The newest from His Girl Friday – looks like it will be a great series!
It amazes me how intertwined our lives are. As mentioned in a previous blog, whenever I learn about a new app at work geared toward organization or collaboration, my first instinct is how I can I use this at/for church. As a new mom, it is encouraging to see this overlap yet again.
When I was pregnant with Caeden, I had a goal of a natural pregnancy and birth. I refused drugs to help my horrendous morning sickness and turned to ginger ale and Altoids instead (to all my ministry mamas out there…Altoids = God send). I enrolled in a Bradley birthing class, which my champ of a husband attended with me for twelve long weeks. At this point, many of you may be asking why? Which is my point today.
A friend of mine once said, “If you lose your why, you lose your way.”
Transition is rarely easy, but some transitions are harder than others.
Change. This one word has the power to strike fear in the hearts of many. It has the strength to catapult us into a new chapter in our lives. It has the ability to bring an end to suffering and pain, or to create it. Change may arrive clothed in mystery and bringing uncertainty, questions, anxiety. Change may arrive sporting clear expectations, opportunities for growth, a new start. But one thing we can be sure of, change will come. Whether it comes like a gentle breeze or a roaring hurricane – it will come.
I guess the the question is how do we survive change, especially the roaring hurricane kind of change? Continue reading →
Bi-vocational ministry. If you’re like me, some days I wonder what that really means. Okay, so down the definition rabbit hole we go… Bi-vocational ministry (I’m calling it bi-vo for short) is an interesting term. It literally means two vocations.
What does vocation mean? According to http://www.merriam-webster.com, the main meaning is: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work. Other meanings suggest, anything you do for a job, entry into the priesthood, or a calling.
Now, most people don’t want two job let alone, two full time jobs. So, why do we do it? What drives the bi-vo minister? By day, mild mannered administrative assistant/house painter/substitute teacher/ etc. but nights and weekends, Super Pastor! Downloading countdown videos at the speed of, well high speed internet. Able to make three hospital calls in one evening – at different hospitals. Powerfully peppering social media…
Is it me, or have you noticed that it seems like it’s everyone versus everyone in the church these days?
This church badmouths that church. Leaders pit themselves against other leaders, denominations against other denominations. Ministry versus ministry, department versus department, congregation versus pastor, pastor versus board… I could go on. But it’s actually painful to list these conflicts.
There are a ton of verses in the Bible about loving one another, preferring one another, serving one another, and yet, we contend (fight). We contend not for the faith as we are encouraged to do (Jude 3), but we contend with one another. Seriously, what are we thinking?
I think we can answer that question in one word: us. We are thinking about ourselves. As Americans, we celebrate the scrappy underdog, who fights his way to victory. In some contexts this is great, in others, not so much. When it comes to interpersonal skills this is not the way to win.
The Bible is pretty clear. The Bible refers to all followers of Jesus as His bride, His body, His church. It also says, “If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart.” (Mark 3:25 GNT)
As believers, we should all be aware that this kind of division is contrary to the Word of God. It is an attitude sported by the immature, the arrogant, and the self-centered. Does that mean we have to agree on everything? Not gonna happen. Does it mean we should make our focus the things we agree about? I believe it does. When we talk smack about other believers, we’re talking smack about Jesus’ bride, His beloved. How does it go over with you when someone talks poorly about your spouse, your kid, your best friend? Yeah, it’s like poking a bear with a sharp stick, right?
So, let’s take off the boxing gloves and use the verses to overcome the versus. Let’s contend for something not against everything and everybody.
1 John 4:7-8 MSG “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love.”
Believe it or not, this used to be a pick up line! Can you imagine a gorgeous guy coming up to you and asking, “What’s that exotic scent you’re wearing?” Um…. Secret? Seriously, people are influenced by scents. Think about it:
Going outside and smelling your neighbor grilling
Walking past the Cinnabon stand in the airport
Getting the blast of coffee-meets-cigarette breath as someone talks a little too close
We all have smells we love and smells we hate. I don’t like the smell that lingers after cooking fish or the perfume, Taboo, that my mom used to wear, or BO cloaked in cologne. I love the earthy, woodsy smell of the forest, maple pecan candles and newborn babies’ breath.
God has smells He likes too.
He loves the smell of Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Ephesians 5:2 (GNT) “Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offeringand sacrificethat pleases God“.
He loves the smell of true Christians who are sharing God’s love. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (AMP) “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him.15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;”
He loves the smell of our offering or sacrifice for others. Philippians 4:18 (GNT) “Here, then, is my receipt for everything you have given me—and it has been more than enough! I have all I need now that Epaphroditus has brought me all your gifts. They are like a sweet-smelling offering to God, a sacrifice which is acceptable and pleasing to him.
We take great pains in our culture to smell good. We spend a ton on deodorant, perfume, body spray, body wash, mint toothpaste, mouthwash, foot powder, lotion and the like just so we smell good. But as Christians, how much am I investing in smelling good to God. He doesn’t notice our outward smell. He smells my heart and your heart.
He doesn’t notice when we’re wearing Juicy Couture, Dior or Channel. He notices when we smell like Jesus. A heart that loves God, shares with others about God’s love and sacrifices for the needs of others is a heart that smells wonderful to God. Jesus loved God. Jesus shared about God’s love. Jesus sacrificed for our need. I want that exotic scent I’m wearing to be Jesus.
We’ve all seen signs posted on telephone poles that promise a reward for help in finding a lost dog or a wallet. In fact, as a kid I used to fantasize about finding a wallet with a thousand dollars in it. I imagined that when I returned it to the owner, he’d give me a hundred dollars as a reward. Uh… that never happened.
But there was a lost girl once and a reward was offered for her return. The odd thing is that she turned herself in and she received the reward. How does that work? Why should she get the reward?
We have all been lost at one time or another, some maybe still are, but God… God offers a reward to all who would allow themselves to be found. This reward is more precious than anything money can buy. God is offering a place at His table, a spot in His family, the royal family of heaven. He is offering an eternal reward.
Unlike that $100 I used to dream about receiving, this is a reward that will never be spent, never be less valuable than it was the day you receive it. God’s table is full of good stuff, love, joy, peace, help, comfort… the list of benefits is long.
Life can be tough, especially when one is lost in the challenges (aka cruddy situations) of life. But like the girl above who turned herself in to Jesus, you can allow yourself to be found and collect that reward too.
I can tell you from personal experience, that girl – yeah, she’s never looked back and wished to be lost again. She is feasting at God’s table, resting in the security of His loving family, enjoying her reward – and she hasn’t even gotten to the eternal part!
“I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.” John Newton
“Are you going to do that with a happy heart?” These were the words of a young mom I know. She gets that raising a child is more than just outward obedience. She is focused on developing the inside of her three-year-old, not just his actions. Obedience begins in the heart.
On this morning, she asked him to pick up the toys but he wasn’t done playing. When he slammed the first toy into the box, she asked him that question, “Are you going to pick up your toys with a happy heart?” He paused and thought for a moment. Then he smiled at her and began gently picking up the toys. Now, I know it doesn’t always go that smoothly, but he is learning at an early age to stop and make the adjustment on the inside, which produces better behavior on the outside.
Many of us struggle with having a happy heart when we obey God. We may even be really good at outward compliance, but inside… we are shaking an angry, defiant fist in the air. It is the heart that says, “I’ll do it, but I’m not going to like it.”
For instance, a woman can act calm on the outside, but on the inside her temper flares from zero to 60 in two seconds. Is this person only quick tempered if she displays that temper? Or, is she quick tempered because of what’s going on inside, before it ever reaches the boiling point on the outside?
Jesus said that evil actions begin in the heart. (Mark 7:21-22) He also reminded us that what’s inside the heart will make its way out, good or bad. (Luke 6:45) Actions, obedience, sin – it’s all a heart thing.
So, I have to ask myself, what’s in my heart? Am I obeying God with a happy heart?
What about you? What’s in your heart? Do you obey God with a happy heart?
“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard.” Matthew 12:35 The Message
New Attitude #1: Obey with a happy heart
Special thanks to the young mother training her child in the way he should go – you know who you are and I love your littles.
Troubles come. Like the involuntary response of breathing, troubles come without us thinking about them. It’s a fact of life. In this world we will face circumstances, sometimes devastating circumstances, but it’s part of the human experience, right? Yes, but…
We still have to deal with the fall out from these situations. Feelings of heartbreak, loss, grief, betrayal, fear – they have to be dealt with somehow. Emotions are real, but, if they are left alone to grow and take root in our lives they morph into: self-pity, jealousy, bitterness, mistrust and more fear. They become the master, and we each become their slave.
Ok – so what? Should we just stuff them away pretending they don’t exist? No, denying emotions is ineffective at best and ultimately can produce Pompeii-sized eruptions, spewing debris on those around us and leaving us miserable, vulnerable and lost.
True, we are emotional beings. However, as beneficial as emotions are, there is a downside. Painful emotions can take on a life of their own unless we are brave enough to face them and seek healing in Christ.
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:15-16 MSG
Jesus, is so ready to help as we acknowledge the pain and emotions that need to be addressed. He lovingly begins to lift our brokenness as soon as we begin to surrender it to Him. He generously comforts us as we apply the balm of His Word to our situation, our emotions, our healing. He wraps us in His grace and sustains us as we heal.
“All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (VOICE)
“This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life.” Psalm 119:50 (AMP)
It’s a process and it takes some time, but our God will bring us through it – stronger, revived and ready to come along side someone else who is in need.