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!

The Land of Uz–Word Up Wednesday

Land of Us

Long before Oz, there was Uz. And in this land there was a great man–“The greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3b) He was wise like an owl, and had a great understanding of God. I love to read his story, and I never get past the first two sentences before it hits me. Every time. Right between the eyes.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Job 1:1

There’s the blog post for today. It’s just that simple. I can’t get past those lines without being reminded by God what it is He asks of me. God tucks these little snippets of oh-so-important words throughout Scripture. It’s verses like this one, and Micah 6:8, and Colossians 3:14 which remind me what it is God has called me to in my relationship with Him.

–To be blameless and upright
–To fear God
–To shun evil
–To act justly
–To love mercy
–To walk humbly with God
–And above all else, put on love.

And in those things, I’m brought back to the two greatest commandments.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

Love God, Love Others.

How do you do that? See above. Repeat daily.

Word Up.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

Promises, Promises–Word Up Wednesday

dove chocolates

It’s not a secret that I am a chocolate lover. I am particular fond of Dove chocolates, or “Promises” as they are called. I bought a couple of bags Monday for a women’s event we were having at church–they were on sale so I got milk chocolate and caramel. This means I got a lot of promises, well, if you want to call them that.
“Daydream.” “Take a moment for yourself.” “Time for chocolate relaxation.” “It’s a definitely a bubble bath day.” These aren’t exactly promises. They’re more like instructions, opinions . . . or suggestions, maybe. But promises, nope, ain’t buyin it.

Why? Because I know promises. I stand on promises. I teach promises, and “It’s definitely a bubble bath day,” is not a promise.

I am thankful to serve the God of promises: Promises of faithfulness, provision, hope and a future, and promises to protect, equip, forgive and sustain. Promises like:

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

or

Matthew 11:28-29
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

or

Isaiah 64:4
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

There’s just not enough room in one blog to share all the promises of God. But I do know that they are promises– God’s word that He will do the things He says He will do. The knowledge that He is faithful to keep His promises gives me peace, hope, security, rest and comfort unmatched by any chocolate promise out there. God’s promises never fail and they’re not harmful to your cholesterol levels either!!

And that’s the word up this Wednesday.

What Do You Think?–Word Up Wednesday

We started our new small group study last night. We chose to begin Lysa Terkeurst’s Unglued study. A bit pridefully thinking myself to not be one who becomes easily unglued, God convicted me of a couple of areas recently where if I wasn’t actually unglued, I was coming loose at the seams. I’m not one to spew out rants and raves onto other people, BUT. . . . I may be a bit more prone to think about it than I realized. As I heard myself say to the group, “I don’t really get angry much; but I do get frustrated,” I knew that the Lord and I had some work to do.

And so this verse from our lesson is my prayer for today and the coming weeks.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
— Psalm 19:14

The Word of God has shown me once again that it’s more than what I say; it’s also what I think that needs to be pleasing in His sight. I pray that He will continue to fill my heart with grace, love, joy, peace, patience, and kindnesses that reflect Him to the world around me and while He removes impatience, frustration, and pride. Leaving me with a lot to think about. . . .like Philippians 4:8 maybe, but I think I’ll save that for next week.

Don’t Abandon Ship, Yet–Word Up Wednesday

shipwreckEver feel like your ship is sinking? You can see things aren’t going well, and you all of the sudden have the “every man for himself” urge to hurl yourself overboard or grab the closest lifeboat. I suppose most of us have felt that way at one time or another. Even in the Bible. In fact, the Bible tells us about a few guys who literally tried to abandon ship, and there are a couple of interesting things we can learn to help us overcome when we feel like going overboard.

In Acts 27 we read the account of Paul’s shipwreck adventure. Round about verse 27 we see that the ship’s crew sensed they were approaching land. They began to measure the depth of the water and feared that they would be dashed against the rocks, facing certain death. So they dropped anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. (I’ve always wondered who they were praying to, and why they didn’t pray for the storm to stop). Perhaps, they decided they weren’t going to make it until daylight, so in an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors pretended they were going to let down anchors from the bow planning to make a quick getaway thinking no one would notice. I don’t think they were very subtle when they did this, though. . .

Because it’s pretty obvious everyone noticed when Paul said to the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Strong motivation to keep them on the ship). So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Booyah! Sailors stay on ship! Well, at least for a while longer.

Not much later in the story–everyone leaves the ship–well, they didn’t really have much choice since the ship was being pummeled to destruction by the waves. Some had to jump and swim to shore; others used planks or pieces of the ship in order for everyone to reach land safely. So even though it was necessary at this point to leave, we see that it was best for everyone if they stayed longer than they felt comfortable. They needed to weather out the storm with the others on the boat rather than selfishly think of themselves and their own self preservation.

Now let me say straight up, there may be times to abandon a ship. But there are many, many other times when we need to stay and weather the storm.

But what do you do then when everything in you says get off the boat?

You pray–and not just for yourself, but for those who are also being impacted by the circumstances–nothing just affects you
You consider others above yourself
You fight the feeling so that you can think with reason about what is going on
You don’t sneak off and you don’t be deceitful.
You don’t just leave others to die
You trust God to see you through
You don’t go until He says it’s time

In families, in work places, in marriages and in ministries great damage is being done because we become so afraid and overwhelmed that we see escape as the only option, even to the point of hanging others out to dry. We have tossed honor, faithfulness, and commitment overboard for immediately gratification and perceived safety and relief. Just like God saw Paul, the crew, the guards and the other prisoners through to safety, as we trust Him, wait on Him, and follow His instructions, we can see His deliverance first hand in our lives as well. (Kind of reminds me of the verse from yesterday’s post. . . )

Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

and

Isaiah 43:2a “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

I pray that your days are filled with smooth sailing, and that if the storms come, and you want to jump ship, that you will have the courage, trust and wisdom to follow God’s direction and timing every step of the way.