Things We Say…2

As I continue to search my brain-bank for things that have been said for so long, that I may have just come to assume they were correct…Biblically, historically….I’m learning that when some of these are challenged outside the confines of my little nest….the pushback can be intense.  I get it.  It’s hard to accept something you took as truth for so long as not truth…or something that was incorrectly attributed to Christ or even a famous writer/theologian.  Yet, isn’t the whole purpose of this “walk” to check yourself at the door and verify truths….an ongoing process?  I hope so, if not…then Christianity is nothing more than being a seed in the ground never watered….that’s death.  The seed would never grow.

“You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” 

How many times have you heard this?  I hear it quoted a lot when people are having conversations as to the perils of social welfare in America. It’s not in the Bible….Jesus never said anything of this sort. It’s a Chinese Proverb.  While the premise is nobel, it’s not scriptural.

This too shall pass.  

Not in the Bible.  It’s origin is likely from a fable by Persian Sufi poets.  The scripture that likely most follows this common Christian saying is from 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Biblically, we are given the hope of what’s not seen, that our earthly troubles are temporary.  (PS-this is a very difficult truth to handle in the middle of the storm-show grace.)

As I sit here and look at the words in black and white, I am once again reminded of how hurtful these “taken as truth”, “Non-Biblical” remarks must feel to those hearing them.  As a daughter who has lost her Mom, “this too shall pass” seems especially hurtful.  It has been almost three years and it hasn’t passed…just become part of my normal.

Christ multiplied the fish and the bread to feed the masses.  He didn’t shout out to the masses-go learn to fish and you will be fed.  No, He fed the masses.  He saw those in need and He met that need.  I understand the premise behind the proverb, but it’s just not in the Bible….

That’s it for today….just two more.  As you read this, I do ask one thing of you.  If your fingers are tapping the keyboard wanting to comment about the woes of social welfare in America, please don’t.  That’s a politically charged worm hole that I don’t want this to head down.

Truth’s that are true:  Jesus loves you.  Period.  All of you. Good, bad, everything.  He doesn’t love you because of how you vote, how popular you are, how many friends you have on Facebook….he loves you for the imperfect human that you are.

Peace out folks….and enjoy this “National Coffee Day.”

 

 

 

Tune-Up…Things We Say

It’s so strange that I sit here typing with so much in my head and a clear understanding that I am not remotely qualified to write more than, “My name is Kim.” This silly blog that I started as a way to process life with a chronic disease has become at times, therapeutic.  In a way, a virtual journal that some folks read and occasionally like….but more so an outlet to express a day, a week, a month, a season.  Today, I sit here typing with the question swirling in my little pea size brain of….did I start this for me, for you, because I was led to by God?  Maybe, it’s a combination of the three. (This question likely to never be answered fully.)  The move to Chicagoland has forced me so far out of my little “comfort zone” and into a zone where I am forced to really take stock into things I had just taken from others and applied….people much wiser than me…so surely no need to question, doubt, research….verify.  And yet….that’s what I have found myself doing now for a few months…..what if, as I have said before…this was the entire reason I am here….that it has nothing to do with a job…a city….maybe it was the only way God could finally get my attention.  Maybe He had no choice but to pull me up from my roots….

One thing I have been exploring are things I have heard for so long….assuming they were God’s word…or at least a close interpretation of it.  Phrases we say….without a second thought as to if they really are Biblical…you know…those things “good Christians” say.

I think the first offender has to be “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Malarkey.  Yes He will, and yes He does.  What is even the point in turning to God if we can truly handle even the hardest of circumstances on our own?  Isn’t the whole point of us being in this broken world to have us see that our only hope..our only way to navigate is by trusting God…something so much bigger than our tiny little humanness?  Everything is more than we can handle…everything.  It’s only because of Christ that we are able to put one foot in front of the other…..That’s the entire premise of faith.

Isaiah 41:10 (The Message)

 “But you, Israel, are my servant.
    You’re Jacob, my first choice,
    descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
    called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
    I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

God never says, Oh Jacob….pull up your bootstraps and figure it out.  If we could handle it…why oh why would God have sent Christ to die on that cross at Calvary?  We can’t.  We didn’t. We never will be able to.

This next one has been swirling in my head a lot lately….maybe it’s all the political rhetoric floating around…maybe it’s being more connected to a health community where I know folks that are wonderful, Jesus loving folks…that well…struggle…whether it’s emotionally, physically or financially….struggle is a daily routine.  It’s the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” I see that, I hear that and all I can do is sit and go…nope.  That runs against the entire Gospel of Christ….Sally, well Sally is exactly where she is because she can’t help herself….well…what if Sally really can’t?  Sally, through  no fault of her own, has an illness that makes just walking outside her home a nightmare we can’t imagine?  It seems, to me, the attitude of self-reliance and self-righteousness just doesn’t match up with Matthew 16:24. My new thought process on this is God intended us to be a community…so that when one of us is not strong…weak…whatever the issue may be…we come alongside, with Christ as our captain….to hold that person or community up….and sometimes…that’s a very long gig…sometimes it’s not.

Matthew 16:24 (The Message)

 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

There are so many more things we say…I’ve said….because well…maybe it’s because I grew up with it and just assumed…maybe it was something I heard in a sermon one day….and I sit here and just type these words going, “Man….some of these things are just hurtful to others.”  I have a feeling this season for me might be a tad long…a season where I have a very long overdue tune-up.  Last night, in a message, the challenge of “Resolve” was issued…so, my “resolve” is that I’m checking my vocabulary…my phrases…and I am going to likely blog as I uncover more of things said…that well…sound all Christian…but aren’t…just man-made gibberish.

As I close for today…I just received a verse via a group text I am part of daily…I close with this:

2 Peter 3:17-18 (The Message)

“But you, friends, are well-warned.  Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off  your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers.  Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Glory to the Master, now and forever.  Yes!”

I’ll make a point to title these blogs (my chronicle of my tune-up) so if you want to skip…well..it’s easy.  I’ll start with “Tune-Up.”  Kimmielou signing off….up since 5AM…clearly time for more coffee.

PS-Farmers Almanac is predicting a doozy of a winter here….currently looking for anyone that needs a house sitter on a tropical beach from December-March.  (Insert fact…Kim doesn’t like winter…even mild winters.)

Evangelical-4.1

I’ll be honest.  This post has been in the three sentence phase for days.  I suppose one could say the word “Evangelical” was tagged to my name all those years ago when I was thirteen years old.  I was just a kid who had a pastor come share the steps to salvation and I said, sure.  (I can honestly say that I don’t think I had a clue what I had done until about the age of twenty-I can assure  you 17-20 did not show evidence of it.)  Even now, there are days I feel as if it’s all brand new and I’m just seeing things for the first time…maybe that’s a good thing.  I think it is.  That whole, “childlike faith.”  I most certainly don’t feel qualified to preach to another person about my righteousness…if anything I want to tell them about my brokenness, my pitiful attempt to work to be more like Christ each day…and all the days as I crawl into bed and go, “well, that didn’t go so well.”  My take on the whole Gospel, is the later is exactly what Christ intended me to do.  To show all of that and temper it with the hope of Christ and the knowing the tomb is empty, my debt is paid.  That whole, be a decent human being while you are here on Earth-spread the  news and make disciples of men, even if you fall down all the time-your trust is in Jesus and He has covered all of your inequities. (Trust me…that’s a very large blanket in my case!)

ChristToFollow

 

So, I’m at Evangelical-4.1.  This conversation that has played out in my head countless times over the past several months has forced me to just evaluate what that tag to my name really is and is it something I even desire to be tagged with.  (Ok, before you go getting all “oh my goodness, Kim is renouncing Christ”…I’m not, if anything I like to think of it as a reset on what this whole gig of being a Christ Follower is meant to be.)

We will have to get a little political in order for this conversation to make any sense.  Maybe even a little into the pulpit.  Be patient….I promise you will get to read the deepest thoughts of this little girl heart.  (You can skip this part, but I can’t promise the rest will make any sense whatsoever.)

I grew up as a SBC girl (Southern Baptist).  I cannot recall a time where the pulpit didn’t come out and say “Christian, vote this way.”  I grew up with all of the bells and whistles that came with the “Christian Right” movement.  The problem has always been, for me, I didn’t quiet agree with it’s mission. Trust me, if you live in the south….this conflict is a very big deal…or at least it was in my heart.  Just seemed less about Jesus and more about man’s desires. Then, God moved me out of the comforts of my SBC life and into a world where I am tossed into a conglomeration of believers of such varied backgrounds-forced to sit down and go ok..what’s the commonality amongst those in the church (hint-following Jesus, that personal relationship). Tossed into a congregation of folks that well…a lot just don’t look like me at all. Then came 2016.  Then came Evangelical being so much less than what it had meant to me.  Leaders of the faith coming out and saying the moral thing is to vote for an amoral person and stating the other candidate is the Devil.  To me,  Evangelical has seemingly become a political movement-a political agenda.  Now…back to the conversation.

Ok…so now you are at where I was for a while trying to grasp this whole Evangelical thing and if it even stood for where I was with Christ and what I felt Christ wanted from my life.  In our move, I wanted so desperatly to find what I had in church growing up in the south-I have been able to sit in some fabulous churches filled with amazing people.  I was focused on nothing less.  Four churches.  Three of which just missed something and while I wish I could quantify that with a statement of what…I can’t.  All I can say is that God didn’t want me there.  So, we are at church number four and it’s as if the lightbulbs have all gone off and God is saying…”Kim…this is part of the reason you are here.  You need to see through my eyes..not your own…not the world’s.”  “Kim, trust me.”

Kim is now in a large…I mean HUGE church.  Yet, each time I go, it feels smaller than even my smaller churches in my past did.  No, I would guess no one knows I am there right now as we haven’t plugged in yet.  With that said, I know God is there and I’m there and that’s all I need.  Even at the other three churches, except for one sermon at church A, it’s always been about Jesus and his commands, his agenda…never about a human agenda.  What my role is as a Christ Follower…how that is to play out in my life…and what that means to those around me and to those I’ve never met.  God knew I needed this and He sat me right down in the middle of it. All the talk of the southern Bible-Belt and well…Chicago-who knew!.

So, Evangelical-4.1 .  I suppose by now you are wondering what in the world I’m rambling about.  First, did you know in the entire world, only 4.1% of the population is Evangelical?  That means over 95% of folks aren’t.  Evangelicals comprise around 13% of the Christian population.  That means, 87% of Christians aren’t Evangelicals.  The U.S. has the largest population of Evangelicals.  A Pew study shows 28% of the U.S. is Evangelical.  That means 72% of the U.S population is not.  80ish% of the U.S. will identify as a Christian.  31% of the world identifies as Christian.  This all made me just stop and go..ok….80% of the U.S. identifies as Christian but only 28% identify as Evangelical.  Is it that the other groups don’t believe Christ is the Son of God, risen on the third day?  The one true King?  What is “Evangelical” in America?  Is it a “Jesus” movement or a movement with a political agenda?  Are those two mutually exclusive?  Should they be combined?  Biblically, what’s that answer.

Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

31% of the world identifies as Christian.  Even if you don’t just count those who identify as Evangelical, we are clearly the minority-just as the Bible said we would be. Across the world…Christians are being persecuted. Russia has now outlawed evangelizing outside of church-all of which the Bible foretold.Then you see stories where Nepal has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Areas of the world where people, like you and me, have taken the part of “Go” and have gone. Not to spread the good news of politics or why this sin or that sin is greater than another…but to spread the good news of Jesus, His hope, His love and His desire for your life.  If you look at US numbers, if 80% identify as Christian, then why all this back and forth over liberal, conservative…when clearly we have more in common with Christ’s calling for us than anything else.  80% of us are on the same page with Christ-shouldn’t that be our focus?.

I’m sure by now some of the readers of this little blog are about to blow a gasket and will certainly send me private messages correcting my thoughts and certainly what’s to follow.  That’s ok.

I ramble on and on with all of this to get to the point of all of this.  I sat last night and just took in the Case for Christ and how His love never fails…How He is always there, He never leaves our side…and just kept thinking…”Man, I wish my friends who for whatever the reason have written off Christ, stopped attending church or my friends who are watching the words that “Christians” are saying that are anything but showing of Christ…I wish they could be here tonight.  I wish they could see what this whole Jesus thing is….and what it’s not.”  And then….with confirmation with that whole peace thing..I realized…this chick is taking off the  American “Evangelical” tag and putting on “Christ Follower.”  Answer, Follow, Go.  Evangelical isn’t a Biblical term..it’s manmade.  Christ Follower….that’s Jesus’ tag for me…and loved…so very loved and forgiven.

Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

I close with this….80% of the US identifies as Christian.  If true, we should all be on the same page…and that’s the page where we are told to answer, follow and go.  I know God has revealed to me that I have fallen way short on the Go part….and that I need to stop and view the world and its events through His eyes and not  my own. Change begins from the bottom up…while looking up.

Oh, I have political views…that’s for certain…and they likely aren’t the views of many of my followers (According to what I am certain is an accurate scientific quiz on Facebook, I don’t)..and that’s ok…because as I said…80% of us are on the same page with Jesus …and that means we all agree that Christ wins…we know the ending of this story….a broken world, with broken people all just working each day to be a little more like Christ and on most days…falling shorter than we had hoped as I crawled out of bed.  Knowing we all get the exact same amount of Christ-all of Him.  He doesn’t hold out pieces….you get all of Him. By grace and not by works.

One note of importance…none of this mitigates the love I have for every church I have attended in my life.  I have been fortunate to be in Bible believing, Bible teaching churches and surrounded by some of the most Godly men and women you could ever ask for.

So, peace out for today….this “Christ Follower” has some work to do!

(PS-I’m quiet certain this post could land me on some prayer lists….I assure you that I love my Jesus just as much today as yesterday, hopefully more and that if my life doesn’t represent what he told his disciples were his two greatest commands…well…I’ve fallen and I need to get back up and try again…and again..and again. )

 

 

 

Fighting With, Instead of Against

“I would rather have a man chasing Jesus, than a house full of stuff.”  War Room, Elizabeth

As very likely, one of the last person’s on the planet to do so, I saw War Room yesterday.  I had heard the hype, but honestly went in expecting what I had seen in other Christian movies as far as how it would be formatted. Yesterday, I realized that  Christian writers are getting bolder, directors more unafraid to appease every audience member….this movie was truth. It reached out and said, “You are going to come into this experience with the characters.”  Each of us, whether we realize it or not, are a character in this movie in our daily lives.  That’s what this movie leaves you with….you will identify with a character and see all of your holes and the thin fibers holding those holes together.  This is irregardless of where you are in your Christian walk.  I don’t see how you can see this movie and leave thinking, “I am all good.  I’m great actually.”

Miss Clara was the character I kept desiring in my own life.  I want a Miss Clara.  She’s that woman bold enough to confront you, bold enough to shake you at your core and humble enough to be transparent with her own life to change yours.  You can’t act the passion she exuded in the scenes where she cried out to God and to Christ to do great things, mighty things….where she gave Him every ounce of praise in her entire body.  The casting of this movie, in her character, got it right.  You believed her.  She was real.

Elizabeth’s character could be any of us.  That mom so caught up in her career, her own wants and ambitions and so full of bitterness and anger towards things, that she misses the entire point of our life.  I think my favorite two scenes with Elizabeth were when she received the text regarding her spouse being seen at dinner with someone other than herself….that moment of brokenness when she literally had no strength left in her and she fell to her knees….that moment each of us have experienced at least once in our lives…that  moment where you can physically feel Christ taking his hands to raise you into this embrace.  That moment that you do not think you will survive, but you do and come out stronger on the other side of the battle.  It’s that moment when you stop fighting against God, and start fighting with God.  For her, it was the moment she realized, as Tony’s wife, she was powerless to change him….and she had to admit and ask for forgiveness for her failures and give her spouse to God…totally let it go.  Not hold on to a single string. Everything-released.  “The world desperately needs grace-grace from each other but ultimately the grace which can only be received from Jesus Christ.” Miss Clara’s words and that simple question she had asked earlier, “Does he not deserve the same grace that Christ has given to you?” Great scene.  Next, it would have to be when Elizabeth saw Danielle’s closet.  That moment that every parent has when we realize our children repeat what we do…in magnified form.  Good or bad….we are their example.  It’s not our talk that they emulate, it’s our actions.  Elizabeth’s heart change towards her family, her husband…and that moment where she tells Satan to get out of her house.  A heart change….and her world changed for the better…even if painful at times.  Learning that her job was simply to pray for her husband…to stop doing God’s job and get out of God’s way so He could do His job.  How many times have I stood in God’s way?  When I did, what was the outcome?  When I moved over, what was the outcome?  If you are like me, when you move over…well, that’s when miracles happen.

Most heartbreaking moment for me was when Danielle told her mom that she thought she just loved her a little.  And then began asking those questions you can’t answer if you are not present….you can be physically there and not be present.  How many of us parents are so busy chasing a dollar, more stuff, more retirement that we miss what matters….the name of a child’s team, their award, their newest skill…..the little things that are the big things?  We call it “taking care of our family’s future” but at what cost?  If we miss the little things….do we even know the big things when they come?  Is that pursuit of career success coming at the expense of the family’s success?  God isn’t going to be handing out any “Top Sales Person” awards in heaven…but He is going to be holding us accountable for our family…what we did with that blessing He gave us.  How we loved.  How we knew Him.  Knowing Him in a real and passionate way, well….seems all our issues start to fall away.  Trusting Him, more than we trust our own control.

I won’t go into Tony, as I don’t want this to be about the faults of a man….but…His brokenness in that moment he realizes he has nothing left but Christ and his family….and that because of Elizabeth’s heart change, their reaction to his failures has been anything but what he expected.  Seeing what he gave up in his pursuit of career goals….greed.  I do not know the heart of any man….but I do know the heart of a woman.  That moment he just broke into Christ’s arms…..”I would rather have a man chasing Jesus…”  I bet if we asked men…they had rather have a woman chasing Jesus too.

Prayer-Closet-copy-2-444x455

I could go on for days about this movie.  I guess, as  a Christian, it was more than a movie.  It was an instrument used by God to speak to me…and so many others.  I don’t have a War Room…and I honestly don’t know if I could sit in a small closet….but….I will take those notes on the wall to heart.  Specific things.  I will make me a record of “Answered Prayers” to remind me when I feel as if God isn’t hearing me.  I will remember the power of always praying for your spouse.  Not for them to act like you want or not do such and such…but praying for them to be God’s…to be His.  I will begin to ask God for a Miss Clara.  I have never asked, so why would I have a Miss Clara?  I will continue to pray for my kiddos, their spouses, my babies….their safety, their hopes and dreams, their hearts….their love for Jesus.

Points taken from the movie (just a few) that everyone should commit to heart:

  1. Daughters find their value in their Fathers (earthly and Heavenly)-As Tony began to see and invest in his daughter, her confidence increased.
  2. Marriage is based on Christ-not us.  “I am His before I am yours. And because I love Jesus, I’m staying right here.” Elizabeth
  3. “I shouldn’t fight God, because He always wins.” Miss Clara
  4.  “If you want victory, you must first surrender” Miss Clara
  5. “People are always leaving Jesus out of everything and that’s why we are in the mess that we are in.”  Miss Clara
  6. Your spouse is not your enemy.  Don’t make them to be the enemy.  The Devil is the enemy that comes to steal, kill and destroy.
  7. The lingering regret that never leaves when you don’t answer God’s call.
  8. Not once, even if the mud of bitterness, did Elizabeth talk poorly of her spouse to her child.  Not once.

Like so many others, I sit here today with a movie in my head…and Jesus in my heart.  A heart that will strive to be a Miss Clara as it ages and grows.

We, as Christians, get so caught up in the social fights around us…when in the end…if we keep our hearts on Jesus….everything will be ok.  He wins.  The devil knows the end of the story too….Jesus wins.

And we search….Different church, same Jesus

I accidentally purchased regular sharp cheddar cheese sticks instead of my normal “reduced-fat.”  My, regular fat cheese is so delicious.  Squirrel…sorry folks…only one cup of coffee in and my brain is still dreaming of white sandy beaches and warmer weather….

Moving is hard.  Change is hard.  Visiting churches and trying to discern where God wants you to be….incredibly difficult.  I have already written about our visit to Wheaton Bible Church.  Today is about our two visits to Harvest Bible Chapel in Naperville…..and a little backstory on why we didn’t stick to our “visit until God tells us to stop” thought process.

HBC

When the move was first being discussed, I was very quick to begin research on churches via the internet.  Sermons watched, worship teams watched, doctrine and statement of beliefs carefully examined, ministries and focus put under a microscope.  That lead us to a list of well….few.  On that list from the beginning was Harvest Bible.  Why did this one make the cut so quickly?  Having just completed James McDonald’s study “Authentic”, I knew that as a church plant of the main campus, Harvest would very likely be in line with those teachings and style.  So, a few of Pastor Ron Zappia’s sermons were watched and then that led to the watching of some of the Harvest Worship videos you can easily find online.  Nondenominational has always been a church we “southern Baptists” avoided due to the “mash-up” of doctrines and well…just things we weren’t comfortable with…but Harvest Bible doctrine lined up with what we hold to be Biblical truths.  Nothing in it was anything we didn’t believe or hold as what God has clearly said for the church to be.

Yet, our first church to visit was Wheaton Bible.  Wheaton Bible is awesome.  It’s large…maybe larger than what we want as our church home….maybe we will still end up there…but given how vested we were in Harvest Bible before moving here, we knew we had to visit….to see for ourselves.  One of those things that if we didn’t, we would likely always look back and wonder if we missed an opportunity.  So, our first visit came a couple weeks ago….I believe on one of the first Siberian Express days…seriously…we should get major brownie points for braving this stuff.

First impression-it doesn’t look like a church from the outside.  This girl is struggling with that…even today.  Yet, I keep wondering if that isn’t one of the very things Christ isn’t trying to use as a teachable moment for me…what the church truly is.  Teaching me it’s not the look of the building, what we sit in…none of that.  And then, leaving my dresses and heels in the closet on Sunday morning….this isn’t just a Harvest thing..it was a WBC thing too.  Church is casual.  Everyone looks nice…which I truly believe we should all do on Sunday-be our best for Him.  Even though our best..well….it’s pitiful…but to Him…we are enough, just as we are. Then again, maybe casual does break down walls…barriers.  We are told to not be a stumbling block…and what if in all our “dressed to the nines” we have prevented someone from entering those doors…that person feeling they could never be a part or fit in.

Now..to the good stuff.  Instantly upon walking in, we were greeted firmly, warmly…..not just that token welcome…I mean you really felt welcome.  Then, one of the pastors comes up to say hello and realizes he had not seen us there before.  Personal attention….intentional actions.  This just continued the entire morning.  For Lee, seeing men be so intentional….go so far out of the norm to make sure he felt welcome…was huge.  Worship is contemporary…..but genuine. Video announcements are very well done as are all the graphics.  The church has done an outstanding job of defining who it is and what their “branding” is.  It’s about the Great Commission.  It’s about that personal relationship with Christ.  It’s not about knowing about Him…it’s about knowing Him.  Folks, those are two distinct things….even the lost and those that profess to be atheist can know about Him..but only a born-again Christian knows Him.

Truth

The Pastor is a teaching pastor and this church does “series” and I appreciate that greatly.  Excellent communicator and while I am confident he could unleash every theological term and factoid out there, his style keeps the message real and not one where you wonder if you are going to have to bring your Bible Study software and laptop to the next sermon.  I can see where this is a vital approach to the mission of reaching new Christians and fulfilling the Great Commission.  It’s not a watered down message, just one that a layman can truly grasp.  I’ve noticed in two visits if a reference is made to a passage elsewhere in the Bible, the Pastor goes there…makes sure that no assumption is made that you know what he is referencing.

So, we visited again.  Same warmth extended and a couple “nice to see you again” comments.  Same impression as our first visit.  To learn more about the mission, the doctrine, etc…we signed up for the membership information class.  (Ok….disclaimer here…I find it so odd how you apply for membership up this way.  Membership classes are required everywhere.)  Anyways….I find it odd, but it’s actually kinda cool to really see where a church stands on Biblical truths…what they expect of you as member…and what you can expect of them as your church body.  Learning about their leadership structure…the things that make them tick as a church body.  Learning where they are on social issues and how those are approached from the pulpit.  Learning what matters most to them as a church….and that’s Jesus.  Everything comes back to Jesus, the Great Commission and that personal relationship-knowing Him…not just about Him.

I love the fact you can take classes on how to truly be a disciple of Christ and classes to help you find your spiritual gifts that help you be a servant to the church, the church body and to Christ.  Being a Christian is hard and anything the church can do to help make the road a tad less complicated to navigate…we should.

We have requested to be put into a small group.  Just the next natural step in seeing if this is our church.  I’ll venture to their women’s study the first week of March.  The Pastor’s wife spoke some Sunday and well…you just can’t help but like her.  I loved how they did baby dedications….so personal, so intentional (there’s that word again).

Average weekend attendance is around 1750.  My head can grasp that number.  I miss choir.  I miss pews.  I miss what I know….but again….I know that He is trying to use these events as teachable moments.  Remove me from my comfort zone….because I have been very comfortable.

Different church…..different look….same Jesus.

Beth Moore, Friendship, Woman of God

LPL

This past weekend our church hosted the Beth Moore Simulcast of 2014.  Women from around the world gathered together in different venues, homes, etc as Beth communicated the following truths to each woman in attendance:

  • Blessed is SHE who believed. Luke 1:45
  • You ARE a woman of God.
  • YOU have the greatest story!
  • You are woman enough because of Him!
  • ALL of Heaven rejoices over just one lost woman found!
  • Every woman is well able/equipped to share how Jesus is changing her story!
  • Lesson in friendship

First, let me say that if you are reading “Beth Moore” and going “who is that”, I want to encourage you to do a simple Google You Tube search and just watch some of her clips.  Beth has a God given gift on how to communicate to women in Biblical truth.  She is a true scholar of the Bible, but she is real-you will identify with her as a woman.  She’s just like the woman you would love to have coffee with at Starbucks.

Our church had almost three-hundred women in attendance.  It started at about 8:30 AM on a Saturday and on a Razorback game day, so that attendance folks-well, that’s a God thing!  Women of all ages, all backgrounds gathered to worship and hear Beth communicate the message God had given her for this event.  Across the globe, on that one day, over 190,000 women were listening.

One thing about Beth is this-she is FUNNY!  She can be leading you into a deep passage of scripture and how it applies to your life and then suddenly…it’s a funny story or life event that she had to share at that very moment.  Again-real.

Three sessions, each with a different message but with one overwhelming theme-Blessed is she who believes.

I mostly want to just share with you today some of my notes-my little tidbits from the day.  Every woman there probably has totally different notes-as the message spoke to each of us in a very unique way.

Not part of the message, but one thing that stood out to me that day was her telling us how her foundation they used for the broadcast lighting smelled like dough-nuts.  I now have this compelling desire to figure out the brand just so I can smell for myself…..ok…now back to the meat of the day!

beth moore woman

All across the world, we were ONE gathering of many women yearning for God to speak.

Jesus changes the story of every woman He meets.

God is not only wanting us to hear what He has to say, He wants us to RESPOND!

Sometimes to heal a hurt/broken heart, you have to take off the binding and open it back up. (She used an awesome illustration of wrapping her hand in an ace bandage.)  Ya’ll this is a hard one for me….I don’t know about you, but I don’t like that feeling of your hurt/broken heart being exposed to the air. I want to protect it…BUT…I also heard the TRUTH in her message that I can’t keep it hidden forever.

Jesus so deeply desire to know who I am…NOT who I am not!

Here and now, based upon what I know, start meeting needs!  Don’t keep waiting for some big sign.  Just like Lisa Harper said at WOF, folks, sometimes we have to simply act and not go home and pray about what to do-ACT!

Satan is out there every single day…every moment of the day trying to put tags on us as women.  Other people are in this world doing the same thing, because of Satan.  Oh he is a crafty one.  He knows our weak spots and knows how to rip off that scab and make the wound bleed again.

Your dignity is NOT for ANYONE to take from you!!!!  YOU ARE HIS!!!!!

Sometimes we need a clean sweep to remove the yuck around us so we can see/hear our direction.  (Another great illustration as Beth swept with a broom across the stage.)

A women’s joy is not the same without girlfriends to share it with.  (Ain’t that the truth)  But ya’ll, this is where Beth communicated a truth that WE ALL need to apply and really absorb-We have TONS of contacts, but FEW connections!!!!! OUCH!  So, let’s get this one down now.  Our 1200 Facebook friends or twitter followers are NOT our friends/connections.  It’s the people we make time for-the people we have face to face interaction with.  Those are the ones we must have in our lives as women for joy!  Joy is meant to be shared.  We, as women, are having a hard time connecting the dots between joy and our girlfriend deficit.  We are to make our joy complete-share it!

Ya’ll now this is when Beth started getting to some tough stuff!

  • Can you rejoice with other women when they have gains???
  • You can’t out-love someone’s insecurity.
  • Insecurity pokes a hole in your heart.
  • Competition and Comparison breed insecurity.  We have head this ten thousand times, so why are we as women still doing it!  STOP-Don’t do it!  No more-what if we all said NO MORE!  No more Mommy-competitions.  No more one-upping.  Proverbs 24:17-Do not gloat when your enemies fall.

I have said this before…I could NOT be a young  mom in today’s world.  Social media and the constant barrage of pictures/status updates about my child is better/my party for my child was better/oh look at such and such….I would have walked around with FAILURE across my chest if I had to walk in that muck daily!  Ok…back to topic!

We need to fight for one another-not against one another.

Beth wanted to give us three items to help us identify “bad friendships”…not that these can’t be fixed, just some red flags for us to watch for as women.

  • Exclusivity
  • Possessiveness
  • Jealousy

(Her illustration here was do you have that friend you have to hide your activity with other friends from?  Ya know-keep a picture off of Facebook, go to movies in secret…etc..)

So, let’s add friends, set boundaries, and learn that we can have healthy conflict if we have healthy resolve!

At the end of the day, it was still about turning to Jesus for our hope, our joy, our identity.  Some days, we will simply take a step and breathe….but we are working towards progress.  Stop the Mommy competition, stop the Woman Wars….gather in unity and say no more-I am a woman of God!

2014 Final Commissioning:

My Beloved Sister,
Jesus drew you to this day
To call you to respond.
What will you do
With what He has said?
God chose you and gifted you
For this very generation.
You are the exact woman
Jesus came looking for today.
Stop telling yourself
This is about someone else
You are the one He wants.
You’re not too young.
You’re not too old.
You haven’t strayed too far
Or waited too long.
Let Jesus step fully into your story
And write a narrative for your life
That does the world good
And gives God glory.
People out there need what you have to offer.
Quit listening to your fears and insecurities.
Stand up and step out and meet some needs.
You are my sister.
I’ll cheer you on.
I will support you and love you
I’ll stop competing and comparing.
I want to be a woman women can trust.
Let’s do this thing side by side.
We’re so much stronger together.
Sister, stay in His Word
Fight for love and keep your faith.
Follow hard after Jesus
All the rest of your days.
He will never do you wrong.
He will never reject or betray you.
He will make something beautiful
Out of all your pain.
In every loss
He will be your gain.
A lost world is waiting out there.
The darkness is aching for light.
Get out there and serve with all your might.
Because, my beloved sister.
You
Are
A woman
Of God.
Go show somebody what she looks like.

So, let’s be better women….we ARE all WOMEN of GOD!

Kim