Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weeping for His people

“Esther again pleaded with the King, falling at his feet and weeping, she begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews…..’For how can I bear to see disaster fall upon my people…?’”
Esther 8:3 & 6

“….falling at his feet and weeping….” I can recall the last time that I wept, can you? For me it was not only yesterday, but also today! It has been an overwhelming 2 weeks. Not a typical schedule by any means. I thought that after an AMAZING church event on Friday evening (thank you Marion ladies!!) I would come home and life would return to “normal”. All day Saturday I was emotionally out of sorts. I had a strong feeling in my spirit about a phone call that I new I needed to make and it wasn’t going to be easy. I made that phone call on Sunday. It went as well as a “difficult” phone call could, I guess…. – and soon after that, learned Josh Pfister, a 23 yr old cheerleader at my daughter’s gym was killed in a car accident over the weekend. Sunday evening our gym was to participate in a kick off for Long Hollow Baptist’s Youth Crusade. The cheerleaders did their thing on stage at the church--- many struggling during the routine to keep it together. Then, when the speaker was close to the end of his message he started telling the story of a teenager at one of his crusades who accepted Jesus and then just two hours later – was killed in a car accident. As salt was being poured in a fresh wound – the doors of the sanctuary that led out in to the lobby where being thrown open by many crushed and devastated young people. I saw a young, beautiful girl standing in the lobby in our team colors of purple and orange – I had no idea who she was, but my mother’s heart pressed me to go and just give her a hug. Not only had I lost one friend while about her age --- I had lost two. She held on to me and we both cried – no, not cried. Wept.

Today, I didn’t cry --- I wept again. Before you start thinking I need to be committed – allow me to explain. If you’ve kept up with my story you are aware that I brought I family here from Africa to have surgery for their daughter. Once the family arrived in Nashville I discovered the mother had a sister living in Chicago on a Student Visa. With a little planning – the two sisters saw each other yesterday for the first time in 11 years. Crying, no – weeping, yes.
Grace is being held by her aunt, Marie for the first time.

 On Friday night as I spoke – I used the verse mentioned above and asked the ladies in the audience, “When was the last time that you wept over a group of people? When was the last time that you wept over the evil in this world?”. As with EVERY message I share, God is speaking to me and teaching me something new while I am teaching other people. My two “people groups” to weep for young people and the people of Africa. I’ve known that for some time – but this weekend was a CLEAR reminder of how I need to stay committed to them. I need to beg my Father to put an end to the evil. The evil influences that have a strong hold on our young people. The evil of poverty and war that grip the people of Africa. I know who I’m weeping for. As of this weekend – I think I’m all out of tears for these two groups. I’ve renewed my prayer direction by praying specifically for them. For in the words of Esther, “How can I bear to see disaster fall upon His people?”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Helping Darlene Grace

For today's post - I'm just posting a link to another blog.  The blog says it all so no need for me to re-word something perfectly done. 

The blog is by Dirk Helmling.  He is founder of 29.11 Ministries. Dirk left for Liberia just a few day after I returned home from Liberia. Dirk was the "man" behind my trip speaking trip to Africa. On Dirk's blog he shows more pictures of Darlene Grace's medical problems.

This is a picture of me and little Grace from my June trip. She needs our help. Please pray that God will connect us with the right people to save her life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder

“Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder.”
Zephaniah 3:9

I always get tickled at my ministry partner, Leigh, and say to her – “God gives you verses in the most obscure books of the Bible.” Seriously, when was the last time someone in your small group opened up prayer with a verse from Zephaniah!! This was Leigh’s prayer for our ministry team months ago AND God woke me up early this morning with His words from Zephaniah on my brain.

I just returned home from a mission trip in Liberia, West Africa. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Africa. I’ve ALWAYS had a heart for the “least of these”. I’ve NEVER had any clue as to how God would pull all of that together.

But in perfect God fashion, He used a long line of coincidences to form His plan. Oh how I love to look backwards!! I love to look backwards and see the tiny puzzle pieces of life – pieces that alone did not make any sense, but when connected in the right way and in the right time create a beautiful masterpiece.

In a Beth Moore study recently, I heard her say that in our personal and even in our corporate/professional ministry – we need to have some “along with’s”. She was saying that God effectively uses people together in fulfilling their destiny. We don’t do ministry alone. I loved that!!

I can’t say that I have a gazillion friends with a desire to go to Africa. Nor, do I have a gazillion friends with a heart for the least of these. God has given us unique callings, gifts, passions and circumstances. At times – it would be easy to say that I was alone. But looking back, God has been giving me “along with’s”.

When we are in a crisis (negative) – that piece alone doesn’t make any sense. When we are given a specific passion (positive) – that piece alone doesn’t make any sense. It’s easy to be angry when faced with a crisis or frustrated when given a passion for something and you don’t have a clue as to what to do with it!!!

No matter what you are going through this minute – as a believer, you can look back one day and see God’s fingerprints all over it. You will have names of people (maybe people you’ve not met yet) that will be your “along with’s”. People God set aside to work with you shoulder to shoulder during your crisis or in your ministry. Trust that: 1) He sees the big picture 2) Your life’s puzzle pieces will eventually connect and 3) He will receive glory as you share your testimony of what He has done.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hosting A Banquet?

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Luke 14:12-14

At church Sunday I was 100% convinced that Bro. Ken has been reading my ministry notes for speaking!  Every few minutes my heart was saying "AMEN!",  followed by my brain saying "that's what I've been saying all along!  Jeez - are you people EVER going to get it?". 

That was then followed up quickly by God reminding me - "Honey, you just think you got it!"

Bro. Ken actually focused on another scripture found in Matthew 16:24-28; "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  The bottom line of the message is that these are easy words to say - hard words to live out.

He went on to talk about 'Casusal Christians'.  In my speaking messages I talk about a club called 'Comfy Christianity'.  In this club (which I have been a member) we say things like - 1) "I'll pray for you" and 2) "I'm here if you need me" and the very famous Southern 3) "Bless your heart!"

Which is all code for: 1) As soon as I walk away from you I'm going to forget your prayer request.  Truth is I'm super busy and I have a ton of my own requests!  2) Please don't need me, please don't need me - I have no idea how to work you into my schedule.  3) I hate that things are bad for you right now.  I don't mean to rub it in, but I'm just great and the Lord is blessing me left & right!

Everyone of you reading this (especially females) know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Two years ago during our UpWards basketball and cheer leading program – promoted to the community, we had around 400 children playing in our gym. Less than 100 of those were “our” church kids. I coached a cheer leading squad and out of my 14 girls, only 3 of those had a church home (and none of them were members of my church). All of my girls came from very poor and very rough backgrounds. One night I noticed on of my girls, her mother was very distressed. As I approached her I saw that her blue jeans were torn from her pocket nearly down to the bottom of her pants leg. She was trying to hide her tears and her torn jeans with her daughter’s jacket. When I asked her how she was doing that night --- I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She shared with me about the domestic assault that had happened moments earlier that lead to her torn jeans, she told me about the drug addictions that lead to her car being reposed, and the affair between her best friend and her husband (before the assault she had accidentally ran across a sex text).

I did not want to know all that. I went to church that night to teach a few cheers and maybe distribute a few hugs to some young girls with a questionable home life. I did not want to invest in this person and her life that was so different from mine..  I had a choice to make at that moment - to take up my cross and deny myself OR to say, “I’ll pray for you. I’m here if you need me. And, bless your heart.” 

As I mentioned, I went to church that night to teach a few cheers – but God intended for me to host a banquet.

Seeing desperation in the eyes of “the poor” who lived in my own backyard was a wake up call for me.  A life devoted to Christ also has a public and transforming relationship with the world. It’s hands on. It’s dirty. It’s heart breaking and I can guarantee that you will not be comfortable. So, have you hosted a banquet?  For me - it's been awhile.  On Sunday, thanks to Bro. Ken - I was reminded of that.  Will you be on the look out for opportunities to host along with me?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Are you weird too?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10

Please tell me that I’m not alone in this! Do you have a particular person in your life that always catches you at a weird time? For example when you have food on your face, toilet paper on your shoe or a stain on the back of your shorts from sitting in something at the ballpark --- all while your roots are weeks past a touch up!! This SAME person never seems to see you when you are in your best light. You know without a doubt they think you are the weirdest person in the world!

I have girls 10 & 8 who have some friends, another set of sisters ages 10 &8. When we moved into our subdivision a few years ago I just knew this was a match made in heaven. However, it seems that their mother is always hearing this sentence from my girls: “My parents don’t let us __________ (fill in the blank). Without a doubt she thinks we are the weirdest people in the world! I’m confident she feels that she never catches us in our best light ----- or does she?

Over the last year my girls have filled in the blank with the following: play with Bratz dolls, watch Bratz movies, have shorts that short, show our bellies, say that word (butt), say that other word (shut-up),watch Twilight, watch shows on Nickelodeon after supper, buy Teeny Bopper magazines, hang up posters of pop stars, have a TV in our room, wear fish net gloves because mom says it’s trashy, wear shirts that say I’m a princess or diva or boy crazy or I love vampires, buy clothes at Abercrombie, watch scary movies, play witch, dress like a dead bride, go to the movies with a boy, have a boyfriend, get kid drinks that look like that because they look like grown up drinks…… and trust me, the list goes on and on and on!

In a way, it’s become sort of a joke between Russ and me. When the girls come home from an afternoon of play time - the first thing we ask is, “Well, what could you not do this time?”

What’s funny is that I don’t think of myself as a strict parent (until they come home –ha). And, the girls don’t mind NOT doing any of the things that I’ve mentioned. I have been very proud of how they sincerely don’t want to ___________ (fill in the blank w/any of the above). Well, I take that back – out of everything so far the only thing that caused a fuss was the fish net gloves. Go figure???

When I say “We don’t _________” then explain it’s because: Abercrombie has inappropriate pictures in their store/ads, shorts this length are not modest, we need to keep our minds on things above so we don’t have TV’s in our bedrooms or purchase teen magazines, etc…. And, I follow it with – “Now, your friends might do/have X, Y & Z but that’s not what God wants for our family” the girls have been very cool with it all.

If God’s cool with that, my girls are cool with that --- why do I feel so weird? I’ve recently realized the reason. This family, from what I can see (and we are too look for fruit aren’t we?) are not believers in Christ. What better strategy for Satan than to say to this family: “Look how weird those people are! You don’t want to be like that do you? How silly is that to not let your kids ___________” (fill in the blank). And He says to me: “You really are weird. Don’t you know your silly “stands” are doing more harm than good. Seriously, what’s the big deal.”

It’s a struggle to authentically live Galatians 1:10. The root of my problem is I want to “please” this mother. I want her to like me, like my children, like our choices so that – in my mind – she will like God.

I’m reminded that God’s Word says this again in 1 Thes. 2:4 “…We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” As well as the entire book of 1 John! Be a light, be set apart, don’t be exactly like the world and so on. As difficult as it is – I’m resolved to continue in making what the world feels are silly stands. Any one standing with me? Are people seeing you in your best light?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Goodlettsville, TN + Coast Guard = STRANGE

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.”
John 4:39

I’m telling you --- the words Goodlettsville and Coast Guard should not be used in the same sentence. It’s totally appropriate to say, “Umm – God?” Yet, Monday morning in my neighborhood, I watched the Coast Guard in their small boats bring families from one side of my subdivision to the other. I know those who lost their homes and I know those who only received water damage on their lawn because the water stopped justa few feet from their house. Both sets of families having stories to share of how God was with them.

If you are a believer – you have a story to tell. God has done something amazing in your life. Often, we think of a "God story" as something huge --- miracle size, if you will.  Tragedies like the Nashville flood, tornado's, accidents, illnesses, etc.... and how God protected, provided and so on.  Would it be STRANGE to think that before the Coast Guard came to Goodlettsville - if Monday had been an ordinary day; would we still have a "God story" to tell?
In church lingo – we often use the word “testimony” when we want others to share a story of what the Lord has done for them. When we tell what God has done for us we testify to His existence, to His greatness and that God is in deed who He says He is.

Growing up in the church - I remember looking at the church bulletin, seeing that someone was giving a testimony and knowing 1 of 2 things were about to happen. 1) somebody was about to share way to much information about themselves or others and then the other extreme 2) somebody was about to read scripture for 45 minutes straight with a few phrases like "this verse was important to me too" tossed in the mix a handful of times.
My question for you today is --- do you have a daily testimony to share of what God is doing in your life?  Have you ever sat and thought over the "coincidences" that have occurred in your life in just the last week alone!!?? 
In John 4:39, we see that this woman had a VERBAL testimony to share.  It wasn't too much personal info and it wasn't full of memorized head knowledge.  It was a simple story of how she had seen Jesus.  I encourage you to become comfortable in sharing verbal testimony's of how God is at work in your life.  Feel free to post them here!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti and the Church

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

Matthew 25:40

"We need so much. Food, clothes, we need everything. I don't know whose responsibility it is, but they need to give us something soon," Sophia Eltime, a homeless 29-year-old mother of two, told the Associated Press.

This is what I woke up to read today. The above quote was made by a Haitian woman in desperate need for her family after the 6.1 aftershock this morning --- the strongest since the Jan. 12th 7.0 earthquake.

Her words, "I don't know whose responsibility it is..." cut deep. Her words bring me back to what some of my readers are calling a "soap box" in regards to my posts about Christians and their call to help those in need. If proclaiming God's truth on how He intends for us to live out our faith is a "soap box" --- well then, I guess I'm on it. And I'm not getting off. Her words are a reminder that for years I have not done my part. Her words are a reminder that the WORLD sees Christians no different than anyone else. Her words break the heart of God. Her words should make the church feel very ashamed. Her words move me to tears.

However, I have refused to stay in this place. I can't change the "church", but I can make sure that this church goin' girl puts feet to her words. That's where we've missed the mark all along. I told a MOPS group that I was speaking to just yesterday ---- "The world hears us say that we love God. The world sees us holed up inside our church walls having another pot luck dinner. The world does not see us minister to the 'least of these.'" That is why the world is clueless as to "whose responsibility it is."

Are you a Christian? If so, it is your responsibility.