It’s OK to Grow as You Go [day 17: grow]

I have fond memories of playing in the park while my brother was on the baseball diamond as a child. There was flower picking, gravel scooping, and begging mom for slushies. It was the magic childhood is made of — at least, that’s what it seems like looking back. Little friends would chat, and sometimes we would get past “what’s your name?” and “what is your favorite color?” No one had ever told me not to talk to other kids about Jesus, so I asked my playmates if they were saved like they had any idea what that meant. I barely did. I just had Jesus in my heart, and everything on my heart came out eventually.

As I got older, fear of not presenting Jesus perfectly or having something in my life that would block the effectual working of the Gospel kept me from exhibiting this type of boldness. I knew I didn’t know everything, and I thought, “If I share my faith, someone is going to ask me a question I can’t answer.” So I just didn’t. I started to hear things like, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I began to think it was OK, as long as I didn’t live like the lost, to keep my mouth shut about the greatest gift ever given to me. I’ve come to find out I was wrong. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

I needed someone to tell me, “It’s OK to grow as you go.” I needed permission to share my faith without an undergrad in apologetics. I wish someone would have encouraged me to live faithfully as a Christian witness, speaking the truth in love while humbly admitting when I made mistakes. I would have benefited from a reminder that fear is a tool of the enemy which keeps me from fulfilling the will of God laid out in the Great Commission. Maybe someone did tell me, and I just wasn’t listening.

But now I know — when I celebrate small, I thank God that I don’t have all the answers. I find joy in the fact that I will never know everything about Him or truly understand the scale of what Has he has done for me. I relish each opportunity to share Him, and I trust Him to do a good work in spite of me. If I wait to live missionally until I’ve achieved spiritual giant status, I will miss out on great things God wants to do through my life. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for the understanding He gives along the way, and I trust He will polish my witness in his power while covering my flaws in His blood.

I think back and wonder how things would have been different had someone given me permission to be imperfect. I trust God was working even in my silence, but I think I think I’ll speak up from now on. I may have to pretend I’m still the brave little girl picking dandelions and spilling my heart to anyone who would listen.

What keeps you from living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

See Yourself in Stories of Missional Living[day 16: read]

I love a good missionary biography and not just because I am a missionary myself. I liked them way back in the day before I met Jesus and surrendered to serve Him with my life. There was always something exciting and adventurous to me about tales of faraway places, foreign tongues, and run-ins with all types of creeping things. I kind of glossed over the parts about God’s sanctifying and redemptive work because I didn’t have spiritual eyes to see the wonder of these things yet.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am less wowed by the things that used to blow my pre-adolescent mind. In fact, today I had a stray cat run into my house and made eye-contact with a gecko who had made a home in the box of Cheerios atop the fridge. I spoke my second language imperfectly all day and spent time with a new friend. This place is now my home and doesn’t seem exotic or as foreign as it once did. Life here is just that now — life.

I read stories of missionaries a bit differently now. I see myself in their tales — in dreams that turn out differently and hearts that experience major overhaul at the hand of the Holy Spirit. I walk with them through true faith crises brought about by cultural clashes and coming face to face with all kinds of spiritual darkness. I feel solidarity with people who fight to love Jesus in a world that hates Him.

I don’t see superheroes like some of you may think of when you consider those who have answered the call to missions. They’re just people struggling to love their families, figure out communication and a new way of living, and take opportunities to tell the old story. I glimpse a gracious God who grants the heart’s deepest desires and allows His servants to celebrate small successes in ministry, never knowing the scope of what He has done through their measly offerings.

Missional living isn’t about where we are; it’s about who we serve. It’s not even about who we are but what God is able to do despite our imperfections. It is a willingness to say “I can’t, but He can” and take the small steps of faith to follow Him into hard places and love people who may be difficult to love. It’s about sinners that have been saved and given a great job to do.

When we celebrate small, we see what a great privilege it is to live missionally for the Savior. We praise Him for each opportunity He gives to speak of His goodness and each trial that brings us into a more intimate relationship with Him. We find mission fields in our front yards and in the car pick-up at our children’s schools and say “yes” where we are and to who God puts in our lives. We run the race and tire, but we are carried. We fail but, we are forgiven.

A life changed in Nepal. God is faithful.

I challenge you to read stories of what God has done and is doing around the world. I hope you will read them with fresh eyes. Ditch the notion that those living missionally are super special people. Missionaries are just like you — they are super-loved by God. They make tons of mistakes, but they celebrate big when God gives small victories in their lives and ministries. I urge you to see yourself in their stories.

Consider your own biography of missional living. What has God called upon you to say “yes” to? Who has he put in your life to minister to and to share of His goodness? How has God used you already? What big, missional dreams has He placed in your heart for the future? What is He at work redeeming in your life now? How do you sense His mighty hand at work in your life?

You can have your own thrilling adventure in missional living when you choose to celebrate small and trust God will use it to bring about big. Read some missionary biographies and you’ll see — He’s quite good at that.

How are you living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Accepting Myself in Light of the Cross

“In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
-JD Greear, The Gospel Prayer

I’ve accepted the gift of Christ, the payment for my sins on the Cross. Yet, day in and day out, I fail to accept myself — His reward for spilled blood. There’s this little thing in me that whispers I’m not good enough or I haven’t done enough. In short, though rarely uttered in quite this way, I’m not worthy. So, I try to prove myself with what I do for Him each day. Each day, I make mistakes, I drop the ball, I disappoint myself. I believe, too, that God must be disappointed in me. While I know I believe this in error, this thought sticks around and keeps me from fully resting in the finished work of the Cross.

I try to control the circumstances of my days to stack the deck for accomplishment or fulfillment. In all honesty, I’m not sure what I’m after because I’ve yet to attain it. There is only dissatisfaction in the hustle of trying to prove myself worthy. It is a futile attempt. I’m not, nor will I ever be, worthy of the work of the Cross. Even so, it has been completed already. It is finished. I am fully loved and completely accepted by the perfect risen Lord. I am covered by the blood of the Lamb. I am not validated by a check-marked to-do list because I have victory in Jesus. At least today –this morning or just this moment– I claim this victory.

The following comes from a post on my Facebook page:

The act of the Cross was a one-time act. Jesus said, “It is finished.” It is in the past. But that past act frees us from bondage to sin today. It frees us from pressure to perform, to earn, to please. The Love that bore our sin on the Cross burns as strong today, and the power that conquered the grave works in and through believers.

But, if we’re honest, sometimes the Cross seems far away. Sometimes, it may even seem a little impersonal. God forbid we believe this lie given to us by the world He died to save us from! The Cross was for you. It was for me. It is finished. We can rest. We are free.

Grace and peace for this day and every day.

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:3-4).

If I truly accept the truth of the gospel, I must accept myself as a child of God and heir to his righteousness. If I shame myself, I shame the Cross by saying it wasn’t enough. Rather, I must rest in the finished work, never trying to prove myself to Him. Walking in communion, He will lead me into good work for His glory. When it’s done, I’ll know he doesn’t love me more because of it since He can’t love me more than He already does. The sweetest part of the gospel is that’s just impossible. While I’ll never truly be worthy, I can walk worthy because I know whose I am.

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  (Colossians 1:10-12).

How have you learned to accept yourself in light of the Gospel?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Linking up: Five Minute Friday

The Legs He Stands On

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:22-24


Ephesians 5 catches a lot of flack, primarily from those hailing from feminist perspectives. It brings up that dreaded s word — submission. But there’s an unstated s word written between these ancient lines of text — support. If my husband is the head of the body, I am the legs he stands on. I support the weight of his dreams, my heart beating along to the rhythm of his hands at work hammering out a sliver of heavenly kingdom by God’s glorious grace.

Support reinforces, strengthens that which it holds up by adding its own properties. Just because I am the support of my husband and his ministry endeavors does not mean I am weak or lesser than. I am a vital component to the man and his work. I can, respectfully and prayerfully, offer what I have to the swirling concrete of mixing ideas and melding dreams. I trust God to guide, to inspire, to lead the craftsman who interprets Biblical blueprints and sweats beads of self in surrender to His will. I’ll see the tools I’ve placed on the table pulled out at the precise time they’re called for. And, I’ll see, ever so slowly a firm foundation begin to set — dreams fulfilled and life well-lived. I’ll thank God I got to be the legs he stood on.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the fun!

 

When Work and Life Collide

It seems, in ministry, the lines separating work and life are blurred beyond providing any barrier between them.

Are these people my friends or just church members?
Will our teammates be pals or mere co-workers?
What are work hours (because it sure feels like it’s 24/7)?
Should we tap into our salary for necessary ministry expenses?
When am I a pastor’s wife and when am I just a wife?
Is my husband’s office church or home? Both?
When/how often should we open up our home?


Our work is our life, and our life is our work. We wouldn’t have it any other way. This calling affects nearly every minute of every day. The daily lives of our children are a direct result of this path we’ve chosen to take in service to the Lord—the work we’ve chosen to do. It can be confusing and exhausting. It can send us reeling just as often as it causes us to rejoice.

We must stay connected to the Life Giver. He breathes into us when we’re gasping and fills us with joy in this work when we’re unable to find it among the mess of everyday ministry. We must lean into His goodness, trust in His promises, and be sensitive to the stirrings of the Spirit which tell us to rest.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

How does your work affect your family and daily life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Linking up: Five Minute Friday