Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

Developing a Burden for People (Part 2)

My last post talked about Paul’s deep concern for his brethren of the Jewish faith who had rejected Christ. Upon further thought, though, some may be wondering what are we supposed to do with this? How in the world do I develop compassion like that? I just simply do not care as much as I should. 

Well, first of all, I’d like to say that I’m in the same boat. I wish I cared more. But I think I’ve stumbled across some helpful points that shed light on how to generate spiritual compassion. 

  1. See the reality of your own brokenness 

Chapter 6 of J. Oswald Sanders’ Enjoying Intimacy with God takes readers through Psalm 51 in order to show how intimacy with God can be restored. It starts with recognizing our own faults and need for forgiveness. Sanders goes through the Psalm, which I recommend reading in its entirety, to show how David really saw the depths of his sin and realized his need to be forgiven by God. David said, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (verse 3). After going through this deep anguish, however, he knew that God would indeed give him grace. He said, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow… create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (verses 7, 10, 12). 

What does all this have to do with loving people? Everything, actually. Psalm 51:12-15 says,

“12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Here David is saying once he has been forgiven he will not be able to hold back from talking about how amazing God is! He will have seen the depths of God’s love because he will have just experienced it himself. He is asking God for the power to do this, of course, but you can’t help but see the connection between realizing our own brokenness and then proclaiming the healing power of God to other people. In other words, as the saying goes, we cannot give what we do not possess. 

2. Let people become “your people” 

I think there is a general resistance to saying any people are “yours” these days. Spiritually speaking, we wouldn’t want to be too “tribal,” right? Secularly speaking, that downright just doesn’t sound very inclusive. But we all have our people. Paul called the people in Romans 9 “his brethren.” The people we know, care about, and do life with are “our people.” So, if you want to develop compassion for a particular person, you have to make them into “your people.” We just don’t have the spiritual bandwidth to continually give real, life-changing compassion to people we aren’t intertwined with. I guess in other words I’m just saying let them become your friends, not a project. Bring them into your life.

3. Try to really see where people are spiritually

This one is hard. Like I said in the first post, it’s much easier to act like we can’t tell what’s really going on with other people. Why get involved? We have enough to worry about on our own. Luckily though Paul did not take that attitude. In Romans 9:4-5 he went on and on about the spiritual state of his Jewish brethren. He said, they 

“are (the) Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.” 

The rest of the chapter Paul spends talking in even more detail about their heritage and what God had done for them and offered them. In other words, Paul was really thinking about the state of his friends. He was like, “these guys are supposed to be God’s people! Do they not realize the privilege they are walking around with? Oh man… I just wish they could take that next step and see Jesus for who He really is.” 

For us, this would look like taking the time to sift through all the spiritual realities of the person we are trying to care about. What is their family history? What involvement in church have they had in the past? What are their biggest hangups? What possible pitfalls might occur specifically to them? What would it even look like for them to walk with God where they’re at right now? Such questions are weighty but worth it. When we think like this, as I’ve reluctantly seen, we start to develop the kind of compassion that Paul had. 

Compassion does not happen by accident. First of all, it takes seeing what tremendous lengths God went through in our own lives. He has forgiven us of so much, more than we often even want to think about. Second, it takes making a conscious decision to make people into “your people” like Paul did. Sure, the Jewish people were his people by birth, but Paul did the same thing on numerous other occasions with the people in the churches he helped start. For example, Paul said to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” He had just met these people not so long ago, yet now he was recalling how he shared his entire life with them. He made a decision to make them into “his people.” Lastly, if we want to have life-changing compassion for people, we need to open our eyes to the spiritual world they are living in. God wants to give us comprehension that can help pierce people’s hearts and show them His love. If we allow Him to work and open our eyes to what He is already doing, we will realize He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Developing a Burden for People (Part 1)

It’s hard to care. 

I don’t mean that it’s hard to care about life in general, though I’ll admit sometimes it is difficult to muster excitement about daily necessities like making lunch, paying the bills, or scrapping my car windshield. What’s really hard to care about, though, is other people. 

Let’s face it. Most of us spend the majority of our time thinking of ourselves. We think of what we have to do, what we are currently doing, what we have to do tomorrow, what we wish would happen for us… you get the idea. We’re selfish. 

Some of the reasons we’re so self-focused aren’t really even that bad. We have things to get done. However, the ramifications of always living and thinking that way are devastating. 

In Romans 9, Paul talks about how much he cares for his own people. And (spoiler alert) he cares a lot

Romans 9:1-5

1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Did you catch how intensely concerned Paul is for his friends? He says he has “great sorrow and unceasing grief” in his heart for them. That’s more than just a cursory thought or prayer. He cares. He is sick to his stomach thinking about the fact that they don’t have a relationship with Christ. 

This passage is talking about Paul’s “kinsmen,” the Jewish people of Israel who hadn’t accepted Christ as the Savior. Added to his deep anguish is the fact that those very Jewish people were brought up in the same faith as Jesus. To them belonged the blessings of God. Jesus came to bless them in particular, as well as the rest of the world. But instead, they rejected Him. This is what makes Paul’s heartache so much. 

He then goes on to say that he wishes he himself were “accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of (his) brethren.” In other words, he is straight-up saying he would gladly give up his own salvation in order for them to know Christ themselves. All I can say is “Wow.” I can’t think of deeper concern than that. 

Another story that comes to mind when thinking of sacrifice for someone who doesn’t deserve it is the Prodigal Son. Even after the “prodigal” bad-boy son leaves his father’s house (with his early inheritance that he demanded) to party and live it up, his father still waits for him in hopeful expectation that someday his son will return. When the son finally does return after wasting all his father’s money, the father not only accepts him back but throws a huge party celebrating his return. That’s love. That’s sacrifice. 

In the Prodigal Son example, obviously, the son returns. But imagine if he never did. The father would be up waiting on the front porch, night after night, hoping for any glimpse of his lost son. That’s heartbreaking to think about, but it’s also how I think Paul felt when he was thinking about his lost brothers and sisters who had rejected Christ. He knew how much Christ had to give them, how much Jesus loved them and wanted to welcome them in, but also knew as the time went on how far they were drifting from ever coming to know Him at all. 

I don’t know about you, but that kind of heartbreak and realization does not sound fun to think through. I would much rather put up my blinders and act like I can’t tell what’s going on around me spiritually. But when we open our eyes like Paul did, we see the hurt and anguish that’s coming if people continue to reject Christ. That kind of realization should change something in us. It should make us want to show people how much we care because we know how much God cares for them even more. 

Paul had “anguish in his heart” and would have gladly traded his own salvation for the sake of his people. Can you say the same? It’s a tough question.

Brian (Part 2)

On part 2 of Brian’s story, we talk about Brian’s convictions about finances, heaven, and his unlikely path to leadership. Again, Nick and Kevin join us. We learn that Brian is not not an entertaining person. This episode is not sponsored by Audible.com.

Brian (Part 1)

On the first episode of a two part series, Brian was raised a rule following catholic. Introverted, but faithful he began questioning his existing beliefs and seeking answers. In college, he met Nick and the two friends eventually found Jesus through a carpool. We talk about Brian’s upbringing, what that time in college was like for both Brian and Nick, and Brian’s pursuit of Mandy. We’re also joined by Kevin Baker.

Freedom of Forgiveness

A big thing the Lord has been trying to show me in my walk recently is the many things that he frees us from and one of the first things he has shown me is that he wants to free me from the weight of not forgiving certain people who have wronged me. Mainly with my father, it took a lot of talking to people and praying to God. For a while I had thought that the worst thing he had done to my family was lie and not be there for us as he spent most of my childhood in prison. I grew up along with my brother and mother thinking that the abuse that he had put on other people was more worth it to him than providing for us and wanting to be apart of our family. However, my older brother had told me that he was going to a therapist because of struggles he will still struggling to get over. He struggles from anxiety and he will go into attacks where he can not breathe and needs to be alone. I asked him specifically why he was going to the meetings and what they were discussing and he began to explain to me how my father was a five time felon and three of those felonies were against my mother and how he had raped her and hit her and abused her into marijuana and cocaine. After explaining that to me he went on to tell me that I was the result of one of the sexual attacks against my mother. This conversation had sent me into a spiral and I did not want to talk for the rest of the night, I could barely stand or move or do anything. I had a hard time forgiving my father for the things I already new about him, but learning about that that night I told myself that I would never forgive him. Many thoughts ran through my mind such as, “this is a man of destruction, coming in to my mom’s life to ruin it and then to walk out” “I should treasure my life and do everything I can to prove to my mom that she did not waste her time with not aborting me in that horrifying experience” I couldn’t get it out of my mind that I was a living reminder of a bad time in her life. I still haven’t talked to her about it because I do not believe it is my business to bring it up first. When and if she is ready to talk about it she will.
Let’s get back on the topic of forgiveness though. I opened up to some of my closest people about the struggle I was having with this because instantly I was put under a lot of pressure. I was encouraged a lot to at least to talk to him and I did not want to at all. It was nice though being able to talk to people and get it off my chest. I knew that it would be hypocritical to not forgive my dad of this, but at the same time, the times he was in my life he lived as if he did not do anything wrong like everything was fine. That irritated me. It irritated me that he wasn’t in jail longer and that at the moment he was trying so hard to restart up a relationship with me. How do I start a relationship with someone who did so much to hurt my mom who struggled really hard to raise three kids on her own and spent a lot of years trying to break free from the addictions that he had forced on her. This also was another situation where I could not come in and say I am mad at you for this thing that you never told me about. I didn’t know if it would reopen wounds that it had on my mom because I knew she would figure out. So, I spent a lot of time ignoring phone calls from my dad, and text messages. Members in my family would tell me to call him and I wouldn’t. Eventually during one of my prayer walks I had gotten on the topic of my dad. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders from being so bitter I wanted to curl up. It was hard when I failed at anything because it felt like I was failing God and my mom and when I succeeded it was also me being happy for the wrong reasons where I would say something along the lines of “Yes, another reason for me to be alive or fought for!” God was talking to me during that walk and made it very evident that I needed to forgive him or I wouldn’t be very useful in the way that God needed me, but also I would become very bitter and start this thing where I can not forgive people that wronged me. So one day I picked up my phone and I called my dad and it was weird. He asked me how I was doing and so I just began telling him the things happening in my life like I am going to church, working and going to school and stuff like that and then he began to ask me about the family so I was telling him about them, but the whole time I had this urge, I wanted to yell at him and tell him, I hated him and that I did not want to talk to him again. Also at the same time I was feeling a sense of relief, like I can talk to him and not yell at him. That was from the Lord and only him, showing me restraint. Over the next couple of months we had started talking weekly and he would tell me about his job and his new wife and stuff like that and I would tell him more about the ministry I was in and how I was about to graduate and he would listen to me complain about a lot of stuff. He then would go on to apologize for not being there much for us when we were younger and was talking about how he understood it must of been hard to grow up without a father figure. It was tough to have this conversation with me because he was never real with me before. I forgave him and instantly it was like this ton of bricks that was on me was lifted! We still have not talked about what I really want to talk about, he moved to Wisconsin and I do not get to see him, we still talk every once in a while. It is not something that I instantly trusted him and everything was fine and dandy. I still am not okay with what he did, but now I am ready to forgive if and when the conversation happens. That conversation I had with him helped me with personal healing. A big thing God has taught me is that I too am sinful and that it would be hypocritical to not forgive my father for the one sin when God had forgiven me of all of mine. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I have had success with not feeling like I have to perform and be this perfect kid. I came from a broken past and it won’t all be solved right away by pretending that I am doing fine, but with trusting in the Lord with learning how to be broken free from struggles in my past I am hopeful that he will help me with picking up the pieces and continue to perfect me until the end. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it out onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Jamie

Jamie grew up without God, but the friendships she found on campus paved the way for a relationship with Jesus. Now the Lord is working in her life to exchange her plans for deeper meaning and significance in following him. We are joined by Eleni for the conversation.

27!

Another year in the books! 

Today I am TWENTY SEVEN YEARS OLD. That is a lot of years… But not too many. 

I am more than plenty shocked that I reached 27. There were times this past year I didn’t know if I could emotionally, spiritually or physically last. I really didn’t know. Yet, here we are! As I sit here writing this reflection I am swollen with tears of gratitude for every piece of my life. Every piece of the last year, every hope for the next. Without any doubts in my mind, so assuredly, I can say – I don’t know what the hell I did to deserve such a beautiful life.

There’s been pain. Yet, in the grand scheme of these 27 years, that has just been a background or a support to the beautiful things this old girl has seen.

Here are some things I’ve gotten to see recently: 

  • A deepening understanding of marriage ultimately bursting out of a more intense, prolonged, intricate understanding of another human being every day. And the copious amounts of beautiful moments one gets to have glimpses of while living side by side and being knitted to another human soul… I feel this taste of heaven is far too worthy for my self-focused, sin drowned self should ever have had the privilege to be granted. 
  • The storms people weather to be there for each other can be great, but never insurmountable. I’m so thankful for everything my people have done for me. Their actions are saturated in respect and deserve honorable recognition that I only can trust God will glorify them for. They’ve challenged me and confronted me with where I lack in responding selflessly toward them.
  • Growth – it’s real! The privilege has all been mine getting to be even the smallest fleck apart of some of these lady’s growth! Their faith shown in their emotional, spiritual, adulting growth, as they open their hearts to learn compassion, truth & trust has been overwhelmingly joyous. I’ve walked away from MANY conversations THIS WEEK simply awestruck and with no words but: “there is a God.” What else could explain the tremendous transformation in the people I interact with daily other than God himself? If it were something else, these people I see grow wouldn’t look the same – they’d look different. In a different way. But I know it’s God because each time I see them, their souls seem to shine brighter – meaning, I guess, they’re even more of who they were than the last time I saw them. It’s right & true to who they are, the person God made them to be. They’re simply becoming who they are, settled into the glory that is them in Christ. 

Here are some things I really look forward to this next year: 

  • Becoming a better wife. I have somehow scored the jackpot of husbands. He is on a whole ‘notha level. The way he lives is such an example to me. I just really hope and ask that I can be continually transformed to support that spirit in him. 
  • Becoming a better friend. I’m not a good friend. I’ve seen that so much this year. And friendship takes energy & willingness to fight for. I want to learn to fight better for these women God’s given me that sacrifice so much for me!
  • Becoming a better sister/daughter/daughter-in-law/sister-in-law. Family is just becoming more important to me every year. I’d like to help cultivate a loving family environment instead of being so self-focused. 
  • Becoming a better discipler. What an honor it is to be in the position to fight for someone else?! Yet, how terrifying that can be when our own sin shines brighter than Jesus! I hope to learn more how to rely on God and just point them to God before anything else. And become better at communicating what a freakin’ blast it is to be on God’s adventure of grace! 
  • Learning to bring everything back to the Gospel and bring it up whenever I can! It’s all about the Gospel, isn’t it? So, how can I forget it all the time?!
  • Being alive another year! Recently, I got some good news about my heart… That is, they don’t think anything is wrong with it! So, my chest pains, fatigue & dizziness are most likely due to my hormones still adjusting after having my thyroid removed. Which is a little annoying since that’s not really a solid answer with solid next steps. HOWEVER, I’ve found some things that make me feel a ton better. Not 100%, but MUCH better! Things like cutting out gluten & working out certain ways. I am so thankful for doctors, friends, medicine and nutrition to help us along. I am sad I can’t eat my 2 favs (beer & donuts) but it’s worth it to have a clear head and more energy than 2 naps could have given me before! PTL!
  • Hopefully I get to be a mom soon. 

OK, that’s it. That’s the end of 26 and the beginning of 27 for you. I can’t wait to see what happens. Thanks for being there for me through this year!