Dear Church, It's Time to Step Up

I was nearing fifth grade graduation when news broke about the Columbine shooting. Tears soaked my cheeks as I lamented the victims and their families. I watched the TV in shock — I’d never heard of such a horrific and hateful act taking place on US soil!

With every heart wrenching story of another mass shooting, I’ve slowly become calloused towards these acts of terror. Not in a sense that I no longer grieve for those suffering, because I definitely do, but the news doesn’t carry the same shock factor. It’s almost expectant to hear of a shooting here or a bombing there. It’s really sad that this has become our reality.

Yet the Orlando shooting struck me in a similar manner to that of Columbine. It not only holds the highest death and injury count, but Florida is my home turf. I’ve gone out in Downtown Orlando and I have friends who live there currently. How could this happen?

So what can we do about this? We can live with our guard up – wrapping ourselves in a fearful, protective bubble ­– avoiding churches, malls, movie theaters and night clubs. Or we can fight back. And by fight, I don’t mean purchasing firearms, starting wars or campaigning for gun laws (While I believe there are definitely things that could be done to help, I’ll save those issues & debates for another time).

So for now, here’s how we should fight back…

Fight for Love

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
— 1 Timothy 6:11-12

I apparently attended high school with the shooter, Omar Mateen. His photo is printed in a yearbook that I helped create. I may have passed him in the hallway or sat by him in an assembly. I may have stood behind him in the cafeteria line or rocked out next to him at the Homecoming dance. Did I smile at him and give a friendly “hello?” Or did I ignore him, keeping to my clique?

I can’t control the actions of others, but I can control my own. I can choose to intentionally love and accept those around me. Key word being intentional. I can be the most loving person to my friends and family, but living a loving lifestyle goes beyond being “good” and “kind” to my inner circle. Intentionally loving others means being proactive about serving strangers in need, looking for ways to accept the rejected, and listening to the concerns of those who are different than me. This kind of love is active, not passive.

A friend of mine who lives in Orlando posted this the day after the shooting: If you're feeling disheartened from looking at your newsfeed, know that the best of humanity is showing itself right now. There's probably 100 people in line for this bloodmobile right now, and they are all bringing each other sunblock and umbrellas for shade in the hot sun, watching each other's kids while they give blood, and buying big packs of water to share with strangers.

Rather than burning with anger and posting critical comments about other religions, lifestyles, or the shooters themselves, which just fosters hatred, let’s ignite the flames of love!

Who knows if loving on Omar back in high school would’ve made a difference or not in how he turned out. But one thing is for sure: If we have the choice between love and hate, I’ll choose to love. Real. Active. Love.

Fight for Unity

With every act of terror, slivers of division creep through our culture. When a Muslim man shoots up a night club, suddenly every Muslim is eyed with caution. When a racist white boy bombards a black church, the unity between blacks and whites crumbles.

People start living defensively, on edge, and full of fear — suddenly a tiny fissure turns into a canyon, and a generation that was doing so well with tolerance, shatters.

There will be radicals of every race, religion and sect, but why judge the many on account of the few? Together we’re strong, but separate we’re weak. Let’s not let the extremists have their way and cause division among us.

Fight for Acceptance

I wish we could agree to disagree in a loving manner.

While my faith is the center of my world and I desire for everyone to know my Savior, I can’t expect those outside my faith to adhere to the Bible. The Apostle Paul says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (1 Corinthians 5:12).

Jesus loved the tax collectors and prostitutes… those who didn’t share his beliefs (initially). In fact, the ones he condemned were those within the temple – the devout Jews and religious leaders who were too blinded by their own self-righteousness to see that their long-awaited Messiah was right in front of them.

So let’s take Jesus and Paul’s approach and choose to love those who don’t share our beliefs – not condemn them. It’s the only way to 1) accept others for who they are and where they’re at; and 2) to show the love of Jesus to them through our words and actions.

Fight for Truth

Paul writes that “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

I feel that we’re included in this “time” — we often pick and choose what we want out of the Bible because we don’t understand the context in which it was written, or the verse in relation to other scriptures. So let’s be careful about what we say or post on social media, so we're not covering the truth with our opinions or stating scripture out of context. There's no greater way to cause division, anger and hate than to misquote the Bible and teach a false gospel.

We can’t expect our pastors and Bible study leaders to teach us everything from the Bible. There are too many verses, books and topics to learn it all from one or two hours a week. We need to be digging in on our own time, seeking answers and learning the Word so we can speak truth and be the light.

Time to Step Up

I know this blog is supposed to focus on Christian-based businesses, but with the recent crisis, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to encourage believers everywhere to step up and start living in love! 

Let's fight for love

Let's fight for unity. 

Let's fight for acceptance.

Let's fight for truth.

These may not be the be-all, end-all solutions to today's problems, but it's a start... and it's something each and every one of us can practice! 

Come back next week for a glimpse of how we can apply this to our businesses! 

Watching the Harvest from My Empty Field

Watching the Harvest from My Empty Field

The persuasive words of his smooth talk slid into my thoughts like butter. Go on, take a look – just a quick look, what could it hurt?

Over the other shoulder, a gentle whisper quietly rebuked it. There’s no need to click that link – you know exactly what… 

Click

The Backstory

If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you know how I used to be a complete workaholic, spending every waking moment on my side business (read it here). It was only when I recognized that I had lost sight of the most important things in life – serving my Savior and loving on my family ­­– that God gave me peace about leaving my job and launching my business full time.

I had tried to quit that position before, coveting companies that had half the commute or more desirable hours. With each threat to leave, God confirmed I was to stay. A full-time offer with a raise, a bonus, a gift card – all in perfect timing.

But this last time was different. There was no counter offer from my boss, no promotion or salary increase to keep me in my seat. No closed doors. Just peace. 

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Escape the Desert, Find Freedom

Escape the Desert, Find Freedom

Freedom. It’s a word I know, yet don’t understand.

As I sit here in the air-conditioned comfort of my spacious home office, typing on my Macbook Pro, with a full belly, and clean water at hand, I’ve realized I don’t know anything but freedom. Sure, sometimes school felt like an entrapment. Or perhaps I’ve felt chained to my desk at times, but I’ll never truly comprehend the enslavement that the Israelites went through in Egypt, or what thousands of children mining for diamonds or picking vegetables are going through worldwide today.

I feel like the Jews who were talking to Jesus. He had told them, “Then you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). But their response showed their lack of understanding: “We have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (John 8:33).

Yet, the Lord has shown me this week, in multiple instances, that I am not living in the freedom I’ve been given. It’s hard to know what freedom looks like for someone who has been “free” my whole life!

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5 Stages of Balance – And Which One to Aim For

5 Stages of Balance – And Which One to Aim For

If you search YouTube for “juggling” you’ll find countless acts of people juggling multiple of the same item. It doesn’t seem too hard when everything is the same weight, shape and size. Then there’s Michael Davis. He starts juggling a bowling ball, an apple and an egg, taking a bit out of the apple every time it’s tossed. Michael starts juggling faster and faster, continuing to eat the apple, until — smash — raw egg ends up all over his face.

I think this is an accurate picture of life. When we try to take on too many things at a rapid pace, we’ll end up with a mess. But if you’re trying to find “balance,” I don’t think it should look like a juggling act. Work. Sleep. Husband. Cooking. Church. Laundry. Friends. Rest. Trying to toss all of those around at the same time would cause anyone to crash! 

Instead of a juggling act, picture "balance" as a wheel, or even better, a bike ride. Which rider are you?

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Find Your Purpose - Part 3: Distinguishing Passion from Purpose

Find Your Purpose - Part 3: Distinguishing Passion from Purpose

In 8th grade, my dad dusted off his acoustic guitar and taught me a song. One simple, 4-note song. I’m totally meant to be a guitar-player! I taught myself a few chords, printed out some worship songs, and by high school was starring in my youth group praise band.

The only problem: I was horrible at guitar! If I didn’t know a chord, I’d substitute it with one of the four that I did know – close enough, right? Our band sounded like a broken record. Laura played slow, I played fast. Laura sang pitch-perfect, I sounded like a howler monkey. (Good thing it’s, “make a joyful noise to the Lord,” not a pleasant noise)!

Although I loved playing guitar and singing worship, I was not created for that purpose!

So how can we tell the difference between passion and profession? Get out a pen and paper and follow these steps...

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Find Your Purpose - Part 2: Living Out Your Roles

Find Your Purpose - Part 2: Living Out Your Roles

Growing up, my dad loved interviewing my siblings and I on camera. When my sister was 4, dad asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She stood on her tippy-toes, stretched her hands toward the ceiling and giggled, “a tall mama!” Well, she got the mama part down… is 5’4” considered tall?

My sister had a sense of purpose even before she could ride a bike, just like my friend’s son in last week’s post (if you haven’t read it, we spell out exactly what your main purpose is, so click here… don’t worry, we’ll wait).

While my friend’s son wanted to attend college to become an elf, my sister wanted to grow up and become a mom.  What roles do we have covered here? Student. Employee. Mom.

These are what I call “circumstantial purposes.” Being an aunt, employee, daughter, mom, student, boss, wife. Each carries its own responsibilities. Whether you like it or not, you’re called to live out your roles, and to do it to the best of your ability. No pressure.

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