Relinquishing Control

Journaling or blogging is something that I don’t do often (as you can see from my posting history).  However,  I do find it helpful to sort out and express thing from my heart.  Lately, I have been reading a devotional about parenting and raising children to know/love God.  Below is the entry I read today on Daily Dependence:

“We often long for God to reveal the whole path before us, but He usually gives us only one stepping stone at a time. During Israel’s desert wandering, God set up a system that required the Israelites to trust in His provision on a daily basis. He knew self-sufficiency would draw them away from Him.

It can be tough to choose a path of daily dependence on God in our lives and the lives of our children. We desperately want to plan, orchestrate, and manipulate all the details because it gives us a sense of control. The illusion of control however, can tempt us to rely on ourselves instead of God. Are you holding tightly to your sense of control, or are you depending on God for guidance?

Trust your children to God each morning. He knows what He’s doing.”

As I read this entry, my thoughts went beyond trusting God in relation to my children.  In general, I think I struggle with this whole subject of trust.  My past experiences in life have impacted my ability to trust fully.  I am generally guarded in all my interactions with those around me…being transparent at times to an extent (but not too transparent and revealing all of myself…my “residue”).  I view myself as “socially awkward”  meaning I want to be close to others.  I want to trust others but I don’t want to relinquish my perceived control and trust others with knowledge of my past experiences and current thoughts.

But God called me to obedience and to trust Him fully.  This means my trust must go beyond my children, beyond my marriage,  beyond my “comfort zone”.  This devotional entry reminded me that God places people in my life (our lives) for a purpose.  We all have past experiences and “residue”.  I think we (I) fool ourselves (myself) into thinking that we are the only ones to go through certain situations.  However, if we trust God and listen to His wisdom in our interactions with others,  He will reveal who we should share our “residue” history with for their encouragement and who will share with us for our encouragement. We just need to relinquish control to God and trust that He will take care of us.

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Christian Still Under Construction

Are those who call themselves “Christians” perfect? Hmm…I call myself a Christian because I believe in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ which afforded me the ability to have a restored relationship with God.

Since I am a Christian, am I perfect? Have I “arrived” as some would say? Let me think….NO AT ALL…

There is a misconception or assumption out there about Christians. Many think that once someone professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there is this supernatural change in their attitude, thoughts, etc… They think that they will no longer experience struggles…that their life situations will improve…and there is nothing but unicorns and rainbows… We forget that only Christ is perfect. Though we are not HIM, we should desire to live worthy of HIM (Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…Phil. 1:27a).

Can you imagine that a perfect God not only created YOU but also showed compassion towards YOU when imperfection (sin) severed YOUR relationship with Him? Can you imagine that because of His compassion and love for YOU, He sent his only and beloved Son (Jesus Christ…who was also perfect) down from his throne in Heaven to live in this imperfect world and die on a ragety (imperfect) cross for YOU.  We are so unworthy of the precious gift we have been provided…the love of a perfect and just God.

As we prepare to exit 2013 and enter into 2014, it is important that we remember that we are not called to be perfect and live perfect lives.  However, we are called to be obedient and honest with ourselves and others about our imperfections.  If we aren’t obedient and/or honest about our imperfections (our sin), we are not growing and maturing in our Christian journey.  If we aren’t obedient and/or honest, we aren’t under construction…we aren’t developing.  We are stagnant or one might call an unfinished masterpiece.   In order to live worthy of the Gospel, we must be INTENIONAL in our Christian journey…being fully obedient…and completely honest.  We must be “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”…

Compassion Fatigue

My church recently walked through the Experiencing God as a Church Together series by Henry Blackaby and Melvin Blackaby. This series reminded me that I am not in this Christian race alone.  Though my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is personal, it is not a private one.  As a Christian, I should have a desire to LOVE others and show COMPASSION toward them. 

As you read my sporadic blog entries, you will notice that I use illustrations from various media (i.e. movies, television, music…).  So….

Veggie Tales:

As I type this, Veggie Tales – Jonah Movie just popped into my mind.  For those of you without young children, you probably have no idea what I am talking about.   So, let me break it down…

Veggie Tales – Jonah Movie is the Veggie Tales version of the story of Jonah and the Ninivites.  In the Veggie Tales version of this story, the Ninivites weren’t very nice and liked to smack people with fishes…YES…According to Veggie Tales, they lied, stole and smacked people with Fishes…including the “Fish of No Return”…OUCH!!!  Getting back to the actual story…

The Ninivites were not very kind to each other or others and were disobedient to God.  God told Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and to relay his message of Repentance.  As we all know…Jonah attempted to run from God because he did not believe that the Ninevites deserved to receive God’s message.  As we all know…Jonah’s disobedience led to him spending SOME time in the belly of a BIG FISH (FYI – the bible does not say he was in the belly of a whale as we were all taught as children).  As we all know… Jonah eventually was obedient and told the Ninevites to “STOP IT…Stop cheating…Stop lying…And Stop slapping people with fishes or the city will be destroyed…” 

The Ninevites heeded the message from God and changed their ways BUT Jonah did not believe that God would show LOVE and COMPASSION towards the Ninevites.  In fact, he waited outside the city so that he would not miss the display of God’s power as He destroyed the city.  Despite Jonah’s lack of compassion and love towards the Ninevites, God continued to show him MERCY, COMPASSIONLOVE.

The First 48:

If you know me, you know that I LOVE crime shows and investigative type programs.  I guess that’s why I am drawn to legal aspects of matters.  I chose the Human Resource profession and read employment law for fun (YES…I enjoy reading and analyzing employment law).  Anyway…My husband and I have been watching The First 48 on Netflix (ah…yes…Netflix…it’s so lovely).  If you are not familiar with the show, it follows real life homicide investigators during the first 48 hours of their investigation into a murder.  During that time, the investigators are collecting evidence surrounding the crime, looking for leads in order to determine identity of the victim, perpetrator and witnesses.  The common theme that I have noticed throughout each investigation is that…THERE ARE NO WITNESSES…  The murder could happen in broad daylight, on a busy street, with 100 people around…yet NO ONE saw or heard ANYTHING… HOW CAN THAT BE?

“What Would You Do?”:

Another show that my family has recently started watching (not on Netflix) is “What Would You Do?”.  This show creates various scenarios (using actors) and watches the reactions of regular peoples (non-actors).  These scenarios are all caught on hidden camera.  The point of the show is to simple ask “what would you do…” if you were going about your day-to-day business and you come across…an elderly person being harassed by teenagers?..theft?..discriminate behaviors of a business?..teenage bullying?..domestic violence?..child abuse?..someone (ANYONE) in NEED of HELP?

I was shocked to find that in most situations NO ONE stepped in to HELP those in need.  In most situations, NO ONE stepped in to STOP an injustice.  Many would gawk and/or make comments to themselves or others around them about the situation but MOST did NOTHING.  This is concerning to me.  Have we, as a society, become so desensitized that we no longer see and recognize when someone is in need OR we no longer feel that it is our place to HELP?

Where has our LOVE and COMPASSION gone?

Okay…Now that I have gone on a tangent about Jonah and some television shows, let’s get back to our [my] responsibility as a Christian…To show LOVE…To show COMPASSION.

I have frequently heard the term “Compassion Fatigue”.   It is defined as a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of COMPASSION over time.  This condition is found a lot in healthcare workers or caregivers.  It can be exhibited in several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, and a pervasive negative attitude.  “Compassion Fatigue” can have a detrimental effect on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self doubt.

Are you experiencing “Compassion Fatigue”?

Christians are called to LOVE and show COMPASSION.  We are called to be “Care Givers” to the world.  We function in this care giving capacity 24/7.  We are called to HELP those who are hurting or in need (not just physically…but also spiritually).  We are to be the WITNESSES to the world as AMBASSADORS of JESUS CHRIST.  We see and hear about the heart wrenching, emotional situations of others.  We experience some of these situations in our own lives, too.  We are impacted by the media and it’s saturation of decontextualized images and stories of suffering, crime, violence, pain, loss…evidence of SIN.  We see the cynical response and resistance to help others who may be suffering.  We see all of these things…BUT…What are we doing about it?  Have we too become desensitized?

Right now, I am thinking of the people that I see standing on the side of the street everyday asking for HELP.  As I ride in my vehicle to my place of employment and return to my comfortable home where I have all the amenities necessary, these individuals are standing on the side of the street, in the elements, holding a sign asking for someone…anyone…to HELP.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I have actually done so.  As I reflect on this, I realize that I have become desensitized.  I have bought into the skepticism and wonder in which I question the” realness” of the individuals need OR I condemn the individual and say it’s their own fault.  I see situations occur in which I should step in and help but I CHOOSE to gawk and make comments like…”I can’t believe….”  “If that were me…”  SIN is truly a terrible thing.  “Compassion Fatigue” is a result of the sinful world we live in.  In the bible, I don’t ever remember reading that Jesus saw people in NEED but he chose to ignore them or chastise them.  No, Jesus always showed LOVE and COMPASSION to those in need.  If we are reflections of Christ, do our lives show LOVE and COMPASSION to everyone OR just those who look like us, who have educational level and social economic status OR with whom our personalities mesh?

As a Christian, are you experiencing “Compassion Fatigue”?  

Instructions from God’s Word

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them…If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”Luke 6:27-35 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” —1 John 4:7-21

Remade in Christ…

I just wanted to share with everyone the lyrics to this song by Tenth Avenue North. If you have not heard this song, I recommend that you take a moment and listen to it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwtcwQwgdsA). This song came to mind when reflecting on my husband’s sermon entitled “Your Gazing” (2 Cor. 3:4-18).

Though I am insufficient…alone…With God my inadequacies disappear because Jesus Christ is sufficient. His sufficiency transforms me…I have been remade… My past, my failures, my deficiencies, my insecurities do not define who I am. Because…what truly defines me is whose I am. I have been remade. Have you?

Read the lyrics, listen to the song, watch the video…Know that if you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for YOU, you too have been remade…

You Are More
Artist: Tenth Avenue North

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

“GET UP”

Many of us are going throughout our day-to-day life not realizing our dangerous circumstances. As you read the previous sentence, some of you may have started thinking about the dangers of this world such as crime, accidents, sickness, etc… But those dangers of this world pale in comparison to the danger of not having a relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ or neglecting this relationship and living in disobedience.

Over the last couple of months, I have been dwelling on a recent series taught by my Pastor (John Brooks, MDiv – Macedonia Baptist Church, KCMO). The title of the series was “You Can Run But There’s No Hiding Place”. Within this series we studied the book of Jonah. We all know that Jonah was a Prophet who did not want to go to Nineveh in order to relay God’s message of repentance. We all know that instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah tried to go in the opposite direction of Nineveh and invested in boat fare to take him to Tarshish. We all know that a storm arose and somehow or another Jonah ended up in the belly of a BIG FISH (can’t really say “whale” since the identity of the “fish” has not been confirmed)…and the story continues on…

I think what we fail to realize (and Pastor Brooks pointed out so clearly) is that when we are so focused on ourselves and not on the work of Christ…in other words when we “sin”…We begin to live in a distorted reality. We begin to no longer think or care about how are actions impact others. We begin to forget about the corporate body. We begin to no longer care about those who may be “lost” because they do not have a relationship with Christ. We begin to think “It’s all about me…” We forget or down play “who” God is and “what” God has done. We place God in a box and tell Him that we don’t need him to take care of us. We rope off certain areas of our lives where we tell God “don’t worry about it…I got this…” We have a distorted reality. Sin distorts our perception on reality.

Sin causes us to forget that attributes of God. Jonah tried to hide from God in the lower level of the ship thinking…”He will never find me down here…” His distorted reality caused him to forget that God is omnipresent. Jonah thought that God did not know his thoughts or plan not to go to Nineveh. His distorted reality caused him to forget that God is omniscient. Jonah thought that God made a mistake by giving him the instruction to go and share a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. His distorted reality caused him to forget that God is omnipotent. God should not be placed in a box. There is no limits to what He can do. Jonah knew that God is compassionate. Yet, Jonah did not want God to show compassion to the people of Nineveh. His distorted reality caused him to forget that God’s is unchangeable. His standards/characteristics have never and will never change. God is holy. God hates sin. Jonah sinned through his disobedience and was punished (the violent storm and the fish). Sin impacts our relationship with God. Though God punishes sin, it is comforting to know that He is a just God. Despite Jonah’s sin and the sin of the Ninevites (i.e. slapping people with fishes – inside joke for Veggie Tales fans), God showed compassion towards them. However, Jonah’s distorted reality caused him to forget that though we may not always understand everything, God’s actions are “best”. Jonah’s distorted reality caused him to forget that God is love.

We know that sin distorts our perception of reality. We know that sin impacts our relationship with God. But…some of you might be wondering…”WHAT EXACTLY IS SIN?” In simple terms, sin is anything you think, say, or do that displeases God or breaks His laws. Jonah displeased God or sinned by being disobedient. He invested in his disobedience by devising a plan of action in order to attempt to remove him self from the equation (or prevent God’s work from being done). His distorted reality caused him to think his efforts would be successful.

Are you living with a distorted perception of reality? Have you allowed sin to distort you view of “who” God is and “what” he has done, is doing, and will do for you? Do you really need a violent storm or a great fish to come into your life in order to come back to reality? Are you like Jonah? Are you in the bottom of the boat fast asleep as danger surrounds you and is ready to envelop you? Like Jonah, do you need those impacted by your distorted perception to yell “WAKE UP!!!”

It’s time to GET UP. It’s time to remove the scales from your eyes so that your view of reality is clear. This clear view comes only through having an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God is a perfect God. He sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to willing shed his blood on the cross for YOU. He does not make mistakes. Accept that your sin has distorted your perception of reality. Believe that despite the unknowns and dangers of this world God has a plan for YOU. Commit to allow God access and lordship of every aspect of your life. He is a loving, merciful, and compassionate God who simply wants you to GET UP. Can you hear Him calling…

“Hold to Truth” Has a New Home

My husband’s new blog space is up and running.  Check him out at Hold To Truth

Women of Faith Conference 2011

Women of Faith Conference 2011 is coming to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri on November 4th and 5th.

If you have not experienced a Women of Faith conference, you are definitely missing out.  This is a power packed conference.  There is something about being surrounded by thousands of women worshiping God.  We spend time together learning and applying God’s Word, singing praises, praying, and lots and lots of laughter and tears.

This conference is FIRE.  If you would like to attend in a group, please let me know.  There are slots available in the group that I will be going with and…

…WE HAVE FLOOR SEATS

Just hit me back with a comment or email me at theresaesheffield@gmail.com and I will connect you with the Group Leader and all relevant group information.

For more information about the Women of Faith Conference go to:  http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/2011-events/kansas-city/

God loves us more than we know. He gives us more than we can ask or dream. He’s unrestrained… excessive… outrageous… Over the Top.

Hello world!

This is my first post…blog…rambling…or whatever you want to call it.  Most blogs that I’ve read have some sort of “theme” in the content of their posts.  However, I am not quite sure if this blog will have a “theme” per say but I am sure that it will be a compilation of my thoughts (no matter how random) and hopefully the beginning of some interesting dialogue.

I encourage everyone to also check out my husband’s blog site.  Currently it is http://www.holdtotruth.blogspot.com.  However, coming soon you will be able to be drawn into his thought-provoking and intellectual discussions concerning God’s Word at http://holdtotruth.wordpress.com.

Now that I went and started talking about “God”, I should probably explain something.  I am a sinner saved by the grace of God through His Son’s (Jesus Christ) death on the cross.  I desire to live an intentional life in which His compassion is evident in all that I do.  I am in no way perfect.  I am not a perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, employee, and all the other titles or roles that I may play.  However, I am covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and because of His life, death and resurrection I will be presented before the Father in Heaven without wrinkle or stain.

If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to get to know Him.