Say Yes

March 30, 2016

I am often amazed at the turns my life takes. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d help someone write a book, be helping with two more books, help start a ministry, and work occasionally for an assisted living facility, I’d have thought you were crazy.

Years ago I learned to look for opportunities, pray about them, then say yes if I knew that God had opened the door. All it takes is a willing spirit. Say yes, even if you’re scared. Say yes, even if you aren’t sure you can do it. Say yes, and see where it takes you.


Proud of His Integrity

January 6, 2016

I am a big believer in integrity. I am a woman of faith who knows that words are important. It’s important that you know that before I relate the following story.

Several years ago I worked in what was essentially the unemployment office through a temp agency. I worked there for about a year and a half, and enjoyed much of the job. I did encounter some interesting people during my time there. One in particular has been on my mind this morning.

A man came in to apply for some openings in a security agency. As part of the application process for these positions you had to answer some what-if scenarios. They were fairly standard questions along the lines of: You notice someone carrying something bulky out of a plant. What do you do? This particular man came to me and told me he couldn’t answer the question. I asked him why. He told me he was a pastor. I told him I respected that, but I didn’t understand why he couldn’t answer the question. His answer was that he wouldn’t lie, and if that’s what it took he was fine with not getting the job.

I tried to explain that they weren’t asking him to lie; they were asking him to think about what he might do if he found himself in that situation. He told me that he wasn’t in that situation and wouldn’t lie. I tried several different ways to explain this to him. He just kept arguing that he wouldn’t lie, even if that meant he wouldn’t get the job. He got more and more stiff-necked, until I finally told him that if he couldn’t bring himself to answer the questions it didn’t make any sense to turn in the application. He left with a rather smug nod of his head.

This man was so focused on his “I won’t lie” line that he was incapable of listening to anyone else. He had dug in his heels. It cost him a job that, from his story when he arrived, he really needed.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should compromise their morals or values. What I am saying is that it’s important not to get so caught up in your own line of discourse that you miss the point someone else is making. It might just help you out.


Crucifixion Saturday

April 19, 2014

As Christians we often talk about the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and the day of his resurrection. But, we really don’t spend a lot of time discussing the time in between. That’s what came to my mind this morning during my prayer time. What about Crucifixion Saturday? Can you imagine what His disciples were going through? How scared and confused they must have been? Imagine the disappointment. They thought Jesus was going to lead a revolution. Of course, we know He did; it just wasn’t the type of revolution they were expecting.

So, here they sat. Their leader had been executed in probably the most humiliating way possible. Add to that the strange things that happened–the sky turned dark, the earth trembled. What would they do now? How were they supposed to handle all of this that had happened? And, poor Peter was further burdened with the knowledge that he’d denied even knowing this man who had meant so much to him.

As I thought about this, it brought to mind the times when I didn’t understand what God was allowing in my life. I’ve felt confused and disappointed. The prayed-for outcome didn’t happen like I wanted…like I expected. Those aren’t fun times, but they’re times that happen in every Christian’s life.

After the resurrection the disciples understood. God’s plan was made clear. Usually as time goes by I can see that God’s plan was better than mine. Sometimes I remain in the dark about why my prayer was answered with a “no” or in some other way that didn’t meet my expectations.

When you find yourself in a Crucifixion Saturday situation, just hold on and pray. God has not deserted you. He is working on your behalf. The fact that you can’t see it right now doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Remember the promise of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


Those Pagan Christmas Symbols

December 6, 2013

I’m reading a book about making Christmas count, (25 Days, 26 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever). It’s an advent book that tackles a different aspect of the Christmas season on each day from December 1 through December 25.

The reading for today addresses Christmas trees. The author, Ace Collins, made an interesting point. A caller to a radio program on which Mr. Collins was being interviewed pointed out that Christmas trees, along with most of the other decorations we associate with Christmas, have pagan roots. The caller felt that Christians, and especially churches, should eschew all of those things that did not have “Christian roots.” Mr. Collins asked the caller if he had been a Christian all his life. The caller said he became a Christian at 16; he was now in his 30s. Mr. Collins pointed out that, using this same thinking, both he and the caller should be kicked out of the church. After all, they both have some pagan roots.

I love Mr. Collins’ answer. I occasionally encounter people with the same opinion as the caller in Mr. Collins’ story. I have pointed out that the origin of the tradition doesn’t take away from what it has come to mean today, but I’ve never thought of it in quite the way Mr. Collins approached it.

So, I will embrace my family traditions of the Christmas tree, the wreath, gift-giving, and the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25 (even though that is almost certainly not the actual anniversary of the birth of the Christ child), taking solace in the knowledge that they have been redeemed from their pagan roots in much the same way as I have been.


When You’ve Done Wrong

November 11, 2013

We all make mistakes. We all do the wrong thing occasionally (or more than occasionally). The way you handle things when you’ve done wrong says a lot about you. Do you blame others? Do you make excuses? Do you try to cover things up? Or, do you take responsibility. Face the consequences. Do your best to help minimize the repercussions of that mistake?

If you want to really shake up the person you report to, go to him or her the moment you realize you have made a mistake or misstep. Tell them what happened. Share anything you’ve done to rectify the situation. Apologize sincerely. If appropriate, share any ideas you have for making sure something similar doesn’t happen in the future. Accept whatever reprimand and/or penalty coming to you. Do your best to do better in the future.

In the interest of openness, let me confess that this blog idea came from a recent personal experience. I have a lot of responsibilities with my church. Recently, some of those responsibilities have changed—especially those concerning money. Up until recently it was my responsibility to deposit funds. We were expecting a donation to come by mail. When it arrived I attempted to contact the man now in charge of making deposits. When I couldn’t get hold of him I decided to go ahead and deposit the check, since I knew we were counting on those funds. I then let both him and our pastor know that I’d done that. As I thought about it, I realized I had completely overstepped my bounds. Though I was simply doing what seemed logical at the time, that was not my call to make. I texted both men that I realized I had surpassed my authority and assured them it would not happen again. The next morning I sent a text of apology to my pastor (he wasn’t in a situation where I could call), telling him I realized that what I had done was a breach of both procedure and his trust. I asked for forgiveness, which was immediately given. I then called the man whose authority I had usurped. Again, I apologized and assured him it would never happen again. He told me that he was floored by my text the day before, since I hadn’t waited to be admonished. He accepted my apology and told me he knew and appreciated my heart.

This incident came, of course, after years of handling these things the wrong way—mostly hoping that my errors wouldn’t be noticed or called to anyone’s attention. I have to say, though, that taking care of this right away helped to lift a burden from my heart.


Growing or Just Getting Bigger?

November 1, 2013

What constitutes a growing church? Is it the number of people in the pews? Is it the number of people who go forward for prayer? Is it the number who will go out on a cold winter (or hot summer) evening to attend a prayer meeting?

It’s so hard to tell at a glance whether a church is growing or simply getting bigger.

To me, a church is growing when the individuals inside that church are growing closer to God. They’re at a different place spiritually than they were a year ago. Of course, you have to actually become involved in a church in order to learn that.


What If?

February 10, 2012

I’m reading a novel, and it’s leading me to ask some questions.

What if that young man or woman you’ve been praying for—the one whose mother or father is part of your church, the one who’s been wayward for years—what if that young man or woman showed up at your church and found the Lord? What would you do? Would you try to make him or her over or allow God to take care of that?

Would you insist that he remove the jewelry his piercings? Would you insist that she cover her tattoos? Would you suggest he cut his long hair as soon as possible? Would you make it clear that she should dye her hair a color more natural than purple? In other words, would you insist that he or she start to look more like you?

I’m not talking about the important things, the things that the Bible speaks clearly about. I’m not talking about giving a wink and a nod to drug use, promiscuity, or the like. I’m talking about the superficial, cosmetic issues that garner a lot of attention. Isn’t it best to let God work on that tender, new heart?

God does indeed change us. When we turn our lives over to him, dying to self, we become a brand new creature. But, like the butterfly coming out of the chrysalis, those changes begin on the inside. Pressing a new Christian to make changes from the outside in is just asking for trouble. It sends the message that God cares more about how we look than he does about who we are. And, that’s simply not true.

So, the next time you’re praying for some lost and wandering soul, ask yourself what you’ll do when they respond to the Holy Spirit’s call.

In case you’re curious, the book is Just As I Am by Virginia Smith. I am only about a quarter of a way into the book, so I can’t review it yet. If I like it I’ll share it soon.