Carry your weight

carryOur church is in the midst of transition. Our former Senior Pastor has moved on to another congregation, and in a few days we will vote for our new Senior Pastor – who is moving up from his role Worship Pastor. I am excited about the changes and look forward to things “settling” a bit. In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor David spoke about his new role of Senior pastor and the weight that he felt as he stepped into it. I thought it was a great point that he made. There is a weight to being in a leadership role. As he said, when someone walks into our sanctuary, he has a responsibility to that person. That is a big weight…but since he is following his calling from God, he can’t give excuses and ignore that responsibility. (Pastor David, if you’re reading this – I hope that’s kind of. sort of close to how you explained it). He then went on to say that ALL of us have a weight that we carry as we live out God’s calling for our lives. Worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, volunteers in outreach, moms, dads, etc. We all have a responsibility to live the live that God planned for us…and sometimes that requires that we carry the weight of that role with us. I thought the sermon was great and I appreciated the words that God spoke through Pastor David that day. But it wasn’t truly until 24 hours later did the significance of those words really hit me. Like a wrecking ball. Over the past month or so, I have watched sin destroy some beautiful things that God had given us. I’ve witnessed people fall from their self-proclaimed “untouchable” stature of faith. It has been heart-breaking for me to watch, and I’m certain it has grieved God. Within the last 24 hours especially, it has become clear that the sin that caused a few to stumble, has greatly affected many others. As Christians, we have a responsibility to one another. We are told in the Bible to lift up or encourage each other daily. We are supposed to walk in community and love others together. When we fail in that duty, and especially when we fall to sin – others are affected! Pastor David was spot on with his point. There is a weight that comes with being a Christian. Especially if you are called to leadership. Or ministry. Or mentoring. If this is your call from God – to lead others – to teach and encourage and instruct (and it sort of is for all of us in a way) then DO YOUR JOB. Walk the walk that you talk to others. Now, before I ruffle too many feathers…I know that not a single one of us is perfect. We will all stumble. We will all make mistakes. When these things happen, we must own them, accept our part, repent, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Sin will happen. But we all have to realize that as Christians, our sin will affect others! There are always consequences for sin…and sometimes, people are a big part of the negative consequence. We have been saved and called by God to live HOLY lives. That is the biggest part of our calling from God. That is a big weight to carry. We will trip. But we still must be holy, because He is holy. My heart is broken for some dear people who have become causalities of another’s sin. I pray for healing and restoration. I pray that we would all be watchful and mindful of those to whom we minister…that we would carry the weight of that seriously and truly understand what is at stake.

Speak to me God

morganEach and every day I am amazed at the way the Spirit speaks to me. I know that at times I may sound like a broken record, and I truly wish I could find better ways to express my awe and amazement at the way God works…but the fact is He continues to work and speak and move in my life and I just can’t help but share it. I have often wondered about people who say they “heard from God.” Not that I necessarily doubted them…but more that I just wondered what that sounded like. And why wasn’t I hearing Him? Looking back, my expectations may have been slightly “off.” Perhaps I was waiting for Morgan Freeman to show up in his all white suit and convince me he had a plan. Perhaps I thought there would be thunder and lightning followed by a grand decree from a booming voice in the clouds. Maybe even I thought it would be a series of cryptic dreams for me to interpret. The way God has spoken to me has gone far above and beyond my expectations, though. God has placed some seriously awesome (yes, I just said that) people in my life over the last 6 months. As I have met and gotten to know these Godly men and women, I thought it was such a blessing to be surrounded by friends and church family. But only recently have I truly learned what that blessing really means in my life. They are indeed wonderful friends and people on whom I know I can count. But they are SO much more than this. I am learning more and more that these beautiful people are the vessels that God is using to speak to me. God knows my heart and he knows what I need to hear from him. He gives the people around me the words to share with me. Its just amazing! God has allowed me to open my heart up to people (something I have not done in….forever) and to begin beautiful friendships. He is using those relationships to restore me and to allow me to grow. I love the way God works! And I thank Him for speaking to me through the people he has placed in my life. They have brought fellowship to my door, peace to my pathway, and happiness to my heart.

As I edit and finish this post, I just received a message from one of these dear, beautiful people, telling me she is bringing dinner. I have a sick child at home and this dear friend cooked dinner so that my daughter wouldn’t have to smell food cooking. Proof that God ministers through my friends. Thank you God!

Sewing leaves

figOk….this is the fourth attempt at starting this post. I know what I am trying to say but the words are just not coming out in any logical fashion. They are coming out like cheesy cliches – and that is NOT how I want to sound or what I ever want to share in this forum. I am weighed down this morning by a sadness that I can’t seem to express. Why do I read…hear…and almost believe the idea that its ok to be who I am – but can’t seem to actually own that reality and live it every day? Why am I unable to drown out the voices that incessantly chirp in my ear about my shortcomings? Why is the “bad” always easier to believe than the good? Who am I to think that I am ___________ (fill in the blank with anything…worthy, beautiful, okay, able, – you get the idea). I know that I am told that I have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:14. I read that…I believe it because it is from God…but there are many days where I DO NOT live it. I know deep in my soul that God loves me. I feel his love carry me through dark times and joyfulness. When I am alone in my fears, I cling to His love to sustain me. I do. But I still have doubts at times about ME. I’m not sure how that makes any sense. Perhaps when I fall to the dangerous act of comparing myself to others – it is then that I feel “less than” worthy. Comparison kills confidence for sure. When I am asked to step out and be bold I shrink and hide behind my insecurities. I become like Adam and Eve in the garden – sewing fig leaves to hide their reality. Ashamed of who they were and what they had done, they attempted to hide themselves from God. What do I need to hide? What am I afraid of revealing to the world? (As I type these ramblings of questions – I truly am not sure I can even answer them. As I reread and edit – I am not sure this even makes any sense). I guess my take away from this time spent pondering is that I don’t have to hide from the God who created me. He knows what I am attempting to conceal from the world – my endless insecurities and fear of failure. He knows and yet he loves me anyway. It doesn’t matter what the world sees or thinks, or if they judge and hate. I am broken. But with God I am whole. I am afraid. But with God I have not a spirit of fear. I am insecure. But with God I can do all things. I am weak. But in my weakness I am strong through Christ. I need to stop sewing leaves to hide myself from the judgement of others and stand strong in who I am in God.

Day 3 – Love Is Not Selfish

Originally posted on Became One:

lovedarebookLove each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – Romans 12:10

“If you find it hard to sacrifice your own desires to benefit your spouse, then you may have a deeper problem with selfishness than you want to admit.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I truly want what’s best for my husband or wife?
  • Do I want them to feel loved by me?
  • Do they believe I have their best interest in mind?
  • Do they see me as looking out for myself first?

Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation in the eyes of your spouse”.

Kendrick, S., The Love Dare, B & H Publishing Group

View original

Belonging

homeYesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.

Experience His Love

cross“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  ~Ephesians 3:19

This verse has recently become my favorite verse. I know that I have read it many times in the recent past, but in the last week it has become so meaningful to me. And the more I read it, the more I see how packed it is with so such rich meaning and beauty. The first part that I really love talks about experiencing the love of Christ. God doesn’t want us to just know that we are loved. He doesn’t want us to just feel that we are loved. God wants us to experience his love. I love that idea. Its so much more than a feeling…stronger than an emotion…it is an experience. And even as we experience it, it is too much for us to understand fully. It is not like an earthly love. Its a supernatural love from our creator – the one who created us and who created love. THEN – only after we have experienced this love – THEN we our complete. Hmmm…so earthly love does not complete us. Not love from our spouse, or kids, or friends, or even brothers and sisters in Christ. The love of Christ is what completes us. Without experiencing that love – we are not complete. But when we do experience that love, we are complete with ALL the fullness of life. This is the abundant life that Jesus promised. It’s why he came. John 10:10 says “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” We are just going to “get by” in this life. Jesus’ love completes us and grants us that fullness of life. So, we experience His love (even though it’s too much for our brains to understand), we are made complete not only with a full, abundant life, but also with POWER from God. So a full life, and power from God. Power to live out our lives, power to overcome struggles, power to fight the enemy, power to love others through their sin, power to spread the gospel, power to fulfill the plans God has for our lives. The promise from God to be made complete with His power is overwhelming to me. Being complete with His power means that there is NOTHING out there that is bigger or stronger than my God. With his power in my I can accomplish all that he has in store for my life – no excuses. God would not call me to serve him, and then not equip me with the tools to do that. To think otherwise is to short change God. As we experience the love of Christ, we are made complete. Life becomes a full, rich, meaningful life. We share in the power that God has for us. Rather than feeling God’s love, or knowing that he loves us, choose to experience His love in your life.

A few of my favorite things

Originally posted on Became One:

Image

I am sitting here staring at my computer screen trying to will myself to make sub plans for my middle school classes on Friday. (If you are a teacher you understand why this is so hard.) Brian and Nick just left for Bible study and Awanas. This will sound silly to some, but I miss Brian when he is not home with me. I do not like to be apart from him. My second favorite part of the day is when he comes home to me after we have both worked all day. I love cooking his dinner and having it ready for him when he walks in the door. i make it a point to greet him at the door when he arrives each evening. These little, simple gestures make me happy – and I know they make him happy too. My favorite thing is waking at 4:15 (craziness)…

View original 88 more words

The absence of light

candle-frame2I love the energy and excitement that surround the educational process. I love learning. I am passionate about reading and writing. I love the idea of sharing what I know with others – and even better – teaching others how to think and learn for themselves. I teach middle school English/Language Arts so one would think that I would be as happy as a clam that I get to do what I love every day. And I will admit there are flashes of those truly wonderful, teachable moments. But lately, I have just been drained of my passion and love for teaching and for learning. It makes me sad. I wish I could re-capture some of the excitement and figure out how to pass it on to my students…but lately that has not been the case. (I’m a little embarrassed to admit that – but I have to be transparent – or I should not even bother to blog). During one of our amazing early morning conversations, Brian helped me really get to the heart of why I have been pretty miserable lately at school. It’s not about kids who misbehave, or administrators who seem to be out of touch. It’s not even about parents who are practically non-existent in the lives of their children. I’m certain those things occur everywhere. The revelation that I had this early morning was that it is just dark here. There is no light. There is so much brokenness and hurt and pain that light has a hard time shining through. And when a glimmer of light seems to shine through, it is quickly extinguished. I try not to write negative posts – and I’m not trying to throw myself a pity party about my work situation. Again, I’m just trying to be real about life and about the hardships and struggles. Matt Chandler, in his latest message, spoke about people who “pretend” things are ok and great – just so they will appear to be further in their walk than they really are. I don’t want to be one of those people who pretend all is well and that I am positive all the time and that nothing gets to me because I am a strong woman of faith. Rather, because I am a strong woman of faith, I can be real about life and problems and darkness, and know that God meets me where I am and loves me for who I am. I pray daily that I could be a light to someone here in my school. But reality hits me that it may not look the way I think it should. I know in my heart that some people occasionally stand in just a glimpse of the light in me…but I feel that most of the time, that light is swallowed up by the thick darkness of the world in which I work. It is my prayer now and going forward that I do not ever relent in my desire to shine. That I do not ever let the darkness of the world snuff out the candle I carry. And that I commit to memory that there really is NO such thing as darkness….it is just the absence of light. May my light NEVER be absent in this place.

Saved and Called

holyHoly – consecrated or set aside for sacred use; standing apart from sin and evil; characteristic of God

This post has been on my mind and in my heart for a very long time. I have just had the hardest time focusing my thoughts and words so that it all didn’t come out like a bunch of stream of consciousness ramblings. (Which it will most likely be anyway). The subject of holiness has become very important to me over the last year of my walk with the Lord. From what I see of some people around me, it is their priority as well. But to others – it seems to be just one of those “churchy” words…and that makes me sad. In 2 Timothy 1:9, Paul says, “But join with me in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life.” (emphasis mine). We all know – and truly appreciate – the God saved us part. We willingly accept that free, undeserved gift. But in the SAME breath, it says that he called us to a holy life. Saved us AND called us to a holy life. Yes, the gift of salvation was free, and nothing we can do can pay for it…but God calls us to be holy. And because of our love and devotion to him – that should be the life we want! All throughout scripture we are instructed to live holy lives. We are told that without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We are to live holy lives, NOT impure lives.(I Thessalonians 4:7). We are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Romans12:1). In my opinion – and my limited understanding of the word – it is NOT a choice. We cannot go on living the way we used to live – chasing our sinful desires – and be covered by the umbrella of grace. Now, I know that we ALL will stumble and fall and sin and need that grace…for the rest of our human lives. So, I am NOT for a minute saying that God expects perfection out of us and if we can’t be perfect we should just give up. I know that we are constantly begin transformed and renewed. The process of sanctification is just that – a process. But I can honestly say that I have seen and known people who knowingly choose to live the way THEY want to live – and then just say – “I’m covered by grace!” Again – I’m not a Bible scholar – but something tells me that this is not God’s picture of holiness. I heard a pastor the other day comparing the desire to live a holy life for God to the desire to please and love on your spouse. The longer you are married, and the more deeply you fall in love with that person, the more you desire to show your love for them by doing things that please them. So should our love with and for God be. The longer we walk with Him, the more we should love him and WANT to please him. The Bible says our lives should be holy and pleasing to God. So, it doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. We don’t have to worry about if we are good enough. God knows our hearts and he will see our desire to be holy and he will give us the strength we need to be holy. In his book “Jesus is …” Judah Smith says it (much better than I am doing) like this…”When we stop being insecure about our performance and instead trust in Jesus finished work, we are free to live a new kind of holiness. It’s a holiness that is internally motivated, a holiness powered by love, not guilt.” So, IF our hearts are truly seeking and desiring to live for God, then he will help us. Sadly, many hearts are using the idea of radical grace to dismiss to call to be holy. I know that grieves God and as believers it should bring sorrow to our hearts as well. Jesus did an amazing work for us. He was sacrificed, not so that we could use his name to cover our sinful lives and desires – but so that we could become holy citizens in his kingdom. “He suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12). My intent through this post is not to come off as some “holier-than-thou” Pharisee, casting judgment on those around me….not at all. But honestly, my heart breaks for what I see out of some of my very own “brothers and sisters” in Christ. Sin should make us truly sorrowful – NOT because we get caught – but because God loved us so much, even while we were sinners, to send his son to die for us. It should be our desire – our greatest desire – to live a holy life for such an amazing act of love like that. “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from our sin.” (I Corinthians 1:30). As we strive to be holy, it is NOT to earn our salvation, that was already paid for. It is really (this is my humble opinion) to live lives that show our adoration and love for our heavenly Father.

“Our fight against sin is noble and good, but make no mistake; we are not fighting to become righteous. We are already righteous. We are simply learning to live outwardly like the people we are inwardly.” Judah Smith

Help us Father to live holy lives, to be ever so grateful for your mercy and grace, and to never forget the sacrifice you made for us through your son. Let us never misuse or abuse your grace to chase our own sinful desires, but rather let us walk humbly in your love and seek to be true conquerors through you.

Turn and Say Hello

Originally posted on Became One:

helloJules

I’m still not sure how it was that I ended up in that big church on a cold December morning…a morning that would forever change my life. I had recently celebrated my last birthday in my thirties, my marriage of nearly 13 years had ended, and I was lost. No – I was not lost, I was at rock bottom. I was being tugged to return to my upbringing and seek God. I had heard of a church called the Vineyard and decided that I really had nothing to lose. Not being a person who was normally comfortable going places alone, I surprised myself when I found myself walking into this giant room full of strangers. This place was far different than any church I had ever been to and I was overwhelmed with fear and isolation…but I went in anyway and found a seat in the back row…

View original 427 more words