Tiny Choices

 

When we look at the BIG summer movies that are coming out this year: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, John Wick: Chapter 3, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Toy Story 4, Aladdin, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix… it is easy for us to think that everything is about the BIG and SPECTACULAR.

Many times it even seems the lives we live and the culture in which we do life move us to think that everything worthwhile is about the big and spectacular. We even begin to get the idea that God is also about all things big, spectacular, and miraculous. After reading a few books, watching television, and listening to the stories at church growing up, it is very easy to conclude that unless God is doing really big things through our lives, we’re not spiritual…we're not following God. However, as you read stories of others and the stories of scripture, we see another way of doing life.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have college degrees to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mike Yaconelli states, “Christianity shows itself to be most powerful… in the unnoticed life, the inconspicuous servant, and the unrecognized saint.”  

“Our tiny choices and our tiny moves to God may not seem like much. But someday you and I will stand together in the great cathedral of heaven, and up front, by Jesus, will hang the most magnificent mosaic we could ever imagine, make up of thousands and thousands of our tiny responses to God’s love in our lives.”      – Mike Yaconelli

Does that seem to make sense? Do you believe the tiny things you do can make a big difference?

Mark 12:41-44, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, gave out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

What is God saying to you?
In what ways has God designed you to love Him and to love others?
What small unassuming ways can you make a difference in the lives of others?


Live the Story friend,

Gary

Focusing on Restoration

What does it look like to live a restored life?  

To restore means to return back to a previous state of being. When I ask myself what does it mean to live out a life that is restored in the context of the Gospel, I think of it in a personal context, a worldly context, and a heavenly context. 

Sometimes, when we get caught up in the busyness of our day to day, it can be hard to stay centered on the new life that we have in Christ. When it gets difficult, here are a few things I do to focus my day on the restoration I have in Christ. 

  •  Spend Time in the Word

Christ died on the cross for your sins. Because of this you can be in a right relationship with him. Get to know your Creator by spending time with him in the Word and building a deep, intimate relationship with Him. 

  • See the Brokenness in the World 

You are restored in Christ, but this isn’t necessarily true for the world as a whole. Don’t avoid the brokenness that seems scary or makes you uncomfortable. Recognize it and ask yourself, “How can I immerse myself in this brokenness so I can share the life of Christ.” Get out of your comfort zone, and be intentional about looking for the opportunities that God presents to you throughout the day. Share the light of God so that others can also experience the freedom of being restored in Christ. 

  • Be in Constant Conversation with Christ 

By deciding to follow Christ, we are surrendering our lives to Him. For Him to have control, we have to be in conversation with Him so that we can hear His will for us, and we can talk to Him about the things we are wrestling with in our days. Talk to your Father, get to know Him, and allow Him to know the desires and insecurities that you have. 

  • Surround Yourself with the Church 

We were created to be in relationship with our Creator and also in relationship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to surround ourselves with the Church. Church is not a building where we go to worship once, maybe twice, a week, bur rather the Church is the people of God. We are called to be in community with one another—encouraging one another and worshiping out Creator, together. 

  • Rest in the Sovereignty of Our Lord  

God knows the things that we are going through. He knows what we struggle with and what we are striving towards. When you get anxious or when fear begins to overwhelm you, rest in the restoration you have experienced in God. God is with you through everything you experience. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us. Our God will never leave us nor forsake us, and when we die we will be with our Father for eternity. Rest in these truths throughout the chaos of your day. 

These points are not a list of “or else” things. I mean, these are not things you must check off in order to be in right relationship with God. Rather, when I think about ways I can ground myself in the restoration I have in Christ, these are the things I think about. In the mornings when the enemy is fighting for the attention of my heart, here are some weapons I arm myself with to fight. 

Remember that you are restored and made new by the one who created the universe. You don’t need to fight to earn your place in His heart, but rather rest in his goodness, grace, and mercy. Fight to share these things in the broken world we live in. 

 With Love,

McKenna Morgan

Relenting Day to Day

In my last post, “Freedom in Our Brokenness,” I talked about my realization of what it means to be broken. The guilt that I faced because of my sin was an indication of this brokenness. Yet, despite still being a broken individual, I no longer live with the constant guilt that I did three years ago.

 This is because I shifted my focus from my actions to Christ—the one who came to save a fallen humanity. He is the only one who can save us from the brokenness that we experience in our day to day lives. However, I don’t want to make it seem as if this shift is an easy thing. I want to pose this question: 

What does it look like to truly turn towards Christ? 

Acts 3:19-20 says, “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped outso that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He may send Jesus, who has been appointed Messiah for you.” 

To repent is to acknowledge and express the sin that is in your life, and turn back to Christ, the one who wiped out our sins. Christ is the one who makes us clean, the one who refreshes us. In Him, we are free because we are no longer trying to atone for our own sins because Christ paid that price for us when He died on the cross. 

That being said, turning to Christ is not a one and done deal. Yes, once you repent and give your life to Christ, he has forgiven you of your sin—past, present, and future. However, following Christ is so much more than a single moment. God created us to be in relationship with him, and that is what it should look like when we turn to Christ, a relationship.

Think about it. I believe we can all agree that our ideas of a relationship have drastically changed since middle school. When I was in middle school, I had a few boys pass me notes that read “Do you want to be my girlfriend? Check yes or no.” I always (sorry boys) checked no, however if I had chosen differently, I’m sure that our “relationship” wouldn’t go anywhere beyond the title of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”

We wouldn’t go on dates, deeply get to know one another, and I honestly doubt we would even hang out at school. I think, and hope that others would agree that this is not what dating should look like. So why would we ever treat our relationship with God, our creator and savior, like we would a middle school relationship? 

I think to truly turn towards Christ, we have to take the time to get to know him, intimately and personally. This means pursing Him in all that we do every single day. We can no longer seek to control the factors of our lives by ourselves, but rather we need to hand them over to God. We must relinquish our doubts, fears, and dreams to Him, knowing that He will do more with them than we ever could. We cannot turn towards Christ in one moment in time alone. When we repent and give our lives to God we are giving Him everything and committing to live a life that will glorify Him. 

 One of my favorite songs is the song “Relent” by Citizens. I often sing this chorus on days when it feels particularly hard to turn away from the sin in my life, and I encourage you to do the same: 

I relent, there is nothing for me here
You can have it all, this life is not my own
You give life that is worth the loss of mine
I surrender all I have to follow You

With Love,

McKenna Morgan  

 

 

 

Freedom in Our Brokenness

There was a period of my life where I was overcome with guilt. When I say overcome, I mean that my chest would tighten in such a way that my whole body would tense, and I would begin to feel physically ill. I would wake up in the morning and remember the sin that I had committed and the pang would appear. It would stay there for a while until I got distracted, maybe with the YouTube video I would watch with breakfast, the problem I would try to solve in my pre-calculus class, or the conversation I would have with my family at dinner. But in those quiet moments in-between the distractions, I would be weighed down by failure and imperfection. I felt truly broken by my sin. 

 Now, I’ve always been a rule follower. Growing up, I was very much a teacher’s pet, and I never once got grounded. I believed that by following the rules I would be a good person and stay in a right relationship with God. Because of this, I never did anything “wrong” at school, and I never did anything that my parents had blatantly asked me not to. 

This is one of the reasons why the guilt hit me all at once. I would never break any rules, yet the guilt and anxiety would still appear. I would remember that half-truth I told my friend or that movie I watched that I knew I shouldn’t have, despite never being told I couldn’t. I wasn’t necessarily “breaking” anything, yet every single time I stumbled and sinned, the memories of all of my past failures would come rushing back. 

It was in my Sophomore year of high school that I began to realize what it means to be broken. 

God created us to be in relationship with Him, but after the fall, that bond was shifted. While we are still creatures that were created in God’s image, our minds, hearts, and will are no longer ordered in the way that God intended them to be. We have desires that are apart from God—desires that we believe will fulfill us. On reflecting on the nature of man, I began to realize that maybe sin isn’t about breaking rules, laws, or orders—maybe sin is about walking down a path that leads us further away from God, no matter how little or big the act or intent. 

During this period of my life I was praying, asking God to forgive me and to make me clean. But my desire wasn’t to be clean so that I could live in His eternal kingdom, but to be clean so that I could be rid of the wrong things I had done in my life and once again try to avoid sin at all costs. 

Friends—my selfish desire was for my guilt and anxiety to go away and to be as close to perfect as I can get. But, when we look at scripture, we see that all of humanity is fallen. 

 My brokenness separated me from God because it hindered the relationship that I had with him. The things that I desired, the things in life that I longed for, were no longer aimed towards God. I figured that by following the rules and by doing the things I was told I would be “good.” That my heart would be aligned with God’s because I was not committing any atrocious sin. 

However, the reality is that after the fall, all of humanity was considered broken. Our will is no longer naturally aligned with God’s and our desires with His. 

I finally had a realization that following rules and holding on onto the bad things I had done would not eliminate the sin in my life. I had to reorder my heart to desire the things that God desires, to seek after Him in all aspects of my life. It was only when I finally accepted the fact that I am fallen and broken, that I was able to rest, letting go of the sin that had been weighing me down. In relinquishing my fallen nature to Christ and finding my eternal life in him, my brokenness took on a new purpose.  

McKenna Morgan

 

 

 

 

 

Designed for Life

This past semester was one of the busiest periods of school I have ever experienced. I was serving in leadership at my school, working as a freelance editor, and babysitting about twelve hours a week. I also started the semester taking fifteen hours worth of credit. While I truly loved all of the different things I was doing, I soon realized that the combination of everything was physically and mentally taxing. I realized that it would be best to lighten my load, so I dropped my business class to ease my workload. I had a little more time in between school and work to recoup, and I had more time in the evening for sleep. However, time management became key as I began to juggle school, work, church involvement, and studying. 

I have always enjoyed having a busy schedule. I like knowing exactly what is expected of my time and knowing exactly what is expected of me during this time. This repetitive back to back schedule was fulfilling my love for the known and my desire to be able to accomplish the work that I needed to. So in trying to figure out how to juggle my busy schedule, it seemed natural to create a weekly routine. I could fill in the things that I needed to accomplish and schedule in the coffee dates that I wanted to have so that I could make sure I would have time to fit everything into my schedule. Google calendar became my best friend, and I had my week planned out every Monday.  

However, about halfway through the semester I sensed some monotony in my routine. While the things I longed to achieve were getting done and I was showing up to the places that I needed to, I wasn’t truly approaching these situations with a desire to serve the Lord, but rather from a place of routine. This could easily be seen in the papers I wrote, the articles I edited, my relationship with the family I babysat for, and the goals I longed to achieve in house leadership. They were becoming things I needed to accomplish and the quality of the work I was producing began to slip. It was as if I was walking through life in a trance, going through the motions of the day off of memory. 

Now I think it is here that some, myself included, might ask is this a bad thing? Here is what I know.  

God has created each and every one of us to be in relationship with Him, to be in relationship with others, and to share His glory in our day to day lives. It is through Him that we have a new life—a life and a mission that we didn’t have before Him and we cannot have without Him. Not only has He designed us this way, but He has also given us unique gifts and passions to use in our attempts to glorify him. 

In only facing the routine of the day, checking things off of the to do list, and producing subpar work, I wasn’t approaching the work that I was doing from the foundation of the Gospel—hence the lifelessness. God has created us in His image, and he has given us talents to reflect His image in the broken world around us. So, when we get stuck in a routine, and don’t use the skills and opportunities that He has given us, we aren’t fulfilling our purpose.  

It is only through Christ that you and I will be able to use the opportunities that make up our daily routine and give them a life and an excellence that they would otherwise not have. 

I challenge you to look at your daily routine. Where are you simply going through the motions? How are you using the skills and opportunities God has given you to share His life with humanity?

McKenna Morgan

the life we fail to live

As I walked in to get a cup of coffee and a bagel from an indie coffee shop with a great feel located not far from our home, I realized the two baristas, Sam and Dwayne, were in deep discussion. Not noticing I was at the counter and being the comic I am, I stated, “Hey, can a man get a cup of coffee in here?” To which Dwayne stated, “Clergy, you are a man of the cloth! Be patient and keep your mouth shut!” Wow! OK, I will do just that I thought. Sam came over in just a few seconds laughing at how I had adhered to Dwayne’s directive. 

After I ordered, Sam and I began to laugh and chat about Dwayne’s reflection of who I was and how I should be acting. During this energetic conversation I asked Sam since I was a pastor and a follower of Jesus did he care about what I believed? Sam stated, NO! I then asked if he cared about what I knew? He stated NO! I then asked if he cared about how I acted? To which he stated YES!

“That is the problem I have with you Christians,” he stated. “ It is how you act!” I then asked him if he could explain a little more of what he meant by that statement. To which he stated, “It seems you Christians are always expressing what you are against. It seems you should spend more time showing love, helping people and not getting down on people so much.” At that point the line of customers begin to form and our conversation for the moment was over. 

Pastor Erwin Raphael McManus wrote: "I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins that we commit, but the life we fail to live."


Could that be true?

 We read in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 from The Message, 19 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: 20 religious, nonreligious, 21 meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, 22 the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. 23 I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
 
Take a few moments and think about your story and your calling to participate in God’s purpose and plans for the world.

What is God saying to you?
What are you going to do about it? 
Who are you going to share it with?

Live the Story friend,

Gary