Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grief and Glory.


It’s been two years.


Two years ago today.



Two years ago today we experienced our greatest open heaven and deepest open heart-wound.


It’s been two years since I was in my family’s house when our sweet baby brother with mitochondrial disease went to be with Jesus. The season that has followed this moment has given us many different things, but we all have something in common:


We were changed.



I do not begin to claim that I understand the grief that comes from losing your child.


Yet I know this journey has, for all of us, been constant flickers between grief and glory.


In this season, we’ve felt like we were drowning.

We’ve also felt Christ’s hand pull us from the depths.

We’ve felt cold and empty.

We’ve felt God’s warmest, fullest embraces.

We’ve felt alone.

We’ve felt surrounded by Heaven’s armies.

Grief

and glory.
This picture was the closest to what I imagine when I hear "Grief and Glory." via

It is all summed up right here, in John 11:4:

“When Jesus heard that, He said, “‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’”

Aiden, your sickness was not unto death, but unto the Glory of God. You glorified the Son.

To my family: I love you. Mom, I love you.

Dear readers, I invite you to join us as we remember, and read precious Aiden’s story.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Joy


Be joyful, rejoice, glad tidings of joy--it’s all over in the Bible, hundreds of times. But what is joy, and how do you have it? Joy is two-fold: an emotion and a state of being. Very few people understand that joy can be a state of being, and often limit it to just an emotion. And more still think of it only as a higher form of happiness, a greater sense of gladness. We’ve all imagined it: the stereotypical carefree people skipping in slow-motion through a summer field, with the cheesy-guitar music, faces aglow, their hair perfectly windblown and their teeth crest-white and smiling. Thankfully, joy is a lot more than that, and it can come in any situation.


Joy is promised to us as a fruit of the Spirit. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: … joy.” Gal. 5:22. When we have the Holy Spirit in us, He will produce joy in our lives. That means it’s not up to you to conjure up. God has taken that responsibility to birth it in you, to create it, to cause it to exist (examples from the merriam-webster online definition for “produce”). Joy is sitting right before you, ready for you to use in any circumstance.

Okay, so what does that mean? If joy is already produced by Christ for me, a fruit I have in my life, that means in any situation I can apply it. That is what it means to have joy as a state of being, a state of thinking--joy as a perspective. In essence: You can choose to be joyful. Or you can choose not to be.

Satan is a great liar; for a long time he had convinced me that joy was not a choice. I remember many a conversation with Peter, who was kindly trying to help me get back on track, when my emotions and thoughts would start “spiraling” downward--”I messed this up, which reminds me I forgot to send that important email, and oh my gosh our kitchen is piled with old dishes, and has it seriously been two weeks since I did a load of laundry?” and before I knew it I was a discouraged, angry, depressed, pitiful little excuse of a woman. Or so I felt.

You see, you get to choose what you value. In those moments, my dishes, for example, had more value in my life than my loving husband who thought I was pretty great. It sound ridiculous when I write it out, but that’s what my thoughts, feelings, and actions were saying.  That’s what I was believing--so my emotions reflected it. When I realized this, I was amazed and actually doubtful--could it really be that simple? So often the craziness of the moment so quickly makes us lose a joy-filled perspective. I would say that joy is the response and emotion you can get when you keep your values focused on the good things in life that God has given us.

What really got me was this word: rejoice. It’s in the NKJV 199 times. And what does it mean? To be glad. It’s a command, ladies and gentleman. And that means it can’t just be an arbitrary emotion--it has to be choice if it can be commanded of us.

So how do you choose joy? This is what I do. When I realize that I’m in a bad mood, cranky, frustrated, sad etc. I take the next step and try to figure out why: what am I thinking is more important than all the good things in my life? In many cases it can actually be a lie that I’m believing, like a fear of not being good enough, for example, that is stopping me from putting on God’s joy. I’ll write (or just think if I can’t get away to write) what IS bothering me, and then I’ll come up with things that are way more important and focus on those things. I can’t take all the credit for this idea though--Paul had the same idea in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

The greatest example of all is Christ. When he was beaten, crushed and crucified, in excruciating pain, he had one joy that carried him through: the knowledge that doing so would enable YOU to experience salvation. Truly, this is greatest joy of all--the joy of our salvation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Life as a Church Administrator, Pt 5: Numbers

If you’ve missed it, check out the whole series here.
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via
Before I go on in this series, I want to share this: If you don’t work at a church, I can see how it would be easy to get worried or concerned to hear how often I may mention attendance and finances in some of my posts. But I want you to know that the heart behind every mention of them is this: Every “number” is directly tied to spreading the love of Christ to real people in our community and the world.

Each number means real people, with real jobs, real families, real problems, real lives. People just like you. That’s why the numbers are so important to me. Every head count means one more person that’s seeking out God and truth, or one more person who can be encouraged to share the love of Christ in their circles.

The same holds true for finances. Every dollar means one more way we can help the impoverished, or one more way we can make our church building a safe and inviting place for people to encounter the love of God and experience Christian community. Every dollar also affects how much your church staff can do to further the work of Christ in a very tangible way. And most importantly: each dollar we receive lets me know people I love are trusting God more and more with their money, and that leads to so much freedom and peace in their lives.

Because of this, I work hard to keep track of these numbers and value each one; it is a very important aspect of my job. I am very conscious to keep Christ the reason behind every mention of them. Please know this is my heart.

I think this is another level that goes along with my last post on perspective: I’m sure many of you deal with numbers in your life, too. 


Do those insurance dollars you work with mean someone will not be financially ruined if they get in a car accident? What a blessing you get to help them! Does the drive-through timer at your fast food job mean you are helping hundreds of people stay fed and get their kids to practice on time, to that important meeting, to their volunteer position in the rough parts of the city? Wow, what an honor! How can you find the heart behind the numbers in your life?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Life as a Church Administrator, Pt 4: Perspective

If you’ve missed it, check out the whole series here.
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Oh yeah. I tackled 50 message this day!

I’m a church administrator. I can tackle 100+ emails a week, design upcoming events graphics, answer concerned sweet lady’s technology question, carry visionary pastor’s next big idea, fill women’s group sound board needs, proof the bulletin, handle email newsletter creation, discuss financial comparison reports, partake in intercessory prayer, reformat design to fit website’s slideshow, and tell you if the building is free for your life group on wednesday nights.

You see, my job isn’t about answering boring phone calls, sending mundane emails, and dealing with mind-numbing logistics. (Though, insider tip: I’ve dealt with all of those in the process.) My job is about casting vision, getting hundreds of people the message that God is Big, God is Good, and God is so alive, active, and at work--and He has so much for them to receive and to give!

Sometimes though, it gets overwhelming. I’m sure you experience that in your job, too. The to do list keeps growing, no matter how fast you chop away at it. The phone keeps ringing, interrupting your workflow. Two emails come in for every email you respond to--or orders you fill, or coffees you make, or packages you deliver.

The key that I’m learning is perspective. You’ve got to focus on the why. Why do people send packages you deliver, or the place the orders you fill, or order the coffee you make? Focusing on the best aspects of your job, and being thankful for the part you get to play in real people’s lives can make all the difference.

At my job, I get to reach out to people first hand who are desperately looking for more in their life. I get to help connect people who become friends and strengthen each other in their walk with God. I get to help the blessed change the lives of the impoverished. I get to see God miraculously provide every week for our church--through the faithfulness of people exactly like you. And I get to see Him respond to that faithfulness with His extravagant love and provision in their lives. I get to see the impossible happen after seasons of tension and fear--I see breakthrough! I get to facilitate communication that leads to new revelation and freedom in people’s lives!

What element of your job can you be thankful for in a new way? If you’re in school or unemployed, who are you blessing in ways you haven’t thought about before? (Maybe turning your homework in, or that volunteer work you’ve done...I am confident you make a difference to someone. Keep thinking and you’ll find a new person you bless!)
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