Monthly Archives: May 2014

Guest Blog: Finding Your Emergency Brakes

My first car was a red 1991 Ford Probe with a V6 engine and great speakers. I loved that car, and we shared many adventures through my teenage years and graduate school. I even named the car Le Petite Rouge (“little red”), but I mostly called her Little Rouge. Unfortunately cars do not live forever, and I was forced to let go of Little Rouge, but only after she taught me a few life lessons. 

One day Little Rouge and I were driving an out of town visitor around Atlanta. I wanted to show my college friend a good time in my new town, and boy did that ever happen! As we were cruising down Cobb Parkway chattering about something, I realized that my brakes were not working. We were driving downhill and approaching a busy intersection just as the light turned red. Turning to my friend, I calmly informed her that the brakes were not braking and I was not sure if I could avoid an accident. In complete peace she simply stated, “ok.”

After turning on my hazard lights, I laid on my horn and weaved through traffic coming from all directions. I am certain that people in the other cars thought I was crazy.  Thankfully Cobb Parkway goes up hills too! We started to slow down, and I was able to maneuver my car into a nearby parking lot as I jammed the car into park. Shortly after we parked, my Haitian mechanic friend showed up to take a look at Little Rouge. In bewilderment he looked at me and asked in his French accent, “Why did you not use your emergency brake?”


Why hadn’t I used my emergency brake? At that point in my life, I honestly thought that the emergency brake was only there to stop your parked car from rolling down a hill. I had no answer to his question. As I watched my mechanic friend whip the car around the parking lot just using the emergency brake, I marveled at its usefulness. 

How many times in life have we forgotten to us our emergency brakes? What is the emergency brake in our spiritual lives? Is it the Holy Spirit? Scripture? Something else? My guess is that when life is out of control and we are moving away from who God created us to be, He will be faithful to provide us with an emergency brake of some sort. Our responsibility is to be aware that the emergency brake is there and to have the courage to use it. 

Over the last year, I have entered into a discipleship relationship with a dear friend. We meet monthly to share how God is working in us, to encourage each other, and to confess any sins that we struggle with. In between meetings, we have committed to be available to one another in times of crisis or to confess something that is weighing us down. In essence, we have become emergency brakes for each other.

Too often my pride prevents me from using this friend as an emergency brake. And there are even times I will forget she is there to support me. As life spirals out of control, I do whatever I can to regain my version of control. In these moments, I struggle to seek God and I rarely call on my discipleship partner. Regrettably, my version of control does not always draw me closer to the Father. In isolation I find that I grow in the wrong direction and look less like the woman I was created to be. However, when I connect to my community and allow myself to be a disciple of Jesus, transformation begins. 

True discipleship is about being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV) and becoming one with Him, just as He sought to become one with the Father (John 17:11).  Jesus modeled discipleship for us by spending time with the Father (Mark 1:35) and by having disciples that He shared life with. Many of us try to live life under our own power without help from anyone. Yet in Ephesians 5:21 (KJV), Paul teaches us to, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” None of us are perfect, and more than likely we will need help from God and each other to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. That is where the emergency brake comes in!

While the Holy Spirit is our ultimate emergency brake, I have found that Jesus will also provide others to help us when we are in times of crisis and growth. He may provide you with a mentor, a friend, a pastor, a sponsor, or even a counselor. God will use many different vessels to help the willing be transformed into His likeness. If there are parts of your life that feel out of control or areas that do not reflect Jesus, I would encourage you to pray. Ask Him to show you how to use the emergency brakes that He has made available to you. Jesus is always faithful to provide for our needs. 

Meet our Guest Contributor: 

Tracy Busse is a licensed professional counselor, teacher, speaker, and
writer. She is passionate about helping others find healing, hope and
restoration. You can learn more about Tracy at tracybusse.com or you can go
directly to her blog at tracybusse.wordpress.com



Photo provided by ccfamilypromise.org
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People Pleasing: A Dead End Road

People-Pleasing is a dead end road. And I’ve traveled down it time after time again.

Seeking after the approval of people.

Wanting everyone to like us.

Sound familiar?

This dead end road is far from the narrow path He invites us to walk on.

In fact, Paul had to confront this same issue within himself as stated in Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” NIV

Seeking after the approval of man should never supersede the approval of Jesus. Yet, it happens day after day. We as humans desire to be accepted, to be included, and to be loved. And so we gradually begin conforming to the people around us :at work, at church, at school, and even at home.

This has been a tough lesson for me. A real challenge.

Especially when responding in obedience to Christ.

Many of us have experienced the “warm and fuzzy” feeling that accompanies a good deed done in the name of our Lord Jesus. Feeding the hungry. Sharing a word of encouragement. Providing money for someone’s utility bill. Even writing a blog post that pierces a stranger’s heart.

Let me be real here:

We like to feel good. We like partnering with Jesus and winning His approval. And of those around us, too. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone’s happy, and that appeals to our nature. But, what’s the motive here?

What if the Lord Jesus asks us to do good and it doesn’t win the approval of others?

In fact, they reject it. And they reject you.

I am learning, my friends, this is the raw reality of following after Jesus Christ. The cost of being a disciple.

And these are the exact words Jesus spoke into my soul this morning.

“My Word never says that people will not reject you. It does however, state that I will not reject you. If you do things in My name, especially in My name, you will be rejected. Even My own children, at times, will reject you.”

So, the question I have to ask myself is: “Am I willing to be rejected for the sake of Christ?”

He reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah. God chose Him (just like He chooses many of us) to speak a message of hope and restoration to the people of Israel. Jeremiah was willing and available and I’d imagine He was hoping for a positive outcome. But, it never came.

Let’s see how the story unfolds.

It begins in Jeremiah 4:1-2 stating: “If you return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. ‘If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just, and righteous way you swear “As surely as the Lord lives,” then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.

What’s happening here?

The Lord is pursuing His beloved, Israel. Just as He pursues us.They’ve gotten themselves into a real dilemma by constantly rejecting the Lord. So, in His abounding grace, the Lord decides to give them another chance in speaking a message of hope through His servant, Jeremiah.

Let’s continue.

The scripture states in Jeremiah 4:9: “In that day,” declares the Lord, ‘the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled’.”

And the prophets will be appalled.

Look at this statement. Jeremiah was completely dumbfounded by the people’s response.

He was obedient to the Lord and the people rejected him.

Then the Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 5:18-19: “Yet even in those days, declares the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely. And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own’.”

There’s an important lesson to be learned here. God asked Jeremiah to be His voice to the people. Jeremiah agreed in obedience. Jeremiah spoke to the people. And the people rejected God’s message. It’s because they rejected God, they also rejected Jeremiah.

Are we truly seeking after God’s approval in our lives? Or are we focused on people?

What if God asks you to speak a message of truth to an individual and they criticize the very words you’ve spoken? Will you obey Him?

What if God asks you to leave your job and to follow Him into a foreign nation, and those you love the most oppose your plans? Will you follow Him?

What if God asks you to partner with Him to comfort someone in need by paying for their expenses, and then they decline the gift? Will you still partner with Him?

Or what if God prompts you to ask permission to pray for someone who’s deeply wounded and then they curse you? Will you submit to His leading?

These are real situations happening to real people. Are we willing to put the opinions of others on the back burner and follow through in our convictions?

What Jesus thinks matters. THE MOST. 

And at the end of the day when we sit before the Lord and look at our lives, no one else will be around. It’ll just be us and Jesus.

And may you remember, beloved, people-pleasing is just a dead end road. Thank you for choosing His Daily Dose today! 

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6  NLT

 

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Guest Blog: Be Kind to Your Neighbor

Be kind to your neighbor. We hear this time and time again. From first grade Sunday school to buying a house with your spouse, we have always been taught to honor the people that we walk beside. God has once again brought to life this saying, which I have always heard, but rarely put into practice. He has placed a certain someone in my life to exemplify this golden truth as I live out my last month as a World Race missionary in our eleventh country: Malaysia.

I type this to you listening to Maroon Five playing over the loud speaker. My laptop sits on a small table with a checkered tablecloth, and I look around and see neatly framed posters of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley adorning the blue walls underneath a red ceiling. The white stars lining the ceiling seal the essence of Americana that this restaurant, Kennedy’s, is trying to portray. Yes, during our eleventh month of the race, the Lord brings us to America, in Malaysia, in the form of a restaurant. We are working at a restaurant built and pioneered by past racers, and we are promoting it throughout the community. To do this, my team is spread out all over this town; everywhere from teaching at the Burmese refugee school, to hanging out with students at the local campus, to waitressing at this innovative restaurant smack dab in the middle of the Westernized city of Kuala Lumpur.

With that being said, what I want to write to you about has nothing to do with our ministry. Right next door to our little restaurant is a teashop. On the very first day that we came to Kennedy’s, I noticed the soothing water fountains and cool green colors of the interior of our neighbor’s building. Stepping a little closer, a short, caramel-colored Pakistani man with a big, bright smile waved and motioned for me and my teammate Emily to come over.  We shrugged our “why nots” and meandered over to his restaurant. From that day forward, we have spent most mornings sampling all types of teas and different types of honey. We have winced at the bitter teas, nodded politely at the warm, unsweetened “woman’s teas,” and cocked our heads blankly at spoonfuls of honey aged ten years and older. Everyday we waltz over and greet our new friend, Shah. Every type of warmed beverages he would prepare for us to try was its own unique surprise.

After about a week, we started bringing food from our American restaurant for him to try, and he started making us delicious Pakistani treats. We have tasted a gamut of foods, ranging from caramelized, sugared raisins, to baked eggplant with steamed veggies, to the most interesting rice that I’ve ever put in my mouth: it tasted like he put cinnamon or a sweet ginger spice in it. One day he made us thick, round portions of whole-wheat naan bread, and we ate it with a thin, round, pepper and onion-filled omelet. My mouth is watering thinking back to each melt-in-your-mouth bite.

The most heart-warming part of this story is that we have not seen one customer enter his restaurant this entire month. Every day he sits on one of the beautiful, hand-made wooden swivel chairs and looks out of his glass door for us to walk by. He gives the first of his fruits freely to his neighbors, even when he is not seeing a steady flow of customers. He’s not looking from someone to fill up his chairs, but someone to share in life with. We couldn’t be any more different; he is Muslim, we are Christians. He is from Pakistan; we are from America. He works at a tea and honey shop; we are traveling missionaries. But we live together. We walk through life together and share our meals, our traditions, and passions as three very different and separated people.

The mornings that we walk next door and share in life with Shah are some of the most heartfelt and touching moments that I’ve had on this race. We’ve shared our hearts, experiences, and God’s love with him, and all it took was saying ‘yes’ to a house visit one day. This wasn’t part of our plan or scheduled in our ministry, but we have made time for it. We made time for a person, and it’s made our time here more precious than any schedule would.

That’s how God works. He doesn’t run off of a schedule, or a plan; He leads us by his Spirit. So I encourage you to follow that leading. It might lead you to thick, ten-year old honey, a good conversation, or the most delicious meal you have ever had. But I do promise you; the fruits of your time invested will be worth it.

This guest post has been provided by Jessica Smith. You can find her at http://www.coffeeshopstoryteller.com.

Photo provided by zoeministries.com

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