An Act Of Kindness

When it came time to talk about kindness, the song “An Act of Kindness” by Bastille kept playing over and over in my head (see the end of this post for a link to the song). According to Dan, the lead singer of the band, “[“An Act of Kindness” is] about a kind of Good Samaritan narrative in the context of everything that’s happening at the moment in the world and being in a sea where everyone keeps their heads down, so in their life, just one small act of kindness can completely transform a day, or a situation, or a week, and can follow you all the time and that you can feel kind of worthy or unworthy of that.”

It’s so true, isn’t it? The world we live in is one where more often than not we bury our heads in the sand and try and pretend the things happening around us in the world, just aren’t happening. However, when someone goes out of their way in an act of genuine kindness, it changes your world. Even if just for a moment.

I’ve heard from so many people about the amazing feeling they get after being kind to others. I can even tell you from a firsthand point of view that it does feel pretty good. However when you’re on the other side of it, sometimes it can be confusing. If we don’t have an immediate #PayItForward mentality, we can begin to feel like we didn’t deserve it.  Why would someone go so far out of their way for me?  And that’s just the beginning of those thoughts that begin to circle our minds.

But who is to say that we don’t deserve these things? The only person telling us we don’t deserve them is ourselves (well, obviously under the influence of the devil himself). So why do we think so little of ourselves? Why don’t we realize how much effort God put into creating us just the way we are? And you know what else? He loves us this way. Sure, we can be a disappointment, but it doesn’t change how much He loves us.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

God created us and has plans for us. I know that He wouldn’t mind if we appreciated an act of kindness shown to us. Or if we paid it forward along the way.

Until next time,
Sarah

An Act of Kindness – Bastille

GUEST BLOGGER: What a Millennial wants, What a Millennial needs.

Hi everyone I’m excited to kick-off our ‘Boys of Summer’ miniseries by introducing Hunter! Hunter is a fellow Houghton alumni (he just graduated WOO CONGRATS!) and I’m so happy he was willing to hop on board this month as our guest. He’s amazing and HILARIOUS. Also, if you ever wanted to follow someone on twitter, Hunter is the man to follow. I hope you are blessed by what he has to share, as I am blessed to know him! – Sarah

What a Millennial wants, What a Millennial needs

Lots of current blogs claim to have “cracked the code” on getting millennials through their church doors. Millennials are tired of religion. They want an authentic spiritual relationship.
This generation wants relevant music and display so they are assured that the Church is
keeping up with the times.
They want to radically live out their faith, and that means going global with missions.
Some of these quotes may be true for some millennials, and most millennials can get behind the sentiment. However, these quotes sound more like products of “The Jesus Movement”, a revival in the 70’s that revolutionized the church. The movement was a reaction against the formal and dead appearance of the church of their parents and grandparents; a longing to present the gospel as being relevant to present times and cultural progress.
One cannot ignore the many positive impacts of this movement, bringing thousands to the faith and breaking down prior cultural barriers. However, each generation carries with it a different need, and I believe that this generation’s need is quite different than that of the generation of the Jesus Movement.
Millennials, inside and outside the church, crave authenticity. We hate posers. We value when people embrace their identity and wear it confidently on their sleeve. In large numbers, millennials simply want a return to true religion. A religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
Yes, millennials want religion. We want what those in countless ages past had and we want to share in the ancient Christian narrative. And that is what Christianity is; it’s ancient. Tradition plays a role for all (Protestants and Catholics) connecting us to the long lineage of the gospel and reminding us that we are not alone in time. The church does not need to be dressed up as something that it isn’t. We are a incense-swinging, hymn-singing, scripture-chanting, robe-wearing, bread-breaking, creed-speaking, ancient religion, and we shouldn’t shy away from that. Embrace it and wear it confidently. This is why millennials are flocking to more traditional denominations in droves. We should look other-worldly, because we are. Outsiders don’t want “seeker-friendly”. If church looks the same as anywhere else, what’s the point of even going?
The millennial generation also despises hypocrisy. We say we love one another and we don’t truly bear with and take care of each other. We say we withhold judgment but we set double standards and rank sins and sinners. We say we take care of the poor and needy, but we don’t really unless it’s really convenient or it includes a vacation to a place with different looking people with whom we can take insta selfies #missions. Millennials want a religion that fosters genuine kindness and love for others. We want to take passages, such as “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back”, seriously. Kindness toward our local communities that is motivated out of genuine love (not conversion) is a lost art for us. The homeless, the orphans, the widows, those in trouble; we drive past them like the priest and Levite who passed by the maimed man on the side of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
What millennials envision for the church is an authentic church, driven by Spirit-given kindness to serve those in need, including those in need in our own backyard. Our cravings for rich doctrine will drive us deeper in scripture, cultivating a deep love for humanity. I, for one, believe that God is going to use this generation in amazing ways to reignite passion for the ancient Christian gospel.

-Hunter

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @hunuh17
twitter: @hunuh17

Be Kind To Yourself

Okay. I’ve written, deleted, rewritten, deleted again, and am now writing this post again…third time is the charm, right? And like most days, after trying on five different outfits for work, I usually end up in the outfit I first had on, I am back to my original post idea.

A while back I heard this song on the radio called Be Kind To Yourself by Andrew Peterson and immediately resonated with every word sung, every note and chord played hit me, it felt as though the song was written for me. I hesitated to write this post because it almost felt self centered and self focused to say, be kind to yourself, but the more I thought about it and the more I prayed for what I was supposed to write, I kept coming back to the same idea: I am my worst enemy and being kind to myself is harder than being kind to others. But I fully believe God wants us to be kind to ourselves as well as others and it is not selfish or self centered.

Luke 10:27, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your heart. And your neighbor as yourself.

I am the world’s worst perfectionist and therefore when I mess up, whether it’s a big mess up or a small one literally no one will notice. I become the worst critic and the dialogue in my mind is full of self hatred and all the ways I should have done better, studied harder, I could have been more helpful, I would have prevented that person from being mad or that situation from happening if only I would have done things better than I did.

In essence, I remove the grace God has given to me when I mess up and sin and replace it with a mere attempt to self atone by better good works. I remove the work that God is doing in myself and those around me because I take control and attempt to fix everything because I fell short of my own standards. But removing grace and love that God freely lavishes on me each day is never going to result in growth, but only destruction. When I choose to not see myself the way God sees me, I instantly forget my worth in Christ.

So what does this all have to do with kindness? Great question.

The bible, specifically in Luke 10:27, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we do not love ourself or if we are not kind to ourselves, how can we expect our kindness to be genuine toward others and not just another act of good works?

One of the verses of the song goes like this: You can’t expect to be perfect
It’s a fight you’ve gotta forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon, darling
Take a deep breath and believe that I love you

Now, if I understand the song correct, it is being written from a father to his daughter…to me, this song is something God is singing to me. I can’t fight to be perfect because I am not nor will ever be perfect, I will not always be kind, but when I truly believe I am loved by God, the kindness that pours out is no longer an attempt to look good and be better, it’s not even from me. It’s the kindness of God coming out of a heart that has been transformed by the work of the cross.

So, be kind to yourself. Learn to live out of God’s love and let His kindness rule your every thought, word, and deed. But don’t stop with being kind to yourself, extend it to everyone around you…even if you do not believe they deserve kindness.

Until next time friends,

Christi

Be Kind To Yourself Andrew Peterson

Kindness at the misfortune of… Myself?

When I think about kindness my mind automatically goes to the nice things people have done for me. I’m quite blessed to have been surrounded with an incredible amount of genuinely kind people. Right now, that kindness is stemming from physical inabilities.

What I mean by this is that I currently have a broken leg. Yes, I was playing a game at camp and ended up fracturing my fibula. It’s displaced 2mm, and it’s very close to my ankle joint. It’s pretty uncomfortable, and admittedly very annoying. You see, I’m not the type of person who likes to have other people do things for them. It makes me feel lazy. However, when you’re physically incapable of most things, that makes this difficult.

So, I’ve had to ask a lot of people for help recently. Even more so than that, people have been very willing to help me without me even asking them. I think that’s a pretty solid way to view kindness. Kind people are the ones that go out of their way to do something because they genuinely care.

Think about that for a second in terms of God. God is so incredibly kind. Can you imagine someone being nice enough that they’d send their son to die for you. It breaks the scale. There is no greater act of kindness than God’s forgiveness for us through Jesus’ death.

Until next time,
Sarah

p.s. I have to put a small disclaimer on this. I am on pain meds and am super tired so iff this doesn’t make total sense, that is why.

JUNE UPDATE

June is upon us. This means a lot of things, but in the world of Mission: Millennials that means we’ve got a new topic of the month. This month just so happens to be all about kindness. Christi and I both love this project, and we are so excited that it’s been going so well. However, we are entering the summer months which for both of us means CAMP! That being said, we are both going to try our hardest to keep up with this, but please be patient with us.

Another update, we are starting a miniseries entitled “Boys of Summer”. This means every guest blogger for the months of June, July, and August will be a boy! So I hope you are looking forward to those posts as well.

Lastly, I just wanted to thank you, our readers. Even if you just join us for individual posts, we love that people are excited about this project just as much as we are.

God’s Blessings,
Sarah (& Christi)

Stormy Seas, Jesus, and Me

Have you ever heard the phrase, “don’t pray for patience unless you actually mean it?” And so you intentionally do not pray for patience as a mere attempt to avoid needing a smidge more patience than normal…

But what about those times you get a healthy dose of needing an abundance of patience, yet never asked to grow in that particular area?! This is where I find myself. In a season of life where patience is not exactly my greatest character quality, but it’s the one being most refined.

You see, I work with kids for a living…need I say more about needing patience? 😉 Some days are incredibly easy and everything runs smoother than planned, everyone is smiling and happy, no major toy-stealing-conflicts to resolve, or time to put play doh away tears, in essence, there are no train wrecks and the day just moves by peacefully. But then there are those other days…when it is one train wreck after another, no one is listening and doing what they want, and I wonder if I accidentally prayed for more patience in my sleep.

Life is very similar. Some seasons move along with few or no bumps on the road, little conflict, fun and terrific memories, laughter that makes your stomach hurt, spontaneous outings, and only minor difficulties.

But then the stormy, hurricane, and tornado weather hits and your life boat is flipped upside down, shredded to pieces, and it seems as though everything has fallen apart and you’re drifting away in an abyss of the stormy seas.

The lightening is bright, thunder loud, waves crashing down, winds whirling around and all you wonder is when the storm is going to pass?!

I find myself in the latter of the two life “scenarios.” Personally, I can’t remember asking God to grow my patience, but I do recall asking Him to continue to mold me more into His likeness, to burn away my impurities and refine my heart, creating beauty from my ashes. I would argue until I am blue in the face that the most growth occurs in the strongest storms. We grow the most in Christ when we are stripped of our idols, when we have sin brought into the light, when the seas of our life are raging wild, and we can’t see the shore line, just the next wave crashing upon us.

It wasn’t until recently I made the correlation of trials to the work of patience God is doing in my heart. You see, like most people, I want problems fixed on my watch and command. I want things on my terms or no terms. Under no circumstance do I want to wait to see answered prayers and have life’s hardest moments turn for the good, yet so often Jesus asks me to wait. Not because He is holding out on me or being a jerk…in fact it’s for the complete opposite reason. It’s because He loves me too much to allow me my own way, or to allow me to stay in stagnant waters.

Growing up, my family and I lived in a waterfront house, simply meaning, there was a river at the end of my front yard. In the summer, we loved playing on the rocks, swimming/canoeing upstream, tubing, etc. I feel like we were in the water quite a bit. And so, naturally, a tubing trip with our cousins was in order. It was a super hot summer day and we dropped in the water maybe two miles up the road from the house. We all assumed it would be maybe a two hour tubing adventure and brought no food or water…since you know, it was NOT going to take all day. Low and behold, we hit stagnant water, shallow water, a herd of cows, and about seven hours, yes you read that right, seven hours later, we arrive back home. In the moment of each of these at times peculiar obstacles, not one of us found humor or enjoyment…but looking back, it’s an adventure I am so thankful for.

Life trials are not usually that humorous and no, I do not normally look back fondly on these stormy seas because it was fun or gave me a good chuckle. But I look back and I see growth, I see Jesus molding my heart to wait on Him, I see my heart changing…not necessarily my circumstances. I look back and Jesus standing on the waters with me, helping me fight each wave, I look back and see Jesus as my anchor, the hand guiding me, the Father protecting me, love and grace surrounding my every moment. It’s these times I am also being taught patience and sole surrender to Jesus. He’s not going to let me drown, but the waters may not part the second I command them to. Jesus is not only teaching me patience and waiting on Him, but He’s also showing me how to let Him fight for me…

Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord

Exodus 14:14, The Lord will fight for you. You have only to be silent

I can wait and be patient in Him, knowing I am being molded and refined. So, yeah, life is crazy hard right now. My patience is running thin, I want the seas to be calm and the hardest days to cease, but I wouldn’t trade this season for the world.

In my season of waiting and needing patience, the Lord is teaching me to have faith in Him, not my circumstances. To rely on His promises, not my understanding.

I know God is with me, I know He is faithful, I know He is working in my life. I know I can trust him, and so I keep walking. One step at a time, one wave at a time, hand in hand fighting life’s battles with God going before and behind me.

Have patience in whatever season of life you’re in. God is still working, wait on Him and cherish the moment He has you walking in, no matter how easy or difficult.

Love you friends. Until next time,

Christi

Complaints and Patience

I’d like to think I’m not the type to complain, but we’ve all done it. I just scrolled back through my twitter feed and realized most of them are of me complaining. “Packing is Tiring”, “There’s no Chick-Fil-A in NY”, or “Starbucks put too much ice in my tea”.

Complaining can be detrimental to one’s patience. Think about it. More often than not our complaints can be solved with a bit of patience. For example, today at camp we had a retreat group. Just as it was my turn to get some food, they ran out of hamburgers. Well, I didn’t want the other option, so I pouted a little. At that moment I overheard the news that one of the chefs was currently grilling more burgers. Now I could have just eaten a hot dog, after all, I was really hungry, but I decided to practice a little patience.

Let me tell you, that burger was so amazingly delicious. I may have had to wait an extra five or ten minutes, but it was so worth it. This tiny taste (pun intended) of patience got me thinking about patience on a larger scale.

There are situations much bigger than my burger one. How much could a little patience help in those?

I know that I have a lot of friends who are struggling with different things, and no, I don’t have all of the answers. But God does. We just need to try and practice a little bit of that patience we’ve been given even through the struggle. God isn’t going to give you any more than you can handle, and sometimes we need to be patient and spend some of that time praying. Things will work out. Just not necessarily in your time frame.

Trust in God’s timing. Be patient, even when you’d rather just complain. It’s not easy, but God’s got you.

Until next time,
Sarah

Love, Faith, Hope

This month’s guest blogger is another girl who worked with both Sarah and myself at camp. Margo has the biggest heart, loves everyone who crosses paths with her, and is one of the easier people to become friends with. Above all, Margo has a deep love for Jesus and it shows through her thoughts and actions. Here is our guest post from Margo on our Patience series! -Christi

Hey guys! My name is Margo and I am 19 years old. I know Christi and Sarah from Camp Sandy Cove. In June 2016 I graduated High School and then moved to Bellingham, Washington, where I lived for four and a half months. After moving back to Delaware on February 21, I took a job working for the directors of Camp Sandy Cove, as the nanny for their two daughters. In the fall, I plan to attend Clarks Summit University to earn my associates degree with a focus on missions and ministry. I don’t know when I officially became a Christian. I’ve fallen out of touch with God several different times, and I can only thank him for his love and forgiveness, and for allowing me to return to his family, time after time. 🙂

Patience is something that I definitely have to work on, especially with being a nanny, so please don’t feel like I know all of this and practice it everyday. I studied and wrote multiple drafts before sending in the final.
So without further ado-
I’ve determined that there are three areas in which our patience should be developed. 

Patience with Others
2. Patience with God
3. Patience with Ourselves

If you notice my title, “Love, Faith, Hope” you’ll understand that patience with others is love, patience with God is faith, and patience with self is hope.
(Quote by Adel Bestavros)

So, here we go!

1. Patience with Others
As a kid, my parents often read me “My ABC Bible Verses,” in which the letter A is “A soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1)  Don’t ask me what the other 25 letters are, but the letter A always stuck with me.
I currently work as a nanny, and believe me, I don’t know how anyone with children has a grip on life. I am tried everyday to be loving and patient with those kiddos as well as others with whom I interact. In the summer, I work as a camp counselor, as does every other writer in this blog so far. I’m sure that if you asked any one of them, that they would all agree that there have been many trying times in the past.
Campers who whine about putting on longer shorts, horses that refuse to walk (ahem, Shrek!), or even other staff members who aren’t putting out 110%.
As hard as it is, and as cliche as it is, patience is a virtue, and it is important to remember to be loving and patient, even if you’re on your last straw.

2. Patience with God
In Psalm 46 it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In my life, that verse has somehow been a theme. No matter what stage of life I’m in, God has always reminded me of that verse.
Through high school, and even the year following graduation, I have struggled with anxiety. If you don’t struggle with anxiety, have love for those you know who do. I mean, throughout middle school, I thought that anxiety was just another term for worry. I would say to my friend (who suffered with anxiety) “Don’t worry, just shake it off. It’s really no big deal.” Let me tell you, after suffering through my first anxiety attack, I understood how big of a deal it really was.
Anyway, for the longest time, God through this verse at me, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I have goals and dreams to become a missionary and serve in ministry, and yet, I couldn’t help but impatiently wait for my days of long term ministry to start. Again, although I was seemingly firm in my faith and excited to serve God on a bigger scale, I couldn’t “be still” about the fact that my life consisted solely on church and school.
So – be still, be patient, and know that God sees you and has a plan for your life. Continue to serve God and be patiently waiting to see what he has in store for you.

Alternatively, when events take place that are heartbreaking and saddening, I often question God.
“Why?”
It is the number one question I ask God, and for the most part, he doesn’t answer right away. In Isaiah 55:8-9 it says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
And I am so glad that he has that plan and control over what does and doesn’t happen in my life.
Like it says in Isaiah 40:31, “but they who wait (patiently) for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” 

3.Patience with Ourselves
A few weeks ago, on Good Friday, I was burdened by a very intense feeling of guilt. The thought that Jesus had suffered and died for my sins – it was mindblowing.
And yet, instead of feeling loved and accepted, I felt angry at myself and guilty about the ways I have often rejected God. Instead of embracing his gift of eternal life, I had put it on the back burner, and had gone looking for something better. After finding nothing that would suffice (Hint: there’s nothing out there that will…)
I returned to God, feeling overwhelmed with guilt.
My mind roamed to thinking of the Apostle Paul (aka Saul- originally.) If you don’t know his story, definitely go check it out (Acts 8-9)
How much guilt did Paul feel? And yet, he was patient with himself, knowing that with God all things are possible.
That means a murderer, like Paul, can be changed through Christ.
An addict, to whatever it may be, can be changed through Christ.
A thief, a prostitute, a racist can be changed through Christ.
When you mess up, be patient with yourself, repent, and start working with Christ to move forward.

Until next time,
Margo

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @chief_margo
snapchat: @margodaisy

But I Hate to Wait

I feel as though the only appropriate way to start this post is to admit I hate being patient. I hate waiting. I hate not knowing when or how something is going to happen. Patient is not exactly the word I would use to describe myself…nor do I think anyone else would describe me that way. Though, despite my lack of enjoyment in waiting, I find myself in good company as the bible is littered with dozens of people who had to be patient and struggled in the midst of their waiting.

Taking things to a personal level, most times when God asks me to wait, I believe it’s because He just doesn’t care about what I want. Or He’s holding out on me. Or maybe He just didn’t hear me when I prayed asking for *fill in the blank.* And those are exactly the thoughts the devil wants us to believe and begin processing through. As these lies creep in, slowly we begin to drift deeper and deeper into deception and before long, the Voice of Truth is silenced, our sinful heart takes charge, and impatience masks the work Jesus wants to do within our season of waiting.

There is absolutely nothing easy about waiting and being patient, yet all over the bible, I find verse after verse encouraging my heart to continually wait on the Lord…

Psalm 27:14, Wait on the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord

Psalm 37:7, Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…

Psalm 130:5, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.

These are the first few verses that jumped out to me for a few reasons…

Waiting is hard. Jesus knows that. In these three verses, there is a common phrase of ‘wait on the Lord.’ Maybe it’s just me, but I believe we all can identify with the struggle of waiting on Him. The closer the situation is to my heart, the harder I find being patient to be…at times I wish getting my prayers answered would operate like amazon prime, two day shipping guaranteed. Though, more times than not, it is in the seasons of patience that I find I grow closest to the Lord. Anyone else agree?

Jesus knows far better than I do what I need and when I need it. Just as I tell the kiddos I nanny to take a deep breath and have patience, so also is God asking me to do the same thing. I love how the bible teaches us to have a child like faith, children ask a million questions but also seem to get the gist of life far better than most adults. Where is your heavenly Father asking you to wait? In the midst of your waiting, be in communion with Him, talk about how hard it is, the places you’re doubting and struggling. He already knows your heart, but longs to hear you express what you’re thinking and feeling.

Do not dread this season of waiting and patience, instead allow God to continuously minister to your heart.Take this time and allow your relationship with Him to grow deeper and sweeter, remembering that His timing is perfect.

Until next time friends,
Christi

 

 

Patience is a Virtue

My 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Hope, always said “Patience is a virtue”. Looking back on it now I’m pretty sure it had something to do with not wanting to answer the constant questions of “So, when is lunch?”. However as a 2nd and 3rd grader, I never really knew what that meant. I sort of assumed it just meant we all needed to learn to wait.

Many years later, when hearing the word ‘Patience’ I still think of this phrase. So, being the scholar that I am… I typed it into Google to see what it really means. Which led me to read, “Meaning: To be able to wait for something without becoming frustrated is a valuable character trait”. It’s pretty literal. Patience, waiting for something. Virtue, a valuable character trait. Guess I didn’t really need Google to figure that out, but typing it in was so much faster than taking the time to think about it. Right?

That’s an example of not exhibiting patience. I’m not the most patient person. I like immediacy. If I have a question, I want to immediately Google it and get an answer. Like today, I went to see a movie with some friends. The entire time I wanted to pull out my phone and find out who was voicing each character. It was eating at me the entire movie. I did end up waiting, but this lack of patience is probably what drives my easily distractedness.

I start out doing one thing, and then I remember, “Oh I was going to send that e-mail” Which turns into, “Wait, you mean Old Navy is having an online sale” which goes back to something else. It’s the immediacy of being able to do so many things at once that drives people, especially myself, away from taking time and being patient.

It’s something I struggle with especially when it comes to prayer. If I’m praying for something, for example the sun to shine, I’d be happy if the clouds rolled away, the rain stopped, and I could feel the heat of the sun beating down on my face. Immediate response. The quickness of things like search engines giving us answers right when we want them, makes it hard to be able to wait through those long silent moments to listen for God’s voice speaking to us. As soon as we are in the midst of the silence, our brains wander. Our attention spans are too short, and our patience meters are on empty.

Still God wants to speak to us. He is speaking to us and we just need to be patient, and listen. We need to have faith that even though we may not get our answer right away, we will get our answer. It may not be immediate, it may not be what we want to hear, but we need to stop, and push away all those distractions and really focus on what’s important. God’s plan for us.

Be patient, He’s got you!
Until next time,
Sarah