Archive for ‘The Faith’

July 31, 2013

Calling all coffee-lovers!

Hi friends!  As many of you know, Adam & I are leading a team of 10 from our church, Movement NYC, to Ethiopia this October.  In an effort to supplement our fundraising efforts, we’ve set up an online store from with Just Love Coffee Roasters.  They offer several varieties and blends of coffee, as well as samplers, t-shirts and travel mugs.  A portion of all purchases made from our storefront will go towards offsetting our trip costs!

If you love coffee as much as I do (or even half, or a quarter, as much as I do… because my love for coffee is borderline idolatrous…), please consider making a purchase from our online store!

Movement NYC – Ethiopia 2013 – Just Love Coffee Roasters

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June 14, 2013

I can’t make you care.

I’m coming to terms with that reality recently.  The idea that my words, my passions, my heartbreak will not make you care about the things that I care about.  And to think that it will only leads to frustration and anger and bitterness.

I’m overwhelmed with the thought that there has to be more than Sunday mornings.  There has to be more than hanging out and enjoying the company of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  There has to be more than worship sets and sermons.  Certainly He has given us this community, but there must be more.  He builds our community, our family, that we might grow, that we might encourage and strengthen one another… and then?  Then He sends us out.

But will we go?  Will we risk our comforts, reprioritize our lives, put Him first, and in doing so, put others first?  Will we give of our time, our money and our very lives because the Gospel is true and because others need to hear it and see it?  Will I go?  And will I go regardless of who goes with me?

All I can do is go.  All I can do is pray that my words, my passions and my heartbreak put the Gospel on display.  Pray that in my weakness, His strength is made perfect.

After all, my words, my passions and my heartbreak are not mine.  They’re God’s.  They are the things He has planted in my heart and soul.  They’re a fire sparked in me by the love of my Savior.  The compassion I feel is a gift given to me by God.  All I can do is share that gift, and pray that He will bestow it upon others.

There is pain in that gift, there are moments of overwhelming grief and sorrow over the broken, lost people across the whole world.  The magnitude paralyzes me.  I cannot help them all.  I cannot save them all.  In fact, I cannot save any.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  As we preach the Gospel, He pierces hearts with words entrusted to us by God.  The Gospel is His, the words are His, the heart is His, the glory is HIS.

There are moments I’d rather run from it.  Moments that I want to slip back into the comforts of life in America.  A life of luxuries and self-centeredness.  There are moments I do, and then God, in His grace, calls me out of my comforts again.  Reminds me that He is the ultimate Comforter, and that the comforts of this world cannot compare with the joy found in serving Him with the entirety of my heart.

Jesus beckons us to lose our life that we may find it.  He calls us to abandon the things esteemed by our culture.  He calls us to live a life committed to His cause.  He calls us to preach the Gospel to a world that does not know Him.  He calls us.

By His grace, He will open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts.  He will both call us to action and give us the strength to act.

I cannot make you care.  I cannot make myself care.  But He can.

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

June 12, 2013

A thousand times, “Yes.”

So much has gone on lately.  The ups and downs of life have been in full force and I find myself clinging to Jesus.  Holding onto Him with everything that I have because I know it’s the only safe place.  In the good and in the bad, Jesus is constant.  And, oh, how I need Him.

God is good.  He never fails.  He is sovereign.  These are the truths that I am coming to believe more fully than ever.  That everything is grace.  His ways are not my ways.  I can’t always understand.  But I will trust in the goodness of a Savior that died to give me life until the day I breathe my last on this earth… and I know that on that day I will enter into glory, eternally in the presence of the Almighty God, the One whose love is better than life.  In His presence is fullness of joy.

I’ve found myself staring difficult questions in the face lately.  Could I accept all that God gives?  Could I continue to praise Him in the face of loss, death, cancer, blindness?  Could I?

And the answer is, “Yes.”  A thousand times, “Yes.”

I’ve come to realize something: it always happens to someone else.  Until… it doesn’t.  Until it’s you.  Until you’re picking up the phone receiving horrible news.  Or you’re sitting in the doctor’s office hearing what you never imagined you’d hear.  And you cannot control it.  We don’t have control.

God does.

Now, I can’t get into all the theological implications of what that means in one post.  I know we live in a world saturated with sin.  A world that has so often run from God instead of to Him.  And God does not force us to worship Him.  He desires honest, heartfelt worship; not robotic religious “devotion”.

I know that Jesus promised us that we would have trouble in this world.  But he followed it up with some wonderful truth: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  I know that He is no stranger to our trials, temptations and sufferings.  I know that He spoke of storms coming and that the house built on the sand fell, but that the house built upon rock was able to withstand the storms (Matthew 7:24-27).  And Jesus has proven to be my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.  I will not be greatly shaken.

Whatever the coming weeks, months and years bring, I will choose Jesus.  I will take heart, because He has overcome the world.  And I will fix my eyes upon Him, the Author and Finisher of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  And in Him, and in the truth of His word, I will find hope, strength, rest, peace and joy.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  Amen. (Romans 11:36)

June 10, 2013

What are we missing out on?

Lately I’ve noticed something in myself.  Some sin in my life.  It was something I swore that God had dealt with right out of the gate when I surrendered my life to Jesus.  But that old sin is poking and prodding and I’ve allowed it to creep up in some rather unexpected ways.  God has begun to convict me of it and to reveal how it has permeated so many areas of my life.  Through this process, I’ve come to more clearly see one of the reasons God deals with those sins in love– it has been robbing me of my joy in Him.

Have you ever come across a portion of scripture and been so filled with joy and gratitude that you just love Jesus all the more?  I love those moments.  His love, His worth, His power– they just become so clear that the only way to respond is with praise and adoration!

There are passages that I believe should be stirring that up in me.  The very word of God should be capturing my affections and drawing me nearer to Christ.  These passages should secure me in my identity in Jesus and remind me of the overwhelming, all-encompassing, mysterious love of God.  And yet… they don’t.  Instead I find myself nitpicking.  I’m trying to figure out what it “means”, when what it means is plain.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

You’d like an example, you say?  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-12:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

There is so much there to rejoice in.  So what’s the problem, you ask?

The problem is that when I read this passage I see certain “buzz words”: chose (v.4) and predestined (vv.5,11).  While these certainly won’t be a problem for everyone, they have been for me.  Why?  Because immediately my mind thinks: Calvinism and/or Reformed Theology.  Having been heavily influenced by Arminians (see: free will) for much of my early Christian life, I have a tendency to respond poorly to these words instead of rejoicing in them as I ought.  But why? (Hint: here’s where my sin comes in)… I’m fearful of what others think of me.  I’m fearful of being caught up in the “us and them”.  I’m fearful to be labeled as something or someone without even fully knowing or understanding all that lies behind that label.

Labels can be dangerous.  Not just in the church, of course, but I would say especially in the church.  I’ve become so fearful (in my sinful desires to be accepted by my peers) of labels that I’ve disregarded beautiful truths in the Bible!  These aren’t extraneous words that someone added later, and they certainly aren’t heresy.  I may not fully grasp all of the implications behind those words but here is what I know:

I am chosen.  I am predestined.  I am adopted.  BY GOD!

Isn’t that incredible?  That is really good news.  And the craziest part?  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 that I have been saved by grace through faith– not that of myself, but a gift from God.

When I fear the label and the potential alienation that comes with it, I miss out on joy.  I miss out on the gift.  I elevate the opinion of man and minimize the opinion and truth of God.

No matter where we stand on the spectrum from Calvinism to Arminianism and everywhere in between, we should never shrink back at the incredible truths in the word of God.  May scripture lead us to know God more fully and rejoice in who He is and all that He has done.

Christian, you are chosen, predestined, adopted.  And it is a gift of God, not of yourself.  Rejoice!

January 16, 2013

Words of life for an anxious heart like mine.

Feeling incredibly thankful this morning that I can take God at His word.  He is not a man that He should lie! (Numbers 23:19) The words and promises of this world will all pass away.  Some will be kept, yes, but many will be broken.  The only sure, steadfast words belong to God.  His word doesn’t change and will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).  When He says something, I can trust that it is true – regardless of how I may feel at the time.

Take Him at His word, anxious heart of mine.  Believe that what He has promised will come to pass.  Believe that you are accepted, having been adopted into the family of God in Jesus.  You are not illegitimate, but legitimate.  You are dearly loved.  You are cared for, right down to the very hairs on your head, of which God knows the number (Matthew 10:30, Luke 12:7).  Believe that all of your sins and shortcomings were absorbed by your Savior at Calvary, and that when you stand before the judgment seat of God, you are declared, “Not guilty!”  Believe that in Jesus you have an intercessor who will not allow you to stand condemned (Hebrews 7:25).  Believe that Jesus knows and sympathizes with your weaknesses and temptations (Hebrews 4:15).  Believe that through His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, you are able to obey Him.  Believe that obedience is good and right because He already loves you.  Believe that you were never a mistake or an “uh oh”, but that God knowingly and purposefully knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  Believe that even if every earthly family member and friend were to leave you, Jesus would still be enough.  Believe that your identity is not wrapped up in your ability to be everyone’s best friend, but is found solely in Christ Jesus.  Believe that trouble will come, but more than that, believe that Jesus is with you when it does, and even more, believe that He has overcome the world–take heart! (John 16:33)  Believe that though you were dead in your sins, Jesus rescued you and made you alive together with Him (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:1-5).  Believe that you are chosen, called out of darkness and into the light, to proclaim God’s excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).  Believe that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you, so that where He is, you may be also (John 14:2-3).  Believe that your treasure is being stored up in heaven and not here on earth (Matthew 6:20).  Believe that generosity is much more freeing than greed.  Believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Believe that these present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).  Don’t be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).  Believe that when you see Him, you will be as He is (1 John 3:2-3).  Believe that it is good to wait upon the Lord, and that His plans and timing are exceedingly and abundantly beyond all that you could even ask or imagine (Psalm 27:14, Ephesians 3:20).  Believe that He is concerned for the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and that He has called you to be His hands and feet (Isaiah 1:17).  Believe that discernment is good, and that upholding God’s truth is noble.  Believe that love covers a multitude of sins, and that without love, your gifts are rendered useless (1 Peter 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13).  Believe in Jesus.  Love Him.  Serve Him.  Preach Him.  Believe in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return.  When you sin, repent quickly, and know that His blood is sufficient, His grace abounds.  Die to yourself that you might live for Him.  Believe that when you lose your life, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).  Believe that you can bring your anxious heart, with all its prayers and petitions, before a God who hears, and that in return, He will impart to you His perfect peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Now rest, anxious heart.  Cease striving, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

January 3, 2013

Our Hope.

I have not blogged in a long while.  That seems to always be the case, and then I show up with a random blog post every now and then.  What I’m about to share with you is something I wrote at the beginning of June and wasn’t sure I’d ever share.  Today is a heavy day, and I feel compelled to share.

For those of you who do not know, at the end of this April, Adam and I learned that we were going to be parents.  This is something that I had dreamed of for as long as I can remember.  We were both so thrilled and couldn’t keep it to ourselves.  We started telling our family immediately, and slowly began letting our friends in on it as well.  It was certainly an exciting time.

Just after Memorial Day weekend, we learned that I had miscarried.  In a lot of ways I’d braced myself for the worst news, and then it came.  No matter how much you brace yourself, it’s a blow you never want to have to take.

Through grieving the loss of our child, I have experienced the peace of God in a very real sense.  It wasn’t just an idea or something I talked about, it was my reality.  Friends and family who have also miscarried shared with me and it helped to feel less alone in my grief.  The following are words I wrote just a few days after my miscarriage, and words that I pray will bless and encourage whoever may be reading this post.

For those of you who are friends and family and who are learning about this through my blog post, I feel the need to apologize.  I’m sorry that this is the method through which you are finding out.  Honestly, it was hard for me at the time to even have to tell anyone, let alone have to tell people who hadn’t even known I was pregnant to begin with.  I so appreciate your being gracious to me in this, and I hope that you can understand.  Thank you in advance.

Today would have been my due date.  Instead of welcoming Baby Robles into the world, I will go back to a normal day at the office.  It is, as Shauna Niequist calls it in her memoir, Bittersweet, “the day of what might have been.”  And yet what is, is.  This is my life, and it is a gift, hard things and all.  God never promised that I would be exempt from suffering.  But (and what a “but” this is), He has promised to be with me always.  He has promised to never leave nor forsake me.  He is near to me now, and for that I am incredibly humbled and thankful.  Only Jesus.  He is our hope.

Dear Family and Friends,

I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for the incredible amount of love and support you have offered Adam and I in the past few days.  They have not been easy, and I’m still not sure how best to process the fact that we will no longer be welcoming our little one into the world at the beginning of the new year.  We were both more excited than we can say, and were so anxious to share that joy with each of you.

I don’t know why God allowed it to happen and I refuse to plague myself with the questions we will never know the answers to this side of heaven.  I don’t pretend to know the mind of God.  So during this time, we are instead choosing to meditate on what we know to be true of God.  We know that God is good, that He is a loving, gracious and unfailing Father.  We know that He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.  We know that He is able to do ALL things, including that which we deem impossible.  Yes, we do know that He had every ability needed to allow our baby to grow and be healthy and to come into this world as we expected.  But we also know that God, in his infinite wisdom and love, did not allow for that to happen.  We rejoice in the midst of our suffering because we trust that His plans for us are good, even when they are not easy.

Jesus is not far off.  He is with us.  And beyond that, He is no stranger to our suffering.  God’s word says that Jesus was a man of sorrows, well-acquainted with grief.  We believe and trust that as we grieve, He grieves with us.  I’m reminded of when Lazarus died and Jesus came to his friends who were mourning their dead brother.  The shortest (and one of the most profound) verses in the whole Bible: Jesus wept.  He wept then, and I believe He weeps with us now.  We live in a world that is broken, suffering the effects of sin and death.  But we know that sin and death will not reign forever.  We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return, when the wrongs are put right again, and we reign together with our glorious King.  I, for one, am comforted by the promise that He will wipe every tear from our eyes.  That’s good news for a crier like me!

I believe that God uses all things for our good and His glory.  I believe that, though I may not see it now, this time in our lives is no different.  Our prayer is that God would use this to draw us closer to Himself, to root us more deeply in the truth of His word, and to do the same for each of you.  If any one of us might taste again (or for the first time) the goodness of God in Jesus, then this time and our pain are not in vain.  Our ultimate joy, and the reason for our hope, is Jesus.  We continue to rejoice in Him, and invite you to do the same.

We love you all and pray God’s blessing over each of your lives.  May you know how deeply God has blessed us in you.

Grace and peace,
Brittany and Adam

March 12, 2012

Guest Blogging

I have a weird history of making friends on Twitter.  I know, don’t judge me.

Well, anyway, I have a new friend named Nicole.  She’s awesome and we get each other.  What makes her even more awesome is that she asked me to be a guest blogger on her website, and my post is up today!  My post is inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

Head on over to Nicole’s website to check it out, leave a comment, browse her awesome posts, and come May, maybe you should buy her new book.

February 13, 2012

I’m sorry, John.

Yesterday morning on our way to church, a homeless man approached me on the subway.  With no regard for the game I was playing on my cell phone, he loudly greeted me, “Hi.”  I look up and say hello, noticing that this man is certainly not in his right mind.  I see Adam turn on “protective husband mode” immediately.

“My name is John.”

Hello, John.

John goes on to explain that he knows a lot about the Bible, that he lives on the train and goes to Coney Island so that he can stay alive.  John throws several expletives in and seems not only mentally unstable, but angry.  Then he says it,

“I’m sick of the way people are treating me.”

His words are like a punch in the gut.  I give John a dollar, tell him to please get something to eat.  And then Adam and I both say to John, “John, we’re sorry for the way people have treated you.”  John looks right at us, says thank you a couple of times, and goes on his way.

And then I watch him approach others.  I watch others blatantly ignore him.  I watch people give him looks of utter disdain and disgust.  I wonder how he deals with that and think it must make him feel less and less human.

But then I watch him sit down.  Adam tells me someone has just asked to pray for him.  So John sits down and this man prays for him and gives him a dollar.  Off John goes again.

At this point I’m crying, realizing how many people like John I’ve neglected.  And I pray that Jesus would give us eyes to see the Johns of this city, the ones who are sick of the way people are treating them.  I pray we would help where we can, bringing physical healing and also the healing words of an Almighty God and a merciful Savior.

I turn my Bible to the parable of the Good Samaritan and read the very words of Jesus.  Who was the man’s neighbor?  Not the priest, not the Levite, but the Samaritan–the one who showed mercy.

Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:30-37)

I’m sorry for the way people have treated you, John.  And I’m sorry for all the times that person has been me.

January 10, 2012

Sponsorship is more than just money.

The first time I sponsored a child, it was through World Vision.  Her name is Ruvimbo and she lives in Zimbabwe.  If I’m being entirely honest, my initial motivation was guilt.  I had been asked to sponsor a child and I felt bad saying no.  I have not always been the best sponsor to this young lady.  I have not written regulary, I have not prayed for her regularly, and there have been times I’ve forgotten to send in the activities World Vision sends me to forward to her.  I am far from being a perfect sponsor.

Last January, when I returned from Ethiopia for the second time, I decided to sponsor another child, this time through Compassion.  My motives were different this time.  I had met my friend Howie, and suddenly realized that sponsorship involved a real child.  I resolved to be a better sponsor (I’m still far from perfect), and knowing I’d return to Ethiopia again, I decided to sponsor a little girl in Ethiopia.  I chose Tigist for a few reasons: 1. She was 3 and I love the idea of being with her as a sponsor from such a young age through the time she graduates; and 2. she lives in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and I knew that would make it an even greater possibility for me to visit someday.

I knew the basics of sponsorship.  I sent pictures and letters.  I received the same in return.  My monthly contributions were automatically withdrawn from my bank account.  It was wonderful to sponsor two girls in Africa and I loved receiving letters from both of them.

Then, last week, I met Tigist and the reality of sponsorship deepened even more than when I’d gotten to know my friend Howie.  Standing in front of me was a sweet little 4-year-old girl who knew exactly who I was.  When we got to her house, my picture was hanging on the mud wall above her bed.  Her mom told us she hadn’t slept the night before, she was so excited.  She had gone around to her neighbors with my photo the day before, declaring that Brittany was coming to visit.

At first, this made me feel like kind of a rockstar.  But now, I’m humbled by the responsibility of sponsorship.  The responsibility I have to love and support and encourage this child that God has entrusted to me through sponsorship.  A responsibility to pray for her and her family, and to point her to Christ in the words that I write.

Can I encourage each of you to consider sponsorship?  There are kids all over the world living in poverty and you can be a part of changing their lives.  But before I romanticize it too much, let me also ask that you consider the weight of sponsorship.  As I told you, I didn’t in the beginning.  I entered in for the wrong reasons and I did not support Ruvimbo as I should have.  Sponsorship is much, much more than the money coming out of your bank account.  The child you sponsor is real, and you are so very real to them.  Sponsorship is a commitment– of your finances, your time, and your prayers.

Sponsorship is weighty, but it’s beautiful.  And it once again reminds me that it is truly better to give than receive.  Except I have to say, I often feel like I get so much more than I give.

I’ve learned that I’m not some distant figure through whom money is channeled.  I am real in Tigist’s life.  And she, more than ever, is real in mine.  Once again, I’m compelled to be a better sponsor.  To love, encourage, and pray for Tigist and Ruvimbo and share with them the love that God has lavished on me in Christ.  They are listening.

“Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Mark 9:37

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

January 9, 2012

Answered Prayer.

Up until my trip to Ethiopia last year, I had resigned myself to the fact that the man I married may be supportive of my love for Ethiopia, but that he probably would not share the same passion for it.  It’s silly, now that I look back.  Thank God, He did not let me settle for that.  As I dated Adam, I saw God begin to put a love for Ethiopia in his heart.  It started out as a small seed, and I am overjoyed and so thankful because I have seen that love sprout into something beautiful.  This is an example of what answered prayer looks like:

 

Adam told me that he knew on our first day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that he wanted to visit again.  The love and compassion that God has placed in his heart through his faith in Jesus is awesome.  During our two weeks in Ethiopia, I watched my husband grieve over brokenness, rejoice in redemption, laugh and play with orphans, kick a soccer ball around with boys who used to live on the street.  I watched God continue to conform him to the image of Christ.  Adam encouraged me, prayed with me, and reminded me of the faithfulness of God.  Often I have heard people said (and said myself) that the goal of marriage is to be more effective for God’s Kingdom together than you would be on your own.  I can confidently say that God has united Adam and I for His purposes and His glory.  I can hardly imagine what He might have for us next!

I can’t wait to share more with you about what God is doing in Ethiopia, and I pray that the things I share would touch your heart and that God would call you to action.  We live in abundance and God’s word says that to whom much is given, much will be required.  Let’s seek Him together and live out the gospel in word and deed.