Article: When Life Has You Waiting

This article was published in Dallas Theological Seminary’s Student Journal- Spring 2012. The main audience is seminary students/future ministry leaders. I hope you’ll be encouraged in whatever you’re “waiting” on in life, too. The PDF can be found here on pg. 5

I’m guessing you’ve been asked what your future plans are after seminary. Some students know they want to press on and get their Ph.D. Some want to be pastors, chaplains, missionaries, or serve in some kind of parachurch ministry.

Or you might be in seminary simply because you know you’re supposed to be, and that’s it. Your ministry has yet to be revealed, and you’re waiting.

Waiting is a Form of Suffering

Waiting on God’s perfect timing is a spiritual discipline that requires a great amount of patience and endurance. You may have God- given dreams that burn wildly in your heart. You cry out, plead, beg, and wrestle with God about those desires.

You might face criticism and misunderstanding from loved ones because nothing “significant” has happened in your ministry or career yet. You’ve waited for years and prayed for answers, but you hear nothing in return.

In her book, Faith that Does Not Falter, Elisabeth Elliot says,

Waiting is a form of suffering— the difficulty of self-restraint, the anguish of unfulfilled longing, the bewilderment of unanswered prayer, flesh and heart failing, soul breaking. These are indeed tribulations, and tribulation is the curriculum if we are to learn patience. We want answers now, right now, but we are required at times to walk in darkness. Nevertheless, God is in the darkness.

There’s no greater way to learn patience and contentment than to go through experiences that require it. Before coming to Dallas Seminary, my husband and I already had seminary degrees from a previous school. We both felt strongly about Jeremiah pursuing more training and education in God’s Word.

After applying to DTS, getting accepted, and moving, we served in an apartment ministry for the first two years of his schooling. In those years, Jeremiah desired to have preaching or church-planting experience but the doors never opened. After we moved onto campus and had our second child is when the tide turned.

An Unexpected Internship

In one of his preaching classes, Jeremiah met Craig Schill, a grad assistant and a local church planter. They developed a friendship, and Jeremiah started interning at his church, Lake Cities Community Church in Rowlett. He was given the opportunity to preach and teach several times and spearhead a community outreach event.

Jeremiah always desired affirmation as to whether preaching was his spiritual gift. In no time he was encouraged above and beyond what he imagined from the church body, through both verbal affirmation and emails. I’ll never forget the evening he told me that the sermon he’d just preached was the closest he’d ever felt to the Lord.

Okay, Lord, we’re getting closer to your plan, I thought.

While his internship ended a few months ago, we decided to continue investing at Lake Cities in our final year at DTS. We have fallen in love with the people, and we’re learning so much about servant leadership.

Lessons from Staying Faithful

Four years seems like a long time of waiting on God’s unique gifting for Jeremiah, but it wasn’t too long for God. God taught him so much through his classes and real-life experiences. If we had rushed or manipulated God’s timing, I think we would have missed out on a huge blessing.

As we approach graduation in May, I continue to remind myself that we are, yet again, waiting on the Lord to provide the next step. While it can be fearful at times, I’m trusting that God will continue to lead us where He desires.

As you continue to wait on God in your time at seminary, be encouraged that you don’t have to have it all figured out. He has a perfect plan for your life and ministry and, He is with you even in the darkness.

Mama, Let Your Light Shine

How is changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and doing it all over again the next day making a difference? Can I be influential, even when I struggle? How can God use me to be on mission with my children? What does God expect from me as a mom?

These were a few questions my husband Jeremiah helped answer in his sermon this past Sunday called “Mama, Let Your Light Shine.”

And let me just tell you…

This message was one of my favorite mother’s day sermons I’ve ever heard! And I promise you I’m not biased. I’ve heard a lot of great messages from some really great pastors.

In November, we started interning at a church plant in a Dallas suburb and the pastor has been kind to give Jeremiah several opportunities to teach God’s word. This was Jeremiah’s first official sermon preached in front of a congregation (not a classroom) since being a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. After he delivered the message, several mothers went up to him saying how much they loved it. One mom asked me, “Why didn’t your husband tell us to bring our kleenex?”

Jeremiah works as an R.N. and one of his patients, who happens to be a famous female actress (I wish I could tell you who!), wanted to listen to it while in her hospital bed and she loved it.

Okay, so enough of me bragging on my husband. I wanted to post the link here for you to download and be encouraged in your mission as a mother. Even if you’re not a mother, I think you’ll be encouraged in your faith.

Download: “Mama, Let Your Light Shine” (38 min., mp3 file)

Dream a little Dream

I was recently asked by my friend Abby to be her writing mentor as she’s in the process of writing a family-focused small group curriculum for I am Second as part of her internship at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Last night, over tea at Starbucks, we had our first meeting to talk about writing. It was exciting to dream about what her curriculum could like before it’s even fleshed out on paper. But it was more exciting to dream about something that has great potential to impact a lot of people.

I left our meeting encouraged and excited for Abby’s project. And I was reminded that I am definitely a dreamer. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t dream about something that is sparked in my thoughts, something from music, a movie, conversation, God’s word, or a book. I believe God gives us dreams for a reason. I believe he plants certain desires within us and that some of those desires we will never escape because they are directly from Him.

I think it’s also natural to get frustrated when we don’t see those dreams come to fruition, but yet we still believe that some day they will happen. We believe that God wants to do something in us that is much greater than ourselves.

My prayer is that Abby’s dreams for this curriculum will be fulfilled above and beyond what she imagines.

Do you consider yourself a dreamer? Or have any specific dreams? If you go first, I’ll tell you  some of mine.

God’s Constant Pursuit

I interviewed an extraordinary guy last night for a potential story in a project we’re doing with Max Lucado. Chris Skinner and his wife Suzie sat down with me for two hours sharing about God’s grace on Chris’ life. In college, after a night of partying with his frat brothers, Chris got in a severe car accident that left him with a broken neck, spinal chord injury, and in a coma for 13 days. He would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.

There is no way to do justice to his story in this post, but I left last night amazed at God’s continuous pursuit of Chris. Chris grew up in a Baptist church, God had put several Christians in his path throughout the years, but he never really knew Jesus. Eventually one evening at church through hearing God’s word, he came to the end of himself. He felt a deep remorse for his sin and he repented. He surrendered his life to Christ.

He told his buddies he gave up drinking. One of his roommates, so infuriated, poured vodka down his head. They forsook him, but in the midst of the persecution and pain, he pressed on and followed after God. He started speaking all over the country and sharing his story to help other people. He even got married to a godly woman. Now, in and out of speaking, he’s at Dallas Theological Seminary studying God’s word and raising twins.

As I sat on their couch, I couldn’t help but think of the times in my life when I was in rebellion and sin, but God kept pursuing me. I would willfully disobey God’s word in the evening, and then in the morning I would “do my devotions.” I struggled to love God through obedience and not just words. But eventually, I too, came to the end of myself and surrendered everything to Christ. My struggles didn’t disappear, but I chose to make choices that would help me love God better.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes I take for granted his constant pursuit. While the sins I struggle with are different than what they were 10 years ago, I’m amazed that He has always been there, loving me as his child. Patient in my disobedience. I sense his love today greater than ever before and I just can’t escape it.

To be able to sit down with Chris and Suzie gave me a whole different perspective in how God works in the lives of other people. How he is always on the move to redeem and save what has been lost. My time with them has strengthened my faith and has given me a greater trust in the Lord.

I think when we experience times when our relationship with God is stagnant and we just don’t see him working in our own lives, he gives us the body of Christ to wake us up and to see that God is doing so much more than we could ever imagine.

In what ways do you feel God’s pursuit in your life? Has he used anyone lately to remind you of his love and faithfulness?

the day my true love died

1212536_open_bibleJeremiah’s been reading through the book of John for one of his seminary classes. Last night, he was thrilled to tell me all about what he was learning while I was cleaning up the kitchen. And I love that I get to be the one to glean from it. He then blurts out, “I’ve gotta watch the Passion.”

It’s a little late. It’s like 2 hrs. long and it’s not one of those movies you can just pop in and play. It takes mental and emotional preparation… is what I’m thinking. I thought about doing my own thing and not watching it with him, but I decided to get on the couch and join him.

It was my third time watching it (with the exception of a few scenes) and some thoughts came to my mind that have encouraged me today:

  • Jesus’ humanity– even though he was God, he came down to earth as a man and lived in our shoes. He experienced rejection, suffering, hunger, thirst, laughter, tears, and alienation from those closest to him. He understands the pain I experience today.
  • Jesus’ love– he didn’t have to go to the cross for us, but he chose to because it was his father’s will. It was the only way for man to be saved from the penalty of sin. His shed blood on the cross makes us free and alive today. The cross is the ultimate proof of his love for me today.
  • Jesus’ perfectionJesus came as a man but he was holy and perfect in every way. YET, He took on our sins for us so that we didn’t have to pay the debt. No matter where we’re at today, he invites us to come to him in all our sin, brokenness, junk, hurts, habits, the whole 9 yards. What Jesus did 2000 years ago, requires a response from me every day that I live.

After getting my pride behind me, I was really thankful to be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice and I know it will probably be a while until I watch the Passion again.

And I can’t help but think of Phil Wickham’s song True Love:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gU-ejQxEXk&feature=player_embedded]

the best kept secret

2785596455_848c54e8beIt’s been cloudy and raining here in Dallas for four days now. By now, I’ve heard plenty of comments about the weather and I too, wish the sun would come out again.

Contentment. I’m learning a lot about its meaning lately. God is doing a lot in our life as a family. We’ll be moving in less than two weeks from our 1200 sq. ft. apartment to a 780 sq. ft. apartment! We are ending our 2 year commitment as a CARES Team serving the residents in our apartment community through meals and events. We’ll be entering a new season of living on campus at Jeremiah’s seminary, Dallas Theological. It’s really going to be a good move for our family and there will be lots of young families to interact with who are all pursuing full-time ministry.

A lot of change is happening really soon and the temptation can be to worry and not be present in the moment. But I really want to be content. To not compare myself to others with what they’re doing or where they’re at, to not wish I had more money or more things, to not wonder how great it would be to be somewhere else, or to not wish John was older or I was younger.

The apostle Paul said,

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:11-13.)

Paul was no different than us. A lot of people put him on this huge pedestal, but he was simply a normal, imperfect man touched by a divine, perfect God. He allowed God to infuse his life.

So what exactly is Paul’s secret to contentment? He learned it. It didn’t happen in his sleep or in a few short days. God put circumstances in his life to teach him to trust and to depend on God. So whether he was rich or poor, well-fed or hungry, he gave glory to God because his joy and happiness didn’t depend on life’s happenings.

This gives me great hope today- that I can learn to be content too as God works in my heart.

Well on my way to work sitting at a stop sign, a car behind me laid on their horn for 10 whole seconds!  I was waiting for the right time to turn and I guess that wasn’t good enough. Maybe the rain and clouds were getting to that guy too. I couldn’t believe it.

Oh well. He probably needs to learn contentment too.

My “Straight A” Husband

dts-754138So today calls for me to brag on my husband a bit.

A little over two years ago, we moved to Dallas for Jeremiah to attend Dallas Theological Seminary to further his study in God’s word and to better prepare him for full-time ministry. This past semester, I worked part-time at Bluefish (still do) and put him through school so he could focus on his studies, internship at our church Watermark, and our apartment ministry without wanting to pull his teeth out.

I’m really proud to say that Jeremiah just got his grades back and he got 2 A+ and 2 A’s! So, straight A’s! All semester, he worked so hard in his reading, studying for tests, and writing papers while simultaneously propping up a bottle for John or studying with him on his lap.  DTS isn’t an easy school and it’s one of the best seminaries in the world. Some of our favorites have come out of there like Andy Stanley, Tommy Nelson, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, and Dennis Rainey.

Jeremiah wasn’t concerned on getting the best grades necessarily but on learning the content. We’re still unsure of what God has for us ministry-wise in the future, but for now we’re trying to live in the present. We don’t really know what the upcoming semesters will look like work-wise and time wise, but we’re thankful for God getting us through this far.

[Photo: Campus of DTS]

He’s got the Whole World in His Hands

blueThis past weekend wasn’t typical that’s for sure. Saturday morning at approximately 2 AM, we heard gun shots that woke us up out of bed. Yeah, not the exact thing you want to hear at 2 AM. Half way asleep, I just kept thinking: Is that really what I think I’m hearing? Jeremiah is much better than I am in stressful situations. He had heard the shots before I did. He then called 911 and explained the situation. The dispatcher said she’d already received calls about it and they were taking care of it. Oh well that’s good, I thought. Meanwhile my heart is still beating a million times a minute. So is Jeremiah’s. We went across our apartment to check on John and he was fast asleep. I couldn’t believe what was happening. 

Believe it or not, we live in a very nice area. Our apartment complex is very nice. Three-story luxurious town homes and midrises are right beside us. The problem with Dallas is that right around the block from a nice area can be a really bad part. It’s a very transitional city. Unlike any I’ve lived in. I’ve been reflecting on the past two days about God’s sovereignty in my life. It’s crazy to think how there’s never a moment in time when He is not in control. I’ve heard it said once that you’re indestructible until God calls you home. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the mission field in the Middle East in the hot spot of war and danger or serving God right here in America… God is still in control. He knows when my time is up. My days have been numbered. He is protecting my family and nothing happens in my life in which he isn’t sovereign over.

I’m not really sure what gun shots mean in the start of 2009. Hopefully nothing but a wake-up call to pursue things that matter most in life more. We don’t even know what really happened yet that morning. But I do know that I trust in an all-powerful God who cares deeply for my needs, for what concerns me, for the fears and frustrations that fill my mind. He is watching over my son too just as Jeremiah and I attempt to do our best in protecting him. I definitely don’t understand all of God’s mysterious ways but I can definitely trust that His ways are higher and his thoughts are not my thoughts. His heart breaks because of the evil in our world. I can lay my head down at night, a little more comforted, knowing that He’s got the whole world in His hands.

I just now found out that my husband blogged about this too on his Old Testament online journal for DTS

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:17

Greek to Me

Known as the Harvard of seminaries, Dallas Theological Seminary, is what beckoned my husband and I across the country from the East Coast. We are thoroughly enjoying our time here in Dallas. There are many distractions here. It is like a concrete playground here… with endless miles of traffic, more concrete, tons of shopping, and extremely sweet people. Any and everything is within one’s reach. Most of all, we have the gift of being in community with some incredible people.

We are in our third week of seminary. My husband focuses all his hours on Greek it seems like. He sings songs in Greek along with this lady on his tutorial C.D. They sing together: “Oh come all ye pistas (faithful), joyful and triumphant.” I try not to get jealous. At least these hymns help him learn his words. I’ve enjoyed learning the Greek alphabet as well. It’s my story-time before bed each night. In the midst of these seminary days, I love watching my husband learn and grow. He is being stretched in uncomfortable ways so that means I am too. His goal is to be able to read the Bible in Greek (and Hebrew) one day in its entirety.

But I definitely know that hard days are ahead. Seminary isn’t easy on a marriage. It’s a juggling act between marriage, work, keeping in shape, quiet times, friends, church, ministry, family, date nights, and more. My strength in this season of seminary is the Lord. He is the Alpha and Omega (yes, that’s Greek too) and will carry us through to the end even if I’m kicking and screaming!

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