Browsing Tag

serving the poor

Christian Life, Faith, Prayer

Devotional 3: Let’s Get Real

One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. Steven Furtick

Seven months ago, we moved into a new home.

My husband came home and said one of his supervisors suggested he host a get-together at our house as a kick-off and team building effort. He immediately quipped, saying “I don’t have a big house. I don’t have much furniture. Have you seen what I drive? It’s a beat-up, 10 year-old Toyota Forerunner. People would not be impressed with our home.”

It’s not that he was opposed to hosting something, but he knew from this supervisor’s request that she assumed we lived in well-off. To an extent, we do. But probably not in a way that was percolating in her mind’s eye.

The fact of the matter is, there’s a tendency in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area to live up to other people’s expectations and to use an old phrase, “Keep up with the Jones’.”

I’ll be honest, that desire sometimes hits me, too. And I fight it. I fight it hard!

I’ve grown to appreciate and seek God’s approval over others. So if someone doesn’t appreciate my house for what it is? It doesn’t matter because it’s beautiful to me. (At least, that’s what I tell myself, even when I only half believe it.)

But I’ll be honest, the suggestion from my husband’s colleague did bring up some insecurities. And I wondered where my confidence truly lies.

Are you an effective witness for Christ online?

Like I said, I struggle with trying to give the appearance that I’ve got it all together and that my house, and my life, is picture perfect. But that wouldn’t be true. And when you think about it, what’s so wrong being imperfect, authentic and honest?

We live during a time where people, even Christians, crave attention, acquiring it through more “likes,” “followers,” and accolades. 

When did disciples of Jesus become such attention-seekers and spotlight hoggers? (Is that a word?)

It’s a tricky thing when you’re a Christian, too. Because there’s a temptation to play up your Christiandom. An update might read: “Wow. I’m so humbled to serve the poor today. #servingtheneedy”

Do humble people really need to announce on social networks what they’ve accomplished for the Lord?

I tell you, no. In fact, the Bible offers instructions on how to behave in situations such as this. Check this out:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing… Matt. 6

If Jesus doesn’t want one hand to know what the other hand is doing, how much more would he disapprove of behavior that publicly showcases what are supposed to be humble acts of service?

When is it okay to ‘brag’?

Do you think there’s a way to share about these things without it being borderline or outright boastful? Perhaps.

How about inviting others to join you? What about sharing of a time when you weren’t so focused on other people, and because of Christ, you are able to help others today?

How about including scriptures on why it’s important to serve the poor? How about sharing about those acts of kindness as a way to persuade more people to follow Jesus, not follow you?

Let’s see what the Bible says about this…

But let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,
declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:24 NIV

And again…

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31 NIV

I recently wrote about the work that I’ve put into our little fixer-upper of a house. And when I reflect on that work,  it keeps me humble.

It reminds me of what it means to be frugal and wise with the money the Lord has blessed us with. And it reminds me that your house doesn’t necessarily be a masterpiece and impeccably designed in order for it to be a “home.” That what really matters is the presence of love inside those walls.

Similarly, as Christians, we don’t have to be perfect, or appear perfect, to be an effective witness for Christ.

In fact, authenticity and humility should rule our hearts — not the prospect for more likes, followers and high-fives from others, the onlookers and lurkers of the internet (as tempting as they may be).

What about you? How are you an effective witness for Christ on social media and in life in general?

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33

Christian Life, Faith, Inspiration

Devotional 1: Fixer Upper

Several months ago, we moved into a new home.

The new home is definitely an upgrade from the two-bedroom, one bath, 800-square foot abode that we owned and resided for 8 years prior.

The new neighborhood is much quieter and safer, too.

But if I’m being honest. The new house is a bit of a fixer-upper, too. And it is not the kind of fixer-upper you’re going to see transformed in a 20-minute segment like that on Joanna and Chip’s HGTV hit show, Fixer Upper.

It’s the kind of house that you know is a bit of a fixer upper when you buy it, but vow to turn it into something beautiful later on. Much later on. Not in, like, two weeks. We’re talking over the course of two years (at least). Because let’s face it, renovations cost money and, like the old saying goes: Money doesn’t grow on trees.

To commence our renovation journey (remember, we’re in it for the long haul), I did several inexpensive DIY projects myself.

I stripped off the dingy, dirty carpet on the stairs. I pried out thousands of tiny, blood-thirsty carpet nails over the course of 8 months.

I sanded the stairs lightly, and then patched a number of holes and gaps with a white putty substance that dries and is paintable in minutes. Lastly, I slathered the stairs with three coats of white paint.

The tile floor was grungy, but in good shape. So I spent a number of days pouring caustic cleaner on it and letting it sit. When it started to bubble and fizz, I knew the dirt was loosening, and I’d scrub the grout lines and wipe away the grime.

I tell ya, those fumes nearly killed me, but I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed until the grout lines started to reveal their original hue.

In the kitchen, I painted the ceiling and walls, as well as put a fresh coat of paint on the surface of the cabinets. Endured more cleaning. And I installed a faux backsplash. (Please try not to judge me for my sink full of dirty dishes.)

In my haste to see the transformation come quickly, I ripped up the laminate wood floors in the dining room, hoping to find original hardwood floors underneath.

To my dismay, what appeared were run-of-the-mill subfloors. I had already discarded the laminate floor slabs, and so we are currently making do with our subfloors.

We’ll eventually purchase new hardwood floors and we plan to invest in a new dining table, but because moving is costly we are trying to be wise with our expenditures, not moving too hastily to buy a new ‘this’ and a new ‘that.’

As I’m making improvements around my new house, I can’t help but wonder if God sees me the same way — that I’m a little bit of a fixer upper, too, that needs some tender-loving care.

In fact, I really don’t need to wonder. Because I’m pretty certain He does. Psalm 139: 13 says that God “created my inmost being” and that He “knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Yes, my sisters, he is restoring me and making me whole once more. That which sin made dirty and unrecognizable from its original conception, He is making clean again.

I was 19 years old when God called me into this life called discipleship.

And since then, through character-building life events, He has chipped away at the faulty exterior and built in me a new way of thinking and patterns of righteous behavior.

With His skilled hand in my life, the good Lord continues to make me over, transforming my proverbial interior and exterior construction into, one glorious day, a sight to behold.

And just like my own home renovation project, this fixer upper called Emily, is still a work in progress.

How is the Lord still working on you?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV

Prayer

Lord almighty, you are a righteous God who sees me in all of my mess and, yet, extends your hand to me with loving grace. I praise you for first creating me, and then making me whole and clean again through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. May I always answer your call to be made new from the inside-out, all the days of my life. Amen.