What in the World?!

The concept of “the world” and how we respond to it, has been mauled beyond recognition for many Jesus followers. What is “the world”? And where is the biblical basis for our responses/reactions?

By listening and observing other Christians, I can confidently say that many have no clue how the bible defines “the world”…and we’re hurting people in the process.

Here’s the rundown of our Biblical sources:

1 Timothy 6:11-14 tells us to, “…keep the commandment unstained”
The Commandment: Loving God and loving others.
Definition of “unstained”: Uncomplicated/simple/clear
Unstained by what: James 1:27 – “the world”

Our problem now is how we DEFINE, “the world”.

Many Christians believe the object of their faith is to avoid getting stained by “worldly” things. So, their relationship with God is one of avoidance, isolation & removal. Their view of “the world” is bad people, bad songs, rated R movies, revealing clothing, cussing, tobacco, and tattoos. And if they could just stay inside their sanctuary all week then they could avoid being “stained by the world”.

But John 17:15 presents a problem to this reaction. Here, Jesus prays “I DO NOT pray that you take them out of the world, but keep them from the evil one.” And John 3:16 famously states, God LOVES the world.

So what is “the world” we are supposed to avoid?
We’ve taken the easy way out and pinpointed the exterior and neglected the heart. And in doing so, we’ve hurt people in the name of, “overcoming the world”.

The greek word for “worldliness” is, “an attitude or philosophy that is removed from God.” [Aka, perspectives where the concept of God is not considered or present]

We develop life mantras and philosophies over a cup of coffee with our friends and choice media influences without ever considering how God thinks about the issue. We base our meanings of life on our own accord with people who think like us and never seek a more substantial source (God)… THAT is what stains our message! 

Our ideas about social, political, sexual, cultural, or spiritual issues are the things that scripture deems, “worldly”. And I guarantee, that these are the things that have hurt us more than any tattoo, piercing, or Jay-Z song ever has or ever will. And that is why we are told to prevent ourselves from being “stained by the world.”
Just think about all of those cheesy tag lines, self-made proverbs, and quotes we’ve acquired that are never mentioned in scripture.

1 John 2:15-17 tells us how to recognize these worldly concepts that stain our commandment.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires

These concepts that we live out, pass away WITH their desires.
They pass away unfulfilled. Unsatisfied.

If it doesn’t lead to satisfaction, it’s a lie and it stains.
The spiral of unsatisfaction that starts with a simple thought/philosophy is the worst torture imaginable. It’s obsessive and unending. Welcome to worldliness….

So how do we REALLY keep unstained? 
1 John 5:4 “this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Our trust/faith in the ways of God overcome the ideas and concepts that bring ruin and unfulfillment in our lives. Therefore, Romans 12:2 (MSG) states,

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

 

There’s More // Hay Más

10256675_884476728235111_5881985556230443078_oThe other day I was observing one of my Bolivian friends. The way she acted, reacted and responded. The things she said, and the way she said them. And I had a moment. And the moment said, ‘There’s more!’ My beautiful Bolivian friend is an incredible reminder to me that there is more in my faith to uncover and discover. Her relationship with the Father has challenged and encouraged me to pursue a life full of the things scripture speaks about. So I’ve made a list of the godly characteristics I consistently see in my friend and the things I’ve learned from simply being a part of her life…

1. Compassion 

  • You can feel the compassion that oozes from her. She can’t help it. Serving is her default. She spends her weeks with children who adore her, simply because she is present. Her greatest gift to those around her is always her presence, that expresses genuine concern for anyone and everyone.

2. Joy

  • This girl can’t help but rejoice! I know her story and her brokenness. But she’s far more interested in her Daddy in Heaven and His restoration process than complaining about her past. She never ceases to smile, because she has a hope that is far beyond our present trials.

3. Celebrates Others

  • This is one of my favorite qualities in a person. The ability to celebrate with other people is a greatly underestimated characteristic. She knows how to encourage others out of an authentic love to see others live abundantly.

4. Humility

  • She isn’t going to like this attention… : )

5. Truth

  • She knows how to use the Truth. She uses the power of the Truth to help people focus on Christ. Her mind is renewed by the Word and she has the ability to empower others because of it.

Knowing scripture and living scripture are very different things. I’m blessed to have a friend who is a walking example of the Spirit of Christ. She reminds me that real change is possible. And that there is more in my relationship with Jesus and my transformation to reflect his glory. It’s possible, friends! I see it everyday. I am a witness to the power and realty of Jesus in my own life and in the lives of others. And I want to encourage you to seek MORE. We have been given a new heart and a new spirit. We can live differently and abundantly!

Thanks, Kathy. 

Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”

Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

 

 

ImageUn día estaba observando uno de mis amigas boliviana. La manera en la que ella misma actúa, reaccionó y respondió. Las cosas que ella dijo, y la manera en la que ella misma dice. Y yo tuve un momento. Y el momento dijo, “Hay más!” Mi hermosa amiga boliviana es una increíble recordatorio de que hay más en mi fe de descubrir. Su relación con el Padre se ha convertido en un desafío y me animó a seguir una vida llena de las cosas habla la Biblia. Así que he hecho una lista de los piadosos características siempre ver en mi amiga y las cosas que he aprendido en parte de su vida…

1. Compasión

  • Puedes sentir la compasión que exuda de ella. Ella pasa sus semanas con los niños que le adoran a ella, simplemente porque ella está presente. Su regalo mejor es siempre su presencia, que expresa una genuina preocupación por todo el mundo.

2. Gozo

  • Esta chica siempre se está regocijando. Sé de su historia y sus dolores. Pero ella es mucho más interesada en su Papá en el cielo y su proceso de restauración de quejarse de su pasado. Ella nunca deja de sonreír, porque ella tiene la esperanza de que va mucho más allá de nuestra presente pruebas.


3. Celebrar Otras Personas

  • Este es uno de mis favoritos cualidades de una persona. La capacidad de celebrar con otras personas es una característica muy subestimadas. Ella sabe cómo animar a otros a partir de un auténtico amor a ver a los demás vivir en abundancia!

4. Humildad

  • ella no le va a gustar esta atención… : )

5. Verdad

  • Ella sabe cómo usar La Verdad. Ella utiliza el poder de la Verdad para ayudar a las personas en Cristo. Su mente es renovada por la Palabra y tiene la capacidad de habilitar a otras personas.

Conocer las versículos de la Biblia y vivir como los versículos son dos cosas muy diferentes. Estoy bendecida por tener una amiga que es un ejemplo del Espíritu de Cristo. Me recuerda que el cambio real es posible. Y que hay más en mi relación con Jesús y mi transformación para reflejar Su gloria. Es posible, amigos! Yo lo veo cada día. Yo soy un testimonio de la fuerza y realidad de Jesús en mi propia vida y en la vida de los demás. Y quiero animarte a buscar más! En Cristo se nos ha dado un corazón nuevo y un espíritu nuevo. Podemos vivir de forma diferente y en abundancia!

Gracias, Kathy. 

Colosenses 3:12: “Por lo tanto, como escogidos de Dios, santos y amados, revístanse de afecto entrañable y de bondad, humildad, amabilidad y paciencia”

Ezequiel 36:26: “Les daré un nuevo corazón, y les infundiré un espíritu nuevo; les quitaré ese corazón de piedra que ahora tienen, y les pondré un corazón de carne. Infundiré mi Espíritu en ustedes, y haré que sigan mis preceptos y obedezcan mis leyes.”

A Wonderful Life

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One word completely changed my view of God and Christianity; Wonder.

 

 

I’ve been the dreamer, thinker, quiet-observer type for as long as I can remember.
I would much rather be silent and learning than speaking and telling.
My world is always more colorful and abundant when I give myself the time to reflect, meditate, or discover. And when spontaneous opportunities of awe and wonder come my way, those are the moments that make me feel most alive.

What is so great about living this way is that these moments of ecstasy and enlightenment can occur every day. It’s only a matter of my awareness.

Which brings me to 1 Timothy 6. This chapter is the summary of the Christian’s life.
(NIV) V11: “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
(MSG) V11: “pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy.”

I think the order of these characteristics are fascinating!

  • 1st – The righteous life. Freely given to believers as a pure gift from God Himself!
  • Then Godliness. Godliness can be defined as being God-aware. The MSG translation uses, “a life of wonder”.
  • Faith – trust+love for God. “Lord, I give you all”
  • Love
  • Endurance/Steadiness/faithful -consistent perseverance
  • Gentleness/courtesy – care +concern for people. Serving others like Jesus.

How appropriate that the Christian life starts with, “WoW!”

I think awe/wonder/godliness are easily the most neglected marks of a Christian life.
We focus so much on serving, loving, and being disciplined that we forget to awe. And in doing so, we often get drained, bored, tired, or unamused along the way. I honestly think this is one major reason why some Christians are mean, grouchy, annoying, irritable, and miserable.

Applying this concept of godliness to my life has revolutionized my faith.
Although wonder and reflection tend to come naturally for me, applying it to my faith has been a shift. I’ve found that the more in awe of God I am, the more I trust and love Him. Likewise, the more God-aware I am, the more perseverance I express. And the more I wonder of the “bigger picture” that I have, the easier it is to have concern and care for those around me.

 

I’m dedicated to using my days to awe. How?
Look around. Go outside. Interact with others. Don’t neglect sciences. Read articles. Listen to music. Make music. Go to an art gallery. See a film. Play with children. Focus your attention. Sit, breath, and pray.
Use these moments to make yourself more God-aware.
Friends, you don’t have to be in the pages of your Bible or favorite devotional to practice godliness. In fact, leave your Bible at home and go take a walk. It might transform your faith.
You and I have a responsibility to wonder.

 

[My favorite resources on awe/wonder]

Restart. Refresh. Restore.

Today like a good Apple user, I upgraded my computer and iphone.
I hit “Upgrade”. My phone restarted. Refreshed. Deleted. Then restored.

Oh how I long for those words in my life.

I want to restart. Delete the old overloaded information. And see restoration at the end.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted by the barrage of information, theology, mediocre quotes, out-of-context Bible verses, Youtube videos, new worship songs, and twitter feeds. All the books, podcasts, devotionals, conferences, sermons, and such have taken away the very essence of our faith. I’m not saying these things are bad. No. In fact I have grown spiritually from many of the things I have just listed.

But, what I am saying is that most of it has put the BS in our Bible Study.

We were created for a simpler faith full of authenticity.
Our faith deserves focus. 
Less is more. 

I’m going back to square one.
I want to stand on a faith that is confidently my own, rather than the opinions of other men and women.
In order to get back to the center of my faith I’m going to have to take all of that off and come to terms with who I am before the Throne of Grace, rather than my collection of resources.

This sounds freeing and mortifying.
But I believe buried under all of this “faith stuff”, there’s something way better.
I’m off to discover it again and I expect to run into something brand new on the way.

Time to Restart. Refresh. and Restore.
Join me?

A Shark Tooth, Dreads & Stories

Stories. 

If you haven’t encountered a story lately, let me urge you to go find one.

I’ve learned that one of the most profound ways to get to know someone is to ask, “hey, I want to hear your story, Can we meet up this week?”
I’ve yet to be rejected from that offer. Why? Because everyone has a story and everyone knows that their story is worth telling and being heard.

This week I got to sit down with two different young people after extending that very offer. I sat and listened as they told me who they were, how God has invaded their lives, their pains, their joys, their passions. And when they were done, I asked them more questions.

10001410_10152007135368017_1297237047_nIt’s not necessarily the stories that are the goal. It takes genuine listening, interest, and concern for the relationship to go further than just the story.
When was the last time someone sat with you and listened? Had interest in the seemingly trivial in your life?
I’ve learned that being that person is refreshing for me and for the other.

This weekend I was sitting in the plaza when a guy with dreads dressed like a gypsy selling jewelry approached me and asked if I could break some money for him. I helped him out and he left. Shortly after he returned and thanked me. He offered in return to give me one of his handicrafts or a story! I thought for a bit, and spotted a giant shark tooth around his neck. I chose the story.

And I learned about more than just megaladons….The gift of a handicraft would have faded, torn, or been lost eventually. But the story remains. His life experience being shared was far more intriguing than a bracelet. And I’ve made it my goal to always choose the story over the temporary.

What is my view of evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship? ….Stories.
And why not? We’re all playing a role in the greatest story ever told…
Grace. Redemption. Hope.

Don’t worry you’re a natural at listening to stories already, that’s why you love movies & music : )

So let’s get out there and be people of the Story!

Tattoos, Beer, 2 Nomads & Jesus

77984_822992131050238_532856104_oI played guitar for the 1st time at a Spanish service on Sunday. It was a great experience, and I finally started to feel “plugged in” and at home in a church here!

Surprising to me, two new lovely friends came to the church to support me!
After the service they invited me to go eat lunch with them.

On the way, my friends tell me we are going to go visit a friend of their’s and eat at her house. Then they ask, “She isn’t a Christian, is that ok?”

We arrive at a grocery store to meet her and pick up some food for lunch. And with this friend stands two red-headed guys. They’ve clearly been traveling. Shaggy hair, tan lines, worn clothes and tattoos. I learn they are from Austria and Switzerland traveling South America together. We use Spanish and a mix of English to interact.

When we arrive to the house we eat plenty of great Bolivian foods , the guys drink plenty of Bolivian beers, we listen to cumbia music and talk tattoos for hours. We then take a walk to a river and enjoy the sights and festivities in the park nearby.

When it was time to go, I started walking back to the bus stop ahead of the rest of the group with my new Austrian friend. I ask him about his travels, his family, and culture. I then ask about his beliefs. His faith. His insights from so much experience around the world.
He pulls ideas from several major religions and forms his own morals, then asks me, “Betani, what do you believe?”  …… “Well, I’ve just about tried it all. But I follow Jesus. Only Jesus.”

We all start to walk home, chatting about our unique lives and stories.
And when we begin to part ways I hear my name with an Austrian accent, “Hey, Betani! Quieres beber una cerveza y hablar más mañana?” (Do you want to have a beer and talk more tomorrow?)

— Why tell you this story?  Because I’m convinced that the time I spent with these new friends was a blessing, but also a blatant opportunity to be a witness. I hope my friends understand that they don’t have to ask me, “is it okay that they aren’t Christians” before we go and hang out with someone.

Yet how many of us would be “okay” to go from leading worship to sitting around a table of cigarettes, tattoos, beer, and lots of swear words? Let’s not forget that “being like Jesus” looks a lot like that.

Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

In the midst of discipleship, conferences, and building church leaders let’s not forget to make disciples. Friends, I can’t wait to decline more beer and marijuana so that I can talk about the grace of Jesus who still sits with the people we avoid on Sundays.

Jesus is Turning Around

Mark 5:21
Jesus is on His way to heal, along with his disciples.
A crowd has gathered along the way.
In the midst of the crowd is a lawbreaker.
According to the Mosaic law, she is unclean.
She is meant to be isolated.
Away from all others in society.
This is what is demanded of the law.

She has been bleeding for 12 years.
She “spent all she had” to find healing elsewhere.

She comes behind Jesus
reaches for the hem of his garment
and she encounters glory, in the form of divine healing.

“But, Jesus turned around.”

He wants to find the woman!
Yet, the woman hesitates to reveal herself.
What if Jesus rejects her?
What if there is judgement and condemnation?

How many of us are unwilling to reach for Jesus or return to him because we have convinced ourselves that there will be judgement and condemnation?

But the opposite is true!
Because of his grace and your small measure of faith, God is passionate about revealing his acceptance and approval to you and me!

The best way to “make disciples” is to lead the to the hem of his garment and after they have spent all other hopes, their faith will make them whole.

It only takes one touch
And one Man who turns around.

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