When Your Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Left

strengthen my hands

I’m wrote this as we headed into our last day of VBS, and for those of you who lead or direct the VBS in your church you know that means it is almost time for celebration for all that God has done and it’s almost time for REST!!! (Maybe I needed a little rest more than I thought because I forgot to click “publish” after I finished this!)

REST is not a four-letter word. Ok, well, maybe it is, but not that kind of four-letter word!! Rest is a word ordained by God as a way to reflect, remember and restore. But, sometimes rest really isn’t an option. There are circumstances out of our control. There are deadlines to meet, responsibilities to be kept, and commitments to be fulfilled. Just saying, “No!” isn’t always an option.

So what can you do when your “get up and go has got up and left,” yet you still have work to do?

Here are three things that have been helpful as I push through exhausting times.

1) I pray the Nehemiah prayer from Nehemiah 6:9: When people were tired and facing discouragement, Nehemiah prayed, “Now, strengthen my hands.” For sure, sometimes we need to step back and take a break, but sometimes, for a short time, we need to pray and have others pray with us, “Lord, strengthen my hands.”

2) I consider what David told Solomon as Solomon prepared to become king in 1 Chronicles 28: “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart, and understands every motive. . . Be strong and do the work.” When I’m tired, I think back to these words, and realize that if God has called me to this work, He will give me the strength to complete it. Then I get back to work!

3) I think about Paul and his words in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28: Often when I am feeling tired, overworked, stressed or depleted, I look over Paul’s words and realize my “hard” circumstances can’t compare to his. Paul saw his challenges as opportunities to bring glory to God. When I remember this I begin to get my praise on, my prayers focused, and my priorities centered and “do the work.”

How often you might need to use these tips may depend on your circumstances, temperament and work or ministry situation. But you can be fairly certain that a time will come when we will want to give up when God will want us to give in, take on His strength for our hands, do the work and give Him the glory.

Image taken from google images

Casting My Burdens Onto Jesus

cast front final

cast jesus

“Blasted! I’ve been casted!”

But dontcha just love it? I got a cast on my arm a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday, my friend, Kate, painted it for me!!

You know. . . These things happen. Sometimes we are wrong, and it’s no big deal. Sometimes we are wrong, and it’s a big deal. And then again, sometimes we are wrong and it just is what it is.

Sometimes you break your wrist. . . in the middle of July and don’t find out until the end of September because you were wrong about what you did.

And so, now, it is what it is.

And it is a big purple cast on my arm. When i got it, I knew the kids at church were going to ask why I didn’t get an orange cast since all my favorite things are orange. (There’s a good reason in and of itself. But the truth is the doctor’s office was out of orange–I tried.)

But, like I said, my super creative friend, Kate, stopped in yesterday and helped me decorate it. I’ve wanted her to do her embellishing magic since week 1 (We are on week 3 now) when I got my  beautiful, purple hunk of fiberglass,

When it first went on, I looked at it in disbelief  and was pretty stunned that after this much of life on earth I was getting a cast now. And yet, at the same time, the verse, “Cast your burdens onto Jesus,” kept coming to my mind, and I thought, “Oh, Jesus, you are so smart and so witty at the same time.”

So those are the words I had Kate put onto my cast. (not, “Jesus you are so smart and witty,” but “cast your burdens onto Jesus!”) I love it because it’s a visual reminder of several truths God has put in my heart these past months.

For example:

1) There are things I have no control over.

2) I cannot heal myself–healing is His job.

3)  When I am weak, God’s work in me is more evident.

4)  When I wounded, God supports me.

5)  When I am hurt, God cares for me.

6) When I am broken, God restores me.

7)  When I am stubborn or won’t slow down, God will humble me.

8)  Hard, uncomfortable things are often exactly what I need.

9) Inconveniences are simply that, inconveniences, but certainly not the end of the world.

10)   I can truly cast my burdens onto Jesus, because He cares for me!

I am not thrilled that I waited too long to see the doctor. I am not thrilled that I misdiagnosed myself. I am not thrilled that I am a bit stubborn sometimes. But I am pretty thrilled that when I cast my burdens onto Jesus, He proves to me over and over again that He cares for me–even when things are broken, hard, confining, restricting and inconvenient. Because when things are broken, hard, confining, restricting and yes, even inconvenient, I know God is at work and that He is caring for me, and that He can make all things beautiful (even a cast) in His time!

Thanks, Kate, for being a blessing in my day and for letting God use you to help me rememeber to cast my burdens onto Jesus!

Umm, He Said the “S” Word–Word Up Wednesday

sunset

Ok, so I have to be honest right up front and say that this post has nothing to do with the picture above. But, the hub and I took the pic the other night (Well, he took it, I edited it) and I really like it. Plus, I’m writing this blog post as the sun is once again setting over the Mississippi.

Here’s what the post IS about:

I’m reading the Bible and there it is, through Solomon, God says the “S” word. Well, at least that’s what our boys used to call it–because they weren’t allowed to say “stupid.” So in not “sinning” by saying “stupid,” they would “sin” by tattling on someone! This makes perfect sense to a kid.

“Ummm, mom, he said the “S” word.”

I remember the first time our oldest said that about one of his friends. I became a bit concerned about what was going on in their 8 year old worlds. When I asked him what he was talking about, son #1 replied, “You know. He said “stupid.”

“Ohhhhhhh… I see. Well, OK son, he shouldn’t have said that. Go play!”

This evening laughed a bit as I thought about what my then 8 year old would have done if he had realized that Solomon said it, too. He probably would have thought, “He was probably influenced by all those wives and concubines.” (He was a bit advanced for his age in Bible knowledge!)

So what is it that Solomon though was so stupid?

The answer. . .to hate correction.

Yup! He who hates correction is stupid!

And the truth is, that’s pretty much the truth.

It’s also prideful. And of course, to be prideful, is well, stupid.

A teachable, humble heart is worth a lot. To be willing to accept correction, and let someone else help you adjust, redirect, and recognize that some change needs to take place is well, not stupid. Nope. It’s smart. In fact, not only is it smart, it’s genius! (Insert intern humor here. Don’t worry, she’ll get it!)

So Word Up! Take a little tip from Solomon and remember, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1 NIV)

The Kings’ Command–Word Up Wednesday

wayne

Soooo, if you haven’t heard, (it’s all over my fb and twitter feeds) I’m at the North American Christian Convention this week. It’s a gathering of the folks from the brotherhood of churches that I am a part of. The main sessions are from the book of Revelation and they have been excellent–full of hope, promise and encouragement to stay the course until the very end.

Today was a great day–a day full of privilege. I was privileged to get to attend a session with my boss, eat lunch with a couple of my favorite 20-something girls, listen to a young woman who had shared in our church at a children’s revival over 10 years ago bless our socks off in song, meet my friend Sara’s newly adopted son for the first time, have breakfast with some fellow kidminners, have supper with some fellow kidminners, and attend a marriage session with Drs Les and Leslie Parrot.

I also was fortunate enough to sit through a leadership session with Wayne Cordeiro, pastor and author. He has written several books. The one I’m most interested in right now is The Divine Mentor: Growing Your Faith as You Sit at the Feet of the Savior. He had some powerful things to say about guarding our hearts and ministries and protecting ourselves from burnout.

One of the things that I absolutely loved about his session was that he shared a simple little scripture with us–a command to the kings–from Deuteronomy that I had never seen before. I just love when that happens. I firmly believe that it’s those little obscure verses that God uses to change our lives in powerful ways.

So to get to the point here (sorry, it’s been a long day), here’s the kings’ command.

“When the king takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.” Deuteronomy 17:18-20a

I know we aren’t kings. But we are leaders, whether it is in our jobs, or in our churches or in our homes, and the premise still holds true: we need to know the Word of God and we need to follow it–carefully and humbly.

And even though I know it, and I am pretty careful to do it, for some reason today it just meant a lot to me to be reminded of how important it is to God. And I think for some of you reading this, it’s going to be important to you.

It will be an encouragement to stay in the Word, or to get into the Word or to get back into the Word. At least I hope so, because I know that of the kings who should have read this, very few did it, and the people they were leading suffered because of it.

Maybe it’s time you decided to live like a king, feasting on God’s Word.

Brother Cordeiro recommended to us to check out the site http://www.lifejournal.cc as a way to get started if you didn’t already have a plan in place. You may want to check it out.

Word up!

Nuggets–Word Up Wednesday

gold-nugget
Sometime He just makes it so easy to understand. And on those days, I am exceptionally thankful. You know what I mean? It’s like sometimes when I read Scripture, I’m just a little confused. Things don’t easily make sense to me, and I have to dig deep and search hard to understand the precious little nuggets of truth and inspiration in the pages of His Word.

But then there are other times. Other times finding a good nugget is more like when you were a kid and your parents took you “panning for gold” in one of those tourist places where you are guaranteed a treasure every time. Today was one of those days.

It was one of those days when I opened “Old Blue” and simple nuggets of truth seemed to spill from the pages–simple instructions for living in love. Simple instructions that are too easy to miss or misunderstand. Simple instructions that when lived out can make us truly rich.

Simple nuggets of truth that could change the world (or at least change me):

Hate what evil.
Cling to what is good.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Share with God’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans 12:9-21

Word Up Wednesday! Spend your treasure wisely!

Hypersmash.com

Mock On–Word Up Wednesday

images
About a week ago, I came across one of those little passages of Scripture that kind of blow your socks off. You know what I mean? The kind of thing that makes you think, “How come I never knew that was there before?”

At first I just thought it was a bit humorous. Then, I felt like it–to a small degree–gave me license for sarcasm. But now I’m seeing there is some great truth in these little words. You’re dying to know what they are, aren’t you???

Well, here goes:
In Job 21:1-2 Job said these words to his friends.

“Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, Mock On!”

Ha! Mock on! Who knew? I have to tell you that I absolutely love that Job was so incredibly honest with his friends. “Hey, guys, just listen to me for a bit, that’s the least you can do as I sit here suffering and listening to you go on and on. Just be patient a few minutes and when I’m done, go back and mock me all you want.”

I seriously laughed when I realized Job said, “MOCK ON!”

Now, the more I’ve thought about his words, the more I realize how much I like this attitude. I mean, technically, we should expect to be mocked anyway. We shouldn’t care what others say. We should pretty much see it coming and even rejoice in it when it does. Instead, we tend to let it derail us when people oppose us–friend or foe. Yet, God has given us forewarning that this is how it will be for those who follow Him.

Matthew 5:11 says,

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven.”

And Matthew 10:34 reminds us:

“Don’t suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

So even from those closest to us, we can expect opposition. And because of Christ, we can say, “Mock on!” For it’s better to be mocked and be with Christ than to be find approval from others, yet be without Him.

The more I read, the more I understand how well Job knew that truth. Although Job had this paradox of understanding and lack of understanding all at the same time, he had great security in time of trouble because although he may have felt abandoned by God, he knew he wasn’t. Not only that, he knew that no matter what anyone said to him or about him, it couldn’t change one smackerel the things he knew to be true.

You may be facing some persecution today. Maybe someone is saying things that aren’t true, mocking your beliefs, or falsely accusing you of something. I hope you may take a little consolation in our friend, Job, and his now infamous, in my mind anyway, words–Mock On!

That’s the Word Up this Wednesday, May 8!

Hypersmash.com

Simply Amazing–Word Up Wednesday!

amazing

Today is Administrative Professional’s Day so I thought it would be appropriate to do a post inspired by our church’s administrative professional and my good friend, Carolyn.

Monday, in staff, Carolyn was telling us how she’s been chewing on the attributes of God lately. She’s been listing out attributes from A to Z, and so, this week shared with us one of her thoughts from the letter “A” and the word, “Amazing.”

She shared with us the definition of amazing that she found as “startling impressive.” Hmmm. That’s a pretty simple definition, but that’s God alright–startling impressive. Everything about Him. His strength, grace, love, power, wisdom, might, compassion, mercy. . . . Amazing, Simply amazing.

In Joshua 3:5 Joshua says to the people before they prepared to take the Promised Land, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” And amazing things He did. They crossed the Jordan River at flood stage; they took the city of Jericho; the sun stood still over Gibeon.

Today, He continues to do amazing things. Things that can only be described as “startling impressive“–things like changing lives, healing hearts, calming storms, and bringing hope to people who are worried and afraid.

WORD UP! Thanks Carolyn, for not just being a super church secretary, but for simply sharing with us a great reminder of our simply amazing God.

Carolyn
This is Carolyn. Packer fan, church secretary, friend and worshipper of God from A to Z.

What Are You Doing?–Word Up Wednesday

vine and branches Recently I was asked this question, “So what are you doing right now in your ministry that can only be explained by God at work in you?” I gave the wrong answer. It was something like, well, ok, I don’t actually remember to be honest with you, but it was something about something we are doing in our ministry right now I’m sure.

But I know I gave the wrong answer because all week after I was asked that question, I felt the Holy Spirit prodding me with this question, “So is there anything you are doing right now that can’t be explained by God at work in you?”

In case you don’t see where this is going, God simply reminded me that there is nothing I am doing that I can take credit for. Nothing. I mean even the smallest things that I may be tempted to do in my own strength I can only do because of Him.

Teach a lesson on the fly. . . I can’t take credit for that.
Teach a lesson at all . . . I can’t take credit for that–I have no skills or training,
it’s just Him.
Come up with a creative idea . . . I can’t take credit for that. He’s the creative One.
Plan a great event . . . Nope. Not that either. Even what I may do through lessons
learned or past experience is because He gave me that experience.

The truth is that there is nothing I am doing, and nothing I can do that I can’t give Him the credit for. I am totally 100% dependant on Him to do what He wills in our ministry as long as I continue to seek Him, submit to Him, and acknowledge Him I know that He will continue to lead and direct us in that way.

Of course He already knew that. I did, too, I just I just forgot.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.

So, What am I doing? I’m being thankful to be branching out!!
Word Up!

Scissors, Buckets, Grace–Word Up Wednesday

grace on green notepad2
God is so cool. He uses the most unexpected ways to get our attention. Apparently, He knew I needed a reminder in grace, and then felt Him urging me to write the lesson down so I wouldn’t forget it. I had the opportunity to share my experience in a column written by area clergy for our local paper, and I wanted to kind of “preserve” it here, too. Read on for what Paul Harvey would have called, “the rest of the story.”

“Last week our Wednesday night children’s program, KidZRocK was having some special Easter programming for the kids. A list maker at heart, I was busy jotting things down on my oversized neon green post it notes. My list included things like jelly beans, song list, bingo, jute rope, craft squares, glue, markers and eggs–lots and lots of egg!

Also on that list were the following three things: scissors, buckets, and grace. As I looked at my list I was a bit befuddled, “Grace? Grace?” What in the world was grace on the list for? As the “ah-ha” moment hit me, I realized “grace” was supposed to be “grass,” meaning the tote full of Easter grass I had for the buckets, which was, of course, for the eggs.

I had to laugh out loud at God’s awesome creativity in reminding me that in the midst of busy days filled with work, ministry, family and other life commitments that what I truly need on my to-do list every day is grace. Grace, that simple concept of treating others better than they deserve needs to be part of my day–every day. Surely, when planning an event, more than scissors, and more than buckets–more than anything else I may put on a list, I need grace, and I need to extend grace.

When Jesus went to the cross, and when He rose from the dead, conquering sin–my sin, He loved me and treated me better than I deserve. In fact, He treated me better than I can ever deserve. So now, as I live out my life with love and thankfulness to Him, I’m intentionally, rather than accidentally, adding grace to my list of to-do’s today and every day.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

By the way, I’m saving the note on that note pad, well, at least the picture. The buckets on the list serve as another reminder that God will always fill my buckets to overflowing as long as I offer them to Him, and I continue to pour out into others. The scissors remind me of the promise that there is nothing that can cut out God’s love for me, and the grass grace reminds me that I need to let God’s grace grow in me like grass-lush, think and lovely.

Buckets, Scissors, Grace–God’s promises–Word Up!

A Gift from Jacob–Word Up Wednesday

Image

 

My friend Jacob goes to my church. He is a passionate little guy with a great zeal for life, and recently he gifted me with a little something he had made. Yeah, it’s the picture and writing above.

Needless to say, it knocked my socks off. First of all it’s just too cute. All of it, the spelling, the art work, the thought–over the top! Second of all, it’s just sweet. I mean, c’mon, he goes to my church and he LOVES church, “revivle” and HiSKidZ (the name of our ministry).

Not only that, Jacob filled his gift with appreciation, thankfulness and encouragement. Jacob, in his 1st grade way, reminded me of the things we are all supposed to be doing. 

Like it says WORD UP in Hebrews 3:13: 

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you are hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Jacob did that, and his parents tell me that he did it of his own initiative–out of a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness, joy and excitement for the things and people of God.

It took him a little time. It took him a little effort. It took a little risk, and it reaped a giant return. Because there’s just no way I could be the same after being encouraged like that. Nope. No way. On that day of revival when he gave that to me, I was tired; I was sick; and I didn’t even know that I was in need of that encouragement. But God did, and He used Jacob’s gift to strengthen and encourage me for the night ahead.

Encouragement  changes you. It softens you, it makes you smile and it helps to keep you from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

So maybe today you will find the time to take God at His Word and spend a minute or two encouraging someone. I hope if you are a parent or a kidmin leader that you will find ways to help your kids encourage others introducing them to the life changing power of encouragement!