Archive for November, 2008
When I sat down in my office one day last week, I was compelled to write three words. I grabbed my sticky notes beneath the mountain of paperwork and wrote:
God chose you.
As the day progressed, I found myself glancing down at those words on the sticky note.
An individual needed this. Someone else needed that. Why me?
God chose you.
I thought about Seasoned With Salt, my book, and HOPE. Am I nuts?
God chose you.
I thought about the tasks at hand. I thought about the things I don’t like doing.
God chose you.
I thought about my kiddos. What a blessing they are! What a challenge they are!
God chose you.
I thought about leading others to Christ. Am I brave enough to lead?
God chose you.
I thought about my parents, my sisters, and my family. What a blessing!
God chose you.
I thought about the conversation I had with someone who was angry and hating life. Why dump on me? (And it turned out to be an awesome conversation!)
God chose you.
I thought about life’s challenges, and how they have been used to shape and mature me.
God chose you.
When I turned my thinking around and started thinking about how God chose me, instead of thinking “why me,” it put an entirely different perspective on everything that occurred on that day. I was kinder, more compassionate, more thankful and blessed, and I reacted to so many things differently. This is one sticky note that I am not throwing away any time soon.
God chose you!
“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASB)
This weekend was our Mighty to Save weekend at church. And, it was a very special weekend for me. There was so much running through my mind this weekend, and so much that I prayed about. I was so excited about kicking off PROJECT ONE:EIGHT. It also hit me that this is my first leadership role in any of the groups or ministries at our church.
When I got my PROJECT ONE:EIGHT t-shirt, put it on, and saw “LEADER” on the back of it in big white letters, I felt awesome! I actually thought for a moment that I was being prideful. And as I prayed to God about it, I realized that it was not self-pride at all. For me, it was a realization that I had taken on my first leadership role, and I was so excited about it! Me…leading a group for the glory of God! I was feeling so joyful and had so much love in my heart for my God. What an honor it is to serve! And quite honestly, NOTHING feels better than serving our almighty Father!
I posted on Twitter earlier Saturday afternoon that if Hutch had a mountain top, I would’ve stood upon it and shouted, “I am here, God! Use me!” I thought about climbing the water tower and shouting from there, but I envisioned the police responding to some lunatic shouting to God. I know that’s front-page newspaper material, so I shouted in my prayers to Him instead.
Since I have so much to write about, I will break my thoughts into several blog entries. The first being one of my most exciting! Contagious Christians!
I wondered how we get others motivated, so they will participate in our churches and communities. The truth is, it’s the same thing that gets them to live their life (from a coaching perspective). People don’t need motivation. They need inspiration. As far as Christianity is concerned, people are inspired by our actions, our passions, our excitement, our enthusiasm, our happy hearts, our hope, and our commitment. People are inspired when they witness those things. People are inspired not when we talk about them, but when we LIVE them.
Are we living our passions? Are we using our skills and talents to glorify God? How do we do this?
As a coach, I spend quite a bit of time discussing this very subject with people. Ask yourself:
What do I enjoy doing? What do I do in my spare time? What skills do I have? What talents? What could I do all day long and get lost in the activity?
Once you figure out what your passions, skills, and talents are, ask yourself:
How can I use these skills/passions to glorify God?
How can I reach out to His people using them?
Here are a few examples…If you love to cook, volunteer at the soup kitchen or cook for your church’s meal nights. If you are passionate about reading, volunteer to read to children or seniors. If you love landscaping or gardening, volunteer to assist in community projects or church grounds maintenance. If you love to construct, volunteer for a community rebuilding or beautification project. If you love teaching, volunteer to teach bible study to children or adults, or start a tutoring program for children and teens.
When others see Christians in action with a joyful and passionate heart for serving the Lord, it becomes contagious. It can start conversations in places you’d never think possible. As the Mighty to Save weekend got underway this past weekend, we learned that Christianity is in-fact contagious. One of the women on our team shared with us how her coworkers were listening to her talk on the phone about what we were doing. They were hearing her excitement, witnessing her enthusiasm, and feeling her passion about our projects. Soon they were volunteering to jump right on in!
I thought about how at work, I couldn’t contain my excitement for HOPE (House Of Prayer Every day) last week. My coworkers, friends, and family heard my passion, enthusiasm, excitement, and vision about HOPE…a place where Jesus can be received 24 hours a day, along with food, shelter, comfort, prayer, and most of all-a place to go for hope. (See my past blog entry titled HOPE). The excitement was contagious, and the ideas, the names of individuals to help get this going, and the names of participants came pouring in!
Christianity can be contagious. When others see us in action, living with such zest, living our passions, utilizing our skills and talents, reaching out to others, rebuilding lives, rebuilding communities, and doing it with such joy and enthusiasm, they can’t help but to get excited. And excitement is contagious. Excitement inspires us to move into action. And, the passion for Christ keeps us contagious to others. For they see what we have (hope), and they want the same.
PS…Being a coach, I know that someone reading this will think, “But I just don’t have the time, the money…”
Consider this ONE:
One time per month,
One time per quarter,
One time per year,
One small step,
One giant leap,
At a time.
One is all it takes to start no matter what it is.
Just start somewhere.
Don’t you just hate a coach who can take away all excuses? Try having her for a mother! LOL!!! My kids will thank me someday…just NOT anytime soon!
As I sat in church, I watched a video our Pastor included as part of the Mighty To Save weekend. It was about a woman sitting on a park bench talking to us Christians. She spoke about how she didn’t want us to give up on her. She’d probably resist our attempts to reach out to her. She could just envision us pointing fingers at her and telling her how sinful and messed up she was. She thought of us as hypocrites. She challenged us to show her unconditional love. She again said for us not to give up on her.
I had so much to say about this past weekend, that I had to break my thoughts into separate blog entries. This entry is #2 of what I want to share.
I grew up in a Christian home. Our family was actively involved in our church, yet at the same time, it felt like sheer busyness. I knew how to recite specific prayers, I knew the rituals and customs, and I knew that there were an awful lot of rules to follow. I even felt the calling to dedicate my life to serving God by becoming a Nun. But, when I became a teenager everything changed.
Through various events (none of which I will write openly about), I began to lose my connection with the church. I was judged. I was demeaned. Confession was never enough, and I always felt worse after my repentance. I literally felt bonded to hell, with the harsh words that were spoken to me. What spirit I had as a child of God was broken, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt as though I could never be good enough. I carried a lot of weight, a lot of sin, and there was nothing that could ever fix me. So, once I graduated from high school and moved out on my own, I left the church with no intention of ever returning.
There were several times over the next two decades when Christians tried to reach out to me. I resisted. I ran. I had myself a nifty little fox-hole to dive into when I saw them coming to my door. All I could see was someone else ready to condemn me.
Once I was invited to a bible study with a group of women. I went because I felt pressured into it. I was asked to read a fairly long passage out of the bible and tell the group what that meant. Let me put it this way…I PANICKED!!! Yes, I grew up in the church, but I NEVER opened a bible at all. All my time was spent memorizing prayers and formalities. I didn’t know what to say and was caught so off guard. Needless to say, I never went back, and I distanced myself from that acquaintance.
This weekend, when I watched the video, I watched the woman and listened to her talk. And, suddenly I realized I was THAT woman not long ago. I’m sure that if I had opened a religious book back then to “The Lost”, it would’ve had my picture there. Oh, how I ached for her! Oh, how I rejoiced to God for reaching me! And again, I thought about how I went from being THAT woman to being someone God is using to lead through PROJECT ONE:EIGHT. Wow! Yes, God is Mighty to Save!
I thought back to my old experiences with the church and religion. I began to see what was missing. I had not built a relationship with God. I hadn’t begun to understand who Jesus truly was. I hadn’t ever owned a bible. My faith was based on the church, the rituals, and memorization of various aspects. But other than those things, there was nothing. It was void. I was void. As embarrassing as it is to admit even today, I didn’t know jack about Jesus growing up. I didn’t know I could be saved. I didn’t know that He paid the penalty for my sins. He carried that cross!
Thankfully, a few years ago I had a friend who mentioned a book to me. Out of curiosity, I picked it up and started reading. I read, put it down, screamed in frustration, read some more, and asked a gazillion questions in some VERY long emails. But he never once judged me. He shared His love for Jesus, the peace, the hope, and an awful lot of patience with me as I started the journey. When it came to breaking down the wall, it took trust. His gentleness, kindness, and friendship broke that barrier, and I let my guard down. I saw how he was actively living his life, and I wanted that! One year later, I was re-baptized. As an adult, I wanted to surrender myself to The Lord. Finally, so much started to make sense. Finally, I not only had a relationship with Jesus, but with a church family as well.
It was on that day, that I went from being THAT woman…scared, afraid, judged, hopeless, angry, frustrated, and Jesus-less, to becoming the woman God created me to be.
My God IS Mighty to Save.
As I sat in church this weekend, I wondered how I could do the same for someone…
as it was done for me.
I stood there and shouted in my prayers, “Yes, I will go, God! Use me!” I may look like a leader, but really it is God who is leading. I’m just following His direction willingly.
Have you ever had a dream, an idea, or a vision in your head, that you felt might be so huge that you just might be crazy? When I thought about the mission and vision of what Seasoned With Salt and Move Into Action would become to glorify God, and provide to those in need, I did feel that maybe I was way out there.
I’ve reached a point now where I need to rely on my faith to take the final leap, and I found myself thinking that I must be nuts to launch something so big. I thought about the economy, how it could impact a business, the formation of a new non-profit, and the book sales from my recently published life balance agenda to support this mission.
Everything is in place, I feel God is waiting on me to take the plunge, and yet I wondered if I was crazy for having such a big dream. I kept praying for His guidance. After all, this simply started from a blog about life balance. Oh, how it has evolved! (see-About Us-link)
Today I read this article crosswalk.com/careers/11583350/ at Crosswalk.com. The article is about God sized dreams. After reading it, I felt a sense of peace, an extraordinary calmness, and His prompting me to take the final plunge. What do I have to fall back on? My faith. And that’s all I need for such an awesome and all powerful God.
Read the article above. It’s a great reminder of just how big and almighty we tend to forget He is!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (New International Version)
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
(New International Version)
Nine minutes of Mark Lowrey. It’s hilarious, so enjoy!
Follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kR_XG1DnDs&feature=related
I have to admit it. I was driving about 25 miles per hour on my way to church this evening for two meetings and Surge. All of the sudden, I saw the lights behind me inching ever so close to my rear bumper. I wasn’t speeding. In fact, I’ve been driving for hmmm…almost 27 years and have never even had a speeding ticket. So, why was this impatient person riding my bumper? Well, I was so lost in prayer, that I failed to realize that the speed limit was 35mph., and I was slowing people down.
I was thinking about how much I enjoy our Wednesday evening Surge. It has become not just an evening of bible study, but it has evolved into a prayerful study. I am a person who prays a lot. And that is an understatement I guess. I pray while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store. I pray everytime an ambulance goes by. I pray for people who I see sitting in their cars. I really pray for the parents I see with screaming kiddos at Walmart. I pray for people I know, people I don’t know, and I pray for the people that I never see living across the world.
I find myself praying fairly consistently throughout the day. I pray before starting work, I pray as decisions need to be made, I pray for guidance, I pray for the right words, I pray for God’s direction, I pray for help, and I give thanks to God just out of the blue. I have this addiction to prayer. I just cannot go without praying. I know I can’t possibly make it through an entire day without it. Why? Because, if I do, I will rely upon me. I am so faulted as a human, that I will probably make the wrong decision or take the easy road. The only way I can survive and hope to take the path that God has created for me, is to communicate with Him, praise Him, and love Him. That only happens when I pray. And, I do pray a lot!
So, when I left for church tonight and got lost in prayer while driving, I was just poking along, irritating some driver behind me. I thought to myself, “What if I’d been pulled over for driving so slowly?” I wondered if I could’ve used the excuse of driving under the inluence. The influence of prayer. As I sit here writing this, the message has just hit me. When I am praying and actively communicating with God, I am slowing down. I am not rushing. I am not acting hastily. It’s slowing down, waiting, and acting as He guides me to.
Oh, see this is so amazing. What if our communities could build a place of prayer open to the general public, the homeless, the lost, the individuals who have nothing left, nowhere to go, nothing to live for, the desperate, those at the end of their ropes (and that would include me…I get there sometimes, too!) to walk into to find hope through Jesus Christ. There is no place in our community that is open 24 hours. Christ can be received any time of day or night, seven days a week, every single day of the year. The power of prayer doesn’t sleep. Yet, our churches are usually open for services, studies, and meetings.
I read an article on churches several months ago, and it still remains fresh in my memory. The jist of it was summed up as…many individuals who are lost and broken don’t enter our churches to seek help, because they already feel bad enough. Yes, ouch. So what if it’s not a church that individuals can come to for help and prayer…someone to care, someone to listen, someone to witness. And why did I mention hope earlier? H (House) O (OF) P (Prayer) E (Everyday). Every community across the world should have a HOPE-House of Prayer Everyday.
When I got home this evening, my youngest daughter had a card waiting for me with two pictures inside that she drew. She didn’t go to AWANNA, since she wasn’t feeling well. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t go, because I love hearing about what she’s learned about Jesus. I opened the card and there was a picture of me as a baby. She drew Jesus above me with a cross, and it read, “I command you to love this woman.” Isn’t that awesome? (No, not that she feels that everyone is to love me, although it was a funny thought.) We are commanded to love one another as He loves us.
We are commanded to also spread the Good News to those who have never heard it, and we are commanded to help our brothers and sisters through the same love and acceptance that Christ extends to us. That builds hope, and hope is belief. Belief becomes prayer.
I hope, believe, and pray that HOPE (House of Prayer Everyday) will exist in every community across the world. I pray that Seasoned With Salt be a part in building HOPE in each community by providing the funding for such projects. Let’s pray and ask God to guide us.
By the way, if you are looking for a great book to read, read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire-by Jim Cymbala.