Always Be Ready…

I spent last week in the beautiful sunshiny state of Florida.

Without even a close contender following, Florida is my most favorite place in the whole wide world. I try to go there every time I get to choose a vacation spot.

This time I was with my mama and my childhood best friend and then my best friend had invited one of her friends.

I’m a little apprehensive to write this post but for the sake of the point I’m trying to make from it I’m gonna go ahead…

I had a conversation while on vacation regarding faith…my Christian views were opposite from this other person’s beliefs. It’s easy and natural for me to discuss my beliefs when others are in agreement with what I believe but when their beliefs oppose mine the conversation that ensues can be kinda difficult.

I won’t go into large detail but there was talk of their “belief in Buddha” and also mention that they’d “never read nor want to read the Bible because it was written by man…and often times pastors are hypocritical.”

You guys!! The coolest thing happened right then and there though…I was actually able to respectfully share my view without stalling on my words. I’m forever saying that I’m a much better writer than talker but this day the Holy Spirit was all over the moment.

I simply (and kindly) responded something along these lines, “I actually don’t agree with that, the Bible notes that it’s the inspired word of God. Yes, true that pastors can be off because they’re only human, but a good pastor will challenge you to get in the word yourself and find out how it’s speaking to you. For me when I read in the beginning of the Bible and it talks about creation of the world and everything in it and how people came about, and I read about sin entering and forgiveness of sins because of Jesus’ mercy and grace, then I can’t not believe every single part of it. When I read it everything just makes sense to me. It’s like a puzzle that fits together perfectly from start to finish.”

I really don’t know if my words at the time made a difference but I can trust God to do His will and way with how He used me and in His own timing. Ultimately it’s always up to an individual to choose how they will respond to God’s invitation when they hear a message. Without being pushy I can only do my part and then leave it in God’s hands afterwards.

I wasn’t really expecting to have that conversation while vacationing in Florida but in the time since I’ve thought about how incredibly important it is to truly live out the verse from 1 Peter 3:15.

And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. —1 Peter 3:15

Situations like what I described above are why verses like 1 Peter 3:15 are included in God’s word.

As Christians we must be able to open up about our faith and sometimes even defend it, to know and trust what we believe, and be able to share that hope with others in a compassionate way.

As long as we’re breathing and communicating with others the opportunity to share our hope of Jesus always exist…doesn’t matter if we’re in the comfort of our own community or vacationing at our favorite getaway…as Christians we must be ready and willing to share our hope in Him!!

APPLICABLE VERSES:

But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. —1 Peter 3:16

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. —Colossians 4:5-6

My Own Testimony of Hope in God’s Easter Plan

Through some really traumatic childhood experiences, where blame could be directly targeted to certain individuals, I’ve learned forgiveness by the grace of God in ways that only make sense through Him.

Things that many would’ve deemed unforgivable I was able to humbly hand over to God who replaced those hardships with divine peace.

When I reflect back to those early years of my life, with the wisdom I’ve gained since, I now recognize numbness must have began building as the afflictions happened.

Finding faith years later actually made it very easy to forgive those who were guilty because I was so far-distanced from feeling the hurt I had experienced. God’s goodness in my new-found faith was so powerful and contagious that it exceedingly outweighed the darkness.

The only way I can understand it is because I believe in the beauty of God’s mercy and grace and I see his work upon it without a shadow of a doubt, plus I consider how desperately I’m in need of his forgiveness for my own self-imposed errors.

Forgiveness in those major adversities from my younger years just isn’t something I struggle with.

BUT somehow lately I’ve felt a small nudging of bitterness within me from petty offenses done to me by others more recently.

Subconsciously I guess I’ve tallied them up and now they slowly ooze over me. This is not an experience I wish to have linger around, and quite possibly it reverts back to PTSD from my little girl years unfortunately.

I’m more aware of hurtful feelings because my mind and heart are grounded to Jesus these days. Words or actions of betrayal are something that don’t just go unnoticed on my radar. I can actually feel and process my hurts at this point of my life, it’s a good thing but God has shown me that often times I react negatively.

That negativity that I’ve started to compile transfers as sin and doesn’t fit the necessary mold of Christianity.

I actually tried to avoid writing this post and even went blank last week to come up with a different post as God continued to gently prod me in this particular direction while I fought against it. I’ve wrestled through the words but have realized the timing of digging through this is perfect.

Because it’s Easter week I’m doing a Bible reading with my family in the mornings and evenings, recounting the last days of Jesus’ life. The lessons to be taken in are refreshing reminders.

When I think about the cross my mind inevitably races to Jesus — his willingness to take our sins upon himself out of a love meant to glorify his Father is the most amazing of phenomenons. Man I just never want to be comfortable enough to take that truth for granted. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve (personally) allowed him to suffer in vain.

The reality of it comes down to the very fact that Jesus shed his perfect blood and died for those big sins I experienced when I was too young to know better — and he also died for the sins of others that I call petty but still get bent out of shape about. On top of that he died for the sin of bitterness I try and tuck away among my other character flaws.

He died for ALL sin. (1 John 2:2)

Had Jesus’ life completely ended at the cross I would be pointlessly seeking a freeness from my sins…we all would.

But the FULLNESS of the life-giving, glorious hope of the Easter story isn’t nailed and halted at the cross like our sins were…we can’t end therebecause when we look at the big picture we move on from a sacrificial cross that served a holy purpose, to an empty tomb that provides and points to a sacred resurrection celebration!

God doesn’t want us to hold onto sins of any sort, no matter their size or place on our life’s timeline — if he did, there’d have been no reason for Jesus’s death to begin with.

If (as Christians) we are to replicate Jesus’ example of love, obedience and glory to God then my sin-issue of clinging to offenses must give way (John 14-15). Anything other than that takes advantage of God’s mercy and grace.

My goal is to do better in recognizing my irritation in the small things (and the big) before they have a chance to negatively impact my emotions. And to remember that the cross shows the commitment of forgiveness and love our victorious God has for us — in whom there is no place for sin to be found at all.

With every single breath of life I’m blessed with, that’s something I want to continually place my hope in and follow after wholeheartedly!!

He is risen!! Happy Easter!!

Ready to Spread Gospel News Like Covid News

I’m subbing today and happen to have a quick break, so not much time but enough to share a thought I’ve had this past week…

Has anyone else considered how quickly the news of covid spread?

I’m pretty sure there’s not a soul on earth who hasn’t heard of it. Babies born at this time will probably read in their baby book years from now that their first word spoken was “covid.” Hopefully not, but I feel like it’s presence is that common in our everyday lives and language.

Here’s what has really grabbed my attention thoughif we can spread the details of covid so rapidly why can’t we do the same with the good news of Jesus? Why aren’t we fervently sharing to the ends of the earth the greatest news ever? This is exactly what we’re called to do as Christians!

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This piece of scripture is referred to as The Great Commission and it was given to the disciples from Jesus himself. The Gospel has indeed spread since that time (2000 years ago) but there are still sooo many who haven’t heard and these verses apply to us to follow through in an effort to get the word out!

When we back up a few chapters in Matthew we find a heads-up glimpse of an end times warning, chapter 24:12-14 says this:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Those words are also straight from Jesus’ lips to His disciples’ ears and they’re just as much meant for us.

That beginning part doesn’t sound too flattering does it, but I see it rampantly these days, don’t you?

Instead I want to be one who ‘stands firm to the end’ clinging to the hope in Jesus, knowing I’ll be saved. But I want take with me a multitude of others and I’m sure you do too. This will only happen if we as Christians pursue in our mission to share the Gospel message with great intention!

I feel like if we truly take this verse seriously and live it out to the fullest we will be closer yet to seeing it fulfilled — perhaps even in our own lifetime.

Like it or not, we’ve all seen how covid news has spread like wildfire…yet even this should give us great hope in understanding that it really is possible then to get the BEST NEWS EVER out and about and to the ends of the earth, but we have to be aware and responsive to our Jesus mission!

For some of us that might be through evangelizing, others through the blogging world or a form of social media…it could be physical mission trips for some. And with covid presenting travel issues it can simply mean we’re witnessing to our neighbors right next door by showing Jesus’ love in tangible ways — a meal, a church invite (even online), helping with snow removal or yard work. There are a ton of ways to show Jesus‘ love and share His message of hope to the ends of the earth.

Praying you’ll join me in spreading the good news of Jesus — that God so loved the world he sent his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16)

#readytospreadgospelnewslikecovidnews