Do not grieve (JAF Camp 2016)

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I just recently finished serving a week at Joni and Friends Southern Oregon Twin Rocks Family Retreat. This is my fourth year serving at this camp that caters to family with disabilities. These are families who fight for their loved ones so they can get proper medical treatment, education, and spiritual care.

These families travel across the nation to participate in four days of camp on the Oregon Coast, because there isn’t something like it where they live. While more Joni and Friends retreats are being set up, the need is so great that the demand overtaxes the supply. There are families who plan their whole year around these four days, that is how important it is to them.

This camp is a place where the campers can be kids, and families can focus on just loving each other rather than being on the defense against other people’s curiosity and advice. Here they are eagerly anticipated and accepted. They are not considered ‘other’ or ‘different,’ they are simply seen as someone to love.

Short-Term Missionaries (STMS) are volunteers who come and serve these families. They are all age ranges, from 10-80 at least, who are so eager to love on these campers that they save up all year to attend. This is not a camp where volunteers put in a few hours of work in the kitchen to have a free fun time. No, this is a place where STMS are paired with a single camper and their duty is to be their friend for the week. It’s a place where they are truly missionaries whose mission is to show these campers that they are deeply loved, exactly for who they are. We have STMS who do bake sales, garage sales, mow lawns, build birdhouses, and numerous other things, to raise money, because this retreat is that important to them. $450 is a lot of money for a 13 year old to raise, but they do! And now many of them are raising about that much money again, so they can serve in the next week of camp as well. The STMs love it just as much as the families do.

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All of our camp volunteers (STMS) Nearly a 100 kind spirited people giving of their time and money to serve

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Our whole family camp! Campers and STMS together

This year our camp verse could be found in Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” But, the verse is right in the middle of a sentence. What the actual sentence says is, “Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”” 

Nehemiah is an amazing book full of God’s mercies and work. It’s about the Israelites getting to go back to the Promised Land, after being put into the chains of slavery due to their sinfulness. It’s about a pagan king who listened to the voice of God and allowed his cup-bearer to leave and build the walls of Jerusalem once again. It’s about the eagerness of the God’s people hearing the words of the Lord once more. It’s about the joy of finding God after years of silence (on the side of the people).

In this section of Scripture, we find the people hearing the Word of the Lord for the first time in years. They were weeping because they hadn’t heard it for so long. But, this was a time to celebrate. The Word was available once more. It was being read from early morning till midday. And the people stood to hear it.

Do not be grieved. Don’t be grieved that before you didn’t understand the Word. Do not be grieved over the past deeds, because now you have the way to make your slate clean. Do not be grieved.

It is a time to rejoice! To revel in what the Lord has done! He has done the unimaginable and it must be savored. He has brought the Israelite nation out of slavery and out of their sin and has brought them back to their forefathers’ Promised Land. The pagan king funded the rebuilding of Jerusalem! How amazing would it have been to be there, to walk back into that land that was your father’s and know that you could come home.

Nehemiah is telling these people who were weeping over the loss of time and of the Word, to not grieve, to rejoice, because that joy of the Lord is your strength. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Rejoicing and reveling in the Lord gives you strength.

These families with disabilities know what it is like to grieve. Some days, it may feel like they can never find anything to rejoice, but then the joy of the Lord strengthens them. And this camp gives them that strength.

But, at the same time, these families know how to rejoice over the little things. Things that might seem inconsequential to us, but are major milestones for their loved one. And this camp helps them rejoice over them.

Joni and Friends Family Retreat is an experience like no other. It is hard to use words to describe it adequately, because there isn’t one thing similar to pull from to compare. It is often compared to Disney, as being the happiest place on Earth, because at camp, the campers can just be kids. No expectations to fit into any mold that one may insist on being the perfect one. No trying to remember the arbitrary rules of society so that one can be accepted. No acting a certain way so that you won’t be laughed at. No explaining why you do things differently than others, why you walk the way you do, or why you can’t speak.

These people at camp, they understand. They look at you, and see simply, you. You. The one God declares Beloved. You, who God created with great love. You, whose beauty can be seen as God intended, rather than as a mark against the plastic perfection of society. You, whose talents are marveled at, whether you can sing or draw, or throw a ball, or take your first walks on screen. You, you are celebrated for being you.

Here your ticks are accepted. Here sounds that are voiced are cheered. Here you can run because its just so much, and we will run with you, rather than force you to stop. Here your mask can be left at home, and the real you can be let out to enjoy the world as it was meant to be. Here people rush to meet you. Here hesitation and fear have no place as you are loved. Here people will share their food and their space. Here the need for quiet is understood, but so is noise, and what a joyful noise to the Lord we make together! Here miracles happen on a regular basis, voices are found, friendships are made, love is given. Here, angels tread and God blesses those he calls his.

God’s love for you is your strength. He knew you when he placed you in that womb. He knew your life would be difficult, but he knew he wanted you. You were not a mistake. He rejoices in you, every minute of every day. He knows you and loves you just as you are. He gave you spiritual gifts to bless this world, don’t let anyone get between you and worshiping your Father. Share your gifts!

I know a camp where we are eagerly awaiting to celebrate them…

I highly recommend Joni Eareckson Tada’s biography if you have never heard about this ministry. Joni- An Unforgettable Story

http://www.joniandfriends.org/store/product/joni-unforgettable-story-discount/

You can also follow her radio/video series, many of which can be found here:

http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/

For more information about Family Retreat, please see:  http://www.joniandfriends.org/family-retreats/

For more information about volunteering at a Family retreat, please see:

http://www.joniandfriends.org/family-retreats/for-volunteers/

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A Christian & A Muslim in Walmart 

A handful of years ago, I had just gotten off of a double shift that included a graveyard. I was tired, grouchy, and still in my scrubs from my job at an Adult Foster Home.

I was at the point of being too tired to sleep, so I had gone into town to do some errands before having to get back for another double shift. I hoped I could burn off some of the jitters so I could grab at least few hours of shut eye.

I was digging through one of those $5 movie bins at Walmart trying to find anything that wasn’t a B-rated movie. A gentleman stopped by just as a family of three walked off with a handful of cartoons and boxes of candy.

He murmured a hello, and I flashed a quick polite, yet distant smile as I continued to dig. I barely registered his white skullcap or his traditional white religious shirt and trousers.

After a minute or two of quiet digging he cleared his throat. “Doesn’t seem to be much in here.”

I chuckle and shrug, “No, but I keep hoping there’s a diamond in here.”

“Yes. Something to eat up the hours while waiting for the sun to come up again.” He sighed as he started to stack the DVD cases.

“I’m doing a run of graveyard shifts so I understand that.” I flipped through a few more movies as his pile became larger. He started a second and third pile and I realized he was separating them.

“Are you a nurse?” He asked with polite hesitancy on the word while motioning at my Eeyore covered scrubs.

“A caregiver. I work with the elderly.” Then, through my exhaustion, I noticed his sad look and nervous hand motions.

“That has to be hard. Do any of them…do any of them have Alzheimer’s?” He stopped fooling with the DVD cases and smoothed down his shirt.

I also stopped flipping through the movies to look at him. A gentleman who was probably in his late 50s with his own brand of exhaustion lining his face. There was a mixture of fear, sadness, and a hint of desperation in his eyes.

“Yes. I have a few clients with Alzheimer’s. I’ve worked with those living with that nasty disease for a number of years now.” A light seemed to enter the man’s eyes as I talked.

“My mother has it. I had to go home to collect her. Iran is all she ever has known. It’s so different here. I wonder if I did her wrong, bringing her here.” He rubbed his face with frustration.

I desperately wanted to give him a grounding touch on his arm at that moment, something to show him that he wasn’t alone. But, respecting his religious garb and the vague knowledge I have of his culture, I refrained and attempted to pour all that compassion and concern into my words.

“It’s never wrong to take on the hard duty of caring for your parent. It’s a lot of sacrifice. Do you have family here to help?”

“No, I’m all that’s left. That’s why I brought her here.” He started digging through the movies again. “She is so angry. Some days she throws things, others she screams. Some, she just weeps. I come here to Walmart just to wander the aisles. Just to breathe without her. Then I feel guilty for leaving her. What if something happened? My mother was never a happy woman, but now she is just so….just so full of hate. I am so tired.”

“It is tiring. Especially if you can’t take time for yourself. Does your mosque have any community services to help? I know of a few, such as Catholic Services that help in the home. If nothing else they can come for a few hours so you can go for a walk or do errands.” I wracked my brain for any of the local community services that were available for such issues. “Or a neighbor you’d trust to watch her for an hour? Someone who could do with a little money?”

“I am no longer connected to my mosque since moving down here. It’s been a few years, most of my friends are gone. They don’t want to be around a man who is worried about his mother all the time.” He sighed. “It just keeps getting worse. Some mornings, I hope she might not wake-up. I’m a horrible son.”

“You aren’t horrible! You’re burning out. You need support. I know it’s hard to even to contemplate, but if she is getting too hard to handle, you might have to think about putting her in retirement home. Where they can have someone able to watch her 24 hours a day. It’s hard to think it might be time for that, but it might be best for both of you.” The man looked near tears as I finished speaking.

“I’m just so lost. I just want to do the best for her.” He looked at his watch and sighed. “I should get going. I’ve taken up your time and I have left her too long. Thank you for talking with me.”

Nervously, I offered, “Sir, would you mind if I pray for you? I don’t want to offend you, but I’d really like to.”

He smiled, “Prayers are always welcomed. I’m assuming you are Christian?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you.”

So, at that moment I prayed for this gentleman from Iran in traditional Muslim religious garb who was worried about being a good son to his ill mother. I prayed for wisdom for the next step, patience in his care, comfort for the mother, and a community that would support them.

After I finished, he patted my hand that rested on the movie bin. “Thank you young lady for listening to my rambles. For your compassion.” He left with a blessing to Allah.

It was a chance encounter. Two very weary people wanting to find rest. 40 minutes of talking. I’ve never seen that man again. I never found out his name. But, I think of him often.

It wasn’t my first conversation with someone in the Muslim faith. I’ve always had very nice cordial interactions with them before and since. But, this interaction in particular has constantly reminded me how very human each of us truly are.

With all the constant news regarding terrorism, al Qaeda, and now ISIS, it is sometimes difficult to remember that the 1% of “Muslims” who are killing, do not speak for the other 99%. Men and women who are just living life the best they can. They have the same hopes, fears, and yes, even enemies as we do.

I, as a Christian, do not want to be lumped into the same group as those who are fanatics proclaiming to be apart of my faith. I don’t want to be associated with the 1% of  “Christians” who attack people out of fear and hate. The KKK, Westbro Baptists, those who attack people who appear to be different than the “righteous,” do not speak for me, my faith, or in the name of my God.

Why do we insist on doing the same to Muslims?

When ISIS attacked European cities over the last couple of months, worldwide tears were shared. When an attack on a LGBT friendly nightclub in Orlando was found to have links to support for ISIS, tears and rainbows abounded. Hours of news reports flooded the tv.

We were united in condemning the actions of terrorists. Domestic and international.

I applaud the actions of compassion and unity. Show your support.

But, then I start hearing the troubling news of innocent people being attacked as they attempt to go to local mosques. Bomb threats on places of worship. Where children are. And I am ashamed of my 1%. The 1% Christians who spew vitrol out on social media hidden by their keyboards, the 1% of Americans who think hate makes us safer hiding behind their patriotic pride.

It saddens me more as I hear of the numerous terrorist attacks in the Middle East being linked to ISIS. Of the Muslims being slaughtered during their holiest of months, because they weren’t willing to partner with their 1%. 

But where is the outcry? Where are the tears and the show of unity? Where are the candlelight vigils? 

Suspiciously absent.

For God so loved the world” Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “everyone but them.” You cannot condemn the actions of a terrorist group but be quiet when they kill those who share the same faith system.

Turkey has had at least 7 attacks this year. I’ve only heard about this recent one in passing on the news. I certainly didn’t read about it on social media. Other Middle Eastern cities have been attacked by advancing ISIS soldiers as well. But, it’s just silence until it spills over into Europe or America again.

It’s not right. As a Christian, I believe that every single person on this earth is a child of God’s. Whether we call him our Father or not, we are still his. So I must grieve when I hear about more senseless deaths and terror.

The 1% does not control my actions. Fear does not make me hate. Instead, when the days get dark, I remember my Iranian friend who let me pray for him in Walmart.

I remember that love is always stronger than fear and hate.

We are all children of God. And I love you because you are family. And I will grieve with and for you. You are loved.

To be Remembered

“To be Remembered”

Today was flower day.
I took my client, who is just a couple of short months away from being 100, out to the two cemeteries where her family resides.

Like always, it was errand day, where we were out and about getting groceries and other needed items. I had a car full of groceries and cemetery day is usually a two or three hour process. I squelched my sigh as best as I could, trying not to think of the food that was rapidly thawing in the surprisingly muggy weather.

I took her to a local store where I could get the car close to where the flowers were kept. Peering through the chain link fence, she asked me to look at the pretty red Daisies that had caught her attention.

“They have to be in bloom. I don’t see any geraniums, do you? They last longer.” She looked anxiously through the fence.

As I parked the car, I assured her I’d take a good look around and make sure to choose the nicest ones.

She had mentioned only getting a flower for her husband’s grave so I double checked, “Just one? Or do you want to do your parents?”

“I want to do my sister’s. Then there is my son’s…”

“Want me to get 10 then? Like usual?” At her nod, I left the car with her laughter following me as I shouted, “Don’t let anyone steal you!”

I took time to look through all the flowers, making sure to pick the nicest, fullest, brightest plants.

As we went to the cemeteries, I was reminded that she’s nearing 100. 100 years of love and death. She pointed at homes along the roads we were on, family members who lived in those homes are now in the cemeteries we visited. 100 years of family and friends. A 100 years of joy and sorrow.

So as I placed the chosen flowers on her family’s graves, I took the time to clean the dead leaves and cut grass off of the stones. I pruned the flowers that we had put on the stones at Easter that were still blooming and made sure to collect any trash.

And I stood in for my client.

I cared for her family in her stead. As she stifled her tears of being the last of her family, I became her feet. I represented her love as I became her hands.

I could have rushed through putting the flowers out, but it was a moment to remind my client that she is known and she is loved.

We all want to be remembered.
We all want to know that we will be missed.
We all want to be known.
We want someone to care.
And ultimately, we want someone to miss us when we are gone.

In our care of our cemeteries, we are telling each other how we will remember our loved ones. And sadly, we don’t necessarily do it very well. Hundreds, if not thousands, of local cemeteries are disappearing as nature reclaims the land. Loved ones of ages past are disappearing from sight and memories.

So, I will be my client’s feet, as she expresses her love to her family. I will take the time to show respect to people I have never met. Because I want to be remembered as well.

I could have rushed through the day, but it was more important to care for my client and her heart. Groceries can wait.

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Tears Worth Shedding

Two killed on air
Nine killed in church
Man stabbed in broad daylight
Suicide bomber kills forty, injures hundreds
Bomb hits China
ISIS beheads thirty men, kidnaps ten children
Terrorist attack hits England
Threat level rises in US

The news is full of the bad and the worse. Having a client who watches the news 14 hours out of the day, I hear so much negative news that I teeter on the brink of apathy.
I don’t want to not care.
I want my heart to break as God’s does.
I want my eyes to overflow with the shared pain of the world, as well as that heartbroken family, who just got the news their beloved soldier was killed on his way home.
I don’t want dry eyes and a hardened heart.
These deaths that blaze across the shimmering screen are worth tears.
Children being abused are worth getting angry about.
All are worth being prayed over, all are worth crying out to the God who knows all and mourns all.
These are tears worth shedding for the blood that flows, hearts breaking, and the pain felt.
Help me, Lord, to always love as you do.
Help me to the point I feel the sorrow you feel for your lost children.
No matter the actions of the body, the soul is always worthy of tears.

1 Timothy 1:5
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

2 Timothy 1:7
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Love Well (a wedding poem)

Love Well
Written for J &A H. on the event of their wedding.
8/16/2015
With love, Ranelle Gildersleeve

What is love?
Is it always flowers and candlelight dinners?
Is it always easy smiles and shared laughs?
Love is pushing up your sleeves and digging deep.
Love is picking up socks for the fiftieth time that week, and still smile when he walks through the door.
Love is getting in your car and driving an hour out of your way, just to bring her a forgotten bag.
Love is a struggle. Struggle well together.
You may have candlelight dinners, but more often than not, you will have a table full of bills.
You may have flowers, but you will always have dishes to wash.
Love is a dance that is more often a violent tango rather than the gentle waltz.
Dance well together.
Let never one stand by themselves, but always have your arms around the other.
Love isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. If you work for it.
Work for it.
Take time no matter how busy it is, and sit together to share your fears and your joys.
Take time to walk the park as dusk falls, hand in hand with no words.
Struggle well together in your faith. Find God in the midst of your marriage and give him control.
Be better together rather than apart. Pray for each other.
No, love isn’t always flowers and candlelight dinners.
Sometimes it’s ripped shirts and dirty knees.
Sometimes love is the act of planting the flowers, rather than picking them.
Love each other well.
God has given you that person that will lift you up when you feel like you can’t go on.
He has given you the person to patch up your wounds when the world is just a little too rough.
He has given you the water for your soul when it’s parched, by giving you the person who can speak the soothing words needed.
In your struggle of life together, may your hands be gentle when you hold your love.
May your mouth be ever kind when you speak of him.
May your thoughts be ever happy when you think of her.
May your eyes ever seek the face of the one beside you.
May your feet always return to the one beside you.
May you never be alone in the midst of the storm as the world rages.
May you always struggle well together as you face life as one.
God has given you the most holy of duties, for two to become one.
Defy the laws of physics and show it is possible for two bodies to become one person.
Love is a struggle. Struggle well together.
In your hands lies your life. Your life is in the hands of your love. Treat it well.
It is a precious gift, one that must be nurtured, and protected from the forces that would tear it apart.
It is your sacred duty to work on building that flame of love every day for the rest of your lives.
Tend it. Feed it.
Let it become an inferno, so that everyone you come in contact with, can feel the heat of it.
May your love be the story of the ages.
May you struggle well together.
May you love well for eternity.

Muddling God’s Love

I was talking to a friend the other day about what we struggle with in regards to our relationships with God.

She mentioned how she feels that while she believes she’s forgiven, she doesn’t necessarily always feel loved. She says it is because of how her parents always said they loved unconditionally, but it was when she acted a certain way or got a certain grade, that she felt she was loved better.

I, on the other hand, feel loved unconditionally and forgiven, but not always worthy. I was blessed with a family that has always loved me unconditionally, so that’s not what influenced my relationship with God, but rather living in a society that always picks on the different. My history in Special Education and the way ‘typical’ people treated those in the program has influenced me to the point where I believe God doesn’t always see me as worthy.

Other friends say that they struggle with God’s love because their father disappeared from their lives, or due to the abuse they survived at the hands of their mother. I’ve heard of some people who struggle with God’s love because of how someone sexually abused them or terrorized them in a different way.

The thing the really strikes me about this observation though, is not that God’s love is hard to accept, but rather how our broken relationships affect our spiritual relationship with our Father. We put on God all of the brokenness that others have placed on us.

Our relationships with other people influences how we see God.

Horrible acts, indifferent attitudes, unreachable expectations, all done by another human, paints God in the same color we see those who do us wrong.

Because we feel the brunt of the actions in this physical realm, we expect God to do the exact same thing.

This is how sin disrupts our relationship with God.

Because of “Bob’s” abuse, “Sally” doesn’t trust men. God is spoken about as a Father. Sally doesn’t trust God because he is a man.

Because of “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s” legalistic way of running their home, “Billy” thinks God is only a judge and never loving, that he expects you to follow all the rules and to never do anything wrong.

Because we have men and women who profess love in God, but condemn one another, non-believers think God hates everyone.

Our sin is the barrier that hurts our ability to fully trust God’s character.

What do you struggle with in regards to God’s character? Do you know?

I think we really need to be honest with ourselves and to take a deep look at how outside relationships have hindered our ability to fully rely on God.

The next question we need to be honest with ourselves in regards to is, how do we help muddle God’s love for those who are watching us?

Our actions will always affect another.

Breaking the Christian Bubble

For the last 6 years I have been living in what is termed a Christian Bubble. Everyone on campus is Christian and believes in the same key ideals as me. I work and go to school in the same area, and before this year, I lived there as well. Not only that, when I went home to my parents, I was surrounded by more Christians because I was with my parents and then went to church. If it wasn’t for my grandparents and extended family, I would be totally surrounded by like-minded believers.
While this isn’t bad, it’s not good either.
When you always surround yourself by like-minded people you forget how to communicate with those who don’t believe as you do.  We get so used to hearing the Christian language and vocab being used that we forget that not everyone speaks it.  When this happens we start to become judgmental of those we are suppose to be sharing God‘s love with.
I was reminded about this wonderfully in the ongoing story of my injured foot. I am always willing to speak to anyone who wants to, but I haven’t had to have an extended conversation about faith with anyone beyond my own family who are non-believers.
I’ve been having to go to physical therapy twice a week to work on my foot (tomorrow I’m going to have an MRI to see if there is more damage than first thought 😦 ) because it’s not healing that well. But, the guy who is working on my leg is….interesting.
There really is no other word for this guy. He is simply interesting. He says he’s from a Catholic background but isn’t practicing. He’s a divorced 33 year old and according to him a co-dependent personality and he was in a new relationship within weeks of his divorce because of that. He’s an ADHD extrovert without a lot of verbal boundaries.
To say the least, I’m not bored in physical therapy!
The second day with him, he asked how long had I been dating my boyfriend? To which I did my usual- Don’t have a boyfriend, never have.
This seemed to horrify him.
He asked “Does that mean you’re a….”
Me- “Virgin? Yes, it does.”
To which he said, “I am so sorry.”
As if it’s horrible to be 27 and a virgin!
As if I should be ashamed by that title!
I’m not. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
He wondered if I felt like I had missed out on something huge, because he said he would have. I said no. Then he wondered if it was a religious thing, to which I said it’s part of it but it’s not the full reason.
What has followed after that appointment are more bizarre conversations about politics, religion, family, school, my boring life (his words) and other odd topics. Almost all of them end with him shaking his head either in pity or possible disbelief. He doesn’t understand it. I’m a novelty to him because I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I stand for, I’m not trying to make excuses for what I believe. I simply believe.
I also don’t judge him. A lot of friends and family members are a bit horrified by my stories, a few have suggested I report him,(to say the least my dad wasn’t too happy about the whole virgin conversation….) But, this is life. This is what outside the Christian Bubble looks like. It’s messy, crude, and bizarre.
He has asked me questions about the Bible that if I had come out and judged him in that first meeting, I would never had heard.
I am of the firm belief that judging someone has never caused them to turn to God, rather it makes them angry and bitter towards Christians. There is a reason why Christians have such a bad name. We are known as a hypocritical group that is judgmental and lies about our own sins. We condemn the world while not cleaning up our own mess.
My Grandma had a saying, “Don’t go cleaning up someone else’s porch until you clean under yours.” You can probably figure out that its based off of Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I am not perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I’m selfish, I’m given to bouts of depression and anger, I like my food a little too much, I have a sarcastic snarky self that makes appearances on occasion and so many more things…No, I’m not perfect.
I also believe that I don’t have the right to judge a non-believer by the same standards as I hold myself to. They don’t understand that what they do is spiritually wrong because they don’t believe the same ideals as I do.
All I can do is be myself and pray over them.
Many of the people who are uncomfortable with my ideals are those who know what they are doing is wrong but aren’t ready to change. So be it. If it bothers them too much they will leave, it won’t be because I verbally abuse them by judging them. I will love them, because ultimately they are my brother and sister in the world, and hopefully, some day they will become my brother and sister in Christ.
That all to say, I am still meeting with my physical therapist who keeps me on my toes, both figuratively and literally, and while I am in major pain when he is working on my leg, I slowly introduce him to the God who is waiting for him.
I am breaking this Christian Bubble around me because it doesn’t do me any good. Yes, I can minister with love and compassion to other Christians, but it doesn’t bring anyone new to the church. We become numb to our own salvation when we don’t get to witness and be part of the salvation story of a new believer.
They are the flaming branch to a smoldering fire. They are the flowing water to a parched desert. New believers revitalize us and gives the church a new revival.
Break the Bubble! Bring them in! Go out and talk to the Goth, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Atheist.  Stretch your thoughts and work your prayer muscle. Our faith isn’t suppose to have easy answers. We are suppose to be wrestle with the hard questions that the everyday person is living with.
Have you broken the Bubble yet?
Romans 1:14-17
 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”