Our Arena Football season has come to an end, and we walked out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum holding a trophy. And not just any trophy, but the championship trophy. We barely won, 8-6. But a win is a win, and we took it home when it counted! Well, I say “we” but what I really mean is Cody. Cody is my 5'9″ 13 year old, beast of a center. He has perfect snaps every. single. time. and will protect his quarterback no matter the cost! Ok, now I'm done bragging. (well, maybe.)
Cody's team had two weeks to prepare for the final game against the only team that ever beat them–by one point. Week one, Cody was sick, sick, sick and couldn't get out of bed, much less practice. The rest of the team practiced twice without pads. Week two, the Tropical Storm Andrea messed it all up for us Floridians, so there went one more practice out the window, and then a few hours of walk through. With the BIG game coming up, this wasn't exactly the hard work that was needed for the BIG win.
The team we went up against practiced in pads four days a week for two weeks. They were focused and ready to win the game. But they didn't. The team worked hard, and it didn't pay off–not with a WIN, anyway.
That's what we tell our kids, if you work hard you will be successful. If you do the work you will win! Practice, sacrifice, do what you have to! But sometimes, it doesn't work out that way. Sometimes the other team is just better.
I think of that in my life, when I find myself envious of someone else's _______. It's hard for me to swallow the reality that the someone else is just better. That's just the way it is sometimes. We want to always win the trophy, publish the book, get the job, be the best mom…and we want that for our kids. But to tell them that they will always win–to tell ourselves that we will always win–is missing the point.
Life is never about the trophy here in this world, it's about the rewards in Heaven. Of course we don't want to wait! But the waiting will be worth it. Even if you don't ever get the recognition you deserve, or the trophy you worked hard for, just remember that God sees. God sees!
You Are Loved.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him… Genesis 12:1-4
My exit from our last church wasn’t quite as dramatic as the event that took place between Abram and God. Not knowing where he was going, but following God’s instruction, Abram packed up and did what he was told. God told me the same: to pack up and move my ministry and family to an undisclosed location. Very espinoge, very CSI, very James Patterson. I wish it were as exciting. All God told me was to find a church body closer to home. Thanks, that narrows it down.
So over the last two months my family has visited two churches. I know, we could be moving through it much quicker, but we have a plan. Well, sort of. Well, not really. But here are some things I’m learning as we go:
I’m HORRIBLE, absolutely HORRIBLE at being a part of a congregation. It is IMPOSSIBLE, absolutely IMPOSSIBLE, for me to turn off the church-planter mind. (More on that tomorrow). I analyze every aspect from the moment our wheels hit the driveway of our church experiences. It is a blessing AND a curse.
My kids don’t have a huge say so in what we decide to do. I value all of their opinions, but unless I see some real spiritual change in them and trust that what they are hearing is from God and not from their own child-like selfish desires, Dad and I get the final say so on everything, all of it, 100%.
There are some “really good” churches doing some “really good” things. But God has given me a specific vision, and purpose, and I’m doing my best to drown out the “really good” stuff so that I can “really” hear his voice.
I’ve enjoyed visiting a church that has it’s own building. Never did I think this really made a difference, but it’s refreshing to not be in a make-shift environment. It reminds me of my childhood where we had a church, and a Sunday School building and a place for the constant dwelling of God. Where memories were built beyond Sunday morning, and people could linger because there was nothing to tear down.
Our family needs church! No matter how many good sermons are online, or how convenient it is for us to sleep in on Sunday, my family needs to be part of a community that will challenge our thinking and our spiritual growth. With that said…
I’m looking for a church that makes me uncomfortable. So many people look for churches where they can be comfortable. People want to go to church to check it off of their To-Do List, feel good about going to heaven, and then get about their business. People want a church where no one really challenges their faith so they can continue in their sin and selfishness without full surrender or total commitment to Christ. People want the church to meet their needs in a consumer-istic way so they can have the perfect preacher and the perfect programs all meeting at times that don’t require sacrifice.
Looking for a church is not a shopping experience, it is a mission.
Too many Americans want a Church-Mart, or worse a Progressive, where Flo greets you and you can pick and choose whatever policy works for your family. But like God asked Abram, go from all things comfortable. Get out of your “world” and seek after mine. In order for us to have real faith, a deep relationship with Jesus, a total surrender of whatever it is we hold so tightly to, as a family, we have to treat this church-search like a time-sensitive, top secret assignment that the King Himself has called us to.
It is only then that we will find the blessing…that we will receive it and that we can be it to a fallen and broken community. Regardless of what the world tells you, church should not be comfortable. If it is, perhaps you are called to a mission of your own.
In August Michael and I will celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary. It's really amazing to me that time has flown by the way it has. Considering everything we've been through, we really haven't had time to watch the clock.
We married each other while residing in separate states. Soon after, we lost a court custody case, both of our jobs, our house and our plans for the future all within the first two months of marriage. I was struggling with being very, very angry at God. Naturally, when your pissed at God and don't have a ministry anymore and your husband has forfeited his 15 year career just to be with you, you get pregnant!
Difficult pregnancy, lots of baggage, confusion about the future, living on grilled cheese…we packed and moved to Florida. I joined a rather unhealthy church staff, and then lost my grandmother. In the midst of that grieiving, my soldier was deployed. I was church-less, somewhat friend-less, familyy-less and husband-less. I was a terrible soldiers wife on so many levels.
But my husband….well, he's a super hero. He's stayed faithful and committed to our family. He works hard and loves the Lord, even when he struggles with his faith. He's pushed through his own post-war struggles and in some ways is still trying to recuperate. In some ways we are all trying to find our footing again. Regardless of his own struggles, he supports me and my ministry.
Sometimes he believes in God's calling on my life more than I do. And most of the time, I need him too. I'm easy to walk away from challenges, and details and trudging through the mud, but he's a soldier. He pushes me to be better than I could ever imagine myself being.
He sacrifices so much for our family. Our home has become a Youth building, our couch is beyond disgusting. I won't even tell you about the caprpet. He works countless hours for this. In fact just last week he stayed awake for 48 hours straight just to work so that I can do ministry and be here for my kids.
Then there are the times he just gives me these sweet surprises. Some women want flowers and jewelry, and even though I'm not opposed to the occassional bracelet or cute ring, nothing compares to the little things he does for me. And to me they are so romantic and, sexy, if I may say so myself.
I check my phone, I get this text. It simply says: Hebrews 13:21.
With great anticipation, I search my Bible app to find these little words that melt me:
May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
And with that priceless little text, I fell in love with him just a little more.
I pray that you have someone in your life to support you, love you and encourage you to be all that God created you to be. It doesn't have to be a spouse, just someone who sees you how God sees you. If you haven't found that person yet, no worries. God has a plan for you. Just be patient, knowing God always wants the best for you.
You are loved.
My family is on a journey. We are currently searching for a new church. So for the first time in years, I get to sit with the rest of the normal people, and not work. I don’t have to set up, I don’t have to tear down. I don’t have to worry about lighting or sound or if the program is communicating. I don’t have to analyze if our people make others feel welcome. Nobody, or very few people, know me. And so I sit there. And pretty much go crazy.
This year begins my 12th year in ministry. That’s a really long time. So I’m not quite sure what actual congregation protocol is. If I was in a Baptist or Catholic church, I would most likely know to be careful because “Jesus is watching.” But in the community church, everyone is accepted, no one is condemned. There’s just love…love…love…until….
You pull out your phone. Then you get the glares, the glances, the sneers, the disapprovals. Honestly, I’ve seen some people act all crazy with their phone in church. In fact, I’ve yelled at my kids for using their phones during worship and busted some friends texting other friends, from a phone hid inside of their purse. I judge. What can I say? But Sunday I decided to use my phone as a distraction of my unhealthy need to serve and analyze and “consult” as I like to call it. I launched my Bible App and looked up the scripture that was already on the screens. Then I posted the Scripture that jumped out at me on Facebook so the world (well, the world that is mine) could be just as inspired. For the record, I think I got 12 ‘likes’.
I made notes in my Notes App. I watched my kids out of the corner of my eyes. They were on their phones too. But they weren’t looking up Scripture, no they were creating Vines and Texting. So when the pastor got to the part of his sermon where I knew my kids needed to pay attention, I text them. I asked them the same question that the pastor asked the congregation, but my kids responded to me. And so I encouraged them, and threw a nugget of truth at them via text message. I connected with them the way I knew they would respond.
Now I know some you guys are thinking, “How wretched. This mother encouraging such disgraceful behavior!” While others are thinking, “So!?”
But I think this is a big deal. It worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay or not okay. Whether or not we use personal technology in church is a game changer. It will determine the culture of how our churches grow and function. It will determine who we reach. It will determine how we connect.
What do you think?
Is it okay to text in church, even if there is no way to police what people are doing?
Should Cell Phones and iPads be discouraged during service?
What is your church’s stance on personal technology during sermons?