“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, February 28, 2013

If Only...

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
 if only I may finish the race and 
complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—
the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.  
Acts 20:24

"Most of us have what I'll call a prominent false positive: 
one thing
that we think would make us more secure in all things.  You want to know how you can pinpoint your own prominent false positive?  The thing you tend to associate more with security?  Think of a person you believe to be secure and determine what earthly thing he or she has that you don't feel like you possess, at least in matching measure.  That's liable to be your prominent false positive: 
the one thing that would make you more secure in all things... Few of us would reason that the weight we're giving to the object or circumstance makes sense intellectually.  It's an emotional thing.  Often we're not even aware of it, but we demonstrate it by the inordinate power we assign to it."
                            ~ Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity, pages 36-37

Just wondering if any of these might be your "one thing"...

If only I was married...
If only I had children...
If only I could have had more children...
If only I had married someone else...
If only I hadn't gotten pregnant...
If only I lived closer to my family...
If only I could lose the extra weight...
If only my husband wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I could be a stay-at-home mom...
If only I didn't have to deal with depression...
If only my husband was faithful...
If only I could be faithful...
If only I had a best friend...
If only I had more friends...
If only I wasn't lonely...
If only I could make friends at church...
If only the church leadership would see my potential...
If only I would be promoted...
If only I was given a raise...
If only I looked younger...
If only I was younger...
If only I was in shape...
If only I didn't have chronic pain...
If only I could get over him...
If only I had financial security...
If only I was beautiful...
If only I hadn't been sexually abused...
If only I hadn't been neglected as a child...
If only I had a college degree...
If only I knew what God wanted me to do...
If only I was more spiritual...
If only I could meet my own expectations...
If only my children would come back to the Lord...
If only my husband would come back to the Lord...
If only my family didn't embarrass me...
If only the church would help me...
If only I were more like other people...
If only I was emotionally stable at all times of the month...
If only my sister wouldn't judge me...
If only the Bible were easier to read...
If only I lived in a better neighborhood...
If only my home looked like hers...
If only I looked like her...
If only I didn't feel so guilty...
If only I could forget my past...
If only I could please my mother...
If only I didn't care so much...
If only I didn't love so much...
If only I wasn't so sensitive...

If only I wasn't so insecure...

And Abraham said to God, 
"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"  
Genesis 17:18

Once again he spoke to him, "What  
if only forty are found there?" 
He said, "For the sake of forty, 
I will not do it."  Genesis 18:29

The Israelites said to them, 
"If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! 
There we sat around pots of meat and 
ate all the food we wanted, 
but you have brought us out into this desert 
to starve this entire assembly to death." 
Exodus 16:13

"Tell the people: 
'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, 
when you will eat meat. 
The LORD heard you when you wailed, 
"If only we had meat to eat! 
We were better off in Egypt!" 
Now the LORD will give you meat, 
and you will eat it. Numbers 11:18

And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, 
why did you ever bring this people 
across the Jordan to deliver us 
into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?  
If only we had been content to stay 
on the other side of the Jordan!  Joshua 7:7

He said, "They were my brothers, 
the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives,  
if only you had let them live, 
I would not kill you." Judges 8:19

"If only this people were under my command! 
Then I would get rid of him. 
I would say to Abimelech, 
'Call out your whole army!'" Judges 9:29

And Absalom would add, 
"If only I were appointed judge in the land! 
Then everyone who has a complaint or case 
could come to me and 
I would see that he gets justice." 
2 Samuel 15:4

The king was shaken. He went up to the room 
over the gateway and wept. 
As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! 
My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you—
O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 18:33

If only I had never come into being, 
or had been carried straight 
from the womb to the grave! Job 10:19

If only God would speak; 
if only he would tell you what he thinks! Job 11:5

Their insults have broken my heart,and I am in despair. 
If only one person would show some pity; 
if only one would turn and comfort me. Psalm 69:20 NLT

If only you would slay the wicked, 
O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 
Psalm 139:13

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord,  
if only you had been here, 
my brother would not have died. John 11:21

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

But she has decided to wipe the tears away. Reapply her mascara. Get in the car. And drive.

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

She is going tonight.
It is a fight for her.
She would much rather stay home.

But she knows this is good for her.
And perhaps...
Just maybe...
She'll meet someone.

Someone who will make her feel
Not alone.

But as she packs her suitcase...
Tears flood her eyes.
Because she is not sure.
Because she is insecure.

Why would she think
It would be different this time?
That it is worth the risk?

She fears that she will sit alone.
And others will notice, but not reach out.
They will all be content to stay
In their warm cozy cliques.

And she will tell herself...
"See, I told you so.
I am not trying anymore."

But she has decided to wipe the tears away.
Reapply her mascara.
Get in the car.
And drive.

She prays silently as she drives.
Asking God for something...
Wondering if it is wrong of her for wanting...
A friend.

And I have been praying for her.
Because I have been her.
And I will be there...
Waiting for her.

And I want her to know
There are others praying for her.
And they will be there...
Waiting for her.

She is going to a women's retreat tonight.
It is a fight for her.
But she will be glad
That she did not stay home.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Am I Saving My Words?

Am I saving my words?

It is often that I speak without thinking.
But I'm wondering...
how often do I think without speaking?

How often have I had the words of life to speak to someone... and yet withheld them?  I'm not just talking about sharing God's eternal plan for salvation which is wholly important and life-giving... I'm talking about encouragement and edification.

Let no unwholesome word
proceed from your mouth,

but only such a word
as is good for edification
according to the need
of the moment,

so that it will give grace
to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 NASB

Don't miss this part of the verse... "so that it will give grace to those who hear."  When I am presented with an opportunity to edify or encourage someone at the right timing and I withhold those words... will someone else come along and do the work I was called to do?

Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

But encourage one another daily,
as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened
by sin's deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13 NIV

And let us consider how we may
spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.

Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another
and all the more as
you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

And so today, I am compelled to encourage you (and me) to start speaking... encouraging... edifying... and you might be saying, but I'm too shy or I'm too young or I wouldn't know what to say or it's not my place, but I'm wondering... whose place is it?

Could your words be the balm that a hurting soul needs today? Could your words be the inspiration that someone needs to draw closer to the Lord? Could your words be the strength that someone needs to hear?

I've had to ask myself this question, "Am I thinking without speaking?"  And I have to admit that I've been doing a lot of thinking lately... but not a lot of speaking.  And the longer I go without speaking... the harder it is to speak when I know it is needed.

And I thought if I was going to ask myself... I think I'll ask you, too.  Are you thinking without speaking?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Distinction Between "Lead" and "Leader"

Quote From:  The Polar Express 

Hero Girl: It says "lead." Like "lead balloon." 

I believe it also is pronounced "lead." As in "leader," "leadership." "Lead the way." Follow you anywhere, ma'am.
 This is a monthly post on my One Word for 2013:  Lead

I want to make the distinction obvious between the fact that I chose the word "Lead" and did not choose the word "Leader" as my One Word for 2013.   I am not in the process of learning how to work my way into a position of leadership.  That does not appeal to me.  What I am learning is how to lead those who "follow" me.  Those who are watching me or my family.  How we do life.  Those I am mentoring or discipling or teaching.  Those who come along for a brief moment in time and ask for insight, prayer, acceptance and/or discernment or those who join us for the long haul in this thing called life.

Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes.  A majority of the time... it just happens.  Often there is no structure or exact moment.  Recently while doing the study Anonymous:  Jesus' hidden years and yours I came across something that seemed to fit what I am focusing on... submission-based authority.  The leadership or authority that most of us are familiar with is based either on position or possession.  Position-based authority can look like the name pastor or doctor or general or teacher or director.  Possession-based authority looks like, "It's my ball, so I get to make the rules."  But submission-based authority looks like "the submitted heart, mind, and spirit of Jesus.
Jesus' authority flowed not from possessions or positions but from submission.  What was the surprising source of Jesus' authority?  Submission to his Father's will and Word.
Throughout the temptation [of Christ], Jesus reaffirmed with every "It is written"  the same decision he had been making quietly in the unapplauded places over uncelebrated years during his previous thirty hidden chapters of life:   I will live in submission to my Father's will and Word.
Over the years, Jesus' consistent choice to submit to his Father God's will and Word clustered and built momentum as he stepped out of his anonymous season and into the waters of the Jordan River.  There, the Holy Spirit descended not on talent, title, or wordly possesions but upon the submitted heart, mind, and spirit of Jesus.  ~Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous:  Jesus' hidden years... and yours.

This is truly my focus. 
With or without position. 
With or without possession. 
Whether I lead or follow.  
Submitting to my Heavenly Father's will and Word. 

He must become greater; I must become less.  John 3:30 NIV84

This is a monthly post on my One Word for 2013:  Lead
I am linking up with Melanie at ONLYABREATH
for her {february} monthly one word linkup party.  

What's your One Word?  Maybe it is time to link-up!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hodgepodge - Lentperiment

1.  This week marks the beginning of Lent...will you be giving something up or adding anything to your life during this season of the year?
Just today one of the gals I mentor sent me a text that asked if I would be doing the 40 Day Prayer Challenge with Mark Batterson over Lent.  Last year, I joined the Experilent and really gained from the experience.  This year he is calling it Lentperiment.  I just finished The Circle Maker, so I am ready to keep it going.  Can't wait to find out more about it on Wednesday. 

2. The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday... tradition states you eat pancakes on this day. In some parts of the world Shrove Tuesday is actually known as 'pancake day'. How do you like your pancakes? Or don't you?
What?  I missed it?  A holiday that condones eating pancakes?  I will need to catch up on all the years I've missed!

3.  I'm sure there are many, but what's one love song you really love?
The song that was sung at our wedding 25 years ago on August 27th, 1988. 
Security by Leon Patillo
When a man has found a wife,
he has found a good thing for his life,

And the woman will agree:
companionship has made her feel so complete.

With you and me, and the Lord up above,
we have security,
We have security.

You fill my life with so much joy,
I can't even remember how I was before,

And though sometimes we disagree,
you still know that I love you, and you love me.

With you and me, and the Lord up above,
we have security,
We have security.

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,
Nothing can separate you from me,

I worship and adore you, put no one else before you,
This is my vow to you, my love, through all eternity.

And now, at last, I understand:
our love was made in Heaven, before the worlds began,

And, as we dream as lovers do,
pray that all we hope for will come true.

With you and me, and the Lord up above, we have security,
With you and me, and the Lord up above, we have security,
We have security.

We have security,
With you and me, and the Lord up above,
We have security.

4.  What are some things you do to let others know you love them?
Sometimes a smile and a hug can be a lot of love!
5.  Roses...red, pink, or do you prefer another color? Can you recall the last time someone gave you flowers? Given your choice would you like to open the door and see a dozen red roses, a dozen purple tulips, or a dozen pink peonies?
My rose color has always been yellow, but I will take any color!
A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were walking into the grocery store and he grabbed a bouquet of flowers for me.  I felt the love!
Pink peonies.

6.  President's Day will be celebrated in America next Monday. Does US Presidential history and trivia interest you?  Many Presidential homes are open to the public and offer guided tours...Monticello (Jefferson's home), Mount Vernon (Washington's home), Montpelier (James Madison's home), Hyde Park (FD Roosevelt's home) and The White House (home to the sitting President) to name just a few. Of those listed which would you be most interested in touring?  Why?
I do find US Presidential history and trivia to be fascinating.  And I would love to visit any of those homes.  I have already toured The White House, but would do so gladly, again.

7.  Are you good at keeping secrets?
I'd tell you, but then I'd have to...

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I revealed one of my beauty secrets today.  The gal thought it was funny, but it's TRUE. 
If I feel that my eyebrows have gotten totally unruly, I will let my hair be a bit of a mess.  That way people will look at my hair and think, "Wow!  Sheri really should put more time into doing something with her hair." As opposed to, "Wow!  Sheri really should mow her unibrow."  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Spiritual Growth: Linear vs. Spiral

I spoke to a precious gal at my church the other day who is interested in getting a mentor.  (I help pair mentors and mentorees at my church.) But she quietly and politely asked for a mentor who would be "okay" with the fact that she wasn't going to be able to change too quickly.  That they wouldn't mind having to ask the same questions and not shame her into rushing through the growth that she longs for... and it reminded me of something I learned last year:
Most of us expect our spiritual growth to be linear. (See graphic above.)  
    We have "a" weakness.
                                      We deal with it.
                                                                We are done with it.
                            If that weakness happens to appear, again, ??a??
                  We determine that we never really dealt with it.
          That we are still weak.
    That we haven't made any progress.  At all.
And just, perhaps, we are even moving backwards.

But what if we considered that our spiritual growth is more like an upward spiral coil.  Where we are constantly growing and maturing in our faith.  And as we grow upward, we learn something "a" and we continue to spiral upward in our faith.  But when we revisit "a" again we realize that we are actually dealing with it, but at a different level.  And perhaps God brings us through it for another visit to refine us or make us complete in our journey.  Who knows... perhaps even to help someone else.

For me, I can experience this with my depression.  If I looked at my spiritual growth as linear, each time that I experienced my depression, I would think that I didn't deal with it properly the first time.  Or that I will never really overcome it.  But if I look at it in the light of the upward spiral growth, I would see that each time I have a bout with depression thanks-be-to-God it is less severe and does not last as long and I use what I have learned previously to help me through it.

This could apply to addictions.  Or perhaps loneliness.  Or gossip.  Or any area of weakness.  As a mentor I need to see this in my mentorees.  And I need to see this in myself.  Knowing that God is constantly refining us.  Constantly growing us.  

I pray that these visuals help you if you struggle with wondering if you are truly maturing in your relationship with Christ.  Stay in the Scriptures.  Continue to Pray.  Fellowship with other believers.  Memorize or meditate on scripture.  Take a Bible Study.  Or who knows... find a godly mentor who will help you along the way as you seek to be more like Christ in your daily life.

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so,
because your faith is growing more and more, 
and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing."  
2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV84

Friday, February 1, 2013

Now, Don't Get Me Wrong... I Love Me Some Cotton Candy...

Winter Water Falls. 
Photography by Anthony Kaetzel

But Moses said, “O Lord, 
please send someone else to do it.”  
Exodus 4:13 NIV

"Blogging is passé."

I was startled by the statement.   Is it really?   Because I just thought I was getting the hang of this whole blogging thing.  And what will I do if I don't blog?  Hmmm.... actually... it might be a relief.

But for now... I blog.

I have often asked, "O, Lord, please send someone else to do it."  Send someone else to write this or that post.  Sometimes I feel inadequate.  Okay, lots of times.   Or frustrated.  Some posts I struggle to write... some come easily.   Some reveal my faults... and some posts seem a bit braggadocios.

Blogging has been somewhat dangerous to me.  A bit tempting.  I found myself in words Alicia Britt Chole wrote in Anonymous...
"...I craved affirmation and longed to be spoken of in superlatives...

Through his Word and his people, he revealed how vulnerable it made me to the power of others praise, my own prideful perfectionism, and a whole host of other unpleasant spiritual ailments...

Man's praise is like cotton candy --sugar-laden and insubstantial... For my spiritual health, I had to make a change...

Once we have known an addiction to man's praise, shifting our diet from finding value in man's acceptance to finding value in God's acceptance does not happen in a matter of days. It is a process we revisit though out our lifetimes. Thank God for hidden years! In those underestimated seasons, when no one shows up to decorate us with praise, life is finally bare enough for us to notice that God's adoring eyes have always been upon us. We had his attention all along. We just could not see it because we were too distracted by the sight of ourselves."
And so, I have found that blogging has been good for my soul.  Good for my relationship with the Lord.  Good for my desire to know God in a more intimate way.   Choosing to be obedient to Him... whether I want to or not... knowing that others may be reading... or not.  But coming to a place where I am finding my significance in Him.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and
then feeding you with manna,
which neither you nor your fathers had known,
to teach you that man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV

Now, don't get me wrong... I love me some cotton candy...