Sunday, August 31, 2008
Do you know people with the gift of evangelism? (Eph. 4:11) It's because I do know people with this gift that I'm convinced I am not one of them. Yes, every believer has the privilege and responsibility to share the Gospel. Yes, every believer has a story to share and should remain sensitive as we look for opportunities to share it, but I'm referring to believers much like my friend Brenda Bagwell. She is truly one of the godliest women I have ever known. She always has a smile on her face and the Gospel on the tip of her tongue.
I'll never forget the time I went on a Wednesday night visitation with her. We knocked on a first-time visitor's door a couple of times. No reply. OK, at that point I'm ready to jump back in the car. (Oh, did I fail to mention my motive for being there in the first place? I had been told that all "good" Sunday School teachers participate in visitation -- but I'll save that for another post. For now, let's just say my motive that night was to check "visitation" off my list. How's that for honesty?) Back to the story... Brenda proceeds to knock at the front door, and the more she knocks, the more embarrassed I become. Finally, the knocking ceases. I can't begin to explain the relief that came over me. While I was drowning in my pool of relief, Brenda began walking around to the back door! At that point, I would have settled for being an average substitute teacher. Have mercy! Needless to say, the woman finally realized she was up against a force much greater than herself... a person with the gift of evangelism. It was a beautiful sight! God's gifting in action.
One thing I learned that night. Not every believer has the gift of evangelism, but every believer is called to evangelize. Just in different ways.
You may not hear me tapping on any doors, but rest assured, Sherri's challenge woke me up to the fact that I've not been taking evangelism serious enough in recent years. Sherri's tears broke my heart as I realized I hadn't even noticed until today.
Thank God for Sherri and all teachers of the living and active Word!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sorry for two posts in one day, but...
I can honestly say the only time before today that I've been moved to tears by anything political was on September 11. Thankfully, today was due to a much happier occasion.
I was surprised by John McCain's V.P. choice this morning but it didn't take long to warm up to Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin. I was moved to tears a couple of times during her acceptance speech. One such moment unfolded like this:
ALASKAN GOV. SARAH PALIN:
Track [their oldest son] now serves in an infantry brigade. And on September 11th, Track will deploy to Iraq in the service of his country. And Todd and I are so proud of him and of all the fine men and women serving this country (inaudible)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!(To view the manuscript in full, click here.)
Sarah Palin's speech made me proud to be both a woman and a Republican. She is living out her pro-LIFE beliefs, she's an Evangelical Christian, and I like her spunk. I look forward to learning more about her over the next 66 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 42 seconds, but so far... so good!
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
Reflecting on these words, C.J. Mahaney writes, "Humility draws the gaze of our Sovereign God."
- taken from, "The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment", Tim Challies.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Because we live near the park I can:
- see the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Dark skies, hundreds of flashlights and lots of giggling kids
- play Frisbee golf in a matter of seconds
- hear the sound of children practicing with their teams
- smell the Simpsonville Farm Day (cows, horses, goats, chickens, etc.) Need I say more?
- tolerate (I mean, enjoy) the Simpsonville Labor Day festival
But watching them today reminded me of our study from Monday and the importance of staying focused on the eternal rather than the temporal. It's not easy, is it? The temporal things in life are much louder and demanding of our time and energy. Family life, jobs, finances, physical difficulties, etc. In contrast, the eternal rarely vies for our attention. It doesn't force its way into our life. It simply waits to be discovered and enjoyed, resulting in contentment, peace, and confidence.
Maybe I have more in common with the carnies than I realized. (No, Brian, please don't sign me up) As a Christ follower, my mindset is to be focused on the fact that I am simply passing through. Towns and faces may not change for me every week, but like them, I know this is not my home. My real home.
I love it when the Lord "flips a switch" in my soul reminding me of what's truly important. This week, instead of spending time wondering about them, I plan to pray for them.
But, our citizenship is in heaven."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
These ladies came with hungry hearts and thirsty souls and just as Jesus promised, they were filled by Him. (Matt. 5:6)
I thank God for leading us to this study, "He Speaks to Me" by Priscilla Shires (Tony Evan's daughter). The past six weeks included "light bulb" moments for us all, as well as laughter and tears. I would recommend this study to anyone. How could you go wrong with a back cover like this: "Why do we settle for the Word of the Lord revealed to someone else and passes on to us as if God does not speak to us individually? This shouldn't satisfy us. He wants us to hear His voice, understand, and obey. The Lord desires to speak to us personally."
And He did. Thank You, Lord!
I look forward to our Fall study beginning in mid-September. If you're interested in attending, email me. We would love to have you join us as we delve into the book of 2 Corinthians. No books required... just THE Book!
Monday, August 25, 2008
We were pleasantly surprised to see two familiar faces when we arrived. It was nice having something in common with them as we shared dinner together.
Highlights from the evening:
- The meal was yummy!
- I'm guessing there were 75-100 people there, including staff, who were scattered among the different tables. The Ladies' Ministry did a great job hostessing (is that a word?)
- Randy put everyone at ease early on and the evening flowed smoothly.
- A brief video was shown for each staffer. It was helpful matching faces with names and a great way to hear more about their vision and meet their families.
- Randy talked about their beliefs/vision and the strategic plan that is in place to take newcomers through discipleship and more.
- My favorite quote from Randy was this: "You won't hear Baptist this or Baptist that at FBC because the church is not about making people Baptists, but committed followers of Jesus Christ. " They are obviously doing a lot of things right.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Today was another great Sunday at FBC. People are being baptized almost every week!
Tonight, we plan to attend their "Getting to Know" dinner, not because we're ready to jump in with both feet quite yet, but we do want to hear more about their vision as a church.
Over the summer, we visited Southside Fellowship. What we liked most about this church was Charlie's preaching. It was powerful, to the point, and Spirit-filled. He obviously knows what he believes and preaches it without wavering.
Another church we visited was Grace Fellowship. Have mercy! This preaching team is phenomenal.
Both churches offer solid preaching/teaching and strong foundational truth, but neither offer the one thing we had decided early on would be a top priority for us: structured Bible classes on Sunday morning.
Most churches seem to offer one service on Sunday and small groups during the week. Don't get me wrong -- small groups can be an awesome tool for learning the Word, but it's heavily dependent upon who is facilitating the group, and not all facilitators take this responsibility as seriously as our last small group leader, Steve Prout.
So, although our journey hasn't quite come to an end, I think we are beginning to see God's direction more clearly and we thank Him for it! He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Eccl. 3:10)
Friday, August 22, 2008
- A & E's version of Pride & Prejudice (with Colin Firth) permanently resides in my DVD player - it never grows old.
- I played the acoustic guitar for several years growing up and led Girl Scout summer camps in Kum-ba-ya. Now there's a memory I'd like to forget.
- I didn't become a follower of Christ until I was 27 years old. Everything up to that point was head knowledge.
- My mom dated Dick Brooks (70's NASCAR driver) when I was a teen. He once took me for a loop around the Daytona Speedway. I'm still recovering.
- I keep every note or letter written to me. What can I say? I'm a sentimental sap.
- Growing up, my dad had a huge organic garden. We sold vege plants directly from our little greenhouse in the backyard.
- I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up.
- I only eat fries that have square ends. (Now you know why I
neededwanted to be a psychologist)
- I host an evening Christmas Tea in our old house every year, complete with Christmas china, spice tea and lots of candles. Tea and Nascar. Go figure.
- My favorite meal, hands down, is the Grilled Chicken & Cranberries salad at Two Chefs to Go.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Could the same thing happen to us spiritually? I believe so. I'm not a nutritionist, but I would venture to say that this state of rejection did not happen overnight, but rather, over a period of time. Sound familiar? We do not lose our hunger for God overnight. Little by little, (dare I say subconsciously?) our appetite begins to decrease for God - for His Word - for the things of God - for quick obedience. Before we know it, our soul no longer gurgles from hunger - all is quiet, or so it seems.
While physical starvation is easily spotted by exposed ribs and hallow faces, spiritual starvation often goes unnoticed, at least for awhile. In time, however, the lack of true nourishment reveals itself through our motives, attitudes, speech and choices.
The Somali refugees lacked access to food and nourishment. Spiritually speaking, we have excessive access to everything pertaining to life. (2 Peter 1:3) We have no excuse. There is a church on every corner, we have the complete and inerrant Word of God at our fingertips, and most importantly, a heavenly Father who eagerly awaits the opportunity to fatten up His child.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled."
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Any movie with the word "list" in it has to be good, right?
Brian and I have always enjoyed movies with lots of suspense. Within five minutes of hitting "play", we're already guessing how it will end.
On Sunday, we rented The List, based on the first novel by best-selling author Robert Whitlow (Fox Home Entertainment).
I think Brian will blog more on the movie itself, but one line in particular, spoken by the main character's landlord, stood out to me. It went something like this: The children of God and the enemy's followers have something in common. They both underestimate the power of prayer.
The actress, and her words, reminded me of a dear friend, Joan Coker, who is now with the Lord. Joan was a quiet, loving woman who could not carry on a conversation without mentioning Jesus. Her face lit up and a sweet smile would come over her face every time she mentioned His name. Much like Moses, it was obvious she had been in the presence of the Lord... and often. Joan understood the power of prayer and one can only imagine the things that were accomplished for His kingdom through the simple, heartfelt prayers spoken in her prayer closet.
Although I wouldn't suggest this movie for children I think most adults would find it worth the $4.00 rental fee.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A few takeaways from last night's study:
- "You want to know God? You want to discern His voice from your own? Get to know His written Word."
- "The Bible alone provides the foundational directives you and I need to make decisions that glorify God. Apart from reliance on the truth of Scripture we cannot clearly hear Him."
- "When we 'devote' ourselves to reading Scripture, it becomes a part of us, reminding us of its precepts and encouraging us to obey its guidelines."
For my "quiet time", I tend to respond best to structured-type learning. One of my favorite "tools" in recent years has been Beth Moore's Personal Reflection Series. The first study was on David. Last year, the subject was Jesus, and this morning I picked up a fresh-off-the-press copy of her latest installment on the disciple John!
Some reasons why I choose to use this book as part of my quiet time:
- It points me directly to the Word
- It contains thought-provoking questions, little fluff
- There is ample space for writing responses and prayers (a journal-lovers dream!)
- Each day is packed with a punch. I have yet to finish this 90 day "journey" in 90 days
- It contains the coolest pages ever too! Wide, lots of white space, and torn edges
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Sunday, August 17, 2008
When asked what she would one day tell her 2 year old daughter about the Olympics, 41-year- old Dara Torres replied, "Never put an age limit to your dreams." How inspiring!
It reminds me of a favorite story found in, "Teaching to Change Lives" by Dr. Howard Hendricks:
"Years ago I took part in a Sunday school convention at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. During a lunch break, three of us who were teaching at the convention walked across the street to a little hamburger shop. The place was filled, but soon a table for four opened up. We saw an elderly lady whom we knew was attending the convention because of the bag she was carrying, and we asked her to join us.
We learned she was eighty-three and from a town in Michigan's Upper Penisula. In a church with a Sunday school of only sixty-five people, she taught a class of thirteen junior-high boys. She had traveled by Greyhound bus all the way to Chicago the night before the convention. Why? In her words, "To learn something that would make me a better teacher."
I thought at the time, Most people who had a class of thirteen junior-high boys in a Sunday school of only sixty-five would be breaking their arms to pat themselves on the back: "Who me? Go to a Sunday school convention? I could teach it myself!" But not this woman.
Eighty-four boys who sat under her teaching are now young men in full-time vocational ministry. Twenty-two are graduates of the seminary where I teach.
If you were to ask me the secret to this woman's impact, I'd give you a totally different answer today from what I would have thirty years ago. Back then I'd have credited her methodology. Now I believe it was because of her passion to communicate. My heart's concern for you is that God will give you a passion like that... and never let it die."
It's the life in your years.
Friday, August 15, 2008
they were my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.
"Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological." - John Piper
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Until today, the people I've sold to on Craig's List have gone out of their way to meet me in a public place close to the house. I fly over, exchange goods and moolah, and return home in 5 minutes. That was, until today.
Instead of recycling my gardening magazines I chose to post them on Craig's List just to see what would happen. I received an email from someone who wanted to buy them so we set up a place close by for us to meet late this afternoon. When I phoned to confirm the details, a gruff older gentleman answered. Instead of meeting where we had previously planned he told me to drive over to his and his wife's place of business. Really?
I grumbled to myself most of the way there. OK, all the way there. I'm just selling gardening magazines for goodness sakes - why should I waste my gas driving over to meet him?
When I entered the place of business, I found his wife at the desk with a big smile and him on the phone chewing someone out. All of a sudden, "gruff" didn't sound so bad. Five minutes later, he hung up the phone and proceeded to explain why he was chewing the person out. On the outside, I'm smiling. On the inside? My appreciation for recycling is growing by leaps and bounds!
As he began thumbing through the magazines, however, a new person emerged. His eyes lit up and a smile came over his face as we exchanged tips and our latest gardening finds. Before I knew it, I was scrolling through his cell phone checking out all his favorite flowers.
Thirty minutes later, as I turned to tell him goodbye, his face was still beaming with a big smile. He yelled out for me to come back and talk gardening with them again soon. It wasn't until I arrived home and glanced at my study book that I remembered the first day's study. The title? "Your Interruption: God's Intervention".
Would I have initially considered this exchange an interruption? (Does Michael Phelps swim?) YES! Did it turn out to be a divine intervention? Only God knows!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We tackled the subject of spiritual warfare in class last night. More specifically, how we can be aware of (but not focused on) the enemy's tactics and strategies.
One of the key verses we studied was 2 Corinthians 10:5:
I remember choosing this specific verse to memorize early on in my Christian walk because I desperately wanted to rid my mind of the junk that had been collecting there for 27 years.
As I prepared for the study I realized how I had allowed this verse to slip from my memory over time. How foolish! Whether we've been a believer for 4 days or 40 years we need to be in the business of demolishing anything that sets itself up against God and taking captive the thoughts the enemy so subtly plants in our minds.
I have renewed my commitment to memorization and meditating on the Word because the moment I begin to think I no longer need to keep these battle verses at the forefront of my mind is the moment I allow pride to rule and I want no part of it.
The verse that brought a hush over last night's class (and that's not easy! ha...) was this:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Brian and I visited the same church we visited a few weeks back. The flickering lights in the Sunday School room still do not bother me. In fact, they serve as a sweet reminder of what's really important... and what's not. The class is studying the book of Acts and I understand we missed an amazing sermon last week on what it means to have an open spirit versus a closed one. Interesting.
Monday will be spent prepping for the study so tonight I'll share my two favorite quotes we'll be discussing tomorrow night:
- Our minds are battlefields, not theme parks!
- Spiritual warfare is not a struggle against power. It is a struggle to maintain the truth.
which is the word of God."
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Different languages... same word: goodbye. A word Brian and I have become very familiar with over the past few days.
Brandon and Megan moved to their new home in OH on Thursday and this afternoon we told Zach goodbye as he headed to North Greenville University for his senior year. Granted, he's much closer than Brandon, but because he's an RA this year he won't be able to leave the campus except for one weekend a month. I'll miss Zach being here for more reasons than I can count. He's pure joy. Plus, when he's here, she's here too -- and that's always a pleasure!
I'm learning that while it's never easy to say "goodbye" to your kids -- whether they are 5 or 25 -- it is necessary in order for them to become everything God has created them to be. What more could a mom ask for?
Friday, August 8, 2008
Although our time in the mountains was a blast, I knew the trip home on Wednesday morning would usher in a moment I had been dreading for weeks... telling Brandon and Megan goodbye as they leave for Ohio.
It wasn't until we returned to their empty house on the following day that reality truly set in.
While there, my mind flashed back to the day they moved in last Fall. I was alone in the empty house waiting for the moving truck to arrive. I walked through the rooms praying for them and praising God for such a unique and unexpected blessing in having them live in the house where Brandon and Zach had been raised. How cool was that?
Today, the praise continues, but in a different sense. Where I had previously praised Him for bringing them, I now find myself praising Him for moving them. But more so, I praise God for moving in them.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I'll let the pictures tell the story...
On Sunday morning, while Brian and Zach were biking the Bakery route, Sarah and I explored a nearby hiking trail. We took pictures because we didn't think the guys would believe us.
My dad "whittling" a walking stick and Sarah attempting to read - something virtually impossible to accomplish with us on the porch!
A "specialty" bug, as we like to call them.
One thing we didn't lack during vacation was food. Have mercy. Dad whipped up homemade French toast (YUMMY!) and Zach and Sarah cooked an AMAZING Italian meal complete with Italian soda and classical music in the background.
At night, we played lots of "Set-Back", a card game that our family has enjoyed since I can remember. We also enjoyed a game of Cranium. Seeing Brian act out such things as the word "bloom" never grows old. The cabin was full of laughter every night.
As Brian and I made our way down the long and steep driveway Wednesday morning, I thanked God for our family and our days in the mountains together. They will, no doubt, linger in my memory for years to come as one of our most special times together. More tomorrow.