Monthly Archives: September 2011

Am I Courageous Enough to Show Up?

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the belief that there is something more important than fear.”
                                                                                      Ambrose Redmoon

This week at Tae Kwon Doe, Mr. Pearcy was sharing his “zip line” experience with us from his vacation in Tennessee.  He was giving us the play by play action of being 100 feet in the air, zipping down a line that extended about 1000 feet.  I was asking him specific questions about it, simply because Chloe announced that her Girl Scout troop is planning zip lining as one of their activities in the coming year.  Now, my husband, the adventure enthusiast, cannot wait.  I, on the other hand, just think about heights and become paralyzed.  Now I have been rappelling a couple of times.  Ridden in helicopters.  Gazed out the windows of the Sears Tower.  Yet, all I remember is the numb feeling in my arms and legs and I approached the ledge of the towering precipous.   I am feeling a little tingly just thinking about it.  But, when it comes down to it, I will be taking the zip lining plunge right along with my kids.  I can’t let them know that I really am a wimp.  They would never let me live it down.

Courage has been the theme of the month at my home church.  It is all stemming from the movie Courageous that is debuting this weekend.  As I think about the word courage, it brings to mind a favorite quote of mine, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”  Last week, Jason gave a sermon regarding martyrs of past and present and challenged my thinking in regard to the stand that I am called to take for Christ.  My ministry specifically involves bringing the word of God to children.  The future of our church.   Just as I pray for my own children, I pray that God will reap an amazing harvest through the life of each child that he allows our ministry to influence.  I pray that God will do an amazing work through them. I teach them that God is good, all the time.  That we should go to him for everything.  When times are tough, he is right by our side.  But, when I really think about the kind of life God calls me too, I think, “Kids ministry is easy. When he calls me in for the tough stuff, will I REALLY have the courage to show up?” 

Like Peter, I tell God- call on ME,  Lord.  I will be there for you.  I will be your witness.  I will carry your cross.  There will be a time when he takes me up on my offer.  My biggest fear is that I will deny my Lord, not because I don’t love him, but merely because I am afraid.  I am afraid of what that step will mean for my life.  What the consequences of that decision will be. 

The bible tells us that God has predestined us for his purpose.  He has justified us and glorified us so that we are transformed into the image of his son.  It occurs to me that the heroes of the bible and the today’s heroes of faith are and  were completely sold out for God’s purpose.  They knew in their heart that salvation was their own.  That God had a spot specifically reserved for them in Heaven at the end of their service.   If I am to be honest, my vision of God is just not quite that big yet.  I see all of the good “things” he has placed in my life, but I have closet vision when it comes to what he has  promised me for eternity.  I am sorry to say that this condition probably causes me to miss opportunities to stand for Christ each and every day.  

Today, I am making the commitment to be available to God, no matter what.  I will lean on the power of his spirit to give me the strength I need to face the tough stuff.  What if, as proclaimed followers of Christ, we all made the commitment to just be available.  To say, “God, I’m here.  Whatever you need.  I’m right here. My life is not mine, but yours.”  What if, as proclaimed believers of Christ, we made church a whole lot more than just showing up on Sunday morning.  What if we got up EVERY morning and said, “God, I don’t know what you have for me today.  I might be scared, but I’m gonna take the plunge anyway.” 

“Be strong  and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD  your God  is the one who goes  with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”   Deu 31:6

Confessions of a Control Freak….

This past week, I got to take a little time out of my schedule to have lunch with a woman who has mentored me in my Christian walk over the last few years.  By few, I mean decade.  Has it been that long?  I have a deep appreciation for this beautiful woman of God who saw not only who I was as a new believer, but who I could become.  She taught me the fine art of bible study, prayer & steps to spiritual growth. The importance of balance and baby steps.  I still, to this day, cannot figure out why she chose to mentor me, but I am so thankful that she did.  Everytime I meet with her, though those instances are few and far between, I always take a step back to see how far I have come.  She never fails to remind me that the growth she has seen in my life is amazing.  Sometimes, all I can see his how far I have left to go.  Perception is a funny thing.

A subject we tackled in our conversation was control.  We talked about ministry leadership and the underlying need that others sometimes have to “be in control.”  This is a sensitive topic for me.  I remember, specifically, the opportunity to lead Promiseland.  I walked into the ministry with big ideas of how “I” was going to change everything for the better.  “I” went to work and started all of “My” plans into motion, only to be stopped short by a group of honked off volunteers.  My season of conquering hero soon came to a screeching halt.  While remembering this season as difficult, it taught me so much about control.  Since that time, I have worked exceptionally hard at not trying to control the ministry God gave me.  I have worked to treat it with an open hand.  Amazingly, through prayer, I set my goals before God and allow him to go to work on them in His perfect timing.  The results never cease to amaze me.  His abilities are so much greater than my own. 

I would like to think that I am the only student in the class that struggles with the issue of control, but I am hard pressed to believe it.  The issue of control turns up in the bible as early as Genesis 3.  At the time of original sin, God is cursing the earth as a consequence to the sin of Adam and Eve when he says to Eve, “..And you will desire to control your husband, but he will have control over you…”.  This sentence of scripture hits me right in between the eyes every single time I read it.  In the original Hebrew, “desire to” is defined as a desire, longing or craving.  Subtext goes on to say “a beast to devour.” Is control really a beast that longs to devour me?

This is a blog that will probably leave me scratching my head with more questions than answers, but a big challenge I am facing this week, is “God, what motivates my desire to be in control?”  In most cases, it is my pride.  I want to look good to other people.  I want to be thought of as a woman with “good character”.  As a lady that “knows what she is talking about”.   A gal thats “got it all together”.  I don’t want fail in front of other people and I certainly don’t want to appear to be a hypocrite.  The leader in charge may not be serving to my agenda.  The list goes on and on, but here is a thought I want to leave you with:

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  (Luke 22:42)

In terms of life and of ministry, I have learned with my head that it is best to live with an open hand.  To allow God to control what I will hold and what will be taken away.  The problem is my heart.   I pray that my heart will be transformed to the attitude of Christ in the coming week.  “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Where were you?

I remember receiving an assignment in high school english called, “Where were you?”  In this assignment, we had to call a neighbor or grandparent, or just someone who could recall where they were when JFK was killed.  We had to interview our source and then write a paper based on their perception of the event.  So I called my Grandma St.Germain.  She recalled the event with amazing detail, THIRTY years after it had happened.  She knew just what she was doing, her emotions, the people she was with.  Most importantly, her reaction.  And it didn’t take much of a prompt to tell her story.  It was like it happened yesterday.  It’s funny, as I sat in my mom’s living room 10 years ago, watching 9/11 playout, I remember looking at Chloe and thinking, this is it.  This is the “Where were you?” that my grandchildren will be calling me about.  She will learn about this in her history book.  What a strange feeling to know that you have been witness to something your children will only read about in a book. 

I was twenty one and Chloe was only 18 months.  I had been a Christian for just about the same amount of time.   David and I had been married for three years.  I remember this particular week being very peculiar as a friend of mine had a husband diagnosed with cancer in the same week.  They were only in their mid 30’s.  It was the first time that I had known someone “not old” with cancer.  Then, the horrific events of 9/11 occurred just days later.  I remember just  being in shock.  Wanting to do something to make a difference, but not having the first clue as to what that was. I felt very selfish.  Up to this point, life was really only about me. I wanted to grow up and did not have the first clue about how to even begin in that process.  When 9/11 hit, where were you?

The question, “Where were you?” has blown up facebook today.  It gives us a chance to remember, a chance to share, a chance to heal.  But a big question that always occurs in the face of tragedy goes to God.
We sometimes, in times of trial,  have the odasity to ask, “God, where were you?”  Were you one of those people?  I was not.  I was in too much shock to even ask.  I was barely aware of God’s presence in my life, let alone a situation as tragic as 9/11.  Yet, even when I was not looking for him, he showed his face.  I remember listening to President Bush encouraging a mourning nation to pray.  Courageous people who stepped up to death’s door to make sure someone else could have life.  My Pastor on our local radio station, sharing the verse, “The Lord is my refuge and strength, a stronghold in times of trouble.”  Little by little, the walls of the political correctness fell right along with the twin towers, and God came in to help begin the healing of a nation. 

Today, are questioning God’s presence in your life?  Do you feel like he is overlooking you in your current situation?  I leave you with a verse that was a blessing to me this morning:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9
 

Will the Real Slim Shady PUH-LEEZE stand up?

I am a closet rap fan.  Okay, so I’m not in the closet anymore.  There is something about Bass that sets things right in my world.  It’s quite possible that this love stems from being rocked to sleep by it in student housing as a baby.  When the song in my title, produced by Eminem, debuted, I recall an interview he did with one of the major morning shows.  The talking heads asked him,” What is the meaning of your song?”  To this he replied that we all have two egos that live within us.  We have one side that we want the world to see.  The good, loving, wonderful side.  But we also have a “Slim Shady” that lives within us.  This is the ego that causes us to flip someone off in a fit of road rage. (His words, not mine!)  I remember his words resonating with me.  I can completely relate.  NO!  I have not flipped anyone off in traffic, but I do have a two year old that lives inside of me when things don’t go exactly my way.  Turns out, I’m not the only one.  Take note from Paul in Romans 7: 18-20:

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t.  I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one who is doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.”

As “good” Christians (this IS an oxymoron), we tend to believe that we are born as “good” people.  In reality, the bible says there is no such thing!  In original creation, we are born to the “flesh”.  This not only means our skin, but more importantly, human nature!  This is the earthly nature of a man apart from divine influence, therefore, prone to sin and opposed to God.  So God decided we needed some training wheels.  He sent Moses to the mountain and created “The Law”.  Believers of God were so excited about “The Law” they forgot God’s promise of a Savior.  Many still believe, to this day, that through their own “good” actions, they can get to heaven.   But, the bible say’s we have to be born again, to the spirit;  The disposition, or influence that fills and governs the soul of anyone.  In my mind, I know God sent his son to the cross to die for my sins.  I fully accept that I cannot get to Heaven on my own.  But my dilemma comes in when I try to live up to “The Law” and transform myself into who I think God wants me to be.   This was not God’s design, at all!  In Galatians 3:3b, Paul reminds us, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Okay, so when you say it out loud, it sounds scary!

I leave with this thought.  When my “Slim Shady” is trying to come out to play, I will remember that I am “under construction.”  If God had made himself perfect in me, I would be blogging from Heaven.   God produces good  fruit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  If the fruit I produce is anything other than these character traits, I am commiting Galatians 5:24-25 to heart:

“For those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their passions & desires of their sinful nature to the cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the spirit, let us follow the Spirits leading in every part of our lives.”