Author Archives: kayla

leaving behind a ‘bold’ faith

I recently saw an Instagram story of one of my favorite authors/podcasters/”influencers” in which they said they were going to be speaking at a conference for young girls, teaching them how to live boldly as young Christian women. That phrase – live boldly – made me cringe. Then roll my eyes. Then have painful flashbacks of my time in youth group where I, too, was encouraged to live a bold faith.

What I’m about to say…well…write…I write with the utmost respect and love for where I came from: the Church did not make me a disciple of Jesus when I was younger.

I grew up in the height of things like Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames, Sharing Jesus Without Fear, and True Love Waits. And that’s just scratching the surface of the myriad of programs, discipleship tools, etc that we went through in order to live out a bold faith.

I mean, can you imagine? Who wouldn’t become a Christian after sitting through a “theatrical performance” about dying and seeing who’s picked to live in heaven/hell for eternity. THAT STUFF IS CRAZY AND WHY DO WE MAKE KIDS SIT THROUGH IT?!

Also, I have a whole thing about TLW, but I’ll save that for another blog or else this one might turn into a novel.

Moving on.

I grew up believing – and being taught – that as long as I was following the rules laid out before me, sharing Jesus with my friends on a daily basis (per the Roman’s Road layout), and not missing an opportunity to present the Gospel to every stranger I came into contact with, then my faith would be bold and I would be deemed a good Christian.

It was all about the show. All about the numbers.

“Kayla, have you invited _______ to church yet? You said you were going to do that this week.”
“Umm, yes, I have, but they can’t make it…”
“Well, try again, because their eternity is in your hands.”

Ya know, just your average guilt trip for a 14 year old.

So, when I hear someone say they are teaching young girls to live a bold faith, you can see why I would cringe.

My heart begins to ache for a new generation of young women – and men – that might be led to believe that their “boldness” only comes from how well they have Scripture memorized and how many of their friends actually show up to church with them.

But I’m also afraid we’re attributing the wrong actions to the word we’re using.

The definition of bold is: courageous & daring.

Courageous faith is something I can get behind.

Courageous faith doesn’t just spit out a string of memorized verses to her friends in hopes that one or two words will stick.
Courageous faith doesn’t see people as metrics.

Courageous faith bears the burdens of the people around her, regardless of whether or not they convert.
Courageous faith loves people because that’s what Jesus did. He knelt down and started writing in the sand while the religious elite wanted to stone a woman.
Courageous faith cares more about the person across the table’s heart than she cares about reporting back to her youth group on how many times she’s left a tract for the waitress to pick up.

I want us, Church, to stop shaming young kids into conversion – or into trying to get their friends to convert. I want us to teach them how to know Jesus for themselves, growing deep roots of faith in their own hearts. The “do-ing” of faith can come later. Let’s teach them how to know Jesus and be a beloved child of God before anything else.

I’ve seen too many friends that were “on fire” for Christ when we were younger that are now apathetic about Jesus. It’ll take a different post to give my theory on that, but the nutshell is: we weren’t made to be disciples of Christ, we were made to be disciples of a program.

The older I get the more I’m finding that I don’t want to live the bold faith I was told to live when I was younger. I want to live a faith that is settled, secure, and relies fully on the power of the Holy Spirit to transform hearts. I want my courage to come from something other than a certificate I sign at the end of a program. I want my boldness to come from Jesus because He loves me, not because I’m trying to impress Him with my actions.

I’m okay with trading in my old, bold faith for a new heart that is settled in Jesus.

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wait.

Here we go with Kayla’s Word of the Year recap for 2018. I know that my faithful 11 followers (appreciate y’all) have been anticipating this blog drop. Which is quite fitting since it’s about my year of waiting. I’ve just been making you suckers wait, joining in the sometimes agonizing in-between of one thing and another.

That sentence made no sense, but that’s how I live my life.

I’ve never really been one for resolutions. I can remember as a 3rd grader being asked what our New Year’s resolutions were in class and I just shrugged my shoulders when the question got around to me. There’s probably something in that about my inability to be decisive…

But, for the past…well…I don’t know exactly how long, but a while…I have prayed about and landed upon a word of the year.

2018’s word: Wait.

When asked about my word, I found myself hesitating to reveal it, and very quick to defend it once I told.

I feared that people would think I chose wait as my word because I’m the single girl and that’s what single girls do. We wait. For a husband.

But that wasn’t it at all. If anything, I desired the year of waiting to be about everything BUT that. I felt like God was laying it upon my heart to learn what it means to actively wait for Him.

The image above was the lock screen on my phone for the entire year. For 365.25 days, I would raise my phone to see that word and that verse. I was constantly reminded that the Lord is good to those that wait for Him. And (this is of particular importance, I believe), the soul that seeks Him.

I felt an urge from Holy Spirit to sit in anticipation of waiting for God to move. To truly seek Him with my whole soul – my entire self. To wait for His revelation in my life. And ultimately, to wait with expectant hope for Him to return and set all things right.


One thing I think I’m pretty good at is surrounding myself with wise, loving friends. Over a year ago – before the year of wait began – I was sitting with one of those friends, talking about this very idea. About the uncomfortability that exists in the waiting.

“But here’s the thing,” she says as the wisdom starts to seep out, “there are consequences to not waiting. Can you imagine what would’ve happened had the disciples not waited like Jesus told them to? They would’ve missed the Holy Spirit. There are consequences!”

And that sealed it for me. I had to learn how to wait because there would be consequences if I didn’t.


2018 was a weird & difficult one. I was asked to wait in a lot of different areas of life. For reconciliation. For healing. For new life – physically and spiritually. For revelation. For next steps to take. Clarity was given in some areas, and more questions were given in others. But in all, God remained who He always has been: loving and faithful to His people.

Just because the year is over and I’m on to a new word doesn’t mean I’ve gotten this active waiting down. In fact, I’ve seen a pattern over the last few years of my words building off of one another. I believe that in His great mercy, God has simply laid the groundwork for what He’s going to teach me this year.

And truly, I can’t wait.

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share service 2018

Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my church hosts what we call our Share Service. Instead of having a service at 9am & 11am, we all come together to worship at 10am and have the opportunity to get up in front of one another and share how God has moved in our lives, and how Refuge has been a part of that movement. It’s like the church version of Open Mic. ‘Cept the comedy comes from the kids that say the most honest, raw things and there’s no cover charge for getting in or 2 drink minimum. Although we do have coffee and drinking it is encouraged.

I digress. 

This year’s Share Service may have been my most favorite one yet. 

I’ve been attending my church for 8 years and – to my recollection – I have yet to sit through more vulnerability from so many different people. I witnessed people share laughter, tears, heartbreak, and praise – all pointing to the Faithful One who carries and sustains us all. 

After church, I went to lunch with some friends and said to them, “I feel like for so long, so many people have been longing for community in our church. They want it but haven’t been able to figure out where to start – or maybe not even sure if anyone else around the church wants it as much as they do. This morning, so many people shared that they not only want community, but have found it.”

My heart grew so many sizes as one person after another walked to the front – shaky voices, sweaty palms and all – sharing that they experienced God showing up for them through the lives of the people around them. I mean, could you ask for anything more?! 

Maybe my most favorite thing said, that brought me to tears in an instant, was one person’s heartfelt closing: “Thank you for letting us be known here.”

I mean. Come. On.

That is one of the many reasons why I love my church.

I didn’t have the brain space to get up and share in front of my church. Also because sometimes when I have a microphone I can get a little too…shall we say…expository…

But if I had gotten up to share, here’s what I would’ve said:
• I am grateful that God has chosen to name me His Beloved through His Son, Jesus.
• I am grateful that God has placed me in the church He has, to see His people bear His name and pursue Jesus in such a way that the darkness has no place among us.
• I am grateful for a church that listens to the voice of women, allows women to lead, has men that stand in front of women to protect them yet also stand behind women to push them toward who Jesus has made them to be. 
• I am grateful for friends – both in and out of my church – that call me to grace and mercy and are not willing to let me push Jesus away, but rather push me closer to Him.
• I am grateful that God has given me deep, rich, life-giving relationships that fill the desires of my heart in the most unique ways – ways I would have never imagined, yet are perfect for who I am and where I am in my life right now.
• I am grateful for a faithful God that never gives up on an often faithless Bride.
• I am also grateful for friends that don’t let me continue living life in the dark by giving me their favorite books to read and forcing me to watch their favorite movies. Most of which I am rightfully ashamed of myself for never having read/seen to begin with.

I could go on and on, but this feels like it hits the high notes. 

The whole point is – I have much to share and much to be grateful for. At the tail end of a predominately difficult year, it was so good for my heart to hear the stories of people I’m in a church family with, and in turn be reminded of my God who is, and has been, so kind and faithful to me. 


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take & eat

take & eat.png

I’m not sure if I’m focused on this concept because I’m hungry or what, but here we go.

I often forget that the enemy never has the upper hand.

I’m in the middle of a season of crap. Just grey, dreary crap. And it’s not just me, but those I love are in the middle of crap too. It has, simply put, been a really weary season in a lot of different ways.

I have seen up close & personal that the enemy comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And – especially in isolation –  I forget the rest of the story. That Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly.

I love the way Jesus sets it up in John 10:10 – “the enemy does that, I do this.”

Jesus steps in and flips the script on what satan is trying to accomplish.

Which brings me to: “take & eat.”

In Genesis 3, we read about the serpent tempting Eve. He taunts her with, “Did God actually say…” – manipulating God’s truth and planting doubt in Eve’s mind. And she falls for it. The enemy essentially says, “Take and eat. You’ll be fine! God just doesn’t want you to eat this fruit because you’ll be like Him. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to be your own god?”

So, she takes & eats.
And so does Adam.

And in comes brokenness and disobedience and shame and separation from the Holy One who created them.

The enemy does that.

Then Jesus does this:

And when the hour came, he [Jesus] reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-20

Jesus’ invitation to His disciples: take & eat.

He redeemed that which the enemy marred.
He took the invitation that ushered in death and remade it into an invitation that brings life.
He made the meal and the invitation new.

And guess what?

He’s going to do it again.

When Christ returns – just as He said He would – and sets all things right, we’re going to have another meal together.

I imagine being at the marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus standing at the head of the table with a glass raised high, arms outstretched and declaring to all in attendance, “Take & eat.”

It makes me weepy thinking about how God is actively making all that the enemy has broken new and whole once again. How even in the middle of what feels like death, satan still doesn’t have the upper hand.

All of the crap, all of the weariness, is being pierced with light and given fresh life. The season is being restored, whether I can see it happening in the here & now or not.

It is.
Jesus is still in the business of giving life and giving it abundantly.
He is still flipping the script on the lies the serpent tries to tell His people.

The bread might be dry, and the wine a little bitter, but the invitation to take & eat is enough hope to hold on to for today.

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psalm 34

psalm 34
Have you ever seen the movie, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story?
That’s what I feel like a lil bit, not having written in a hot minute.
And if you haven’t – go watch it right now. One of the more underrated animated movies of 1993.
Back to the point, Smith.
Hello, world. We continue with your regularly scheduled programming of a look through the Psalms.
Psalm 34.
The header of this psalm in most Bibles is: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good.
If I could describe my greatest desire for the people in my life, it is that they would taste and see that the Lord is good.
A few years ago I had the honor of being on a panel at my church, discussing the importance of reading scripture and why it is such an important part of my relationship with God.
One of the final questions asked was, “What draws you in to Scripture?”
My answer, through tears, was, “I’ve experienced Jesus and I’ve experienced His goodness, and I can’t stay away. I am changed. I am a different person because of the truth of Scripture.”
And the truth is, I truly am a different person because of Jesus.
His Word changes me.
The angel of the Lord encamps around me and delivers me.
The Lord is near to me – the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
He delivers me out of all afflictions.
But the trouble in my heart comes when I read David writing things like, “I will bless the Lord at all times…My soul makes its boast in the Lord…”
Because that is def.in.ite.ly not true of me.
Often, I bless myself.
I boast in my own accomplishments.
OR (and this one cuts deep) I wallow in my own self-pity.
My woe-is-me temperament takes full control and all I want to do is sit in a pit of despair, begging for others to join me in my demise.
But then.
I consider Jesus.
And I know in the deepest part of my soul that He truly is near to the brokenhearted.
As Peter said, “Lord, where else should I go? You have the words of eternal life!”
I know David’s words to be true.
I know that God is nearer than any.
I know that He is truer than any.
I know that His mercies are new every morning.
I know that He is more steadfast than I can even wrap my brain around.
And yet.
I doubt His goodness.
Often, because I’ve lost my taste.
I’ve decided to eat the bread that the world offers instead of feasting from the Bread of Life.
On good days, I can proclaim with full confidence that I will hunger no more because of the sustenance that God offers through redemption in Jesus.
On bad days, I can softly whisper that I am fighting to reach the crumbs on the floor – crawling to get back to Jesus’ table side – because I know that only there will I find fullness of life.
But the crawl might give me scrapes on my knees.
The effort often seems too daunting.
It’s hard to comprehend that it’ll be worth it.
Yet.
I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
So I’m going to keep fighting for that meal.
Cut up knees and all, I want to keep tasting and seeing that the Lord truly is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 34
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