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JFH Staff Blog | Paige Armstrong

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Than Pretty Words

My friend and I were talking the other day about a question that is one of the most frequently asked of Christians: “If God’s such a loving God… why does so much bad stuff happen in the world??”

That’s a tough one. I’ve asked it. And if we’re honest… I think a lot of us have.

Consider this definition with me for a moment.

Darkness: (noun) the absence of light.

If the world’s such a dark, harsh and hurting place… perhaps it’s not because God doesn’t care. Instead, consider what it would be like if the people that He’s placed on this earth were carrying out the purpose they were created for.

         Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

As Christians, our role is to be the light. This means living in such a way that it makes a difference. Living in such a way that everything surrounding is changed because of it.

I can often be so guilty of being a person of pretty words. I love to talk, to dream. While these things are great and so needed, it’s the action that qualifies them. James talks about this very thing saying that without turning our faith into action, it’s simply dead. (James 2:26)

One of my favorite songs EVER is called “Say Your Prayers” by the band, The Wedding. The chorus of their song rings out with the proposed words of God saying, “If you love Me then just love Me, don’t you give Me pretty words. Lay your life down at the alter, let me see how serious you are.”

Goshh these words convict me! They stop me in my tracks begging an answer to the question, “What am I truly living out?” They remind me that God KNOWS my heart, and my mere words mean nothing to Him. He demands my life to follow in His steps.

One of the things that drew everyone to Jesus was how He was IN the world… but never OF it. He was in the midst of complete darkness… yet He was always the light. See, the world doesn’t need some put on “religion” that hides within the walls of a church or throws pamphlets at passers by. They need YOU to live Christ in a REAL way… IN the world.

 

Did you know…

  • There are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history.
  • Slavery still exists in the U.S.- CIA estimates more than 1,000,000 people are enslaved in the US today.
  • Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
  • The 3rd cause of death in young people ages 15-34 is suicide.
  • 1 out of 4 students claiming to be Christians when they go to college say they aren’t when they come out.

 

Wow. These issues are real. And if we close our mouths and open our eyes for a moment, we will realize the incredible needs around us. Instead of blaming God and asking why there is world hunger… maybe He has every right to ask that question of US!

I share these statistics with you not to depress, but to remind us all that the world is SO much bigger than ourselves. And in this world full of all kinds of needs, are ALLL kinds of GIFTS and ABILITIES and SKILLS within each one of us, to serve and SAVE those people! THAT’S the exciting part.

            I challenge you and myself, to make our pretty words our actions. To truly open our eyes to the needs around us… and use what we’ve been given to DO something about them.

 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

 

  --> Here is just one of many amazing ways to serve: http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/aboutus-home

 

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Scar

I have a scar.

It's ugly. It's long. It's on my right leg, and I will always have it. I've tried to hide it so many times... and I still try to.

The truth is, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that people will look at me and just see my scar. That somehow, the rest of who I am will be completely overshadowed by this massive imperfection that was engraved in my leg several years ago.

See, that's where my cancer was. The tumor had grown just under my right knee, so in addition to toxic chemotherapies, I had to have five inches of my leg bone replaced with a cadaver bone that was set in place with a metal plate and seven screws. As if I wasn't already bionic enough, I also got a knee replacement a few years later. Needless to say, I've got a pretty hefty scar to show for it!

Around my nurses and doctors, scars like that were totally "normal". However, as I began to get better and started to wear shorts for the first time in public after my surgery, I was greeted with a much different response. People would look at my face first and smile, no problem. Then, they'd glance down and... *gasp*... Their smile was instantly choked out by the horrified look on their face after seeing my scar.

At the time, this broke my heart. I remember coming home in tears after that happened far too many times in one day. "Why can't they just see ME??", I'd cry. "I'm not my scar!" Somehow, in those momentary glances, I felt judged. I felt looked over, summed up, and thrown into some completely unwanted category that I had no place being in. I was SO scared of what their decoded reactions meant, that I just started hiding my scar altogether. While I wanted to blame my insecurity on them, it was really my own pride that had me so tangled up and convinced that I couldn't show my imperfections.

Why is it that we can be so scared to show people the real us? Why can't we understand that we are ALL scarred, imperfect and broken? What good does it truly do to hide?

I finally started to realize that I was actually robbing others and myself of something when I hid my scar. Every time I would open up enough to share, God brought about some totally unexpected blessing that would empower me and bring inspiration to another. He began to work through my sharing, and would convict me of the times when I didn't, because I was robbing others of HIS glorious story.

The words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 rang out to me in my weakest moment... "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Wow. Leave it to God to say something crazy like "my power is made perfect in weakness"! What?? That's nuts... but it's true.

God has come through for me in some of the biggest ways, through my weakness. When I finally put aside my own pride to let His story be told, there is unbelievable beauty that pours from my deepest, most hated scars.

If so, how truly beautiful it is to be imperfect. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


We all have scars. One of mine just happens to be visible. See it for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ss14pKx9to

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walking Disaster

Do you ever feel like a walking disaster? Like at times everything you touch falls apart? Like you would be the richest person alive if someone gave you a nickel every time something in your life went wrong?

I envision the scene from a movie where a guy is walking through a convenience store and clumsily knocks over a couple cans of tomatoes. In turn, this causes the whole display to topple over, somehow catching the corner of the isle rack just to the right, knocking down the entire row and causing a domino effect of every row falling one by one on top of each other. The scene ends panning out to the deer-in-the-headlights look on the guy's face, standing amidst the rubble of the collapsed racks and holding a can of tomatoes as he looks around at all the "happy" customers glaring straight at him.

A while back, I had one of these experiences. I was on my way to meet a friend to try out a sweet young adults group we had heard about. Little did I know I would never reach my friend or the event at all, but instead be stuck in a fender-bender (my fault) with 6 angry and threatening teenagers in the other car, crime busting police, potential criminal suspects and upset parents. The other vehicle soon drove off and I was left like the guy in the movie scene awkwardly holding the can of tomatoes.
 
You could say I felt like a tragic comedy.

I'm realizing though, that these "walking disaster" moments cause me to reevaluate my idea of what life's about.
What if life's not about things going right?
What if everything you've ever learned and know was stripped away, and it was just about one thing.
Simply knowing Christ. And that's it.

We've been given a life, which James 4:14 calls "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes". The truth of this verse became very real to me during my time in the hospital with cancer. Watching my hopes, dreams and future flash before my eyes, I suddenly saw a much bigger picture. Did I really think this "mist" was about me?

It seems we've all gotten the message that things aren't the way they're supposed to be when they're going wrong… but I honestly don't know where that came from. Christ suffered. In fact, nothing in His life seemed to go at all "right". Even from the beginning, He was born in a crowded barn… I mean, come on. That's not even close to being "right"! (especially for the Son of God!)

We are called Christians because we are supposed to follow the example of Christ. If this is so, then whoever led us to believe things aren't the way they're supposed to be when they do go "wrong"?? 1 Peter 4:12 also says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." This verse kind of makes me laugh, cause I can feel a twinge of sarcasm in Peter's words. I can see him almost implying us being in a tizzy, upset and in disbelief over whatever "wrong" situation is happening to us as we throw up our hands asking how this could happen to US! Why, hello reality check…

Remember, even if just for a moment, that we're not invincible. If we all agree on this fact, then we should also come to grips with the fact that this life on earth is all we have to know Christ. Once our "mist" is over, that's it. Either we know Him, or we don't. Every single thing that happens in our life is a chance to know Him further. Our eternity is based on that.

I continue to get my "walking disaster", "deer-in-the-headlights" reality checks, (sometimes more frequently then I would like!) but nonetheless, they keep things in perspective.

The next time things seem to go terribly wrong or not as expected… maybe we can just try to remember: Life's not about things going right. It's about knowing Christ through whatever comes our way.

~Paige

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Paige Armstrong’s first album with Whiplash Records, "Wake Up," hit stores on Oct. 6. and is available now!

 

Monday, October 05, 2009

What do you want to do with your life?

Has anyone ever asked you the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” If so, chances are you:  A. Confidently explained your mapped out future plans.  B. Said you had some ideas, but still were figuring out the details. Or,  C. FREAKKEDD OUTT, and ran. Which one sounds the most probable?

 

When it comes to considering what we want to do with our lives, unfortunately at times that thought can seem more scary and overwhelming than exciting. While that is a big decision, perhaps it would be a little more inviting if we had a better idea of how to go about it.

 

My girlfriend Melody and I were out a while back, sipping Starbucks and causally wandering about in the warm evening weather outside. Somehow, through our thread of many different conversations, we got talking about the mysterious topic of “purpose”. That word, purpose, has been a huge growing passion in my heart anyway, so we were just talking about various aspects of it... what it means to different people and how we are to live it out.

 

In our conversation, she said something that really struck a chord with me - that I haven’t been able to shake since. She shared this idea that she heard about “not thinking of what you want to do with your life in terms of asking yourself what you love... but instead, what you hate”. In other words, what is it that appalls, hurts, and breaks you in the world? For her, it's human trafficking and slavery. I thought about it seriously myself, and decided for me, it's the thought of people wasting their lives.

 

After battling bone cancer when I was 11 years old, I came face to face with the reality of how truly precious our lives are. Only able to lie in a hospital bed after numerous chemotherapies and extensive leg surgeries, I began to see life quite differently than I ever had before. What captured my attention the most, was seeing so many kids who were extremely sick and daily fighting for their lives, while some of my other perfectly healthy friends were barely living theirs… just blowing their days because they didn’t know how much their lives were worth.

This is what breaks my heart the most.

 

So in turn, taking these things we hate and see as complete injustices, we find however we can to live our life in a way that will impact and change that injustice or situation. I LOVE this way of looking at things!

 

Our purpose is simple. We're all called to love God and others. Period. But have you found that defining what that looks like specifically in your life is where it gets a bit more complicated? That’s why this perspective is great. It can be so overwhelming when someone asks, “What do you love? What do you want to do?” Uhhhh... welll.... what if I love a LOT of things?? What if there’s a lot of things I COULD do? Now what??

Stop for a second and seriously consider this. What do you HATE?? I mean what truly, utterly, appalls you?

 

Got it?

 

Alright... here’s the cool part. Now flip it around. What can you do to solve it? Change it? Abolish it?

 

Any things coming to mind?

 

See the world has given us this twisted idea that “what we do with our lives” should be practical, comfortable, and mediocre. That way it’s “safe” and no one gets hurt.

Ha… CLEARLY.

This lack of living is creating a walking dead.

 

Ultimately, here it is: I HATE the thought of people wasting their lives. So I’m going for it. I am going to do anything I possibly can with my life to show people why they should live theirs. I feel like my PURPOSE, is to help other people find theirs. Because of everything that I’ve been through, this is what I want to do.

 

Whether you believe it or not... God has an AMAZING, passionate and fulfilling purpose for your life. It’s your choice to take it or leave it.

For now... the questions stands. What do you hate?

It just might be worth giving your life to.

~Paige

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Paige Armstrong’s first album with Whiplash Records, "Wake Up," will be available on Oct. 6.

 

 


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