How hard do you work at being Christ-like? Do you take it as seriously as say staying healthy, earning money, working out, managing a home, or pursuing hobbies? I struggle in this area and I think many other women do too. We often take this Christian life lackadaisically. We’re all too willing to play a passive role as we attend church and just hope God will gently change our ways eventually. Slowly…….becoming….…more….…like…….Jesus.
Was this the lifestyle God had in mind for Christians when he had Paul write in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers… one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yeah, I don’t think so. Nothing about this passage sounds passive to me. Neither did Paul display passivity in his life in working toward obedience to Christ.
My oldest son gave me a Fitbit for Mother’s Day last weekend. I didn’t even know I wanted one until he gave me one. I also don’t remember ever caring how many steps I took in 24 hours…until now. I set a goal of getting 10,000 steps per day and I’m really working at it. I find myself looking down at my wrist constantly to see how many steps I have taken and how many I have yet to go (usually lots). I’m taking walks and hopping on the treadmill. Why? What has changed? A goal has been set.
Let me ask you something today. If you knew that 10,000 steps would get you to Jesus, how hard would you work to take those steps? How much of your time would be devoted to that one goal of being close to him? For those of us who are his, there is no greater prize than to be with Jesus. My hope is that we would run hard and “strain forward to what lies ahead” like Paul.
We need to work hard at being more like Christ because Christ has made us his own. We have an upward call upon our lives - a directive to move toward God in Christ. We should break a sweat as we slay sin in our lives and move forward in holiness. Expend the energy necessary because every step counts and every step is worth it.
Ladies, hear this upward call that that comes to you from God’s Word. Read his voice every day and strive to live it out. It alone enables you to progress in sanctification. Learn to set goals for yourself. What sins do you want to tackle? Knock them out of your life one by one. What Christ-like trait do you need to display more of? Pursue it and practice it. All goals should lead to the ultimate goal of obtaining the prize of being with Christ face to face.
Have no doubts, Christ is worth the pursuit. So, arm yourself with his Word and take the next step.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8. If I had gotten my way, I would have gone a different direction in life. I’m so glad God is in charge.
Ladies, I’m going to be vulnerable today and completely honest with you: I’ve never really liked women. They’ve always annoyed me like no other creature on this planet. Since the days of middle school pettiness to high school flakes to adult gossips and superficiality, women bother me. So when God began pushing me to minister to and teach other women, I pushed back. They were not the group I wanted to hang with.
Many of the women’s ministries I had been involved with in the past were mostly what I would call “huff and fluff”. They huffed a little about God’s Word and then added in the fluff to appeal to their flesh. They would look at a few verses and then hastily apply it to their lives. Always trying to reassure the fragile female ego that they are beautiful, loved and “okay”. This did nothing for me. I knew the sin in my life was not beautiful, I didn’t understand what love was and I certainly did not feel “okay”. I longed for something more.
I tried to avoid women’s groups most of my life. Then God began to push. He pushed me with his Word and by using persistent believers he placed in my life (if you don’t have pushy godly friends in your life, you need some). The suggestions of others surprised me and I heard myself say more than once, loud and clear, “But, I don’t like women!” I said it to others and I said it to God. However, God always gets his way…this woman who did not like women’s groups found herself at the front of one.
I have been ministering to women in one form or another for several years now. The heart-journey God has taken me on in this area has been amazing, but one of the most important things he has shown me is this: I do not really dislike women. What!?! You may think this is silly, but this came as a great shock to me and I’ve only realized it in the last few years. Here is the truth of the matter: it is easy to dislike someone until God calls you to love them.
What I do dislike in women is the sin they display. The attributes of pettiness, superficiality, gossiping, interest in material possessions and self-indulgence are all sins women fall prey to easily (myself included!). These are what were turning me off of my own gender and what I was allowing to cloud my view of them. I was not seeing them for what they were - women in desperate need of the qualities of Jesus Christ. If they were saved, they didn’t know how to act like it. If they were not saved, Jesus was their only hope. How could I let my distaste for sins (that I often displayed myself) get in my way of showing them the truth found in God’s Word? I repent of this attitude I held for so long.
Now the other side of this is vital! It doesn’t end with simply not disliking women. It goes further because it has to. I can now honestly say that I love women and I love ministering to women. Why? For the treasure involved. Little else in all of creation is more beautiful than a godly woman. If you want to see something rare and spectacular, find a woman who fears the Lord above all else in her life. Find a woman who is humble and eager to serve. Who fills her marriage with grace, trains up her children in scripture and is an encourager to those around her. Find a woman who is diligent in her work and whose mouth is full of wisdom and solid counsel. A woman whose strength is found in her gentle nature and quiet spirit. Find a woman called by God and devoted to following after her Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the woman God declares praise-worthy (wow!) in Proverbs 31: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” A woman like this is said to be “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10), “the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 14:4) and possessing a beauty that is “precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4). I agree, a godly woman is a treasure beyond measure and brings great glory to her God. This is what I want to help women display more of in their lives.
The women in the fluffy studies from years ago were in desperate need of understanding more about Jesus. They needed deep biblical guidance, not craft time and pretty centerpieces. Women of today are no different. They need to be shown the riches that are found in Jesus alone. It is in him we find our value…in ourselves…and in each other. I will minister to women for the rest of my life, whether formally or informally. God has taught me to love them and now I can do nothing else.
I was at a Bible study before sitting down to write this blog tonight. One of the things we discussed is ways that Satan wreaks havoc in this world. Some of the topics discussed were abortion, homosexuality, and thinking we can do things on our own without God’s help. I couldn’t help but think how Satan is simply living up to his name as the deceiver of the world.
We read about it in Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” We have abortion because Satan has deceived us that we are in charge of our own bodies and choice should be valued above life. Tolerance of any type of union is pushed because we have been blinded to the truth of God’s Word that marriage is between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24). We are deceived everyday thinking that we can even breathe apart from God’s authority to allow it to happen.
The name Satan literally means “adversary” which also tells us what he does. He is an antagonist, he is against us always, he is for no one. He hates all people, believers and non-believers alike (that is his nature), but he often targets Christians. This is pointed out in scripture in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” To keep this simple, ladies - Satan is real and he is hunting you down.
I want you to pay attention to this today because you need to know that you have an enemy intending to do you harm every single day of your life. What are you doing to prevent his deception in your life? We take self-defense courses to learn how to defend ourselves from physical attack, do we take spiritual attack as seriously? I don’t think we do.
What lies are you listening to? Are there common ones in your life that keep popping up? (You’re a bad mother, you’re a failure, church doesn’t matter, the Bible is subjective …) Realize who is talking to you - it is your Adversary. John describes him this way, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (8:44). He is full of lies and constantly spewing them at you. Do you realize this?
This is why I encourage you to question everything! Question your beliefs, question what others tell you, even the thoughts that cross your mind each day (where are they coming from?). There is only one standard of truth and that is God’s infallible Word. Should we question God’s word? Yes! In a right way, look there for truth and answers! Don’t simply doubt and walk away. Being an inquisitive reader, always asking “why?” It is a great way to search the Bible for understanding. I have such confidence in God’s Word because I have been examining the Bible for years myself. The more I read it, the more proof I find of its truth. I dare you to try it yourself.
It is there that we find the only true defense system that protects us from our Antagonist. We are told in Ephesians 6:11 to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” And, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” (v. 16). Our enemy is scheming against us, but we have a shield of faith to protect us. Faith in what? Faith in a God who has overcome the world (Jn. 16:3) and who has authority over the Enemy (Mt. 28:18) and who has promised to defeat our Enemy for good. Revelation 20:10, “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where…they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
We fight lies with truth, truth is found in the Word of God which is called the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Arm yourself well and defend yourself daily. As 1 Peter 5:8 says “be watchful” for that prowling lion.
I want to make clear, we cannot simply blame Satan for our wrong doing. He may point us in the right (wrong) direction, but we are the ones taking willing steps into darkness. We are held accountable for our actions before God. God is the one who will hold up our “beliefs” to the measuring rod of his perfect Word. Your decisions, beliefs and actions are on your shoulders. That is why you need to seriously question everything.
Don’t take the word of your priest, pastor, spouse, friend, counselor, teacher or parent as truth before weighing it against Scripture. Same goes for your personal feelings of right and wrong (“The heart is deceitful above all things” Jer. 17:9) and mainstream beliefs accepted by the misguided majority.
Question everything until you find solid truth to build your life on. That will be the solid bedrock of Jesus Christ.
You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. – Psalm 60:4
As I have studied American wars with my boys this year, I have come to realize how important flags are in a battle. For example, the battlefields of the Civil War were chaotic places filled with smoke, noise and confusion. A flag from a soldier’s regiment or state provided a valuable visual landmark. It served as a rallying point and helped the soldiers keep close to each other. A flag provided a reminder of what they were fighting for and gave the soldiers incentive to press on.
These days it seems that there are many different flags being raised that people rally under. Social causes top the list. Recently the media was filled with women lifting up signs and banners that they proudly marched down the streets of our nation. They gave themselves to these causes and have conformed their lives around them.
Today, my question for you is: what flag are you living under? Each of us has a banner that we raise and dedicate ourselves to. Call it your reason for living or the passion for your existence. What is yours? Most likely you are not wielding a physical sign above your head, but you have something that you are spending yourself on.
Is it the “all-sacred” home and family? Success? Physical fitness or beauty? Comfort? Maybe it’s a “worthy” cause that trips your trigger: the environment, animals, sanctity of life, social tolerance or medical research. For many it is a combination of these elements of life. We fashion our own banner of maybe family, acceptance, being green and healthy living. When we think we have it right we lift it up in social media, in what we give money to, in what we talk about and how we pick our friends.
What does your banner look like, ladies? Pause and consider that question. Here’s another - what are we doing designing our own banners to define our life? Have we forgotten… there are only two options available! There are only two possible flags to live under: the flag of Jesus Christ or the flag of the world. We need to stop trying to make our own.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:30a, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” We are either gathered with Jesus or gathered against Jesus. The banner above your head either reads, “With Jesus” or “Against Jesus”. Check it closely! There are no flags for “Undecided”, “Socially Conscious”, “Nice People”, “Pro-Choice”, or “Baptists”.
The women who took to the streets in protest a few weeks ago evidenced this fact. They were protesting for women’s rights and equality but many of the signs they raised displayed their hatred for Jesus Christ. How strange that those blaming Jesus for their problems are the ones who prove him right over and over again.
Psalm 60:4 above tells us that God himself has set up a banner for those who fear him. It is singular, there is only one banner, the banner of Christ.
The soldiers in the American wars would die for their flag. Are you so bold in your dedication? Are you willing to hang the flag of, “With Jesus” on your life? To display it in everything you do and say? Are you devoted to agreeing with all that is in his Word? If not, you are most likely on the other side under the flag of the world. You okay with having “Against Jesus” above your head? Think about that.
Ladies, if you have been waving any flag other than the flag of Christ in your life it is time to take it down and burn it. Are we pro-life, pro-family and anti-violence? You bet, but it is because we are pro-Jesus first and foremost. There is no reason to battle for right and wrong outside of the One who defines right and wrong. We support causes that are biblical but we conform our lives around Jesus Christ and not the cause.
We need to be with Christ and everything he says in his Word. If we carry any banner in our life to show the world what we live and die for, let it be a white one washed clean with the blood of our Savior and let it simply say, “With Jesus”.
“You shall be holy as I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16
Does serving an infinitely holy God intimidate you? If not, it should. This quote of God by Peter should cause a great pause, it should initiate an examination of your heart. Don’t skip over it. This is not an isolated verse, it is also found in Leviticus 11:44 and 45, 19:2, 20:7 and there are other verses very similar such as Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
As Christians we cherish the “shall” in the verse from 1 Peter 1:16 above (praise God for helping verbs). There is coming a day when we will be fully holy. That will be the day we get to be with our Savior and before our God, complete (wow, do we look forward to that day!). But, while we are here on earth and in the process of holification (yep, made that up) what are we to do? We read in the Bible that we (true Christians) are progressively being conformed to the image of Jesus “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18), but, what does that look like today, this very day that you are reading these words? Good question! Here is the answer: it is displayed in the very next thing you do.
We often like to step way back and take a broad panoramic view of our lives and hope it displays progressive holiness. This is a very good thing to do and your life will image that promise from God if you are truly his. But, what about the close-up view of today, even this hour, or the next minute? How do you take the enormous task of becoming more like Jesus and display that in your mundane, ordinary life right now? It starts with the very next thing you do.
Are you about to speak to your husband? Speak words of respect and love. Are you talking with co-workers? Refuse to gossip and find opportunities to turn the conversation toward the gospel. Are you wiping snotty noses? Do so in love and because Jesus also humbled himself and served others. Are you deciding what to do for the evening? Make a choice that accords with Scripture and pleases God. Do holiness now.
We can easily get caught up in “putting off” holiness for another day and just trust that God will get us there eventually. We like to think of ourselves as “long-term projects”, maybe saving holiness for our golden years. This is a rotten way to think and says very little for our zeal for the Lord and his desire for us to “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Instead we need to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). We need to work at our holiness with discipline and be, “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1). Fear God and shape up. We are his kids and we need to act like it.
Understand, it is okay to feel overwhelmed when you read verses calling for your holiness. Imitating our perfect Savior is a huge task! Actually a God-sized task, only accomplished by God himself. That is exactly why Jesus sent his Spirit, the Helper, to reside in you. It is the Spirit that produces the fruit of holiness that honors God. We really can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). The Holy Spirit will help you be more like Jesus, from the next thing to the golden years.
Take comfort in knowing that when God says, “You shall be holy as I am holy, “it is not just a command but also a promise. You will someday experience the fullness of the rewards of being washed clean with the blood of Jesus. Our holification will be completed (it’s a good word). We will truly be holy like our Father is. It will be a great day!
Until that time, Ladies, intentionally work on your holiness. Continually do the next thing like Jesus would.
I have recently made the discovery that I am not a very nice person. I’m not trying to be self-depreciating, I really am not as nice as I had hoped I was. Just ask my husband.
This past weekend Phil and I were teasing each other (as we often do) and he said, “You are so mean to me!” He was joking at the time, but I took the liberty of telling him how fortunate he was to have me and that I knew for a fact that I was VERY nice to him. If anyone was mean it had to be him. I proceeded to remind him of a good example (the first red flag was already waving in my head… I ignored it). As if he didn’t know the details already, I recounted them for him. I won’t do that here, but it had to do with my birthday, me being sick and dog puke. You can put the pieces together yourself. Other great examples flooded my brain, but that one seemed adequate enough to prove my point (red flag number two…ignored).
So after this discussion (which he took quite graciously and quietly) I decided to further demonstrate my incredible niceness throughout the rest of the evening. We were headed to Dubuque as a family and I figured this would be the perfect setting for the boys to see how nice I am to their father. What a great example I would prove to be and then Phil would have to eat his words – ha! (Red flag number three… ignored.)
Phil drove. Oh my. After biting my tongue several times I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. If only I had driven instead, it may not have proven such a challenge. We had been in Dubuque for less than an hour; my tongue was sore and I was tired of being silent. The reality finally hit me and I said, “I give up! You are right, I AM mean! I can’t hold it in any longer!” Phil, gracious again, just smiled and shook his head.
We laughed at the time, but it has been very humbling for me. I really didn’t realize how biting I was and how often! I was trying so hard to not be mean, I couldn’t speak. Unkind words so quickly came to my mouth that all I could do was try to block their exit. It was almost painful not to let them fly. Talk about an eye opener, the words from James 3:8 about the tongue come to mind, “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” I had a taste of my own poison and it was awful.
The hard truth is that holding my tongue is important, but that isn’t the full discipline of taming the tongue. We don’t tame something (such as an animal) just to have it stay still and do nothing. We tame it to behave in a specific manner. One way our tongue needs to behave is given to us in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Stopping the hurtful words from coming out is not enough, the command is not to be silent. We are instructed to speak words of grace that build a person up. This is not something we can conjure up on our own. What was coming out of my mouth that night (and all too often everyday) demonstrates what is in my heart…and I am not pleased with myself. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18.
My heart needs work…and I’m guessing yours does too. I may not know you, but I have talked to enough women to know that we often travel the same roads and experience the same struggles. How is your heart looking? Is your tongue burning and staining those around you (James 3:6)? I challenge you to examine your words for a single day. You may be quickly shocked like I was. I don’t say this to shame you, just the opposite. These written words of mine are meant to build you up and turn you to Christ; he is the only one who can do the work needed in your heart and mine. It is a process, but one we should be intentionally active in.
Ladies, our mouths should be fountains of life to those around us (Proverbs 10:11). Imagine what talking to each other would be like then! Imagine the growth of our relationships (including our marriages)! The results would be heavenly. I for one am in. Here is my simple prayer today and maybe it can be yours too: “Have your way in my heart, O Lord. Fill me with your Word so that I may overflow with your grace. Amen.”
Are you busy? Of course you are! And you always will be. There are no “calm” seasons of life so stop waiting for them – commit to reading the Bible. I am cheering for you; here are some of my personal tips to help you out:
The worst feeling in the world is feeling stupid. I know because I’ve been there too many times for my liking. Math and chemistry come to mind and the Rubik’s cube my son got for Christmas. Not even my time online with “Fixing your Rubik’s Cube for Dummies” could help me. Ugh.
There is one area that I want to encourage you to focus on in the coming year. It is not your waistline, spending habits or being nicer to others (a usual resolution of a friend of mine, obviously not as successful as she would like to be each year). You need to become WISE. You need to resolve to learn more about God in 2017. Specifically, Jesus Christ.
Before we get deeper into this, let me give you some wonderful news right up front. It is found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When you seek to know God first and foremost, he takes care of the rest. He will provide for your needs and help you live a better life according to his Word. Could it be that you have gotten it backwards all these years?? Yes. Yes you have. Pursuing outside, worldly goals without first establishing your heart in Christ will always drive you further away from God and further away from happiness. Seek God first.
Now let’s dive in. You need to know Jesus in a personal way. No more depending on pastors, priests, deacons, parents, friends, or pretty Instagram quotes for your spiritual guidance and pseudo biblical knowledge. Time to stand on your own two feet, ladies. Time to be independent in your understanding of who Jesus is, what he has done and what that means to you personally. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10. Think of fearing God (understanding who he is and the power and authority he possesses over you) as the gateway into wisdom. In other words you cannot have wisdom without first knowing God. So get to know him or stay stupid (“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7b).
No friend, priest or pastor will be there with you when you go before God, no one to point to and say, “I believe in everything he/she does.” Nope, God will not ask if you know him, he will TELL you if you know him or not (more accurately, whether you are known by him or not). “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 7:23 and 25:30. However, for those who have become wise through the irresistible grace of God, Jesus will be right there speaking to the Father on your behalf. “Yes, I know her, she is mine, I paid for her sins with my blood.” God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21.
God is such a merciful God that he wrote all about himself using 40 different authors over a span of around 1500 years to give you a good picture of who he is. The book he wrote is the Bible and now is when you should begin reading it. Seek him (“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13). Get to know Jesus right away in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now, listen closely to this part. If someone, ANYONE, tries to stop you from reading the Words of God (saying you won’t understand them, you might interpret them wrongly, the Bible is inaccurate, the Bible is incomplete without the extra papal writings, etc.). Tell them to GET LOST, away with that sort of medieval suppression! What they are keeping you from are the words of eternal life (take it from Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” John 6:68). Women, think clearly here. Why in nearly every other area of your life will you declare that you are independent yet when it comes to the Bible you willingly hand over the reins, telling someone else to think for you? Knock it off! Pick up the Bible and read the book of Luke for goodness sake. Give the world your backside and run towards God.
Finding wisdom and awakening to who Christ is, is the most glorious, life-change anyone could ever dream of. Make 2017 different, make it the year you become wise… the year that changes every other year to come…forever.
End note: For any of you who are not sure where to start or maybe don’t even own a good bible, talk to me. Message me, call me, email me. I can provide both a bible and guidance. That is my passion and mission, to educate women in understanding the Bible and who Jesus is. There is nothing more important.
Hello again, Ladies. Over the past couple weeks we have been busy exposing lies that our Enemy from down under (way under, not Australia) has been mailing us direct and sealing with an evil kiss. These steaming packages come express delivery from Hell’s “Department of Deceptions and Distractions” right to our door. Too often we sign for them, bring them in and open up trouble. BUT no longer! Through the truth of God’s word we are now gaining wisdom and slicing these lies to pieces.
So let’s get down to business on this next one too. First, read parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t. Lies we have dealt with already, 1.) I don’t fit in and I can’t connect. 2.) I don’t have any spiritual gifts. These are outright lies – scripture tells us that if we are his, we are connected and part of the body whether we feel like it or not AND every Christian has been given gifts to use for the good of the whole Church body. This leads us to #3…
LIE #3: I have gifts but no way to use them. Malarkey, hogwash and poppycock! (Yep, web thesaurus again, you need to try that thing). I won’t even let this one slide. Tell me, what kind of mean god would give you gifts and then not provide an opportunity to use them? Is this some kind of sadistic cosmic joke? Or do we have a random god who has no clear reason or purpose behind what he does? I’ll say it again, poppycock! Not the God I serve. Nuh-uh. No way.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Cor. 14:33a. Our God is a God of peace and order, he did not create chaos in Genesis, but set forth order with purpose. Keep those words in mind when thinking of God– order with purpose. This is true in creation, this is true in how God wrote out the salvation story and it is true for your life as well (remember we have a God concerned about individuals! See blog for lie #2). God is the author of your story (Psalms 139:16). It may not always feel like it, but God has put your life in divine order and assigned it specific purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. This verse always excites me. God has work for us to do (as individuals) that he prepared for us long ago. Think: tailor made gifts for tailor made tasks. Now that is an awesome, plan ahead, I’m-in-charge-and-I-know-what-I-am-doing kind of God. That is my God, thank you very much. And yours too, so get out there and see what type of works he has for you! Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to.
There may be a specific role to plug into at the physical church building or maybe not. But there are always, always, always ways to use your gifts for the good of the body. Remember 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” If you are not using your gifts you are not being a good steward of the grace God has given you. Count this as encouragement and a warning too. Don’t be in a position where you are holding back from God (not cool).
So find ways to use your tailor made talents. Here are some possible ideas: talk with other women at church and help them connect, write scripture verses out and give them to others for encouragement, make meals for busy new moms, go on a mission trip, study God’s word deeply, watch children for others in the church, lead a Bible study in your home, pray with someone, clean the church, teach children, sit with someone who is lonely, give hugs, build relationships with the young women in the church, ask someone what they need prayer for, greet others warmly and make them feel welcome at church, write notes of encouragement and mail them out, pray for someone new each day, read the Bible with someone, support missions, decorate the church or offer help in homes, paint, sit next to those who come to church alone, share your testimony, invite others into your home and show hospitality, invite someone to get coffee and talk about what you are reading in the Bible, play an instrument for praise, share your joy with someone, share someone’s burden, take a young lady to get her hair done and talk about purity, take a walk with someone and see how they are really doing.
This list could go on for miles, you get the idea. Now make yourself take the time to have your own brainstorming session. Your God-given personality style will shape how you serve and love others. Do not fall into the trap of gift comparison, each of us is unique. Simple acts of service are demonstrations of a heart belonging to God and that’s what it’s all about. You may not slash though a jungle in Guinea to spread the gospel (though you might), but you can build up the body with a smile and the sharing of God’s word right where you are. Let’s not complicate what God has made plain.
So, serve, love, teach, and encourage with God’s word. Practice your gifts, stretch yourself and grow into the awesome story that he has written just for you. It is oh, so good.
My youngest son, Troy, has been blessed with the gift of helping. He is always eager to be of assistance to anyone in need. One of the most common phrases out of his mouth is, “Can I help?” He purposefully runs ahead to open doors for family and strangers too. He loves to help me in the kitchen and if grocery bag carrying was a sport he would already be a pro at age 9.
I witnessed the extent of his servant heart again recently when our family attended a church work day to install a new floor in our sanctuary. Troy was a great help. He hauled heavy boxes of flooring, distributed the pieces, picked up old boxes, set up chairs and even handed out water bottles. He was never far away and always ready to assist.
At one point, as I was working on the floor along with others, I heard some sniffling behind me. I looked back to see Troy kneeling by a heavy box of flooring and doing his best to hold back tears; it was a fight he was losing. I could see that he had smashed his fingers when he lowered the box to the floor and he was in pain. He was struggling to still open the cardboard box up so that he could provide the pieces for the workers and not slow things down. But he was hurting and as much as he was trying to hold it back the little sobs kept escaping.
Troy was far enough away from me that he did not see that I noticed what he was going through. As his mom who loves him very much, I wanted to jump up, run to him and hold him and let him cry. I would check out his finger, find some ice to put on it and let him sit out for a while. But that is not what I did…I did the opposite. I let him hurt, I let him cry, I left him on his own and just watched.
The words that came into my mind at that moment were “suffer for doing good.” The full verse is found in 1 Peter 3:17, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Now I am not silly enough to compare Troy’s hurt fingers to serious Christian persecution, but I think it can still be a good lesson and a valuable experience.
As mothers (or anyone who has influence on a child’s life) we are in the serious and God-assigned business of raising-up the next generation of Christ followers (God wiling). We need to teach them how to suffer and how to suffer well. We need to allow specific types of pain in their lives so they can experience it and practice dealing with it. We need to not save them from all hurts. Examples:
All of this needs to be done in careful and loving ways, never intending harm, but always out of concern for their eternal souls and future standing before God.
Do not do a disservice to your children by preparing them for a cushy lifestyle where everything is fair and all participants get a trophy. Our desire should be to train up sold-out, world-changing, counter-cultural, Bible-wise Disciples of Christ. Persecution is a guarantee for those who love Christ (2 Tim. 3:12). Teach them this and prepare them so they will stand firm when the trials come.
Troy did work through his pain on his own and finished his job of opening the box and continued serving those around him. Instead of running off to hide, he loved on others with red tear-worn eyes and a smile. What a lesson for me to witness in my own son. God’s words ring ever true:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5