I started this journey two years ago in hopes of providing content to help others along their spiritual journey as well as learn about Community of Christ. I have learned a lot over these two years and have been blessed with some wonderful people to share their stories and experience on here. For our two year anniversary I wanted to share some lessons I have learned about this ministry and hopefully they are pertinent to your faith journey.
1. God journeys with us
The more I write and hear from others the more I know God is right there with each one of us on the journey. God is shaping who we are by the experiences we live in and through each day. When we respond to God's prompting in our lives we usually find ourselves giving to and blessing others. It is in these actions where God is fully present living, loving, and working. God is with us during the ups and downs and will forever be along the journey with us.
2. We must share our stories
When we share stories people begin to connect and understand who God is. It is in our personal witness that people come to know and feel the love of Christ. Stories are meaningful, inspiring, and empower others to find God. They also help us remember the times when we had a personal encounter with the divine and what it meant for us in that moment. Stories teach how God is moving and working in the world. It makes God's love into something tangible and real that can actually happen to me.
3. Everyone has something to contribute
Some of the most valuable and meaningful content over the last two years were from guest bloggers sharing their heart about their personal encounter with Christ. Many were flattered about the opportunity to share and wondered if it would be good enough. God has each given us stories to share which will contribute to the spiritual growth of others. I cannot stress enough that each one of us can contribute. We all have gifts, talents, and a story others need to hear.
4. No one is beyond God's grace
Life has a way of chewing us up and spitting us out. Bad circumstances and events happen to people and we often feel we are not worthy or deserving enough to be loved. But God thinks differently. God sees your worth and value and calls you a beloved child. God knows the struggles you have been through and yet loves you all the same. That's what grace is. God continues to choose you and call you by your name, because you are worthy and deserving of love.
Thank you to all those who have supported the blog these last two years. I have appreciated hearing the positive feedback.
This week hug someone and tell them they are worthy of God's love!
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8
What else is there to say! This bible verse identifies what we are to do and be about in this world. Lets explore each of these briefly.
We are to be about God's justice. But what is God's justice? There are various viewpoints all claiming to justly act in God's name. However with historical events like the Crusades we all know that not every action is just. I think if we really break down the word we find the answers.
Justice is a concept of moral rightness. It examines fairness and equitable rights. Its taking action to treat people and creation fairly. Throughout the Bible just is also referred to as taking care of the most vulnerable in our society. The poor, needy, abused, brokenhearted, homeless, etc. We can all trick ourselves in believing we are just individuals. But God calls us to really examine ourselves to determine if we are truly looking out for the rights of others, seeking the best for creation, and taking care of the most vulnerable in our world. Talk about a challenging endeavor. This challenge is what God is continually leading us to. To stand for the equal rights of others, affirm inestimable worth of all individuals, uphold the sacredness of creation, create and restore relationships, and support those on the fringes of society. What else is more worth our time? This is acting justly!
The Hebrew word hesed can be translated into the word "mercy", "grace", "loyal love" or "loving kindness". It takes on the idea of faithful love in action. We can attribute loving kindness as an attribute of God which is revealed in Jesus. To understand hesed is to understand the heart of God. Its an entire embodiment of kindness. In essence God is saying loving kindness is an internal transformation of our hearts. We change who we are, our thoughts, our actions, our priorities, our feelings. Kindness is allowed to flow through our entire mind, body, and soul. This transformation propels us to act kindly in all aspects of our life.
However truly being kind in everything we do is a challenge. I know I struggle with this because this goal is hard to reach. I find its not about reaching this goal but continuing to work in molding who I am around kindness. This internal work is never completed. Hence love is an action, an ongoing endeavor toward loving kindness. Strive to live loving kindness!
Walk Humbly With Our God
Walking humbly is about our attitude toward God. Its about acknowledging there is something greater than ourselves that is at work in the world. Its not about me, but about the God who is reflected in everything I do. God is asking you to walk with the divine and trust in the direction you are going.
We have been graced with gifts, talents, skills, positions, wealth, etc. but all of those things can be wiped away in an instant. Taking on this gratefulness and knowing there is a God whom is walking with us through the circumstances we find ourselves in is everything. We must set aside our pride and give thanks for the Lord who is in all things. For when we humble ourselves we are lifted up by the one who loves all things.
Thank you to everyone who is faithfully serving God and making this a better world.
This week do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.
In 2005 I took a trip with the organization Outreach International for 10 days to the country of Nicaragua. Outreach mission is about empowering the local communities to come together, access resources, and make decisions for themselves to better their communal lives. Outreach is located in ten countries and uses indigenous workers to begin mobilizing communities. The impact they have had has been incredible.
During the ten days our main job was to witness and observe the participatory human development process happening among the communities. We were not there to dig a well or help the people. They were helping themselves and our help would not empower them to do it themselves. In other organizations or many church mission projects, people go in and complete projects and leave. This leaves the local people the same without gaining skills and helping them become sustainable. So our objective was to just be.
The various communities we went into showed the various levels of the process happening among the people. Some communities had made substantial change while others were just in the beginning stages.
In one community in particular Los Alvores, they had built 50 new concrete homes with metal tin roofs about the size of a 12x12 room within the last three months. However this took five years for the community to get everything in place for it to happen. These were built so every family could have a house. The homes were dream homes for the residents in that community and they all worked hard to contribute to their cause.
We gathered with the community leaders when we arrived to hear about this project. They talked about a man named Jose who had the vision for the project and worked a great deal to get the resources so it could happen. His dream was to see every family spending time together in their own home.
Standing before us was Jose’s father with tears in his eyes. He told us his son whose dream it was, would not be able to see it because he passed away. Jose had an abscessed tooth which he could not have fixed because of the lack of adequate dental care in the community. He died from not receiving proper care. Jose’s father asked for a moment of silence as we thought about his son and the dream he held for this community.
I stood looking at the eyes of Jose’s father. It was in those eyes where I empathetically felt his loss and pain. I could see the love he had for his son. Tears streamed down my face as I had translated “Your son was a great man, I'm sorry for your loss.” After the translation, he reached out and hugged me. It was in this moment that we were connected. We both lived in two different worlds, spoke different languages, and yet were bonded together by love. I began to understand how we are transformed when we empathetically share our lives and hearts with others.
Let’s explore the concept of empathetically connecting with others and using the gifts we have for good.
Empathetically Connecting With Others
Empathy is recognizing emotions in another while understanding their perspective and reality. Our first step should always be empathy! However so many times we get caught doing the opposite. “Suck it up”, “brush it off”, “don’t let it bother you.” There’s nothing wrong with trying to be tough however it discredits our emotions and moves us further away from identifying and addressing them when they happen.
Empathy is something everyone can do and it doesn’t take long. Many times people just need to know they are heard and cared for. The only concern is if you are someone that takes on the emotions of another which can sometimes be problematic. For more information check out this article by Marcia Reynolds “Can you have too much empathy?” For the majority of people empathy is a way to connect with others and compassionately listen.
The research on how empathy can improve our quality of life has been looked at extensively. Empathy is also the cornerstone of emotional intelligence which has been researched as the biggest indicator for career success. It goes hand in hand with listening to those around you. If you want to become more empathetic go to “Six Habits of Highly Effective People” which identifies six things we can develop in ourselves to become more empathetic.
Using Our Gifts For Others
Jose would have been able to see his dream complete if he had received adequate dental care. It makes we realize the drastic economic and cultural differences in our world. It doesn’t mean we have to give everything away and live like that part of the world but we do need to be mindful of what and how we are consuming. And more importantly how are we using the gifts we have to positively impact those around us. I know many nurses, dentists, and other providers that take trips to impoverished countries to give proper care. This is a great service, but we all do not have those certain gifts or the ability to go to another country.
We each have our own unique gifts which can bring service or joy to people around us. Maybe its telling others jokes to keep them light hearted, or maybe its completing a small house project for someone that can’t or doesn’t know how. Using our gifts for others benefits the communities we are in and provides more opportunities for us to empathetically connect with people. We actually get to be God’s hands and feet when we use what we have learned and been given.
I will leave you with his awesome video about the happiness we receive when using our gifts to help others. I think it’s actually a Thai life insurance advertisement ?! However it does an amazing job of showing what it means to connect empathetically and help others as we can.
I hope you are all enjoying your summer! If you want to spend a week focusing on your relationship with God get signed up for Reunion. Go this Reunion Directory to find one near you. I promise you will not regret your decision.
This week take some time to look at all the great work Outreach International is doing by visiting their website. You can even donate money by buying a chicken or a goat for one of the communities which helps them become more sustainable.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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Phone: (816) 221-4450
Copyright Midlands Mission Center 2020
Community of Christ
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Independence, Missouri 64050
Phone: (816) 833–1000 or (800) 825–2806