Friday, January 19, 2018

Musings from Team Building

Some Thoughts from Two weeks of learning about
Successful Team Building

How quickly I either judge others (based on my standards/my image) or become jealous of others for the gifts/traits/talents they have and I don't. What pride! What selfishness! Are not these people also made in the image of God? Are they not also equipped for God’s glory? Is the Spirit not also working in them? Are we not members of one another? Oh Lord! I recognize that I do not protect the weaknesses of others, rather I become bitter towards them, and oh, how I give Satan a foothold! I do not work with others in the sense that I am unwilling to confront others, or share my weaknesses, choosing to do things on my own. Oh Lord! How this neglects the support of the body you’ve given me, forgive me Father! What a pedestal I put myself upon, and not give room for my brothers and sisters to thrive, to grow, to use the gifts God gave them. All this Lord is a testimony of me fighting against your work, your plans, your kingdom. How I hate that I grieve the Holy Spirit in this way!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Jesus is Worth It

Jesus is worth it.

That is the slogan of the mission organization that first captured my heart. The question rang out, "Do I live as though Jesus is worth it? Do I actually believe that?"

I've recently been reading the book, "The Faith of Leap" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The subtitle reads, "Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage," and it has certainly got me thinking.  What if the goal of the church was to promote this lifestyle of "risk" despite the fact that it means leaving comfort behind?

While reading the book I just so happened to be reading through the Gospel of Luke. Consider Luke 9. First we see the 12 Apostles sent out with nothing but what they wore and the message of the Kingdom of God. Then, in verse 23 we read, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Finally, at the end of Luke 9 we see the real cost of following Jesus, living with the reality that this world is not our own. After finishing up Luke 9, I needed to sit for a moment and marvel at the way the Lord reveals his heart - it is not just in Luke 9 that we see this call to risk, adventure and courage, it is replete throughout all of scripture. What then does that mean for us?

Perhaps it means the risk of going onto the mission field cross-culturally, but cross-cultural missions is not for all Christians, but RISK is, so what then? It seems as though we cannot be content with lives of complacency but rather be willing to live life willing to proclaim the gospel despite the risks.

John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." 
One other thing has rang out this week that I feel must be mentioned. I now recognize that while I should hold fast to the promises of the Lord, and the coming kingdom, and the knowledge that Christ has indeed overcome the world, there is still pain and suffering. Jesus is worth all, but there is a difference, which I am now only beginning to see, between risk and recklessness. We are called to be wise, always going before the Lord in prayer. Count the Cost. I type these things for my own reminder as I study more on the theology of Risk and the cost of discipleship.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On Death... and The proclamation of New Life

I recently saw Furious 7 with my sister. Another blog post described it as a" bad movie with a tear-jerk ending," and that about sums it up. Paul Walker is memorialized in a beautiful ending sequence where the two main characters "go there separate ways," and you're left feeling this false sense of happiness that he is traveling another, better road.
As the credits started to roll I turned to Rebecca and said, "you know what's sad... I don't think he was a Christian." That's all. We just paused thinking about that.

Last night I got lost in the world of YouTube Into The Woods musical clips (I'm a sucker for anything musical related), and up pops a segment from Glee, which makes me start thinking about Cory Monteith. I haven't watched Glee since the second season, but with Walker on my mind I start watching scenes from Cory's memorial episode, the Quarterback. Talk about waterworks. Adding emotional characters who release their emotion through song, it created a beautiful tribute to Cory. But here's the thing, he wasn't a believer either.

Two real life people in the world have lost their lives. While the world starts to feel better with peaceful tributes, and while the franchises they worked for still make money, these two men are spending the rest of eternity in hell. That's the part that makes me cry. Was there anyone in their lives that ever shared the gospel with them?

Is there anyone in my life that I haven't shared the gospel with? Because what if they die too, and while I sit at their funeral tribute, I cry not because they're gone, but because of where they are.

Romans 2 is explicit when it speaks about "storing up [God's] wrath against yourself..." because He will "give to each person according to what he has done," and what has each person done? Sin, for there is "no one righteous, not even one." (Rom3)

So like Paul and Cory, I myself have stored up God's own wrath, and know the weight of that sin. But praise be to God that we need not experience that wrath!

God, in his Infinite love has given us His precious Son, who took on my sin, and experienced God's wrath for me on the cross. Rom4:25, he was delivered over to death for [my] sins, and raised to life for [my] justification. And if you trust in Him, you too can experience that real peace of the hope of eternity with Him.

So Furious7 And Glee together had my thinking about the gospel, but also the great need to be proclaiming it.
Jesus is specific in the great commission in Matt.28:18-20, "Go therefore..." (hmm that would make a good mission blog title) "... And make disciples of all nations." But why we ask? Romans 10 has that answer, because if we don't want any more people, like Cory & Paul, to die without hearing, how will they hear without someone preaching it to them?

So therefore Go! What's holding you back? The utter perfection of the greatest Story? The joy that comes from knowing & speaking it? The love that Christ has lavished on you? Those are the catalysts!  Go!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Singing Praises

I remember pressing the snooze for 5 more minutes. Some time later I do that lazy stretch, catching the crick in my back and wonder at how it's amazing that my 5 minutes haven't ended yet. I check my phone to count the remaining seconds and quickly realize, its way past my 5 minutes. 

Mad rush. 

I quickly scramble out of bed, throw on the outfit I had only half planed out, brush my teeth with great speed, grab my bible, journal and is there anything else? The sweet potato casserole for Dgroup! Okay, I'm ready. I think. 
Open the door, step outside. Oh. My dad's car blocks my exit. No problem, I'll just move it... never mind, he took his keys.

So, thats a quick saga of how I came to miss church today. Instead I had my own little service. Not as I would intend, being in the fellowship of believers, but still it was encouraging. 

First I listen to the message I missed from Pastor Ed a couple weeks ago, "Awl or Nothing at All". Definitely a good example of Gospel Centered Preaching, and a motivator to sing praises to God, and thus the true purpose behind this post.

After all that, I get to praise God by listening to, and singing along with, some of my most recent favorite praise songs, songs I'd love to share with you now:

The title really says it all, there is no need to fear the wrath of God because it was already paid for at the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom I love. The Chorus, "How Sweet the Sound of Saving Grace... Christ Died for Me," what wonder it is that Christ, the Son of God, laid down His life for me! Think of your great depravity, and Christ's great love to save you as you sing this and praise His Holy Name! 

I need a strong and perfect plea, for truly I am a wretched sinner, in need of a great Savior. Continually I feel tempted to despair, unworthy of the great Love that my God has shown me, but in His kindness He reminds me that my guilt is gone, I am free indeed. My life is Hid with Christ, I am His forever. Amen! 

I posted this song to Facebook about a week ago, and honestly just love some of these lyrics. At this moment the verse that speaks of singing despite the fact that temptations threaten me, for truly I know where my home is, with my Lord in heaven.   

It'll be there in heaven where I will not worry about a tired body, shady wake-up alarms, or blocked in cars, but rather will continually Sing the Praises of My God, My King, My Savior with the voices of all the Saints, in the ultimate fellowship of believers. Oooh the thought gets me giddy inside. 
"Come Lord Jesus!" 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Mission Field Now

I don't remember how old I was when I first wanted to be a missionary; I don't remember where I was either, but I do remember telling my father. As expected, he wasnt thrilled to hear his teenage, "baby-girl" tell him that risking her life was a worthwhile enddevor, but somehow it sparked a fire. That fire, now that my "grown-up" life has kick-started, has thawed his heart to the idea of a life completely sacrificed for the Lord.

Now, as i consider the lessons from CROSS CON and this Cru Preview Weekend I'm returning from, I'm excited for the plans God has laid out for me - plans for His Glory and My good. As I sat after the last session today I was even able to reflect on what my 3 year, mission plan may look like - off serving by 2017! How exciting that is; to serve the Lord for the express purpose of furthering His kingdom, especially with the blessing of my parents.

It's easy to look at the past and reflect on where I'll be in the future, but I've been realizing that I'm neglecting the current situation that God has put me in.

Each and every Christian is called to work for God's glory, through each and every enddevor, of each and everyday. How can I display a missional mindset in the life situation of where I am now? And closely related, but slightly more pressing for me, is how can I have and display a heart of evangelism for the Lost?

I was just reading once more from James 3:13-17, and overwhelmed with conviction. My plans for today or tomorrow, or three years from now, can be gone for life is short and temporary, and so I must ask, how am I working for the Kingdom in this moment? Well I know I ought to be proclaiming the Truth to all I encounter, but I'm not, and in this I sin. Thus, as I reflect on God's guidance this weekend, through the messages, the people and prayer, that which is most striking is my immediate need to be an evangalist. Not the street speaker, judgement dealer, or apologetics greeter type, but the disciple maker type, that I may be a model of Christ my Lord.

This is my mission field right now, and I'm asking for support through prayer as I pursue it daily, for I'm a wreched sinner in my neglect of this, and nose-dive failure when I try it on my own. Thus, please keep me in prayer in the pursuit of giving my all to Christ through evangalism, as I prepare to do the same oversees, and anywhere else the Lord may lead.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Christ Died For Me

There are times in my life that I feel overburdened by my ever present desire to walk the line of sin and righteousness; to place my self-centered kingdom, above the rightful King of my life.  I was reflecting on this one time as I drove from D-Group, and wrote the following: 

I hate my sin, I love my sin, I hate the fact that I love my sin,I love how He sanctifies through my sin.
I hate the pain as He sanctifies me ,I love how my pain reminds of His pain for me.
I hate how he endured that pain I love that he endured willingly.

Amen and amen - I love how Christ died for me.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Peace of God in my Job Search

My palms are sweaty.  I just finished a horrible demo lesson and know that the reaction will be, "We'll call you," will no intention to say yes.  How did I manage to mess that up? If only I prepared more, or thought about how long the labeling would take or had some more classroom management tricks up my sleeve, or... anything, then it would've been fine! Right?

I walk slowly out of the classroom, gathering the remaining bag of Goldfish and my worksheets, carefully placing the chairs atop the table as asked, and then head over to the office where we'll have a final talk.  I remember my past year of learning where, if I learned anything, it was that there are always positives to a lesson, and a successful teacher is an excellent reflector.  So I start thinking about what went well and what I could improve, instead of just saying that I failed.  

I'm asked how I think the lesson went and find myself pleasantly prepared for this question, sharing with ease the positives and specific ways I can make it better.  A pause, and a comment, "I like the way you reflect." 

Among other things she also shares, "It was very gutsy to do a lesson like this upon meeting the students for the first time.  I think when you start teaching, you might want to consider not using lessons like this until October, when you really know the students." Sounds fair to me, despite previous success. Then comes the big question, "So, what do you think?"

How do I answer that? What does she mean? That is one of the most vague questions I've ever been asked, especially in this particular situation so, "What do you mean?" is my automatic reply. 
"What do you think about the job? Would you like the job?" 

My heart pounds. My face flushes (typical). My jaw drops to reveal a gapping mouth. I'm being offered the job right now? Right here? On the spot? Even with my horrible demo?

It is a Christian School, I remind myself, and they need teachers, I could probably be anyone, but here and now they are offering me a job. 

"Umm, well. Yea - Yes, sure!" 
Did I just said yes? So I have a job for next year? 

They go over the more than modest salary, the hours, the classes, I'm handed papers that need to be signed and I'm out the door. I drive home in shock and slight confusion.  I say a quick thank you to God, but at no point to I earnestly seek His guidance. 

I have a job. 

I have a job.

Why am I not excited? 

At home, I check my email once more.  An email that is "marked as unread" still sits in my priority inbox (+1 for Gmail), and I re-read the email from the school that I had previously fallen in love with, a different school than the one I've been accepted to.  I know the general idea of what it says, "...We're not sure of our hiring ability..." which I had seen originally and skimmed the rest. That meant no.  Right? 

But now I take calculated closer look, thinking of the opportunity as gone.  I read "Contact me prior to accepting the job anywhere else." What? I don't remember that...   

It is a Friday, one of the first sunny Friday's near the end of April, and I head into Manhattan for my Demo at ICE, a collaborative public school.  I had spend the entire week re-teaching myself statistics and then piecing together a cooperative lesson for a demo. I was nervous, but as soon as I stood in front of those students, my fears subsided.  I proceeded to teach the best lesson I ever taught (in my opinion), and then was rewarded with a, "That was excellent," from the teacher who observed me. "We'll be in contact," is what I'm left with, and I walk out praising God, but mostly I leave with an extreme confidence in my own ability to teach. I love the school! I love the kids! I love how they not only are willing to answer thinking questions, but they ask their own questions! I love the calling teachers by first names! I love the collaborative nature of the school! I love their entire philosophy! I think this might be my dream job! 

So now I stare at this email that says "prior to" and ask myself, Does that mean there is hope for me to get this job? My dream job? I send an email saying I've been offered another job, and am left with heavy heart.  What school to pick? I sorta said yes to Evangal Christian school already, but I didn't sign a contract, I could probably tell them no... What should I do? 

I weigh the pros and cons, I consider my wants, I consider my needs, I consider what will be "My Best Fit."  A lot points to ICE, but, for whatever reason, I still don't call Evangal Christian to apologize and ask for more time. 

The week goes by in a blur of trying to forget, and I don't hear back from ICE, so I start to think, maybe that is God's way of saying I should teach at Evangal Christian School. 

Then it is Thursday. I open my inbox to check when bible study starts, and there is a new email from ICE.  "We do have a spot, but we need two weeks to decide," it reads.  
The AP goes further to ask, "Which place would you prefer to work?"

How is the possible? Why, after a week of starting to feel more confident with Evangal Christian, would God give me this second option again? Why do I need to actually make this choice and not just have it handed to me? 
I consider again, what do I want? And the assistant principal's question nags me.  I think I prefer ICE, but why I'm I reluctant to make that choice? I feel no peace and begin to realize, at no point, during the entire week had I consulted God, or asked for Him to lead me, or even talked to Him about the decision.  I had thanked Him when I got the job, but that was about it.  Instead I had been focused on myself.  

So I start to pray. 

What right do I have to come before my Father with this request when I've been trying to do it on my own for so long? What right do I have to ask for guidance when I've been seeking my own will first? 
I lay this out before Him.  With a small amount of bitterness I ask Him why He was giving me this difficult choice.  I ask Him how my choice in this brings Him any glory.  But then I ask Him for guidance.  
Our God is Sovereign, and all things work for His glory.  Thus, I ask for the choice that will glorify Him, and not myself.  It doesn't happen immediately. 

It's Friday and I wake up at 6AM, something I haven't done in 2 weeks, with the express intention of discovering if the commute to Evangal Christian School is doable for me if I leave at 6:30AM (because if I have to leave any earlier than that, I don't think it will be a match)! 
I get in the car, and pray.  

"Our Father who art in Heaven..." The "Lord's Prayer" is my model, as I praise God for His sovereignty and His characteristics of Glory. "Give us this day..." What do I need today? I need to Desire God above all else, I need to have strength to resist temptation and fight the fight. I need to know what school I should choose.  

I make it to the school with 5 minutes to spare.  The trip is doable.  I pull to the side in an illegal spot, put my hazards on, and cry out. 

I don't think about the pros and cons. 
I don't think about what I want. 
I don't think about the advice some friends have shared. 

I just think about God. 
My ears focus in on the song playing in the background:
"Oh Father, use my ransomed life in anyway You choose."
I cry.  And I know.

But Lord, what about the hardships I was worried about? Philippians 4:13
But Lord, what about what I wanted? Philippians 4:11
But Lord, what about the sound advice other's have given me? Philippians 4:8

Oh what a peace! In all my questions and my what ifs God, I'm reminded of the scriptures.  I consider how I meditated on Philippians 4 the day before because of the advice from a sister, and I remember the promises Paul talks of.  Oh What Peace comes from Resting in the Guidance of God!

I see now how the Woman of Virtue in Proverbs 31 can rejoice in the time to come for God is her rock!

So, I have a job.  Next September I'll be working at Evangal Christian School where I'll drive to joyfully each day, knowing that this is the Lord's plan, and His plan is Good.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds though Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7