Confidence was something I thought God would teach me a lottt differently than He did. I thought I would have confidence when I woke up one day and God had miraculously blessed me with 3ft mermaid hair and I would look in the mirror and see Gigi Hadid’s face, but confidence is alllll about who God is and who I am in Him, and pa-raisssse Jesus that it is.
Confidence is something we all struggle with now and again in every stage, no matter your age, gender, or walk of life. It’s always on the table because it manifests in different ways like appearances, identity, and relationships. And if you’re trying to find who you are and search for the answer in yourself, you’re never going to find the key to being confident in your own skin.
It took me years and years of self-hatred, self-reliance, social anxiety from identity crisis, and terrible eyeliner to come to this little place of just getting a tiny idea understanding confidence.
I went through stages of thinking “if I only had ___ [some kind of physical appearance] I’ll be beautiful and confidant”. Let me give you a spoiler alert on that one: never happened and never will get solved that way. The abusive relationship I had been in left me thinking:
a. he wouldn’t have hurt or used me if I was pretty or valuable
b. I have nothing to offer and no one will want me after what he took from me
and c. Figuring out how to become gorgeous is the only thing that will make me sure of who I am and make me satisfied in life.
If I knew how to articulate in writing the sound a buzzer makes on Wheel of Fortune when someone guesses the wrong phrase, I would insert that right here. I quickly learned that a, b, and c are all complete lies that we’re making me absolutely miserable. I spent a bazillion dollars on hair extensions, eyelash extensions, make-up and retail therapy using my “If I only look this way” theory. After a year that left me exhausted from trying my own bad advice, I finally realized what was happening and knew I needed to try a new route to confidence. I knew the Jesus-ey, Hobby Lobby-inspirational pillow solution was to get to “find my identity in God.” I do really love Jesus and Hobby Lobby is like my favorite store, but I was so over cliche, Christian fluff that I didn’t understand. How do you actually “find your identity in God”? What are the actual steps? I needed someone to just write a list and make me a Google docs slideshow of what I needed to do. I prayed and prayed and God just told me, plain and simple, to get to know Him. If I wanted to be sure of who I was I needed to be sure, first and foremost, of who He is.
If you’re struggling with confidence or need an encouragement boost today, I gotchu boo.
These are the simple but powerful things that helped me get out of my head and into getting to know Jesus.
Getting to know why God is and what His character is, is the only thing that will ever help you be confident in your skin. Without God’s love, faithfulness, and hope of everlasting life, we ultimately have no purpose. Without God’s gifts and blessings, we would have nothing. All of our abilities and talents are from the Lord. As a believer and follower of Jesus, I love my life to serve Him, so I really have to know the foundations of Him to be sure of my identity and purpose in life. The best and easiest ways to get to know him are through prayer and reading His Word. Prayer is just coming before God and talking to Him, so chat with God, outloud, silently, in a note, in a letter, just talk to Him. You can’t go on a date and get to know your tinder pick without starting up a conversation, so go on a date with Jesus to get to know what He is all about. The Bible is another awesome way to understand a little bit of God. The gospels are a great way to get to know Jesus, through the narrative of His life. The Old Testament speaks a lot about God the Father’s loving, faithful, kind, powerful, and graceful personality, and shows how He is such a good Father to us. The New Testament, Acts and onwards, is focused a lot on the Holy Spirit and how He [as part of the Trinity] is all about giving us the wisdom, calling, and conviction that God wants for us, and shows how important it is to God to empower His people to be emboldened to share His love with others. If you get to know God and your life is entrusted to Him, you will be so much more confudent yourself.
When God was teaching me confidence, He put confident women all around in my life. Family, friends, co-workers, and mentors in my life to show me how it’s done. The women that mentored me showed my through guidance and wisdom how to be confident in God and showed me what confidence looks like in everyday life. I went on a missions trip with co-workers and the was blessed to learn from one of the most confident, strong, bold women I’ve ever met who taught me to fierceness love Jesus, follow without fear, ask lots of questions, and don’t be off-put or discouraged when you get asked a lot of questions. A dear, super sweet, super gorgeous, super wise cousin taught me how to work with Jesus through the out of control, downward spiral, want to dye my hair blue crisis kind of moments, and also how to bravely and responsibly be accountable for mistakes and learn from them. She helped me see the constructive side of criticism. A really hard, but really effective tone of growth came from getting fired from my ultimate ministry dream-job. It was full of mistakes and learning, but it made me fall so hard on Jesus and so deeply into His identity. These are just a few shiny gem stories in 21 years of the bad, ugly, and missing-the-point, ultra-low confidence moments, but the Lord used them to change my life.
Satan loves to strip down our identities, dredge up the past, and make our future’s seem blurry and wildly terrifying. If he can make you obsess over appearance, interactions with others, what people are saying, and fear of the future, he can take away some of the plans and work God has for you. You can be a gorgeous, mermaid, supermodel of a person who only dresses in Dolce and Gabonna evening gowns, but if you start obsessing over your physical features or the mistake you made 4 years ago, you’re confidence is shot. No amount of self-help or hair extensions will repair an identity crisis. God doesn’t look at anyone and see the labels they put on themselves from failures, bad choices, good or bad appearances, or past mistake. God looks at a person and sees the label that Jesus has covered them in; if you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior, know you’re saved by grace through faith, and it is not of yourself but a gift of God, not by your works but the saving grace of Jesus’s death and resurrection, God looks at you and sees a forgiven, free, and fiercely loved child of God. Your mistakes are things that God can work through and heal through His grace, not labels that define who you are.
When Satan throws you know what and it all hits the fan, throw a whole lot of identity right back in his face. If he brings up anything about who you are, what you look like, what you are like, what you did, what you didn’t do, and what is to come, get up, get loud, and say
“I am nothing but a child of God, so do not tell me I am anything else.”
There are no words that will give you more confidence than those. Rebuke Satan right out of your day, out of your house, and out of your identity. If Satan brings up your past, bring up his future, and your hopeful, Jesus-filled one.
Confidence comes from the free gift of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10
Confidence comes from knowing God designed you, made you, and loves you.
Confidence comes from knowing that when you mess up and make mistakes and sin recklessly, God will never leave you, forsake you, or say I’m done. Confidence comes from knowing that God will never grow tired of you, but always welcome you home with open arms.
Romans 8:1; John 10:28, John 3:16; Romans 6:23;
When you’re absolutely sure of who He is, you will be absolutely sure of who you are, in Him, and you will never feel more relieved, at home, at peace, and confident about everything there is to who God made you to be, and the blessed assurance of His love.
Let's start off with a precursor: the past few years have been no joke. They were ugly, anxious, and made me feel like I forgot how to be me. I wanted so badly to be a new, shiny penny with great lashed and a super high, peppy ponytail, but no amount of lash extensions and mascara changes a broken, not-feeling-so-hot spirit. I thought it's now or never to try another way to heal from everything that's happened, so I jumped into 2017 head first. I figured the way I had been trying to figure life out only made it worse, and I wasn’t getting any better. That, plus my self-cure retail therapy in the Target makeup aisle clearance section was going to run me bankrupt, which led me to realize:
a. I needed so much Jesus, and I had to commit hardcore to figuring it out all His way
and b. I had a surplus of target makeup and I needed to watch a lot of YouTube tutorials on eye makeup.
One night in February, after a lot of tears, sleepless nights, panic attacks, and Pretty Little Liars re-runs, I was tapped out. I got invited to a ministry dinner with the team I was interning for, and the meeting was held in honor of a pastor from Uganda. I had met him a few times before and had heard him preach, but this meeting with him was completely different, and thank you Jesus for that. He gave a talk and started off with a prayer and an invitation for the group to pray individually and for us to ask God to take away the pains and burdens that we were carrying around. I prayed a prayer that I had prayed a thousand times before, but I realized something that I had never understood in three years of sexual abuse recovery; I had been dredging around so much pain with me. I carried so many memories that I wanted to forget, broken friendships, and a heart that felt lonely and isolated because of what had happened. But the Holy Spirit started speaking to my heart and just kept on preaching to me a message of letting go and being okay with not knowing what was going to happen next. I realized, through God speaking through this pastor and listening to the prayers of healing that he was speaking, that in order to start fresh and jump back in, I had to give God the ugly stuff that I had been carrying around. Sounds like a message you've heard a billion times, right? The part that was new was that the Lord showed me that I wasn’t letting go because I had become so comfortable with fear hurt that I was afraid to get rid of it. I knew heartbreak, it was familiar and known, but whatever else there was, after I let it go, was completely unknown. It sounds absolutely crazy, and I can’t explain it anymore than it was a new world that I was afraid to jump into, and all those years I hadn’t even realized that’s why I couldn’t just "Let go and let God'. I was so afraid to be in the place of pain I had been before, I was okay with settling for heartbreak, because I didn't want to experience anything worse than the terrible pain that I already carried everyday, But God's plan is so much greater, bigger, and special than settling for unresolved pains and hurts. We don't serve a living God who says, "settle". We serve a living God who saw us in sin and hopelessness and sent us His only son to be saved by grace, through faith, so we didn't have to settle for a life of pointlessness, sin that defined us, and eternal life separated from Him. He is not a God of settling. Our God is a God who says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. " Matt 11:28. I look back now and think what in the world was I thinking, but I remember how much God's grace and transformational love has changed me in a year. The abusive relationship I was in left me afraid of everything; I was afraid to sleep, afraid of being alone, afraid to have another relationship, afraid more friends wouldn't believe me, and some days I was even afraid to go outside. But when I finally said "I'm letting go and I'm giving you the fears and pains I'm carrying around" God started to transform everything about me. I felt like I got the person I was before "back" and God blessed me with new things that I never had before. He gave me wonderful, strong, godly women in my life who lead me by example, opportunities to travel around the world, stronger relationships, and so many valuable life lessons.
2017 was a year of freedom. It was a year of traveling everywhere, making new friends, visiting old ones, being bold, making mistakes, learning, and feeling hope, passion, and a fierceness to serve God. The Lord replaced my settling with wonderful blessings only He can provide. 2017 wasn't without tears, meltdowns, sleepless nights, or mistakes, but it was a year spent free from being trapped by those things.
At the beginning of last year, I decorated my room with photos and watercolors, and I'm obsessed with this store at Disneyland that has these adorable, little artist rendition, Disney cards. So, I saved the $55 Disneyland tax and painted a super cute, little card with the tower from Rapunzel on it. [I know, 75 people just checked out from reading this, but stay with me here👌] It sounds ridiculous to relate myself to a blonde, Disney character whose best friend is a lizard, but I kept the card hanging up because I felt like that. I felt like I was trapped. I felt hopeless, like I could see the world around me, but wasn't apart of it, and I just wanted to jump out. And for me, 2o17 was finally saying "I'm ready", and jumping out. 2017 was the best year of my life because of God's freedom, and because He got me to jump out, I'm ready for 2018 because now that I have freedom, I want to use it.
Have a blessed 2018 full of God's freedom.
By Jody Hurst:
Simple True/False Quiz to help you clarify your own thoughts and understand if your support or nonsupport of "take a knee" is tied to whether you agree with the message of the athlete:
a. I support NFL Players who take a knee who are protesting unfair treatment of minorities in the US. (T/F)
b. I would support NFL Players who take a knee because they are trying to send a message that their taxes are too high, and shouldn't go to social welfare programs. (T/F)
c. I would support Tim Tebow's decision to take a knee at his next game in order to honor the 45 million babies who have been killed since Roe v. Wade. (T/F)
d. I would support a player's decision to take a knee after a hypothetical President said something despicable about police, which the player felt contributed to the murder of a police officer in his home town.(T/F)
If you answered True to all four, you're being consistent. You support a player's right to protest, regardless of the cause. Good for you. You win a pretend gold star.
If you answered True to only (a), you are agreeing with the current message of unfair treatment of minorities, and not simply the right of the protest action. There's nothing inherently wrong with inconsistency, just be aware of it.
If you answered True to any of (b), (c), or (d) but false to (a), then you, too, are being inconsistent. You are disagreeing with the message of the current NFL players, and not with their method of protest.
If you answered false to all four, you are being consistent. You believe no player has a right to protest by taking a knee, regardless of the reason he does so. You also win a pretend gold star.
" It's more likely for an ultra-liberal atheist to care for a girl wearing a hijab than a Christian"
- Prashan DeVisser
Open up a newspaper and scroll down your Facebook feed and you what are you undoubtedly sure to see? Bernie, Hilary, and Donald. We have all eyes and ears on the election. And we all have an opinion on who should be the leader of our country. Another big one on the news that has been spotlighted due to the election and recent events is Islam. Muslims, hijabs, refugees, and Trump's idea to identify the Muslim people. But it's not just Islam, it's illegal immigrants, asylees, refugees, gay marriage, women's rights, and transgender bathrooms at target. And ohhhhh mamma there are a lot of Christians who are ticked off. We live in the great country of America where we have the privilege of having rights, and that's what our main concern is. Our rights. And we all have a piece in the blame game. There is a big concern that America and Christianity will be destroyed by a transgender guy in the women's bathroom or a Muslim refugee or an illegal immigrant or a gay rights activist or an atheist, liberal, feminist. But Christianity and America's name and integrity won't be destroyed by any of those things, it's going to be destroyed by Christians who are overtaken by fear, ignorance, entitlement, and who are more concerned with rights than the love of Christ. The world doesn't see Christians when they go on a missions trip or when they're at church on Sunday or putting an offering in the box. They see Christians when they make offensive racial jokes. They pay attention when the fear of Islam and Muslim people is replaced by aggression. They see the videos of the people who walk through target screaming with their Bibles and they say those are Christians. And seriously, why would anybody want a God that treats somebody like that. And that's the part that sucks. We should be a group of people and a community that hurting people run to. People of all religions and gender affiliations and political statuses should feel safe with Christians. That seems like a red flag sometimes, because we don't want to compromise, we are called not to compromise. And we have interpreted loving people who aren't Christian as compromise, and that is not the case. Loving and investing in people who have different beliefs that aren't true and different lifestyles that are sinful doesn't mean we accept it or say that it's okay. It's saying, I'm a follower of Christ and I'm going to show you the love that He has for you. Being patriotic and protecting your country and utilizing your gun rights isn't a sin. Having a strong political opinion is not a sin. What is a sin is making those things more important than loving people and taking an attitude of entitlement over an attitude of Christ. This is like seriously one of the hardest things ever for me because I wasn't to just open a door for a Muslim
lady at Wal-Mart and smile at a transgender guy and then pop back in to my safe Christian sub culture where I can check off my good deed for the day, pretend like everything is good with the world, and then like someone's meme about Islam on Facebook. And then, of course, I get upset that atheists and extreme liberals are trash talking Christians. But what are we showing them? I know it's cliche to pull the what would Jesus do card and you haven't seen your WWJD bracelet since 2002, but we seriously need to ask our selves, what would Jesus do? Be honest with yourself. If He was an American citizen today, what would Jesus's attitude be towards illegal immigrants? How would he act towards Muslims? What would he say about refugees? Would Jesus still shop at Target? What would His attitude towards the transgender community be? Who would He vote for?
As many of those thing that we can't say for sure, we can look at Jesus's life to get answers. Jesus was all about those relationships. He loved on the sinners and that's how they came to know who God is. Relationships. Jesus wasn't like, well you're a tax collecter or a prostitute or a murderer and I accept you for that and you just do yo thing, He spoke the truth in love and he spent time loving them.
As the body of Christ, we are called to be the voice of the voiceless and hurting. We are called to stand up for those who are silenced by fear, hurt, shame, and violence. As the hands and feet of Christ, we need to be his loving arms to the hurting. The truth isn't always pretty. It hurts. It's ugly. It's painful. But the truth is what's right. It's what we as believers are called to share and live by. If we want to truly live like Christ, truth is key. 1 Corinthians 13:6 " Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
Read and share this presentation to raise awareness on sexual violence as we continue the Real Truth Project to be a voice for those without voices.
It's finally here! Some amazingly brave women have stepped up to write and share their stories of survival, pain, healing, and redemption through Christ. The work Christ is doing through each of these women is incredible. Read and share the project to get the word out! God is going to do amazing things with each and every one of these incredible people.
I get eyelash extensions. I know, it makes me sound like a diva pants. But I get them and I am in love with getting them. I love them. More than a person should love eyelashes. I need to find a recovery group for people who are addicted to eyelash extensions. But, my eyelashes are like a really dysfunctional boyfriend. I love them to death, but they gave me an eye infection. It's weeks of an eyelash horror movie over here, not so hot. But I finally woke up with my eyes swollen shut and I decided that is was maybe a good time to see a doctor so I could do things I enjoy doing again like opening my eyes. It was a long day at the doctor's office, let me tell you. I was there for hours. I was really loosing my stuff. I had work I needed to do and prep for some upcoming events and I had just gotten back the day before from a trip, so I was not a happy camper. I was in the doctor's office, doing what any intelligent resourceful human does in the occasion of your eyes swelling closed when you have 3,000 things to do: Pinterest-ing shoes and cupcakes, instead of working, and complaining that I had been there for three hours. The thought occurred to me, maybe I should pray since I'm so stressed... And then I was like whoa, whoa, whoa, I am way too busy. Too much on my brain. Seriously, there is so much going on and I need to pin these vegan cupcakes on my cupcake board, despite the fact I'm not vegan. No thanks Jesus, I don't have time in my stressful rage, thank you very much. The little boy in the next room just dropped his sucker and he sounds pretty upset, so, maybe you shoulf go check up on him.
And then I realized, hmm. Maybe that's. Ummmmm. Wrong. Mind you, two days before this, me in all my wisdom about prayerfulness had been giving one of my friends advice about prayer and I whipped out all the fancy Christian vocabulary on her. Included was how important fellow shipping with God was, how it's impact-ful it is to your Christian walk it is to have real time with Jesus, the whole nine Jesus-loving yards. So after I had a little reality check Carlie time, it made a bit more sense that God who, you know, holds the universe and the perfect will of all humanity in his hands, would probably be able to help me out with some swollen eyes and a big to-do list. Prayer is one of those things needs to be everyone's first resort whenever anything happens, but it's usually the thing that we all save until the end when nothing else works out. And then we go through the, "well, I guess I'll pray then since you didn't give me what I want Jesus. And Pinterest-ing my future wedding didn't solve my problems so. Let's talk I guess." thing. But there never is really a "good" excuse for not praying. It's something you can literally do anytime anywhere at any point. It's talking directly to God. When you think about it, it's a no-brainer why we should do it all the day long, but it's a struggle for everyone. You can't be too busy to pray.
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 11:24, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Luke 6:12, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In honor of that, Waking up to Real is going to be starting a project that I am so excited about. It's called The Real Truth Project. Because of my own story, God has realllly been challenging me with finding a way to share it, and also with figuring out a way to better equip the church with a way to help those who have been hurt by sexual abuse. So then came the Real Truth Project. There are so many people who have been hurt by sexual abuse. I want people to hear the real stories of these people, and others, ultimately, to learn how to help other people through hearing. And who better to learn from than the actual people who have experienced this pain. This project will be real stories, written by the real women. At the end of the month, all of the stories will be shared together here on the blog. There will be a separate page and sub-page for everyone's story. I know that God can use anything to glorify Himself, and I pray that this project can be used to comfort those hurting, empower those who don't have a voice, and educate those who don' t know. Even if it is just a little post on a little blog. Keep it in your prayers and keep checking back in to get updates! And, check back on April 30th to see the Real Truth Project Published. ❤
Unfortunately today, women are usually faced with being labeled one extreme or another. It depends on the culture and the specifics, but there is almost always a polarizing judgement made. In the Christian world, I've seen a lot of judgments made from women to other women. If she doesn't wear make-up, that means she doesn't take care of herself, and she needs to put effort in her appearance. If everyday she wears eyeliner and lipstick and the whole deal, she's too obsessed with her appearance, and the girl is vanity obsessed. If she's a small portion girl or a salad lover, she doesn't eat enough, and she probably has an eating disorder. If she eats a lot of junk food and pizza, she doesn't care about her health or figure. If she doesn't drink, then she's too uptight. If she does drink, she's an irresponsible party girl. At the college I attended, a big percentage of girls there were very conservative in the reality of comparison. Very Conservative. Levi skirts and layers on layers, which is great if that's your style, you do you girl. Don't get me wrong, if that's what you like and what you feel is appropriate, more power to you! But, at this school, if that wasn't your thing and you wore skinny jeans or tank tops, you were sketchy and immodest. [It doesn't sound like a big deal, but immodest is a seriously dirty word for conservative Christians in Wyoming. Translated into American English, it means slut.]Even outside of 400 people towns in Wyoming, there is a lot of judgement from Christian women to other Christian women on clothing. If you wear shorter shorts or strapless tops, you're a slut. If you're from Utah or Wyoming or the mid-west, and you believe in megachurches, you're a Pentecostal, liberal, charismatic. There's a million more I'm sure I could say. I'm sure that at some point, on some level, you've experienced this. You've either felt labeled, been labeled, or been the one labeling.
The one that really, really bothers me, is when meekness is taken for weakness. Meekness means gentle, submissive, the dictionary says "humbly patient". Basically you're fairly docile. I am a very meek person. I don't like fights, I am the people pleaser of all people pleasers, and it takes me a long time to truly get angry. I'm not like a limp, boring, old maid, [ok in my head I'm not, but maybe I am, you never really know with yourself...]. My point is, just because I am little and submissive, doesn't make me personality-less and I don't have anything to say. But people often see meek and think weak. They think that when they see a gentle personality, they're seeing a big pushover who's fragile and can't hold their own. Trust me, I have a lot to say and if you've read anything here, I have way too much to say. I've been to hell and back and I'm still kicking. And,I know a lot women who are on the other side of this. Strong, strong-willed, vocal women. People think that they are loud-mouthed and often too liberal for a Christian woman. But just because they're opinionated or vocal or God just gave them the ability to confidently express who they are, they are labeled for it. Kindness does not equate to fragility. Think about whatever your label is, or whatever you are labeling people. No one is a one word label, especially women. Women are so many things. It takes guys lifetimes to understand the complex spaghetti bowls that women are, so reality checkkkkk! To all of us.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Remember that? Meekness ain't weakness.
Today has been a spiritually insane day. It's been way full of seeing people who are being filled and moved by the Holy Spirit and seeing and feeling a lot of spiritual warfare. Oh man, settle in folks. I'm pretty fired up here. Okay here we go. If you aren't caught up on news in the Middle East from the last decade, I gotchu. [mostly for my benefit and because a lot of people just aren't 100% sure what the deal is.] If you wan't a good overview, here is a timeline: http://www.historyguy.com/list_of_wars_middle_east.html
Basically, since 2006, there has been a war in the Middle East which had affected a multitude of countries. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, a lot of countries are affected, not just from the war but other issues politically, economically, religiously, and government wise. So for the past ten years and previous to that, refugees are seeking a safe place to move. A large population have traveled, and continues to travel, to/through Europe and to North America.
I had the opportunity today to meet and eat with and hear the stories of refugees from all over the Middle East through an organization called Voices of Refugees. VOR is an organization that provides services to refugees when they arrive in the U.S. They teach ESL, provide transportation, education, job services, and assist in many other helpful and important ways to provide their needs. Their stories are incredible. Everyone we had the opportunity to speak to came to America after the war started. They all came here with no knowledge of English and no international licenses. They all had no idea if the family and friends they were leaving in their home countries would even be alive when they reached America. Two of the four refugees we spoke to now work for VOR. The first man we talked to gave us incredible advice. You could seriously see the Holy Spirit working inside of him. It was like Pentecost up in there. He told us "When you meet these people, offer to help them and be there for them. If you are rude and selfish then they will say 'I don't want the Jesus they have if he is anything like that.'". So good. He also said something super powerful, "You can't teach people to love. There is no class to take to learn how to love people". That's amazing. Seriously. Whip out your notebooks and write that one down. You can't just take a class and learn how to be a model of Jesus's love. It's a lifestyle. It's a choice you make everyday. It's so important for us to learn who Jesus is so we can imitate his love.
The rest of the stories we heard were heartbreaking, but at the same time you could see how God was working so visibly in their lives, though the hurts.
The most important thing I pulled out of this experience was the importance of being Jesus to people who don't know Jesus. People get really fired up about immigrants entering our country. Not a lot of people are really happy about it. A lot of people don't like to deal with it as a church. It's hard. And it really is terrifying. Everyday, we are seeing Isis and radical Islamic groups terrorize people in our country and around the globe. We see them violently murder Christians. We see Muslims who have dramatically turned from peaceful Islam rape, kill, and attack. And we're scared. We have let Satan take Islam and turn it into a word that creates fear and chaos around the world. And as hard as it is to differentiate, we have to. We have to be able to say not all refugees are Muslim. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And whichever they are, they need the church, the American church and the global church, to love them with the arms of Christ. God is doing amazing things with Muslims. There are millions of stories right now of Muslims having visions or dreams and coming to know Christ and accepting salvation on their own. Obviously He knows what up and He knows what He is doing. Obviously we need to be alert and, as individuals and as a country, we need to protect ourselves. But as Christians and followers of Christ, we HAVE to be the people who introduce Christ and His love to the refugees we come in contact with. We can't show them a Jesus that is insensitive and cruel. They need the loving arms of Christ and His church.
Friday I had the very interesting experience of visiting a mosque. I didn't know really what to expect when I jumped on the bandwagon. The wheels in my head were turning more in the direction of this will be a cool thing to put on my cultural adventure list, which it totally was, but it was a very eye-opening day.
I went with a group, and we showed up for an afternoon service. The mosque has a dress code, so the women have to cover their arms, legs, and heads, and the men are required to wear pants and sleeves. The women are not allowed to enter through the main doors, so we entered through a door in the side that took us up to a tiny room upstairs. There's a little area to take your shoes off in, and then everyone sits in a little carpeted balcony area. There was a screen so they could watch the Imam preach downstairs and there was a glass on one side that overlooked the men sitting downstairs.The women's area was about an eighth of the main area downstairs for the men. The floor in the service areas is like a normal carpet but it has lines that form a little carpet square for each person to sit and pray at, that all together sort of make a giant grid. Muslims must pray in the direction of Mecca, so the carpet squares were all at an angle. Upstairs where we sat, the women sat in the front, closest to the screen that was streaming the sermon downstairs, in an area that was roped off. Behind the roped area sat young boys from a Muslim school that came for the service. Behind the little boys sat the little girls.
I really thought everyone would be really standoffish to our group. I also thought that the inside of the mosque would be really weird and have like giant statues or something crazy. But everyone was very kind to us and super welcoming. One lady showed us where to sit and explained the prayers that were spoken in Arab to us. Everyone invited us to ask any questions we had. And assumption number two, about the inside being decorated super freakishly, was also wrong. The inside was actually very plain. The walls were a tan color and besides the windows and chandeliers, the only things that was really inside was some bookcases, chairs, and a prayer clock.
The service was actually very similar to a Christian service, but obviously there was a lot missing because the Holy Spirit wasn't working through the sermon. It was about the "attitude of gratitude".
After the service the Imam was very nice and gave us a tour. He answered all of our questions and encouraged us to ask more. It was interesting to hear his story and hear how he got where he is today.
If anything, I think it really opened my eyes and burdened my heart for these people. When you walk in you can feel the heaviness and the spiritual warfare happening. It's hard to see women not being appreciated and valued the way God made them to be, and men who don't understand their immense value. It's hard to see children who will grow up and learn about a god who isn't graceful and merciful and doesn't give them unconditional love. It's hard to see people that have been taught they can work their way to God. But, really, there is no better way to minister to them than to understand what they believe.
Note my amazing blurry phone pictures.
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