Monday, May 31, 2010

Being a Servant of God

Writing on the blog for me is something I have felt has been prompted by God as a way to serve Him better.  I think it has to be just based on the things He has allowed me to write.  I couldn't do that by my own strength.  Warren Wiersbe says that "ministry is not something we do for God but something God does in and through us:  For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13).  The 'willing' and the 'working' both come from God.  Whatever God calls us to do, we can do with His help; otherwise, He never would have called us:  He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24). 

I told myself when I started that this would be a great place to journal (especially now that it can be printed) and that if others read it and got something out it, great.  Then once people started leaving comments, emailing me, or approaching me about it, I started to feel this obligation to write more.  This has left me feeling a little stressed when I don't write for long periods of time.  This is something I worried about when I started writing.  I don't want writing to become like a chore or a "job".  It is really not meant to "serve" others but to serve and glorify God.  I am reading a book called "On Being a Servant of God" by Warren W Wiersbe.  He puts it this way: "Of the three persons involved in a ministry - the Lord, the minister, and the person ministered to - the Lord must come first".   We have these words from the bible to guide us "and whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ" (Col 3:23-24).  If you take your focus and service off of God and put it towards the people, it's not going to work.  It's going to feel like a burden, a job, but God promises His yolk is easy (Matthew 11:30).  When you focus on Christ you'll be motivated to do your best, not watch what others are doing, and the burden will be light.  Lately I have felt the burden to be heavy.  By reading chapters of this book, I have come to the conclusion of the fact that I am focusing on serving the people, or myself,  instead of Christ.  Its not like I write all the time on here, but when I am not writing, I'm thinking about what I will write about next.  I am really only trying to write as I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit. 

Warren says "Ministry isn't easy, but you make it more difficult for yourself if you serve people instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.  You can't please everybody, so don't even try.  Just live and work in such a way that your Master will be able to say, "You are My beloved servant in whom I am well pleased".  I have two points I want to make after reading/writing these statements from Warren.  The first is the point of not being able to please everyone.  I have to confess and address the issue of anonymous comments.  I guess I was naive to believe that no one would leave comments that would be hurtful.  I guess I figured that if someone didn't like it or didn't want to read it, they wouldn't.  I forgot that I am not excluded from being hurt even though I am following and serving the Lord.  These comments have really been getting to me.  I didn't really want to draw attention to them for a couple of reasons...the obvious being my pride.  I started feeling like maybe I should just not write anymore.  Is writing worth the hurt and frustration over some comments?  Then I thought about how silly that statement was considering what God went through for us.  Jesus was criticized, spit on, even crucified and he knew it all was going to happen before it happened.  He still went on with it.  "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him" (CT Studd).  All I have is a few hurtful comments and I want to throw in the towel!!?  It isn't about's not about others, it's about serving and glorifying God.  And wouldn't Satan want me to just delete the whole thing?  A good friend of mine gave me this advice:  "Be aware that the enemy will stir up people to leave anonymous comments.  Isn't that a code name for the enemy?  He doesn't blatantly put his name on anything, but anything that is 'hidden is connected to him!"  I had never thought about it this way!  Warren also says something similiar in his book that the evidence that your work is glorifying God is when the enemy opposes what you are doing!  He also says that "God often allows problem people to come into your life so that you'll learn to depend more on His power and not your own resources.  He not only wants to do something through us, He also wants to do something in us; and that is why certain people show up in our lives.  God uses them to encourage us to pray, trust the Word, and depend on the Spirit for love and grace.  Difficult people and difficult circumstances can be used by the Spirit to help us grow and become more like Christ".  Even in my measly situation, this is so ever true!  I have certainly leaned on Him more during this time.  He goes on to say "You'll meet problem people and problem situations wherever you go, so make up your mind to expect them, accept them, and let God use them in your life.  The devil wants to use problem people as weapons to tear you down, but the Spirit can use them as tools to build them up".  Again, I am in awe of how God allows me to "choose" material to read based on the timing of when I will need it.  I can't believe I have been praying over this very thing and then God reveals these awesome words and answers to me.

The second point would be the point of serving our Master.  "Just live and work in such a way that your Master will be able to say, 'You are My beloved servant in whom I am well pleased'".  When I I think of the word Master, I think of a autority figure. I think back to working and the number of bosses I have gone through. How I prayed to not have a boss anymore, not work for anyone but Jesus Christ, the true master. Many people know how long and hard I prayed from before my daughter was born up until the time it happened...I felt called to be home with my child/children. I knew it was where God wanted me but I couldn't convince my husband. He saw $$ where I was seeing precious time passing by. So I prayed...I had many, many of you pray and when we had kicked our feet for too long, not obeying, God allowed me to lose my job...not quit. As tough as that was to swallow, I knew it was where God wanted me anyhow, so I scooped myself up turned it toward Him. I can still see the looks of all the women in my bible study when I told them our prayers had been answered..."I got fired, isn't it wonderful?!" (with a big smile and tears in my eyes). They had never seen someone so happy to lose their job of 10 years. He didn't answer those prayers quite the way I would have liked, but I guess I wasn't specific and God was tired of waiting for us to make the decision just by His prompting. So He took care of it himself and I am glad He did.  I feel the same way as Warren when he says "I would rather have Jesus Christ as my Master than anyone else I know.  He loves me, He knows all about me, He made me, He knows the future, and He gives me the power I need to serve Him acceptably and fruitfully.  When I fail, He forgives me and helps me start over again.  He never leaves me or forsakes me and he rewards me graciously, though I don't desrve it.  Could you want a better Master than that?"
I guess my whole point to this post is to be an encourager to you.  Words can tear each other down or build one another up.  If you are going through something similiar, remember who you are serving.  It's easy to get caught up in what others think, but really the only person who should matter is God.  If we are doing right by His eyes, then we should be able to hold our heads high and know that He hasn't made a mistake.  "If God has called you to minsiter, no matter what the ministry may be, He hasn't made a mistake.  He knows what He's doing and the best thing you can do is gratefully submit to His will and trust Him to work" (Wiersbe, Warren 2007).  Even through hurtful comments on the blog and loss of a job, God continues to show me things through it, holds me closer, and makes me stronger through it.  Even sort of unwillingly writing this post...I'm thinking "you want me to write that??!  Please...anything but that!"  But I trust that by writing it, I am better serving and glorifying Him. 
"Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant (Galations 1:10). 
"So encourage each other and build each other up...(1 Thess 5:11)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God's Holy Exchange

I read this in my morning devotion this morning and thought it connected well with what I wrote yesterday.  I thought it was worth passing along.

Parts of Isaiah 61:
And release from darkness for the prisoners

To procliam the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn

And provide for those who grieve
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes

"No wonder so many of us don't even know if we'll make it.  The burdens are great.  The load is heavy.  And yet, for the believer, Jesus offers what we can't even conceive:  a garment of praise.  Praise comes to our hearts only as we allow Him to trade our despair for His hope."

"Redemption is when God takes something that seems to have no value or even seems to be a liability and exchanges it for something beautiful.  To receive a vase of flowers in exchange for a paper coupon seems like more than we deserve.  To become a woman of righteousness and splendor after a lifetime of defeats, scars, and sin seems impossible and beyond anything we could ever deserve.  He willingly takes a sack of ashes in exchange for a crown of beauty."

"Gifts that we don't deserve are called grace.  Accept His willingness to exchange His good for your weakness as a gift of grace. Stop trying to deserve God and just receive His goodness and mercy."

~Angela Thomas.  Do You think I'm Beautiful?.  Life Way Press.  2007, 2009.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Testimony as of May 2010

My head has been racing with material to write on the blog.  I figured before all else, I should get my testimony out there.  This one has been a hard one for me to let go of and put it out here publically for a couple of reasons.  1) For obvious reasons...I'm out sin, my shame, but His mercy and forgiveness come through 2) I feel that testimonies are more powerful when would get to see the emotions and brokenness that comes with it.  After thinking and praying about it, I still feel it is necessary and it will still be powerful I's done.  To make it more effective and further humiliate...(clearing throat)...I mean glorify God, I also included some lovely pictures of me as a child, youth, teen, and young adult.  I decided to leave it as a page on my blog (link on the right hand side)...that way I can change it as needed.  I took the document that I presented when I gave my testimony last year and combined it with the material that I used and spoke on at the "Beauty From the Inside Out" conference and there we have it.  A big, fat, juicy testimony! 

You probably know by now that I am full of disclaimers and often repeat myself.  This is just to make sure I am being clear...and that I have 2 legs to stand on if something were to ever come back and attack me.  I know I have readers out there that really don't understand where this is all coming from.  I tried to explain it in my very first post but the testimony should help answer that.  And just because I have felt called to do these things or live this way, does not mean I feel everyone else must too.  One of the biggest things Christians are criticized for is being hypocritical and judgemental.  If I could somehow close the gap on that criticism, I hope to.  I want you to know that judging is never my intent and if someone thought I was, I would want to be called on it.  For me personally, this where I want my life to be and I still want to be friends with you, even if you aren't in the same place as me.  Okay?  Good.  So those of you who have been ingoring me and not keeping in touch, please do.  I miss you!

Oh, and remember the actual "Testimony" is on the right hand side under page links.  Click on the link to "my testimony" and read away.  It is rather long so feel free to skip it if you don't have time!  :)  You can leave comments about it here if you want (I am not sure if you can leave comments to pages).  If you have any questions about any of it, feel free to ask!  I'm an open book now! disclaimer time...I'll use the one I used before:
***not responsible for typos or other grammatical errors, laughter, tears, or any other emotions brought on by this post or posts there after. You may choose to not read this blog if you have any of the following conditions: pride, sin, a weak stomach, pregnancy, unteachable spirit, watery eyes, or a convicted heart.

Kid update

Okay, I know it has been awhile for an update on the kids.  I had stated previously that our camera seemed to be taking a dive and it appears that it may be for good.  Most of the pictures I have been taking have turned out "white" this one of Reece riding her bike:
Yep, it's blank but the date.  Here's another one I got...It would have been really cute if it wasn't so fussy...high heels and all...when I walked in she had her head in her hands like she was bored or working real hard.

There is not too much to report on them.  Reece says hilarious things every day that I could probably have a quote of the day.  Currently if I am away in the evening, she waits up until I get home.  She's suppose to be in bed but once she hears the garage door she runs down to meet me and says "Mommy!  You're home now!   I'm so happy to see're my best friend!"  My intial "annoyed" reaction is recovered by my melting heart!  I wonder if this will work when I am waiting up for her 20 years from now? :)  Currently we are working on obedience...out with numbers, colors and shapes...because this one's a doozey.  She has entered a stage which might be considered "trying 3's".  She has a voice and uses it.  We are trying a couple of different discipline techniques that seem to be working.  Consistency is definitley key.  I don't do any counting's just one...if I have to ask more than once, it's done and there is punishment.  She also is to be polite and respectful when asking for things...instead of "I need more apple juice" it must be "May I please have some more apple juice" before she gets any. 

Brody is talking more and more and I am so in love with his little personality.  He says so many words that I couldn't write them all but my faves are:  Mommy, Da-da, Sissy, Harley, BeBe, Byeee, See ya, Hedo (hello), wahwee (water), and Bubbie (for himself).  He is such a lover...loves to hug, give kisses, and blows kisses.  One thing we don't have to work on with him (yet) is obedience.  If it's one thing he hates worse than not having his milk, it's punishment.  All I have to do is look at him sideways, and he listens or sticks his lip out and tears start to fall.

They are both such a joy and blessing to have!
**I tried to upload the 20 second video clip of Reece riding her bike and that didn't work either.  If anyone has any tips on that or why my camera is taking white pictures, please leave comments.  The camera is a Kodak and is only 3 years old!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Freedom Through Forgiveness - Life Action in ACTION

Well, Life Action has come and gone but I continue to see their messages work in my life.  The 2nd Sunday night they were at our church they did a lesson on forgiveness and living with a clear conscience.  Their definition was "The ability to say, 'There is no one alive that I have ever wronged, offended, or hurt in any way that I have not gone back to and made it right with God and with them'".  I am sure not many could raise their hands to that statement.  They challenged us to make a list of people who have wronged us or that we have wronged and commit to making it right again.  The action list was this:

1.  Make a list - take the most difficult ones first
2.  Make contact
3.  Make a confession: "I was wrong"
4. Make opportunity for response: "Will you please forgive me?"
5. Make restitution (for example, if you stole something, give it back)
6.  Make a friend - restore the relationship (if possible and not a threat to your marriage/family)

And how we can look at that list and have excuses or hesitations on certain steps such as:

1.  It happened a long time ago.
2.  They moved away.
3.  It was so small.
4.  Things have gotten better.
5.  It involved money. (I don't have enough to pay it back)
6.  They won't understand.
7.  They were mostly wrong.
8.  It happened before I was saved.

That was the message...but then they gave you homework which I completed during my quiet time.  Part of this homework was making the list of people who wronged you.  Next to each name you were to write the offense that the person committed against you then record how you responded to their wrong doing.  During the message, Steve challeneged us to complete this part and commit to the list.  He said if you commit to the list, God will make it happen...even if the person moved away.  They gave examples of how God worked in others lives...running into the person in another state, running into the parent of the person and getting the phone number of the person who was on the list, etc.  Then we prayed and raised our hands if we were willing to commit to the list.  And I did (didn't make the list out til the homework the next day).  The homework walked you through a checklist of ways that people have hurt you such as being lied to, rejected, treated unfairly by an employer, abandoned, publicly humiliated, abused (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually), broken promises, slandered/falsely accused, etc (these were the ones I checked but there were others).  It walked you through the feelings associated with this...still feeling angry or bitter toward the person or situation, have a secret desire to see payback for what they did, telling others what happened, saying negative things about the person, and not being able to thank God for the person (oh, wow...really...we have to do that too?!)  Then it walked you through things Jesus suffered through and how forgiving and merciful He is, how He reacted to wrong doings (Verses to reference: Isaiah 53:3-7, Psalm 22:6-7, 16, Ephesians 2:4-5, Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 10:17, Micah 7:18-19).  God commands us to do the same (verses to reference: Luke 6:27, Romans 12:17-21, Colossians 3:13, Luke 17:3-4).  We might say "They don't deserve to be forgiven but what did we do to earn or derserve God's forgiveness?  NOTHING"(Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-9).  The study says "Remember: letting them offender off of your hook does not mean they are off of God's hook.  Forgiveness involves transferring the preson over to the One who is able and responsible to mete out justice.  It relieves us of the burden and responsibiltiy to hold them in prison ourselves (ahh....very freeing).  Something to think about: Would I be willing for God to deal with me in the same way that I want to see my offender dealt with? (  It goes on to say "Remember: Forgiveness is not forgetting.  It is a transaction in which I release my debtor from the obligation to repay his debt.  God promises not to remember our sins or to hold them against us".

Thankfully, God has given me the ability to choose forgiveness in my life.  As a very young person, I was always able to forgive people and move on.  This has been a very good trait to have but it has also wounded me further by people who have taken advatage of this.  Doing this study really made me think of some of the wrongs done to me and really stirred up my heart.  I can tell by the lack of dealing with some of these issues had been really working negatively in my life.  It became very easy for me to do that final part of the study: Making a list of the people who have wronged me.  I wrote 7 people down, their offense, and my response.  Then we were to pray and thank God for each person who has wounded me because they are His instruments to humble me and to mold and conform me to the image of Jesus.  I had thought of this before but still felt is was just unfair to go through some of these things.  One thing that really convicted me in the message was asking forgiveness (to the offender) for not representing Christ...we claim to be a Christian but we haven't acted like one.  I looked at my list and in every situation, I did not represent Christ in any of them.  Wow...that seemed really hard to do looking back at the circumstances of the wrong doing.  The next step was to confess to God, and then to the OFFENDER, any wrong responses you may have had (unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, gossip, etc) I committed to that and started at the top of the list.  I got through the first two fairly easily and then things got hectic for a week or so.  We had the revival the remainder of the week, appointments, and were preparing to leave town on a short getaway (my husband and I and another couple).  The list had slipped my mind but God had been stirring my heart over a person.  This person was on my mind constantly.  They were showing up in dreams where I ran into them.  Even where we vacationed reminded me of the person (I went there with the person for the first time).  God stratetically placed that in my life at that percise moment.  I kept hearing music that the person listened to.  It was driving me nuts...why was this person on my mind and heart?  I hadn't heard from the person in at least 4 years, and they moved far away almost 8 years ago.  So I thought there must be a reason all these things are happening.  I thought about seeing if they were on facebook...I had tried a year ago and they weren't on.  So Sunday I thought, maybe I'll see if they are on now...I do need to see if a few other of my friends and neighbors joined.  Sunday came and went and I never got time to look.  Then came Monday...I came inside on Monday to feed the kids lunch and decided to check my email real fast and guess what was in my inbox?  A friend request from that person!  I nearly fell out of my chair!  This creepy feeling came over me...the part of the message where Steve said if you commit to the list, God will bring the person to you.  So I checked my list...I wasn't even sure the person was on it.  I remember thinking I should put them on list but was thinking I didn't want to deal with it.  Mostly for the sheer fact that I would have to look at all the mistakes I made with that person and the fact that I in no way held up my end of the bargain to represent Christ and hold true to what I believed in (instead submitting to peer pressure and wanted to be loved and filled up by a person and not my Savior).  Sure enough...the last person on the list was this person.  I accepted the friend request, looked at their info including the small number of friends on their page.  We didn't even have 1 mutual friend which tells me they had to actively search for me!  So what now?  I prayed...and have been praying about it.  I haven't done anything with this yet and am just waiting for God to lead me.  I did feel strongly about putting out here for you to read.  Maybe you are going through something similiar and my story will be the push you need to seek out a person.  I am a little nervous about this list now and completing it.  There are a few people on here that I just don't want to face because it's too hard.  But I know that there are blessings to come from my obedience with God and I trust Him with this.  He wouldn't do anything to put me in harms way.  It's just another way for God to use His instrument to mold and conform me into the image of Jesus.  Thank you, God, for each person who has wounded me!

Two things to note:  I am not sure how soon you will see pictures on here.  My camera has been hit or miss on working...I think our trip put my camera into rest mode.  Yesterday, I took some pictures of the kids feeding geese at the park and then of them crying when they swarmed us (well, that happened but I didn't take pictures of that part) and they all turned out like white pages...ugh).

Also, I added the "follower" option to the right side of the blog...if you follow my blog, I would love for you to hit the "follow" button.  I would love to see who's out there reading.  There are many people who have contacted me that I had no idea followed so I thought this would be a great feature to add.  Thanks!

Oh, and I haven't thought of any good tips in awhile.  My mind is drawing a blank...if you have a good tip to share, please tell me and give me permission to add it to my tip of the week at the top!  Please!