Uncategorized

Reflections on Psalms (Part 1)

Wednesday night I had the joy of attending a Rend Collective concert. I was so thankful for that chance as the whole thing was so refreshing to my soul! Not only was it a fun night out with some amazing friends randomly in the middle of the week, Rend Collective also knows how to party well! Despite the fact that they are humans like the rest of us and go through just as many ups and downs as anyone else, they deeply understand God’s joy more than perhaps anyone I’ve met.

A few years ago I heard them share something that has since become one of my favorite quotes:

“Seriousness is not fruit of the Spirit, but joy is!”

The Spirit was alive and the fruit of joy was abundant on Wednesday night. So often in Christian culture it’s easy to slowly slide into seriousness, to make our lives all about doing the right things or not doing the wrong things. As we read Scripture, the clearer message of Christ is: “enjoy life with Me!” He tells us that He came to give us “full, abundant life”. (John 10:10)

The Psalms seem to echo this concept of joy and celebration in abundance. Even the psalms of lament seem to often come back to an element of praise. As I continued reading my way through the Psalms the morning after the concert, it solidified this idea that joy is key in a healthy relationship with God and will overflow in our life when that relationship has priority. Here are just a few of the dozens of verses that jumped off the page just in the 10 chapters I read Thursday morning:

  • “…Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. …You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalms 30:5, 11-12
  • “So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” Psalms 32:11
  • “Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. … We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” Psalms 33:1, 20-21
  • “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.” Psalms 34:5-6
  • “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. … Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. … I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. … But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”” Psalms 40:2, 4, 8, 16

There were many things that God is showing me as we journey through Psalms but this one was clear: perhaps one of the best representations of Christ to the world is my joy. Satan will try to steal it, circumstances will try to overwhelm it, my soul will at times have to fight for it, but joy is possible, because the Spirit lives in me and longs for me to live in joy! Maybe it’s time for us Christians to stop being known by our seriousness, and start being known for our joy!

School of the Week, Uncategorized

Kenmore West {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for Kenmore West High School!

Fast Facts:

  • Founded 1939
  • Grades 8-12
  • Mascot: Blue Devils
  • Colors: Blue and White

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of KenWest, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Ben and Kyle. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Mr. Dean Johnson
    Assistant Principals: Mr. Daniel Charland, Ms. Dina Ferraraccio, and Mr. Matthew RainesAsk God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

2018-01-14 15.25.44

Uncategorized

He’s in the waiting…

“Waiting” is a word I often associate with Advent. Waiting for the celebration of Christ coming to earth. Waiting for Him to come again. Waiting for Him to show up in our lives here and now.

Another blog post I read earlier this week talked about all the times the word or the concept of “wait” is found in just the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel… Elizabeth and Zechariah waiting decades for a child, Mary and Jospeh waiting to see what in the world God was up to as they navigated unknown circumstances, and Simeon and Anna watching for the long awaited Messiah. Sometimes when I think of waiting, I think it’s simply about trusting God while passing time until He shows up. Listening to some music as I got ready this morning, these words struck me:

“Take courage, my heart; Stay steadfast, my soul; He’s in the waiting; He’s in the waiting” – Take Courage by Bethel Music

It’s less about me waiting for God to show up… and more about realizing He can be found IN the waiting. For Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, you, and me– Jesus doesn’t just come at the end of the period of time before an answer comes, He’s walking with us every step of the way.

It’s true for many things in life we do have to wait for an answer, a situation to resolve, a breakthrough in a tough circumstance. When that’s true it feels as if we’re waiting on God to show up wondering “when will He come through?”

The truth I’m learning is that He’s already here. THAT’S the message of Christmas: Emmanuel–God WITH us.

So… take courage,

stay steadfast,

look around:

He’s HERE…

IN the waiting.

And He is faithful.

School of the Week, Uncategorized

Kenmore East {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for Kenmore East High School!

Fast Facts:

  • Founded 1959
  • Grades 8-12
  • Mascot: Bulldogs
  • Colors: Navy and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of KenEast, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Haley, Jack, Chris, Jaclyn, Chris, and Ethan. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Mr. Patrick Heyden
    Assistant Principals: Ms. Elaine Thomas and Mr. Joseph Greco
    Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

SOTW - KenEast banner

Joy, Mission Work, Uncategorized

A story of scars…a story of joy

We sat gathered around in a small room in her house. Worship and teaching were happening in the next room over.   We couldn’t all fit and so those of us who weren’t teaching let other have our place.  The church leader joined us and instead of sharing our testimonies, we had the honor of hearing hers.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about how she became a Christian as much of her story has to do with what came next.  The abuse and beatings… by the hands of her husband.  Any time he found she had gathered with Christians or went to another prayer meeting, the beatings ensued.  For years this went on, sometimes worse than others.  Her young daughter would even blackmail her saying that if the mom didn’t give her what she wanted, she would tell Dad she was at another meeting. One day he got so mad that he got out a knife.  As she told the story, she lifted her shirt to reveal a 12-inch scar down her side.

Her local church graciously took her in and helped her get out of this dangerous situations.  Years later after forgiving her husband, she sensed God working to restore their marriage. She prayerfully hoped in the process He would help her husband see the grace and forgiveness of Christ.  Shortly after her return, the husband was arrested for theft and spend 3.5 years in prison.  This gave her even more time to grow in her faith and pray for her husband.

He is out of prison now and while he is not a believer… YET… we were sitting, gathering, worshiping God in their house.  He was there as lunch was served.  He was present, listening intently as one of our translators shared the gospel with our bus driver, assuming the husband was a Christian, and realizing later that while the bus driver ignored him completely, the husband was listening to every word.  He is not a Christian yet (or at least not when we were there a year ago), but I can’t help but wonder what God did in him that day as we sat in his home.

The wife had been praying and praying that God would send foreign believers to come and encourage them, despite the risk of spending years in prison by having us there.  She recounted a time in the recent past when her husband mockingly said, “Do you really think that by your loud praying God will send foreigners here?!?”  She laughed and continued her story, “This morning I told my husband: ‘You see! God answers prayers!’

A friend of this woman went on to tell us that the believers of her village all became followers of Christ because of this woman’s testimony!   And the community continues to be radically changed!

“They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink to death.  Therefore, rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell there in.” Revelation 12:11

I wish I could show you a picture of this woman I took as she finished sharing her story and let us pray for her.  Pure JOY is the only way to describe the look on her face.  Please continue to pray for her and believers just like her all over the world.  Pray they would have grace and strength to stand firm in the faith no matter what comes against them.  Pray for protection, peace, and continued overwhelming joy!


Crossroads, School of the Week, Uncategorized

Clarence High {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for Clarence High School!

Fast Facts:

  • About 1,600 students
  • Mascot: Red Devils
  • Colors: Red and Black

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of Clarence, but especially our First Trinity high school student: Nicholas. Ask God to walk with him each day and give him opportunities to live out his faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in his home.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Kenneth Smith
    Assistant Principals: Robert Coniglio and Julie Mampe
    Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are sports teams or in music programs that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

Copy of SOTW - City Honors Banner

Uncategorized

Random Wisdom – Recapping October

As I reflected this week on the month of October, I recalled many amazing bits of wisdom (or just laughter) in various quotes, conversations, and books I read. In no particular order here are a few that collectively seem to summarize the last month in Bekah’s world:

  • “Why would He allow us to love people so deeply?” “Maybe because He knew you would.” – From a blog post by Katie Davis Majors
  • “How do you collect 20 percent of the harvest from an entire nation? Joseph knew the size of the famine relief task was larger than what any one person could accomplish. From the outset, his plan included others. He knew the depth of the problem and the width of its reach, so he decided on a plan and a team that matched the scope of the challenge. Second chair leaders are not looking to be solo performers; they want and need the support of a team.” – From Leading from the Second Chair by Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson
  • “More and more I believe when we hear ‘not enough’ [from Satan], God is screaming: ‘You are exactly the right one and I am going to do mighty things through you.’” – Michael Harvey
  • “Who is your ‘who’? It’s not about the ‘what’; it’s about the ‘who’!” – Bill Woolsey
  • “Lord, if anyone other than You is holding a lid on this thing, if there’s even more You want to do, would You blow the lid off!” – Prayer heard on the radio by Ron Hutchcraft
  • “When I grow up, I want to be a Godmother too. Actually, I think I want to be a chef because I really like Wegmans.” – Piper, 3 years old, from the back of my car on a Godmother/Goddaughter breakfast date
  • “Every reason we give why Jesus shouldn’t or couldn’t use us may be the very reason He wants to and the very situation He uses! … What is your biggest excuse or reason for not fully following Jesus? What would this kind, brave, dangerous, loving Rabbi say to you tonight in response to that fear.” – Chris Brooks from Kairos Nashville
  • “No He didn’t make the pain easy. But He made it beautiful. He held me close and whispered secrets to me and revealed things about Himself that I had not yet known. … I did not find answers to my questions. In fact, I might have more questions now than I did before. But I have found deep intimacy with the One who formed me and knows my heart. He has taught me His secrets in the darkness. He has taught me true and unwavering hope in Him.” – Katie Davis Majors from Daring to Hope
  • “Gossip is sharing information with someone who is not part of the problem nor part of the solution.” – Rick Warren in Miracle of Mercy
  • “Have no fear little flock, for it is the Father’s pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” – Luke 12:30
  • Too often I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry. The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. …[Jesus] asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen from In the Name of Jesus
  • “Why not here, Lord?
    Why not now
    You’ve done it before
    And there is still so much more
    Here we are, Lord
    The time is now” – Song: Here and Now by People on a Hill
  • “Prayer is asking God the incarnate to get dirty in your life. Yes, the eternal God scrubs floors. For sure we know he washes feet. So take Jesus at his word. Ask him. Tell him what you want. Get dirty.” – Paul Miller in A Praying Life
  • “Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is!!!” – Rend Collective
  • “We can dream big because God is big.” – Paul Miller in A Praying Life