doesn’t really apply well to my life, you know?

            On Friday morning Tim asked me what I felt worship meant to me.  At first I got really nervous like I was going to give him the wrong answer!  But the question really made me think hard.  What IS worship to me?  How do I respect God, or show Him I love Him?  Or is worship really just “to attend religious services” like one dictionary said?

            I discovered that a big way I worship God is through everyday stuff I do.  For example, I feel I am worshipping God when I am washing the dishes.  It gives me time to quiet down my mind, to pray, and to listen to what God wants to say to me. 

            Another huge way I worship God is through serving others, especially when that means doing jobs I do NOT like.  If I can actually get over my pride and do them, God is glorified through my humbled attitude.  I try to focus on praising God and talking to him while I am doing the undesirable task.  And because I am sacrificing my time and effort for someone else, I am loving God by following his commands to serve others.

            So find a way to quiet your mind and talk to God.  When you have to do something you’d rather not, glorify God by humbling yourself and love God by loving and serving others.  Most of all, find your own special way to worship God!

sin no more

October 29, 2009

So we know were not supposed to do wrong things.  Everyone knows that.  As Christians, we know especially that were not supposed to sin.  Jesus said to the adulterous woman in John 8, “Go and sin no more.”  Hmm, yeah; not exactly advice that’s easy to follow though.

temptationIt also says in the bible, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  More good advice, but just as difficult to follow.  I sure don’t find it easy to focus on godly things 100% of the time.  There are so many things around us that can, and do, trip us up.

I think that’s why the bible gives us another tip.  When Jesus showed his disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Lead us not into temptation”. He’s saying that while trying not to sin will be hard, we can make it easier by avoiding situations where we might be tempted to sin.  And if we pray to Him like He showed us, He will help us steer clear of temptation!

So how can we “Go and sin no more” like Jesus commanded?  Well, it starts with praying for God’s help: that He will “lead us not into temptation” and that He will help you to think about the right, pure and holy things.  But there are other steps you can take as well. Say, whenever you hangout with a certain friend you find yourself talking badly about other people.  Try and bring some others along with you when you hang out to help you steer the conversation.  Say you have trouble because you’re tempted with your boyfriend or girlfriend.  Don’t just sit by yourselves in the house!  Take steps against that temptation by going out for walks or inviting other people to hang out with you guys.  Say a lot of your friends drink and party and you’re attracted to that as well.  Keep yourself from joining in by hanging out with those friends during the daytime or times when you know they won’t be doing those kinds of things.

Take whatever steps you need to strive to “sin no more”.  But above all pray.  Remember, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.

Kelly Kaufman

jael-and-sisera1Recently in Seven and in other church activities I’ve been involved in I’ve heard some great testimonies from people.  They were travelling down the world’s path and they’d gotten themselves really deep into alcohol and drugs and then they finally properly saw God and asked for His help.

Sometimes I feel hesitant to tell my story because I feel like it’s not as interesting as those stories.  Like because I was never a drug addict, or never partying every night, my story could never affect anyone and I was a boring Christian.  But as I was taking a closer look at the bible today, all the people that came to mind just underlined the fact that I was SO wrong!

The bible definitely tells the stories of women with those miraculous testimonies: Mary Magdelene cried about her broken past at the feet of Jesus, Rahab left prostitution and saved the lives of 2 important Isrealites, the woman who met Jesus at the well had had 5 husbands and still received the living water from Jesus, the adulterous woman was saved by Jesus from being stoned by the Pharisees.  But it has a ton of other women VITAL to the bible who had pasts a lot more like mine!  Esther was just your average girl before she became queen and saved all of Israel.  Ruth just followed directions and obeyed her mother, and she is a direct ancestor of Jesus.  And Mary, Jesus own mother, was just an ordinary girl, called “favored by God”.

But my personal favourite is Jael.  She appears briefly in Judges 4.  At that time a military leader called Sisera had “ruthlessly oppressed the Isrealites for 20 years”.  God told the judge Deborah (another girl who belongs in this blog) that He would hand over Sisera’s army to Israel.  He did, but Sisera escaped on foot.  Jael invited Sisera into her tent.  She gave him refreshments like he asked and a blanket so he could rest.  Then, while he was sleeping, she crept up and drove a tent peg through his temple.  Jael was so hardcore that the tent peg went all the way through his head and into the ground!  Where I come from we would call that pretty savage!

So even one of my favourite women in the bible wasn’t a miraculous convert.  She was just a regular person, following and obeying God, and try to tell me her story isn’t interesting!  Just like God used Rahab and Mary Magdalene, Ruth and Jael, He can use me too!  All our stories are interesting, and God can use us all!