Earning God’s Love ~When Minstry Gets In The Way

Gods love praise and coffee The story of Mary and Martha used to fill me with guilt for being busy until I realized that it wasn’t a story about a woman who was busy. Jesus basically (in my paraphrase) said, “Martha, you’re a worried mess and you need stop trying to get everything perfect for me. I want you, not your performance.”

Whether or not she was trying to earn His approval, love or just impress everyone; she missed the point and I know that I have too.

Anybody else?

Mary knew that the most important thing happening was at His feet. Listening, learning and resting in His love.

Shouldn’t this be easy??

Shouldn’t it come naturally??

Yes, I think it does, but many of us have forgotten how to live instinctively. We know in theory that we should put our family first, that God has given us the gift of family and they matter most. But we are busy meeting everyone else’s needs, sometimes even at the expense of our own families. We’ve lost touch with His still small voice that is always speaking to us about priorities.

When my grown children were younger, I spent so much time away from them doing church activities and it grieves me to think that the church even used to pay our babysitter so we could do the work of the ministry. I left my own children OFTEN, too often, and even though they were in good care (excellent in fact), they were not with their parents. I thought I was honoring God, but now I think I was looking for His approval through performance. I thought I would be a better Christian if I did more for Him. And yes, I enjoyed the accolades and approval of others, though it took me a long time to admit it.

I did not know how to be anything but busy. I did not know how to rest at His feet. I was striving to earn His love.

Yes, I was doing good things, God things. I would compare it to having the whole family home but busy in different rooms doing different things and never spending time together. You can call that family time, but without connection, we’re just existing together.

Of course there are busy seasons, but I encourage you to ask yourself:

Why am I doing this?
Who is benefitting?
Does it strengthen my family?
Does it draw me closer to God?

Our walk with God will not grow while we’re trying to earn His love. God’s love for you is not based on your performance, you can securely rest in His love when you stop trying to earn it.

Gal 2:19-20 The Message
 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.

Don’t Give Up

A piece of what I’ve been working on…

Don't give up praise and coffee
Some days the pain is so deep, we can’t see over the edge of it. The day Mary watched her son beaten and crucified had to feel like the absolute end. But the mourning turned to morning and He rose. In the darkest of our days we dare have hope because light will not be kept under darkness and life will burst forth again. It could come through earthquakes and stones rolled away, it could be the tiny sprout of new life that breaks through the thawing ground or the person who wakes up and decides to start living again. The deepest of pain becomes a memory as the infant’s cry fills the room like a gospel choir.

It’s new life, a new day. It’s hope.

Please don’t give up.

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. Romans 4:18 The Message

And be careful not to paint hope with one just color and brush, often new life looks different than we imagined it would.

 

I have experienced this kind of hope, I’d love to hear your stories of new life if you want to share.

I’m Still a Recovering Pharisee

I’ve noticed something lately. I suppose it’s not a recent “thing” but it seems to be ramping up, or at least I’m just seeing it more.

NickMom calls it “Other Mothering.” Jon Acuff calls it Jesus Juke. I refer to myself as a recovering Pharisee. It takes on many forms and has been around since the dawn of man but I think that social media has propelled it to a whole new level.

It’s that attitude of needing to right all the wrongs (or in the Christian community-spiritualizing everything). It’s the desire to interject your opinion and make sure that others know how misled, misinformed or mistaken they are.

It’s as if Facebook has given us carte blanche to blurt, spew and puke our opinions out when we disagree with what someone says. It feels like we’ve become a world full of Lucy’s from the Peanuts cartoon. We’re the crabby, complaining know-it-alls putting up ‘The Doctor Is In’ sign and blurting our opinions out on flat screens around the world. It wouldn’t be so bad if we did it with the motive of actually helping or encouraging someone, but it appears to be more about attacking a different view than ours.

lucy-the-doctor-is-inDon’t get me wrong, I have no problem with dialogue of opposing ideas. I love it really. Let’s hash it out! I enjoy talking about the different ways we process life and what we believe. I am open to the discussion, but I want it to be a discussion, not an immature shouting match while hiding behind a computer screen. I think we’re a lot more gutsy behind the keyboard than across the table from one another, which doesn’t lead to connection, only division.

It feels fruitless and empty to me.

I shared a picture recently on Facebook of a deer that my Father-in-law shot. He was told just a few months ago that he may not ever walk again, but he is walking and he was able to go hunting with his son and shoot a trophy buck. I was so proud knowing that this was a big deal to him and what it represented in his life.

I posted a picture from my phone because I knew that so many of our family friends would be thrilled for him.

But.

Those who disagree with hunting felt it more important to share their opinions than allow me to celebrate this great moment. I was going to just ignore it until it got to the point that I knew when my hunting friends saw the comments they would rally back and a full-on argument would break out on a post that was supposed to be about my Father-in-law… so I pulled it down. I didn’t regret that I posted the picture or feel that I was wrong but I took it down because I was so irritated with those who high jacked my FB to tell the world their opinions.

I heard a conservative Christian leader say that we have to be extremely careful who we quote and make sure that we know that the person we are quoting is reputable and that we agree with everything they say or it will come back to bite us. I understand the philosophy behind his statement, but I disagree with him. Although I admit I have been bitten, especially when quoting someone like Oprah in the Christian community.

Why are we so afraid of different opinions?
I can remember when I was researching my challenged beliefs…I felt guilty for even questioning what I had been taught.

Rachel Held Evans, Elizabeth Esther, Rob Bell and Wayne Jacobsen are just a few who are stoking the fire and waking us up to conversations that we need to have. This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything they say, but I love the dialogue they are inspiring.

I can’t think of one person whom I agree with 100%. Does that mean I can’t listen to what they have to say? Does that mean I have to argue every point they make that I don’t like?  No. The Lord spoke though a rooster when he crowed 3 times but I don’t agree with everything roosters say. Same goes for donkeys.

I enjoy Beth Moore and Anne Lamott’s books. Quote either of them and you’re sure to tick someone off. Mother Teresa tends to be quite safe, and usually the Bible is too, but be careful with the Message translation because the King James Version only people are sure to let you know that you’re skating on thin ice.

Our world gets really small when we limit the voices around us. You don’t have to agree with everyone, and you don’t have to tell them when you don’t. But if you can further the conversation and be ok with not always coming to an agreed conclusion, than please do. I’ve found that the things I was once so belligerent about were usually based in my hope that the loudest voice wins. I was so wrong. But don’t be surprised if I blow it again…I’m still recovering.

Can we care about each other enough to listen?

 

You might like this one too…Is It Our Job to Point Out Sin.

Is God Your Hero Or Your Father?

Drowning

Imagine a little girl, 8 yrs. old, swimming at the beach and suddenly she goes underwater. She’s drowning. A lifeguard runs to save her. He pulls her little body out of the water, rushes her back to shore and gives her CPR. She chokes and sputters and starts to breathe. He’s relieved and the crowd around him cheers. He’s done his job, he’s a hero. He hands her over to her family and after a little applause, high fives and fist pumps from the crowd he goes about his business.

Now imagine that same little girl swimming, she goes under water and her father realizes that she’s missing. He dives into the water frantically searching for her, screaming her name. He looks under the water and sees her, he pulls her limp-lifeless body up into his arms and races to shore. He instinctively breathes into her tiny lungs and she spews out water and takes a breath. Overcome with emotion, he pulls her to his pounding chest. He embraces her, kisses her and wipes the hair from her face.

I think that he could not hold her close enough in that moment. He would envelope her in his love and never ever want to let her out of his sight again.

He’s not a hero, he’s her father. He didn’t rescue her because it was his job, he snatched her back from the clutches of death because he loves her. She is his child and he does not want to lose her.

The lifeguard represents who Jesus is when we make a simple confession to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior and then dutifully attend church and live a good little life. He’s like a lifeguard that rescues us but that doesn’t mean that we live in His love or that His love changes us.

But the Father, represents our God…he rescued her because of his love for her. The Dad represents the love that compelled Jesus to the cross for us.

Knowing God as our Father, believing that the Bible is a letter of love to us and not a list of rules, this is what makes the difference and takes us from knowing him as our hero to our Father.

F-A-I-T-H

portfolio cups copyI had a beautiful morning. Nine ladies sitting around a table at Panera Bread.

The stories ranged from a single young lady who loved to knit to an “experienced” woman of 92 who had raised five children and also started an organization to spay and neuter feral cats in South Florida.

This is what I love about Praise and Coffee. No agendas, just a springboard of questions to get the conversation going and see where it leads us.

It was Dawn’s first Praise and Coffee and she did a fabulous job! She encouraged us with Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and made sure that everyone had a chance to share what was on their heart.

I loved hearing about one woman who was becoming a Grandma for the first time. It would not have been her plan to see her daughter having a child right now, but God was giving her a love for this baby that she will help raise.

Another gal had just recently lost a lot of weight and another was feeling especially insecure about what God wanted her to do with her life.

Real women with stories to share.

I think Marty (she’s 92 but has decided to reverse the numbers and celebrate her 29th birthday each year from now on) blessed us most when she shared how she has walked all these years with the Lord.

She said that it’s all about F-A-I-T-H.

F- fantastic

A- adventure

I- in

T- trusting

H- Him

She encouraged us to be aware of Him in our lives every single hour. She said that luck has nothing to do with the wonderful things that happen in our life. It’s all about Him.

I couldn’t help but sit there and think about how she was exactly twice my age and still on fire for God, I love it.

Then Dawn, who seems to have the most solid faith of anyone in the room, shared how she’s struggled to find hope when her heart was broken.

It was a beautiful morning.
It reminded me why I started Praise and Coffee in the first place.
Just a few women, sharing life over a cup of coffee.

 

If you would like to share in this ministry, hop over here to find out how (or email me): How Anyone Can Start a Praise and Coffee

I am also starting a six week online study this Monday, October 7th. I’d love to have you join us!
Check here for more details: Becoming Me Through Him ~ Online Study 

 

 

Introducing An Online Study


This 6 week ONLINE study begins October 7, 2013…
Becoming Me copy

Do you ever struggle to know where you fit? 

Do you feel like your relationship with God is flat and you want more?

Are you tired of religion as you know it and ready for a deeper walk with God?

I want to invite you to join in an online study that I will be leading:

“Becoming Me Through Him”

Unashamedly waking up to the woman God created you to be.

I’ve shared this message for about 5 years at retreats (and I’ll be sharing it again this weekend), it’s based on the story of Rahab and woven with the stories of other women in the Bible. These women compel us to lean in and learn from their courage and tenacity to have more than a wallflower life.

In this study we will talk about labels , comparison and that we shouldn’t run from the past but instead let God redeem it and use it to bring a deeper understanding of the women He created us to be. We’ll explore how fear and anxiety set us off course and how living in a loving relationship with God will bring rest for our souls.

The entire study will be done on a Facebook group page. This is a new adventure for me so I’m not sure how it will all unfold but I’m planning on posting notes, videos and posts beginning on Oct. 7th. Your participation and comments will fuel the discussion and I encourage you to share your thoughts if you are comfortable! If you would rather just sit back and take it in, feel free. You are not required to do anything.

All women are welcome, (there is no cost and nothing to purchase) click here to join:
Becoming Me Through Him

Also…I’m just thrilled that my ministry partner Ronel Sidney will be flying in tonight from California to road trip with me to a retreat that I’m speaking at in Northern Michigan this weekend! Would you pray for us as we unpack not only our shoes, but also exciting new ideas for the future of Praise and Coffee?!

Keep up with our shenanigans at @PraiseAndCoffee and Ronel Sidney on Twitter.

Ladies, I hope you’ll join us on this study! I’m praying that it opens all of our hearts to a better understanding of the Father’s love and how living loved will change us and shape our journeys in ways we never imagined.

It certainly has for me!

Hold On To Hope, Even In The Deep Stuff


we are larger

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Hold on to hope, even in the deep stuff.

 

Your Life Is Waiting For You To Let It Happen

let go small

Why do we fight so hard to hold on to a life that is far less than what it could be?

Old customs, habits and relationships that are stagnant and lifeless, yet we cling to them like worn blankies because they are comfortable.

What are you clutching that needs to be released?

Is it ideas about what will make you happy, but have failed to for years?

Is it hope that the past could have been different?

How about today, you decide that even though the outside world hasn’t changed, you have, and you’re not staying in this puddle pretending it’s an ocean, any longer.

Your life is waiting for you to let it happen. Let go of what’s keeping you from it.

Be Still And Know

Be still and know

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God
Psalm 46:10

This has been my go-to verse over the last season of my life.

When I feel overwhelmed, confused or just exhausted, this reminds me to breathe.

It brings me to the quiet place of knowing that He is God and that He loves me and is with me, no matter what condition my head or heart are in at the moment.

There is always room for you in the presence of God.

 

The Silence of Forgiveness

silence of Jesus

Photo by SS

Snapping back is so easy, it takes no effort.
Retaliation spills naturally from our lips.

Silence is a necessary struggle.
Thankfully, Jesus showed us how.

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