Friday, October 31, 2014

In the Earthquakes by @emilylaney

Me and some of my co-workers in front of our yellow house in Banda Aceh, the house with the 'solid foundation'.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24.
In 2005 I spent six months in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh was ground zero for the devastating Tsunami that hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Six months after that day, I found myself in Banda Aceh, walking through a city that was struggling to rebuild. I had never felt an earthquake before going to Aceh, and I’ll never forget the day I felt the ground shake between my feet. It was slight at first, and then it almost felt like the ground buckled under me. I raced out of our home office along with the rest of the other staff. For those few seconds, I felt helpless. I was completely at the mercy of the shaking earth. And after the shaking slowed, I realized how thankful I was for our home’s strong foundation. The home our organization was renting wasn’t destroyed during the intense ten minute earthquake that caused the tsunami, and it wasn’t damaged during the subsequent aftershocks that hit the city for months after. Our foundation was solid, so the house continued to stand.

Our lives are figuratively like life in Banda Aceh. It will be calm for a little while, and then things get shaken up. Maybe it’s financial, a diagnosis, or a loss. Or, maybe it’s something exciting but overwhelming. But regardless of the circumstances, all of us are prone to experience earthquakes in our lives. But when everything gets shaken up, what do we rely on?

That’s where the solid foundation comes in. We must set our minds on Jesus, and build our faith, our lives on the solid rock of Jesus. The parable in Matthew seven is a great example. We can’t put our trust in things of the world, it’s like building a house on sand. But if we put our trust in Jesus, He serves as a firm foundation, a foundation that will not be shaken. And sure, when the earthquakes come, we’ll be shaken up a bit. However, our solid foundation in Christ will keep us from being destroyed. There is so much peace in knowing that we can rely and depend on Jesus to be our true source of stability.

Friends, trust in Jesus today. If you’re going through a storm or if you feel you’re in a full-fledged earthquake, know that no matter how much the enemy tries, he can’t destroy you. Cling to the truth of scripture and the sure foundation and cornerstone of Jesus.

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia.   She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

Thursday, October 30, 2014

God’s Tear Jar ~ A Guest Post by Stephanie Rische

My husband, Daniel, has given me many gifts in the time we’ve been married, but one of the most gracious is the way he handles my tears.

Over the years I’ve prided myself in my ability to handle things pretty stoically, at least to all watching eyes. But somehow since saying “I do,” I’ve found I’m much leakier than I used to be—perhaps because I’ve found in Daniel such a safe place.

One of my favorite images in the Psalms is the picture David paints in Psalm 56 of God collecting all our tears in a bottle. David was no stranger to sadness. For all that his life was charmed—what with giant killing and a promotion from shepherd to king—he still had plenty to feel down about along the way.

It seems significant that David wrote about God’s tear jar when he did: just after being rejected twice. First by King Saul, whom David had served faithfully, both with his music and in battle, risking his very life only to be repaid with a spear aimed at his head. On the heels of that rejection came another one: this time from the Philistines, whom David had been fighting with side-by-side since his exile. It was in that moment of feeling alone that he cried out to God:

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.

—Psalm 56:8

When I picture heaven, I envision one room that’s filled with shelf after shelf of jars—jars of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Each one is labeled with a name, and on the inside are all the tears that person has shed during his or her time on earth.

Something I love about the tear jar image is what it says about God’s view of our suffering. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up; he doesn’t instruct us to plaster a fake smile on our faces; he doesn’t wag his finger and rebuke us for being babies. He tenderly collects every tear, validating each stab of pain we feel. No teardrop is too bitter. No sorrow is too small. Each one is lovingly guided into the jar.

When Daniel and I first got married, I found myself frequently apologizing for my tears—especially when they seemed weak or unnecessary or just plain silly. But each time Daniel would put his arms around me and find the nearest napkin or paper towel or sleeve to wipe my runny mascara. Then he’d say, “You don’t have to be sorry. The Daniel-and-Stephanie team is okay with tears.”

God’s team, gratefully, is the same. The jar in heaven with your name on it is proof.
“Where there are tears, we should pay attention.”
—Frederick Buechner

Stephanie Rische is a senior editor of nonfiction books at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for her.meneutics, Today’s Christian Woman, and Christian Marriage Today. She cowrote Uncommon Marriage Bible Study with Tony Dungy and contributed to Everyday Matters Bible for Women

She and her husband, Daniel, live in the Chicago area, where they enjoy riding their bikes, making homemade ice cream, and swapping bad puns. 

You can connect with Stephanie in the following places: 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Part 2 “All Shook UP” Out of Carolina by Debra Courtney

Until I hit a force that literally knocked me to the floor.

This force that was a lot bigger than I was and a lot older. A force that had been around… well since the Garden of Eden you might say. Little did I know that the folks back home were not in control as much as they thought they were and for real neither was I. It worked for me for a long time and during those years that I was gone from them and Carolina and busy doing my own thing this force was as much a part of me as breathing.  I just had not realized just how deep into this world one could really go. Kind of like the song by the Eagles, “In a New York Minute”, until I found out just how deep into this world I was about to really become, should I choose to do so.

A Damascus road experience doesn’t have to be a bright shining light from above. It can take on many forms to many as many different people as it needs. The main thing is that it will get your attention sooner or later depending on how much you have neglected the warnings of sooner, and how fast you get into the later stages. Some people catch on fast, some not so fast. This force that I am talking about is the force of manipulation otherwise known as a form of witchcraft.

You know there is a saying that goes something like this: “God doesn’t settle up every Saturday night, but he does settle up.”

Well… my settling up time came and when it came my time for me to catch that experience for myself it was very hard. I had some issues, long time issues. However, that was what it took to get my attention, and get my attention it did. I had two choices to make. It was put to me this way: Debra you can either decide to become better or bitter, to live or die. You choose. You know we do get to choose our choices, but, however, we do not get to choose our consequences.

It took some healing time for me and others. It took some good Biblical counseling for me. It took some serious praying and long conversations to and listening to the Holy Spirit my brand new counselor and comforter now. I remember going to a 12 “In Step” program that Stephen Hendrix was a part of for people who are dealing with life dominating issues. It was not for me so much as an addict. It was for me to understand being a spouse of an addictive person and family members with addictive personalities that I had to live with. I was/am thankful and grateful for this knowledge and understanding I gleaned thru this program. It did help me a lot.

However, I still had a way to go. What I experienced next… well it is as about as hard a thing I have ever had to do. You can’t believe ...then maybe you can…

Debra’s life goal is to inspire and motivate women globally to become all they have been created and designed to be by using the guiding principles of their Creator’s word in gaining wisdom, understanding their designed-given personality identities & create their purpose!