Coming to Meet Jesus

Yesterday my mom and I started to send each other Christmas song titles only using Emojis, and it was much too fun! (#🤓 ). Can you guess the ones below? For bonus points, think about what all these songs have in common!

 

The answers are at the bottom of the article, and the common thread of the songs is that they are all about coming to see Jesus.

As I reflected on the Christmas story this year, I was struck by the interesting––and truthfully, peculiar––audience who had the privilege of first meeting Christ the Messiah. Why did God invite these specific individuals, and what can they teach us about coming to Jesus? Let’s look at some of the nativity narrative characters:

The Wise Men

These men were “from the East” (not of Jewish descent) and studied magic, astrology and interpretations from a variety of religions. They were not your A+ Sunday school students by any means! But they were seeking.

I think it’s interesting that we don’t know the end of the story. I would like to think the wise men learned more about Jesus and chose to believe that He was God’s Messiah, sent to redeem the world. However, they also could’ve just labeled their journey as an “interesting experience” and tossed Jesus in a pile with other religious figures. The important takeaway is that these foreigners who were not Hebrews were invited to meet Jesus and see for themselves who He is.

The Shepherds

Another group of people who were invited to meet Jesus were the shepherds, who were taking care of their flocks in an area near Bethlehem. When an angel of the Lord appeared to them, what was their first reaction? Fear! And understandably so. A messenger of God––in all God’s shining glory––had just burst in and interrupted their everyday, familiar routine. Did the shepherds fully grasp that this baby in a manger was God himself? Sent to save the world? Probably not. BUT, God invited them to meet Jesus, and they came.

After they visited Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Bible says “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Lk. 2:20, emphasis mine). They didn’t know for sure that when they followed this bright light in the sky, it would lead them to Christ. Instead of thinking over all of the reasons to doubt what the angel of God had said, they went in faith and found everything just as God said. His word was truth.

There are countless other people in the Bible who followed Jesus without understanding everything up front. Did Mary and Joseph grasp the full identity of their Son and His mission on earth? Probably not. What about Peter, the disciple whom Jesus said would be the rock upon which He could build the church? Peter certainly didn’t understand all that was involved in following Jesus, and he definitely made some major mistakes (Mt. 16:23, Lk. 22:54-62). But he followed Jesus anyway.

What about us?

Sometimes I think we feel pressured to have it all together before we say “yes” to following Jesus. Maybe you would like to study the Bible, but you have no idea where to start, and you can already think of certain passages that will be confusing. It’s easier to sit back in the shadows than to try and possibly fail.

Maybe there’s someone who you’ve been wanted to reach out to and ask about their relationship with God. But when you think about starting that conversation, there are so many things that could go wrong. You don’t want to offend them, and you’re afraid you might not have the right answer to their questions, so it’s safer to say nothing and hope that someone else will do the job.

I’m not presenting these as hypothetical situations; I’ve been here myself, and I think that many of you can relate. The point is that Jesus has invited us to come see who He is.

 

He calls us to follow Him in obedience and in faith, but NOT in perfection.

You don’t have to know it all before you accept His invitation. Just come as you are, and tell Him that you want to know Him more, because Jesus comes in grace and truth (Jn. 1:17). And like the shepherds, I hope you will return “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Merry Christmas!

 

Answers: 1. We Three Kings 2. Little Drummer Boy 3. O Come, All Ye Faithful 4. Do You Hear What I Hear?

I wish I could say that my bedroom looked like this. (Actually, this isn’t even my bedroom. Thanks, Pottery Barn and Pinterest, for utterly gorgeous and utterly unrealistic home decor inspiration.)

Unfortunately, my bedroom looked this this:

Yikes! I kind of can’t believe I just posted this disaster on the Internet. However, I snapped a picture of this mess because I knew I wanted to write a blog about this lesson that God has been teaching me lately.

You see, I made the conscious choice to leave my room in cluttered chaos before leaving for work because I chose to spend that time with the Lord instead. It was one of those mornings where I simply didn’t have enough time in the day, and one of the following things had to give:

  1. My appearance
  2. A beautiful, organized bedroom
  3. Time with God
  4. Coffee and breakfast

(Okay, we’re going to go ahead and rule out the idea of giving up coffee and breakfast, because those are quite literally the fuel for the rest of the items above.)

So, let’s look at item #1, appearance. I could go to work without wearing makeup or fixing my hair, but honestly, I know that’s not going to happen. Why? Because I care about what other people think of me. And in some sense, rightly so! I am a #yopro (that’s cool lingo for “young professional”), and it’s important that I represent myself and my company well. So showing up to work looking like a pale ghost with Lizzie-McGuire-esque crimped hair is probably not the best idea.

That moves us to item #2, an organized bedroom with all clothing tucked away in its respective drawers and decorative pillows in their proper places. If fixing my appearance is to please other people, then fixing up my bedroom is to please ME. You know that feeling when you walk out your bedroom door, glance back at your Pinterest-perfect bedroom and gently sigh. Ahh, you think. Joanna Gaines would be so proud. That’s a great way to start a workday, and it leaves you feeling good about your life. For a little while.

But, without item #3, somehow the good feelings from your adorable outfit and nice makeup and organized bedroom (and even the coffee and breakfast) don’t last long. I recently read a story in Luke when Jesus went to visit his friends who were sisters named Mary and Martha:

 

Every time I read this story, I think, I am such a Martha. I am a PLANNER. A Walmart-list-maker. A person who loves to make others feel comfortable in my home. What if JESUS–Jesus Himself–came to visit my house? I can guarantee that I’d be frantically running around, making sure He was comfortable, preparing a delicious meal and cleaning up wherever I could. And if I looked over in the living room and saw my brother Andrew sitting on the rug, listening to Jesus, doing nothing to help clean up? Oooh… that would not sit well with me!

But what does Jesus say? “Martha, Martha,”––or put your name in there––”Rachel, Rachel, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

The truth is, I am anxious and troubled about many things. And we will ALWAYS be anxious or troubled in some way or another. But only one thing is necessary. Jesus ends the story saying, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” What did Mary choose? She chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching.

Oh friends, what a privilege it is to hold the words and teachings of Jesus in the palm of our hands. I know I fall short of spending time as much time with Jesus as I should. In fact, I’m sometimes hesitant to post blogs like this, because I do NOT want to seem like I have it all figured out. I wish I could say that I spent plenty of time with the Lord every day, but in reality, I’m still learning this lesson. And each time I choose to spend time with Him over “things,” I’m reminded again that He is infinitely more precious than a pretty outfit or a pretty room.

What are the many things that are making you anxious and troubled? How can you choose to prioritize time with the Lord this week? Write out small steps of ways to put Jesus first, and see how He blesses your time in His Word.

 

Hello, friends! I’m back with more reflections from my Hawaii, a time when I learned things like…

  • The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.
  • A pineapple at the grocery store only costs $0.79, but a Fuji apple is $2-3. (Plot twist, Mainlanders! How ‘bout them apples?)
  • How to surf and hula.
  • There is such thing as a “banjolele,” aka a banjo-ukulele. (Santa, please take note.)

Aside from learning these fun factoids and newfound talents, I also discovered a lot about who God is and His relationship with creation. Like any good Baptist, I tried to condense my thoughts into 3 main points, but they truly fit into 4 steps. So stay with me to the end!

THOUGHT #1: I get to know God.

It doesn’t take a ton of these views to realize that the world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. I remember standing on the shore of a black sand beach after a rainfall, watching waves crash into rocks and feeling the extremely powerful pull of the undertow as the water returned to the sea. Facing the forces of nature is incredibly humbling. From breathtaking views on a mountaintop to a colorful coral reef habitat under the sea, I was in awe of creation and the One who created it.

I get to know the God who made this?! I kept thinking. The One who raised this mountain 13,000 feet high and gave this gray fish neon fins? THIS is the same God who gives me strength and courage? Who calls me his friend?

THOUGHT #2: Other people don’t know God.

As I marvelled at THOUGHT #1, I was saddened when I thought about all of the people who do not know the one, true God who is so dear to me. One day we visited an ancient temple built by King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. I was surprised to read that the temple was still a place of worship where some native Hawaiians come to practice their religion. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that people have placed necklaces and food on the ancient structure as an offering. Other locals, instead of worshiping ancient deities, revere nature itself in a spiritual, transcendental type of worship.

 

I thought of Acts 17 when Paul preached in the Greek Areopagus in Athens, a city filled with idolatry. He first acknowledged that the people were very religious, and he specifically recognized their altar “to the unknown god.” Then he said,

“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…’” (23-24).

That’s what I wanted to tell people. I know the God who made this, and He’s incredible! This leads to THOUGHT #3…

THOUGHT #3: God wants a relationship with those who don’t know Him.

If you continue reading Acts 17, Paul says that God made people “that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (27).

He’s not far from us! Isn’t that wonderfully comforting?

1 Timothy 2:4-5 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

We have one God and one Savior. God wants people to find Him through Christ. The Gospel is called the “good news” for a reason! And that’s not the end of the story.

THOUGHT #4: I get to tell people about the true God and His Son, Jesus!

Have you ever tried to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite band? (Next time you see me, ask me why I love Survivor or Lady Antebellum.) It’s not hard to get excited about something or someone you love!

In the same way, believers in Christ should be bursting with excitement to tell others about our amazing God. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What does that mean? We get to help reconcile people to God by telling them the good news of Jesus.

So there’s my 4-step process of what God taught me in Hawaii. I hope that this week you will open your eyes and look for what the Lord is showing YOU in your life!


 

October 28 is a WONDERFUL day, because I have an excuse to tell the whole world about my incredible Momma! (I’ll spare you the “there are no words to describe how wonderful she is” spiell, but just know that it’s true.) I’ve decided to share some of the lessons she’s taught me throughout my life. So get out your journal and start taking notes! She’s the real deal!

[DISCLAIMER: Mom is my #1 editor and proofreader, and she doesn’t know I’m writing this. Hopefully you won’t find any typos!]

Mom taught me…

  1. How to talk to God like He’s real.

Yes, I know, He is real. But sometimes we don’t pray like it. Whenever Mom prays, she talks to God like He’s sitting at the kitchen table next to us. Whether she’s asking for a specific need, thanking Him for a blessing or lifting up a difficult situation, Mom knows that the Lord is there and that He is in control. I’m thankful for her open example of how to draw near to God our Father.

  1. How to load a dishwasher.

Silverware pointed down, cups and bowls on the top, each row filled, dishes facing inward. If it’s in the sink, you can find a way to cram it into the dishwasher! (Poor Dad and Andrew try their best, but somehow the message just didn’t completely sink in…)

  1. How to make life a musical.

Sometimes singing is more fun than talking. Sometimes good news calls for dancing. Sometimes we take catchy commercial jingles and make them a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s just better that way!!

  1. How to put others first.

You don’t have to watch through hours of our old family home videos to realize that I was… what’s that phrase? All about me. While I was a child, Mom taught me to put others before myself. As an adult, I see how Mom lives this out in her everyday life. She is servant-hearted, compassionate, empathetic and caring. She talks the talk AND walks the walk. What a role model for me!

  1. How to “let it go.”

Guess what? I’m not perfect. Guess what? Mom’s not perfect either. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY! As a Type-A, goal-setting, gotta-get-it-right kind of girl, I need to be reminded that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to have bad days and good days, to succeed and to fail. Listen to good ole’ Idina Menzel. (And of course sing along!)

  1. How to treasure God’s Word.

God’s Word is truth. No matter what happens, the Bible is our foundation. It never changes, and it never fails. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things Mom has taught me. However, her best “lesson” has always been teaching me to rely on God’s Word and to seek Christ in all that I do.

Happy birthday, Mom! We’re celebrating you today!

Friends, I am SO excited to introduce you to one of my favorite TV actors–Atticus Shaffer! You know him as “Brick Heck,” youngest child of the hilarious and dysfunctional Heck family on ABC’s The Middle. Atticus has captured the hearts of Americans since the show premiered in 2009 through his quirky and endearing character. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when he offered to speak with me a few weeks ago during the filming of season eight.

Atticus said he’s amazed at the new laughs and fresh comedy that come with every episode. “This season is probably one of the best seasons we’ve had where consistently, every week, the episodes are making me, my family and all of the people on set laugh out loud,” Atticus said. “Since we’ve been on [air] for so long, you wonder if stuff will ever get old or stale. But nope! Our writers are good!”

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One of the reasons my family and I love watching The Middle is because each character is so relatable in one way or another. We laugh when my mom has a “Frankie Moment” and forgets the snack bag, or when I do the “Sue Heck Dance” after receiving good news. I was curious to ask Atticus which actor’s real-life personality was most consistent with that of their character.

“Probably me,” Atticus said. “Not because I’m into fonts or I whisper to myself, but it’s mainly because Brick and I both follow the beat to our own drummer… I am who I am, and I’m accepting of that. Brick hasn’t necessarily articulated that, but it’s the backbone of who he is. He is smart, he is quick, and he says, ‘this is me.’”

Atticus said that one of his favorite episodes was “Halloween” from season two, where Brick dresses up as Sergeant Charles MacKenzie, a Scottish World War I hero. “I loved it because I’m a huge military history nerd,” Atticus said. “I got to wear a kilt for a week!”

Fans of the show often tell Atticus how they admire Brick’s self-confidence and enthusiasm. “I get people all the time who say, ‘We love your show, and we think your character is a role model,’” Atticus said. “I get to be a character that’s a role model and that your kids look up to? That’s insane. That’s so amazing.”

Atticus himself is an inspiration to others, as he continues to thrive in the television and film industry while overcoming the challenges of living with osteogenesis imperfecta. This genetic bone condition affects the collagen of his bone cells and increases bones fragility.

Atticus said he prefers to use the term “condition” rather than “disability.”

“My condition in no way disables me. And that’s really my message: if you have a challenge, a condition, or whatever, it’s nothing that can disable you… you work around your challenge,” Atticus said, adding, “You don’t focus on the can’t; you focus on the can.”

Atticus said his mom had a huge influence on him by encouraging him to find a way to overcome his physical difficulties. “If you can’t get through it, you work over it, under it, around it or whatever way you can. That’s what my mom taught me ever since I was little. She made the conscious decision that whatever I couldn’t get to, she would bring it to me if it was worth it. And she brought the world to me. Growing up, and even now, she brought the world to me.”

PART 2 of this article discusses Atticus’s family, faith and the story of how Brick got his name. Keep up with #celebsitdown by following @1RachelSinclair!

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).


REFLECTIONS from a year of blogging

I have spent the past 12 months blogging for WMU’s “myMISSION” collegiate column. It’s been fun, challenging and–if I’m honest–convicting! Each month I had to stop, take an aerial view of my life and ask, “How have I been living on mission? Where am I sharing the Gospel? Am I being responsible and sharing the incredible gift that I’ve been given?” (Luke 12:48).

Sometimes blogging intimidated me because I’m not perfect. *Gasp!* What if I shared what God’s been teaching me, and then I messed up? How could I encourage others to not worry when I tend to worry myself?

Well, friends, God taught me a message that is both humbling and hopeful: We’re not perfect. He is. We fail. He doesn’t.

The beautiful thing about being a child of God is recognizing that we don’t always have it together, and that’s okay. God knows that we mess up, but He still wants to work through us!

Throughout this year, I’ve learned that blogging is best when it’s about real life. When I obey God, when I disobey God, when it’s easy or when it’s hard. Christians aren’t perfect robots. We are sinners saved by grace.

All that to say, I’ve pick out some of my favorite blogs and categorized them for you to look through! I hope you can relate to them and learn from my experience. Don’t forget, I always love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Enjoy!


EVANGELISM

Not Just Another School Subject

What if the Sunday School Answer Is True?

Working on Vacation

 

ENCOURAGEMENT

When It’s Easier to Give Up

Loving for the Long Run

A Small Me in a Big World

 

PRIORITIES

Forgetting Step 1 – Prayer

My Secret Gift

Brew a Cup of Real Love

Songs of Truth – a power playlist with songs grounded in God’s Word

I’ve put together a playlist of 10 power songs that have helped me remember just how amazing my God truly is. Whether you’re overwhelmed with a problem, seeking endurance or simply celebrating God’s goodness, it is so important to stand on the promises of God found in His Word. I hope that these songs will inspire you to investigate God’s truths and proclaim them through song.

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” –Psalm 34:1-2

Click HERE to download the playlist on Spotify.

SONGS OF TRUTH:

“King Of The World” (Natalie Grant)

“Your Words” (Third Day feat. Harvest)

“Joy Of The Lord” (Rend Collective)

“Broken Together” (Casting Crowns)

“Here’s My Heart” (I Am They)

“How Can It Be” (Lauren Daigle)

“Thy Will” (Hillary Scott & The Scott Family)

“You Amaze Us” (Selah)

“As Sure as the Sun” (Ellie Holcomb)

“Where I Belong” (Building 429)


Want to read more? Visit rachelsinclair.net/checkitout.

She has off-the-charts vocals. She can belt the high notes and rap to Lecrae. She’s been traveling through Europe touring with TobyMac. Oh, and she’s also 19 years old.
Meet Hollyn, the young artist who is already making her mark on the Christian music industry. In 2015 she released her self-titled EP, which shows off her incredible vocals in an upbeat, modern style of music.

RS: What is it like touring with TobyMac? What have you learned from him?

H: Touring with Toby has been incredible to say the least. He’s so much fun to be around. Diverse City has become my family, and I am so grateful to travel and be a part of this journey with them by my side. I’ve learned so much from their years of experience, and they are helping me become the artist and leader I need to be.

RS: You are 19 years old. What are the benefits and challenges of pursuing a singer-songwriter career at such a young age?

H: The benefits of being so young and being an artist is the opportunity to see the world and singing for a living. I mean, how many people get to do what they love for a living? I’m truly blessed and the Lord is faithful. It’s also challenging because I barely have time to see my family or friends from home, but I keep in touch and FaceTime has become the best way to do that for now. Everything has pros and cons, and I’m trying the best I can to balance it out.

RS: How did your experience on American Idol (Season 12) shape your music career?

H: My experience on American Idol showed me that I wasn’t ready at the time to dedicate my life to something I didn’t believe in. I didn’t know who I was as an artist, so I went home and made an effort to figure that out. That’s when I met Toby, and accepted the fact that God was calling me to do this.

RS: Did you ever consider producing secular music?

H: To me, great music is being transparent and honest. Whether that’s about my relationship with Jesus, how my heart has been broken by a boy, friendship, or a track that I love because it just makes me feel good. If you craft songs intentionally and speak from the heart, people will listen.

RS: How is your music distinctive within the Christian genre?

H: I have an incredible team that allows me to write music I’m passionate about. My goal is to create a sound and brand that is fresh and unique. Something that people my age are drawn to and that speaks to a generation called to be different.

RS: When did you first become interested in rap?

H: I’ve always listened to rap music, but I recently stated attempting to rap about 3 years ago. I wouldn’t call myself a “rapper” but I love having fun with it.

RS: How has your family supported you throughout this journey?

H: My family has supported me through every aspect of life. Music or no music. They love me for who I am in Christ and as their daughter/sister. They’ve traveled, invested their time, and loved me unconditionally. I am eternally grateful for them.

RS: What are your plans for the future?

The future excites me. Five years ago I was sitting in school day dreaming about singing on stage for a living, and now I get to travel the world with TobyMac. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring.

To learn more about Hollyn and her music, visit iamhollyn.com and follow her on Twitter at @iamhollyn.

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