Me and My Three Audiences [Day 20: AUDIENCE]

I sit with my friend in her one-room home, and I take in all that she does from how she makes her tea to her preferences on dressing her son. I take note of what she watches on TV and what she says when she answers the phone. Much of what I have learned about my host culture has come through observing the behavior of others in this way. I play audience to everyone I meet here in attempt to understand, imitate, and appreciate their culture.

They don’t mind giving it right back. She asks me a laundry list of questions, mostly about why we do things differently than they do in regards to our children or dietary habits. She watches how I discipline my kids and inquires about my choice of fingernail polish. It used to bother me, feeling picked apart, but I know that she is seeking to understand my culture. I also know, that because our family lives somewhat counter-culturally, her whys will lead me to opportunities to talk about Christ’s difference in our life. She — and by God’s grace, many others — is my audience.

In all these encounters, I have a great opportunity to showcase Christ. I don’t live my life performing for Him because I know He is perfectly pleased with me because of the blood sacrifice. However, I do wish to honor that sacrifice in my daily interactions. Ultimately, He is the audience I am acutely aware is with me and watching at all times. I want to acquaint each member of my audience with Him so they may also have the wonderful gift of His presence in their lives.

Photos by Kelly Rockhold Photography

Three Audiences of My Life

I am someone’s audience

This can be something healthy like learning culture or it can be entirely something else. I recently unfollowed a bunch of accounts on Instagram. While I can’t necessarily recall why I started following theses accounts in the first place, I realized that few of them were feeding me as they should but were rather tempting me towards unhealthy comparison and envy. I had willingly become a part of their audience without concern for what this decision would do for my heart. This lesson is not applicable only to my online life but to my daily life as well. I must be mindful of who and what I allow to influence me.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Other people are a part of my audience

Generally, it’s just two little people, but it still holds true — there are people watching me. This may include people in our ministry, in our neighborhood, or in my little corner of the internet world. While I do not seek the approval of others, I desire to live a life that uplifts the name of Christ and blesses others. I do not perform for my audience, but in the Spirit I try to model who I am made to be in Jesus.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

I should seek only to please one audience

I hesitated to write about this because the whole “Audience of One” thing seems so cliche, but there’s a reason it has caught on. The temptation to perform for others or present our lives to be a certain way is real and ever-present — especially in the digital age. I don’t perform for others, but I don’t perform for God either. That is, I don’t work to please Him. I know because I’m covered in the blood, He is already pleased with me. Instead, I seek to honor that great sacrifice by living in a way that glorifies Him and celebrates my standing with Him.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).

I’m watching. They’re watching. But most importantly, HE is watching.

I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all my interactions.

What can you tell me about your audiences?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Whose I am is What Matters Most [Day 19: WHO]

The biggest holiday in this country is happening right now. It’s strange how lifeless our neighborhood is during the day. At night, some festive gatherings take place and the volume takes it up a few notches. Most shops are closed and many people have gone out to the villages to celebrate with their family. My kids get their longest break from school at this time (they only got 8 days for summer break!). They will be home for a whole two weeks. I’m enjoying having them home, but it is sort of a shift in mindset and mode for me. With few people around to connect with and even less to do, I feel somewhat lost and limited.

Keeping up the house with these tornadoes home all day has been challenging. Every time I clean up a mess, two more are made! My routines have been completely undone, and I started this break with an empty fridge and pantry — total rookie move. I can ride the waves of these emotions of failing my family and not being useful in ministry at this time. This is what I would typically do, but thankfully, I’ve really had a shift in understanding of these matters in the last year.

It’s a major trap of the enemy to make us slaves to our own roles and callings. He tells us that we are what we do, but the Scripture tells us something completely different.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Galatians 4:4-9

The Gospel tells me who I am. I am a beloved daughter of the King of the world. He bestows the fulness of His love and His richest blessings on me… on purpose! I’m not a slave to the law or to my roles or callings. What I do does not define who I am. Who I am is unchanging because He who holds me is unchanging. He’s not counting the dirty dishes in the sink or how many times I’ve lost my temper with my kids today. Yet, He delights when I walk in repentance as a child who messes up but truly desires to please her Father.

Productivity or pursuit of perfection in my life can put me right back into bondage, but I am made to be free. I can be free not because of anything I’ve done but because of what Christ has done. All because I am known of God and loved by God.  I want to say I’m never going back, but I know the vulnerability of my heart to fall into this snare again and again. I’ll keep telling myself — and Satan too — that I belong to Christ, and I am not a slave to anyone or anything.

My house may be a wreck, my kids may be a bit wild, and I may not get any “real” ministry done this week. but one thing sets my heart straight: I am treasured by God.

How does your identity as a child of God change how you leave each day?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Never Stop Searching [Day 18: SEARCH]

We have worked with a woman for over a year and a half and have shared the Gospel with her countless times. My husband has gone through discipleship lessons with her and her son during this time, and they have eaten countless meals together while discussing spiritual things. What is completely heart-breaking is that she isn’t getting it. She has spent so much time dabbling in other religions and much more feeling justified by her own good works. She can’t see what we call can see — she is lost.We see that she is restless. Her lack of peace is palpable, but she is numb to it. She has stopped searching.

I’m not sure what to do in a situation like this beyond being faithful to love her and tell her the truth. It can be tempting to see ourselves as above others like this lady because we have accepted the Gospel and live a new life in Christ. The fact is, however, even in my redeemed state, there are times I live just like a lost person — I stop searching.

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Psalm 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” We read this verse and see the enemies of the Lord. But if I honestly take a look within, I can also see myself. My pride keeps me from seeking God, from falling on His grace and dwelling in dependence of Him. Rather than living protected in His peace, I leave myself vulnerable to the attacks of Satan when I do not humble myself before God.

I’ve shared countless times on this little blog: Jesus is the reward. Oh, but how many times has my heart been pulled away from Him as I search for peace, purpose, and significance coming from another source. In pride, I look at my lost friend and think, “I’m so glad I’m not like her” as any good old Pharisee would do. When God grabs my heart and stirs me towards humility, I see my state is desperate, too.

Her search will, prayerfully, one day end in Jesus. My search every day ends in Jesus. In my redeemed state, may I continually seek the reward of a intimacy with Christ. He is treasure worth seeking, His value immeasurable. I want to live every day lathering myself in His riches while greedily scooping up more.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

I “make” God big in my life when I continue searching to know His heart. I can trust He will bring me towards Himself and reward me with His richest blessings.

Do you continue to seek God each day of your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Waiting Well when God Pauses My Plans [Day 17: PAUSE]

“How’s it looking at the camp?” I ask my husband again after visiting the property.

“Same old, same old.” Still no change.

God gave us a dream to start a camp, and then he provided the money to buy property and begin building a building on it. The process started a few years ago, and we really thought the first phase would be done by now. Various holdups and letdowns have occurred along the way. We were always told things would speed up after rainy season or after we got some sort of approval. Rainy season came and went without much progress and rejections came more frequently than approvals. It seems God has paused our plans on-and-off over the years — and even completely demolished them when we were denied visas to the country we planned to minister in for the rest of our lives.

Even in the day-to-day, things happen that put a hold on my plans. In the last several months, I’ve had one minor health problem after another that required many visits to the hospital and a surgery. But even more annoying than that, it required a lot of waiting. My plans and desires were put on hold while I had to sort out these mild but persisting medical issues.

It’s frustrating and brings out the worst in me — impatience, anger, and the like. Waiting isn’t something many people do well, and unfortunately, I am no exception. He’s still working on me, building my faith and showing me truly where my hope belongs. The waiting is where I find Him leading me into a deeper intimacy with Him. I want to honor this gracious gift He gives me by waiting well.

Two Ways I can Wait Well
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look upward by worshiping Christ and dwelling on His goodness. God can use the seemingly stagnant times of my life to cause me to fall more even love with Him. I can know Him more and worship Him for everything about Him. Everything I know about Him tells me He won’t keep me waiting forever, and as long as I wait He will be with me.
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look outward as I seek opportunities to minister to others. In the waiting, it is easy to sulk in self-pity or self-indulgence as I feel sorry for myself. However, God can use the pain of waiting to soften my heart to others if I allow Him. I can be more sensitive to the needs of others and apply myself to meeting them in any way I am able — even in the waiting.

I can honor the Lord in my times of waiting. The camp may take 5 more years and I may spend countless hours in our local hospital, but by His grace, I can wait well.

I “make” God big in my life when I honor Him by looking upward and outward in times of waiting.

Has God brought you into a season of waiting?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

To Rejoice is Greater than to Rush [Day 15: WHEN]

I wrote the following post for Five Minute Friday a few months ago, and I thought it was so fitting for this series. When my little life is less than what I want it to be or I feel stuck in my current circumstances, I don’t have to continue my pattern of waiting, wishing, and whining. I don’t have to rush from one thing to the next in search of something that will fill me. I can do the will of God even when my feelings war against my joy.

To Rejoice is Greater Than to Rush

When will the kids grow up? When is our ministry going to take off? When are we going to get to go out on a date together again? These thoughts come in waves as I rush from one event to the next always wishing the next more comfortable phase would usher itself in while I’m scrambling to catch up to the chaos of the one that came before. I want the fruits of my labors like yesterday, and I really wish we could just get a hurry up on this harvest we’re waiting for. Oh, and when is it okay to rest? Here I am again waiting, wishing, and whining.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In this rush which seems far too routine to me, I wonder what I am missing. I don’t have to search long to find my answer.

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It really couldn’t be more clear than that. While the present may not be savory, it can be sanctifying. I can daily find reason to rejoice rather than rush to the next better thing. The King of the Universe reigns also over my days. I fail never to have the opportunity to commune with him as friend with friend. And I happen to believe that this encouragement to give thanks in every thing is good advice for today, tomorrow and this season and the next one. Actually, forever because I’m told it’s God’s will concerning me, and I know He won’t change His mind on that matter. I want to see what this looks like in daily practice. Do you?

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to do His will be rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in every circumstance of my little life. 

What can you rejoice in today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!