Tuesday, July 29, 2014
It had happened. An outcome that was really good that I had not anticipated. I was overcome with joy and then flooded with fear. Then for the next few days everything that came into my life I was confronting with fear. It had over come me and I could not fight my way out. I had let the thoughts of my mind run like a rabbit in a wild open trail like someone was hunting them down with a gun and it all came crashing down around me.
What was I to do? How was I to climb out of this rabbit hole I had found and jumped, willingly, into. I would ask for prayer. Think about my mental health. Divert my attention and my thoughts to something good and pure and lovely. I would take every thought captive to the obedience and love of Christ and the Father. I would contact a friend or two and ask how they deal with fear. I would get busy doing something good, work, fun, exercise.
Later I was able to write this post to those who had prayed for me...
I want to thank you for your prayers. Instead of taking an additional med I poured a cup of coffee and ate an oreo cookie and waited in anticipation of what God was going to do. My mind did begin to clear and I got strength to do laundry, several loads, super, write a letter, make phone calls, and see the counsel of friends on how do they deal with their fear. It seems when I am caught in fear I always prepared myself for the worse. Well if the worst happens God can and will still use it for good. My former pastors wife said sometimes when we have had a lot of trauma in our lives we expect the worse. I thought I am cynical. Why not pray for the blessing in our life from God. Why not pray for Him to prosper us. That God has a plan for good. Why not expect good gifts from my Heavenly Father? I think we can get so afraid of disappointment we prepare ourselves for the worse. We are afraid to hope for something good. Why not anticipate good things from our God and know when hard things come, and they will, that His grace will be sufficient enough for us to carry us through. That He will walk with us and give us faith to endure.
The antidote for fear is trust but what does that look like, I ask myself...then I wrote. It is not up to us to prepare for the worse but to trust God. We even say don't set yourself up for disappointment. We are afraid to hope for blessing. God sees what we do not see. He works in ways we do not understand. God is about the bringing of Good things in the life of His children. I am not talking about a prosperity gospel but one of truth that God is a loving Father and is about good gifts to His children. Even, yes the hard but what I am saying instead of always planning for the worse why not anticipate the best from a God who loves us. Expecting good things from His loving Hands. Already His blessings are all around us if we would but open our eyes and hearts to see them. It brings a heart of gratitude instead one of fear and terror. What do you think?
Ted Tripp said. If God is in control of every aspect of your world and his grace covers all of your sin, why would you ever give way to fear? We have a good God who is about doing His children good. Trusting God may not be preparing at all for the worse or the best as we define it but to always anticipate good, jumping into our loving Fathers arms not knowing what will happened but that it will be for good for He who uses it all for good for us. To me that is faith.
This is a fallen world and hard things happen but God is always about something good. It is ok Father what comes that may but I trust you to be in control and that you are for me. I do believe to remember who God is and His love for me is huge is fighting fear. Not to plan but to rest. To trust in His goodness, I said to myself. This is the gospel. That God so loved us He sent His Son to die for us to give us a hope and a future. To rescue us from fear and sin and ourselves.
So today is another day and I am feeling well. I think the fear thew me into some type of trauma and it has been hard to recover my peace and faith. My mind could not handle the extra stress so a combination of God working all things together helped.
Thank you for your prayers and I would love to pray for you. I do pray for you. May Gods richest blessings be with you today.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
There once was a young girl. Her mom and dad loved her very much. She enjoyed nature and being alone talking to God as a child. As she grew she began to dream dreams of marriage and having a family of her own. Eventhough she didn't realize it much of her life was spent alone. This would go with her through most of her life. She felt the need to keep her parents loving her by performance even though they never gave her reason. She sought their continued approval.
She lived her life doing this with friends. Then as she married and had her children she also sought their approval. She longed to be a good mother but did not know how. She gave to her children through providing their physical needs. She got them to activities, church, school. The children lacked for nothing but their moms heart.
The children grew older and left home. The mother didn't know what she had done wrong but knew she had failed her family. Then the love of God began to penetrate the mothers heart. She began to experience Gods acceptance and love in ways she could not imagine. She began to live life and be in the lives of others and her family. She was coming out of a life time of protection and isolation.
She realized what she had not done in her marriage and with her children was give her heart away. So how could she expect them to give her theirs. Little by little she began to open her self up to them and to others. To not fear rejection or pain but to be more interested in learning and giving than she was about receiving. To see God do what she could not do and be for her out of who she could not be.
This woman is me. I have felt the pull of temptation to live in regret. But know the forgiveness of my family and God. I have seen how my failures and my sin God has used to bring me to a place that is better than if I had never failed. I have spent my life trying to find contentment and happiness, peace. I have dined at the White House with the staff of the President of the United States and been in a couple of their presence. I have eaten my meals at the cafeteria of several mental hospitals and been with a woman who said she was a devil worshiper and felt fear over take me. I have been on ocean shores, mountain tops, and flown high above the sky. I have been behind the locked doors and bared windows with the insane. I have been with the rich and famous and have sat in AA with the addict trying to make it one more day. I have been in the admiration of thousands and felt all alone and I have been all alone with the Lord and felt His love and acceptance that I knew who I was and my purpose. I have had anything I wanted that money could buy and I have felt I have lost all that mattered. I have found out that giving your heart away is where you find out who you really are. Is where you meet the very heart of God. His heart for you.
So the walls of protection, the fear, the comfort places are gone for today and I am giving my heart away. I may pull back tomorrow but now I know the way back home. The way to the party. I use to think I had to hold on but then I saw it was Him holding on to me. I did not find happiness and contentment but it found me. Not in the circumstances that are easy and appear good or the people that love and accept me and always do what I want but in the Person of Jesus. That I can be open and honest and vulnerable and risk rejection for the sake of intimacy. I see that in my failure and need is the very place where Jesus feels at home. My perfectionism is going and I am embracing my weakness and finding a strength and courage I never though I would have in this life. When trouble is knocking down my door and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel I remember, He reminds me, it is Him setting me free more and more. So I am risking what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose, Jim Elliott. I am not moving into the prison but standing on the outside calling others out. To a place of freedom.
I am finding that the gospel is all I really need to know and all good things flow out of that love of the Father in sending His Son for me. So it grows deep and wide and I am humbled once again. I am brought to repentance and a joy that I cannot keep. I know His mercy and the wrath that was taken out on His Son for me. I am knowing healing. That I might fail but I might fly and it is worth the risk. That it is in my failing that I soar. It is through giving my heart away that I find His for me.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The other day, I was doing some cleaning in my basement. While working in a particular corner, I walked right into a spider web. My entire face was consumed. As I tried to get loose, pieces of the web kept sticking to other parts of my body; my fingers, arms, shoulders and even my torso! I could not get free of the web's embrace no matter how hard I tried.
Later that day, I was having a conversation with a fellow pastor about discipleship, counseling and pastoral care in the local church. In a serendipitous moment, I made a connection between my bad experience with the spider's web and a positive one as it relates to pastoral care. When we think about caring for people within the context of the local church, the image of a web is helpful. We want to create a web of care so that people find it hard to hide, get lost, slip away or fall through the cracks.
I started thinking about the various strands of what that web would include. You see, a spider's web does it's job well because the spider spins many strands. A single strand will not suffice if the spider is going to catch its prey. Likewise, no single strand will suffice if the church is going to guard and feed the sheep. Here is a list of some of the strands.
Strand One: The Pastor. This is the first and most important strand, yet many churches think this is the only strand. When they do, people are not cared for. It only takes a congregation of 25 to overwhelm one pastor!
Strand Two: Spiritual Leaders. Any church worth its salt will have a number of spiritual leaders who assist the pastor and help provide stability for the people. If this is going to happen, it will mean that the lead pastor/pastors will have a vision and plan for equipping these leaders with interpersonal ministry skill.
Strand Three: Pastoral Staff. Most churches, even if they are small, have staff; a secretary, receptionist, nursery coordinator, children's minister, youth pastor and other assistant pastors. Every staff person must be adequately trained to know how best to help others grow in grace. Once again, it is the responsibility and calling of the lead pastors to provide this kind of training so that key staff are adequately able to know how to assist in the growth process of others.
Strand Four: Uniquely gifted lay-people. There are always a number of people who have gifts of mercy and are relationally strong in helping others with wise counsel. Often, they have gained these skills and character qualities through the hard knocks of life. You know who they are because people talk about how they have been helped by them. If this strand is going to be leveraged to the fullest, know who they are and create a natural but more formal connection with them and the other strands.
Strand Five: Small group leaders. In most cases, equipping for small group leaders has one of three legs missing. The two legs that are often present are: 1) training in how to lead a Bible study and 2) training in group dynamics and how to lead the group in discussion. The third leg that is often missing is what to do if an individual or couple approaches the small group leader after the meeting and asks for help with a problem in their lives. When small group leaders are given this third aspect of training, they become a vital part of the overall web of care.