Thanksgiving Before Christmas

f3a15fa07b4f87fd171e8bb915de5113--christmas-carol-christmas-time

Jeremiah 8:7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.

This time of year gets so busy that sometimes I forget that Jesus came to set us free from frantic endeavors. I  get caught up in the rush of this season. This year, I don’t want to scramble through this time feeling pressured.  I don’t want to be so busy that I  can’t  or don’t take time to bless people with the love that Jesus came to leave with us.

I found myself making a Christmas list and it was October. This season does go by fast but so does every season. I put the list away and determined to wait until after Thanksgiving to continue this list.

You see, I love Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is special. Thanksgiving is special food, special preparation, special tradition, it’s looking back on the year and being grateful for everything, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Christmas is a different kind of special. I love shopping for special gifts, wrapping them up and then giving them. I like to pick thoughtful gifts and I am made in the image of my Father in heaven so I know this isn’t a fluke thing, I was made to be a gift giver and so are you.

That’s what Jesus is to me. He’s the special gift that God sent especially for me and for you. He wrapped Himself plainly so we would have to look for the value of Him and the heart of the One who gave the gift. God had to wait for the perfect time to give it. Not too early and not too late but just in time. I wonder as I write this if God felt the anticipation of waiting for the season to arrive as we do? Timing is everything.

I’m not going to rush this season. I am going to take my time. I am going to bless like Jesus and not get so busy that I forget we have a Thanksgiving before we have a Christmas.  I am going to enjoy the special services. I am going to meditate on the gift. The truth is that I have trouble with receiving gifts.  I don’t want people to make a fuss about me but you know what? That’s often pride. So I’m going to learn to receive and I’m going to wait to give in the proper season. I am going to appreciate our life and take one season at a time.

So do you find yourself so busy with the hectic Christmas season that it becomes a to-do list and not a get-to celebrate season? Does it get stressful as you budget to give? Can you take time to stop this year and enjoy the moments and bless as Jesus blesses by being present as a present?

 

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Grow Weary

29262-Anonymous-Quote-When-you-feel-like-quitting-think-about-why-youGalatians 6:And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I was feeling very discouraged and weary over the past few weeks. In ministry there are lots of critics and you have to keep a good handle on your heart but sometimes your hand slips and your heart gets a little tainted with the mess of another. The best thing to do is to take a step back, cleanse, pray, and get back in the game but sometimes when it happens over and over, the shock of seeing mud again from the same source on your heart makes you sigh deeply and think about the ease of quitting and not moving towards cleansing.

I was met with a naysayer to ministry. “You’re not doing it right. If you were doing it right, you’d do it like I do.” On the left hand, “We love you and we love what you are doing.” On the right hand, “You’re wrong and it’s incredible that you have been able to get this far.” I knew intellectually this was a manifestation of a heart awry BUT, AND THIS IS A BIG LESSON, sometimes, you override what you know to be true for a false thing if you aren’t careful.

I remember in one of my psychology classes Dr. Johns said, “If I tell you every single day that the sky is green and that you have believed a lie and that you are naive in ever believing it was blue, you’ll eventually question yourself.”

And I did.

I did you guys! I questioned the color of the sky. Never mind that my ministry spoke for itself and had its own measure of success.

I questioned the color of the sky in a question, “What am I not giving the naysayer? Why do they have the need to issue a beat down? Is our ministry clueless and heading down the wrong direction?” The Holy Spirit swept in and let me see that the complaining had absolutely nothing to do with me but by then I had allowed myself to get weary. It had been months of public criticism. The problem with thinking of quitting ministry is that ministry isn’t a career, it’s a calling and if you begin to think it’s a career you’ll shop it around and miss the calling of where God called you to be.

We’ve heard it said that the average pastor who leaves the ministry leaves due to the words and actions of eight people. Eight. People in ministry, like us, choose every day to get in the truck and leave their calling behind because they let an average of eight people steal their joy and steal their calling. ~ Leading and Loving It

Folks sadly, I was below average in letting one person’s rant get the best of me. That’s what weariness does.

We must show mercy and yet stand firm and the only way to do that is knowing who you are. Good thing I had done the work for that long before this moment.

Anne Lamott says mercy is tough. In her book Hallelujah Anyhow she writes:

Mother Theresa cradling strangers at dawn is very romantic, but in life, there is also your thirsty bigoted father, your lying sister, the whole human race, living and dying and rising with Christ.  

Don’t quit. There is a harvest at the end of it all if you don’t quit.

Have you ever felt like quitting? Sometimes it is warranted but most times it delays the prize. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of what God has called you to do. Seek God. He will lead you through.

 

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Daughter of The King

image1

1Peter 2:9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I saw this beautiful picture by Rebecca Halton and got goosebumps.

Daughter of the Most High King your Father calls you Chosen, Royal, Holy, His Possession. Your present condition does not determine His eternal position. Stop living in condemnation. Start being the conquerer that you were created to be. When you believe and know whose you are, you become unstoppable. Go out and make a difference!

Published in: on November 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Don’t Freak Out

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

I often hear believers say, “I’m waiting on God.” They then quote Psalm 46:10 but only the first sentence. “Be still and know that I am God.” While they are correct that is a complete sentence, I don’t think it’s a call to inactivity. To quote The Princess Bride:

Means

It is said that whenever Martin Luther heard news that was disheartening he would answer with, “Come let us sing the 46th Psalm”. In other words, don’t freak out, God has got this. All of your effort and worry and doubt is calmed by the Great God of Jacob, your Father. The only one that should tremble is your enemy because he forgot you are armed with a God who loves you and who has given angels charge over you.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 

Very much like the Be Still verse is this verse in the midst of adversity. The Israelites have escaped slavery and they come to the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army charging down on them. They are faced with what looks like two choices, death by sword or by drowning and Moses starts this rally with, “Fear not, stand firm.” Are you kidding me? How do you not freak out at this moment? He ends the rally with what should calm us, the know that I am God part, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” In panic mode we make irrational decisions so the phrase and posture is the same, don’t freak out, God has got this.

Mark  4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Jesus is asleep during a great storm where fishermen were at the helm of a boat. It should have been relaxing but this great storm comes along that even men who know how to navigate the sea freak out over. Sometimes the things that you think you have control over take momentary control over you. That’s when Jesus comes in and calms it down. “Peace! Be Still”.  He speaks to the enemy let them rage no more against you for they don’t know who has your back.

Be still is not an excuse to do nothing. Be still is a posture of confidence as you continue your journey. So no more excuses of why you can’t. Instead stand firm, don’t freak out and move in the direction God is calling you to.

What have you been avoiding, or have been freaked out over, or is keeping you up at night with worry? Can you Fear not, stand firm, be still and know that He is God?

Then keep moving forward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 23, 2017 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

But She’s The Bride

church-pic-e1414448010735

I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

20882058_10214238212571615_2491023361306927418_n

You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

20476562_10214075396301310_6063870871749512506_n

This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Those Accountable Friends

24184d4bb4fff423fa639f2abd8c3498

Proverbs 27:5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

 

A friend of mine asked if I had anyone who holds me accountable. I answered that in fact I do. She said that she did as well and that the response of those who kept her accountable helped keep her in check when she got out of line in her own life.

It’s that way with me. When  I get out of line or am thinking about issues with the wrong frame of mind I have people in my life who hold me accountable. It happened recently when someone who I have given permission to speak into my life called me out on an issue in front of a group of friends. If I am honest, it stung but here’s the thing, if I am open to growth I am open to receive correction, so I prayed about it and examined myself. I then examined why I do it and I needed to take a step back and assess my intention. When we came back together I apologized to the group and thanked my friend for telling me.

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 

I hate generalities and as I type I can feel you asking me, WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE DOING?, so here was the gist:

My friend asked if I had heard the story of the many starfish who were stranded on the shore. A man was seen throwing the starfish back into the water. The man who witnessed asked if this endeavor was going to make a difference given the number of starfish left to go and the man who was throwing starfish into the water said, “It makes a difference to that one.” My friend proceeded to tell me that she thinks of me when she hears that story because I am a rescuer. I get starfish back into the water and it’s admirable but once back in the water, I go put my attention on another stranded starfish. The starfish who is now settled, gets little  attention from me and that I needed to decide if I was strictly a counselor or a friend, both very different. In the moment it felt as if she were saying I ditch my friends for the next rescue but what she was asking was, did I notice I did this and was it intentional? I hadn’t noticed I did this and it was in no way intentional but I can see how it can hurt someone and it wasn’t my heart.

Dave Ramsey in his Financial Peace University said if the person you choose to hold you accountable can’t hurt your feelings sometimes, then you have the wrong person. We protest this thought process because we live in a generation where feelings matter more than fact but what if you are hurting someone unintentionally and because you won’t receive it you continue to live an area of your life in error?

Proverbs 28:33 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.

So who holds you accountable? Are they allowed to hurt your feelings? If not, get someone who can. Whatever you do, don’t correct someone’s bad behavior if they haven’t given you permission to do so because you will not be received and will create an offense.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm  Comments (1)  

My Weapon of Choice

IMG_5686

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side ~ Chris Tomlin

Sitting in church this morning as we sang this song in semi-unison, I need to remember that the bible says make a joyful noise and even though we clap and sing to different beats and tones we are here for one purpose.  I felt such total peace. To stand under the wing of the One who formed me before the foundation of the earth knowing I am secure because the weapons of my warfare are not designed in the earthly realm, and since I don’t war people, there is no need.  I war thought processes and mindsets that crept into my soul making me feel that I wasn’t enough on my own and that there were things I needed that I didn’t have. I war perceived inadequacies in relationships that make me feel unloved, and until I gain clarity on the situation at hand, I stand feeling unworthy and helpless.  Yet when I read the bible it says I am more than enough in fact, I was created with everything I would ever need downloaded.

Isaiah 54:15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. 16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

When I read that no weapon formed against me will prevail it tells me that weapons will be formed to take me out but they can’t. It takes me back to when I was a kid and I wanted to be Wonder Woman only now I really am. I can stand as the arrows fly, and people say and do whatever they say and do and as long as I don’t respond with the same arrows, they fly by. Sure, the threat hurts my feelings, but feelings are up and down and I don’t live my life by them.

Know who you are and especially whose you are and then whatever arrows try to come to distract you from your God-given path know that they can’t harm you. You’re not out until God says you’re out.

 

Published in: on March 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm  Comments (1)  

Courageous Friendship

harry-potter-quote

 

2 Samuel 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Yesterday standing in front of Costco we ran into some friends. They told us a story about an incident in their church and how it had been handled. Instantly the idea of courageous friendship came to mind because that is what they had been. They had spoken truth in love and it’s painful to do sometimes.

You see, courageous friendship speaks the truth. Maybe you don’t agree when being corrected by a someone who is supposed to be your friend but a friend loves you anyway. In the case of Nathan and David in the bible passage above, verse 15 tells a powerful tale. It says,

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

Nathan went home. He went home to his own food, his own issues, his own bills, his own life, his own wife. He didn’t have to go to David to confront his sin, but love and a word from the Lord can send you places that are awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes there is nothing in it for you but heartache for a friend.

Courageous friendships are not ones who post on Social Media trying to gather a following. They are not found whispering in dark places. Courageous friendships are knocking on your door and resolving issues. You and them. Them and you.

Nathan and David had shared a rich friendship. Do you have any rich friendships? Ones in which courage is acknowledged and expected? Or do you move on to the next best thing each time the word comes and it doesn’t agree with your agenda?

Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  

In Time

vision-quotes

buzz vision

Last October I was given a vision of my next step in ministry. I couldn’t wait to see it fulfilled. I began to research, to ask questions of those I knew, and to make plans. Each time I got ready to launch something got in the way of the plan and it was stalled. I wasn’t frustrated just chomping at the bit to move forward. God’s timing is not like our own and so I waited.

My husband began to see the vision of what I was going to do and began to pray with me. Then he began to change the ideas I had. This is when the test happens because the question becomes,

I had my own ideas, I had my own lists, I had my own plan but what happens when they aren’t where we are going in ministry?

Well, as I always say,

Submission isn’t submission until we disagree. 

So I got on board with the vision of the house, I began to input where I was asked. We launched last night, prayerfully, considerately, and mindfully, a leadership team. You see, my vision was to make a path to ordain women into ministry. My husband challenged me to think broader. Together we forged a plan of ordination for all people. We gathered our combined resources and gathered wisdom and materials for a clear path. There are 15 of us in the beginning stages of this new phase of our ministry. There were 7 women which was still important to me. Now I get to watch it all unfold. I’m excited and glad to have waited for proper timing and direction.

Sometimes things take awhile. Even though we may have a vision and it seems clear, the path isn’t always how we think it should go. I would prayerfully ask you to be mindful of this and to wait for God’s timing.  This isn’t the time to push forward your own agenda over that of the church in which you serve. A pastor friend in Arkansas preached on the Baptism of Commitment. He said,

Are you committed to your own agenda or are you committed to your leadership? 

That’s a great question to leave you with today.

Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm  Comments (2)