five minutes to let it shine

Over the past few Sundays, my pastor Todd has been encouraging our church to share our stories of grace authentically and intentionally with the people we encounter every day right here in Dallas. Last week, I had about five minutes to do what I knew God was impressing upon on my heart.

I was at Jamba Juice and a guy in his 20s was serving my sister-in-law Charis and I our smoothies. I asked him if he was a student and he wasn’t, but did have a kid. Charis talked with him a little bit about nutrition. He was easy to talk to and friendly. He poured the leftover smoothie from my cup and gave the remaining to my son. He also gave us some samples of their breakfast granola and dried fruit.

But that wasn’t it. I knew I was supposed to give him one of the orange cards that I carry in my purse that has the info to our church on it.

Then suddenly, about 3-4 people started coming through the door and he was slammed. 5 minutes pass by. Then 10. Then 15. I told Charis how I really wanted to invite him to our church, but the opportunity wasn’t happening.

I was determined to give him the card so while he was serving customers and getting their smoothies, I stepped in behind the counter. In the midst of all the blenders grinding and chatter, I invited him to come and told him how our church is full of young adults and has a great children’s ministry. I was a little concerned about who could hear me.

His eyes lit up and he smiled. “You know what?” he said. “I moved here a year ago and I’ve been looking for a church. Thank you so much! I’m going to check it out Sunday.”

Really? You are? I thought.

I couldn’t believe it. His response was not what I expected!

While inviting the Jamba Juice guy to church is not the same as presenting the gospel, it was an invitation for him to see the gospel at work in the lives of others. It was a step in the right direction.

I think so many times I wait for the perfect moment to say anything about my faith or my church, and it never happens. I fear what people think of me. I’m sometimes not walking in the spirit, or even know how to articulate my words naturally. I fear I will sound stupid or crazy. This experience taught me to shine my light in whatever window of opportunity exists and to just go for it and be who I am.

No matter what.

Have you had any opportunities to shine your light?

Starting Celebrate Recovery

My pastor Todd speaks regularly from the stage about how the healthiest people in our church body are those who’ve gone through Celebrate Recovery and have dealt with their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” in light of Scripture.

I’ve held back from going to CR for a long time because I didn’t struggle with alcohol addiction or drugs or anything like that. I struggled with other “minor” things you know and I didn’t need a silly program to help me out. God and his Word could help me fine.

Well last Monday, after a long three months of my husband and I deciding to commit, we went to our first meeting. The first part of the night included corporate worship, a personal testimony of someone who’s gone through the 12-18 month program, and a separate introduction for newcomers. One guy on stage introduced himself and said, “I’m a believer in Christ who struggles with pornography.”

My eyes grew wide and I looked at Jeremiah, whispering, “That was really awkward.”

The guy went on to share more about the program.

It was rare to see people so open about their struggles publicly in a safe environment, but I knew God had taken them through a process- the process I was there for.

When it was time to go to our open group consisting of about 15 or so women (they split up men and women), we went around in the circle of complete strangers and shared what we think we struggle with. I was nervous, but when some of the women began to share I realized that none of us were alone. I couldn’t believe some of the stories I was hearing. Then it was my turn. I got a little teary eyed and pushed these words out:

“I don’t want to be here. It’s my pride. But I’m a believer in Christ who struggles at times with anxiety, anger, and control.”

To my surprise, after I confessed those struggles I felt like a balloon that had been popped with a needle! There was such relief and I was one step closer to freedom.

Reflecting on my time that night, I realized that my thinking was so evil and carnal regarding the “bigger” sins. Who was I to think that my sins were less damaging? Or that I was “above” CR? The hard truth is that we all struggle with something and sin is sin no matter what. Perhaps the reason we are Christians is because we don’t have it all together. We must depend on God alone.

I admit, I still have pride in my heart that God is working on and I know it’s going to be a humbling process. I didn’t even want to write this post or really let you know that I’m going through the program. I fought hard at telling you the truth.

But I want to be as authentic as I can with you about my faith and where I’m at.

Well, I probably won’t always write official posts about what’s going on in my life through CR but I’m sure you’ll see glimpses of what I’m learning through my writing. And I hope that whatever God decides to teach me that it will encourage you in your struggles.

Tonight is my second week (taking a deep breath). Maybe it won’t feel as awkward?! Hmm. Probably. not. Yet. We’ll see.

Musings on Being a New Mama

3113_618605228558_55713931_36595474_2109231_nMy first Mother’s Day was really special. My pastor Todd spoke on the role of women in the church (God’s created order for man to be above women- not in equality but in our roles) and how that applies to being a Mama on Mother’s Day. This couldn’t have been a more timely message as God has been teaching me a ton on this very topic and I wrote an article about it a few weeks ago for Ungrind.

The message focused around 1 Timothy 2: 11-15: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

I had never heard these verses explained the way Todd did. He said how this verse isn’t saying we shouldn’t “speak”- rather we should let men lead. This is the created order. It doesn’t mean we can’t lead other women or teach other women, but when it comes to teaching or being over men, the way God designed it is for men to have the authority- the assignment. To have it any other way is to jack with God’s word.

I am definitely okay with this. I would much rather let all the responsibilities be on a man’s shoulders and not my own. I’m much more comfortable following the way God has set it up. When it comes to marriage… God’s created order is for wives to submit to their husbands (Eph 5). This isn’t an oppressive, duty-filled submission but rather a natural response from the love our husbands display. But, it’s difficult to do and it has been since the fall. Because our husbands fail at times and we do too.

BUT, when we follow God’s created order, it’s beautiful. There is peace. We allow men to be men and the ship is sailing in the right direction.

This speaks volumes to me in being a new Mother. I never understood the verse that says, “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” In the role that God has given me to help shape and invest in the lives of my children, if I continue living as a godly wife and mother in faith, love, holiness, and propriety, there is an opportunity for me to be preserved today. So basically I have the opportunity to make or break my role as a woman, wife, and mother by choosing to walk in the Spirit or not.

I’ve been encouraged to allow God to use me to help shape and mold my son John into the man God wants him to be and to most of all, allow my husband to lead and thrive in the role God has established for him. This encourages me as a new Mama in that the investment I’m making in my son and Lord willing, future children is a great and significant one because of the God-given role I’ve been given.

Video: You’re Beautiful

No matter how eloquently I try to describe the beauty of the Lord through words, they would never do justice. One thing I know for sure is that as the years pass by, the more I realize just how badly in need I am for a Savior. As I’ve drawn closer to him in these 20 years of being a Christ-follower (since I was 6!), the peculiar thing is that the more I see my sin and ugliness.

But because of his beauty, perfection, and holiness I continue to see who I really am– absolutely nothing apart from him. I’m a sinner saved by grace, nothing added. Nothing taken away. But yet I am everything because of him alone and what he does through me.

It’s truly the place we all must come to grips with- that a life lived a part from Christ is really no life at all.

The video below was produced by a very gifted guy at our church and captures just a glimpse of the perfection and beauty of God. The song put to the video is “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DEL0R32eU8]

LeadNow & Fusion 2008

I’m getting really excited about our LeadNow and Fusion events coming up in November here in Dallas. It will be here before we know it! This year is different than any other year because we’re giving leaders the opportunity to host a simulcast at their church or attend a simulcast at a location close to them. This definitely helps with gas prices and the way the economy is functioning as a whole right now.

These events are for you if you’re a leader of twenties and thirties and if you are in your twenties and thirties. I can’t think of a better place to grow in my relationship with God and others- learning under great leaders like Erwin McManus, Matt Chandler, Margaret Feinberg, Francis Chan, and my very own pastor, Todd Wagner. I can’t wait to show the promo DVD to my small group and other friends. Baby John will probably be about one month old then so I am hoping we can have a little outing together, if possible. He’ll get to have some early exposure to some great people.

You can visit Rightnow.org for way more information than I will post here. Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have questions about these events and I can direct you to the right person here at Bluefish/The Rightnow Campaign. I really hope you will take advantage of this opportunity- especially my twenties and thirties readers!

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