Sunday, June 26, 2011
You are on a trip by yourself to visit an old friend, and you stop for lunch to eat at this little country diner on the side of the road in no place special. You decide to eat at the counter. As you are perusing the menu, something catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. It’s a little boy with his hands and face pressed against the glass looking inside at the customers. You put your menu down as you watch the little boy’s eyes go from table to table. He can’t be more than 7 or 8. The waitress comes up to take your order, “What will it be, Hon?”
“Tell me about the little boy at the window. Do you know him? Is he looking for his parents?”
“No. He’s a neighborhood kid.”
“Well, why is he at the window?”
“I’ll tell the cook to shoo him away.”
“No, don’t do that. Just tell me why he’s there,” you say.
“I don’t know the whole story, but he’s probably hungry. I’ve seen him going through our dumpster and eating the food out of it.”
You are horrified. Where’s his momma? Why doesn’t he have food at home? You have so many questions, but the waitress has turned to go take another order. You step down from your stool and walk outside. “Will you do me a favor?” you ask. “I don’t like eating alone. Would you be my guest? You sure would be helping me out if you would.”
Shyly the boy follows you into the diner, and you show him where the restroom is so he can wash up. He returns, and you begin asking him what he’d like to eat. You place the order.
Is that something you could see yourself doing? I could see myself doing that very easily.
But what if the one peering in the window isn’t a little boy but a homeless person, a person who has been beaten up by the world and been spit out on the curb? What if the person looking in the window is a woman who has bruises on her face and arms? What if the person was covered with tattoos and piercings? How does your answer change? “Well, I’d be worried about my security.” You are in a very public place. There are still ways to get a meal to that person standing on the outside of the window.
God creates every human being on this planet the same way as the next. The ground at the base of the cross is LEVEL. “For ALL have sinned,” Romans says. They may have made bad decisions in their lives that brought them to this point, but they might not have. WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE? If God leads you to a person to whom you are to minister, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OBEYING. He is responsible for everything else. I challenge you to read Matthew 25:34-45, and then I challenge you to pray and ask God to open your eyes to see those in front of you, so you may see them the way He sees them. If you pray this, He will answer, and if He answers then you will become responsible to act.
Serving as He leads requires us to see the people He puts in front of us the way He sees them and then to minister to them as He leads us. What happens next is all up to Him…What will you allow Him to do through you?
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Initially, you don’t know the other souls in the waiting room, but the longer a person stays, the more days on the calendars that fly by, you become aware of the others and their stories. You may not share a common background, history, or occupation, but what you do share is a concern for a loved one whose life is holding on by a thread and a prayer.
Wednesday night, my children and I went to Calvary and made sandwiches and dinner bags to pass out at LSU Medical Center. On the way to the hospital, my kids and I prayed aloud that God would direct us. We went to the children’s floor and then to the third floor. I have to admit I didn’t really see the people we were serving. That will be my intent next time though – look them in the face, speak to each one individually, and see what God reveals to me in their faces.
It can be an uncomfortable thing to minister to the hurting and homeless, but having recently been in that waiting room reminded me that I had a hope that some of the others in that room didn’t. I knew regardless of how God chose to answer our prayers that I would see my mother-in-law again. Not everyone in a ICU waiting room has that hope, that peace, or that comfort.
I had an exceptionally brilliant aunt who was so funny and charming and unique, and anytime you spoke to her, she made you feel so important and gave you her undivided attention. She was impressed with what some people would call the small things or what people would dismiss. AND, for reasons only known to God, she was diagnosed at the young age of about 51 with Alzheimer’s. After her diagnosis and a little progression, my uncle who was a pastor would take her with him to do hospital visitations. He tells a story that just rips my heart out. During one of his visits to a parishioner who was going to lose his foot to gangrene from complications of a heart attack and diabetes, my uncle was speaking to the man when he saw my aunt begin to rub the man’s black, shiny foot. Startled by her behavior, my uncle collected his wits and asked if he could pray for him, and he agreed. After the prayer was said my aunt bent down and kissed the man’s foot. After they got outside the room, she told my uncle that the man was ashamed of his foot, and she wanted him to know he didn’t need to be ashame. Even in her condition, my aunt understood empathy and compassion. She wasn’t afraid of it.
When we serve, we are taking Jesus to the lost where they are. When we serve, we are not to judge where they’ve been or what they might do with what we are providing – THAT’S GOD’S BABY TO ROCK. If we are taking Jesus to the lost, the we must serve plugged into the source – the One from whom all blessings flow, the One who sustains us in his right hand, the One who is the Vine, the One who is the giver of life. To “Out Live Your Life” we have to move beyond our shells and take Jesus to those who are hurting and who are lost. It is our responsibility to obey and follow him, He is responsible for the results.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I have a multi-racial family, and while we haven’t had to deal with racism too much yet I fear the day is coming. Biases, bigotry, prejudice can be against any race or religion, and I hope when the time comes that I will have matured to the point that I will only open my mouth to say the words God has put on my heart because the flesh (my momma bear side) would like to tear flesh of anyone who hurts one of my babies…I’m just sayin’.
Having said that, I had to ask God to show me any biases I have in my heart and in my life. What am I afraid of?
I want to challenge you to read John 13:1-17 and read it from the perspective of the people Jesus was serving.
I love how John 13:1 starts the chapter off… “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” What was Jesus Christ going to do to show the full extent of his love?
The Scripture identifies a couple of things before getting to his act of love.
1. The devil had already worked in Judas Iscariot to betray him. Jesus knew his betrayer was in the room and that Satan was behind his actions.
2. Jesus knew he had come from God and was going to be going back to God. He knew there was a time limit with his disciples. He also knew where his source of strength came from was his Father.
Then comes his act of love beginning in verse 4:
1. “he got up from the meal” – He took action
2. “took off his outer clothing” – He prepared himself which meant removing the things that would hinder his service. This also means that he was most vulnerable exposing more of himself than he had previously done at the table.
3. “wrapped a towel around his waist” – He was equipped to do service.
4. “he poured water into a basin” – There was more than just intent to his service.
5. “to wash his disciples feet” – Have you ever washed someone’s feet or have you had your feet washed by someone you respected?
6. “drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” – No act of service was left undone.
Just that act of service chokes me up. Jesus on his knees showing these men the “full extent of his love.” BUT YOU KNOW WHAT REALLY CAUGHT MY ATTENTION? The fact that Jesus washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray him, and he washed the feet of Peter, the one who would deny him. AND JESUS KNEW WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO AND SERVED THEM ANYWAY!!!! HELLO!!!! ANYBODY OUT THERE? Do you see it? This is HUGE! If anyone on the face of the planet had a right to have a bias against someone it was Jesus. He was going to be betrayed and denied by two men in his inner circle, but Jesus wasn’t prejudiced. He still showed both of these men the “full extent of his love.” OH BUT WAIT – Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We might as well have been sitting at that table between Peter and Judas. He knew we were going to sin and need redeeming, and He created us anyway.
Here’s the bottom line, if Jesus served the very men who would hurt him the most there really isn’t anyone on the face of the earth we shouldn’t serve if he calls us to do it. If he came to die for us because there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13), is there anyone we shouldn’t serve? It doesn’t matter what they’ve done in their lives. It is not for us to judge. It is for us to serve as he leads.
When was the last time you washed the feet of unlovely? When was the last time you served someone who was ungrateful? When was the last time you were hurt by someone you served? Ladies, all these things we need to leave at the feet of Jesus. We are responsible for being obedient. God is responsible for handling the rest.
John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Our job is not to judge based on our biases those whom we are too serve, but we are to serve others based on our faith in God and desire for obedience to God. You serve, and let God handle the rest.
Time to get outside your comfort zones, ladies. Time to get past biases. It is time to show the full extent of the love Jesus has for others.
It’s going to be exciting!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Personally, I think of women like Phyllis Copp, Linda Chapman, Mrs. Powell, Teri Cupples Foti – all these women saw something in me that I could not. They were my Sunday school teachers, encouragers, and mentors. I remember teaching my peers in Mrs. Powell’s class. I remember spending time with Phyllis Copp. Mrs. Linda encouraged me and still does giving me words of wisdom. Teri was a teacher, but she also discipled me.
The people that brought about change in your life, did they have special powers? Did they have special training? Were they perfect? Could they leap over buildings in one bound, stop a speeding bullet, etc? Get the picture? The women I mentioned weren’t seminarians. They hadn’t sat at the feet of Beth Moore, but they had sat at the feet of Jesus. They obeyed where He led them. They had courage to go outside their comfort zones to allow this high-strung, strong-willed girl “teach” a Sunday school lesson.
Now think about the legacy you are leaving. Are you even leaving one? You are never too young to invest in the life of another by ministering and serving them in the name of Jesus Christ.
There are many excuses people will use as to why they cannot.
1. LACK OF ABILITY – Been here, tried that…not a good defense (just so you know). Satan used to tell me I couldn’t lead and minister because I am uneducated in women’s ministry. I couldn’t lead because I wasn’t equipped. Let’s face it; my job investigating insurance fraud doesn’t exactly lead itself to ministry. BUT I heard a quote that stuck with me, “God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies those He calls.”
In Mark 2, a man could have let his inability, his deficiency keep him from Jesus, but instead, his deficiency is what led not only himself but FOUR OTHER MEN to meet Jesus. You see the man was a paralytic. He couldn’t have walked to see Jesus even if he had wanted to. Instead, four men carried him to meet Jesus, carried him up the stairs to the roof, removed tiles and thatching and then lowered him to Jesus. God used a man’s inability to walk to bring four men to see Jesus, to improve their faith and to witness a miracle. Not only the four men but the crowd who were present that day saw the power of God in the form of a miracle in the life of this man.
Yeah, lack of ability is not a good defense to not serving.
2. MY HISTORY – If you have never heard my friend Sunni teach on the women in the Bible, you need to. She has a passion for this subject, and you can see it ignite in her as she talks about the Samaritan woman at the well talking to Jesus.
You see, the Jewish men often thought it was a waste of time to speak with women, much less a Samaritan woman with her reputation. This just goes to show that man’s thoughts are not the same as God’s because Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman. The Jews hated the Samaritans. They hated the Samaritans because they were part Jews and part Jewish but following their own rules. The Jews thought the Samaritans were filthy and vile. Jesus saw a woman – a woman with a past who needed everlasting life.
What was this woman’s legacy? This woman with a past brought the town to meet Jesus, and isn’t that what we are supposed to be about – BRINGING PEOPLE TO JESUS?
Once you have asked Jesus into your heart, God no longer sees every sin you’ve committed. He sees a trail of blood from the cross covering every transgression. So, be like the Samaritan woman at the well and bring those you have known from your past to meet the Jesus in your present.
3. MY FINANCES: God does not consist in the constraints of time nor is he bound to work within our fiscal means. His math does not conform to the computations that mathematical scholars utilize in every day existence.
• 2 Peter 3:8 “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years”
• Mark 6:30-39: 5 loaves + 2 fish = 5000 men completely satisfied
Be faithful and obedient with what He has given to you, and let Him work out the rest whether it is financially, physically, or time-wise.
There is no excuse that God hasn’t already overcome. The question is, “Are you willing to lay down your excuses to follow God?”
Here’s the thing, if you don’t get involved, you’re going to kick yourself for missing it. I don’t want you to do that.
Get informed. Come serve Wednesday night.
Friday, June 3, 2011
It's Saturday morning, and I sat in a room with fifteen women who were laughing and talking and enjoying a nice brunch. Each of these women were invited to the brunch by my mom because she wanted to celebrate spring's arrival. As each woman arrived, she made her way around the room giving a hug to each of the other ladies whether she knew her or not. This is how they introduced themselves. Some of these women knew my mom from high school, some from prior women's ministry teams mom had led; some are family and friends she had picked up along the way. But as I sat there I looked as each of these beautiful, godly women and realized I am their legacy.
Mrs. Virginia is the one who got my mom into women's ministry in the first place which is why I was exposed to it. This exposure was a way God prepared my heart for when it was my turn to lead in women's ministry. There were women from the team my mom lead many years ago. There was, of course, the "Sister Circle" – a group of women who have been friends for years and know how valuable true friendship is and makes time for it. There were women there who had prayed for me to become a mom. There were women who had known me from my childhood, and there were women who God put into my life through the life of my mom for specific reasons – some reasons I know, and some I don't. This group of women is just a few who have invested in my life to make it such a rich tapestry, hopefully pleasing to my God. There are many more.
Normally when I think of legacy, I think of what am I leaving my children, but today, I began to think of myself as being the legacy of these women who are ahead of me. Women who have endured hardships, difficulties, health issues, marital issues, child rearing issues, and here they sit, laughing, telling stories, and saying how good God is. These women are my heritage, and I am their legacy. Thank you, ladies. I love ya'll.
I posted this on my personal blog back in March of this year after Mrs. Lavahn had reviewed the book Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado with our women's ministry team. Little did I know that our church this summer would be going through this book and Bible study together. I just love how God works!
After looking at this post and reading part of Out Live Your Life, I wonder whose life am I impacting? How is God using me? How does God want to use me? How does God want me to serve?
I cannot tell you how excited I am that this is the path our church is on. God has laid this on my heart for some time. It's one of the reasons that anything the women do in our church we have wanted it to have some element of missions or ministry. It's why last fall we made baby blankets to donate to the CPC and had the silent auction at the Christmas Tea. It's why this spring we have been collecting food and pantry items for the Heart of Hope Maternity Home and why we are going to the Heart of Hope Maternity Home on June 12 for a Girl's Night Out – to do service, to minister, to love on others. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ. It has been a step-by-step process to work on getting the women outside the walls of this church, and it makes me so stinkin' excited! Makes me wanna shout!
If you haven't purchased your book Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado, they will be on sell in the sanctuary Sunday morning. But if you read it, you are responsible for what you learn. You will be responsible for following where God leads you to serve, and I can't wait to see where that is and to hear from you where He's leading you. SOOOO, please write to me. Tell me what God is laying on your heart and what you are doing to follow. WOOHOO! God is so good.