A Beauitful Gift

This is a little different from our normal content, but we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about something that has touched all of our lives here at Come to the Table….adoption.  November is National Adoption Month and I wanted to use this blessing of this platform and talk about adoption for a moment.  You see, Melissa and Brandi have adoption weaved through their stories and it is a part of who they are.  For me however, this was something that is fairly new to me and I would love to share with you how adoption has blessed my family greatly!

Up until recently, my family had never dealt with something like infertility before.  We have blended families, but never before have we dealt with the devastating reality of infertility. To be quite honest, I was a little naive to it.  I would joke that my family dealt the opposite problem and it never even crossed my mind that pregnancy wouldn’t come easily to anyone in my family. I’m sure through this time, in my complete ignorance, I said things that probably hurt others who were struggling in silence. I was a part of the problem that feeds into the stigma of infertility and makes people feel like they have to keep their pain to themselves. And for all of that, I am deeply sorry.

My sister was one of those people. I know she and her husband walked a very lonely and hard road for years before any of us knew they were struggling. I am thankful for the people God placed in their lives that were open about their adoption stories and for organizations like the Wyoming Children’s Society that were able to be there for them through this time until they felt comfortable sharing with the rest of the family.

My sister and her husband in one of their photos they used in their adoption book.

When they told us that they were looking at adoption as a way to grow their family, we were excited.  But still, we had no clue what that journey would entail.  The emotional rollercoaster of that year was intense and I watched my sister take it in stride. I watched her faith and confidence in the Lord grow and I watched her and her husband form a bond that grew stronger and stronger. They endured being chosen by a birth mother that ended with a premature birth and that baby not surviving. Months later, they were chosen again and that ended with the birth mother changing her mind. In the world of adoption, they call those “failed placements.” That doesn’t seem to encompass the emotion.  It seems so impersonal. It doesn’t even come close to touching the grief they felt when that baby didn’t survive or the emotional paradox of being sad the birth mother changed her mind, but trusting the decision she made was one that was best for that child.  Even though they never even met either of those children, it still hurt like a loss.

During this time, I felt all I could do was pray for my sister and her husband. I wasn’t sure of what to say.  I was aware that because I never walked this path, I had nothing to speak into their journey…so prayer was all I had. God knew what they needed. I asked for His guidance of what and when to speak.  Would me trying to be helpful actually hurt because of my ignorance to their emotions? Would being silent come off as indifference? God had to guide me and all I could come up with to say was, “We are going to see God work in ways that very few families have the opportunity to.”

I firmly believe that God gave me my children.  He chose me to be pregnant with them and to give birth to them.  But how many mothers get to experience that on a whole different level?  My sister was chosen to be a mother as well…not just by God, but by a birth mother too!  That almost has another level of affirmation that most women don’t get.

And when I say God worked in our family, you have no clue!  The baby that was born prematurely and didn’t survive was supposed to be due around May of 2019.  Also around May of 2019 another woman found out she was pregnant.  She had personal things going on and wasn’t sure if she could care for this baby.  She spent her pregnancy working with an adoption agency and looking through books put together by couples looking to adopt and in February of 2020, she went into labor and she chose a family.  She chose my sister and her husband!

My sister and her husband, my mom, me, my husband and our kids all at a Sidewalk Prophets concert just one week before they got the call.
None of us had any clue our lives were about to change for the better!

They received a phone call from their contact at Wyoming Children’s Society that they had once again been chosen.  This mom was in labor and they needed to leave first thing in the morning to drive across the whole state of Wyoming to go meet their baby.

Taycee on the day she was born!

God knew what He was doing. He knew that this little baby was the one for my sister and her husband. He had other plans for those other two children, but His timing is perfect and He lined everything up perfectly…right down to opening up the main road they needed to travel on that had been closed, buried under feet of snow.  At the end of February 2020, my sister and her husband became parents when they brought Taycee home. They made it official 6 months later and we couldn’t imagine our lives without this wild, sassy, beauitful little girl!

Taycee’s Adoption Day!

As we celebrate National Adoption Month, I want to encourage you to get involved.  Whether it is to pray over families who are on their adoption journey, support a local adoption or family resource center or take the time to talk with an adopting family and learn more like I have. I am surprised at how many people have had adoption touch their lives once I started talking about my sister. Adoption is a beauitful gift!

Our Beauitful Gift!
Amanda Turnbull

Being a Light in a Dark World

After listening to “Right vs. Righteous” again, I got to thinking about all of the things that I did and was a part of that I felt was right but was I really doing what was righteous in the eyes of God. God lead me to Mathew 5:14-16.

In Christian circles, we constantly hear “be a light.” We read the verses about being the light of the world and our minds automatically go to lightbulbs. I even own a shirt that has a salt shaker and a lightbulb on it.

I think of the summer my husband and I got engaged and we went on a road trip with his family. We drove from Colorado to California. As we drove through the dark Nevada desert, we could see the glow of Vegas. It seemed like forever that we could see the glow from the city lights before we could actually see the city.

But is this really the light that we’re called to be like? A lightbulb? Lightbulbs are plugged into a socket and are stationary. You have to travel to the light to be blessed by it. You can put them on a lampstand (today we think light posts) to be more visible, but they’re still stationary. You can put it under a bowl and it still shines. Is this what God is talking about?

When reading the Bible, understanding historical and cultural context is so important. You need to look at who what writing, when they were writing and who they were writing to. And in these verses, Jesus wasn’t talking about lightbulbs. He was talking about fire. Have you ever watched a fire? It almost seems alive. It moves, it spreads, it consumes.

Is the light I’m shining alive and consuming or am I stationary like a light post?

If you put a fire under a bowl, it will be smothered and go out. It needs oxygen and fuel. Am I feeding my light? Am I taking into account that I can’t shine properly for all to see if I am not tending to my fire or am I okay with being a lightbulb that is connected to an artificial socket?

If I needed to carry a fire across town to take it to someone, everyone would see it. It can’t be hidden. Honestly (given my wonderful coordination) I wouldn’t trust myself to not accidently start little fires along the way because I would probably trip or drop my fire and it would spread. However, if someone needed a new lightbulb because theirs burned out, I would be really easy for me to throw one in my purse and take it to them and no one I passed along the way would even know. Is my light evident to all I encounter?

If I’m set on a stand, am I able to be reproduced? A light post just stands there and waits for people who need it to come to it. Moths will come and bump up against it, knocking some dust off themselves, but then they fly off to live their lives. If I wanted to take a torch and light it from that light post to take some of the light with me, I couldn’t. But with fire, you can light endless torches from one fire. And those torches can light other torches. Moths are drawn to the flame for warmth, not just to knock some dust off.

While light bulbs can get hot to the touch, they don’t give off heat the way fire does. We don’t gather around a flashlight while camping to keep warm…we light a fire. If you want your house to feel warm and cozy, you light a fire in the fire place, you don’t just turn on a light.

I want to be a light like what Matthew was really talking about. I want to be a fire starter of faith that is evident to all who I encounter. I want people to feel the warmth form my genuine love. I don’t want to live doing what I think is the “right Christian thing.” I want to live in a way that God views me as righteous.

Amanda Turnbull

Grit Doesn’t Replace Boundaries

I’ve written before about my upbringing. Growing up in Wyoming, in a hard working family and having strong women to look up to, it is really easy for me to live by “pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.”

Over the years, I have become the queen of just powering through. I would use the excuse of having grit to push me forward – felling like all my hard work was for God. And there was a time that was true. I was working hard, knowing that God could see what I was doing. It didn’t bother me that there was little to no recognition, because I wasn’t doing it for people anyway.

I lived in the cycle of “we just have to make it through.” My family suffered because I poured everything I was into my ministries. We went from one season of chaos to another. We just have to make it though this event, then things will calm down. But as soon that was over, we had to move on to the next thing. Year after year, this was our lives.

Then it hit. Burn out. I lived in this world where if I said needed a break, I wasn’t listening to God. How can you be burnt out if you are relying on God for your sustenance? How can you be tired if God is your source of strength? You have to have grit and determination. All the verses that talk about running your race with endurance were thrown in my face to spur me on to do more and more and more.

Through a series of crazy event, God revealed to me that yes, I have grit. When push comes to shove, I’m going to stand firm and do what I’m called to do. When crap hits the fan, I’m not going to crumble. But that has nothing to do with setting healthy and Godly boundaries.

God doesn’t want us to give up when life gets hard, but He never intended for us to live miserably just for the sake of powering through. I strive to live by Acts 20:24. I believe that my own life, my own desire are worthless and I’m only here to do what God has called me to. But how is He going to use me when I’m so exhausted from “being busy for the Lord” (or so I thought) that I’m filled with bitterness and frustration. Are you tired and exhausted? Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” REST! Jesus doesn’t say come to me and I will keep giving you the spiritual equivalent of Red Bull so you can power through.

When I came to this realization, it became clear that I needed boundaries. Healthy and Godly boundaries. I needed to set boundaries so I had room to breath. I started to realize that God gave me my children. Not so I can be so busy with “church stuff” that I was neglecting them, but so I could be a present and engaged mom. And I was doing the same with my husband and friendships.

Do you have any idea what a sobering realization that was? To acknowledge and admit that I wasn’t the wife, the mom, the friend, the sister in Christ that I was called and intended to be because I was so caught up in what I (in my own mind) needed to do and powering through! I spent weeks in lament. Deep lament. This kind of humble, heartbreaking, earth shattering, crying out to God in sorrow and regret.

But then I needed my grit to move on. I realized that my lament had turned into depression and I can’t stay there either. I can’t keeping living in the regret of the broken relationships and shoving God out of the way so I could continue to “run my race.”

Because of my personality, I will always have to keep my grit in check. I will always need to be reminded that boundaries are healthy and I need to focus on who God called me to be at my core. Because grit doesn’t replace boundaries.

Amanda Turnbull

A True Relationship With Christ Isn’t Cliché

In a world where it is so easy to create an unrealistic, picture perfect image of yourself – especially online – it can be tempting to apply that to our Christian walk as well.

We like the pretty, shiny side of Christianity. We like that we are washed clean. We like the postable moments that come from the church festivals and Easter Sundays. We like the parts of scripture that say we are His chosen people and we can ask for our hearts desires. We like things like #blessed and telling people we will pray for them.

It is a little harder though to be honest with someone when we’re struggling. It isn’t fun when our family is a hot mess. It is inconvenient when the enemy throws our past back in our faces and we have to work through some heart issues. We pull away when things look less like #blessed and more like #nightmare.

But why? Why are we so quick say we’re always willing to someone, but we get uncomfortable when someone actually opens up and shares their prayer requests.? Why do we struggle to get our family out the door and to church on time, turning ourselves into a sweaty stressed out mess only to walk in with a fake smile on our faces?

One thing I found in my own life is that when I’m being more and more fake with others, I’m usually trying to be fake in my walk with God too. There have been times in my life where I like to post bible verses to my Insta Story and maybe even add a pic of my open Bible next to my coffee cup, but I’m too busy to actually read it. I like to add comments like “God’s got it” or – even better – “look at the positive” when someone shares something personal, but I don’t take the time to truly invest in their lives to see how I can really come along side of them.

If you look in scripture though, Jesus wasn’t anything like that. He was willing to meet people where they were. He didn’t sit in the temple, shrouded in gold and fine robes and said, “let the poor peasant sinners come to me!” Instead, he walked in the undesirable places and met the undesirable people face to face. He loved them. He took the time to know what they truly needed and came along side of them. How was He able to do this? He was in a real and meaningful relationship with God.

Jesus once said, “I can do nothing on my own. I can only do what I see my Father doing.” What is God doing? God is meeting us in our dark places. God is holding us accountable. God is loving even when it is hard. God is patient when we don’t just “snap out of it.” God is willing to walk through the crap with us instead of just making it all magically better because “God’s got it.”

A true and meaningful relationship with God isn’t a cliché. And since He called us to love others and serve Him here on earth, our lives can’t be fake either.

Cheating Salvation

In this month’s episode, “Religion vs Relationship” I shared my story of how I grew up in church. I shared how I was told that our confirmation classes were intended to confirm both that we were saved and our intentions to be members of the church. Part of that process was being able to write all the books of the Bible…in order and spelled correctly.

I ended up writing the Old Testament books on my left thigh and the New Testament books on my right thigh. I wore a skirt to class the night of the big test and I sat in the back. I was willing to cheat the system to get through the process to be confirmed as saved. I cheated on my salvation test.

As I grew in my faith and had solid women surround me and speak truth into my life, I came to a true understanding of what salvation really is. It isn’t doing all the right steps or saying all the right things. It isn’t really about me and what I know or can do at all. It is about surrender…surrender to the God of the universe that created me to be in a relationship with Him. My sin keeps me from that relationship and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to fix that. I can’t be a good enough person, I can’t pray enough or read my Bible enough. All I can do is accept what Christ did for me. He lived a sinless life and paid the price for my sin when He died on the cross. I surrender my life to Him and allow Him to guide me in all I do.

This went really well for me for a while. I was growing closer to Him and learning more and more what He wanted from me, what He had planed for my life, how He wanted to use the gifts and talents He gave me to glorify Him and build the kingdom. But then things got hard. And I’m not talking about spiritual warfare hard or me wanting to hold onto sin hard. It got hard to feel like I was glorifying Him. I spent the good part of 3 years trying to pinpoint why it felt so hard to do what God was asking me to do.

I recently had some events happen that lead me and my family to reevaluate what we were doing and how we were growing. It started with little feelings and grew to the point where my husband and I felt like God was screaming at us with a bright flashing red flag saying, “Hello? Are you listening to me?” This rocked our world and lead me not only to step away from my job on staff at our church, but ultimately needing to leave that church all together. This wasn’t a decision we came to quickly or lightly. It was heartbreaking.

As we were reflecting on what had gone down, we realized we were once again cheating the system. Things had gotten so hard because we allowed performance to guide our decisions over listening to what God wanted from us. We knew the things that God was asking of us, but when faced with “we don’t do it that way” or “why would you think that is how to do it” enough times, we started to compromise. We would know what God was asking, but we would water it down to fit the mold of what we knew the church wanted.

Where’s the faith in that? It was a HUGE depressing slap in the face to realize that I was a person who claimed Acts 20:24 as my life verse and I was compromising. It took me a couple months to process with God where I had gotten so far off track and what He lead me to was I was once again cheating my salvation.

I was saved and called for a purpose and by compromising, I was living a religious lifestyle. There’s no amount of Christian clichés or rose tinted glasses that could cover up the fact that almost doing what God told me to was NOT doing what He told me to. I held onto a few scriptures so tightly that I pushed others aside. Bottom line, God revealed to me that yes church is your family, but one church isn’t THE church, you can’t love the way God calls you to if you create an “us vs them” environment and you sure as heck can’t claim to be listening to God and the Holy Spirit if you are willing to water down what they say in order to please people.

I had to search my heart with some hard core humility. I had to ask for forgiveness for putting human desires over God’s and I had to accept the fact that by doing so, I was going to be labeled as a traitor by people I had known for 20 years. And you know what? I’m better for it. These past few months have been hard, but rewarding. I am watching my husband and kids be excited about their faith again. I’m excited about my faith again.

It breaks my heart to think about how I may have treated people or the things I missed out on because I was more worried about people than God. I never want to feel this way again. I encourage you to search the things in your life that you are cheating your salvation to have. If you aren’t giving God something 100%, you’re cheating. Ministry, church, family, jobs…it is all temporary. Do you think when we all get home up there, it is going to matter where we worked, what ministry we did or what church we attended? Nope! Our faith will matter. Hope will matter. Love will matter. Jesus is eternal and eternal isn’t worth cheating.

Amanda Turnbull

Come As You Are

“There’s a sign on the door that says “come as you are” but I doubt it. Cause if we lived like this were true every Sunday morning pew would be crowded.” 

These lyrics from the Matthew West song “Truth Be Told” seemed to jump right out of the radio and pierce my heart.  I can’t even remember where I was driving to or what day of the week it was. I only remember that feeling of seriousness that fell over me as thoughts and questions swirled around in my head.

Come as you are, I thought.  I wonder how often we get dressed in our Sunday best only our Sunday best is the fake smile we put on as our little piece of flare or the everything’s okay super Christian façade we wear as an over coat to distract from the less than flattering parts of our figure. Come as you are.

I then began to think I am pretty sure the gospel message is one of Come as you are.
In Romans 5, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” 
In Matthew 11, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
In Luke 5, Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  

My thoughts traveled to my own experiences do I come as I am? Do I welcome others to come as they are?  Am I following a set of rules and standards? Or Jesus? Does my walk look like Jesus and the disciples or the pharisees?  Am I being “Religious” or am I in Relationship?

I recently came across this quote from an unknown author, “Religion is a guy in church thinking about fishing. Relationship is a guy out fishing thinking about God.”

I talk a lot about my relationship with Jesus and I have found that someone will usually respond with a comment about church.  This bothered me for a while because I took it personally, like I was somehow coming of as “Religious”, and I so desperately wanted them to know that I was not.  I even found myself quoting sayings like “Religion doesn’t save people; Jesus Does!” just so people would be clear that I was not being religious. 

What I was missing in all this was that it had nothing to do with me.  There is an overwhelming percentage of people who in some way shape or form have been hurt by religion and their only perception of Jesus is through a lens of not measuring up.  We have to stop. Religion divides it creates an “us vs them” mentality. It breeds an atmosphere where if you don’t look like me, act like me or think like me, you don’t belong.  This is completely opposite the gift that is offered through relationship with Jesus and it’s time we stop and set ourselves straight. 

My Challenge to you today is to look around you. Are there people in your life who are completely unworthy of your time, attention, and love? Do you see them? Can they stand before you and receive the same overwhelming love that you receive when you stand before Jesus?

James 1:22-27:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Melissa Weber

Booyah! Self-Care!

In a recent conversation with a friend, the topic of self-care came up, I responded with a loud laugh and  an awkward statement of; “I think you’ll find me on the wrong end of the spectrum when it comes to self-care, I tend to indulge far too much in caring for myself!” 

My friend’s response, “I don’t there’s anything wrong with indulging in self-care and I think more people should indulge in self-care and not feel bad about it. Imagine what a better world we would live in if everyone cared for themselves better.”

Have you ever played the game boggle?  It’s a game where a tray of letter dice is shaken up and then laid out for you to form as many words as you can from the letters. Aside from an episode of King of the Hill with Peggy yelling “Booyah!” every time she won a match as she climbed her way to boggle fame, I have only played the game once. However, this is the picture I get when I think about my thought patterns.  Here’s what I mean; picture any topic as the little tray and my thoughts are the little dice laid out neatly. I have drawn out my opinions and, just like the words in boggle, I put them on my little score sheet that I tally up and yell “Booyah!” when I have the highest score. 

My friend’s response in the above conversation took my little boggle tray of thoughts and shook them up.  Why was she so confident in promoting self-care? And Why did I feel so guilty for indulging in self-care?

Why did I feel so guilty for indulging in self-care?  Why? My number one go to for self-care is reading the Bible and after that is investing in my physical health and mental wellness. I don’t do these things to the detriment or neglect of my family or responsibilities. So why do I feel guilty? Why have we been convinced that living our lives as depleted, worn out, doormat martyrs is some sort of badge we should tote around? Or some sort of gauge we should use to see if we are really the best mom, the best wife, the best friend? Like she with the least bit of “self” left at the end of the race wins?

I sat with all these thoughts racing and kept coming back to Sovereignty.  We’ve been talking a lot about this idea of Me-Centric and what it means to live in the trap where self is the center of the universe.  What it means for us to give ultimate power and ultimate authority to self rather than to God.  The definition of sovereign means ultimate power or authority. And that title belongs to God and Him alone. 

Acts 4:24
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,

1 Timothy 6:15
which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

Revelations 6:10
They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

The type of self-care I want to talk about is in light of God’s sovereignty. In Ephesians 6 we are given an understanding that there are earthly authorities and spiritual authorities of evil and darkness. But we must remember that God is the supreme power and supreme authority over all. We are also told in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood.  Guess what? That means even within ourselves. Let me ask you this. Are you at war within yourself today? Are you feeling depleted, worn out, or like you’ve lost yourself along the way? A little self-care may be just what you need.  The kind of self-care that is outlined in Ephesians 6. And you thought spiritual armor was just a cool outfit warrior princess got to wear.

Ephesians 6:10-20

  • God is the ultimate authority submit yourself to Him.
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
  • Spend some time caring for yourself by preparing yourself.
    11 put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
  • Care for your Heart, your Mind, your Soul, your Environment, your Health
    13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and shaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and,  as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance,
  • Care for those around you
    making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Amanda wrote last week about the wonderful example her Granny set for being kind and thoughtful to others. A life like that, a life lived poured out for others comes from a full well.  My friends, no matter how hard you try if you are depleted and worn out you are a dry well.

True healing comes only through Christ. The best way I can sum it up is this:
“Hurt people hurt people” to which I will add, “But healed people help others heal.” 

Melissa Weber

You Never Know What Someone is Going Through

When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time with my Granny. I would spend the night at her house, run errands with her and help her at work. One thing that always struck me was just how kind and thoughtful she was to everyone around her.

Back in those days, our small town grocery store didn’t have the little electronic reader that scanned the bar code on an item. Each individual item had a price sticker on it and the checker would have to manually type the price of each item into the register. When we would go to the store together, she would have me put the items on the little conveyer belt so the price stickers were facing the clerk so it was easier for them to ring us up.

In high school, she worked at a diner as a waitress. Every time we would eat at a restaurant, she would always have us stack our dirty dishes nicely so it was easier for the person clearing the table. And she would always tip well.

She would spend countless hours baking and cooking so she could have food on hand for our family “just in case someone stops by and is hungry.” She taught me how to cook and bake. She didn’t just let me pour stuff in. She would stand back and watch me make a gigantic mess and talk me through how to do it. She never got frustrated when I dropped an egg on the floor or tipped over the entire tin containing 10lbs of flour.

Even to this day, my Granny goes out of her way to show kindness to others.  She drives the “old ladies” in her small town to their doctor appointments (even though my Granny is in her 70s herself), she is the first to refill a drink glass at the dinner table for someone and she is always willing to help someone in need. She serves her community and her family well with little regard to herself. Even when people were rude or short with her, she rarely let it effect how she treated them.

I asked her once a long time ago why she was so kind to others. She said, “You never know what someone is going through. They could be having the worst day and you being nice or helpful might make a huge difference.”

Her answer has always stuck with me. To me, she is the living epidemy of Philippians 2:3
“Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.”

My Grandpa and Granny

So many times we are more concerned about how others are effecting us that we rarely consider how we are effecting them. We are focused on ourselves in the here and now. It is all about ME! I get caught up in me all the time…
When I’m in a hurry and the person driving in front of me is going ten under the speed limit…
When my husband says he “just cleaned the kitchen” and I find a sink full of dirty dishes and food smeared down the front of the stove…
When I’m exhausted and my daughter demands I “watch this real quick!” for the 10 millionth time…
When someone is rude and I would like to give them a piece of my mind..
The list could go on and on and on…

But when I catch myself begin full of myself, I often think of my Granny and her reasoning…I never know what those people are going through…
Maybe that person driving too slow is someone’s grandfather or a teen just learning to drive…
Maybe my husband is exhausted from working all day and he didn’t even notice the spill…
Maybe my daughter just needs to know I care enough to pay attention…
Maybe that person is being rude because they have had to deal with rude people all day…
What could my one tiny act of kindness mean to them? How could God reveal Himself to them in that moment? How could it be a seed that is planted that there s a God who created them, loves them and has a purpose for them?

Does there need to be boundaries and accountability? Absolutely! But that is a different topic. I’m talking about the little tiny moments when I look less link Jesus and more like a Karen. Those are the moments that I must choose kindness because you never know what someone is going through and my attitude could make a huge difference in their day!

Put the shoe on the other foot for a second. When was a time you were having just a crap day and one person’s moment of kindness was monumental to you. How did that make you feel? Loved, seen, heard, cared for? God wanted you to feel that and He wants others to feel that too! And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that!

Amanda Turnbull

Worshiping the Things of God is Not Worshiping God

I began to recognize that most of my conversations were about what I am doing and less about what God is doing. How I am serving and how I do things. How I think everything should go and how my way, my plan, and my ideas are right because after all I am following God. Right?

I mean really, God called me to this ministry, right? He gifted me for such a time as this, right? I’m the one doing all the work, right? This is my life and I’m following Jesus, right?

When Eve was in the garden of Eden there is a crafty and sneaky little shift that occurs in her interaction with the enemy.

Genesis 3:1–6 (ESV):
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.

Did you catch it? The conversation starts out about God and what He said but, the serpent very sneakily shifts the conversation to be all about Eve.

 “You won’t die…Your eyes will be opened…You will be like God.” And Eve saw that she would be satisfied.
When the serpent said You will not die, Eve saw the tree was good for food.
When the serpent said Your eyes will be opened, Eve saw that it was a delight to the eyes.
When the serpent said You will be like God, Eve saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.

What I find most interesting about this interaction between the serpent and Eve is that the very thing that deceived Eve is the very thing that caused the enemy to be cast out of Haven. 

Ezekiel 28:17 says:
“Your Heart became proud on account of your beauty and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.”

Ezekiel 28 speaks of the enemy as the signet of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, blameless from the moment he was created, blameless until unrighteousness was found in him.  Satan exchanged his worship of God for the thing created by God. HIMSELF. Eve exchanged her worship of God for the thing created by God. HERSELF. She chose her survival, her desires, and her authority over the sovereignty of God.

When I came to recognize that I had been so craftily and sneakily misguided in my thinking about my life and my ministry work, I realized how proud I had become on account of my efforts.  I also realized that I am not alone. The conversations and attitudes that I was experiencing are becoming increasingly pungent in Christian circles.  We have exchanged “what God is doing” for “what I can do for God.” Our worship has turned from “Who God is” to “who I am and how do I worship.”  We shop churches as if they are a commodity and we serve those who construct our ladder of success. Except for a slapped-on bible verse or an “I’m doing it for Jesus” slogan, there is very little difference between the evidence of a Christian walk and the walk of the world.

Sister, it’s time to re-evaluate. Denying yourself is hard when everything around you is feeding your self-worth.  Pride is being fueled daily by crafty, sneaky devices and we justify ourselves continually as we forge ahead running our race.  May we throw away the desire to fulfill self and truly be fed and filled only through Christ.

Melissa Weber

Moving Past “All About Me”

It is SO easy to make things “all about me.” Especially in today’s world.  We are being bombarded with messages that it is all about us, we should all be doing what is best for us and we should never have to be in difficult situations.

After the depression, wars and the baby boom, parents have slowly – with each generation – tried to keep their children from experiencing the hardships that they had to endure. Yes, we hope our children have a better life, but if we keep them from all hardship, how will they ever grow, persevere and understand their need for a savior?

THAT is the reality of the American church today – we don’t understand our need for a savior.  We like the idea of a God that loves us unconditionally, has a beautiful paradise prepared for us in Heaven and tells us things like “I have plans to prosper you” and “ask for whatever you wish and it will be given” but we don’t want a God that tells us how to live, holds us accountable or wants us to want Him more than we want our own needs.

Judges 21:25 says, “In those days, there was no king in Israel, everyone did whatever seemed right to Him.”  Sound familiar?

So we can sit here and complain how the younger generations are lazy, entitled and rude and we can continue to blame the schools, the government or the internet…or we can do something about it. 

You have a circle of influence.  The family in your home, the people at work, the barista at the coffee shop, the cashier at the store, the person in the car next to you on the interstate.

Are you living, speaking, behaving (and FB posting) in a way that they see the love of Christ in you? Or are you more concerned about your agenda or your timeline?

 Are you teaching your kids to think of others above themselves and to consider that everyone’s actions and words are an outpouring of their current situation or are you fine with your kids thinking they are better and more important than others? 

Does kindness really matter or is it just a fun hashtag we add to what we post on Insta?

Being “ME-centric” is a world wide infection that not a single person is immune to.  We are born infected with it. Ever watch a couple 1yr-olds fight over a sippy cup? We all, no matter how spiritual we feel we are, are all subject to being selfish at any given moment of any given day. This is the world we live in. So how do we move past it?

We can try, we can pray, we can ask for accountability.  All good things, but eventually we will fail.  We will try hard but get frustrated when someone cuts us off in traffic and will honk, yell and give hand gestures.  We will pray, but then we will grow lazy or distracted. We will have accountability, but eventually we will get frustrated with that person and then start pointing out all the things they do wrong in their life.

We have to change our thinking. Last month, my pastor gave a sermon about being ambassadors.  Did you know that US ambassadors are not elected, they’re chosen?  Have you ever voted for the US ambassador to Kenya or Norway? No.  They are chosen by the leaders of the United States to go and represent America on foreign soil.  They go and live in a foreign land, amongst the foreigners for one reason – to do all they can to represent the United Stated of America, support their foreign relations and protect their US citizens in that land. They don’t get to promote their own personal agendas or live like they’re on vacation.

We are ambassadors for Christ.  We were not elected by the pastors of our churches to be saved by Jesus.  We were chosen and adopted into the family of Christ. We are not citizens of this world.  We are here to live in this foreign broken land, do all we can to represent Christ, build relationships with those who are not in the Kingdom in the hopes of them seeing Christ in us and accepting what He did for them personally and make Him the Lord of their lives and we must encourage, support and cheer on the believers around us. We need to put our own agendas and emotions aside and stop living like we’re on vacation.

Amanda Turnbull