The Bondage of Approval and the Liberty of Christ (Heather)

Motherhood has revealed my desire for recognition and approval from others. This desire is not caused from being a mom—just exposed by it. I don’t think it is wrong to want to be recognized or thanked for our work, but it becomes a problem when we base who we are on what other people are saying [or not saying] about us.

I started to see this a couple of weeks ago after a long day of feeding, changing diapers, and trying to contribute to a meeting in a meaningful way while entertaining my four month old. [Please don’t misunderstand me, I LOVE being a mom.] Then I came home to cook for some people that were coming over later that night. I started to wonder if everyone knew the work I was putting into that day. Would they all thank me for it and tell me what a wonderful cook/mom/person I was? Not only that but was all this work in vain if they didn’t? A lot of them did thank me, but it didn’t feel like enough.
My identity, my self worth, and my whole day depended on how others received me. If I wasn’t noticed or thanked, I was down all day. If I was recognized, it was never enough to satisfy my need for it. I couldn’t ENJOY the compliments because I was dependent on them for MY JOY.
Forget confessing my struggles and sins to any of them. I couldn’t allow myself to be seen in an unfavorable light—they wouldn’t approve of me and I needed their acceptance so badly.
I wasn’t serving others selflessly because I needed something from them. All the world’s acceptance and approval couldn’t carry the weight of my identity.
So I was striving to fill myself with any acknowledgement I could get, and I was left wholly unknown and empty.
That is not freedom. It’s bondage to man.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1

Paul is speaking to the Galatians about finding their righteousness in circumcision, but I think this verse also applies here. Living for man’s approval is a heavy yoke, but Jesus has brought liberty through the cross.
The truest thing about us if we have accepted Christ is that we are His. This is our real identity.
I hope you and I live in this truth today. {We are His.}

The intentional kind of love (Brooke)

Yesterday I was sitting across the table from an ODU student/dear friend and we were talking about goals/hopes/dreams for her upcoming semester.  Right away she said  —->I want to really love people this year. The intentional, living life with love.  And, I want to do this with people that haven’t experienced this. She started sharing about the girls in her human services program and the steps of faith she wants to take with them. 

“love your neighbor as yourself.” -Jesus

I was inspired.  
What a way to spend a semester.
And it just starts with one little step every day/every week.
Oh but warning: this is hard. intentional love requires a dying to self. a putting down the phone. a listening ear. a moving towards a person. a putting aside of your agenda & your schedule.  
real love always requires sacrifice. 
& will always be worth it.
It’s a long journey….and the best journey.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7  (consider memorizing this over the weekend)

break out your journal today & answer these two questions.
1. Over the next 4 weeks who do I want to show intentional love to?
2. How will I do it—have a huge brainstorm session here…write down anything and everything that comes to mind…{bringing them coffee in class, praying for them every morning when you get up,  listening well to them…etc etc etc}
::thank you for living for eternal things on your campuses.  You are making a huge difference. I love you::

Depending on God in India (Lindsey)

Three seemingly short days ago, I was in New Delhi, India. I went with four other great people from my church in Powhatan. In our time there, we were able to reach out to 5 slum camps through hosting about 100 youth and over 250 children for Bible Clubs in a tiny room. Each child received a snack and a coloring book that told the story of the Gospel through illustrations and Hindi. We sang praise songs, discussed the Good News with colors from the wordless book and reviewed it with Gospel bracelets. We were able to have prayer and share testimony with believers, as well as, people whom have never heard.
A few things stuck out to me during my time there. One is that we asked God for big things. We spent a lot of time in prayer asking for things that only God could do. The pastor we were working with had a neighbor whom someone had put an evil spirit of voodoo over her home; she was afraid for her family. We were asked to come pray with her and share the Good News of Jesus. Feeling the darkness of India, it was easy to feel overwhelmed.
Last night, I received an e-mail that 12 youth came to church on Sunday, the day after we had left. Praise God! He has changed the world with about 12 people before. Please join me in praying for the next youth meeting planned for August 15 and that those youth would become multiplying believers. The e-mail also said that the woman we had the privilege to share the Gospel with and pray for had sensed peace in her home and attributed that peace to Jesus. She now wants to begin reading the Bible and coming to church. There is so much to celebrate and thank God for doing. He is so faithful.
Never have I been in a place so unreached by the Gospel. In the summertime in Virginia, I can drive down the street and see 3 or 4 children’s Bible camps at churches (VBS’s). We have churches here who pray that God would grow their numbers and while we were in India, we almost had the opposite problem. We sent a 50 passenger bus to pick up kids from various slum camps and each day about 100 children arrived on that bus. Dozens of children had to be turned away. In our team’s lack of understanding of their language and culture, God still used us (and translators) to communicate His great love.
The picture above shows our team standing in an empty space in the center of one slum camp that was donated to the pastor we worked with as a space for a future church. I would guess that the space was about the size of an average American bedroom and they hoped to fill that church with 50-60 people. It has two trees growing in the center and most homes surrounding it seemed to be around 6 or 7 feet tall. Many are built with mud but stones had been donated for this church. In the black shirt in the center is Gotham who is a little younger than me and will be the future pastor of this church.
Join me in praying for God to use this humble space as a light for His glory in a dark and hopeless place. Many people in this slum camp wear a string around their waist to ward off evil spirits. Pray that they would come to know the one true God, that He would save their souls, and use them for His purposes. Pray that this place would become awake and free in Christ.