Packing For The Journey Ahead

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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  

In Time

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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)  

Lost Things

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Last week I went shopping with my Starks, Louisiana cousins. We met up for lunch and some girl time. My husband was spending some one on one time with his dad so this was perfect. Around 6 pm I decided to give my husband a call to see how he was doing. I opened my purse to grab my phone. It wasn’t in its usual spot so I began to dig around for it and quickly discovered I didn’t have it.

I stopped and thought back to if I had put anything down and the only time I set anything down was in the dressing room so I quickly walked back. I mean quickly.

No phone. I retraced my steps throughout the store. No phone. I went to the Customer Service desk and asked if anyone had turned in a phone. “No Ma’am.” I searched my Apple Watch to see if I could find the Find My Phone app. No app. I went to look for my cousins. Still not in full panic mode, but close, I borrowed the car keys to see if I had left it on the seat. No phone on the seat, no phone on the floor, no phone between the seats. I stop and say aloud, “Lord, I need your help.” I look through my shopping bags. Nothing. I go back in the store and my cousin calls my phone. It has a loud ringer. Nothing. I call my husband from her phone and give him instructions. “Please call Verizon, tell them I lost my phone. Then get on your Find My Phone app and log in as me and find out where my phone is.” I’m a little more worried at this point, because a) my husband isn’t great at these things and b) I have lost a $400 phone.

My husband calls me back three or four times because he can’t figure out how to do what I’ve asked and then he finally calls back to give me the address of where my phone is pinging. It’s at a shop we were at earlier, which is now closed and doesn’t have an answering machine. He says calmly, “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”

My cousin, gets on Facebook and sends the owner a Private Message but in the meantime, I offer to buy us all a Starbucks, yes you guessed it, app on the phone has the money on it, luckily I have some cash, and we head back home. I’m worried about the phone. I am with family, I am with my husband, it’s not a matter of connection, it’s the cost and the fact that I don’t remember when the last time I backed it up to the computer and how reliable is the cloud anyway?

The next day, we get up but guess what? No cell service because in Starks Louisiana Verizon doesn’t work, only AT&T. Go figure. So my cousin calls the store and they aren’t open yet. It’s a 45 minute drive there but my husband wants to stop by his mom’s house first. Ugh! I get ugly. “Sure, let’s go to your mom’s because your phone isn’t missing.” Yes, not my proudest moment by far.

My cousin calls us on the way to the store, yes he skipped going to his mom’s, and says she has spoken to the owner and the owner is checking for my phone. She tells the owner it is either in the dressing room or on the counter. Sure enough, it’s fallen between a gap in the chair in the dressing room. Big shout out to La-Tee-Da Boutique for their amazing attitude and care. I walk into the shop about an hour later and the owner smiles big and says, “Hello Susan! I have your phone.”

Whew! What a relief. I walk out after my sincere thank you and thank the Lord. “Lord thank you for your help and your kind people.” The Lord says, “I know about lost things.” Ignorant me, I smile and say, “Yes, I know!” Totally oblivious about the lesson.

Then Chris Hodges preaches at Grow16 about lost people and how God must feel frantic about them and how the Lord needs us to do our job. In that moment my eyes filled with tears and my heart begins to pound in my chest, as they are doing as I’m writing this, and the tears begin to stream down my face, as they are doing now in an airport waiting for my flight.

That frantic feeling I had retracing my steps, trying to figure out where I had left them, how it grieved me to lose something expensive, that is nothing compared to what God lost.

Folks this was a phone. This was a phone.

We’re talking about lost people. Chris Hodges said how sad it must make God when we pray sometimes. I repented in that moment. “Lord, I’m sorry. I prayed for your help with such clarity for my phone and although I pray for the lost, I don’t pray with such fervency for lost souls. Please forgive me. I totally missed your cue about lost things. Totally felt relief that you cared about my phone without looking at the big picture of the lesson you were trying to teach me. Thank you for loving me enough to bring a message to me three days later that taught me exactly what you were trying to tell me. You never give up and I am grateful to you.”

Okay, people are staring at me here at the airport terminal as I cry and write so let me leave you with this:

Matthew 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coinsand loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Published in: on July 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm  Comments (2)  

The Order Of Things

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Joe Quatrone Jr.  

A self-described “Old Guy”, meaning a man I hold in esteem who has retired from ministry spoke this wisdom in a conversation.

“Before there can be mercy, there has to be judgment.”

It was a drop the mic moment. I took it home and mulled it over. I often relate things to my experience as a mother. It’s quite true that when my children misbehaved I corrected first and then made them see what they did wrong. Okay makes sense but…

I then had to reconcile that with

James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

In order to show mercy we have to have judgment. Mercy comes through judgment. It’s a great revelation. It may not sit well with the “don’t judge me Christian” but it isn’t biblical. Mercy triumphs over judgement but judgment is first.

It’s as my husband explains, giving mercy out of order is like giving a cure for a disease you didn’t know you had. There is no recognition of the healing.

 

I Wasn’t Raising A Boy

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How often did you hear me say, “I’m not raising a boy. I’m raising a man. There is a difference.” You’d roll your eyes but you’d move in the direction of a man.

I remember when you were little and I would cuddle and snuggle you and kiss you fiercely and you’d squeal with laughter then run and put on a football helmet and want to play tackle football. I’d tell you girls didn’t play tackle football and you’d say, “Girls are BOR-ING”.

I remember you’d spray “Monster Spray” all around the house so that we’d be safe.

I remember when you’d wear your He-Man sword tucked in the back of your shirt everywhere we’d go and what a hassle you’d give me in the car seat because you had to have it at hand. I remember the time you reached for that sword on the way to the car because you’d spotted a dangerous bullfrog. You took your left hand like a traffic cop and said in a low almost 4 year-old voice, “Stop right there mommy until I tell you to move.” You moved your sword into position and stood between the bullfrog and me and said, “Ok, pass behind me. I’ll protect you.” I ran and squealed, and you said, “Aren’t you glad I’m your Superhero?”

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I could have been impatient as I usually was, but I wasn’t raising a boy, I was raising a man.

I remember when I’d tell you to help your sister up the stairs so she wouldn’t fall and how you would very seriously take that task and the others I gave you as you grew. Things like opening doors, walking on the outside, being aware of your surroundings, being polite and respectful.

I remember when you were 15 and had a learner’s permit and were so willing to drive me to the grocery store. You ran out ahead of me, jumped in the car and started the engine. I stopped at the car door and you yelled, “Get in!”, and I didn’t move.

“You have to come and open the door for me”.

“You’re not my girlfriend.”

“No, I’m your mom and that’s more important.”

“ARGH, OK”

It would have been easier to give you a pass and laugh it off but I wasn’t raising a boy. I was raising a man.

You came and opened the door and to this day it delights my soul to see you open the car door for your wife. It isn’t the big accomplishments that make me proud to be your momma. It’s the little things that make you a gentleman, a godly man, a good man that make me proud to be your momma.

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The conversation, just you and me, at Ryan’s went like this:

“You’re going off to college and you have four years to figure out your passion. Find out who you are and what you want to do because I will not be the mother who receives the phone call that you’re just not happy with your life, a wife and two kids later. At that point my allegiance will have to switch to your wife and your children and it will break my heart but I will have to do it.”

So when I read Ann Voskamp’s blog on recent events in the media, I have to be honest and say I cried. I cried because we still say ignorant things like, “That’s how men are”. The fact of the matter is no, that’s how we allow them to be. Teach them to be godly, how to treat women, teach them to be guided by Jesus.

Click Here to read. Her blog is meant to be read and digested. It is well written and it is right on. 

 

 

Published in: on June 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Effective Prayer

imageIf you go to The Lord in prayer and you come out feeling the exact same way, burdened by the same problems, heavy with a load too big for your shoulders, then all you have done is effectively complained.

Effectively praying puts a few simple principles in place. Confess your sin, pray specifically, believe there is an answer on the way. Most of all leave your burden with the only One who can help you.

Published in: on May 25, 2016 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Feeling A Little Restless

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Tuck your feet in because I may step on them. There is this teaching going around that we are to rest and not strive for the things of God. The teaching is solid. We are to rest and not strive but what does it mean to rest? A cease from labor? Not quite.

Resting in the Lord is a state of peace, yet sometimes our lives look nothing like that. In fact, we are some seriously busy stressed out folk. Well……..except when it comes to ministry. At that point we are resting.

Start a small group you say? I say, “I’m waiting on the Lord to direct me.”

Come to a prayer meeting you say? I say, “I can pray at home, God knows the needs of others I don’t need to do that.”

Help disciple you say? “No sir! I did my time in 19…..”

Do you realize the 1900’s were over 16 years ago? By now you should be growing moss under your then weary body. Excuses excuses. And dare I say not biblical?

Perhaps the burden for the lost isn’t all that great. Perhaps the great commission doesn’t really pertain to us. For you see, we and our households are safe. So sorry for anyone else.

Or wait a minute.

Could it be that we want the palace living without the work it took to become a kingdom citizen? For you see, there is a process. Or perhaps wilderness living is just where it’s going to stay because to enter into the promise takes work.

We have yet to shed that old slavery mindset. As slaves our lives are dictated by the whims of our Master, and just who is our Master? Well in this mindset I can say for sure it isn’t the Lord Jesus Christ because he gave an order, but you all know that. It’s that sticky little go make disciples verse. It reveals our heart every time.

 

Published in: on May 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Multicultural Church

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Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” NKJV

Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. NKJV

I am crazy enough to believe that multicultural means just that, all cultures in one. However that is not the common process in church. We like segregation. It suits us to have what we want. I was surprised to hear a pastor teach recently that what we have in today’s church is not multicultural but rather multicolored. Each group in its own service talking about doing life together. So that if you take a picture of the church it doesn’t look like a mosaic.

The reason for this is that while we can preach mosaic all day long, we go home primarily to segregation. We prefer to be insulated in our own culture so it makes sense to segregate each in our churches. And this is not just about language. This is about color, socioeconomics, male and female, even raising our hands in church. Oh we can do a wave at a football game but raise your hand in certain segregated churches and you’re an apostate. I actually heard of a pastor who didn’t want his youth group to mingle with other youth groups because they may be exposed to youth who raise their hands. HUH?

I am still crazy enough to continue to believe that one day we will see a multicultural church. Notice I didn’t say churches. Don’t miss that. One day we will hear the sound of nations worshipping together in one mind and one accord. For now, we continue to be happy with multicolored segregation where the lesser meets in an adjoining room, each getting what we want. One day though we’ll catch a glimpse of heaven where everyone is in one place with all things in common. One day Your Kingdom Come will become an actuality and I think some will be shocked.

Published in: on April 7, 2016 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Doris Avila

1795291_10201567281649883_1883956978_oOnce upon a time a long, long time ago a boy brought a girl home to meet his mom. His mom was a Christian woman who had raised her son in church. In fact, his mom was baptized when she was pregnant with him and she said he awakened in that water and begin to move around. She loved him so much. It was evident by the way she looked at him.

The girl he brought home was not a church girl. His mom met her son’s girlfriend and smiled at her and welcomed her. She took her into her life and we will never know if she was scared for her son, approved of this girl or not,  but we do know one thing, she invited this girl to lunch often and because she is a wonderful cook, she would serve her up a great lunch and a great bible study. I guess she figured if her son was going to marry this girl, then she’d had better get to work on leading her to Christ.

I am in awe of this woman because she could have decided that this girl was not worth her son’s time. Only this mom was wise and understood her son was stubborn and talking to him about this unsaved girl wasn’t going to work. So she set out to do what she knew to do. She prayed. She spoke a word in correct timing. She loved her. She cared for her and she showed her Christ.

Eventually, her son and this girl did get married and the girl did find her way to Jesus in a profound way. When her son died, she looked at her daughter-in-law and said, “We are now Naomi and Ruth and we will find your Boaz.” This was probably the only time that the girl felt misunderstood by her mother-in-law but you see, her mother-in-law was wise and had insight that this girl didn’t have.

That girl was me and that mother is Doris Avila whom I love to this day. I’m writing this today because memories of those days are flooding through my mind. She has moved away and there are days I long to sit with her and talk about life and the love of Jesus. To this day, we remain close and she holds a place in my heart and in my life where she speaks and I listen!

Published in: on February 1, 2016 at 8:51 am  Comments (2)  

You’re Not Allowed

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It bothers me when a spouse says in public what their spouse is allowed to do and what they aren’t allowed to do. I can only imagine what that nightmare of a marriage looks like in private.

“My husband is not allowed to drink his coffee in the living room.”

“My wife is not allowed to work.”

“My husband knows better than to think he’s bringing home a recliner.”

I stay quiet as I hear these statements but in my mind I think, “Bully”. I believe when we try to usurp authority over a person we are in essence saying we are higher than God. The bible reads that God is not one who overrides your free will instead he offers choices. Those choices usher in his presence or not.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

My husband and I are very strong people in very different ways. I am verbal and will say what I think. He is non-verbal and votes with his action. So when we disagree we tend to stop until a compromise is reached. He has never said to me that I wasn’t allowed to do something and I have never forbid him anything. We both take into account the free will of the other.

Are there forbidden things in a marriage? Of course! Adultery, Abuse, Addiction, Manipulation, Lying are things that are forbidden in a marriage but I would think if I have to demand a ceasing of these actions then I married the wrong person who lacks love and character.

When we  continually call the shots, continually admonish our spouse as if they are our child, continually manipulate the finances, I wonder where Christ is in all of that? When it’s our way or the highway whole people sometimes cower for a season but they eventually fall away. Maybe they don’t leave the situation. Maybe they just go away emotionally. Maybe they begin to spend time alone not meeting our needs. Maybe they find someone who respects their opinion.

We can argue that the person who is experiencing the violence of the violation of free will, chose to give it up and I would say that is true. In counseling I often hear that they feel stuck because of a circumstance such as children who will be devastated by divorce, so they bide their time. Then there is the lack of work or experience where they can’t support themselves which often keeps them in this situation as well.

It can happen in the work place. There are those who feel threatened by their boss or their employee. The employee who continually threatens to quit, who calls in sick as a pattern on critical days. The boss who lords that there are plenty of people out of work over their employees. It isn’t right.

As Christians we are supposed to have no unwholesome talk come out of our mouth. When we think of unwholesome talk we think about cussing, gossip, but what about bullying? What about dragging about someone by a leash demanding our way? Isn’t that the tearing apart of a person of free will? Un-whole-some?