Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saul to Paul

Every once in awhile God reveals something big. Something that you already knew in your head, but suddenly understand in the deepest recesses of your heart. I call those moments "Saul to Paul" moments--moments when the scales, that you did not even realize were there, fall from your eyes and you see things so clearly that you know you are forever changed. God blessed me with one of those moments as I ended my Theology of Evangelism class.

The Great Commission is one of the first verses I really came to know. When you attend a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, well--you just kind of learn that one, you know?! But, what I did not understand until the other day was that even though I knew the verse, I didn't know the verse.

During week one of my class the professor asked us to rewrite the Great Commission in 12 words or less. No easy feat. How do you rewrite something that the God of the universe has spoke? So, I did my best. I definitely wanted to make sure the words "preach the Gospel" were included in the 12 words. Because, well, they had to be, right?! I mean, that was the entire premise of the Great Commission--to preach the Gospel. Right?!

Fast forward to week five of the class. I have read Becoming a Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels and I have just finished reading The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman. Both were really great books, but there was something about Coleman's that grabbed me. Which was good because it was the book that I was supposed to write my final paper on.

The last paper. The only paper that stood between me and a seven week break paper. I decided I wasn't going to write it. I needed a break. My classes had been doubled for five weeks and during those already difficult five weeks--I found out my dad has prostate cancer. Yep. I needed a break. But, that stubborn, OCD behavior just wouldn't let me rest until I had completed what I started. Well, at least that is what I thought it was. So, I sat down to write that last stinkin paper!

I wrote the book review part and started to answer the questions and the first one hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn't a hard question--as a matter of fact, I thought it was a bit too simple to even be a question on the final paper. The question--"Why is making disciples so essential to the completion of the Great Commission?" Ummm...hello! Obvious, right?! Yes. One would think so, but as I got ready to answer it I knew there was something more. Something I was missing. I thought about Coleman's book and looked up Matthew 28:19-20 and there it was:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...." 

I could feel the tears sting my eyes as I heard God's voice "You have missed the mark my beloved." My mind ran through week one in my head again and it suddenly dawned on me as the scales began to hit the computer keyboard--the Great Commission has never been about "preaching the Gospel", but it has always been about building relationships. The Great Commission is Jesus saying "Teach others about me by loving them the way I have loved you. Teach them to follow Me and obey Me and to carry on the Father's work as I have done. Then, send them out to do the same."

I cried hard that day. I cried for the time I had wasted by being afraid to "preach" at people. I cried because of how intimate God is with me and how gentle and loving He is when He scolds me. I cried because I never wanted to forget this realization. I don't want to be the man James speaks of who looks in the mirror and forgets his face. I want to remember this revelation--and the way it made me feel. I want to be forever changed because of it.

Lord, how can I thank You for pulling the scales off of my eyes, except to never allow them to form again. Thank You, Lord. Your grace, Your mercy, Your gentleness, Your intimacy overwhelms me to the point of tears. Continue to open my eyes to opportunities to build relationships with non-believers and make me bold in proclaiming Your name to all. Show me how to make disciples based on Jesus' example alone. No gimmicks. No strategic outreaches. Nothing but Jesus and His example. In Your Holy Name I pray...Amen!

Oh...and Lord.....thank You for prompting me to write that paper. When I didn't 'feel' like writing it I should have known You were getting ready to teach me something great! You always use the stuff I am least excited about:)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life Changes....Even When it Doesn't

My dad has cancer.

We are fortunate. It is contained to his prostate and his prostate can be removed. More than likely, his life will go back to normal in just a couple of months. However, even with a good prognosis, life changes. Things are never the same after finding out someone you love has cancer. At least, I hope not.

Life is so short and time goes so fast. It is easy to take for granted the ones we love. Yet, in the blink of an eye they can be gone. Whether it is a child leaving the nest or something more earthly permanent--they can be gone. I was reminded of that when I found out about my dad.

This is the second time God has allowed my dad some extra time on this earth. I don't know what His reason's are, but I am not complaining. So, today I am going to love a little better than yesterday. And tomorrow, I want to love a little better than today.

Life changes....even when it doesn't. Or perhaps, more accurately--life changes us.....even when it doesn't look much different on the outside. Either way--I am thankful for all that God teaches me and I rejoice in the hard times knowing that God is refining me through the fire.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Life Changes.

After today......

Life will never be the same.

Whether it is good or bad......

It will never be the same.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 16th....

The day my son enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

The recruiter called the week prior to let us know that all of his paperwork had been processed and he had been completely cleared to join. I was immediately excited, as Josh had been waiting so long for this, but then suddenly a feeling came over me that I could not explain. I felt tears begin to well up and I had a hard time swallowing the lump that had formed in my throat.

It's real, isn't it?! For the past year we have waited for that phone call, but when it came--I wasn't prepared. I thought I was. I don't know how many times over the past year that I sarcastically asked "When is that recruiter going to call?" while expressing frustration over something Josh was doing--or more likely--something Josh wasn't doing (i.e.: taking out the trash, doing his laundry, etc.).

It's time for him to leave the nest. He needs to begin his life. God has a plan for him and it is not to live with his mom the rest of his life. But, for the next 6 months, while my baby boy is still under my roof, I am going to enjoy every moment with him--because I am very aware of how precious this time is.

Lord, if you could slow down the time a bit--I would really appreciate it. Help me to remember, especially when I am feeling frustrated, that I can never get this time back. In the name of Jesus I pray.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heart Stuff.

The other night at Bible study we were watching a Joyce Meyer DVD and something she said struck me...

"We all think we are a little more ready than we are."

I think back to when I started college. I went back to school because I felt called to youth ministry and knew I needed a degree. However, I really looked at the classes as a formality. I knew I was ready for the job--I just needed the paperwork to back me up. 3 years later--I am coming to realize that I was not even close to ready to lead a youth ministry. Am I closer now? Yes. Am I ready? No.

I know that college is really about the journey not the degree, but I am truly amazed at what God has been teaching me over the past few years. Not 'college' stuff, but heart stuff. He is teaching me to:

Stay connected to Him
Be in His Word faithfully
Be honest about who I am and what I am capable of
Love others (especially those who are hard to love)
Believe the best about people
Be genuinely happy for others
Be relational versus relating
Be Sanctified
Believe in miracles
Know the difference between having faith and believing
Be still and wait
And, perhaps most importantly......

He is teaching me to be teachable. I am learning to say "I don't know" and I am learning that, well, ..........I have a lot to learn.

Thank You Lord for being my Teacher and Counselor. The degree I will receive in a couple of years will never accurately describe the true Knowledge that I am receiving. Thank You for closing some doors and preparing me to be the woman You need me to be in order to truly serve You.