Monday, July 23, 2012

The Mind of Christ


This declaration rings throughout the halls of my house multiple times each day. Even though my daughters are wonderful playmates (until they're not), there tends to be an undercurrent of competition that exists between the two of them. Sometimes it's a race to pick the best Barbie out of the bunch. Sometimes it's a struggle to the perceived goal posts as they push their way out of the front door. Sometimes it's a contest to see who can finish their dinner the fastest so they can get back to more important things like dancing and imagining and coloring. No matter how insignificant it may seem to me in that moment, it is a life or death situation for my sweet, precious little rivals. They fuss. They fight. They scrutinize. They compare. I get frustrated with their disregard for each other, and there are days when I am weary with their utter selfishness.

Then I remember my own.

As I repeatedly lecture my children about shoving their way to the front of the imaginary line, I am struck with the embarrassing fact that I, too, get caught up in the desire to win. I struggle often with comparing myself with others and fight the urge to puff up my own qualities in light of theirs. It's not pretty, I know. It's downright ugly. So what's a hypocritical mama to do?

Yesterday I was drawn to the book of Philippians, and this passage jumped off the page at me.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV)

My responsibility as a Christ-follower is to put the interests of others ahead of my own. Even when I'm tired. Even when I'm cranky. Even when I've already put their needs before mine many times that day already. In this way, I can have the mind of Christ. Because He made Himself nothing so that He could give me everything. I want my life to radiate with that same humility and love.

Lord, thank You for Your obedience and for conquering death on the cross. Please help me to remember Your sacrifice as I yield my desires in order to "count others more significant" than myself.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Missional Mama

A couple of weeks ago I traveled with thirteen other brave souls to Montgomery, Alabama to serve the at-risk children that are a part of the Nehemiah Center in the Chisholm community. The ladies and youth led afternoon sessions where we taught the children Bible stories, made crafts, sang some songs, and played games with the kids. The men painted, mended fences, and performed other various odd jobs that were needed at the sponsoring church and at the center. We also worked together to prepare and serve both breakfast and lunch for the children each day.

Every time I have participated in a mission trip, I have always returned from the venture with an altered perspective, viewing life through changed eyes. This trip was no different. During our trek back home, my mind was flooded with memories and reflections on the week, and I want to share some of them here with you.
  • When we met the children at the beginning of the week, most of the kids appeared to be wary of our presence. I found it interesting that the older girls, in particular, wouldn't even make eye contact with me. The home life for some was far from ideal. Throughout the week, they learned that they could trust us and that we were there to share God's love with them. As I taught the final Bible story to one of the classes, I was struck by the fact that one of the older girls scooted up next to me, raising her hand to answer questions and giving me sweet smiles as I taught. It was a blessing to witness such a transformation from the first day. Lord, help me to be trustworthy and kind so that I can make an impact for the gospel.
  • On the third day with the children, we accompanied them to a state park where they were able to go swimming and enjoy a nature hike. I must admit that I was not overly excited about hiking through the woods. I am more "indoorsy" and I really, really do not appreciate bugs of any sort. However, I agreed to trek through God's wonderful creation for the benefit of the kids. I'm not gonna was HARD. There were moments when my head started to spin because I was looking straight down the side of the mountain and I have a definite fear of heights. But I loved watching the children help each other (and me) through the tough spots. At one point some of the boys and girls started to run ahead of the group, and I can remember our fearless leader making the statement, "You can't follow me if you are in front of me." Woah. That's one to ponder. Lord, give me the courage to let you lead, so that I can follow Your ways. 
  • I was able to befriend another young mom who worked at the center, and I am still grieving the fact that I didn't have more time to get to know her better. She had the sweetest spirit and seemed to be full of energy, despite the fact that she is a mother of six. (Whew. I am down for the count with just two. I can't even imagine the laundry and dishes from SIX.) I learned that even though we live in different states, we were born in different countries, and we have vastly different backgrounds, there was still a tangible bond between us because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, please help me to look past culture and circumstances to make a connection with those around me for Your kingdom. 
  • The last night that we were in Montgomery, the ladies that tirelessly run the Nehemiah Center invited us to their home for dinner. I was dazzled by their warmth and kindness and overflow of hospitality, even after working hard all day long. They told us story after heartbreaking story of the horrors some of those children face each and every day. I literally forced back tears. And it made me many people in my own city are living in that same despair? Lord, please make me aware of how I can reach out to those in my community that need Your hope and salvation.
Now that I am back home, distracted with my own routine and creature comforts, I find myself contemplating how I can be a missional mama on a daily basis. The gospel should be communicated and shared every single day through both our words and actions. The gospel is not for a privileged few, but Christ extends His love and forgiveness to anyone who will come to Him. The gospel is powerful and active and able to transform lives from the pit of destruction to the peace that overwhelms. I am charged, along with you, to take the Good News of Christ to the nations. Will we be bold enough to do it?