Monthly Archives: May 2017

Let’s Be Pioneers!

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. (Mark 6:6b-9)

Isn’t it crazy that Jesus sent out his disciples without any food or money!  It’s something that is hard to imitate today.  I can’t imagine going somewhere and not having a way to get myself food, not having a place to sleep, not having something clean to change into.

But that’s how Jesus sent out his disciples to spread the word.  This challenges me.  Why would he do that?  I think the reason has to be because he wanted them to be totally reliant on God.  In order for them to be successful, they would need to totally look to God, and not to their own resources and power.

In one of my last blogs, I talked about how I’ve been envisioning myself taking a road trip with God.  I realized yesterday why picturing this has been so helpful to me.  It’s because when I picture myself on a road trip with God, I’m not longer the sole driver.  I have to take my hands off of the wheel.   Before, it was about my agenda.  I decided the destination and got bent out of shape if anything got in the way of my getting there.  Now, God’s riding with me, and he has power over our journey.  And I trust him, so if there is an obstacle, we deal with it together.

And that is what Jesus was trying to get his disciples to see when he sent them out.  They were taking a trip, they were performing a mission with God.  If Jesus had given them provisions, they might have been tempted to rely on them. In a sense, they would have had their hands on the wheel.

Does this sound far fetched?  Just last night I was talking to a friend who is fasting one day a week.  That is hard!  But she told me it keeps her from getting comfortable, and she knows when she is comfortable, she is dragged down spiritually.

Comfort can keep us from relying on God.  Yesterday, Ken told me about a sermon he heard about the verse, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”  Ken said that one reason this message really struck him is that the speaker talked about how we don’t realize what poverty is.  In many parts of the world there are starving emaciated people begging on the street corners.  They are desperate, entirely dependent on whether someone will provide for their next mouthful of food.

beggar2

And Jesus says people who are spiritually poor like this are blessed?  Yes!  They are blessed because they are just as needy as the beggars, and when they see their need, they will rely on God.

We all need to realize how much we are beggars, how emaciated we are, how much we need God to fill our needs and take care of our future.  And as I was thinking of my life and the things around me, I began to see how true this is.  I have goals I want to accomplish, people I want to help, but there are so many obstacles in the way.  We want our church to grow, and our satellite ministries to grow, but so much needs to take place for this to happen.  We are going to lose three of our singles, and our singles ministry will need a shot in the arm.  Our Auburn campus ministry has dwindled.   My children have some challenging situations going on.  I have health challenges. I need so much wisdom, and guidance and strength and divine intervention!

I am totally poor in spirit!

When we realize that the goal is being poor in spirit, it makes sense to take away some of our crutches and comforts so we will rely on God more.

Ken and I have been watching this reality series, “Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West.” It’s about two couples who live for a year like 1970’s settlers in Canada.  They travel to a remote location in a wagon.  They have to grow crops and break up the ground with horses and an antique plow.  They have to cut down trees and build their own houses with the same tools the settlers used.  They are not allowed to have or  use anything from our modern time.

pioneer4

This would not be me!  But these couples wanted to get away from the world and return to a more simple life. They recognized the value of giving up comfort.  And they were willing to do this at the price of undergoing great challenges.  And believe me, there were great challenges!

Pioneer

And do you know what it reminds me of, in a way?  How Ken and I moved to Auburn, to this small church here.  We left our big comfortable church and came down to a place where we would have to work, but we felt that the value of going back to simply and totally serving God would be worth it!  And there have been great challenges, but it has been worth it many times over.

2012 summer

The ATCC in earlier days.

We’ve been poor in spirit, and we’ve had to rely on God many times.  And each time he has gotten us through, and provided for us.  That fills my heart to overflowing.

Going back to the passage about Jesus sending out the disciples, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that Jesus did give the disciples one thing to take with them.  He gave them a partner.  He didn’t send them out alone.

The same is true for us.  God gives us spiritual partners, people who are there to keep us strong on the journey.  He doesn’t send us out alone.

In The Pioneers, I think that the success of the endeavor was due, more than anything else, to their strong marriages.  They relied on each other.  They laughed when there were hardships.  They helped each other instead of tearing each other down.

We need each other so much to have success in our endeavors.  We need them for strength through the journey.  That’s the way we’re going to make it through.

This past Sunday we had a time of encouragement at the beginning of our worship service.  People shared about someone they appreciate.  One young man who has been visiting church told about how some other young people had fed him dinner, build a friendship with him and really encouraged him.  My friend Antoinette shared how an older couple had reached out to her and had her into their house, and when she talked about how much it meant to her, that touched the woman she was sharing about so much that she started to cry.

And then one of our members in Montgomery, Tre, started to share about me.  I wondered what he could have to say.  But then he started talking about a a working mom in his group who had been going through some challenging times, and how I had gone out to babysit, and been a support to her.  He was so grateful.

That really impacted me.  I think I just do a little serving here and there.  But I see that our acts of service impact others in a huge way.  They help people know that they’re not going through things alone.

So let’s be pioneers for Christ!  Jesus is sending us out.  Let us become poor and needy before God, and rely on him to build our lives and our ministry.  Let us set aside comfort and do the hard work that is worth it!

God will give us what we need, and a good part of that is in one another.

Women's midweek

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

God Loves to Give!

Friends I am excited to write to you today. I feel like I have been learning so much!

The verse for today is in Mark 6:1-6:

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?  Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith

This verse really got me to thinking.  At first I didn’t feel like I could relate, but then I was reading Facebook and I saw a post from a good friend who used to be a neighbor of mine.  She has a very sweet teen daughter who used to come over to my house and just talk to me .  That was so endearing, so special.  But anyway, this girl has sickle cell anemia, and my friend posted that her daughter is in the hospital, and asked everyone to please pray for her.

Of course I said I would pray for this sweet young teen. But I realized, when I started to pray, that I was kind of just going through the motions, because I didn’t think that Jesus was going to answer this in a dynamic way.  I have so many individuals I pray for and I’m just praying for them and thinking something good might happen, but not really thinking that Jesus is going to perform a miracle.

And it struck me that I’m just like the people in Jesus’s hometown. I don’t see him as the Son of God. I don’t realize that’s who I’m talking to.

So I decided I’m going to change, and since then I’ve started praying and really thinking about who I’m talking to and what he’s capable of.  And I’ve begun  to see that it’s not so much a problem of not believing that God has the power. Because I do.  The problem is that I’m not sure that God wants to heal people, or that he wants to answer the prayers that I’m praying.  And so this morning when I was praying about this, this verse came to mind: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)  Jesus said this and I know it is true!  God loves to give.  He shown that all through the Bible. Of course he wants to answer prayer!   Of course he wants to help people!

And even without all that, I should be also looking at the evidence of the miracles all around me.  Last night is the perfect example.  We went out and we celebrated my friend Markeya passing the boards to be a dental hygienist.  How cool is this?  It’s the best story.

markeya dinner

Our dinner for Markeya.

I remember about five years ago when I met Markeya and she told me she had a white board and on it she wrote her goals  and her dreams.  One of those dreams was to be a dental hygienist.  She also dreamed that she would be close to God and get her relationship right with God .  We help that dream come true very quickly.

Markeya and Kat

Markeya and me.

But she had to work hard to achieve her second dream.  She had to spend the money and go to dental assistant school. And then after she finished the school, she couldn’t find work in her field.  It took about a year but she finally did get a job and she was hired from among many applicants to work in Valley, Alabama.  To do so she had to wake up early every morning, because it was in a different time zone.  After a long time, the authorities at her job said they would sponsor her to go to dental hygienist school.  And Markeya drove up once a month to Birmingham and and took classes and studied.  It was very hard for her to work and then go to school, but now she’s passed her boards and she’s just a few short steps away from being a dental hygienist and achieving her dreams!  It truly is amazing, and I believe 100% that God is behind this miracle.  It shows me that he loves to give good gifts to us .

It’s all about changing our perspective.  Yesterday I was totally struggling with a couple things and I thought, “God, why am I in this situation?” And I was feeling frustrated, until I remembered one thing I learned from this great book called “Soul Work” by Randy Harris.  Harris wrote that he likes to envision that each day he is taking a road trip with God.  I’ve started doing the same thing.  I get up in the morning and say, “God, what shall we do today, where shall we go?”  And then it’s like I have an adventure with God every day.

So when I remembered this, I said, “Okay God, here I am in this situation.  This is like an obstacle we’ve come to on our road trip.  What should I do?”  I said that knowing that he was right there with me, ready to help me, involved in what I was doing.  It wasn’t like I was a victim. It wasn’t like I had to pressured by all of these expectations of what I should do and be.  It helped me take a deep breath and get a different perspective, that I could handle it.

So that brings me to one other thing I want to share with you that’s really help me lately to be more secure and deal with challenges  It’s the verse in John 15 where Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” (John 15:5)   This verse has really made a difference to me because I’ve started envisioning myself as a branch that goes out from this strong tree trunk.  My status is as solid as that branch and tree.  I am in Christ.  I’m saved.

Before, I had been feeling somehow like I wasn’t good enough.  Even though I knew I was saved, sometimes I just felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be.  But it really helped me to realize and picture that I am that branch, and I am connected to the tree, and there’s nothing that’s going to change that unless I just conscientiously cut myself off.

So that’s what I want to leave with you today.  Build your faith by remembering that God loves to give.  Build your relationship with God by taking a road trip with him today, and knowing that, together with him, you can deal with whatever comes your way.  Build your security by realizing that you are a branch connected to the firm trunk, which is him.

Now let’s go out and have an adventure!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

God Writes the Best Stories!

Friends, I have missed blogging!!  I have been taking some time to go back to the basics, connect with God and  pray about what he wants me to do.   I am not sure about everything yet, but one thing I know — I want to continue communicating with whoever  would like to listen.

So I’ve been reading through Mark, and here is the scripture I looked at today:

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  (Mark 5:21-28)

Actually, I read the whole passage through verse 43, where Jesus heals Jairus’s daughter.  But I don’t want to put the whole thing here, so read it on your own if you like.

But what this passage made me think about is how Jesus got to be a part of other people’s stories, and how we also are often in one another’s stories.  That is what my weekend was about.  Travis graduated from Tuskegee, and it made me feel so nostalgic.  I have so many pictures in my mind of his time here, so many good memories.  It makes my heart overflow.  What a privilege it is to be a part of someone’s story!  How awesome it is when they are a part of yours!  And Travis has very much been a part of the story of our church.  In some ways, he has been our church, because it is he who, through God, really got the Tuskegee ministry going.

Group travis

Travis is in red with his eyes closed.  So funny.

So in the passage above, one story Jesus became a part of was that of the synogogue ruler, Jairus, who had a little daughter who was very ill.  Jairus must have been so distraught, going out of his mind with worry.  He was an important man, and that makes it all the more amazing that he could come to Jesus and humble himself in this way, by bowing down before Jesus and pleading with him.  We read about many religious leaders who are too filled with pride to have faith, and Jesus blasts them.  It’s good to see that there are other religious leaders who do get it.  And humility has got to be key, the ability to humble yourself and grovel.

That’s something I am finally learning and working on.  I realized that one of the hardest things for me to sacrifice is my glory.  Even in being a Christian, I can give things up, and feel good about myself because I can tell myself that I am good.  So normal sacrifice doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me sometimes.  But giving up feeling good about myself, now that is something else!  One thing I’m doing is not letting myself look in the mirror.  Don’t think I’m crazy — this really helps me!  I am loving focusing on God getting the glory, and not me.

But on to other things in the passage.  We know that the daughter of Jairus got healed.  Jesus is in the healing business, and it is so cool.  We think that was back then, but Jesus is still in the healing business.  My friend Jessica shared on Sunday about how she really wanted to have a baby, but she was so fearful that she couldn’t have one, because of her past sins, and other challenges she had.  Then, when she got pregnant, she was fearful that the baby would be healthy, because she had to be on medication.  But she said she held to the scripture in Hebrews 11 where the Bible says that faith is the substance of things not seen.  She couldn’t see her baby, but she believed that this was the baby she had been praying for, and that God would give her just the baby she needed.  And this prayer came true!

Ken with babies

Ken with children, one of which is Josiah, Jessica’s baby.

That is another thing that made me nostalgic this weekend.  It has been so special to be a part of Jessica and Julio’s story, and to see how God has worked in their lives.  Is there anything better?  Sometimes I look at the times when Jesus dropped what he was doing and went to heal someone.  It is so hard for me to change my schedule, I get stuck on my agenda.  But Jesus would just go at the drop of a hat.  Surely part of his motivation was that he loved being a part of the stories that God was writing with people’s lives.

And Jesus responded to faith!  That got him going every time!  How much do I approach Jesus with faith like that?  I mean, the bleeding woman just had to touch his cloak.  He didn’t even interact with her.  That’s how powerful faith is.  Do I believe that?  As I’ve been studying Mark, I am seeing more and more how important it is to WORK to have faith.  I think sometimes we just think we’re going to have it.  We’ve got to make an effort to let the word sink into our hearts.  We’ve got to wrestle with our stuff and decide to believe.

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29

That’s all I have time for right now.  But I hope to keep sharing my life and what I’m learning in these quickly written blogs.  Look for more soon. God writes the best stories, and I can’t wait to relate more of them to you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized