Lent

Giving Up Comfort

Last week, I mentioned a book I was reading called Killing Christians by Tom Doyle.  I cannot even begin to describe some of the painful, UNcomforable things the believers shared about their lives.  I have been challenged to pray for these brothers and sisters who have no option but sacrifice when they decide to follow Jesus.  I think what astounded me most was that in literally every single story anyone who was still alive at the time of the publication of the book said something to the effect of: “I’m still alive, but I know that my death will come soon.”  Even more incredible is that every sentence like that is almost inevitably followed up with, “But don’t worry about me.”

Being a Christian isn’t just a label for these people.  It’s not one of many options of how they might spend their time on a Sunday morning.  It’s literally life and death, every single day.  It’s fathers and uncles hunting them down to kill them for “dishonoring their family” by following Jesus.  It’s hiding in coffins to smuggle Bibles into their country.  It’s anything but a comfortable life.

When I say that I’m giving up comfort today, let me be clear, I am not asking to have to experience the things these people went through.  I actually pray I never experience them as I pray that the suffering would be ended for them and those around them.  However, I’ve realized that I can’t just keep turning my eye to the reality of things like this.  To be honest, it would have been much easier to never pick up this book, or to put it back down a few pages in.  Ignorance is bliss, right?

God may someday call me to make some life or death decisions in regards to following Him or to suffer because I bear His name. If that day comes, I pray for strength and courage to point boldly to Him.  Like Paul wrote:

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 12-14)

But whether or not a day like that ever comes, today, I can give up the comfort of ignorance and avoidance.  I can stop being an apathetic Christian. I can “sacrifice” time to pray for my brothers and sisters who are suffering things greater than I can imagine.  I can “sacrifice” some of the things that bring me comfort in this life and invest that money or other resources into things that last eternally.  It’s a scary, scary, prayer to pray, but today I ask that God would help me give up comfort that I may live passionately for Him.

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College Ministry, Crossroads, First Trinity, Youth Ministry

We Bought Jesus a Prom Dress Today! :)

(My afternoon was just so cool that it warrants pausing my 31 Days of Imperfection series.)

So this afternoon I went prom dress shopping with 11 ladies.  Yes, it was as insane as it might sound. But the coolest part about it all was that these ladies weren’t shopping for their own dresses.

Last week, I was talking with a few of the high school girls at First Trinity about a collection taking place in the area of prom dresses for girls who can’t afford to buy one on their own.  They wanted to do something.  While a couple of them had a dress to donate from last year, many of them have never been to prom and therefore had nothing to donate.  This was where Project Prom Dress was born.  The youth began talking with siblings and other young women they knew to gather slightly used dresses.  Then, today, we all wore formals to church to advertize a little more.  After church we pooled our money and hit the stores to buy some new ones to donate as well. They collected $161 dollars and by hunting the sales, they were able to purchase FIVE dresses.

In between having to explain to people why a group of 12 girls in prom dresses were walking around the mall shopping for prom dresses, I found myself thinking about a passage we looked at a couple weeks ago in Sunday School:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12, 14)

When these young women got dressed this morning, they didn’t just put on a fancy outfit, the clothed themselves with these attributes.

They gave up a Sunday afternoon and some of their own hard-earned money to make a difference in other girls’ lives.  Compassion. Kindness. Humility.  They didn’t just grab the first dress they could find.  They spent a couple hours looking at all the stores… searching for the best deals to make their money have the most impact… they thought about what they’d want in a prom dress but only so they could make someone ELSE’s day.  Gentleness. Patience.  They paid attention to every little detail: the color, the length, the size, the shape to find the PERFECT dress.  Love.  And as we traipsed around the mall all day, their sense of accomplishment and joy grew as they worked together, talking out decisions, and landing on five beautiful dresses that will bring joy to five beautiful women they may never meet.  Unity.

As I personally put on a formal this morning and thought of these other women doing the same, I was reminded of this passage from Matthew 25:

[Jesus said,] ‘I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

You might even say… we bought Jesus a prom dress today. 🙂