Lent

Giving Up Social Media

Many of the things I’ve given up this month have been intangible concepts.   I’ve found though that sometimes there are very tangible things that get me in situations where those feelings, emotions, fears or insecurities I’ve been blogging about the past few weeks are either born or quickly grow. One of those places is through social media and technology in general.

It’s nothing new, we all know it, yet we still feel the need to check our phones every 10 minutes (or 2) just to make sure we don’t miss anything. In reality, by doing that I’ve found myself falling for countless lies that Satan uses to steal kill and destroy my life.

Our insecurities get fueled when we see others who seem to have the picture perfect Pinterest life. We feel that pity-party coming on when we see a friend having a good time …with someone else.  Jealousy tries to join the party as we come across the 18th post about a friend’s Valentine’s Day engagement. We isolate ourselves even more while believing the lie that we are getting connected. And perhaps, one of my biggest struggles, I waste a lot of time, one of the only resources we can’t get more of.

So, while its not a permanent solution, I am going to give up social media for a while.  Maybe just today, maybe longer.  I’m going to choose to ignore how many people read this post.  I’ll refrain today from scrolling through page after page of what my friends are up to, giving up that felt need to “be in the know”.   I’ll block out a few of the things that tempt to fill my mind and heart with unimportant or even unhealthy things.   Oh, there is a lot of good in social media, but sometimes we just need a break and a few extra moments to focus on Jesus. And for me, today is one of those days.

Jesus, use this day away to let me focus in and hear YOUR voice louder than the rest.  Remind me of who I am and who You are.  Help me give up the felt need to be constantly connected to the world around me and be “in the know”, but rather focus on my connection with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. … The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  (John 10)

… And yes, this post and any Facebook/Twitter posts related were all written and scheduled BEFORE today. 😉  

social-1157114_960_720

31 Days to Just Write, Devotional

Consider Jesus. {just write – day 9}

The words jump off the page and hit me right in the heart. 

“Therefore … consider Jesus.” (Hebrews 3:1)

Suddenly I understand the words a few paragraphs later that describe God’s Word as a “two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) I understand because I feel it.

Consider Him.

In a world of options, pay attention to this One.

In your everyday tasks, bow down before the Savior.

In the midst of the pain and struggle of life, consider Him.

Why?  Why consider Him? Take a look before the “Therefore” and the picture becomes clear:

  • Consider the One who, while fully God, calls us brothers and sisters.  Who is “not ashamed” to do so.  (Hebrews 2:11-13)
  • Consider the One who gave up his place in heaven to come to earth … and suffer… and be tempted… so He’d know what that feels like when we are suffering… when we are tempted… when we’re broken, despised, longing.  Yes, consider the one who understands. (Hebrews 2:14-18)
  • Consider the One who not only understands but has the power and authority to do something about it. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
  • Consider the One who can free you from the slavery of fear (Hebrews 2:15)
  • Consider the One who is now seated next to the Father living to intercede for us. (Hebrews 3:1-2)
  • Consider the One who is forever faithful (Hebrews 3:6)

Consider Jesus.

Consider Him when there aren’t any options left.
Consider Him as your first and only option.
Consider Him who can never fail, and yet loves us through each fault and failure.
Consider Him who does not ask us to be perfect to come to Him, but rather come to Him as we are in order for him to make us perfect.
Consider Him.

Consider Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

  

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Worth Waiting For…

Anticipation.

As we started a sermon series this past weekend on the return of Christ and the end times, I found myself pondering what things I find myself waiting for. Sure there are plenty of “waiting” times… waiting in line… waiting for a phone call… waiting for dinner to be ready or the pot to boil. But I was trying to think of things I await eagerly and with excitement.

One of the best examples I could think of actually occurs quite frequently. It’s a normal Tuesday morning. I’m ready for work… almost. I may still have my lunch to pack or shoes and a coat to put on, but it’s close enough that I add in some quick glances out my front door. The two preschoolers that live next door to me attend preschool at the church where I work. Because I normally go to work around the same time they go to school, most Tuesdays and Thursdays I get the joy of walking to school/work with them and their dad, a teammate at church.

As I make my final preparations to leave for the day, I eagerly await the moment I see the bundles of color and joy come into view. Stepping out on my porch, I never know quite what to expect. Some days it involves joyous screams of “BEKAH!!!” and little feet running up my driveway with hands stretched out for the biggest hug they know how to give. Other times the older one shows me her pretty dress and I get to tell her how beautiful she is or is just buzzing like crazy instead of talking as she shows me her bumble bee umbrella… joy in the midst of rain. The younger one is often distracted by sticks or snow or whatever else in the world may be along our short path to the building… that’s if he’s not falling over. I get to “see how strong” he is as he holds open the door for us at church. I hear about their adventures the day before or the color of the week in preschool. It’s an especially exciting day if I just happen to be wearing that color. I never know what to expect, but it always brings great joy.

And every Tuesday and Thursday I am reminded to also eagerly await another coming. We know it’s going to happen but we don’t know exactly when. We can’t just sit around and do nothing, but we can’t ignore it either. We don’t know exactly what that return of Jesus will be like but we can trust that it will bring us great joy… it’s worth waiting for!

20130128-145256.jpg

Books, Devotional

Empty Hands and An Open Heart

Amen! Let it be so, God! Help me simply come to You…

Come to Me with empty hands and an open heart, ready to receive abundant blessings. I know the depth and breadth of your neediness. Your life-path has been difficult, draining you of strength. Come to Me for nurture. Let Me fill you up with My Presence: I in you, and you in Me.

My Power flows most freely into weak ones aware of their need for Me. Faltering steps of dependence are not lack of faith; they are links to My Presence. ~ Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Africa, Bekah's Heart, Books, First Trinity

All People Matter

As a person who generally does not make habit of reading the forwards to books, I’m extremely glad that I actually read the one at the front of Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.   This entire book has grabbed my attention and my heart.  I’m sure I will share other parts of this book as I continue reading, but for today I just can’t stop thinking about the very first paragraph of the forward by Beth Clark:

“People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another.  And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile.  They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound.  They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes.  Over time, though, the small changes add up.  Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”

What so captured my attention about this paragraph is how well it lines up with First Trinity‘s Core Value that “all people matter” and directly connected it to the idea of “transforming our world” in our mission statement.  We also see through this that a transformation of our world is actually possible when we focus on doing so–as both our mission statements and the forward to this book suggest–one life at a time.

Author Katie Davis, a 22-year old American mother to thirteen (yes, you read that right, THIRTEEN) adopted Ugandan children and founder of Amazima Ministries in Uganda, is one of those world-changers… and she does it one life at a time.

Later on in her book she shares some humbling statistics of people living in poverty around the world:

143 million orphaned children + 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases + 8.5 million who work as child slaves or prostitutes + 2.3 million children who live with HIV

= 164.8 million needy children in the world.

As Katie says in her book, “At first glance that looks like a big number…”  I agree.  It seems like an impossible number, a number to big to wrap our minds around, and a number that surely I can’t do anything about!

However, 2.1 BILLION people on this earth claim to be Christians.  “The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for ONE child, there would not be any statistics left.”

EIGHT PERCENT!  That’s all it would take.

Do you truly believe that all people matter?  Who’s life can you change today?  Maybe it’s a smile and kind word to the cashier that seems to be having a bad day.  Maybe it’s a hug for a grieving friend or a hot meal for someone hungry.  Or maybe it’s sponsoring a child in Haiti or Uganda or even the US to go to school and be fed or rescuing a child out of sex trafficking.  One life at a time, we can transform our world, through the power of God’s Living Word along with the gifts and talents, passions and desires, resources and time he’s given us.    Will you join me?

Let’s change the world and love as Jesus did, living with the conviction that

every

life

matters!

“I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian.” ~ Katie Davis

College Ministry

God on the Move

It seems like everywhere I turn lately it is obvious that God is on the move and it is SO exciting to see.

One of the places I witnessed him this past week was at Lutheran Campus Ministries (LCM) of WNY (also known as Organic Campus).  First Trinity had the opportunity to partner with this great community by making and serving the meal for the college students before their monthly worship experience.  Eight First Trinity members were involved in some way in making the dinner happen (not counting the many of you that I’m sure were praying!).   As I left that night, the college students I was talking to were not only thankful for the meal we provided but also the conversation that took place with the First Trinity members.  Two FT young adults and I stuck around for worship after the meal and were blessed by the experience.

Some of the other ways I witnessed God on the move were mentioned in a thank you letter we received from Steve, the LCM Pastor, this week.  Please read the letter below and pray that God would continue to work through this ministry, and First Trinity’s partnership with them, in amazing ways!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

2 February 2012

Dear Friends at First Trinity,

Thank you to Bekah, her crew and all of you at First Trinity for the fantastic dinner last night.  We had 23 people and then 19 for worship.  The focus of worship was on God still creating in our lives today.  Part of the sermon experience was for groups to get together and create a painting of their vision of who God is.  All four of those pieces of worship art are hanging in The House and are each wonderful in their own way!

 

But better than that were the interactions from the Peer Ministers.  I watched Katie welcome every single person that walked through the door and engage them in the type of radical hospitality that Jesus modeled… really asking how people were doing.

 

I watched Nick bring a friend that he met at work three days before and as she broke into tears telling him about a long term relationship break up.  He got her dinner and just sat with her in her tears in the back room so she wouldn’t have to go out with everyone else crying or sit in the back room alone.

 

I watched Jeremiah skip coming up to Communion so he could stay with a new girl that wasn’t comfortable with Communion because she had never seen it before. And he explained what it was and why we celebrate it. (Side note from Bekah not in the letter from Steve: I was in the group next to their table and I think my favorite moment of the night was hearing him explain it and then all of the others at the table sharing the personal significance it had in their own lives.)

 

I watched Mary Grace sing with the most incredible and haunting voice a version of Holy, Holy, Holy that opened up the concept of the Trinity that young adults could hang on to.

 

It was awesome… but not because the room was completely full… instead, because God was very easy to see!

 

Still in One Peace,

Steve

Bekah's Heart, Random

A New Advent Tradition

As Advent began a little over a month ago, I was trying to figure out a new tradition I could start to celebrate.  I talked with friends, read blogs, searched the internet, and brainstormed, yet so many of the ideas I found all centered around doing things with your family each day… with the people that live in the same space as you.  I was thankful for some ideas of things I could do long distance with family as well as the many opportunities I had this last month to join in with other families here to celebrate, but I wanted something special to celebrate and mark the journey of Advent. I wanted something that would keep me focused on what this season is really all about.

 

Somehow as I read about seed planting, Jesse Trees, shepherds bags, advent activity calendars, family devotions and more I realized that even if I was living alone, whatever my advent celebration ended up being, it was meant to be shared.  So here’s what I ended up with as my new personal advent tradition:

 

On the Saturday before Advent I sat down with my address book and made a list of friends that are now spread out all over the country … people I talk to often, people I never see, and people everywhere in between.  After I had a list of 29 names, I addressed a greeting card to each of them and placed them in one of my Christmas decorations designed to actually hold received greeting cards.

 

Each night before bed, I would pick out one card from the pile.  Sometimes the picking was random and other times something about that day reminded me of someone and so I would choose that person’s card for that day.  Then I would sit down and share.  Each card had at least two things described in it… a general update of how life is and a summary of where God took me on my Advent journey that day.

 

Some days were filled with exciting moments to share with my friend, while other days God took me through some difficult stuff on the journey toward the birth of his Son.

 

While I missed a few days here and there and it wasn’t always easy to make the time, I must say that this tradition is defintiely sticking around (and possibly making an appearance at Lent too)!  Here are a some of the reasons why:

  • It forced me to ask myself the question everyday: God what did you want me to learn in this day and did I learn it?  Where did you want me to go and did I go there?  What did you want me to do… did I do it?
  • I knew that each night I would have to share something about where God took me on my Advent Journey so I learned to keep my eyes open to him at work otherwise I knew it would be hard to have anything worth sharing if I didn’t keep my eyes open.
  • I got to connect with some friends that I haven’t talked to in a long time.
  • Everyone loves snail mail! 🙂
  • I love writing letters/cards and haven’t taken enough time to do it lately.
  • I would have never sent out 20+ Christmas cards this year if I just sat down and did it all at one time (at least not ones that had anything beyond my signature and a brief Christmas greeting).
  • I heard back from about half of the people and it gave me a chance to hear what’s going on in their worlds too.
  • I got to share the typical “catch up” details that everyone wants to know but the second part of each card forced me to go deeper than that and share about how life REALLY is… in that day.
  • My advent celebrations weren’t limited to myself and/or the people I see around here in NY… I got to invite people all over the country into at least one day of my advent celebrations.  Often, I was able to share what I was doing with people here in NY with the people I was mailing cards to outside of NY.  This means that the to the living nativity with Tracy, Jaime, and Addie; decorating sugar cookies with friends; and spending Christmas with the Whiteds all meant so much more as I relived them that night and shared them with friends in CO, IA, FL and beyond. 🙂
  • It helped keep my focus on what this season is all about and why Jesus came… which is what really matters anyway. 🙂

 

I would love to hear about any advent or Christmas traditions you all have!  Please share them in the comments.