Tag Archives: church

Strength and Dignity

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I have a dear friend who posted this meme on Facebook the other day:

strong-woman

I love the message! Don’t you? When you think of a strong person, you imagine someone with great physical strength who can rip apart lions (King David) or wield a donkey’s jawbone in a heated battle (Samson). Strong people are capable of tearing right through their obstacles, right? A sign of strength is how easily you can defeat an opponent or enemy. A person who shows weakness is the one who is meek and bows out of the fight, right? Uh. no. Not in this case.

Why is it that we buy into the lie that in order to be a strong person, we need to make everyone else around us feel weak? A brother or sister in Christ is not an obstacle to tear right through. We do not need to try to defeat one another in an effort to show how strong we are. Likewise we do not show weakness when we are meek and defer to another. On the contrary, this is great strength indeed.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Both Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:1) are described as meek or humble. There’s no way anyone would consider either of these men as being weak.

You do not prove your strength by belittling another person. You actually prove that you have weak character for it is in the way you treat another that reveals your heart.

I am grieved by what I hear week after week about the way women treat one another. The comparison game is deadly. It’s more like Russian Roulette than Candy Land. What I’ve seen is a twisted form of religious pompousness rather than a real life relationship with another sister. {Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also seen the real life relationships that genuinely bring encouragement and love to each person.}

Here’s what I mean: convictions for an individual quickly become measuring sticks for spiritual maturity.Well, I’m a stay at home mom, and if you aren’t a stay at home mom, that means you’re not a good Christian” “I homeschool my children because it’s the best way to raise a child, and if you don’t homeschool then you must be a lesser Christian.” “You aren’t married? Why not? You don’t have children? Why not?” I am giving up all I know to be a missionary and if you don’t want to do missions that means you don’t really love Christ or the lost.” 

Do I need to go on? Now I doubt that any thinking person would actually say any of those statements. But attitudes can speak for themselves. None of these convictions ever need to be a badge we wear to reveal how spiritual or devoted to God we are. God forbid.

Another dear friend of mine used to always say “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why do we compare ourselves at all? If we compare ourselves in order to puff ourselves up, we have failed. If we compare ourselves to heap guilt on ourselves, we have failed. Put your measuring sticks far away, and instead of spending your time scrutinizing yourself or another person, take the time to appreciate another sister or appreciate the gifts and path God has given to you.

You can have your convictions and still value another sister’s obedience to God, even if it looks completely different from your own! And let me not even get started on how utterly arrogant it is to think that you or I have anything to do with our holiness or acceptance before God. We don’t wear badges, we actually receive crowns and even then we acknowledge that those crowns deserve to be at the feet of Jesus.

And we sing,

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

{So technically that passage is referring to the 24 elders, but you get the idea.}

He alone is worthy. And it is God who created us to the Body of Christ who serves one another with special gifts in order to edify the whole Church. Edify, not tear down. Nourish and lift up, not weaken or destroy.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

God prepared good works for each of us before we even knew we belonged to Him in order that we could walk around on His earth as the hands and feet of Jesus. We are His ambassadors with marching orders to reconcile people back to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). To reconcile! Not to draw people away from Him with our selfish motives.

We don’t need to clamor for His attention, trying to draw His gaze toward us, hoping that He’ll take notice of how great we are. No! We humbly submit to the One who is worthy of all glory and honor and power. We can do this by walking in those good works that He’s prepared for us to do. And some of those good works involve building up our brothers and sisters in Christ.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:25-26)

A woman with strength and dignity is wise and kind. Ironically she also recognizes her own weaknesses and even relishes in them, knowing that when she is weak, [He is] strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

My sweet friend reminded me too that we need to be women full of grace for ourselves and for one another. We’re all going to fall, sometimes in small ways and other times in large ways. Wouldn’t you want someone to come alongside you and help you along rather than be put to shame by a sideways glance or a disappointed shaking of the head?

In case you’ve ever been hurt by a careless statement, consider first to give that person the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps that woman did not mean to hurt your feelings nor make you feel like a lesser Christian. Sometimes people say stupid things, and those aren’t necessarily judgments about you. More often than not, that individual hasn’t considered the implications of her words and is simply expressing her (not-so-tactful) opinion or strongly held conviction.

Let us all be careful with our words for it is by those words that we will be judged (Matthew 12:37). Wouldn’t you rather spend your limited time here on earth using your words to build up and encourage? I thought so.

(P.S. I know more women who are getting this right than women who are getting this wrong. Christ has given us a beautiful and perfect example of love for His bride, and He’s called us to this same kind of love for each other. We are the bride of Christ, and the world will know we are His based on our love for each other! So go love!!) John 13:35

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The Flow of the Gift

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Gift receive

I kinda feel like I should apologize for my lack of posting in a verrrrrry long time. I fell into a rut, and I think I’ve finally climbed back out of it with some boosts from beneath. You see, I have so many thoughts about so many different things, that I could literally post something every day. It may be only one sentence, but sure enough, I could fill up a quota for the whole week. But my problem is that I don’t want to give anyone fluff. I guess that’s not a problem though. You don’t need FLUFF! (unless it’s in the form of whipped bubbles, because who doesn’t like playing with foamy bubbles?) What you need is God. And I need Him. In fact, I am a complete mess without Him.

So all of these thoughts, where are they? I certainly haven’t filled this blog with most of them. Here’s the rut: I began thinking that what I’ve had mulling over in my mind is not that important. In the grand scheme of things, I realize I am a drop in the bucket, no one of significance. But here’s the catch. In God’s kingdom, there’s no such thing as an insignificant person. Truly, He’s the most wonderful God for so many reasons, but to think that He gave every believer gifts so that we can all benefit one another is absolutely amazing. It’s Grace. Each one has a role to play. Each one is significant. And it’s because He says so, not the world, and not me.

What’s a girl to do with the gift? I can tell you what NOT to do. The gift was not given to wear as a badge for all to see how great YOU are (or how great I am). At Christmas time, when you receive a stellar gift, you wouldn’t immediately begin boasting about how wonderful of a person you are for having received such an amazing gift. No, you (hopefully) would immediately and profusely thank the one who gave you the gift. In fact, you might feel very humbled at receiving such a nice gift whether it was because of the extremely high cost or of the high value placed on the gift. No, the gift is not for use to puff us up. It’s meant, first, for His glory.

Likewise, the gift was not meant for you or me to keep for ourselves. Whether or not you do this out of fear or out of selfishness, the fact remains that this gift was meant for the greater good. Not for me to set it aside. It’s meant, secondly, for the edification of His church.

Let me tell you something. When you belong to God, He’s prepared good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). He is the Giver of all good things (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17). In fact, I’ve come to realize that He gives way more than I ever imagined! Seriously take some time to think about the things He gives, just in the spiritual sense (I’m not even talking about material things). You have a unique personality with unique gifts of the Spirit, and then on top of that, as you abide in Christ, He also produces fruit of the Spirit in you. You could in theory always be overflowing with God’s grace to others because of the way He’s poured His grace into you. A constant flow from the Father to you to others, resulting in His glory, flowing right back to Him.

What’s holding you back in living out these good works which God prepared for you and equipped you to fulfill (2 Peter 1:3)? Many times it’s just believing that it’s true! Will you believe God’s word about yourself and about Him? May I encourage you today that you are an important member in God’s kingdom, designed to edify His church and bring Him glory. Think of all the times you’ve needed to know you are loved, and someone calls you up just to chat. That was Him, using one of His people, to show you love. Or the time you felt like a failure in any area of life, and a random person “just happens” to tell you how good you’re doing in that very area. It blows my mind that all of this that is for His glory actually benefits us too in the process! Only this gracious God could make it so. To be so jealous for His name and glory while still managing to bless us as we seek to bring Him this glory is truly a thing of beauty and grace. Do you see what I mean by His lavish gift giving?

Here’s your pep talk then. You feel like telling someone you admire her courage in speaking up about her faith but you think it’s might sound silly. Do it anyway. You never know when you might be His voice to that bride of Christ.

You feel like telling that girl who is always dressed so beautifully that she is beautiful and reflects Him but you think it might be awkward. Do it anyway. Be the voice.

You feel like helping out behind the scenes but you think that they don’t need your help or that it won’t make a difference. Do. it. anyway. Use the gifts.

Whatever it is that you feel like or you know you should be doing, do it! What’s flowing into you and how can you pour it out as a beautiful offering back to the One who gave it?

P.S. If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I refer to “gifts” that are spiritual in nature, feel free to visit this website to learn more about spiritual gifts: http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/.

A Guide for the Unsettled Seeker

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From CreationSwap

Here we go again. Off to another church. Will this one have Sunday school or just “Lifegroups”? Do they have a women’s ministry? What about for men? What do they say about certain doctrines? Does the pastor preach topically or expositorally? What is their worship service like? What can I expect from their children’s ministry?

You may have been in this situation before and have asked some of these same questions (or should have asked them!). You move to a new town or simply determine that you want a change in where you worship. You get this feeling that you’ll never quite find that place to call “home.” Why is this such a big deal?

I thought it would be challenging to feel “settled” as we wait to move into our new home, but I never knew how unsettled I would feel as we church hop each week. It is that same feeling I wrote about in my post on Craving Connection. We want to feel connected to the Body of Christ not only for our benefit but for our desire to serve in the Body.

Here are a few things I’ve learned through this small journey to finding a “church home”:

1) It’s incredibly hard not to compare former pastors with these “potential” pastors at each church we try. I’ve decided we were rather spoiled at our former church because we had a pastor who faithfully preached the word in a dynamic way so as to keep our attention while at the same time challenging us to think and to live out what he preached. It was no fluff, let me tell ya. My litmus test these days, unfortunately, is whether or not I can stay awake (and trust me, I NEVER fell asleep at my old church).

2) Closely related to my first point, it’s important to let your pastor know how he’s impacted you in the way he serves your church. A lot of people sitting in the Sunday morning pews have no idea how fortunate they are to sit under the teaching of a well-rounded pastor. Can we just clone the good ones? Is this too much to ask?? (Note to everyone at IBC: You should go tell Dr. Fisher how much you appreciate him. Go.)

3) It takes time to find where you should serve. This is true of you even if you already have a church home. What is more, you should be asking yourself this question if you aren’t serving somewhere already. Does the church have ministries that you are already interested in (women’s, children’s, missions, etc.)? Is there a need in the church for someone to lead a particular ministry (service, reaching singles, college)? It’s a fine balance to determine what you want from the church and how you can serve in the church.

4) There are far too many churches that are going with “trendy” rather than “truth“. Like I alluded to above, I’ve heard a few “fluffy” messages…ones that have very little substance. This tells me something very alarming about church-goers today–they like the fluff. UGH. I’m not ok with this! This also tells me something about the pastors–they’re either lazy and don’t take the time to prepare a really great sermon, complete with illustrations and packed with the Word of God OR they have lost the purpose of being a pastor…preach the Word faithfully, guide and protect the flock.

I’m sure I could go on for eons about what I’ve learned, but because that part of me that says I have to have a point is yelling at me, I must stop here. I challenge you who are searching for a church home, think and pray about what kind of message you’ll be getting every week. Also research what the church offers for you and as a way for you to serve (what you can offer to the church).

For you who already have a church home, I encourage you to consider how you can serve as a part of that Body. It will look different for you than it does for your best friend…and this is ok, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Also take a good hard look at the messages that your pastor presents. Is the Word of God primary or is it an afterthought? Does he jump from topic to topic without a seeming goal in mind or does he have a plan for your church as he goes through a sermon series or book of the Bible? Do you fall asleep? (ha! just kidding…that could be your problem, you know.) May you never be satisfied with “fluff“, my friend.