Diversity

Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. 

In Genesis 1:27, we read, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created each one of us in His own image, to reflect His glory and here on this earth.

However, we were not created as cookie cutters—identical to every other person on this earth. If you simply look around your local mall, you will see a wide range of different genders (male and female), races (black, white, asian, hispanic, etc.), and personalities (introverts, extraverts, etc.). We are all different, yet we all bear the image of God. God’s fingerprint is in each and every person who walks this planet today. 

Sixty-five years ago, a Baptist minister by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. used his voice to bring this vision into reality. He had a dream that someday, his children “would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. Today, we see the product of this dream as reality—a reality where all people are to be treated equally in society. Where people have equal access to education, public spaces, and grocery stores. We live in a better world because one man dared to dream. 

I am a firm believer that equality and diversity is God’s dream too. In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We serve a God who sees beyond race and gender. Who looks at the heart when society looks at appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Who desires that we love each other as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Who desires to see us free from bondage and oppression (Psalm 9:9). Who loves and cares about each one of us as His own (1 John 3:1).

I want to challenge you, this MLK Day and every day, to see the people around you as God sees them. To appreciate the diversity around you and the incredible ways that God has made us all so different—yet, at the same time, so similar.

How we are all a reflection of the God that we serve.

 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”” – Revelations 7:9-10 

 

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Worship

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” – Psalm 100:1-2 
One of my favorite parts of going to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights is without a doubt the chance to worship alongside other believers. There is something about worshipping God alongside fellow Christians that is practically otherworldly—a feeling that nothing in this world can top. Whether we’re singing a slow song and raising our hands in surrender or rocking out to a fast song and totally getting into it, there is nothing quite like worship. But, what if worship is meant to be more than just singing?
We tend to think, as Christians, of worship being the time between when we walk in the doors and the time when the pastor gives the message. Something that happens at church, or maybe at a Newsboys concert. But what if worship is more than that? What if it is meant to be something that we do daily—part of the rhythm of our day-to-day life as believers?
In Romans 12, Paul writes, “So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.” (Romans 12:1). In this verse, the Apostle Paul is urging believers to live their lives as an offering poured out to God, which he describes just a few beats later as worship. Here, we are called to a worship that goes beyond just the sound of our voices on Sunday morning. We are called to worship that starts with our lives.
But, what does this look like? What does it look like to live your life as a living sacrifice—as a worship poured out to God? What does it mean to live our lives in this way?
According to the Google definition of the word, worship is “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”. Oswald Chambers, the late evangelist and teacher describes worship this way – “Worship is giving God the best that he has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to him in a deliberate act of worship.”
In other words, we can worship God through everything that we do in this life – just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 10:31. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
It can be so easy to get so caught up in the mundaneness of life that we forget that everything that we do as Christians is in essence, something sacred. There is no such thing as a ‘secular’ task if we are living our lives for God, because in everything we do we can pour out our praise to the God who placed breath inside of our lungs. When we eat, we can thank God for the way that He has blessed us. When we drive to work, we can pray to the God who sustains us. When we write, or dance, or play sports, we can do it all for the God who has given us these gifts. Everything that we do as Christians can be an act of worship!
This week, I want to challenge you to look at the moments in your week differently.
To see the small ways that we can worship God in the midst of the ordinary.
To never allow ourselves to stop being in wonder at the majesty of our God, Savior and Creator!
To truly live your life as an act of worship. 
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How about you? How do you worship God in the day to day rhythms of your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!😃  

Christmas Classics: It’s A Wonderful Life

*Warning, this post contains spoilers

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10. (NIV) 

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“When the bell rings, an angel gets their wings.”

Today is officially the last day of my Christmas Classics series, and I am closing it with one of the most well-known Christmas classics of our time: It’s A Wonderful Life. 

It’s A Wonderful Life is a (black and white!) Christmas movie created in 1946 about a young man named George Bailey who learns the meaning of Christmas after being visited by an angel named Clarence. George is at the end of his rope and contemplating suicide, after being faced with a lot of disasters at work that feel too big for him to handle. He sees no point in continuing to live until the angel shows him how his life has touched others—and what the world would be like without him. Through this he learns to see the value of his life and goes back to be with his family—and celebrates Christmas with a renewed hope, joy, and purpose.

It’s A Wonderful Life asks the timeless question that many of us have probably asked ourselves at some point: Does my life matter? Am I making a difference? Would this world be different if I weren’t there? And despite the notion that an angel “getting their wings when the bell rings” might be a little theologically shakey, there are a lot of good lessons that we, as Christians, can learn from this movie.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (NIV) and 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV).

God has plans for each one of us, and whether or not we were ‘planned’ in the natural sense, God knew and formed each one of us before we were born! Though Jeremiah 1:5 is speaking about Jeremiah, it applies to each one of us—before we were even formed God knew us, and had an incredible plan for our lives! And in 1 Peter 2:9, Peter is speaking to every believer who has been called out of darkness, into God’s glorious light! God’s desire for each one of us is life, and that we live out the dreams that He has for us and impact those around us! 

If you’re reading this today, and asking any of the same questions that George Bailey asked in It’s A Wonderful Life, than I want you to know one thing above all else: your life matters! God would not have created you intricately and divinely in your mother’s womb if it didn’t. If you are alive and breathing today than God still has plans for you. If you just look around to those that you see each and every day, you will find lives that God wants you to impact—in your school, in your friend group, and in your family. And, there is no one else on this planet that can live out the life God created you to live! You matter. To God, and to so many people that see and interact with you every day! 

Maybe you’re reading this today and thinking ‘I already know this. I already know that my life and every other life on this planet matters.’ If that’s the case, than maybe you’ll find yourself in a different character in this story—Clarence. Maybe God wants to use you to encourage someone in your sphere of influence today, and remind them that their life matters! Maybe God wants to use you as someone’s guardian angel. God will often use us to speak to those who are hurting, and maybe as you’re reading this, the Lord is putting someone on your heart that you need to talk to. If that’s the case, than I want to challenge you to be obedient. You never know how God might want to use you in another person’s life! Maybe you could be somebody’s Clarence! 

If you get nothing else out of this post, than please remember this: God loves you, your life matters, and God wants to use you to impact the lives of others. In the words of the pastor/writer Max Lucado, “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the Earth by the Master Craftsman.” 

May we always remember this; this Christmas, and the rest of our days!

Pumpkins & Faith

When I was little, my family used to go to the pumpkin patch every year to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween. 

Though we didn’t usually go Trick Or Treating, or do much else remotely Halloween-related, I always loved carving the annual pumpkin and personalizing it to put in front of our house. I would draw a face on it with a sharpie and my dad would carve it. Sometimes, I would even take it a one step further, and personalize the pumpkin with a bow. Yes, I was that kid.

However, there was one part of carving the pumpkin that I always hated—cleaning it! I was never a big fan of the scent and the stuff inside of it always used to gross me out. It was wet and slimy—and sometimes it would take forever to pull it all out! Nonetheless, if we wanted to carve it, and put a light inside of it at the end, we had to do it. Cleaning the pumpkin was all part of the process of turning it from an ordinary pumpkin into a masterpiece. 

It’s a lot like that with our faith journey, isn’t it? Sometimes, in our own life, it can feel a lot like God is “cleaning us out”. When He is bringing us through a season of tremendous growth. When He is working through our baggage and old habits. When He is freeing us of strongholds or allowing circumstances that force us to grow.

These kinds of seasons can be hard, and they often aren’t pleasant, but they are absolutely essential in the life of the Christian. We must let God “clean us out” so that we can shine brightly for Him and become all that He intended for us to be.

1 Corinthians 5:17-21 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

God loved each and every one of us when we were still in the “pumpkin patch”. When we were dirty, and plain, and filled with pumpkin goop. But He also loves us far too much to let us stay there! Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, OLord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” This point is further illustrated in Ephesians 2:10, where the apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians that, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.As Christians, we are all living in the process of sanctification, where God takes ordinary “pumpkins” and turns them into a masterpiece!

He puts a “light” inside of each one of us so that we can shine for Him and live for His Kingdom!  Matthew 5:14-16 says,You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Like pumpkins, God calls us each to shine our lights so that we may point people to Him through our life, our words, and our love!

This fall, as you walk past pumpkins in the grocery store, or in your neighborhood, take a moment to remember all that God has done and is continuing to do in your life! Take a moment to be thankful for how far God has brought you in your faith journey. And, never stop shining your light for Jesus!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” – Ephesians 3:20.

How about you? Have you ever gone through a time where you felt like a pumpkin—when God was taking you through a season of growth? If you have, feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear your stories!