Monthly Archives: June 2012

Sunday BBQ: BYOB (bring your own bible)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such, there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26

This week, I was perusing through facebook when I saw post from a friend talking about an argument he had with an acquaintance.  He worked for me as a cook at KFC when he was in high school and he was an exemplary employee.  He was kind, funny and dependable.  I knew that I could count on him to do his job and to go the extra mile.  When he friended me on facebook, I was thrilled to be able to catch up on his life.  Getting back to the story, he was relating the changes he had made in his life to someone he knew from the past and she pretty much told him that his changes didn’t matter since he was not right with Christ.  She told him his life was superficial and the positive moves he was making to turn his life around DID NOT MATTER.   On the other hand, this young lady has been down quite a road herself.  However, she knows Christ so in her mind she is good to go.  He needed to get with the program.

My friends, this was about as bogus to me as one room mom telling another room mom that the cupcakes she made for the class party didn’t matter because she didn’t pay her PTA dues that year.  My heart broke for the confusion she left him to face.  He was on facebook taking a poll to see if any other hypocrites would step up to the plate.  How sad.

It is possible that I was a little sensitive and raw to the situation because I had just received a  message from my home church.  Due to some indifferences in my heart, we have not attended in a while.  I found that my want to go was lukewarm and Jesus makes takes clear stance on a lukewarm heart in the bible.  We have made it a point to be in church every week since we decided to break, just not the one we have called home for so many years before.  Day to day, I am finding my way back to the basics on my relationship with my Savior.

In this voice message, it was obnoxious to say the least, but subtly suggested that the reason I was missing church was to be able to attend my Sunday BBQ.  After that, I was told I needed to go online and listen to the sermon from last week.  It was a “must hear” message for our church.  Quite frankly, I’m not interested. And I’m a little hurt.  You know what hurts the most?  I am not the only one who received it.  It was a mass message that went out to all the people who have not attended in a while.    I ran the Children’s ministry for a number of years.  I rarely, if never, missed a Sunday Service.  So when I don’t attend, you’re going to accuse me of skipping church for a BBQ?  Really?

But forget me, what about everyone else?  Would it not be of benefit to find out why they are not attending instead of assuming?  Calling people out does nothing more than provoke anger and defensiveness.  Nothing good can come of those emotions.

This has been an eye opening week for me.  I am so quick to be self righteous that I tend to forget that everyone who surrounds me is dealing with some kind of challenge and pain.   The last thing they need is a “Christian” beating them over the head with their Helmet of Salvation and bludgeoning them with the Sword of the Spirit.  We are to use those tools against the devil who longs to use any weapon he can to pull the carpet out from underneath of us.  Even those people that we love and respect the most. 

Galatians 5:13-16 says,  “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love to serve one another.  For in all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.”

In my mind, it always goes back to the Fruit of the Spirit.  When I am off track and need to measure my life, I have to ask myself, “What kind of fruit are you  producing?”  When “people” in my life see me, do they see Christ too?”   Am I taking the time to love people into the kingdom?  Am I learning who they are?  Where they have come from?  Am I earning the priviledge to share the message of salvation with them?  We can’t be effective in our Christian walk without love. God created us for relationship.  And love is impossible to give as a mere human.  It can only be fuelled by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only then can we produce the fruit that allows us to win lives to Christ.
 

"Grit in my Craw…"

“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. ”   Philipians 3:10-12

So, to say the last few months have been some of the most challenging in my life, would be an understatement!  As many of you know, I made a job change at the beginning of the year.  I had high hopes that this new career change would be just the ticket to get me out of the funk that I was in.  It would bring new opportunities, new experiences.  It would come easily to me, as marketing is something I tremendously enjoy. As I walked into my new office at Heritage Woods at the beginning of the year (the corner office, by the way) I knew I had arrived.  I had prayed from months for this opportunity and I knew God had aligned it for me, right in His own perfect timing.  What I didn’t anticipate was the demand a new career would place on my life.  The life I have worked so hard to make comfortable.

Over the past few months, this new career has been a huge source of anxiety for me.  But in that, a huge source of growth as well.  I have prayed more than ever.  I have had to learn to say no to “good” things so I can choose what is better. More than anything, I have had to take a good hard look at the things that motivate me.  After a few months of walking into work, worrying about failing and not measuring up, I finally had to give myself permission to fail.  After months of praying for God to be in control of my circumstances, I had to come to the conclusion that failure might be an option.  The building was not filling up as quickly as ownership hoped and it felt as though all eyes were on me.  I had to resolve myself to walk into work each and every day. Working my hardest, giving my best- and knowing that in the end, I might not suceed.  And I had to learn to be okay with that.  For a people pleasing girl like myself, you might not be surprised to know that I was having near anxiety attacks each and every morning at work just comtemplating my list of things to accomplish.

A couple of weeks ago, I met and rode with a fellow Market Director name Cindy.  She is a Christian woman as well and she knew right where I was standing.  She said that at one point, her co-workers were asking her, “Why do you do it?  You can find a job anywhere.”  Her reply?  “My Grandma always said I had grit in my craw.”  Her words were like salve to my soul. She reminded me that I am responsible for me.  If I give my best each and every day.  If I hold myself and those around me accountable for the department I oversee.  If I work in a way that is blameless, I will come out okay.   I could no longer take a stance of blame, but accountability.

In the following weeks, the anxiety has started to clear and I can see why God has placed me right where I am.  Not only at work, but at home and in ministry, he has been forcing me to take a hard look at me.  The ugly, insecure, shallow, superficial me.  The girl I don’t let too many people see.  He has thrown challenges my way.  He has called me to give things up and simplify my life.  He has forced me to explore my motivations and brick by painful brick, he is revealing the ugly sinful nature that I’ve never turned over to him.  See, I was praying, harder than I have in a long while.  I was asking His control over my circumstances.  I was asking for his power over my life.  But I didn’t believe him for it.  Somewhere, deep inside of me, I didn’t believe him when he said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”.  I didn’t believe that he could make someone as broken and imperfect as me into a success. I found I was limiting His power to my own strength.  I was setting myself up for failure.

  Over the past few days, I am concluding that I am experiencing what the bible calls, “death to self.”  It is a painful process in the sense that all that is ugly, impure, superficial and shallow within me is rising to the surface.  And I have a choice.  I can address it, repent of it and turn from it, or I can pack it back deep within me and allow it to hold me back from God’s best.  Frankly, I am tired of hiding behind the facade of perfection.  I am tired of being held back by disbelief.  I am ready for God’s best plan to be revealed in my life. I am discovering that God has given me a little “grit in my craw.”  He is giving me the tools and the power I need to fight for His best in my life.  I just have to show up each and every day to refuel for the fight. 

 Truth is, while God is great at demolition, he is an even better carpenter. And I know that when He is finished with my life, all of the broken pieces will be a masterpiece.