Tag Archives: bravery

Bravery in Community

We weren’t meant to struggle alone, and we weren’t meant to be brave alone. It’s taken me years to work that out in my head. It’s hard to be brave or to be vulnerable when your trust has been betrayed. I’ll be covering who to be brave with in more detail tomorrow, but let’s just say that time and God’s love have worked on my heart enough where I feel ready to be brave again.

Why do we need to be brave with each other and not just by ourselves? Number one–God calls us to. Hebrews 10:24-25 says this, “And let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I used to read these verses and think they were talking about the early church, but I don’t anymore. They have become rooted deep in my heart and have a more personal meaning to me now.

The second reason is that if we tell someone what we’re thinking or feeling, we have a tendency to be more committed and follow through with whatever we’ve said. In other words, we’ve shown commitment to the people around us. Because of our bravery or our vulnerability, there will be people who will ask how it’s going or whether we’ve accomplished that thing we set out to do. These are things that will help us stay accountable and were what God meant, I think, when He created us to live in community with one another.

This is a hard thing for those of us in the western church. We have such an individualistic mind-set that we think we can’t or shouldn’t depend on anyone else. Church is a box to be checked off, and we think our relationship with God is something that is just between us and Him with no one else involved. I’ve learned that this is not true. It is so not true, but it takes all of us being brave and vulnerable to be the church God wants us to be in His world. To be God’s community to our hurting world.

Our news is filled with shootings, sickness, selfish people, and evil. Can we who are believers be brave enough to be different? Can we be Jesus to those who are hurting? Can we be brave in our communities of believers? I don’t know about you, but my heart wants to try. I’m praying we will all have the desire to have a heart like His!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

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Brave Day by Day

I resonate with Gideon’s story in Judges 6. He belonged to the weakest clan in Israel, and God wanted to send him out to defeat the Midianites. Gideon thought he was the wrong person for the job, and I guess, according to the world’s eyes, he was. He wasn’t big enough, strong enough, prosperous enough, any of the “enoughs” that we think are important in defeating our enemies. And he was hiding too! Definitely doesn’t rate as brave and courageous in my book. But, God used Gideon anyway. God used him though Gideon tested Him more than once, and God used him through the amount  of men Gideon had to fight the battle. (Hint, it wasn’t that many.) By the time Gideon and his men were done, it was very evident God’s hand was in their defeat of the Midianites.

So, how is it we read these stories in Scripture and think that we can’t measure up to what God wants us to do? Gideon didn’t, and God still used him. But we think, of course, God used Gideon. He’s mentioned in the Bible. We don’t think though that God would want us because of whatever reason. Think about it this way. Do you think God got tired of Gideon testing Him? God could have said, ‘Come on, Gideon, get with the program. It’s time to defeat the Midianites.’ He didn’t say any of those things though. No, God was patient with Gideon like He is with us. He wants to build us up each day so we will have greater courage and bravery than the day before. He wants to work through us and not around us.

That is the lesson I have had the hardest time learning. There are times when bravery comes to me easily, and I think I can do anything for God or in His Name, and then there are times when…I am not brave at all. I tend to give up completely during those times. It might have been a dream God had given me or a nudge to speak to someone about Him and His love. But, when I don’t do these things because of fear or the minutiae in my life, I tend to beat myself up over and over thinking I am a failure to God.

But, I’m not, and we’re not. What God is doing in our lives is happening over a lifetime, and we will never arrive at perfection during our lifetime. That comes later, when we are with Him. So, I don’t need to be intimidated by the person or persons who seem to have it all together at church. I don’t need to be intimidated by the Christian speaker or writer who appears to have nothing wrong with him. I am the person who God made me to be, and nothing changes that! As the author says in the devotional, “You are deeply loved and called to be courageous by a God who is perfect and perfectly trustworthy.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Our God is also making us brave day by day. May we all realize this truth today!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

 

Trusting in Sparks

I’m beginning the third week of this journey toward bravery today. It’s been interesting to see writing become a habit in my life. It’s  been even more interesting to see the stories God is giving me to write about and how they are related to the devotions. I wasn’t sure that the ideas would come as easily as they have, but the words have flowed, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Today’s devotion is about the mind. We all have a lot on our minds. From work to family, to spouse, to friends, it seems never-ending. Then, there are all the things the world says we should care about. No wonder a good majority of us suffer from information overload. We don’t know what to do with everything that is being thrown at us.

God has an answer (You probably suspected I would say that. 🙂 ) Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” God wants us to put Him first and not anyone else. He wants us to live in this world like we’re passing through it and not like we are taking up residence to stay forever like many of us do. How many of us can truly say that we have let God transform our minds to consider Him and others first before we consider ourselves? A hard question, to be sure,  and one that, for me, is a continual work in progress.

Another thing the mind can give us is ideas, or sparks like in today’s title. Each of my writing ideas has come from a spark, a spark which has hopefully blessed you. It has taken me years to call myself a writer in public, but I finally decided that this ability is what God has blessed me with, and that the least I can do is be honest about my gift with the people I come in contact with. If it is meant for me to be published, God will make it happen. My job right now is to write, write, and write some more.

At the beginning of this post, I promised you a story about sparks. Yesterday, I was at church when a man came up front to speak before the offering. He talked about the mission our church supports in another country. Planning is underway for this summer’s trip. (A group usually goes every summer to do things like construction, Vacation Bible School, and anything else that might be needed.) Anyway, when this man said we wouldn’t be bringing Jesus to this mission, that we would meet Jesus there, I heard a voice in my head. ‘You need to sign up.’

I responded (in my head, of course). ‘What! God, you know I can’t. You know what my checking account looks like. My sons aren’t done with college yet. There’s no extra money floating around.’

It was quiet for a moment. Then, I heard the voice again. ‘Do you think I don’t know that, dear daughter? I know all of it, and I still want you to go. It will answer a lot of your questions about what comes next.’

I had more comments to make during this inward conversation, mostly superfluous. But, then God said something that stopped me in my tracks. ‘Do you trust me?’ I haven’t done the best job of showing that recently. I’ve been overwhelmed by a number of circumstances which have made me lose my joy and my bravery. (which is why I started this series of blog posts) By this time, the service was almost over. I had a choice, really, it was only one choice. ‘Yes, God, I trust you, and I will show you I trust you without a safety net.’ I made my way over to the gentleman who coordinated this effort and told him of my interest. I felt a releasing of the tightness of fear from my chest when I said the words. Stepping out in faith, I said to myself. Stepping out in faith.

And this is why I entitled today’s post “Trusting in Sparks.” God is teaching me to be brave so I can be free of guilt and shame. He wants to change the world through me and through the sparks (ideas) he gives me. Praying for continued trust in our Lord and Savior!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!