Where Belief and Behavior Collide

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home. Not without its faults. My parents did their best to teach me how to Love God and Love People. They did their best to teach me what God was teaching them. I was (and still am if I’m honest) a headstrong, do it my own way, kinda girl. I’m a kinesthetic learner, I have to learn by doing. And most of my younger years was learning by what not to do before I learned what to do. Ya dig?

As a parent, I look back at my parents, and I am so thankful . They didn’t have it all together, but what parent does? They were learning as they went and I was the first born. My parents were not the only voices in my life. And I believe that they shouldn’t be. I don’t want to be the only voice in my children’s’ lives. That’s why Jamie and I are pouring into the community around us. We are doing our best to pour into the lives of our friends and our family. So the voices speaking into the lives of our children are strong and believable.

I was raised around some strong women. My mom, my grandmothers and my aunts. They all did their best to speak truth into my heart. But I was headstrong and didn’t come to an understanding of who Jesus was and how much he loved me until after I had graduated from high school. And it was hard.
There was a season in my life when I felt like I had grown up in the church and around beautiful Christian women and friends who had it “all together” and I didn’t have the right to ask for help. I felt like I had to figure it out all on my own. But Friends, if that’s you today, please hear me when I say NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER. We are all working it day by day. Sometimes we’re taking one step forward and two steps back. If you have questions, ask them. If you need help, ask for it.



Throughout the month of June, I’ve been working through the book of Titus with SHEREADSTRUTH and it’s been wonderful. I’ve been working through it with a new friend. And I want to go on the record as saying that I am so thankful for her! I am so thankful for the SRT community and the encouragement that I find there. I am so thankful for the way that God works in my life.
One of the best and most rewarding seasons in my life was working as a Student Ministry Intern at my church. I was horrible at it! I had no clue what I was doing. I was still very young in my own faith.  And I was supposed to be pouring into the lives of young girls and teaching them how to be women of God. I was just learning what that meant my own self. Let me just stop here to say this: You don’t have to know it all to teach someone else. But, you can’t teach what you don’t know.

I think we can look at a book like Titus and get really overwhelmed. I think we can see it as a list of rules to follow knowing full well that we’ll never be able to keep them. I know for me, if I don’t do something well, I see it as a failure and if I know I’m going to fail, well then I just don’t do it at all. But that’s the beauty of our relationship with Christ, right? We can’t do it well.  Just like our salvation, we did nothing to deserve it. We did nothing to make it work. The only thing we do is surrender. We surrender to mercy that’s given to us. We surrender to the grace that covers us. We surrender to Jesus who works in and through us for the sake of the kingdom. The beauty of our salvation is that it changes us from the inside out.
So the book of Titus, it’s a letter written by Paul to Titus who is building up the church on the Island of Crete. This particular culture was a very morally deviant place. Word had gotten back to Paul that some false teaching had seeped in from the culture into the church. So, Paul writes a letter to Titus giving him direction for getting the church back on track. I loved the notes in my bible, “The theme of Titus is the inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior. The truth is the basis for its critique of false teaching as its instruction in Christian living and qualifications for church leaders.” I loved that … “the inseparable link between faith and practice, belief and behavior…”

1.       Set up qualified leaders. Because a health church must be lead by healthy leaders.

2.       Community is very important. The qualifications of a healthy believer need to not only be lived out in each man and women, but must be taught from one generation to the next.

3.       Any distraction from truth must be cut off. Don’t let the enemy take hold of anything. When we start to fight about petty things, we take our eyes off of the gospel and the ministry of the gospel. Don’t get distracted.
That’s pretty much Titus. If you believe God, do what He says. You will be known by your actions. So here is the big part for me. Community. It’s a big thing in my life right now because we are made for relationship! We are not meant to do this life alone. You can take it back to Acts 2 where the church was eating and teaching together, essentially doing life together DAILY! I believe this is one way that the enemy has really taken root in the American church. And it breaks my heart. We have been taught that we can do and have it all. And Friends, that is a lie. We can’t. We are meant to lean into each other for encouragement, for accountability and for ministry that’s bigger than we are. Friends, that encouragement is not words only. That’s mothers leaning into other mothers. That’s physical help for the purpose of mental  and spiritual healing. How many mothers out there can agree with me that we need some physical help? I’m not just speaking to mothers who work outside of the home or mothers who work inside the home. I’m speaking to all mothers! That’s husbands leaning into other husbands. That’s men asking the tuff questions of each other. That’s men encouraging each other in purity of heart and mind. That’s opening up your life in a way that others are not afraid to speak into it. And that is hard!

When we really get into the nitty gritty of Titus 2 where the older men and women are told to pour into the lives of the younger generation, that is a scary thing, but it’s oh so necessary. And again I will say, it’s one area that the American church is failing at. We have mothers hiding behind doors broken at the thought they are failing as a mother. We have marriages that are suffering because they have bought into the lie of having it all. And we need older, wiser voices speaking into our lives to encourage and push us toward Jesus. And we need it now.
Earlier I said that one of my favorite seasons of life was as a Student Ministry Intern at my church. I had only been a believer for a few years and was still very young in my own faith. I was scared out of my mind that those high school girls would figure out that they knew more than I did. There was a group of girls that were so thirsty for truth and would push me to study and grow. I had to if I wanted to keep up with them. You can not teach what you do not know, so I spent many nights pouring over God’s word just so I could answer a question. It was an unbelievable time of growth for me. And I am so thankful for it. I don’t know if those sweet girls will ever know how much they still mean to me.

 My point is, we think we have to know everything before we can pour into someone else’s life. And that’s not true. Oh Friend, it’s so not true. You teach what you know until you’ll all out of information and then you go learn something new and then teach that. Mentoring is not just sitting around a coffee shop table with your bible open, it’s a phone call in the middle of the day to make sure she’s ok. It’s sitting on a park bench with a mom while her kids play. It happens on a yoga mat holding hands during prayer. It’s passing along recipes and maybe even watching the kids while she gets to spend an hour at the grocery store alone. (Hopefully it’s a Kroger with a Starbucks in the middle. Yeah, that’s one of the main reasons I shop at Kroger.) It’s simply investing into someone else’s life for the sake of the kingdom. It’s loving.
So Friends, let me ask the tuff questions real quick …

1.       Who has invested in your life? Do you have a mentor? If not, look around for an older woman in your line of sight and ask her out to coffee. Be intentional.

2.       Who are you investing in? Is there someone who God has placed on your heart?
I love you Friends. I really truly do. I am so thankful for you and your voice in my life. I am so thankful for the comments here and through email and through other social media. I am thankful for the men and women who have spoken truth into my life over the years. Even when it was painful. I have no idea what I would be without them.

But most of all, I’m thankful for a God who loves me. Not some future version of me. But that He loves me right where I am. Without the Cross of Jesus Christ, my life would mean nothing. It’s all about the Grace that covers me. And Friends, I don’t want anyone around me to miss knowing that as well. How dare I pick and choose who gets to hear the gospel? So pray for me Friends, as I am praying for you, that I am living out the gospel through my words and my actions in such a way that others see Him and not me. Pray with me for us, the church, no matter where in the world you are, that our beliefs and behaviors collide.

18 comments :

  1. Lovely! Visiting from SRT and enjoyed tremendously. So many good suggestions!! Blessings.
    Nannette a.k.a. Candacejo ♥

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    1. Thanks Nannette! I hope you stop by again soon. Grace and Peace to you Friend. ~Annie

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Annie! You're so right - none of us have it together, but we all need others to walk through life with (messes and all).

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Find a sister and hold her hand. Walk this road together Friend!

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  3. Stopped by from SRT. I loved reading your perspective!

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    1. So glad you stopped by! Hope to see you again Friend.

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    1. I love you too my sweet Mama! Thank you for pouring your life into mine.

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  5. Annie, thank you for highlighting the importance of community! I think our lack of it make us incomprehensible to the unbelieving world. It leaves us feeling impotent in the doing good that we are called to do. God has been dealing with me on this tension during this study. Thank you again!

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    1. oooh I love that. Yes we do feel impotent! I love that SRT had us go straight from Nehemiah to Titus. If God is calling us to "build a wall" we are not meant to do it alone. We need each other. We need a firm foundation to stand on. Community Friend, thats where its at!

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  6. Love this so much... I love all your points and you heart! So thankful for this SRT family!

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    1. Thank you Friend! It's hard to open yourself up. But that's what true community is, right? Hope you stop by again soon.

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  7. Amen! thank you for sharing this post with us sister. It speaks so much truth and it lightens up my heart to know that you get it, that you are not scared, and that you are out there speaking truth to others. I pray that I keep this in my heart and continue to pour myself into other peoples life and to never grow tired of doing it. God bless you sister.

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  8. Thank you Gema! So glad you stopped by. I do get it, as much as this human mind can comprehend. I didn't say I wasn't scared though. It is a super scary thing to put yourself out there, to open up your life to someone else. We were talking last night with some friends and someone said, "what if I say something wrong and completely turn them away from the Lord?" That's a super scary thought, right? It's just where you have to trust the Lord. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He has entrusted the work to us. The enemy has creped in in such a way that he's given us security in our own salvation, but made us scared (scared to offend, scared to get into someone else's business, scared I don't have anything to share) that we don't spread the gospel even to our own neighbors anymore. Thank you Gema. Hope to see you back again!

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  9. Love your heart for the church! Thanks so much for sharing this, Annie! I love the profundity of that statement... church is where our belief and our behaviors should collide! Yes and Amen!

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    1. I know right! I've been really convicted over the last year about belief and behavior. If I truly trust He is who He says He is, why don't I obey him fearlessly? God is so faithful! We just have to learn to see things from an eternal kingdom calendar, rather than an early calendar. We have to stop living like we're going to die. We're not! We're only going to pass from earthy life into eternal life. I'm learning to live my earthly life preparing myself and those around me for eternity. I want those around me to know the power God has to redeem and restore. Thanks for stopping by Heather!

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  10. "Mentoring is not just sitting around a coffee shop table with your bible open, it’s a phone call in the middle of the day to make sure she’s ok...It’s loving." That's a simple, yet profound point. Sometimes it's even more encouraging to communicate in the thick of it than to clear out an hour or two of pure Bible study with a mentor.
    As for your questions:
    1. Some precious women of God have blessed me with spiritual mothering over the years, but currently no one like that is in my life. So I'm praying for a wise mentor as well as the courage to be intentional.

    2. I'm really good at investing in young women...every now and again. My struggle is being consistent. I've found those who need encouragement the most will be the last to reach out for it. There are two young women God has put on my heart that I want to love and serve better as Christ's hands and feet.

    What a great study on SRT, right? So blessed and convicted simultaneously.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

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  11. I am so thankful that Titus came right after Nehemiah. It has been so very personal to me. Of all the things I wish we didn't have to talk about in the church, this is a big one. I wish that mentoring and caring for each other would just flow so naturally that it would be silly to talk about. I wish that we were not afraid to step over some imaginary boundary line and just invest in each other. I'm so thankful for men and women who are taking this seriously and reaching out to others. Thank you! Hope to see you back here soon.

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