Friday, March 20, 2015

Just Balance

Many, okay most, Christians do not think a person is called into ministry unless you have the title pastor of some sort or missionary attached to your birth name.  I am not one who believes this way.  I believe every truly born again believer (one who has confessed their sin before God, received His forgiveness and has chosen to follow Jesus regardless of the cost) is called to ministry.  Because of this we can receive accolades for what we feel called to one moment and be considered heartless the next by the very same people.  This should be considered a blessing, as it is what happened to our Lord and Savior many times over and is still happening today.
I have been asked multiple times by multiple people how to cut back.  My answer has been the same over the years, mostly because I didn't know how to put into words what God has done in my personal life to get me to a place of balance for the most part.  I'm not perfect, by any means, so I still get out of kilter now and then, but God is faithful to bring me back to where I confess not coming to Him for direction first, but just jumping into things.  So my answer has always been, "Learn to say no."
Learning to say no was a BIG part of my deliverance from constant frustration and feeling overwhelmed.  I felt like a three year old that has everyone making all the decisions for him including what to wear!! I was always just on the brink of yelling, "I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!"  However, when I started REALLY praying about it, because I was desperate for deliverance, I discovered something amazing.  Most of the things I accused others of deciding for me were in fact decisions I had made for myself so as not to offend someone else!  When it got down to the nitty gritty, I was doing things to please others and receive their praise rather than seeking God's direction and in the process of obedience, receiving HIS praise.  Truth be told, I even allowed myself to get overbooked so I could receive pity from others who were in the same boat as I.  I didn't want to feel left out when they spoke of how tired and overbooked they were, so I became tired and overbooked as well.  For the most part though, it was simply not wanting to hurt people's feelings. 
The really tough part of the process of deliverance is knowing that you will be found an offense to some, especially those you hold closest to your heart.  They know you love them, and because you have always been there for them in the past, they feel you should always be for every occasion or at least a lot of them.  If not, then maybe there is something wrong; perhaps they have offended you? Or you don't love them as much anymore? Or you have simply chosen to cut them out for reasons they will never understand, but it hurts?!  Truth is, none of this is true.  They are lies from the evil one trying to cause division where division isn't warranted. 
Perhaps anyone reading this might be wondering just what ministry I am personally involved in that would cause all this questioning.  First and foremost I am in the ministry of my marriage.  God's word makes it clear to me that marriage is a picture of salvation and therefore must have priority second to Christ Jesus alone.  There was a time when motherhood would have been next in line with such a fine line between it and marriage that it needs to be seen through a microscope with a magnification of about a billion.  The reason for this is that children are part of that picture of salvation - us becoming one with Christ Jesus.  However, my children are grown, married and have children of their own, so this responsibility has fallen to them.  Not that I don't try to be there for them as much as possible, but their families are their responsibility.  I am simply one of the minor support beams.  Jesus must be their foundational Cornerstone. 
Now I am Gramma and teaching has become my next top priority.  Teaching Scriptural Truths to be exact, although God has allowed me to be an academic teacher as well to many children, though I don't have the actual certification to do so.  Teaching is part of who I was created to be evidently, because it comes naturally, like breathing.  It is nothing I have done or accomplished on my own.  As a matter of fact, God made it quite clear to me at an early age that He is the One doing the teaching through me and that if I step out on my own, I will fall flat on my face!!
Next in line comes ministry through music.  I love to play flute, but I am a words person, so singing God's praise lifts me to a place of unspeakable joy!  Recently I was singing a solo for the first time in a year and a half and found myself quite nervous.  As I stood on stage and the interlude began, I prayed, "Lord, I hate feeling so nervous like this!"  Immediately He spoke these words and the nervousness abated, "Just tell the story."  That may sound confusing, but many times I have told people how funny it is to me that I can stand in front of a million children and tell a story from God's word and thoroughly enjoy the experience, but put me in front of adults to sing and I become extremely nervous!  When God spoke those words to my heart, I knew He was reminding me that we are all children in His sight and we all need to hear His story, so I needed to tell it!!  Changed my perspective in a way that must be experienced to understand. 
I cannot, at this point in my life, give up any one of these ministries, nor can I ignore any other ministry God places on my heart, such as inviting neighbors to an event where they will hear the word, but makes them feel comfortable when a regular church service makes them nervous and unhearing; disciplining children with words of love and compassion when they are in conflict with each other; taking a meal to someone recovering from surgery or illness; making a gift for someone who needs to know I love them; listening when someone just needs to talk; giving counsel to those who ask and are ready to listen to what God's word has to say regarding their situation; cleaning my house; and I could go on.  The point is, when I am asked to go to any particular event, but I feel a check in my spirit or a reminder of a previous commitment, I must say no to that invitation EVEN if it is an invitation to teach. (That is a VERY difficult one for me.) 
To sum up, learning to say no is important, but learning WHEN to say no is vital.  Learning to trust God to deal with those who find or take offense at our obedience is also vital.  I say "find" offense because, unfortunately, there are those who simply look for reasons to complain about others so as to make themselves look better in their own eyes.  If they could but understand that what we think of ourselves and/or what others think of us just simply does not matter!!  It is only how God sees us that has any benefit whatsoever!!  We must learn to love the person God created us to be even though we will never fully be that person until Jesus makes all things new and allow ourselves to become that person through the tutelage of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.  He is the Great Teacher, Transformer and Guide.  We must learn to listen to His instruction alone by testing all we hear, see and think through the Scriptures and prayer.  In so doing we will begin to find it easier to love others for who God created them to be and accept the choices they make as coming from Him rather than trying to get them to do the things WE wish they would do.
Proverbs 11:1 - A false balance [is] abomination to the LORD: but a just weight [is] his delight.
Doing things for personal or influential praise may seem all well and good, but is a false balance.  A just balance comes from the Just One - Father God - for only He knows what is truly just and right for our lives and the purposes for which He has created us.  Therefore, we must live in a manner of making sure that whatever we do is done for His glory and not our own.
Colossians 3:17 - And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What If......

What if.....this question popped up in my mind as I finished the final chapter of the book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman. In the final chapter he writes about a time when his dad was praying with him before bedtime. They were going to be praying for a family friend who was going through a divorce due the the wife's unfaithfulness. Kyle asked his dad what he would do if he were the husband. His response was a surprise to Kyle, but brought a smile to my heart as I realized how wonderful to have a husband think that way!! Here is the response for those who have not read the book. Remember this is coming from an extremely devoted Christian man. I think I admire him very much!!

“Well, I'd go downstairs. I'd get your wooden baseball bat. I'd drill a hole through the handle. I'd tie a leather strap to that belt. I'd put that strap around my wrist. I'd go over to the man's house and I'd tell him that if he got within one hundred yards of my wife, I would break both his legs.”

If I were the straying wife and my husband went after the man who had seduced me in this fashion, I would love and become more devoted to my husband than he would ever dream possible!! I am sure we would still have to go through counseling to discuss why I had strayed in the first place, but with dedication like this man has for his wife, I think I would be willing to got through anything to be allowed to remain his.

Jesus loves us like this man loves his wife. He would and HAS done any and every thing for us. He claimed our sin as His own, even though He had never personally sinned in His life, took our beating and curses, and then paid the price of death on the cross in our place. Talk about devotion!! If I feel love well up inside me towards my husband just thinking about him being willing to give up everything for me, then shouldn't I feel even greater love for Jesus Who DID give up everything for me?

So my what if thought was this: What if instead of going after straying husbands and/or wives we went after the ones pursuing them? If my best female friend came to me and said her husband was having an affair, I think, after having this question come to mind, I would suggest she go to the woman involved and tell her that she either not come anywhere near her husband again or that she would be sued for grand theft!! I wonder what would happen if she followed that suggestion and became determined to follow through at all costs. I realize that due to the corruptness of the world we live in that this would not work every time. Some spouses would be so heavily involved with the pursuer that they would simply get angry, but I daresay some would wake up to the realization that their husband or wife really, REALLY loved them and would break off the other relationship toot sweet. They would most probably seek forgiveness and reconciliation not only with their spouse, but with God.

What if, when I am hurt or angered by someone, instead of taking it out on them, I turned to the sin that is plaguing them and told it to loose them in the name of Jesus and began to fast and seek God's will for their life? What if I went to them and explained the hurt and/or anger and told them I forgave them and was praying for them rather than seeking revenge? What if I began praying for my neighbors' salvation and started seeking ways to minister to them rather than not wanting to feel rejection and mockery?
What if I was willing to give up one meal a day so that someone else might have one meal a day? What if I were willing to give up some of my “spare” time to read to a senior in a retirement home, make a blanket for a baby of an unwed mother, visit someone lonely and the list goes on.
There are many what ifs out there. At the end of my life I pray that many of them will have gone from “what ifs” to “accomplished.”
 "And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'  Matthew 25:45