Monday, October 24, 2011

The Other Women at the Well...or Who are You excluding???

The older I get the more I realize people have not changed very much the last couple of thousand of years! We think we have made much progress in the human race but a reality check would prove otherwise.  I was studying the passage in the Bible we often refer to as "The Woman at the Well" (John 4)  and a stray thought hit me....what about the other know the ones who came early and excluded this one.  In order for this woman in our story to feel so left out, they must have been pretty mean to her because women are relational!! Think about that for just a second...and then look at today's world.  Mean girls actually grow up to be mean women...exclusionary girls grow up to be exclusionary women...girls who think they are better than other girls grow up to be women who think they are better than other women.  

I am in women's ministry!! ( I pleaded with God to give me a group of 5th grade boys instead but...)  Women are not easy...(as Jerry Clower used to say, "If I'm lying...I'm dying!!)  Just this past week some "friends" of a girl in our youth group had a party but exclued this girl!  The girl was devastated.  The comments I heard from the grown-ups were: " I hate junior high!  Girls are so mean!!  I wouldn't go back if I had to!!"    Well, the reason we wouldn't go back is we don't have to...we still live that way.  In our churches the junior high girls have grown up to be "junior high" women!!  I hear from women all over about how they are not included.  Just this weekend a woman said to me when I asked her if she was active in her women's ministry that she has been a member of her church for several years but there is a small group of women who don't want any new women to become a part....If this had been an isolated case I would have been tempted to believe she was just paranoid but it is not.  I hear it all over.  You see these mean girls  who were in junior high then are now the mothers (AND grandmothers) of junior high girls now.  This is a legacy we need to stop!!  

I am really NOT trying to beat up on women. (I am one!)  I am just trying to say that this is wrong in every sense of the word.  We are to be drawing women into fellowship instead of excluding them.  How is it we will go across the world to do "mission work" but will not invite someone who doesn't fit her particular standard to a get together. We especially exclude those who have sinned!  We just have forgotten that ALLL of us are sinners...there is not one of us who hasn't. 

Those other women....the ones who came to the well in the early morning...I imagine them walking and fellowshiping all the way to the well.  I see the woman in our story watching from a distance...wanting and needing just one friend to include her.  The happy ending of this story, however, is that the one who was exluded found Jesus!!  He knew everything about her, yet did not shame her but encouraged her to live differently.  The first thing she did was to go back and tell everyone about Him....I am thinking that included the other women.  Wow!  See when we encounter Jesus, He removes barriers in our lives. She had become complete in His love and therefore no longer needed to protect herself from the glares of others and was free to encounter them from that freedom.  

My prayer for the women in our churches (for many times we are the worst!) is to look at every woman as a "Daughter of Eve"  who needs friendship....who needs to feel included...but most of all who needs to know the unconditional love of Jesus.  I also pray for our mean women who exclude, to meet Jesus and discover His security and love.  That love brings freedom!!  Freedom to open our arms wide to even include that one who lives differently.  

We can be the difference in our our town...and eventually in our world but we must be willing to quit excluding.  We need to be teaching our daughters and granddaugthers how important it is to include even the ones that don't fit our list of requirements!!  Jesus did.  He did for you and He wants to for all.  Let our legacy be:  She loved everybody!!!

Share your thoughts on this!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Un Belizable!

It has been awhile since I have written because I have yet to be able to put into words what this summer has meant to me.  I was able to go to Belize and do a series of Ladies Conferences, complete with gift bags and door prizes!!  I was overwhelmed with the response of the women there in this very, very poor country.

When we landed and were on our way to the camp that was to be our home for 10 days, I began to see the "homes" of the people to whom I would be ministering.  It was then that God spoke loudly to my spirit these words, "Don't you dare treat these women like they are poor!  Treat them just as you would any woman in the US!  They don't need your pity, they need ME!!"  I almost lost my breath as physically these words came alive.  I knew it was God and I knew I had to change my attitude if He was to be glorified.  Through the Holy Spirit, I was able to look beyond the situations and relate to the hearts of these women.  I discovered once again that ALL women are C.S. Lewis names us in the Chronicles of Narnia...the daughters of Eve!  We all have the same hopes, needs and desires and yes, many of the same insecurities.  We want our kids to turn out ok and we blame ourselves if they don't.  We all want to be beautiful.  We all have dreams.  And most of all, we all want to be loved and cherished.  The Belizian women I encountered wanted all the same things and it was there I began.

I didn't go and "talk" to them.  I began "sharing" with them my own dreams and little by little they opened their lives to me so I could pour in what Jesus had done for me.  By the end of our time, they became girlfriends.  We shared cooking tips, teenage problems, and life in general.  Those who were not believers began to ask questions and by the end of our time, came to salvation.

Had I treated them with pity because they were poor, I would not have gotten to know these wonderful women.  I learned from them so much.   At the end of our time, they brought me gifts: a piece of ribbon, handmade pictures, plastic flowers and notes expressing how they felt about the time we spent together.  The last was a gift from all of them.  A butterfly.  As they gave this to me, their words were, "These are the wings that will bring you back to us."  New life...for them but new perspective for me!

Please pray for Lydia and Stephanie as they struggle to live their new lives!!  It was a most UnBelizable trip.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Finish well

(Recently, I wrote a series of lessons on Colossians and wanted to share one with you.)

While reading Colossians 3, verse 17 stood out to me, “Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”  Tears steamed down my face as I read that for I am a great “starter”!  I begin a hobby at full force buying everything I will ever need and I spend much time learning how to hone my craft making! Somewhere along the way, however, I just quit.  Right now in the craft closet are 3 unfinished scrapbooks, and cardstock, stamps and punches enough to make valentines for my whole city…left there because I just quit.  Obviously, quitting a hobby is not life shattering, but quitting in my Christian life can be detrimental.
Satan doesn’t mind the starting; it is the finishing with which he is most concerned. He was constantly trying to convince Jesus to quit…to go another way.  We see satan’s ploys while Jesus was in the desert, through people’s rejection, and finally in the garden; satan always encouraged an “easier” way. Jesus, however, was given a work from His Father and upon the cross we hear His final words, “It is finished!!!”
There have been times I have just wanted to give up…my cry was, “This is too hard and I am not strong enough!”  Maybe you have been there, too. Paul had been there and I believe in verses 2-6 he is giving the way to finish and finish well. 
The first thing we are to do is “devote ourselves to prayer!”  In the Greek the words, “devote yourselves” mean, “to adhere to or to be to be in constant readiness.”  This is the major key to finishing.  Jesus finished because He demonstrated that His power came through constant prayer! Why do we think we can do the work with less than this?  We often tell people that we are going to pray for them, but do we?   When others are too distraught to pray, we are to stand in the gap for them.  While in a very dark time several years ago, had it not been for fellow Christians on their knees for me, I probably would have quit! Are you devoted to prayer as your major source of strength?
The next thing Paul says we are to do is to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders.” (NIV) Outsiders, obviously, were those who did not know Christ.  A major result of being devoted to prayer is the discernment gained of what to do in worldly situations. Often we make things harder on ourselves because we speak without His wisdom-- choosing instead to speak what we think is right and using the excuse of “just calling it as it is!” I have a speaker friend, Page Hughes, who offers t-shirts with “Job 13:5” imprinted on it. In looking up this scripture you find the words, “If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!” (HCSB) I have had to be reminded of this more times than I care to! Paul had to deal with outsiders all the time, and yet we see those outsiders coming to faith.  Are you walking in wisdom when it comes to those who do not know Christ?
Finally, Paul says that our conversations (NIV) or speech (HCSB) should be full of grace while seasoned with salt. Another way of saying this is “speak truth with love!”  Jesus modeled that for us to everyone he met and while some did not respond well, the world was changed by His very words.  What words comes from your mouth? Are you speaking truth but with love and compassion?  Are people drawn to Christ because of what you have said?
These powerful precepts in living will help us remain faithful and finish well. Yes, the times are hard but consider the words of Augustine:

You say, the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable.  Live rightly and you will change the times.  The times have never hurt anyone.  Those who are hurt are human beings: those by whom they are hurt are also human beings. So, change human beings and the times will be changed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

World Gone Wild!

Just like you, I am grieving for the people in Japan. The pictures show the physical destruction but the loss inside each person is much worse. Tragedy. I have already heard the cries, "How would a loving God allow something like this to happen to innocent people!" Then there are those who say that this is God's judgement on "these" people! I heard those cries after Katrina...that God was destroying "those evil people" in New Orleans. (Katrina did NOT hit New Orleans...only the effects of Katrina! Katrina hit along the Mississippi Gulf to believe it was God's judgement, means that God's GPS was a little off!!)

Then yesterday a book was released by mega church pastor Rob Bell that says that there is not a real hell and that eventually everyone will be saved no matter what...that God's love is so great He couldn't send anyone to a place like hell.

So which is it? God as a big bad judge who kills people for the fun of it or a God who loves so much that no one has consequences for their actions! You see this is the problem of trying to put God in our own little boxes...putting our own reactions to circumstances into God.

God is God. He is creator of all. He has always been. He holds things together and He is Redeemer. God is Holy and just. He created all things perfectly. In His creation of man, He breathed His own breath so we could have life...but we wanted more than that and reached out for what was forbidden. Thus a fallen world emerged. A world that spins out of control...not because God wanted it that way but because we did. God showed His love by providing a way back to His perfection but just as we chose something other than His way the first time, He allows us to choose His way back.

Choice is a precarious thing...Truth on the other hand is never-changing. Jesus is our way back to God's perfection...but we must choose. We can choose to continue in rebellion or choose a way out. Rob Bell doesn't want to have to make a clear choice...he wants it both ways. He has not read the same scripture I have.

The tragedies of earthquakes and tsunami's are not God's judgements...they are natural disasters happening because we live in a fallen world. These are temporary sufferings and we as believers must minister to those who are hurting from the devastation. That is our call. But our call also is to tell them that Jesus is the way to eternal perfection where there will be no crying, no devastation. There is a way...God's way. That is what is important in light of all we are going through.

Japan, I am praying for your grief...I grieve with you as you have lost children and other family members. God is not punishing you...He loves you...choose Him in the midst of this trial and He will give you peace that passes all understanding.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cool or Committed? That Really is the Question!

I like to write about uplifting things but this blog is going to be kind of different! I am a teeny bit upset!! I am upset with the modern church but mostly with myself!

I had the privilege of leading a ladies conference this past weekend where the presence of the Lord was evident. By the time it was my turn to teach, the ladies were so ready to hear the Word of God that it was a blessing. So, why am I upset? I am troubled because I don’t see that happening weekly in many congregations. (If it happens in yours, you need to get on your knees and thank God that you have leaders who have their priorities right.) Many of our congregations, however, tend to be more concerned with trying to be cool rather than preparing the congregates for worship. Many “worship” leaders tend to be more concerned with hairstyles, praise team’s age, dress, and having the newest songs rather than calling the people to open their hearts to the Spirit of God. It is about image! I have even heard that a worship leader in our area is wearing eyeliner and blush in order to make a statement that he is inclusive of all types. Music is just the start…sermons are more like motivational discourses rather than the gospel. A blogger I read today said this: Declaring the Gospel is serious business — not a show. Method is NOT more important than the message. Leadership will say they agree with that statement — but actions show otherwise.

The worship leader this past weekend gave all she had to the LORD and it was evident from before she began to lead until we walked out the door. She loved Jesus and that love was all over her! She nearly disappeared as we went to the throne. Her goal was all about connecting corporately with a Holy God. Tears streamed down all our faces but it wasn’t just an overload of emotion…it was a true connection with Our Father!!! It truly was about Him. I came home exhausted but so filled.

It was then God began to speak strongly to my heart. While writing Sunday School lessons from the book of Philippians, I came face to face with how far the church has come from being what Christ called us to be. I pulled out, for reference,
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a book I read several years ago and began to re-read it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian/political activist from the 1930’s-40’s. His mission was to warn the church of their need to stand up against Hitler who was trying to silence any mention of God in Nazi Germany. The premise of the book is about “cheap grace” verses “costly grace.” He defines cheap grace as, “Preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ!” Costly Grace on the other hand is, “The treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price…It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus at which the disciple leaves his nets and follow him.”

Christ gave His all to us but also said, “Unless you take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) Being in the worship I experienced this weekend, I realized how far I had departed from what Christ requires. I too have fallen for the hype! I realized I am not called to be “cool” but committed. Not so much “relevant” but reverent before a Holy God. I as well as our churches need to start lifting Christ and Christ alone. I don’t want to be a part of a show but a part of surrender. I want to remember how costly grace is and I need to forget about me and make it about Him…and the strange thing is, when we do that corporately, the world will take note. I want these words to be said of me:

Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Not fashionably dressed, not up to date, not contemporary, not even cool, but the world around them saw that they had been with Jesus! I want people to see that in me-- I want to be a true worshipper…one who worships in Spirit and Truth and who looks only at Him. There, I have said it and I feel better. Hold me accountable but also hold yourself accountable. The world needs us!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thinking He Was Among Them….

While reading Luke 2 during Christmas, I found myself reading past the “baby Jesus” part until I came to verse 44. I stopped dead in my reading as the Holy Spirit moved my heart to focus on the words, “Thinking He was in their company, they traveled on for a day.” The Holman Christian Standard Version says, “Assuming he was in the traveling party…” and the ESV says, “Supposing.” In all of these what we see is that even though the traveling party knew Jesus well, they didn’t know when he was no longer with them.

I love the Lord, and I love being with people who love the Lord. My closest relationships began with Jesus as the point of contact but this verse caused me to wonder if conversations with my friends about Jesus and what He means to us have become less frequent; focusing rather on things like shopping, weight, food, food, and weight! Have we started talking more about other people and how much better they could be if…? We cover our “gossip” by saying we really care---bless their hearts--- but then realize never once did we pray for them and even worse never mentioned Jesus. In a word…we didn’t even realize that he wasn’t there among us. It is then we see our lives have become mundane---at best.

A friend on FaceBook posted this:

Watching a child as they sing, dance and laugh.
Noticing how everything is fun and interesting and an adventure.
Then I ask myself “When did I stop dancing?”

A child dances best when the person they love most is close by! To answer my friend’s question, perhaps we quit paying attention to the important things and drifted away from the One who loves us most and have forgotten who binds us to each other. His guidance keeps us safe…and we dance in the knowledge that none of the enemy’s ploys will destroy us! (As I typed this, I noticed that the word dance is in guidance. Hmmm???)

So what did the traveling party do when they discovered Jesus was not in their company? “They “went back!” They went back to where they had left Him!

You might be thinking that Jesus is so far away…He is no longer in your company and you don’t know how you got to this place of panic and discontent. May I suggest to you to go back to where you last were with Him; the last time He was real in your life. It takes effort to do that but when you find Him again you will be astonished at what you find- just like Mary and Joseph did. Jesus is all about doing His Father’s will and He wants nothing more than to have you join Him in that will but to do that we must intentionally keep Him in our sight and in our mind. He wants to guide us and He wants us to find peace and joy in Him but He will not force it on us.

Don’t travel another day just “supposing” Jesus is among your traveling party. Know He is. Seek Him and make sure that you don’t get too busy in life. Don’t assume that as you walk away that Jesus will follow. He doesn’t follow us…we follow Him.

Stay warm, friends,…spring is coming.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This Is a Weighty Issue!

Each New Year the two major resolutions people made are to lose weight/get into shape and more Bible study!

Now, I don’t wait until New Year’s to make my “getting into shape” resolution. I generally make that resolution weekly--if not daily. I especially want to get into shape on Tuesday nights while watching The Biggest Loser and I don’t think that I am alone. This has caused me to think about the whole world of weight loss and I have found there are three types of people:

• Those who really, really want to…they go out and buy all the right outfits, headbands (for potential sweat or just to look cool!), enroll in the local health club, and show up excited! They will try it for a while but because it is too hard, and muscles are hurting they quit! Some people go as far as purchasing their own equipment only to have it sit idle after a month!!
• Then there are those who get involved in every single exercise group available and talk about their diet constantly…telling everyone they need to get involved in what THEY do, if they really want to be in shape. It is an addiction and it is all about the classes and diets. They have no life other than exercise and talking about what foods we should eat and look down on others who are not as vigilant as they are. Attending the class and the social experience is the goal.
• Finally, there are those who understand that a good diet and proper exercise will make their bodies healthy so they can stay active and vibrant. They do what they need to do to accomplish that goal. They are the happiest people I know!!

Do you see yourself in any of those people? I do. I have been guilty of being a part of all three at one time or another. Obviously the third person is the one who truly understands and “gets it!”

I was preparing a Bible study lesson and it dawned on me that there are the same three types of women who get involved in Bible study.

• There are those who really want to study. They know they need it…they go out and buy all the books, colored pencils and maybe a journal or two. She shows up really ready to learn and is excited but after a week they lose interest because they have gotten behind. They don’t really have the time or it is not the right night become excuses…no amount of encouragement gets him/her back…maybe next time!! They want to learn but are not willing to do the work.

• Then there are those women who are in every Bible study offered. They name-drop “Beth, Anne, and Kay”…all over the place. They are addicted and go to every study available but usually will have a favorite author and will follow her much as a groupie follows a rock band. They have their homework done and all their blanks filled in completely and in ink!! They tell others they need to study what they study. All of this is good but after each study, they can’t recall a single point they learned and they have not applied anything from the study to their lives. It was a study and it is over…on to the next study for the goal is to do bible study with no long-term affect. The hard work of letting God change them through His words is ignored…

• Then finally there is the one who has learned that the Bible is more than just a book…it is her guide to how to live life and the way God speaks to her. It is personal. She gets excited when a truth is revealed and she seeks to apply what she learns to her life. She desires God to convict her, comfort her, guide her and encourage her through His word (II Timothy 3: 16) so she can grow in her Christian walk and become mature in her faith. It is more than just a study; it is a way of life and these are the happiest people I know.

Kind of reminds me of what Jesus said to His disciples when he spoke about seeds and three types of ground. Some fell on rocky soil, some on shallow soil and some in good soil.

Don’t get me wrong….I believe in Bible study…it is daily food for the soul! The point is, study the Bible for the right reason…to grow in your life. Bible study ought to change you for you are encountering the Holy One. Afterwards you ought to speak differently, carry out your life differently, and love others more deeply! It ought to be a time of worship and worship brings change.

This year, as you dive into His words, ask Him to speak profoundly to your heart. Ask Him to show you any things that need to change…you will be amazed at what His word can do in every aspect of your life! Don’t let it become just something you do….let it be what you become.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blog coming

Dear Friends,

This week my Mother-in-Law has gone on to glory after a long bout with Alzheimer's. We are out of pocket for a short while. I have two blogs just about ready to be posted but please pray for our family...especially my husband as he deals with this. You all are precious people and I love you!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Will It Cost Me?

I have the wonderful privilege to travel to the small country of Belize in June to lead women’s conferences. Belize is a very poor country in Central America and the women there have to work much harder to take care of their families than we in the US could ever imagine. Being in Women's Ministry I have learned that inside every woman, regardless of who they are or where they live, is a desire to be beautiful and feminine and with that thought in mind I want to give to each woman a gift bag filled with sweet smelling soaps, shampoos, body creams and perfume. These things, which are commonplace to us, to these ladies, are treasure. Because I don’t have the funds to do this alone, I have asked others to donate soaps, creams, and shampoos they have gotten from hotel stays; the outpouring has been wonderful. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think I would have to say the words, “Un-used” in the description of the items. The great majority of the items I have gotten have been wonderful (and I am so grateful) but I did get one very large bag packed full of half-used and dried up toiletries. A thorough search of the bag resulted in not one item I could use. This would have gone unmentioned but the giver bragged that they were so happy they could help in this endeavor and even made the comment that the women there should be glad of half-used items because they have nothing.

After a couple of days I let this go of my frustration over this but God would not let me forget my lesson from it. Many times have I gone through my cupboards looking for canned goods, I would never personally eat, to put in the community food pantries and the clothes I give to shelters usually contain stained items or things so out of date I would never wear them again yet somewhere in my mind I feel the recipients should be happy with whatever! Never, I am sorry to confess, have I gone shopping for clothes to give to our clothing shelter or gone grocery shopping for the food pantry. I toss my leftovers to the needy and expect God to see my “sacrifice” with a smile.

Do we give God the same? Our leftover time, talents or resources are offered to God with a boasting that we have done something wonderful for the kingdom…yet we save the best for ourselves or our own family. Then God reminded me of a scripture in II Samuel 24:24. King David had wanted to build an altar to honor God on land owned by a man named Araunah. David sent his men with an offer to purchase the land but it was such an honor for Araunah that he told the men they could have the land…no cost. Verse 24 is David’s answer: “But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” [emphasis mine]

This lesson has hit me hard…when I think I am doing something for someone in need does it count if it doesn’t cost me anything? Yes, it will count because God can use anything but the joy is much greater when the one in need is given something new and fresh for that is what God always offers us. Yes, these ladies in Belize will accept anything because they are poor and have nothing. Many are used to cast-offs from wealthy Americans but how much more exciting will it be to look in their eyes when they see new things-- just for them. Perhaps they will understand that they are cherished children of God and He offers them His best. Perhaps they won’t care at all…I don’t know…I just know that as Jesus has given His best to me, God expects me to give my best to others. It will cost me something…perhaps money…perhaps time…most definitely part of myself. But considering that God gave us His most precious son, it should be easy. Paul said in Romans 12 to “present your bodies a living sacrifice!” and then he says… “which is your reasonable service!” KJV

I will go to Belize with a new vision of what I am to do…I will give these ladies gift bags that will make them feel beautiful…at least for a little while…but I want to give them more…I want to give them myself and maybe from that they will see Jesus who will give them His best. How about you?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Unseen Gifts!

This Christmas one of my grandson’s brought me a present to open but as I opened it, the look in his eyes showed great mischief!! (More than usual!) He watched intently as I carefully removed the homemade bow and slowly unloosed the massive amounts of tape. When I finished, I found nothing! He began to laugh merrily, saying, “I tricked you, Nonnie!!” I feigned disappointment and to his delight reacted just as he had imagined. His goal was to trick me and that he did!

While this is funny to his Nonnie, I began thinking that many of us believe God has done the same thing to us. We hear that everyone has a gift to use for the Kingdom but when we look at ourselves we see wrapping and bows but we can’t seem to find any gift. We start to think that God is being cruel and is laughing at us. We look at others and think if we only could…sing, speak, cook, draw, etc. then we could be greatly used. So we sit in envy of others and wonder why our Christian life is not more exciting.

I wish I had a dime for every person I have spoken to that has stated they have no gifts…yet I find them some of the most gifted people I know. Gifts are varied, yet we often see only the outward gifts! I have one friend who constantly says (and will argue with me!) she has no gifts…yet to visit her house is like going to a resort for when I leave I am refreshed and relaxed…her obvious gift to me is hospitality. The problem is that she doesn’t think that is a gift…it is just something she likes doing!! BINGO! That is the very essence of a gift…it is something that comes naturally to you. Many think if is something that is too easy; it can’t be a gift from God!! Those are the best kind of gifts…those that are so much a part of us that we are not even aware of them keeps us from becoming proud.

God is a God of order and He arranges the gifts together to work out His plan in the Body of Christ. When we look at others and desire their gifts, we are telling God is that He didn’t give us the right gift! Often that thinking will cause us to sit back and do nothing, which can possibly weaken the Body. Beth Moore, a true Mary of Bethany, made a comment that she hopes when invited to dinner that there is a “Martha” somewhere in that home or there might not be food!!! !

Gifts are a part of who you are…some people can organize…others have great ideas…others just know what to do in situations when others are at a loss! Some have just the right words to say when everyone else stays silent. Some encourage others without even knowing it. All of these things come naturally! So, see God gave you wonderful gifts and your gifts are needed.

I just returned from a ladies retreat…the committee had provided a basket for the ministry team. They did not just throw things together but had been intentional in what was included; careful thought for every possible need was provided. I was blown away by the way these precious ladies had provided for us…yet they didn’t think anything about it commenting that any one would have done the same…but would they? No, these ladies had a great gift and used it so the ministry team could be also be used!

God has gifted you, dear one!! He has made you exactly the way you are for the betterment of the Body you serve. Are you using what comes naturally to you or are you envious of others and what they do? If you do the latter, you are denying the Holy Spirit the opportunity to use you!! You are saying to God, “You tricked me!!” He hasn’t tricked anyone…He put you where you are for a specific purpose. Ask Him today where He can use you. You will then be amazed at what will happen!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To Wait or Not to Wait!

Over the holidays we had the privilege of having our 4 grands with us and they begged us to let them open their presents before Christmas Day. Maybe you had the same experience! They didn’t want to wait and something inside me wanted to let them open at least one, but I didn’t because I knew that Christmas morning would be more exciting if they waited.

I remembered my own childhood and my “very mean” father! I was just like my grandchildren-- only worse!!! I recall one time saying I wanted to open one particular gift “Right NOW!!” (said with stomping feet and raised voice.) Now, this is where my daddy became really mean! He told me that not only would I not get the gift then but I would have to wait until New Year’s Day to open it. Pure torture!! It was not until years later that I appreciated what he did. I know he really wanted to give me the gift but for my sake he delayed the joy.

Most of us have a problem with waiting. If we have to wait to check out we get impatient or if the red light lasts 20 seconds longer than we want it to we throw mini-fits!! What my daddy was teaching me that Christmas, was not that I couldn’t open a present, but that in life we have to wait and the sooner I learned how to wait the better!!

Yet, in this matter of waiting I also realized is that there are times we want to delay…to hesitate… that generally happens when God gives us something to do and we sit back and say things like, “I think I will wait to see if this is really God’s will!”

So, to wait or not to wait? Our selfishness rears its ugly head in this question. If it is something we want, we become impatient or we delay if a directive interferes with what we want…This is one of the most serious of flaws of human nature. Scripture is full of scriptures that show the benefits of waiting… “Those who wait upon the Lord will rise up with wings like eagles” is among my favorite! Waiting is good…if I had not waited for the right person to marry there is no telling where my life would be today and believe me I didn’t want to wait. It was to my benefit.

But on the other side of waiting is an immediate response to Jesus when He shows us what we are to do… When Jesus called His disciples scripture says, “Immediately, they left their nets!!” That word, in the original Greek, means…immediately!! They didn’t stop to think about it or they didn’t ask their friends if they thought this was the right thing to do or they didn’t say, “I will pray about it!” They just dropped their nets and followed Jesus and the rest of their lives were changed forever! There have been so many times that I will wait because to do what Jesus has called me to do because it will interfere with what I want to do…and I miss the blessing of immediate obedience. Jesus doesn’t need me to fulfill His will…He wants me to be involved in His will. It is for my good.

So, as this New Year begins, I want to know when to wait…knowing it will bring greater joy but I also want to know when not to wait for that also brings the great joy. It might seem that it will be hard to know when to wait or not to wait…but that is where my walk with Christ becomes important. It will be clear if I am walking daily with Him.

What about you? Do you have a waiting problem? Ask God to help you this year with it. It will be amazing how our lives will be blessed just by knowing when to wait or not to wait. I wish you all the best year ever!!!