Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting: The Heartbreak Edition

I am not blind and my heart is not numb.     

There is no bliss in ignorance and I am unprepared. There is heartbreak coming, you see. I have family and a group of friends that are very dear to my heart. I have a best friend I treasure more than every possession I own. I am fully aware of how bad moving across 9,000 miles is going to hurt — I’m patiently and grudgingly waiting for those first few lonely weeks of crying myself to sleep while my family gets ready for their lunch. I’m emotionally conscious of the random lonely that will hit. I know I will be sad and cry my way through the airport. There is a balance of excitement along with this, but that isn’t the point of this overflow. ((Blah, Blah, PERSONAL STORY TO GET YOU ENGAGED))

How do you proceed to the heartbreak when you’re FULLY aware it’s right around the corner?

      This is NOTHING like what Jesus experienced, but this is the thought process He used with me to get this story across to me. I’m reminded of Calvary. Jesus was fully aware of the heartbreak that he was willingly walking into because of something greater that had to come.  He saw my salvation as a fitting and worthy cause to be broken.Through the last few days and moments the disciples had with Jesus, He was telling His story. “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away–and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”a

                    ((Whoa, Symolism)) The Passover was a festival celebrating the Hebrews’ first-born children who were spared by covering their door frames with the blood of a pure and spotless lamb.

I get it, it’s all in there packed between the pages of Genesis and Revelation but sometimes it just hits you. I believe that G-d is The G-d of ALL creation, I believe He is a poetic being and that He is creative in the deepest bursts of wind, in the cries of infants, and in the silence of a dark night. I believe He uses symbolism because He enjoys it; He created us in His image and He knows that we will understand when He uses stories because HE CREATED us to understand. I believe that’s why I tie things together like my silly little life stories reminding me of The Cross and what Jesus did knowing how badly it would hurt. MY LIFE was saved because of His blood that He chose to spill so that I would be COVERED in the blood of the lamb. This story has been there for years and it’s finally resounding in my heart in a new way. I was passed over by death and sin and destruction because it couldn’t even see me through His blood. He knew what He was doing and sat it fit to give up His perfect Son so that I may live.        Blugh. Real talk. Hits you in the feels, every time. He continued through knowing heartbreak was coming for me – for you.       Please understand me, like I said… this isn’t the same thing but this IS what He used for me to understand that His story isn’t over; it’s written between the pages of Genesis and Revelation and it continues to be written in each one of us, or despiteeach and every one of us. I am not a saviour to the world but what I am is called and chosen. I accepted the call to live my best to love. My obedience is 9,000 miles away from home. I’ve been promised that through obedience I will see chains fall. I believe in the redemption of time in HEALING and I believe that Jesus uses stories to draw us closer to Him. I believe in the authority He has given to us when He ascended to heaven promising us that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of age.”b What is your heartbreak? Where is your obedience? What is coming in your life so that something greater can come? I surely have no idea; I’m only a friend closely with a few of you and even less that actually get real with me. That’s ok, I pray you have your person that you download to and your group that you invest in. They’re worth it –if you’ve been hurt by them or not. And if you haven’t been hurt by them, don’t worry it’ll come. But, your giving isn’t about what you can get from them. It IS about living and being a member of the body of Christ. Jesus continued because of LOVE. Learn to love and I believe you can give the world something that might make a difference.

                   Why are you being scared kid? –                                                  “It’s a completely different sky there.”

stralia

Because I Said So

Creative success is not always found in inspiration; rather, we see it frequently in diligence and obedience.

You can search the sunrises and travel the world to have your eyes opened to the mysteries that beckon a new thought process, but you’ll find that the true success of completing a creative thought comes in the daily time spent on your craft. There is a slow build that takes place in the moments of paying attention and working with what you have access to. Often you’ll find yourself in seasons (days, weeks, years) of layering character. What’s funny about this act is that you can rarely see the progress. It is as if you are standing on top of a building that you’re putting together yourself and you only have an option to look up and continue the build, or look down and try not to become discouraged as you just see the same two-dimensional view of the sides of what you are creating. Maybe, just maybe we were never meant to see the build. What is entirely apparent to those we surround ourselves with is the completion of this growth. We may never see the height of the diligence that we possess – which is possibly the greatest thing.

If perhaps we were able to see it, we might become terrified at what we actually are… Either upset that we aren’t as far along with life as we had hoped, or we might become intimidated at the height on which we actually stand. This also prevents us from becoming prideful (about how cool we think we are). It limits our focus on ourselves and forces us to glance again and again into the sky and see what else there is to do. We can only go up. One layer at a time, one day after one day, and it all rests on diligence.

G-d will you bless the obedience?

For one of our assessments in school we have to write out some 3-5 year goals that we have. Our assessment then asks you to break down how to get closer in the next 6 months to these goals. Then we have to come up with 1-2 tasks that we can do daily to accomplish these goals. It’s really helpful, because it makes these goals achievable. This is also really terrifying, because it makes these goals achievable.

Part of the reason I’ve been so overwhelmed with this build is that I feel like the daily tasks to get to the end aren’t doing anything remarkable. Not to say I have to accomplish something incredible every day that I’m alive but when you have multiple days of unremarkable build up you wonder what you’re really working for. Yet, I have found so much blessing in the obedience.

Can we real talk? Sometimes I hate what I produce: I think songs can be cheesy, I think blogs can be irrelevant, I think my school work could be 1000 times better, I think I could be doing more creative things on all of my teams, and I think my consistency in Jesus time can ALWAYS improve. But I do still try. I still have a commitment to do my best with the daily and I have found that is all I can do is offer what I have and see what G-d does with it.

But sometimes what I feel I’m called to do doesn’t make sense; you know when you get a nudge to say some encouraging word to someone that seems so obvious that you really don’t care to say it? Then your heart starts to burn and you can’t ignore the words that are being bolded and impressed on your spirit? All I told him was that he had an anointing in leading. It was clear because well, he was leading and it was anointed. So why did I have to say it? Later he, (lets not introduce him as friend number Nick) told me it was actually what he was struggling with and needed to hear. He needed to hear value and a confirmation of what he was doing. My obedience wasn’t to validate me or to do anything that had to do with something that I understood.

My obedience was to build the kingdom.

Listening and obeying even when you don’t know the “whys” (to me) is where faith comes in. Knowing and holding onto the fact that we are the sons and daughters of G-d and that He walks with us and uses us when we are willing. We have a gospel and a truth to proclaim over those who have never heard as well as those who are in need of encouragement.

So, G-d… This is what I could do… honestly again, I feel like I’m not quite doing my best. I’m still working towards that but you’ve been so good to bless what I do have. I can’t see the process of this build, but I will chose to keep my eyes up and keep layering. G-d… You’ve given me every reason to trust You.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/laina-jenine-mu%C3%B1oz/obey-journey-and-heart/33804884537

Still, Be Still

Self-talk: The part of my writing that is optional to read because it’s my brain regurgitating itself onto the pages of my Microsoft word document. It typically has no order or clear point but this is what I deal with on the daily. Welcome to it.

I don’t like being stuck on the same thought process or project for a long time. Which is actually a little bit ridiculous of me to count two weeks as a ‘long time’. Laina, get over yourself. It’s taken to the next level of ridiculousness when I remember that I want to write a book, and that usually has a theme; it usually has a thought process that lasts between 4-32 chapters (I pulled those numbers off of Wikipedia… it’s on a page that I haven’t written yet). Basically I just maybe need to be a bit more forgiving with myself. And I possibly need to be a little less critical of being in a season that is longer than my comfort lasts. So again, I’m posting about the waiting.

Let’s call it “Part II” so that it looks like I meant to be on this again.

Scripture: The part of my writing that isn’t optional to read because it’s G-d’s Word retyped onto the pages of my Microsoft Word document. It’s typically whatever I’m reading at the time and what I pray finds you exactly where you are at, in the moment when you need it most. May it speak truth to you in your misunderstandings daily.

 “Be still, and know that I am G-d; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth”

Psalms 46:10


Be Still and know that I am G-d. I feel like I’m overcomplicating this. I am overcomplicating this. How do I not overcomplicate this? Lord, what does being still look like for me right now? I have this fear of wasting time and being ‘unproductive’ – G-d, I’ve seen your redemptive power in my life so many times before. I actually can’t get this wrong. Break my mindsets that in any way to have final say over what is beneficial for me.

Take back the years the enemy’s  stolen
Satan has no power over our time

It’s like He just wanted to whisper over me, while sitting at a coffee shop (like a good hipster college student) I broke. Whilst pondering over this scripture that I have memorized and forgotten that it was tucked there: I remembered all the times before when the Lord had shown His faithfulness to me and reminded me of what He has done. I was reminded that HE IS G-D. I was reminded that HE WILL be exalted in the nations and HE will be lifted in all the earth, in spite of where I stand with Him and despite if I’m coming along on the journey. He will move and His glory will be seen. ((Oh Lord, I want to come along)). I’ve seen the depths of wasted time in my life, I’ve seen the laziness, I’ve seen the moments I didn’t want to seek Him, I’ve seen the seasons when I was too prideful to actually share any good news. And although I could at any point recount the ways that I’m actually just a sack of bones taking up space –

the LORD sees my time as worth something when I sit.

He created me… I know that some of you doubt that but it’s true. I’m His doing. One thing some of my close people know about me is that my strongest love language is quality time. I can honestly just sit with someone and love them more for it. We don’t even have to be talking I just like to be with them. (some of them). So G-d isn’t surprised, in fact I believe He was waiting on me to learn, that my love languages translate into my needs as it comes to G-d as well. He wants me to finally get that I have to learn how to be still before Him not just because it’s commanded, but personally for me because I need to learn to love Him that way. By a sacrifice of time. It is in those moments I realize it isn’t even a sacrifice; G-d has redeemed the time over and over and again anew in my life.

No time spent with Him sitting still and quiet in His presence will come back void.

It simply can’t.

And so, with that, I’m still learning. I’m taking comfort in the fact that my time with Him even when I am sitting and especially when I am sitting is precious. It’s there that I learn to breathe, to grow closer to Him EVEN WHEN I’M NOT SAYING A WORD, I just love Him more from being with Him.

Synopsis: The part of my writing that you could have skipped to from the beginning if you didn’t want to read Part II of waiting and being still. Haha, sucker! I put it at the end!

I should have listened the first time (and then KEPT listening) to what I thought G-d was saying to me… story of my life. But also, I just tend to forget easily or freak out when I do hear silence. I still think I prefer anything other than silence unless you’re a real life person in the flesh, so negative points to Laina for being hypocritical and having a double standard for G-d.

Thank the LORD that He is gracious on me because dang, I’m not the brightest at all times.

Also, if you’re feeling this way or have felt this way then blam, now you aren’t the only one! Not that you ever were. This is why I write. Share your stories and find out that you aren’t alone. We were never meant to do this alone.

Find G-d

Out Of The Context: Christmas

Welcome to my #ThinkBackThursday this week, I wrote it shortly after my 19th birthday around Christmas time (totally on Christmas day). It’s more of just a prayer and not entirely a Jesus sermon, but it is where I’ve found my heart lately, in full surrender and hopeful request that G-d would be G-d and allow me to be me and hopefully use me everyday along the way. It’s all I really know how to do is lay my requests before G-d and wait on Him; and even with that I am terrible. G-d help me even now, 5 years later and a little bit farther into the path with you. Grow my heart towards You and let there be even more of a willingness to serve Your people and fill me to overflowing with grace. I am needy, but You think about me. Thank You.


For what it’s worth, I give you all I have.

I’m sorry it isn’t pretty, or all that much in the long run.

But I’m willing and ready to change if you want or need me to.


I give you a moldable me. I give you who I am in hopes that You’ll make me better. I give you me, praying that You’ll make me more like you. I let go of fears to give honor and awe to you. I let go of distractions so that You might have my full attention, not out of obligation but out of the LEAST I could give you. Starting now and going into the rest of my life I give it to You. May I never take lightly my service to You and help me to see and re-define who I should be for You.

I love you G-d and I know you love me too.

-Laina

Christmas always reminds me how ridiculously, and undeserving-ly blessed I am. I like all the gifts I got today and somehow I usually sit wishing I had more money or saved better so that this year I could give more. I’m always left with a few people to give presents to AFTER Christmas is over. I don’t see much wrong with that, I just wonder sometimes who stopped today to offer what they could to Jesus? It is after all – – About Him.

Blah blah blah… I’m not about to get on a Christmas lecture on how He is the reason we celebrate, if you don’t know that by now then you’ve been driving with your eyes shut and listening without ears for the months that led up to today. But, for what it’s worth, what have you offered to Him? Not because it’s Christmas, but because He deserves it? Daily. Ha <I can’t believe I started a sentence with a laugh. 8APR2015>, honestly take a look at yourself (I’m looking at my life thus far and the future promise I know I can hold onto) what can you legitimately offer to make the space you’ve taken up worth it? Nothing… Yet somehow when we mix who we are with who G-d wants us to be, HE makes us worth something. But He won’t force himself on you or change you without your allowance. You have to GIVE Him the gift of yourself. Which is almost comical when I think of my life ever being a gift I’d want to present to anyone.

((It’s ALMOST embarrassing))

I don’t understand why G-d chose to love me. All I know is that He did.

I don’t understand why I would somehow make an acceptable gift for the Creator. But somehow He sees it in me.

I don’t understand how G-d orchestrates all of our lives into a beautiful array of hope and progress. But oh, He does.

All I can do is be thankful that I live FREE, with a family that loves me, with friends that miss me when I leave, with jobs that are teaching me how to become who I’m supposed to be.
And despite how messy it is, I have a Creator who is constantly changing the image of who I am into who He is and what He wants me to be.

Jesus, I’m not much and I don’t understand what you see in me, but here I am.

My whole heart for You… Happy Birthday (ish)

Coffee Date

Please allow me to ramble sometimes.

Please allow me to share some of my honest conversations with the LORD.

Please allow me to be transparent so that we might learn something together.

For the most part I try to have a single thought process on what I’m writing about which, as a woman can be extra challenging. Sometimes though, I really just need to talk. So, if you will, pardon my sitting with you and my cup of coffee acting like you are drinking your own coffee… listening to me. 

Thursday morning (yesterday) I woke up, did dishes, checked on laundry, made breakfast and sat down with G-d. All at once it hit me, “what the heck am I doing here? How on earth am I supposed to know how to live out being a Christ follower? Who do I think I am?” I actually for a brief 10 minutes had the revelation that I clearly have no idea what I’m doing. I wouldn’t say I was overwhelmed with doubt but I will say I had every question rolling through my head over what it really means to walk with Jesus… and how I felt was that I was doing an incredibly poor job at that. I felt like I was doing poorly because I all the sudden assumed it couldn’t be THAT simple. There is no way I was doing it right, I wasn’t reading my Bible correctly, or praying enough or right, I was talking too much to G-d and not listening, I was forgetting entirely to address the Holy Spirit in all of my prayers and therefore he maybe wasn’t listening to me. G-d, am I doing this right?

My flat-mates were around the house by this point when one of them brought to my attention a situation her family and friends are dealing with back home. We had absolutely no way of intervening seeing as we now live in a different country and even if we didn’t, there is seriously nothing we can do about it. So we are left with realizing, “hey, we should pray” so we did. G-d helped me remember the verse in Matthew that talks about seeking His kingdom FIRST. That should be our priority and first response in the daily… This is how we follow after Christ. 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV) 

 I overcomplicate things and in turn I forget about grace. G-d has been teaching me about abundance lately. Not only am I given grace but also tomorrow, when the sun rises again out of His faithfulness I will have even more grace. Am I stewarding grace well?

 “As you for, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…But because of His great love for us, G-d, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – It is by grace you have been saved… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of G-d – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:1-9 (NIV)((ISH))

 Thank you JESUS that it isn’t about what I can do. Because I CAN’T DO.

I was dead in my sin. I have no hope when I look in the way of what I’ve been through and what I’ve done. I can’t honestly even understand the gravity of the eternal gift I have been given. My heart literally can’t fathom it. But I know what it was like when I was farthest from G-d, I remember all too clearly the pain of being alone and not hearing G-d. I remember the bitterness that came with being mad at Him and feeling like HE had no idea what He was doing.

 “But because of HIS GREAT LOVE for us, G-d who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” 

 Rich – having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy. This is our earthly definition of “rich”. According to Forbes list Bill Gates is the richest person alive right now, he is worth $76 Billion dollars (if he ever happens to read this www.gofundme.com/storytimewithlaina give it a read and consider helping a sista out with education) so… like I said, Gaterman is worth more money than I will likely ever see in my life combined and that’s about where our human understanding caps out… But my G-d, is able and does EXCEDINGLY and ABUNDANDLY more than we can ever ask or THINK. Guys, we don’t even understand how big his riches are; we can’t fathom the mercy He has shown us and renews everyday towards us.

To try and bring this back home I’ll say this, I can’t actually mess this up. My feelings are wacky right now but I’m also off of a normal schedule with sleep and breathing time and that’s alright – we knew this two week season was coming and we know that it will end. I don’t know if I’m doing this ‘right’ or not but I know that G-d is faithful even when I feel like I’m a crappy kid. I know that His word is true if I am taking the time to invest it into my heart or not. His love is large if I’m allowing myself to receive it or not. His mercy is new every morning even when I fell asleep on my journal the night before and only got one sentence written out. His grace is endless because it covers me, it covers you, it covers our todays and tomorrows and all of our pasts.

 Jesus, bless this conversation, I don’t feel like it’s much but it is what was on my heart and that’s all that I can give. You know what’s up. You know me and whoever might read this, even knowing us you still chose to love us. Holy Spirit, do what only you can do; without You these are just words and a choppy shot at a blog. Thank you for Your word. G-d may it change me and please help it fix my heart.