Monday, March 28, 2011

Bigger Picture

Check out this song by Matthew West called "My Own Little World." It's on my playlist today and I pray I can do what it says.

This week, I am hitting my book hard. I am determined to finish several chapters that are pivotal to the story by the end of the week. Ironically, as I write my character is inspiring me.

My character's name is Kaylan. She is a recent college graduate choosing between her dream education and career and a calling. She leaves everything behind to serve in Haiti. Idealistic and inexperienced, she arrives in Haiti and sees the breadth of misfortune and hard living. How can she make a difference in this small country where so much is wrong? Can one person possibly change the course?

As I write her experience and read blogs of those who actually serve in Haiti, I am convicted. I live such a comfortable existence in comparison to the plight of Haiti. I have never had to consider where my next meal will come from or sell my body for a roof over my head or a meal. I have never lost or experienced something as large as the earthquake or hurricanes that have shaken the country over the last few years.

As the Body of Jesus Christ we are called to serve, not just in the midst of crisis, but daily in everything.

"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”Acts 20:35

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."1 Peter 4:10

"The greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 23:11

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Galatians 5:13-14

Notice the reoccuring words? Give, serve, love just as Christ did! How could we do any different? I am praying about ways I can serve and meet the needs of others, not just in Haiti but where I live. What can you do to get out of your comfort zone to serve others? Not out of a guilty conscience, but from the overflow of loving Jesus and a desire to mimic His behavior.

"What if there's a bigger picture? What if I'm missing out? What if there's a greater purpose I could be living right now? I don't want to miss what matters." Purpose only comes from knowing Jesus Christ and following Him.

More on this thought can be found HERE on a post from last October. Check it out!

© Kariss Lynch, Video belongs to Matthew West, found on

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Choose Joy (Part 2)

In the last month, my family has experienced the deaths of four people close to us. It has been difficult to say the least. My heart has felt heavy. I have fought tears and dug for strength and understanding. I didn't question God's goodness in this situation. He is still God and still good despite my circumstance. But I did wonder why. Three of the four were under 21 years of age.

One of these friends lost his joy. It pains my heart that he forgot the hope and power that comes from being a child of God. Is it difficult for you to understand joy that comes from an unknown, unseen God? Let's see if I can explain. Remember the last time you were truly, completely happy? Were you with a loved one? Did that feeling last past the moment? Now imagine that feeling rooted at the very heart of you. Multiply it times ten and imagine that it doesn't go away. It stays on the bad days and in difficult times. It reassures you when you cry or are angry or hurt.

The only way this kind of deep rest and contentment sticks is with a relationship with Jesus Christ. He doesn't abandon you when you are less than pleasant. He doesn't give up on you when you continue to fall to your  addiction. He doesn't shy away from your tears and anger. You may not feel happy, but you feel loved and content and with that comes joy that doesn't go away.

When these people passed away, I felt heavy, confused, sad, and closed off. I forgot the joy promised to me in Christ. But this week, the Lord has reminded me in so many sweet ways. I am learning to daily thank Him for the blessings, especially the smallest ones like making it through a particularly difficult work out or receiving a letter from a friend. When I remember the smallest blessings, when I remember how big my God is and that He already knew about these deaths, I remember who I am in Him and I have joy. I choose to look to the only One who can bring me that sense of peace and contentment and happiness.

"But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You." Psalm 5:11

"But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation." Psalm 13:5

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." Psalm 28:7

"For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

"You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy." Psalm 30:11

"In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." Psalm 33:21

"Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in Him; let all the upright in heart praise Him!" Psalm 64:10

All these verses point to the Lord being our joy. If we look to our circumstances for joy that surpasses the moment, no wonder we lose hope! We began another war this week. People are dying. The economy still suffers.

And yet...

Jesus Christ is still God. He is still in control. He knows the cry of our hearts. He loves us so much He died for us. No other God could or would do that. The Bible says to take heart because the Lord has overcome the world. Joy comes in the morning. (Check out my last post on joy HERE if you want to read more. It is the most read post on my blog.) I pray that you look to Jesus Christ to find limitless joy. When we focus on Him, there is joy even in the midst of hardship because we are rejoicing in the One who already overcame our suffering!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Your Life

In the 2003 underwater adventure, Finding Nemo,  a group of seagulls know one word: MINE. I think the sole focus of the seagull accurately reflects the culture to which I belong, a culture focused on "me" and "mine."

"It's my life. I'll do what I want, when I want, and how I want."

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you've said it yourself.

In reality, it is your life. You make choices you have to live with and you say and do things that you are responsible for. But the question becomes...

What are you going to do with it?

Listen to this song "It's Your Life" by Francesca Battistelli from her album My Paper Heart.

"Everyday the choices you make say what you are and who your heart beats's your life." The Bible says in Matthew 6:24, ""No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." You can't serve both yourself and the Lord. You will serve one. Will you be as the single-minded seagulls only able to say, "Mine?" Or will you be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who, when the angel came to tell her she would bear the Messiah, said, "'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.'" (Luke 1:38)

A statement like that requires a denial of self. Let's face it, we are hardwired to look out for Number 1. Are you willing to surrender the ownership of your life for something better? I pray that daily I become more and more devoted to serving Jesus. I have a long way to go. I can be so selfish and prideful. Nemo's misadventure started with doubting the wisdom of his father. Nemo thought he knew best. It was his life and he wanted to make the decisions. In the end, all he wanted was to swim home. Luckily, he had a father who would do anything to save him. Like Nemo, will you come home to the Father in Heaven who has been waiting and searching for you? Will you stop seeking your own adventure and wait and see the amazing plans the Lord has promised to fulfill in your life?

It's your life. What are you going to do with? Who will people say that you serve?

Photos copyright of Disney. Video contents copyright of Francesca Battistelli

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lespwa Means Hope

If you know me at all, you know that I love to study Greek mythology, not because I believe it is accurate but because it accurately portrays the human condition apart from God. The story of Pandora's Box is no different.

Pandora was the first woman to live and her creation was a combined effort by all of the gods. Pandora opened a box given to her by the gods that contained all the ailments of mankind. In her curiosity, she released all evil to plague the earth and only hope remained inside. It is said that as long as hope remains within the box, mankind can combat evil and overcome, but if hope is ever released, mankind has given up the fight against evil.

As I have researched Haiti, I have come to the realization that if any nation in the western world has reason to give up hope, it is this tiny country. The living conditions are terrible - water is undrinkable, homes are made of metal and wood pieces, many cannot afford food that nourishes themselves or their children, the government is corrupt, jobs are scarce, children live on the streets or in orphanages, the education system does not foster learning and continued education. And now damage from the earthquake has only increased the devastation. Haiti seems HOPELESS.

But that is not a word in the Lord's vocabulary.

Because we know He has compassion for the lost, lonely, poor, broken, and weary, we know He looks at the Haitians and feels their pain. But He promises HOPE! Hope for you in your situation and hope for Haiti. He meets us at our point of need...

Romans 5:5 - "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Hebrews 6:3 - "But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ."

Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Even in a seemingly hopeless situation the Lord promises a future and a hope. I attended a worship service this week where a group of guys in their 20s presented a message and a method of hope for the Haitian people. The campaign is called "Lespwa Means Hope." In Haitian Creole, "lespwa" is the word for "hope." These guys are committed to changing one life at a time, and maybe, over time, a nation will be changed. Please check out their website if you are interested in knowing more or helping. There are many needs in this small nation and you can help and give hope to those who may have none.

If your situation seems hopeless, run to Jesus. Email me or leave a message and I would love to talk with you. He sees your need and has compassion. Then He extends His hand to you and offers eternal hope, a hope and joy that can only come from knowing Jesus Christ. He is the Great I AM of HOPE.

"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 23:18

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Like Grew to Love - Growing to Love Haiti

"God of Justice" by Tim Hughes, posted on youtube with a slide show of Africa
In the 2001 romantic comedy, The Wedding Planner, the main character, Mary, is under pressure from her father to marry a man he has picked. When Mary balks at the idea, her father tells her of his own arranged marriage saying this, "Respect grew to like. Then like grew to love. A deeper love than I could ever have hoped for." This is how I feel about Haiti.

In March 2010, I sat in a classroom substitute teaching and wrote a graphic scene of a girl in the midst of the Haiti earthquake. I have never been to Haiti but my emotions were stirred from the horrific quake that devastated the nation and from the struggles of a childhood friend who was caught in the effects and aftermath. Over the year that has followed the story has taken on a life of its own. When I first heard of the earthquake, I felt pity. I was broken-hearted for the people, but it remained at that. I prayed for the people there, prayed for my friend who struggled, prayed for the people who lost loved ones, and prayed for recovery. As I have researched for this book, my pity has grown to compassion. I am involved. I grow alert every time I hear the word "Haiti", I talk to everyone in my life who has been about their stories and love for the country, and I feel my heart shifting from like to love - from pity to compassion to passion.

It is an interesting progression and one I can no longer ignore. I pray that if the Lord allows this book to be published, I will be able to donate some of the money towards the multitude of activities going on in Haiti to make it a stronger country. In identifying my dawning compassion, I was struck with the depth of Jesus' compassion for us. He is the great I AM of COMPASSION. Compassion is defined as a sympathy and empathy for the suffering and less fortunate and is a trait of love itself. Does it blow your mind that the God of the Universe has compassion for the broken places in your life? That humbles me. In the Bible, He cares so much that Jesus cried for those who saw who were broken and in pain. See if you can identify with any of these verses.

Weary and Burdened - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Weak and Young in Faith - He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11

Those wrestling with Temptation - "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18

Broken-hearted - "When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don’t cry.'" Luke 7:13 (widow who lost her son)
                         - "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept." John 11:33-35 (best friend, Lazarus, died)

Sick/Diseased - "And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, 'If You are willing, You can make me clean.' Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed.'" Mark 1: 40-41

Poor - "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat." Mark 8:2

Lost - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

The last verse is the ultimate act of compassion, the all-consuming result of a love so deep that it is willing to sacrifice. That is the depth of Jesus Christ's love for you. He sees you in your poor, broken, sick, weak, and weary state and His heart breaks over you. He is there asking you to reach out to Him and allow Him to heal you and pour out His compassion and love on you.  

Someone once told me that if I prayed to have but a drop of the Lord's compassion for others it would break my heart. I don't know if I can handle that. But I pray that my compassion moves me to action on the behalf of others - whether that means prayer, raising awareness, or going to serve in person. Rest in the great I AM's compassion for you! And then take that compassion and turn it into action. Serve, share, help others. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

May He fill us up and send us out to show His compassion to others.