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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

I have a passion for traveling. My heart is fully alive when my passport is stamped. There is nothing like it for me. To be honest, traveling is the only time I really embrace “all things new” in my life.

I have traveled overseas 20 different times. I have experienced some crazy cultures from a semester “studying” in Spain, living life with people in the Middle East, practicing my tortilla making skills in Mexico, almost being traded for two rugs in Turkey by my mom (not really), perfected my “oopa!” in the Greek Isles, ate my way through Italy, and rocked the adventures of backpacking and serving around South Africa.

I always try and purse living life the local way when traveling.

You might read that list and think “how fun!” Don’t get me wrong, I have had the time of my life. I honestly can’t imagine the “me” I would be without those experiences.

Traveling has changed the way I see and experience God. My world view and faith have been directly impacted by those experiences.

I am so grateful for the ways all of those places have left their stamps on me.

Through traveling, I have also been exposed to many different levels of darkness and sin. Sin is definitely cross-cultural. My eyes and heart have been exposed to some heavy things. There is nowhere in the world sin has missed.

Every time I leave a country, I am more broken and grateful for the redemption of God.

I have engaged in hundreds of conversations with people who have had overseas experiences. Everyone has different responses to what they saw. One thing I cannot shake is when people see darkness and sin and blame God for not doing something.

We have all heard questions asked like, “why do bad things happen to good people?” or “How could God let this happen?”

One thing that has always puzzled me is how quick we can be to blame God before blaming sin.

Sin is ugly and tragic. We can catch glimpses of its darkness when we are exposed to things like human trafficking, child abuse, rape, murder, slavery, oppression, corruption, hate crimes, holocausts, and genocides.

I do believe that God has those in mind when He sent his son. All people, everywhere, experience sin, as well as the wages of death that come with it. God is standing in the midst of the darkest of sin wanting to extend the invitation of redemption.

It was Jesus who was crucified on the cross, and with arms already extended, invited the worst of the worst sinner next to him to join Him in paradise.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t have the answer for all scenarios, but sin is dark, and it is real. Sin affects good people who never ask for it.

Where is God when it comes to darkness and atrocities? He’s in the midst of it, desperate not to lose one, but extending the arms of redemption.

In what ways do you see yourself and others blaming God for what sin is responsible for?

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I have spent time in many Starbucks, and this many states. I love listening to what people are meeting about. I will admit that I am that girl who has ear phones in, but no music playing just to listen to conversations around me.

I have realized more and more that the type of conversations are dependent on where I am location wise.

Sitting in Northern Virginia, I hear conversations revolving around business transactions and ideas that are predominately career related. The conversations are fast paced.

I have sat at Starbucks in Southern California where conversations sound like ideals, entertainment, and some what materialistic.

I have ease dropped on conversations in Nashville Tennessee. For starters, I had to get used to the words accented with way too many syllables and southern draw. Most conversations revolved around the exchange of creative ideas. I have heard conversations of books and music. Nashville has a different definition of portfolio than the DC area does. Nashville had conversations filled with people who were trying to figure out dreams.

Each place has its own conversational style and content. I have loved learning about where I am just by listening to the conversations around me.

I would love to know what kind things people talk about where you are. This can be any coffee shop or place you like to spend time sitting in.

Coffee talk if you will!

 

 

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The heart fascinates me. I love people. I love getting to know the story of another. I am a big fan of big crowds, and nights filled with intertwined conversations.

We are fast becoming a culture that craves relationships and community, but actually gives little time to develop either one. We are a culture that thrives on status. The success of being known is measured by how many followers we have on Twitter or Facebook. If people want to get to know us, we have links we can pass on to them.

Even the course of questioning is changing rapidly when meeting someone face to face. Our culture has three basic questions we ask to figure out someone’s identity. We ask the questions of “What do you do? Where do you live? What school did you go to?” Now we have shifted into “Are you on Twitter? Do you have a blog? Can I find you on Facebook?”

We need people to fit into a category or box of identity…..

I am honored to be guest posting over on my friend Tony’s site today! 

Would love your thoughts regarding today’s identity.

Read more…..

 

 

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Jesus was a man who really understood the extreme responses of a culture. He experienced all motives from all people. The more I read his stories, the more I see that our culture has not changed much.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, he experienced the deep love and admiration of people who followed him. People’s lives were truly changed by his words, touch, actions, love, grace, forgiveness, truth, and just the look in his eyes. People felt seen and known by him.

Jesus was invited to many dinners, parties, banquets, meetings, and homes. He met a lot of people.

He also experienced those who followed him until it got hard. People loved Jesus when life seemed good and easy, but when it cost them something, many disowned him. Many people were “devoted” to Jesus until it cost them surrender, change, and maybe when it required something different. This group of people usually walked away.

Then there were people who just didn’t get Jesus. Instead of looking at the wonders of his miracles and words, they said he was evil. Jesus was challenged and ridiculed by so many. He didn’t fit into anyone’s box. Jesus was questions all the time about where he was from. He was asked to prove himself all the time.

Jesus experienced being dismissed by many.

If Jesus experienced the extreme responses of others for making the father known, the likely hood of my life experiencing the same is pretty good.

When Jesus sent out his disciples to the people of Israel, he provided a glimpse of what could happen. He sent out his 12 with is authority, direction, what to say, and now what will happen.

Jesus prepared his friends with glimpses into what responses they might encounter as they followed him. His disciples had already felt the responses of others as they did daily life with Jesus. Now it was time for them to feel it for themselves.

As we follow our God given calls and dreams, these responses will be felt as well. People will challenge us, walk away, argue, dismiss, and just not understand what it is we are pursuing.

However, there are also those who will get on board and really see you. There will be people who support and love you know matter what. There are people who will be changed from the inside out because of how you are revealing the father. There will be people who believe in you.

Don’t give up. Know that Jesus felt and knew all the extreme responses of people. He walked anyway.

Will you keep walking? Will you keep pursuing?

I hope so…

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My heart just has words for him. Pray with me if you want to or please feel free to pray here for you.

My prayer conversation comes from following after how Jesus prayed in John 17. Jesus prays for himself, for his friends, and then prays for all believers.

Pray with me…..

Father, my heart is stuck in the middle of feeling like I have so many things that I can’t express fast enough, but when I try, no words are there. I see and feel the current of thoughts and emotions rush around in me. There is an undertow, and I can’t quite get my balance. You know my heart. You know my current. You are the voice that calms the rush in me. Speak over my heart and tell her to be still. Please tell her to be at peace and know stillness. Father, I am not asleep in this storm’s stern, but I am not bailing out water either. I am stuck.

Thank you for your word that is truth for me. Those are the only words I have to pray father. I only have your words to pep talk myself like, “find rest, my soul, in God alone. He alone is my rock and salvation. Trust in him at all times.” But my heart is dry and weary. My heart feels dried up. I own the choices I have made to feel this way. I bring them before you. I ask that you would restore me. Help me to find everything in you alone. I know I will forget again down the road, and we will probably have this conversation another time. I am thankful for your patience and grace. Thank you, Lord.

Father, I give you my friends. I give you those who you have given to me. They spoil me and make my life rich. Help me to not spoil these friendships. They are yours. They are gifts. Forgive me for where we leave you behind. Forgive me for ways I place them on your throne. Thank you for failing ways to bring my friendships back to you. Thank you for forgiveness and grace. Thank you for how much I know you more because of these friends. Bless them with your favor. Show them peace and unconditional love. Bless my friends with the desires of their hearts. I love seeing them in their passions and elements.

Father, I pray for all believers who are tired and waiting on you. I pray for your heart to overcome what is lacking in them. Keep us strong for and with one another. You prayed that we would be one as you and the son are one. I pray for solid and rich community to take on new life, sound, taste, and aroma for this world. I see glimpses. I pray for more. Give us all courage to step up for you. Give us unwavering trust in our identities in you. Help us to have lives that resemble the choice to follow after you.

It’s in your son’s perfect name that I bring these words to you. Thank you. Amen.

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Raise your hand of you have ever asked these questions: “What does God want me to do? What is God’s will for my life?”

I have been in so many conversations where people ask, “How do I know if I am in God’s will?” I especially hear these questions when people are looking for direction and purpose in life. They usually surface when someone is entering a new season of life or have some decisions to make.

The problem with these questions has to do with perspective. People 2,000 years ago actually had these same questions. Shocking that they also had the same perspective problem.

Our world drives home the mentality of “doing.” The world says the more you do, the more you will have; the more you do, the more you earn; the more you do, the more you are. We have allowed that mentality to dictate our lives.

Jesus came to redefine our “do-mentality” with a “who-mentality.”

We attribute the word “will” to mean purpose. The question of “what is God’s will for my life?” becomes the perspective of “what is God’s purpose for me? What does he want me to do?”

Jesus came to show us that it is not about doing at all. Jesus came to show us that his will is about believing.

There are two specific examples that clearly illustrate Jesus redefining our “do-mentality.” The first comes from a conversation between Jesus and a rich young ruler. This man thought he had it all, but still felt empty. He approached Jesus to ask him a very familiar question that we still ask, “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus immediately points out the perspective problem with his question.  Jesus states, why do you ask about what is good? There is only one WHO is good.

It is not about doing that makes life, life. It is always about the WHO.

The second examples comes from John chapters six and seven. (These chapters are worth marinating on.) In chapter six, people approach Jesus and ask him another familiar question, “What must we do to do the work God requires.” Jesus again addresses the error in perspective.  He responds by saying, “the work of God is this: to BELIEVE in the one he has sent.

The will of God is to believe in him. Eternal life comes from believing. We still get stuck on the perspective that “doing” is what earns us eternal life. God’s will for our lives is not  something we will do. God’s purpose for our lives will always be for us to believe in him.

I think that through believing in him our passions, pursuits, and dreams become clear.

Look at it from James’ perspective. James talks about faith and action, but faith comes before action. Believing is God’s will for my life and for yours.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think God is too concerned about the decisions we make about which job to take, which school to go to, or maybe even where to move. The answer Jesus always gives is about believing in the WHO.  If we choose to believe in him, the leading from him becomes clearer on the where and the what.

Jesus ends one of his points by saying, “For my father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.

I am making the shift from a “do-mentality” to a “who-mentality.”

What are your thoughts on his will?

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Lately, I have been feeling busy. Too busy. I really don’t like being “busy.” For me, busy feels like a chaotic lifestyle. Busy seems to be the alternative answer to “how are you?” right after fine. We are a culture who is growing in busy. We like our busy. It has almost become a comfort zone.

Busy has taken on a status symbol in our culture. It seems that the more busy we are the more important we seem to be.

When did we start to value chaos?

This chaotic comfort zone reminds me of when I worked in foster care. I used to counsel kids, as well as  parents, about the comfort zone of chaos. Kids who had been removed from very unhealthy, and chaotic environments, would start to stir stuff up when placed in a calm home. You see when all you know is chaos, calm seems foreign and stressful. My kids would not know how to act in a loving home that provided stability and peace.

By nature we want comfort. We seek out our comfort zones. What if your comfort zone is unhealthy and chaotic?

It took a long time for my foster kids to make the transition to accepting that peace was okay. I feel like we are stuck in the same place of knowing chaos more than peace, and we are okay with that. We are tired more so than not. Stress owns more hours of our day then what is healthy.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day in my PJ’s watching movies. Some would say that’s a waste of a day. I know some people who would not be able to sit through an entire movie before they felt like they had to be doing something. Anxiety starts to build as the sense of relaxation sets in.

It is hard to listen and hear what is important if we enable life to be filled with noise just for the sense of feeling purposeful.

How do you hear God in the midst of chaos?

Why is “busy” so valued and so important to you?

 

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