Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whatever it Takes?

I want your opinions. I want your insight. I'm asking for it. Please help me out? I really don't know what to think on this one...

In short, my question is this: should we really have a "whatever it takes" approach to sharing the gospel? Do we really believe that it's worth risking everything, even our lives, for? Before you say a quick "yes," consider this: What about when our decisions seem wreckless and even stupid? Should we proceed anyway for the sake of an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus?

Foreign missionaries are praised for going into dangerous territories and risking their very lives for the name of Jesus. Here in America, it is not illegal or necessarily dangerous to profess to be a Christian or to tell people about Him. I can't say I've encountered many situations where I had to decide between safety and sharing Jesus. Even when I went to Brazil and we were in rough parts of town, I don't think I was in any immediate danger.

But what about situations that are potentially very dangerous even here in America? These days it's hard to trust anyone: anything can happen. Should we stay away from rough neighborhoods because of the possible danger? Should we refuse to give the homeless man a ride because we have no clue about his sincerity? Is it our job to ask ourselves that or do we leave it up to God to do what He wants with the situation. I've been taught all my life that doing such a thing is completely unsafe, wreckless, and stupid. Don't do it. But how do we match that with whatever it takes?

I am sincerely asking here. I don't mean to sound arrogant with my questions. I realize that there are "smart" ways to go about those situations, like taking people with you. But what if that's not an option, or what if numbers don't really matter all that much as far as safety goes? Do we turn away or run head first into it, trusting along the way that God is sovereign?

Is it not His will for us to put ourselves in dangerous situations? I am convinced He wants above all else for His fame to be spread, that more people would know the saving name of Jesus. If that means risking our lives for that, then so be it. What's the balance? I really would like to hear different perspectives on this... especially regarding Scripture references that could point me in the right direction...

Thanks in advance. Love you guys!

--Here is one perspective I've looked at...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brazil 2011... "Wonders Among Us" Joshua 3:5

I'd like to take some time to tell you all not about what we did on Spring Break 2011, but what God did through my life and how it has changed me. I want to share many things, but I'll share my favorite story first.

Someone said something during our brief stay in Brazil that really stuck with me: "There's not a whole lot that's done on a mission trip that can't be done back at home." With this being my first "mission" trip, there's so much I could talk about regarding what I saw, experienced, and learned. But the concept of "missions" truly being wherever you are and whatever you're doing is my biggest take away from this trip. I've heard before that missions are here at home, too, but I still had the concept in my mind that it meant painting a house or going door-to-door. Those things are still great; I just mean to say that it's the image I had in my head when I thought about missions. I could not have been more mistaken.
My favorite and most cherished part of the trip was the night ministry, which Eric (the missionary we worked with) does once or twice a week. We joined him in prayer walking through the areas where prostitutes and transvestites work at night. We talked with them, looked them in the eyes, asked their names, prayed with them, gave them gospels of John, and hugged them. Even as I write this I know there is no way to express what that experience was like.
On Friday night Brooke and I were able to go back out with Eric again. On Wednesday (the first time) there weren't many people out, but on Friday, there were women at almost every bus stop. One woman in particular continues to be on my heart. Her name is Vanessa, and she was wearing only jeans and a bra when we stopped to speak with her. It was easy to see she was shocked that we obviously weren't there as customers. When Brooke gave her the John gospel she said in Portuguese, "This is the Word of God." (Sidenote: isn't God AWESOME?? We didn't even speak the same language, but that doesn't stop Him from working...) She knew what she held in her hands. She began to walk away but Eric asked if we could pray with her, so she turned around. I placed my hand on her shoulder and Brooke placed her hand on mine. Vanessa stood stiffly as I prayed (in English) but before I knew it she had lifted her hands to form a circle with me and Brooke. I started to cry as I was praying because I so desperately wanted her to be safe both physically and spiritually from the bondage Satan has her so entangled in. I did not see a prostitute in front of me; I saw my Brazilian friends from camp, my friends from back home, and even myself. We've ALL been entangled insin before we open ourselves to the grace offered to us.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." -2 Cor. 2:14

Upon coming home, I realize that it is not only prostitutes or those caught in sexual sin that need to be shown the love of Jesus. Every person I meet is NOT defined as a liar, a thief, or any other sin. They are God's precious creations, so desperately in need of grace, as we all are. I may not be able to talk to prostitutes in Macon, GA (but then again, who knows) but I can look people in the eye, ask them their name, and tell them God loves them. I can allow God to show Himself rather than me. It is not by my power that I can see people as He sees them, it is His grace that allows me to be a vessel of His love to others. He allows me to see each person as someone in need of love and grace. I can carry this truth with me every moment of every day. Joshua 3:5 says, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." I read this at the very beginning of the trip and I was very excited at what God was about to do through the team. Now that I am back at home, though, I realize that every tomorrow turns into today. Every day is an opportunity to sanctify ourselves from our flesh and allow God to do wonders among us. Amen!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Playlist of my life. :)

Music is powerful. You can hear a song and be taken back in time. I was making a playlist the other day and realized how many experiences I've had have been shaped by music. I'd like to share just some of the songs that take me back, make me happy, or just "fit". :)

"Jesus Loves Me" I accepted Christ early in life. In my elementary understanding, I knew He loved me and I wanted to love Him back!
"Livin' in a Moment" by Ty Herndon. All my mom ever listened to and still listens to is country. I remember being a little kid and being able to recite every word of this song.
"Love Liberty Disco" by the Newsboys. My cousins and I made up a dance to this song. We had some good times back then. :)
"Watch the Lamb" by Ray Boltz. The video made me cry when I was younger. Time hasn't changed it!
"Survivor" by Destiny's Child. For some reason I distinctly remember this being played when we had a DJ at my elementary school for beach day. It was my 5th grade year so it was the last time I enjoyed "beach day" for the last day of school.
"Lady Marmalade" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. I watched this at a sleepover for Alexa's birthday party one year. Now THAT was super fun. I think we went to see Hitch the next day...that could have been a different year, but the timing is right. We had some fun times together!
"Your Man" by Josh Turner. First slow dance song. Self explanatory.
"Love Song for a Savior" by Jars of Clay. "I want to fall in love with You..." I remember feeling like I was falling in love with Jesus for the first time when I was about 14. Because I was. My understanding up to that point was so minimal! I was a "good girl" but I never realized that God loved me enough to have a plan for my life that fit into His purpose. Incredible.
"Getting into You" by Relient K. "I'm getting into you, because you got to me, in a way words can't describe...I'm gonna love you with my life."
"Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real. In high school, I remember feeling like I was about to burst for wanting to do something more than what I was doing. I felt like there was chaos inside me because I didn't know what to do with all that He was showing me at the time. Little did I know He was only beginning! :)
"Forever and for Always" by Shania Twain. Well, that didn't happen. Had some good times but in the end I learned a lot about myself. I was so dumb. Lol.
"Stand in the Rain" by Superchick. This was my anthem in a time when I made a tough decision in high school. I would blast it on the way to school some mornings!
"Laughed Until We Cried" by Jason Aldean. South Effingham High School class of '09 graduation song. :)
"Undo it" by Carrie Underwood. This one played a lot in my dorm room last semester! Haha.
"How He Loves" by David Crowder Band. Who doesn't relate to this song? Specifically, though, it was the theme song for Georgia Mountain Vida Nueva #31, where I had the opportunity to love on some beautiful girls to show them how much they are loved. :) It was an awesome experience, as was my own VN in March of 2010. God is so good!
"God of this City" by Bluetree. I want to GO places to carry the name of Jesus. How blessed I am that He's shown me just a piece of how big His plans are for me! Brazil and Maryland all in one year!
"Beautiful Somehow" by Joy Williams. This one could have been anywhere from high school till now. It's my happy, feel good song. :) "Well I've never been a fashion queen, I wear dresses, I wear jeans. I've even been known to wear my heart on my sleeve..."
The whole Passion 2011 CD, not even out yet! Talk about an awakening... I could go on and on about this. 2011 has been the best year so far in my life, and it started with Passion. God has drawn me near to Him and has opened my eyes to the joy of knowing Him more and more everyday. He's given me passions that are unique to His plan for me, and is giving me the freedom to enjoy them! He is SO GOOD!
"The First Cut is the Deepest" by Sheryl Crow. The lyrics are self explanatory. It's been a process of letting go of the past and looking forward, but Jesus continues to surround me with His perfect love. He is my satisfaction, my everything. I believe and I know that He frees me from past mistakes and gives me the freedom to look forward to whatever He has for me. He is my everything!
"Sing My Love" by Jesus Culture. This is another happy song for me. I love to sing it at the top of my lungs, just to shout how much I love Him! With all that He has done in my life thus far this year, I cannot help but praise. He is like breathing to me...He is life, He is everything! 

Again, this is in no way all inclusive of every song that means something to me. But it was fun! What are some songs that have shaped your life? :)