Stewardship of Speaking

Five Minute Friday: SPEAK

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“You speak our language?” they ask in amazement. “I do,” I respond as humbly as I can despite how proud I am of myself and thankful I am to finally live in this reality.

And with this hard-fought-for ability comes a great responsibility. My words in any language have always had weight as I have spoken with believers and unbelievers alike. There is always an opportunity to speak truth and love, but there is equal opportunity to spew condescension or judgment. With all my heart, I hope to steward these opportunities wisely for the glory of God.

Such conversations often move quickly to the whys of our living here and what we are hoping to do. Question after question rolls out in my direction in effort to know more about me, but what I  really desire the person on the other end of the conversation to know about is JESUS. On the days I am feeling confident and not overly bogged down by the previous events of the day, I try to steer in that direction. I wish I did this each and every time because the result is generally sweet, something certainly to be savored. Occasionally, my sudden shift to spiritual things is not welcomed, and I sense this in sharp vocal tones and stiff body language. I thank God for the opportunity to speak of Him and trust Him to multiply the fraction of truth I have presented and build upon the fragile foundation I have created in simple words spoken in foreign tongue.

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Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Ephesians 6:19-20

God’s Grace To Me in Plan B

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

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This place was Plan B.

Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.

I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time,  I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.

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Refuse to Ride the Crazy Train

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

That Time I Forgot about My #1 Goal in Life

I’ve got the Monday mom feels.

Daddy’s working late nights. My menu is half-planned and, what I’ve got written is certainly subject to change. I have a stubborn potty trainer and his sister who got her hair cut yesterday and wants her bangs “this way” (perfectly flat against her forehead). If I have to tell her to stop touching her hair one more time, you might find me with a crazed look in my eyes and my husband’s trimmer in my hands.

Meanwhile…

My guy works at the church, spending time with fellas he is training in ministry. In my mind, anyway, I think he is having a blast. And I’m just here watching who knows what number episode of Peppa Pig of the day while pretending to eat a plastic chicken drumstick for my son’s amusement. I’m not sitting here because my to-do list isn’t long enough to demand I do something useful; I just don’t know where to start. Running errands, lugging my 40 pound “baby” around the city in the summer heat doesn’t sound like a peaceful way to spend the day. Text hubby to say I might not make it to the market. I hope this pretend lunch will stick with me ’til dinner time.

Another day passes, and I’m left wondering, “What did I even do today?” I get dinner on my table for my family and the visiting interns. I’m happy to see my husband knee deep in his dreams of ministry, but I wonder if and when my time will come. It’s hard to glimpse the dream and grasp my place in it in the monotony of day to day life. I’ll pick up some materials for Sunday school this week and plan a lesson in my second language. If the stars align, I’ll have lunch with a friend. I’ll see the bottom of the laundry basket for a brief moment and wonder if this will be my greatest accomplishment this week. I sigh, disappointed and unfulfilled.

Then I remember the goal.

 

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 3;7-8).

I wrote this 3 years ago on Women Behind the Scenes, so I guess you could say I’m still learning…

Not only am I to make Christ my end goal, but I am also to make all other goals, aspirations, desires, and all things of absolutely no importance to me in comparison to the best prize. The end goal of every day of my life and every decision that I make should reflect a heart that desires only one thing, the ultimate reward-the One who paid it all for me.

Keeping the goal in mind, I see God here, working in the mommy moments and there in the office with my husband and his tribe. I pray God is glorified and that our ministry be not hindered by my selfishness. Looking inward at my unhealthy desires and unmet needs keeps me from looking upward. Looking outward at all the things I need or that need to be done keeps me from looking upward. Looking upward keeps me from losing heart as I remember the goal.

Jesus is my reward for an undone to-do list and a heart given over to Him.

 

Abandoning My Comfort Zone

Five Minute Friday: ABANDON

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Possibly, now, more than ever, I feel as though I’m living with abandon. I’ve left the comforts of home and the closeness of friends and family to, prayerfully, see a gospel movement on the side of the world I now inhabit. This great dream I share with my church-planter-husband requires me to not just step out of my comfort zone, as this implies I could hop back in. Rather, commitment to foreign church planting demands a total abandonment of my comfort zone. Aside from dark chocolate on the couch or the warm embraces from my tribe of three, my comfort zone, for now, ceases to exist. Because, like it or not, I’m eaten up with this thing.

So I walk in the most comfortable shoes I own, which turn out not to be as airy as advertised, giving invitations to church along with an invitation for criticism and rejection. Either of these is not only possible but likely. As I get swept up in the going and doing, and telling and showing coupled with stress and sleeplessness, it’s also possible I’ll forget the why all this is worth it. I’ll need reminding, and I hope I can count on you.

It’s Jesus. The groom we’re waiting for. And it’s the greatest privilege of my life to ready His bride. It is my prayer, above all, I won’t forget Him, my first love, as some zealots have been said to have done. I hope, instead, I’ll be faithful, though I cringe, as I cross the threshold of my comfort zone. Living with abandon, I’ll cling only to the One who will never abandon me.

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Also, for those who don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I will share with you now that we are relocating as a family to be closer to our church plant (which will be up and running in 3 weeks! EEEEK!). I know that the truths I’m learning and have shared with you above will be put to the test more than ever over the next few months. I appreciate your friendship and your prayers for our family and ministry. The fears and obstacles are great, but our God is greater.