Midday Connection

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Archive for the tag “God’s love”

Midday blog: Failure in Love

The late founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and author of The Mark of a Christian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote about Jesus’ desire for His people. (You can find it in John 13:34, 35.)

“The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.” (italics mine) He adds: “That’s pretty frightening.” I agree. Since Jesus gave the world the authority to judge us, we might ask ourselves, “How are we doing?”

From my perch, more and more I am struck with increasing polarization within our evangelical community. Of course, we will often find differences in our interpretation of God’s truth. (Not much different from the differences of the early churches, right? Take a look at the letters of the New Testament as well as books that cover early church history.) But how are we handling those conversations in these days? Are we expressing our thoughts cautiously, kindly, lovingly with old-fashioned good manners, or do we use combative, superior, self-righteous language? I fear the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, blogs), with its opportunities for a growing number of faceless conversations, has given us a false sense of empowerment to frame our thoughts and responses in boldly Jesus-vision-less ways.

Schaeffer sums up, “In other words, if people come up to us and cast in our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative Jesus gave them.”

Or in Jesus words,  “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Ah, there it is: humility.

God, please give us hearts of love toward our own, so that we may authentically show the world: we are Yours!

Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidtMelinda Schmidt

Midday blog: Simply Loving

Recently, I visited what is probably one of the most deplorable gypsy communities here in Romania. The gypsies are our stereotyped group of people. They are the kind that you do not want to have anything to do with, the kind you avoid, look down on, or think very little of.  So there I was, waiting outside of the church for some people, when Cristina, a 10 year old, approached me.  She saw the kind of clothes I was wearing, the kind of car I climbed out of, the kind of people I was visiting with, and she kept herself pretty distant at first. It seemed like she was afraid of something. Five minutes later though, she jumped into my arms, and right there to me was one of those moments when I was convinced, once again, that I am to share or offer my love regardless of the response. It really did not matter at all that she was dirty, sticky, and smelly. Her embrace was a loud enough cry for love.

But that truth resonated with me deeper inside; it actually made me think of my friends, not just the people that are hard to love. In the past few years the dynamics of most my relationships have changed. Some friends got married, others moved, others became more involved in different communities, and so on. Plus, my constant transition in between Romania and the U.S. has not really helped either. So I became frustrated. Truly, many friendships have been born along these years, but also many of my friendships have been tested and have become quite hurtful. During these years, I have had friends who never invested the same amount love and care as I did; friends who compared me with others, or pressured me with all sort of expectations; friends that genuinely did not know how to love back on me; friends that I lost. But these are also people that I know I have to offer love to regardless of the response.

You see, when Christ entrusted us with the second greatest commandment, He did not condition our love.  Quite the opposite, He asked us to love our neighbor just as much as we love ourselves. He asked us to simply love. How many times do we make the mistake of loving with expectations? Including our friends and family…

So I challenge you to think about how you offer your love. What is that person in your life that you know you should be simply loving?

Adelina GhileaAdelina Ghilea comes from the city of Arad, Romania. Her previous experience as a volunteer radio show host and producer not only deeply shaped her vocation and calling, but also brought her to Moody Bible Institute. She is currently a senior in the communications department and is serving as station manager for the campus station. Adelina is also serving with JoyFm, a new Reach Beyond (HCJB Global) radio plant in her hometown. After graduation, she is planning to return home and invest in the ministry there. Twitter: @AdeGhilea

Midday Blog: His Sovereignty in the Unknown

Don’t God’s responses to your questions usually surprise you? Don’t they seem to make no sense at times?  We ask questions because we obviously need some answers, answers that contain information our hearts are longing for.  We feel pressure, nervousness, fear, and so on.

We’ve all encountered situations when we don’t seem to be fit at all for the task assigned.  A speech in front of a multitude? A new position at work or in your church? A friend asking you for advice or people seeking your help?

Some of us, though, face tougher situations. Maybe you didn’t know how you were going to provide for your family the very next day. Maybe you had to make a decision such as ending a relationship or stepping down from a position at work.

The unknown is all around us, yet the good news are that we belong to an all-knowing God, the One who has total knowledge, awareness, and understanding. Nothing escapes His mind and nothing takes Him by surprise. His answers to our questions are the most suitable ones. They might not make sense when given to us and they might not fulfill our longing, but they are what we need to hear.

In Exodus 3 we see God revealing to Moses through the burning bush. In this particular theophany, He calls Moses to rescue His chosen people from under the Egyptian bondage (talk about the unknown!). Moses’ immediate question is: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (verse 11)  Naturally we would expect God to start pointing to Moses’ strengths and explain to him why is he the chosen one for this task.  But, God gives the unexpected answer: “Certainly I will be with you…” (verse 12).

Moses asks who is he to take on such a responsibility and God answers by telling Moses that He will be with Him.  Doesn’t that seem the answer to a different question? You are asking God one thing, and He tells you another. He tells you He will undoubtedly be there with you. When He gives you the unexpected answers, know that those are the best. And in the darkest unknown, be sure that He is there with you.

Adelina GhileaAdelina Ghilea comes from the city of Arad, Romania. Her previous experience as a volunteer radio show host and producer not only deeply shaped her vocation and calling, but also brought her to Moody Bible Institute. She is currently a senior in the communications department and is serving as station manager for the campus station. Adelina is also serving with JoyFm, a new Reach Beyond (HCJB Global) radio plant in her hometown. After graduation, she is planning to return home and invest in the ministry there. Twitter: @AdeGhilea

Midday blog: Does Fear Hold You Back?

I’m all about communicating Freedom to Women. I believe that is my calling but often I find that fear holds me back. Fear is the antithesis of freedom. So how can we live free and fearless? A number of years ago God answered that question for me in an unexpected way.

A piece of my story is about divorce. I went through a divorce about 12 years ago and one of my biggest fears was that life was over, I was finished, all washed up! God couldn’t use a divorced woman. I believed I’d been sidelined. That’s what some people told me, and that was my perception after growing up and spending most of my life inside the Church. God, however, had another idea! He sent some amazing people into my life to speak a different message into my heart and soul, a message of life, hope and healing. Today I speak to thousands of women every day on Midday Connection and get to share that same message of freedom and healing and life.

Here is one of my favorite verses in Scripture on the topic of freedom, Galatians 5:1.  “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” How about it, will you stay free along with me?

What’s your story? What is one of your biggest fears that you’ve watched God dismantle as he helped you see His truth?

Anita LustreaAnita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Guest blog: Worry

worryIt’s amazing the way that God is so completely in control of all things. I’ve spent so much time in my life functioning like I have a say, like I get to choose what happens to me. But really, I’m so…

Small.

Who am I to look to the God who created all things, Universe and imaginary numbers included, and say “I know better than You”? Doesn’t it just make sense that He would know what He’s doing? I mean, He created time, He exists outside of time. He created. He thought of, designed, built time, life, death, chess, jazz, cheese, water, hamsters, salted-carmel… Pick something. Anything. God is in complete and utter control of it.

So why – why would He not know entirely what is to become of me, a created, who interacts with a His other created things that He knows perfectly?  He created all things, He controls all things, He knows what He’s doing. He’s got me. I’m going to be ok. No matter what happens, no matter how good or bad it is, I’m covered.

Life is out of my control. But it’s in His hands.

That is terrifying. But absolutely wonderful.

Matthew 6:25-34

 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

lizdooganElizabeth (Liz) is a Senior at Moody Bible Institute, majoring in Communications. After working with Midday Connection as their Office Assistant for a year and a half, she began interning at Moody Radio Chicago. Elizabeth hopes to pursue a career in radio, and works with Moody Campus Radio as its Senior Program Director. In her free time she spends time with friends, tweets, and explores Chicago.

Guest blog: Astonished By the Lengths God Will Go To Reveal Jesus

 Midday Connection is re-airing a series on Pursuing God’s Beauty from June 6-July 18 where you can join Anita Lustrea and a small group as they go through the Gospel of John.  This week you’re invited to dive into John 1-3 and the stories of those who encountered Jesus in the Bible.  Psst… It’s not too late to join us! Click here to learn more. 

I don’t remember the first time I went forward to the altar to commit my life to Jesus, but I do remember going forward many, many times. Sometimes the invitation to follow Jesus was issued in the context of the goodness and love of God, and I’d run for the altar. Other times the invitation to follow Jesus was issued in the context that if we didn’t become followers of Jesus, we’d have the consequences of hell. And I’d also run for the altar—but those times faster!

In fact, I went forward so many times, I remember one day a loving teaching put her hand on my shoulder and pulled me aside. “Margaret, do you know that you only need to forward once to become a follower of Jesus?”

I had no idea.

She began to explain the truths that my parents had discovered years before, namely, that salvation is a gift given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. She helped me understand that salvation is not just being saved from the consequences of sin but being saved for relationship with Jesus. That it was not something I had to keep running to the altar for every week. This gentle teacher opened my eyes to the person of Jesus and helped me to encounter him in a more meaningful way.

As I grew older, Jesus began revealing Himself to me as I’d read through the Scripture. My faith was sparked through stories of other people who shared how they met and encountered Jesus and the transformational miracles he’d done in their lives.

We all have different stories, unique portraits of the ways we first encountered Jesus. Each of us is a mini-portrait of the beautiful work of God. Our stories are not meant to be tucked away but put on display for the world to see.

How did you first encounter the person of Jesus?

Margaret FeinbergMargaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive and Extraordinary Women. Her books and Bible studies have sold over 600,000 copies and received critical acclaim and extensive national media coverage from CNN, the Associated Press, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and more. Margaret currently lives in Morrison, Colorado, with her husband, Leif and their superpup, Hershey. Follow her on Facebook (Margaret Feinberg) and Twitter (@MaFeinberg).

Listener blog: A Matter of Perspective

There is someone in my extended family for whom I have prayed regularly for years.  She is a Christ-follower…but seems not to be concerned about how others perceive her attitudes and behavior.

Realizing that it was not my place to correct or direct her, I prayed specifically about certain aspects of her character that I thought surely the Lord would want to work on to improve her image as a Christian.  Knowing that God knows more about her and can speak to her in ways that I cannot, I began to pray, “Lord, help her to see herself as you see her.”

I felt satisfied that I had hit upon the best approach to God on her behalf…until this morning during my prayer time.  I prayed as usual, “Lord, help her to see herself as you see her,” and then words came out of my mouth that I had never intended to pray—“and help me to see her as you see her.”  I literally jumped and almost said, “No, Lord, I meant to say…” But I stopped in awe of what had just happened…and conviction flooded my heart. The Holy Spirit had led me to pray in the way that I should have been praying all along.

God doesn’t need me to point out what’s wrong in the life of his children; Satan is already the champion accuser. Rather than focusing on the negative, I am beginning to look for things that God sees in this woman as praiseworthy, and then thank him for them, trusting him to continue to work in her life.  God needs me to see her as he sees her—his child under construction…just like me.

donna sparksDonna Pharr Sparks refers to herself as “an expired English teacher,” because after becoming a stay-at-home mom ten years into her career, she allowed her certificate to expire.  She still loves using her writing skills and has been published in several magazines, including Family Circle and Woman’s Day.  A native of Chattanooga, Donna lives with her husband, Ray, in Murfreesboro, TN.  She enjoys working with children at her church and cherishes fun times with three of her four grandchildren. She has to settle for Skyping with the fourth one, who lives in Germany.

Midday blog: Receiving

I’ve never been very good at receiving.  Complements, gifts, and thanks are nice, but it’s hard for me to just receive them. I enjoy being the giver so much more – knowing I’ve helped someone, made the load a little lighter for them…and yes, it makes me feel good about myself.  Receiving feels vulnerable.

Recently, my husband and I found ourselves with a large, unexpected bill with no way to pay it. Since my husband lost his job, we’ve struggled financially and this bill felt like another boulder on our shoulders. Close friends of ours suggested that we talk to our church.  I tentatively sent an email to our benevolence fund team. I struggled with feeling shame, failure, defeat, and fear.  Would they tell us what we know we deserve: “You made your bed and now you have to lie in it.”  I dreaded getting a response to my email – at times hoping they would say no and other times praying they would say yes.  Amazingly, after a grace-filled conversation with the benevolence fund team, we were given some money to pay our bill. I vacillated between waves of shame, relief, embarrassment, gratitude, tears, and laughter.

After this humbling and amazing generosity, I’ve been pondering receiving.  What does it look like to swim freely in the joy of receiving a gift of generosity?  I don’t deserve any of it.  But, what a beautiful, tangible, in-my-face demonstration of God’s grace and mercy toward me!  In this season, I feel like God is teaching me to just let go and bask in the love, care, generosity, and support of His people. And I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t a kind of offense to the giver to not enjoy the gift?

What about you? Do you struggle with receiving?

Lori NeffLori Neff is the senior producer of Midday Connection and editor/contributor for Daily Seeds: From Women Who Walk in Faith and Tending the Soul (Moody Publishers). She grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. Lori is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John (and their three fiesty cats). For more information and her blog please visit Lori’s website.

Listener blog: Courage

courage ritaOh, Dear Papa, me grow up?!   What does that really mean? Will I look like what everyone else thinks I should, will I be free to be a fun-loving, kid-loving, Jesus-loving gal?   Or am I really a quiet woman, always thinking up question after question, trying to find answers to all the ‘big’ questions?  Classical music or Bluegrass?  Writing books, or just reading them?  I believe…. if I keep my heart and mind focused on You…. knowing and believing that You will continue the work you started in me (Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  NIV) that You will!!  Could you please give me the courage to do so?!   Thank you, Papa!!! amen

Do you sometimes find it difficult to just be yourself? What fear is holding you back?

rita beedy

Rita Beedy is a wife, mother, grandma, rural mail carrier.

Midday blog: Sitting in Darkness

This Friday I will end up sitting in the dark for a while. My church does a tenebrae style service for Good Friday. For those unfamiliar with this style, it slowly gets darker throughout the service as candles are extinguished, until at the end the sanctuary is in complete darkness.

Going to Good Friday services was not something that I experienced growing up, however I have grown to appreciate in recent years the role that a Good Friday service plays in the liturgical calendar. We seem to often skim over the fact that Christ died as we rush toward His resurrection. Stop and think about that, the son of God…the creator of the world…died. This was a real death, and so I’ve learned that by celebrating “Passion Week” in more of it’s fullness, I understand that better.

This Friday I will end up sitting in darkness, a period to reflect on the death of Christ, and to mourn His death. Part of mourning His death involves reflecting on the reason that it was necessary. Sitting with the gravity and weight of this event is important. It makes the light that is coming on Sunday morning that much more joyful. There is a day though in-between Friday and Sunday, and I try to make a point of continuing to focus on remembering Christ’s death on Saturday as well because Easter is not here yet…it’s coming, the light is starting to break through.

This is a time when we can also look forward to our eternal hope, right now much of our world is still shrouded in darkness…but we can see cracks of light breaking through and in the end, we will live in a world that is encompassed in light. In the meantime we must be the light of the world. So while we sit in the darkness, let us contemplate Christ, the great cost that he paid, and look for those points of light.

As one song I appreciate puts it:

Deep in the darkest night,

when there’s no spark of hope,

we must be points of light

piercing the darkness.

Bright as the dazzling stars

in an indifferent sky

and in our cruelest hour when hope is gone,

we’ll raise our heads

and we’ll journey on.

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

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