On Mission Together / Passion.

 

I have been a person of passion my whole life, I have always felt things strongly. Thankfulness, sadness, joy, anticipation, worry, injustice, hurt. Every feeling feels like something is about to burst within me. Think back to the movie Inside Out for a moment, I resonate with it because that is truly how I feel. My emotions have personalities that claw to get to the surface. Often what you see of the adult me is a very muted version of how strongly I truly feel on the inside. I have learned and am learning how to channel my passion and use my strong feelings for good.

Passion is described as an “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction”. People can get very passionate about passions! Passion, as an emotion, can be fickle or untrustworthy as it ebbs and flows. Passion can be a uniting or dividing force depending on if we are passionate about the same or opposing things. Passion can also be an excuse, “Oh, I am not passionate about that…” Meaning, I don’t have to do anything or care about (fill in the blank) because it isn’t my passion.

I look around and see a lot of comparing passions. Feelings of guilt because some of us aren’t as passionate about certain things as others of us. We write people off as overly passionate or as having a great lack in passion scoffing at their dramatization or apathy. In all our scoffing, judging, misunderstanding, comparing and ignoring I believe we are allowing the enemy to use passion to divide us and I also believe that instead of being divided our passion can be the greatest uniting force.

What if I told you that if you call yourself a Christ follower, if you have been compelled and captured by the love displayed for you on the cross and the love you have for Christ, in return then you and I share the same passion. A passion for God.

When I think about my passion, I think about the driving force behind what I do. What is my life centered on? What is my greatest conviction? It is my love for God. This is what drives me. This is what centers my life, my greatest conviction is that everything in life is found in Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

What if we all operated out of the truth that God is our passion: our sole focus, conviction, devotion and ardent affection? Then passion wouldn’t be something that divides us but something that unites us, a solid unifying driving force.

In 1 Corinthians we are called the Body of Christ. Maybe you have heard this passage since you were a child. What is an arm without an eye? Feet without knees? Every part is important, needed, necessary and Christ is the head of the church, or the body and it is because of his sacrifice on the cross that we exist as individuals or together. I believe in the body of Christ, even with our many flaws and failures. I believe that we truly are better together and I also believe that our enemy doesn’t want us to be united as one following hard after our unified passion – Creator God.

Today, I challenge you to look at passion differently. Instead of thinking of passion as something you may or may not have as much or little of as others think of it as something we all have in common, a common passion for our God. This is what drives us, this is what unites us this is what makes us the body of Christ.

Join me on Wednesdays in January as we explore the idea of being on Mission together. What does this look like? How can we be united and confident as we play our different roles? Let’s explore together the ideas of passion, calling and work, how they unite us and how we can further the mission of the gospel, together.

Cry Out! Fasting.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7

January is a month for cleanses, and detox. Most everyone indulges from November through December and now it is time to start the year fresh and clean. Before the days of Whole 30 a few January’s in a row Chris (husband) and I did the Daniel fast. It had us eating mainly vegetables, nuts, and fruits. It was a time to refocus on what was important – a reset for our bodies and minds.

When I was in Missionary Training School we were encouraged to fast. When you feel the hunger pains it drives you to think about why you are fasting, to focus your mind on God. A classmate of mind likened fasting to Christian dieting when she jokingly said she was going to quit eating chocolate and call it a fast because that sounded better. At the time, and years later, we laughed at this. Maybe it is funny because it is also close to the truth. This is the danger with any spiritual ritual, it can become a box we check for the sake of achieving or earning something. The very nature of a fast is for us to get something from God – insight, wisdom or a feeling of nearness. We want clarity, cleanness, cleansing. The very premise of a fast is denial and yet we enter it ready to receive something in exchange for what we have given up.

When we look at Isaiah 58 verses 6 & 7 we see God calling for a different kind of fast. This is God’s response to the people’s cry earlier in verse 3  when they are accusing Him, ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’. We checked the boxes they say, did what you asked us. Why aren’t you holding up your end of the deal? He comes back seeing through their lists and rituals looking directly at their hearts. No he says, you seek your own pleasure and oppress all your workers. Then in verse 6 he gives a mandate for a new kind of fast, one that looks much different then the one they were engaging in. A fast to;

Loose the bonds of Wickedness.

Let the Oppressed go free.

Share your bread with the hungry.

Let the homeless into your house.

Cover the naked.

Not to hide yourself from your own flesh.

This fasting is heart of the matter fasting. This fasting is true denial, not of the momentary pleasure and satiation of eating but more uncomfortable. The giving up of our ways, caring about another’s freedom like we care about our own, sharing our bread and our home and our clothing. Living open handed with our material things. This goes deeper than a little denial for a period of time. This is a constant, sacrificial lifestyle of denying oneself and then going the extra mile by giving to another.

The first part of the first verse of Isaiah 58 grabs my heart, makes me sit up and listen. It screams pay attention – this is important!

“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet…”

God has something to say to these self righteous, list accomplishing, box checking, self justifying, pride filled people.

“…declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.”

He has something to say to me too, and you if you choose to listen. Cry aloud, do not hold back, lift up your voice like a trumpet and tell my people, my people, their transgression and their sins. He goes on to say that they act as if they want to know him, they act as if they were righteous and delight in seeking him but they don’t. They have forsaken the judgement of God and have turned to their own pleasures.

I am driven to my knees heart and head bowed before my awesome God and sovereign Creator. I hear the cry echoing in the chambers of my soul, the trumpet jarring me out of my self centered delusions that God has somehow failed me when in fact I am the one who fails him and in his infinite grace he allows me to come back to follow. This chapter is a stern rebuke, yes. But don’t miss what it is also – a second chance. A teachable moment. An opportunity for redemption. God says you are centered on yourself and you think you are righteous, but here! Here is what you can do. This is what is truly acceptable to me. He said it then to His People and he says it now to hearts turned towards his in true humility.

Do you hear the cry? Do you feel the trumpets vibrations? The call to a true fast, a true lifestyle of denial. Seeing and sacrificing for those around us the way that the Three in One God denied his rights and sacrificed for us.

The question is : What is our answer?

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. In the United States we contribute to Sex trafficking through our pornography addictions, allowances of sexual exploitation and dehumanization of people in our culture. We also contribute to labor trafficking through what we purchase and our insatiable needs for a deal and convenience. Together labor and sex trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. The sale of humans is the fasting growing industry today. This month you can begin to do something about the millions of slaves that we employ through our ignorance by becoming educated and involved. Follow Stories Foundation for highlighted organizations, information on why human trafficking happens and how together we can begin to change the tide.

Rejoice (What we do now).

I am sitting in a post Christmas haze. My throat hurts, there are pine needles all over my house and I am exhausted. This past December was especially busy with hosting and celebrating and I am grateful for every minute. In all the bustle rest has been allusive and the last few days my bodyContinue Reading

Preparing For Christmas - A 25 Day Devotional for Families during the Month of December.

Grab Preparing For Christmas as we head into the Holiday Season. Be ready to use this time to focus on the true meaning and impact of Christmas with your family.

I wrote Preparing for Christmas because I wanted something I could do with my family that would turn our hearts towards what Christmas really means for us. Every year we go through Preparing for Christmas and we would love to have your family join us. Love, Steph

Order your copy today.

What is home? 

Things hanging on the walls, thousands of square feet, a fenced in backyard? Or is it more than that; a sense of belonging, safety and warmth.

Maybe home isn’t something we come to but something we bring with us. Join me as we explore the idea of home while looking at the life of Abraham in a 6 part series.

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