Tag Archives: encourage others

My dream – Too Busy – For Jesus and Others

I had a vivid dream last night.   Some of our family was home, and a few of my best girlfriends had come to see me, all at the same time – and I wasn’t even sick!  Ha!   However, my family was with friends and my girlfriends decided my house needed cleaned, laundry needed done, and food needed cooked.  There were some weird things – you know how dreams are – like the toilet paper roll was way up on the ceiling.   Where did that come from?!?!  You would have to be 10 feet tall to get to that thing!

But the essence of the dream was clear.  Nobody had time for me.   I begged them to just come talk to me – we didn’t have much time! They would for a few seconds or couple of minutes, and then go right back to cleaning and cooking and their other peeps.

I woke up immediately, it seemed.  That’s another thing about dreams…you never know if it’s immediately, if it lasted 2 hours or 2 seconds, if it was real or….oh, was it real?

Different from other dreams, I could recount this one.  For a moment I was sad – at first for myself.  But then – then the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha came to mind.   The account in Luke 10 haunts me, I have to tell you.   I like things to be just so when I’m having company and could easily side with Martha.

Luke 10:40 reads, “But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities…”    AND WHO WAS SHE SERVING? JESUS, OF COURSE!!!!   She was SERVING Jesus.   Something we’re told we need to do, should do, ought to do.  We’re guilted if we’re NOT doing!

But Jesus, very gently, shows Martha the better way by admonishing and lovingly correcting her; Mary had chosen the better way.

Two ways – to do or to be.   To serve or to sit at someone’s feet…namely Jesus here.   To be busy or be with.   Presence or preparing.   Distracted or focused on another.

I believe there are two lessons here.   First, God wants us.  Not what we can DO for Him, but what we ARE to Him.  We are His treasured possessions, His people and He wants to be our God.   Do you take time to just spend it with Him; Absorbing His word, silent in His presence, listening for His direction?

Secondly, how are you with people?  People you love, people you don’t like?  Those who are easy to be around, those who are needy?   Remember, Jesus also said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Matt. 25)

 

Let the Church be the Church

It seems like every time I open up facebook or other social media, there is another post or article bashing Christians or the church.   And sadly, these are from Christians.

for blog, inside of church

Let me say that I have been hurt by those in the church many times, but I do not want to get swept up in this thought process.  I just want you to know I am not coming from a “pollyanish” viewpoint.

From these postings, we are shamed that we don’t love the poor enough nor graciously accept sinners.  We don’t give enough and are made to feel like jerks because we go to church in man-made buildings with A/C.

Outside service

Lest I sound like one who “protesteth too much,” please allow me to share some things I see that are good and right in the churches we have attended recently.

First, my husband (Tom) has preached for 39 years in churches in different states.  We’ve seen the good, bad and ugly in many situations.  But we have definitely seen the good.  Tom is doing mission work now but here are some observations I have made.

We have attended a church a few times which gives 50% of their income to missions.  They had an announcement in their bulletin a few weeks ago about a friendship program with international students.   They are reaching out to many.   Many of their men still wear suits and ties and they are a tad bit conservative in their music and worship, but they are reaching the world for Christ.  (I only mention the suits and ties because some people think that type of dress offends others).

A tiny church on the North Shore of Oahu has increased their giving twice to support our ministry more.   Waialua Christian Church is led by Steve Sturm.  Steve and his wife, Blossom, toil tirelessly but most of their “fruit” eventually move, since many of them are military people.  But they love…deeply.

Waialua 6

Two good friends of mine quietly go to jail every Thursday night to minister to the women there.   Their husbands support them, their church prays for them, and they go.  Another friend I have (who is 82 years old) goes every week to a prison to teach, sing and play the piano.

I know of a couple who left their secure ministry at a fairly large church to run a ministry for the disenfranchised of Joplin, Missouri.

I know of Christians, from churches we have served, who have apologized to us and accepted our love, bringing healing to our relationships.

There is a small church in rural Missouri which had 9 baptisms a couple of months ago…and it wasn’t the “pretty people” who were baptized.  Somebody had to love them into that.

There are friends of mine who are growing by leaps and bounds (who attend traditional churches), and those who have incredible ministries to homosexuals, single parents, un-wed mothers, addicts (and the list goes on).

There are those we know who preach the Word of God without fear (including our son) and who love others sincerely at the same time – because how can you preach the Word and not love?

Others go on missions trip, collect items for the poor, serve meals and those who reach out to the homeless.

Still others lose sleep to be with those who are hurting, sick or grieving.

This is not a conclusive list…in fact, it is just the very tip of the iceberg! 

This is all (and more) within our small sphere of friendships or acquaintances.   I cannot believe that we are the only ones who see Christ at work through others.   Are we perfect?  Of course not!  But there are many I know who are trying to draw closer to the Lord and wanting to serve Him with their whole hearts.

God has not called us to deride other Christians, through sarcasm or shame-based criticism, for what they are not doing.  He wants to know what WE are going to do.   And quite honestly, when we judge others like this, are we not doing the same thing for which we are judging them?

When we give up trying to be responsible for others’ actions, or lack of service, or complacency, we will do a lot to move closer to Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to convict others.

We don’t know what others are doing behind the scenes, nor do we know what is going on in their lives.  Let’s just be the church in our own lives, pray for others, love others and quit bashing that which Christ died for!

I would love to hear how you or those you know are serving others and reaching them for Christ.

 

I Can’t Walk Straight

Walking straight

“Their tidal-wave faith drowns the sand pebble efforts I make to draw near to God.”

We were blessed to recently hear our son preach at his new church in Iowa. He started a series on the book of Mark in the New Testament, but one thing he told about in this specific message made an impression on me.

It was a story he shared of a neighbor he and Beth had in Massachusetts.  She had walked away from the church and they were talking with her about it.  She gave the reason as, “I can’t walk straight.”  I was struck by the fact that she felt hopeless to “make it” in the Christian world.

It made me think of the many times I have felt like giving up because I feel like I can’t “walk straight.”  I compare my Christian journey to others in the faith who seem to have it all together.  They sail through rough times on the wings of angels, it seems.   They don’t struggle with depression, don’t worry, don’t get angry, don’t….well, you get my drift.

They can quote book, chapter and verse of the Bible…in several translations.   They brag about having no baggage.  Their tidal-wave faith drowns the sand pebble efforts I make to draw near to God.

waves against sand

Guilt and shame wash over me and I ask God why I seem to struggle so much with my faith.  I ask Him A LOT!  I do all the “right” things also.  I spend quality time in prayer and the word of God.  I rebuke satan and quote scripture.  I am constantly trying to find ways I can help others, but still….many times I feel weak.

My husband has been my greatest encouragement in my life.   Yet, he is one whose faith hardly ever wavers.   He’s been through storms that would make Jesus’ disciples quake.   Yet, he has never once, in the 40 years I have known him, thought about walking away from God.

Even with our differences, his patience, love and care for me and my fragilities is breathtaking.   I think there are several reasons for this.

First, he loves me more than anyone on earth – and I know it. (Although I admit, I do wonder about those darn grandkids sometimes).    Secondly, he has walked with me through many valleys and he knows how I struggle.  He also knows me because he has taken time to listen and care, and not judge.  He wants the very best for me, but he also acknowledges the lack of “tools” I was given.

For example, it is very difficult for me to believe that God loves me.  I can give that encouragement to others all day long, and truly believe it for them…..but it’s ever so difficult to accept for myself.   And I’ve heard about every answer for it I know.

Judgement is something we pass onto other Christians in a shameful way.  We may not voice it but we pridefully tell our own selves, “I would never do that.”  “What is wrong with her, why can’t she …. (fill in the blank.)

We condemn others with that judgement without ever taking the time to get to know someone.   That is sad and unfortunate.   It’s when we take time to understand others that we stretch our care of human beings, whom God has created in His own imagine, but whom He also knows  are very fragile.   And even if we don’t necessarily like what others do, we are strongly commanded many times to love them.

I find it interesting (and think it’s no mistake) that the love list in 1 Corinthians begins with, “Love is patient…”  To truly love others, especially some, takes a great deal of patience.   In fact, it takes lots of patience to exhibit love to our spouses and children at times. So, imagine what it will take to love others, especially those we don’t want to love.

But scripture dictates it.  And 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to start with how we do love.   It’s the greatest “way.”

In fact SO great is its command and way that Paul begins the chapter with his own rightfully shame-based diatribe for those who think they have it all together.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter who we think we are, what we think we’ve accomplished, how together we think we have it….if we aren’t loving, none of that matters.  NONE OF IT!!!!

In a little more modern terms, it doesn’t matter if we are the minister of a huge church with eloquent sermons, if we’re on the mission field, or doing great things winning the world to Christ, or know the Bible from front to back.  If we’re not loving – patient, kind, humble, seeking good of others, etc., it simply does not matter who we are, or what we’re doing.

And what is the point of all this?    To obey God, and to walk beside and with others so we ALL can walk straight.