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Good Things Are Happening

“I’ve got news and I know how you like news.” – Mr. Knightley, to Emma.

Good things are happening in and Out Of My Mind!  It gives me great pleasure to tickle your fancy with a taste of what is coming up on my website and blog.  Let me explain:

I am at my best teaching and training others for spiritual maturity, biblical leadership, and ministry. It brings me sublime joy to witness women taking hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of them. My goal for the next year, therefore, is to expand this area of influence by developing an online ministry emphasizing teaching and training the emerging Christian women’s leader.

As the Women’s Ministry Director at my local church, I serve under the headship of our pastor and elders, enjoying their support and accountability.  It is my responsibility to provide the means for women to spiritually thrive and equip them to minister to others. In addition to exemplifying Christ in my own life, I seek to evangelize, educate, equip, and encourage women as they mature in their faith and practice. And now I’d like offer this website as a valuable resource to those women God is calling to become biblically founded servant-leaders.

While remaining flexible to God’s leading – after all, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21) – my goal is to slowly transform my website into a practical resource for women seeking to grow spiritually and women in ministry who desire to develop their leadership skills.  Look forward to participating in:

  1. Bible Studies!
  2. Bible Study Skills Lessons
  3. Biblical Leadership Studies
  4. Ministry Skills Development
  5. Leadership Development
  6. Ministry Development
  7. Webinars, eBooks, printouts, videos, etc.
  8. And much more

I am very excited about being a part of what God will do through this wonderful ministry.  Oh, that many would come and be edified, built up, and unified in the essentials as God matures the beautiful body of Christ.  I hereby commit to the LORD whatever I do, that He will establish my plans (Proverbs 16:3).  Amen!

 

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Me On The Move

In Far Away Lands

Sometimes I think I hear God calling me to a future ministry on the move.

Traveling to distant places; suitcase, camera, and laptop in hand.

Utter reliance on God for everything right down to a place to lay my head.

Speaking.  Teaching.  Training.  Photographing. Journaling.  Telling Stories.  Giving shots.

Whatever.  I dunno.

I’ve been picturing a wild, beautiful adventure in Christ as I go where He sends me.

It’s begun already, even now as I sit in the warm and secure place I call home, caring for my Alzheimama, our kitties, and the birds of our back yard.

Where life is slow, but steady.

It is present now as I worship God and lay down what I want for what He wills.

Perfection for compassion.

Independence for freedom.

Entertainment for contentment.

It is in full swing, even now as I put on my adventure wear (Ephesians 6:10-18) and gather my adventure gear (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Stepping out in faith.  Just as I am.  In Christ.

Even in my recliner, I’m already on the move.

 
 

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The Sure Thing

Ever wonder why our daily lives seem so, well, daily?  Same stuff, different day.  Same old tired argument, same old bickering, same old knee-jerk reaction.  You look ahead to the years before you and wonder if things will ever change, if you’ll ever change.  And a change of heart comes so ssssssssssssslowly.

Steady as she goes ...

Sometimes I feel trapped by circumstances.  I think I know where I want to go, but it’s taking forever to get there.

I have this great vision of how my life should be.  I should be an in-demand Christian women’s speaker and teacher, traveling to and fro, bringing the light of the Word to a motivated and hungry world.  Wherever I go, ministry happens.  Women are comforted, encouraged, and grow strong in the Lord. People everywhere turn to Christ.   I should have a book or two tucked under my belt and a lively, well-trodden blog through which I interact with scads of other Jesus freaks and true seekers.  I should have my perfect, pretty little house to come home to and wonderful clothes to wear on my slim, trim, healthy, & strong body.  I’d be properly plugged into my local church serving alongside women who love Christ and one of them would be my best friend.    I’d have plenty of time and energy for hiking and reading and just messing around.  All my bills would be paid on time and in-full, especially my credit card.  There would always be more than enough money to go around and I could give furiously and extravagantly.   My family and friends and, well, just everyone, would love me.  My whole being would honor and glorify God all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

My real life is nothing like that.  My real life is so daily: making uncomplicated meals for my mom who has Alzheimer’s, helping her dress appropriately at least a few times a day, and generally keeping her entertained so she doesn’t start in with “Where’s the baby?”, “I have to go to work,”or her latest, “It’s time to go home” scenario.  And all the while trying to time everything so she’ll go to bed without a fight that evening.  Arguing with my mom is fruitless.  I’m getting better and better at taming my tongue, but there’s still a lot of habit to break in that domain.  Taking care of my mom is mentally exhausting.  Sometimes I want to tune her out.  I spend a lot of time confessing, but only some of the time actually repenting.  Most of the time, I just want to sit in my recliner all day lazily sipping coffee, reading, writing, and playing on the computer.  There doesn’t seem to be much energy leftover for exercise, get-togethers, and the like.  Of course, this is actually the easy part of caring for my mom.  Things will only get worse as time goes by.  She’ll progressively require greater physical care as more and more of her brain’s ability is usurped by Alzheimer’s.  

That’s when I wonder if this is what my life is all about.  Am I going to spend these years caring for Ma and then just collapse and die afterward never having done the things I want to do?  Is this all the daily bread there is for me?

I cannot know the future, but this I know.  God has called me to this season for purposes of His own.  I have a pretty good idea that these years are essential to the work He is completing in me.  It’s my job to take my eyes off the circumstance and stop asking, “What’s in it for me?”

And that, my friends, is what this season is all about.  It’s an opportunity to obey His call to live for the sake of another.  It’s about humility, considering my mom better than myself.  Not for a crown or reward, but for love of Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”      -Philippians 2:3-8

These are not wasted days.  This is prime time.  My dream is a nice one, albeit a bit magnified.  But given the choice – and we are, my friends, we are – I choose God’s plan, His dream for me.  What about you?  God’s plan is always so much bigger and better than our limited imagination.  And better yet, it’s a sure thing.

 
 

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Faith Is Being Sure

Have you ever received a calling of God, yet nothing in your life seems to lead you in that direction?  Have you heard His voice, but what He said would happen hasn’t at all?  Have you found yourself worrying that what you labeled as being from God is really only from your own selfish desires?  Well, join the club.  Sometimes I think I could win the gold medal for second-guessing God and myself.

I have wondered for a long time now whether or not God has truly called me to a speaking ministry.  Some days I think He has; other days I’m not so sure.   Sometimes I wonder if I merely made it up in order to feel important.  Current circumstances certainly preclude a speaking ministry:  I care full-time for my mom who has Alzheimer’s and even with a few hours off a week, I accomplish little more than teaching a Bible study, which is, by the way, a great joy for me.

And then I worry that maybe this is pride trying to garner me some of the Christian world’s applause.  After all, what do I have to say that someone else cannot say better?  And why should anyone listen to me in the first place?  A kind stranger reminded me recently that it’s not me from whom people wish to hear; it’s God.  And He can use anyone in any way at any time in any place.  That’s a freeing statement.   After all, it is His Spirit who does the actual work in people’s hearts anyway.  We’re just the messengers.  🙂

Many years ago, God showed me a picture or vision if you will.  I saw myself standing on the cliff of a high mountain overlooking a large, green valley filled with people.  My hair was short, my figure slim, the opposite of what I looked like at the time, and yes, this gave me a great deal of pleasure!  I wore a kilt of red and blue plaid, signifying family.  In my hand was a golden trumpet, which I raised to my lips and blew.   As I looked at myself standing firmly on the edge of that cliff, I understood that I was announcing what God had done in me and my [spiritual] family.   In fact, I was sharing my testimony.  I knew that God was telling me I would someday share this testimony of God’s grace, mercy, and sufficiency before crowds of people.  I had no idea how this might come about; I only knew God was telling me it would be so.  That was about 16-17 years ago.  It hasn’t happened.  And yet, despite the occasional worries, I persist in believing it will be so someday.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  My hair is quite short nowadays, but I am far from slim and trim.  I suppose that means the time has not yet come.  LOL.

That’s probably not too far from the truth, weight excluded.  I’ve learned that God sometimes gives us an assignment well before the day it becomes due.  I believe it is because He wants us to study [His word] hard and practice, practice, practice.  And I don’t mean to merely practice my speaking ability.  I’m talking about character formation.  God takes time to build our character to match the assignment, as Henry Blackaby says.  We cannot do God’s will in the strength of the natural man.  God must cultivate within us a Christ-likeness and this takes time.  Had I tried to force a speaking career back then, it would have failed.  My character lacked maturity and Christ-centeredness.   I may have been eager, but enthusiasm is not a substitute for preparation.

I have spoken in front of groups of people in the past and looking back it’s easy to see that it was usually about me, not God.  Most of the time, I was just trying to be somebody special.  I’m glad those days ended fairly quickly.  I needed time to grow up.

Even now I cannot call myself a Christian speaker.  I do teach a Bible study and this is a cherished time to be led by the Spirit and talk about God.  My blog is certainly another opportunity.  It’s true that I’m not standing before crowds of people speaking about what God has done, but with these rich opportunities in my hand right now, I am more than willing to wait on God for the latter.   For the first time in my life, I truly understand what it means to be patient and wait on the Lord.  It is not about sitting around eating bonbons and watching soaps.  No, it is about participating with God as He forms our character into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I’ve stumbled around in the dark a bit, but I’m confident that “He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) .

And so I choose to wait patiently on God for the fulfillment of that long ago vision.  And as God continues to prepare my heart and my mind, I am becoming more and more sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see.  And even if I am wrong about becoming a Christian speaker, at least I will not have wasted these years of preparation for whatever it is the Lord will bring into my life.  And to God be the glory!  Amen.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2010 in Adventures in Christ

 

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Rock Steady

Rock steady.  More than anything, I would like to be rock steady.  I want an undivided heart, wholly and consistently focused on Christ, seeking and doing His will.

and that rock is Christ

Proverbs 14:12  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Too often I find my dreams and desires divided from the will of God.  What seems a great idea to me is often just a thinly disguised opportunity to seek glory for myself, to make myself significant in the eyes of others.  This disloyal heart persists in equating value with worthiness.  If only I could convince others of my worthiness, they would value my words, and everything would work out beautifully.  The kingdom of God would never tire of me.

This time it seems as though I’ve made it.  All is triumph; they love me.  I’m popular, accepted by the in-crowd of the brethren.  They want to hear what I have to say.  They want to learn from me and follow me.  They respect, even admire me.  I’m on the top of world looking down on the huddled masses yearning to be free.  I feel great.

And then all of a sudden, before I can holler Eureka!, something happens and it all comes tumbling down.  Somehow, somewhere, my foot slipped and I’m falling, falling, falling.  The crowd failed to respond to my great idea as I thought they ought.  Just a little chink in the armor of my confidence.  But since my confidence was based on my supposed worthiness, that chink tears open my armor and I’m left completely vulnerable to the onslaught of the enemy who has no mercy.  Before I even realize what has happened, I’m a mass of nerves, misgivings, and self-berating.  It’s like air being let out of a balloon.  What’s left is a muddled scrap of confusion and depression.  This great idea didn’t work out because I’m an idiot.  I’m stupid and a fool to think God would ever use me in such a way.  Me, a leader?  I’m just not good enough.  I never was (and here ticks away a long list of past failures).  You get the picture.  Sound familiar?

Jeremiah 17:9  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

That is one side of my divided heart.  It only pretends to fight vanity.  Depression, as far as I can tell, is merely a culturally acceptable form of rage.  I’m in the depths of self-pity, not because my intrinsic value is in question, but because my pride is hurt.  I want to lash out at others because they failed to adore me.  I had wanted to be great in their eyes.   After all, it feels good to be admired.  But God will not allow us to use Him to satisfy the demands of vanity and pride.  He will not allow us to mistake our value with worthiness because He knows we are not worthy.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  God says we are to confess our sins, that is, agree with God.  So long as I blame others and wallow in self-pity, I am not confessing this anger to be sin.  Although I mask it with feelings of hurt bewilderment, it is really unholy rage.  At its core is the demand that others give us that which is only to be accorded to God, that is, worship.

I cannot slay the dragon of pride, therefore I hide behind a show of false humility.  But in the end, truth always shows.  The audience is, thankfully, fickle.  A thin waft of pride’s scent and they turn away.   There is no justification for loyalty here.  Yet pride raises its ugly head anyway, and roars in anger, “How dare they not love and worship me!”  The other side of my heart responds, “Why should they?  Their loyalty is to God, as it should be!”

One might consider the issue solved.  It is proved to be pride, and every good Christian knows pride to be at the heart of sin.  I see it is pride.  But labeling it is not enough.  One must turn away from sin.  Therein lies the difficulty.  It is not as easy as it seems.  Knowing oneself to be prideful is not the same thing as letting go of said pride.  Instead, the enraged division of my heart merely turns the blame to God saying, “It’s Your fault, God.  I was only trying to carry out your will.  I’ve prayed and prayed.  You should have done something.”

Even so, pride is already defeated.  It is impossible to fight against God and win.  He’s always, always right.  And deep inside, I know it very well.

Last night, God listened to my ranting and raving.  I heard Him saying, “There, there.”  He knew I was too tired to listen well.  In His infinite mercy, God let me sleep on it.  And instead of abandoning me in my hour of angry pride, He stayed the night with me, working deep within my heart into the wee hours of the morning until finally, I awoke, ready to listen.

Psalm 86:11  “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

This morning I sat down to write.  I wanted to pour forth all my unhappiness and disappointment.  What I wrote was what you are reading.  A confession of pride.  A story of repentance made possible by a new heart.  God said, “I will give you a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).  This heart is malleable.  This heart loves God and longs for holiness.  It is willing to be molded into the image of Christ.  This heart is undivided.  Today I recognized the truth about myself and agreed with God.  This day I turned from pride to humility in seeing myself just as I am.  I am the now and the not yet.  And my value, not my worthiness, is infinite because of Christ in me.  I am loved simply because I am His.  This is wisdom: to agree with God.  I think I’ll be wise today.

 

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