Monday, February 27, 2012

Mission Without Message

I attended my first ever mission conference this weekend. It was very well put together and featured dozens of missionaries working across the globe in a variety of capacities. They discussed such things as cultural relevance, establishing multi-cultural relationships, and finding God's vision for your life. And this was just the few that I attended! With only four sessions and dozens of topics, it was hard to settle on just one class to attend each time slot!

I've been thinking about and working with a food pantry ministry our church has in our community. I've recently taken leadership for this ministry and I've been thinking of ways to help move the ministry forward toward the vision of the church. 
And it's been running in the back of my mind, aided by articles and bits and pieces of books I've come across that just giving is not enough. It's not enough to just hand out food, to add up the number of bodies coming through, the total pounds of food feeding hungry mouths. It's not enough to hug and smile at each person, to give them boxes of food to warm stomachs and wave a friendly goodbye month after month.
Anyone can do those things.
The government does those things (dispensing with the hugs!).

What makes it different when Christians reach out to others?
More importantly, why do Christians reach out to others?

Why do I wake up on a Saturday morning and bounce over to the church at 7am? Why do I spend hours organizing where to get the food we give away? Why do I give money to purchase items to add? To give to strangers and neighbors? Why do I do it?

It doesn't make sense, really. Why should I inconvenience myself? Of course, there's the nice little feeling I get, the little pat on my own back as I whisper to myself that I'm "giving back" and that I care for others. There's that bit. And I know that's a big motivation for many people. 

But the thought came to me, deep down. The thought that bubbled up slowly and finally burst upon me that the mission is absolutely useless without the message. The message is what makes the difference! 
This food we're giving, will not urge the heart of another to recognize the need for Christ in their life. The hug and smile will fade quickly and will mean nothing if the message of how it came to be there, or why it stays is not shared.

People need to know the message of hope. The message of the gospel. The food ministry is the vehicle- the means to sharing the story. The food expresses the care and love of Christ, yes. But it also needs the story and reason to be told or it will just be food. And nothing more. 

The mission without the message is a void. The ministry without the story is just another program blending in with all the other non-profits full of well-meaning, kind people.

Mission is more than just being kind people. 
Mission is bringing others to the kingdom of God. Mission is gaining their trust, introducing them to the Christ who saves, who brings everlasting life. Mission is helping them realize they can have a personal relationship with the Creator, and a corporate relationship with the church of believers. 

The food is the bait. The mission is the reason. And we need to share the reason. We need to tell the story. We need to remember the message. 

The message of Christ. 

The mission without the message is meaningless.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food Is Essential, I'm Finding

I've been learning about the importance of eating lately. Now, this may seem elementary to most people, and something that others would say "duh!" when I bring it up. But I've learned it's really, really important to eat. Like, really.
For me, eating has been a struggle for some time. I just really don't like to do it. I like to talk about food, and talk about eating, but when it comes right down to it, I tend to forget or avoid it. It's not that I want to avoid it in order to stay slim, either. I'm just lacking that lovely natural mechanism that kicks in called "hunger" that reminds me that food is essential. And when others are eating things, I'm just not as interested in it. I'm really pretty good with just one bite. I don't have to eat the whole piece in order to reach that satisfied feeling of taste. One or two bites, and I'm happy.
But I'm finding that one or two bites of food a day just won't keep me alive. I can't go for long periods of time without eating. It's a long story, but I've learned that it's really essential to eat more than a snack a day. Like, really.

The past two weeks have been all about the food. First thing in the morning, I eat. I get to work and eat, and then eat again. Then I come home and guess what? I eat again! But the impact of all that food has really taken me by surprise. The amount of energy and emotional stability it has produced has astounded me. I didn't realize I was literally starving.  I didn't realize that life cannot be maintained without proper sustenance. I didn't realize that just eating healthy food would do so much for my mood and emotions, either!

This kind of reminds me of another essential food we need: God's word, given to us by the prophets and the law through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If I have been starving myself by not eating, then what happens when I don't read the Bible? What happens when I go long periods of time without that essential addition to my spiritual well-being? I become dry and emotional and swept along with the strongest wind of doctrine that blows.

In addition to falling into a habit of never eating, I also found myself in the habit of never reading the Bible, either. It's easier to do something else. It's easier to check my cell phone, or look at Facebook or yes, even blog than spend time storing up energy from time reading and thinking about God's word. Those essential spiritual nutrients were falling into a depleted state.

So what to do about it?

Make time to read. Make time to sit and think about what God is saying, especially when I don't feel like it. When I feel like it least, is the most important time of all to partake of the goodness in front of me.

My goal over the next few weeks is to increase the time spent listening to and reading and thinking about the message God has sent to us, which coincides with the goal to increase my food intake.

Not only will my body and mind benefit, but my soul will, also.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012


A broken heart. I know how it feels. I know the intense pain so deep and strong. At times barely able to breathe. At times blinded, vision blurred with the force of the pain. Reeling from a roller-coaster of emotions and memories. A broken heart, a thousand pieces, and shards within causing internal bleeding.

Oh yes. A broken heart, with darkness all around. And thinking there is no hope- thinking the pain would be present forever.

And then slowly, like a cool soothing balm, God's Spirit touches that brokenness. Touches and heals, putting the pieces back together, making it whole again. God's finger, writing joy back into our hearts and lives.

It reminds me of the broken heart of Christ, when rejected at crucifixion. His was a heart broken from rejection from His Father. His was a heart broken because of the mistakes and evil things thought and acted by others. His broken heart made possible the healing of our hearts. His heart, resurrected, allows our hopes to be resurrected as well.

A broken heart can seem so impossible to put together from the many bits and pieces. But the Creator of the universe can create anew our souls. He creates a new heart from the pain, a new soul. And where the cracks were is made stronger and more unified than ever possible before. And how do we get this healing?
It's simple. We ask.
We ask and we receive.

I know of healing. I know at times it creeps along slowly. One atom at a time, one vessel at a time until a whole organ, a whole soul is revealed. I know that healing has to be asked for, and worked toward, sometimes. We ask for it, and it is simple. We allow Christ to heal us. I know that it is real.

Healing will come.
Broken hearts remade.
Broken lives restored.
Broken worlds made new.

Why? Because God heals. And that is sure. Something to hang on to during everything.

It's true. I know. Because it is happening to me.


Psalm 30:1-12
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."
By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:
"What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!"
You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

2 Kings 5:1-14
The story of Naaman, asking for healing.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Running to win the race.

Mark 1:40-45
The leper is healed.

I Sing Because I'm Happy!

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion?

My constant friend is he:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches over me.

I sing because I'm happy!
I sing because I'm free,
For his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches over me.

"Let not your heart be troubled,"

His tender word I hear,
And resting on his goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path he leadeth
But one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches over me.

I sing because I'm happy!
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whatever It Takes

It's been quiet on the ole blog lately. I've been too busy living life to stop and blog about it. Lots of things are going on, and there's always something else I should be doing.

And in all the busy things, the thought has been running down below the surface...God is good. This blog is turning into one big post of the good things God does. Sometimes it's the smallest things that I notice that are little gifts. Sometimes, it'll hit me that something big is going on, something bigger than I even imagine at this moment. Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed by His great love. Sometimes, I recognize the greatness of the fact that I have a relationship with the Creator of the universe. The one who made the stars, the atoms that make up the marvelous works, also allows me (little, insignificant me!) to have access to a relationship with Him. I can speak to Him. I can hear His voice as He responds. He works in my life, He gives good gifts. He gives strength when walking through fire-y pathways. This is reality. The goodness of God's presence in my life.

And I did not deserve any of it. What have I ever done to even begin to be owed any of this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is not owed to me at all.
It is a gift.

Even as I type this and try to understand the magnitude of these words, my brain can barely begin to grasp the meaning. I still don't understand. I still can't really find anything in the English language to truly express it or explain it.

I just have to accept the gift offered.

You know what fuels me? What drives me? What causes me to undergo uncomfortable things or make difficult decisions that impact my life in ways that cause deep hurt or discomfort?

My Jesus. My Jesus is worth whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Whether that is my reputation, or my comfort level, or my body, or my life. Whatever it takes, here I am, ready.

My faith is deep. My belief in Christ, everything.

Here I am Lord. Accepting Your gift in the small way I am capable of. It's not much.
But here I am Lord.
Use me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Philippians 4:8

Whatsoever things are...

Of good report.

I would like to be a whatsoever.

Like this:
Whatsoever true: Katie. Whatsoever pure: Katie. Whatsoever just: Katie.

This is what I am striving for. Letting these fruit of the spirit, these indications of Christ show so others can see it and know I am His.

Whatsoever is honest, lovely, pure, true, just, praiseworthy. What ever is these things...think on them.

And in thinking on these things, life suddenly turns into something a little happier and a little sweeter. Because you're thinking of pure, lovely, honest, true, just, praiseworthy things.

Secret Houses

When I was little, just about the only thing I could draw was houses. Houses with many windows, curtains, a chimney and smoke billowing out. Over and over again I'd draw houses, because I was fascinated with them, and because I wasn't good at drawing much else.

Then I became a little older, and one day I found an old children's book about houses. Our own, secret little houses where we can go and be at rest.

Like under the table, hidden by the table cloth. Like when your Mother is lying on the couch, and closes her eyes. She's going into her own little house. Like a box, with windows cut for light.

I remember when I was much smaller, Dad's big desk was in our study area. This desk was made by my grandfather and has a huge opening for knees and feet. So big, that I used to drape a sheet over the opening, put a blanket on the floor inside and make it into a house. I remember sleeping in there once or twice, too. My desk at work has a similar opening, and some days I have a wild urge to hide inside that opening and relive the fun of those childhood games, escaping the reality of an adult world where it's just a desk, not a cottage for a little imagination kingdom.

I love closed in, little spaces. I like places to squeeze in, or spaces that aren't very open. I like secret houses, secret little places where I can go and be alone. 

Sometimes I have secret places and secret houses in my mind. Places deep within that I only know and explore. Secret houses of hope or dreams or wishes or ideas. There's something appealing to entering the doors of the secret portals, and knowing only I have admittance. I can be present with others, and yet in my secret place at the same time.

Sometimes, when I know someone very well, I'll invite them into my secret places. 

Sometimes, it's places that I hold in my heart between me and God. Sometimes, it's ideas and thoughts that we have between us, God and I. A glance of knowing, and common pleasant thought to share, and a feeling of hope that it might become real one day in a different manner.

Secret houses of thoughts.

This is a secret house.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Un Pensamiento

Cuando Dios cierra una puerta, me gusta pensar que se abre otra, no solo una ventana.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ripple Effects

I ran across this video on Facebook this evening and just had to share. It's a great picture of how our Christian life really effects our community, and not just the people we know or meet every day. A fruitful Christian life is like a stone tossed into a pond...the effects ripple out far beyond the stone itself. What about you? Are you creating a ripple effect with your life?

Thursday, February 2, 2012


There's an ache and a void.

There's a broken heart and an emptiness.

There's a future that seems blank.

A darkness, a tearing.

A loud clap of thunder, silent and threatening lightening.

And then there is silence.

For a long time. Ages it seems. Silence filled with gasping.


Then, the sun rises on another day.

Dragging, forced to move.

No expectations, no true hope for anything.

Only to be surprised and incredulous at the outcome.

Joy comes in the morning. Love comes in the morning.


This is a double story. One is the story of Christ on the cross, dying. His death led to darkness and silence. His resurrection brought hope and joy to our life again. Joy that comes in the morning.

Oh Christ, light up the world with Your joy and love. Shed its light on my heart and the hearts of those I love. Bring Your joy into our lives, Your hope to bring us life and love again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Little Blessings

This is my little friend. I give her lollipops. She gives me hugs, and giggles. She's one of my happies that I mention now and then.
I love it that even though we're so different in age, we can still be great friends.
Last week we went on a donut picnic together.
This week we made Valentines and cherry tarts.
Two more happies on my list.
Two more sweet memories.
Focusing on the faces and people around me, faces sharp and clear.
I am grateful for this face.