Today's guest post comes from Eritrea Ghebrehiwet, a member of the STSA Church family in Arlington, VA. In today's post, Eritrea challenges us to consider the consequence/reward of small acts of love and service. She shares her own story about how the actions of others impacted her spiritual journey and might also have saved her life.Read More
Today's guest post comes from Uwe Bower, a dear friend of mine and core member of STSA Church in Arlington, VA. In today's post, Uwe challenges us to think deeply about the meaning and value of an individual life. What's a life worth to God and what therefore should it be worth to us? If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.Read More
"Everybody matters to God, even if God doesn't matter to them."
That's what our 10th core value is all about. It's about God taking flesh in our local community and "making some waves" through His Body, the Church. It's about us following the example of Christ and the early church and offering no-strings-attached love and compassion for others, especially those deemed of little to no value by society.
And while we may be questioned for what we believe, we should be embraced for how we love.Read More
Today's guest post comes from Nancy Gwany - a statistical analyst by trade but someone who, in her own words, "started journaling to communicate with God" and has since found God "in between the lines" as she says. You can read more of Nancy's work at her blog, Meet You At The Altar. If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
"Some lives are worth more than others."
As painful as it is to read those words, it does not remotely compare to experiencing it first hand in a third world country where ones’ assigned value is equitable to a life sentence. A value that is often unjustly derived by a society immensely unqualified to evaluate it. A society that dictates paths and closes doors solely based on a perceived notion of worth.Read More
Below is a post I originally wrote back in 2013. I am reposting it today because a) it is one of my all-time favorites, b) I was speaking about the importance of caring for others this past Sunday, and c) God has been pounding this lesson into my head repeatedly over the past two weeks.
That's because I've spent more time in hospitals and emergency rooms in the past two weeks than the rest of my life combined - not for my sake, I am just fine, thanks be to God. I've been in and out of hospitals attempting to provide care for some loved ones - people who I love and care about deeply. That's actually the reason why I've been a little off-schedule with my posts and scopes recently.
And this experience has really taught me a lot - both about myself and about how God works in this world. Once things settle down and I get a chance to catch my breath, you can be sure that I'll be sharing those lessons - but for now, here's an important one to start off with: MY GOOD SAMARITAN MOMENT.Read More
Churches are supposed to be more like an army and less like a country club. We aren't here just to pray and socialize and that's it. We're supposed to be making a difference in the world.
If that idea strikes a chord with you, then you're going to enjoy Part 4 in Finding Your Flavor. This week we talked about the two "action-oriented" flavors: the Activist and the Caregiver.Read More
After His resurrection, Christ asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” And every time he answers "yes," Christ says:
“feed my lambs”
“tend my sheep”
“feed my sheep”
Because love is more than words.
Often we assume that love is implied. We assume other people are secure in their own worthiness and we assume that they know our love for them. So at times when we admonish another, we are left feeling confused as to why they would lash out and walk away.Read More
Yes love is action, but it is more than just action. Love is a mindset...it's a way of thinking... LOVE IS ATTITUDE!
If we are going to love like Jesus loved us (see John 13:34), then we need to shift the way we think. Check out this week's message as we go through the famous parable of The Good Samaritan to discover three attitude changes we need to make to walk in Jesus' footsteps when it comes to love.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)
That's the promise God gave me at the start of 2014. And to be honest, I spent most of this year confused by it.
We’ve heard quite a bit about the encouraging promises of God on this blog, but when I looked at my promise on January 1, I was a little disappointed. Others were given promises of hope, of victory, and of slicing through bronze while I was given a promise that was seemingly "not applicable" to me. I had no idea what to expect in 2014.Read More
“What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa
Just recently, I read an article that the Australian government is not giving up on its search for the mysterious Malaysian Airlines plane that disappeared earlier this year. When it first disappeared, I was one of the first people to sign up to help find the plane without ever leaving my home. Using satellites from a private company, I was given a piece of the ocean to search and mark anything I may see. When I was awake at night with my little one, I spent hours scouring the ocean to see if I could find any wreckage or signs of this missing plane.
Although this task kept me busy during the wee hours of the night, I never found anything. But it did teach our family a lesson to apply in our mission life: each one of us in this world is responsible for a little piece of our ocean.Read More
I stood at what felt like one of the largest intersections I had ever attempted to cross in my life. There were cars coming from every direction by way of a streetlight that hadn’t factored in pedestrians at all. My heart sinks every time I cross any street here in the Kyrgyz Republic because THEY DO NOT YIELD!
This time I stood there, and went into a state of shock. I was imagining myself being plowed by a trolley bus, or getting trapped between lanes. I know, you think I’m being dramatic. But you would be too if a hundred minibuses and cars were coming at you from several directions at over 60 mph.
I looked over at a woman next to me who took one step forward, and had a determined expression on her face to make it across the street. I don’t usually make eye contact because I like to avoid the mental exhaustion of introductions and chitchat – in not one, but two, foreign languages which I have not yet mastered.
It was not like me at all actually. I was so caught up, drowning in these horrible thoughts, that I mentally and physically couldn’t have given myself a second to look away from the dust clouds and racing tires.
But she looked at me. And I looked back. It was too late! Our eyes locked, she spoke in very fast Russian, grabbed me arm in arm, and led me across the street. I asked her name, and then she left. Her name was Aigul (eye-goul), and today, this was God coming to meet me.Read More
Let me start by making one thing clear; I know nothing about movies. I’m not “a movie guy” by any means. In fact, I’d venture to say that since the year 2001 (the year I got married), I can count the number of times I’ve gone to a movie theater on one hand. Shocking isn’t it?
The bottom line is this: I don’t know anything about movies nor do I care to.
But I do know about life. And I know when a movie (or a book or a sermon or a whatever) hits me in such a way that makes me ask myself what life is all about and what am I/we doing with the lives that we’ve been given. This past Friday was one of those times.
The movie is called THE BLIND SIDE and it hit the big screen back in 2009. And yes, I just saw it this past Friday (I told you I’m not a movie guy). My wife and I have wanted to see the movie for years but never could get ourselves to spend the $3.99 to rent it [don’t tell this to anyone but sometimes my wife can be a little on the ‘thrifty’ side :) ].
On June 25, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court made two historic decisions on gay marriage. First, it ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it denies benefits to same-sex couples. Second, it denied an appeal to a federal court ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
These decisions on gay marriages are causing many heated emotions to surface. There’s some who are joyful, some apathetic and some furiously angry at this defeat. Is this a call to surrender all our unconditional love for others or is this a wake-up call for introspection? I’m not writing to discuss the details of this ruling or to talk about all the intricacies of how someone becomes homosexual. I would like to present an opportunity to you.Read More
“Do you think we should leave the kids or not? Will they be ok without us? Or should we just take them with us and forget about the waterpark?”
That was the conversation that I had with my wife just three days ago as we were debating whether or not to leave our children – ages 8 and 6 – at a waterpark during our church’s weekend getaway to a local resort. They wouldn’t be alone there. They’d be with several other members of the STSA family – about 100 or so – but they would be without us.
As you can imagine, everyone was super excited to go to the waterpark on Saturday afternoon (remember it was Memorial Day weekend). But Marianne and I had to return home for a wedding that evening. So we had to decide what to do with our kids. They were excited to go to the waterpark, but we were worried.Read More
I recently saw a documentary called “Life in a Day.” It’s a film that compiled thousands of hours of footage from people around the globe going through one particular day. The film had some light-hearted moments – like when a young boy asked his dad why he was filming him and nervously veered his head out from the camera frame – but mostly, it was sobering.
It showed destitute people in Nepal, a helpless family in a hut in Egypt, a young boy carrying his wooden stand through streets till he arrived at his designated corner for his shoe shine operation. The juxtaposition of those images with a man giddily driving his Lamborghini, a teenage girl obsessing over her iPhone or a man in a restaurant watching sushi pass him by on a conveyor belt were naturally jarring. The idea that some people have so little while others (us) have a lot is a subject of which we are aware. And to see such images is heartbreaking.Read More
What is evangelism? What does it mean? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it mean to be an evangelist?
I believe that if you ask those questions to a random group of people, you’d get as many answers as there are people in the room. Everyone has their own idea of what evangelism is and what it looks like.
But what does God think? What does He say it is supposed to look like? Does it have to be preachy? Is it supposed to be intrusive? Is that really what God wants from us?Read More
Imagine that you are walking down the street one day and you see a small child wander out into the street. The child clearly is too young to be in the street and someone needs to get this child back to the sidewalk and safety. As you walk towards the child, you realize that it isn’t just any child; it’s actually the child of one of your close friends – someone whom you have known for years.
As soon as you make that realization, you realize something else too…THERE’S A CAR COMING! The car is coming down the road fast and it doesn’t see the child. You are standing on the side of the road – there’s still time to do something if you choose to, but you need to hurry. You could run out and grab the child. You could yell at the child to get back to safety. You could try to get the driver’s attention and tell him to stop. YOU MUST DO SOMETHING!!!!
But instead, you sit idly by. You choose not to take any action. You turn your head so you don’t have to see what’s coming but you know what happens next. The driver tries to slam on the brakes at the last second, but by then it’s too late. The child suffers fatal injuries and doesn’t make it through the night.
You were there. You could have done something. You could have at least tried. But you chose not to. You stood by idly and took no action when you had the chance to save your best friend’s child.Read More