Opportunity to Give Thanks

Opportunities.  That is the word I think of when I consider Thanksgiving this year. I am thankful for the many opportunities God has given me.  I have had the opportunity to fall more in love with Jesus every day.  Many opportunities to travel have been presented to me over this past year including two trips to door county, a trip to Northern Wisconsin and my first trip to Mexico.  The opportunity to spend time with family and friends has also been amazing.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people from so many amazing places.  My work has given me the opportunity to meet some amazin men, women, and babies who teach me so much about love.  My church has taught me what it means to be a true church family.  A year ago I don’t even know that I would have considered myself to be someone who wanted to be an active member of a church but now I cannot even imagine not seeing the wonderful people in my church at least twice a week!  I cannot imagine going a week without seeing my family, grandmother, or wonderful puppy as well.  These are some of the opportunities I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.  Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God.”

Matthew 5:9

No Jesus was not talking about shooting someone with your “Peacemaker” or solving problems by ignoring they exist.  Last night I had the privilege of attending a Lecrae concert.  I was excited to go – not just for his music – but for his perspective on life and what the church needs to do in current society.  Lecrae gave a great speech on how the church should intervene and what having PEACE truly is.

The first thing he did was say he wanted to be a PEACEMAKER and not a PEACEKEEPER.  What are the differences between the two?  The definition of a PEACEKEEPER is preserving the peace no matter what is going on.  The definition of a PEACEMAKER is a person who brings about peace by reconciling adversaries or to put it simply – someone who confronts injustice to bring about true peace.  Jesus did NOT call us to be peacekeepers but PEACEMAKERS.  Over the last few months I have watched many injustices happen against people of many different minorities.  Throughout the election I have heard people I never thought I would hear say bad things about blacks, Latinas, Latinos, Syrians, Muslims, gays, women, and other oppressed groups.  The things is these people were supposed to be CHRISTIANS.  I was not hearing this from politicians on the television but by individuals.  My hope is that those people are just ignorant and are not doing this out of a mean spirit.  This has made me question what I can do about educating people though.

Hearing things like this make me angry and make me want to react to these comments.  Jesus did call us to be PEACEMAKERS though.  This means we should confront others on their ignorance but do it in a constructive way so they can see what it is like to be a minority.  I cannot claim, as a white person, to have any clue what it is to be oppressed a black individual in America.  I am blessed to have spent a number of my childhood years living in St. Louis among a predominantly black community.  The things I saw that happened were horrible and I later learned – not what many white children see during their childhood.  When I moved to Milwaukee (the most segregated city in America) I truly saw a difference in viewpoints and lifestyles.  This made me angry once again but I have learned that maybe God placed me in the circumstances He did so that I can be a PEACEMAKER.

Today is a new day and a major election has concluded.  We will have a new president in January.  Will he represent the minorities?  Will any Presidential candidate ever truly represent the minorities best interests?  Only time will tell.  What I can tell you is with the conclusion of this election I will continue to do what God has called me to do.  Tell others about JESUS and be a PEACEMAKER.  My life’s goal is to use my ministry as a Christian social worker to be a VOICE for the VOICELESS.  It has always been my goal to be a voice for women, children, and unborn children.  In the past year or so I have learned that my life’s calling has been extended beyond that to be a PEACEMAKER.  Moving forward from this election I will use my voice to fight for the injustices of minorities, women, and unborn children.  America needs an overhaul of it’s welfare system, criminal system and policies in order to truly make a difference.  I will stand for that by confronting those who choose to remain ignorant to the issues minorities in America face (in a loving manner) and by extending Jesus love to everyone – no matter their background.  Thomas Jefferson once stated:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I pray that one day that is true.  Since this has been said I do not believe it has actually been true in the United States.  I pray that we as a country do what we can to show all men they are created EQUAL and have WORTH.  As Christians in America I pray we show that JESUS loves everyone equally and all can come to Him.  What will you do to fight injustice and help make your country a better place?  Will you join Lecrae, myself, and many others in being a PEACEMAKER – not a PEACEKEEPR?

Connecting to Christ

“…I find holy redemption, When I put this car in drive, roll the windows down and turn up the dial…” (Maren Morris)  It’s a sunny day in Kentucky and I’m cruising with the windows down and sunroof open.  The radio’s blasting with my favorite Jonathan Thulin album.  In that moment I feel closer to God then when I am anywhere else in the world.  When I lived in Kentucky I spent hours in the car driving for miles in some of God’s most beautiful creation – the Appalachian mountains.  There are so many ways to connect with God on a daily basis.  I am so fortunate to have such a simple way to connect with God on a daily basis.

My pastor recently preached on the many ways you can connect with God.  Nature and words are my two favorite ways to connect with God.  You can imagine how I relate to the lyrics by Maren Morris about finding redemption with the music on, car in drive, and the windows down.  This is something I can do on a daily basis too!  What do you do on a daily basis to connect with God?  It is vital to our spiritual, mental, and physical health to connect with God.  Matthew 6:33 says: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”fullsizerenderIn order to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness you have to understand who He is and what his plans are for you.  This must be done through daily connection.  This can be done through driving through the mountains, attending a liturgical worship, serving your community, reading the Word, praying, dancing, creating art or music, and any other number of ways.  Each person has their own unique connection to Christ.

Personally, I do connect with Christ through nature.  However, I am a strong believer in everyone praying and reading their Bible daily.  If you hate reading – listen to an audiobook or Scripture songs (Beckah Shae has a great Scripture snacks album).  Praying can be done in your car on the way to work or while you are laying in bed.  Recently I read something really great about prayer in Tim Tebow’s book Shaken.  He said that when you cannot sleep pray for other people.  This is just many of the ways to connect with God.

Another thing I do to connect with the Word is vary the ways I learn about it.  I start my day with a daily Bible reading.  During the week I read a Bible Study to learn about other’s perspective on the Bible.  I also like to read a chapter a day of a Christian living book to expand my knowledge about how the Bible relates to modern Christianity.  A caution with this would be to watch out for whose books you are reading.  There are many people who take the Bible and twist it for their own agenda.  Do not let that deter you from learning from others however.  Some great writers I would personally recommend are C. S. Lewis, Jennie Allen, Lysa TerKeurst, Blackaby, Francis Chan, and Beth Moore.

This was a lot of ways I connect with Christ.  I would like to encourage you through this to find your own ways to connect with Christ.  Every person has their own gifts and they have been given them to draw closer to God.  Find how you can use your gifts to connect with Christ.  If you do not know what your gifts are start connecting with Christ to figure them out.