Wisdom is knowledge applied correctly

The sermon this week was over Job, technically Job 1:1-22 but Kevin did a pretty good job covering the whole book.

There were several “unusual” aspects of the sermon this week – Kevin apologized at the beginning for being too passionate, Kevin lied at the beginning of his story, and I left with more questions than answers. All of these unusuals are good things for my understanding and relationship with God. My questions are below, listen to the sermon and let me know your thoughts…

  • Is suffering anything but not having the answers? Or not having perspective?
  • What do you do when you don’t have the answers?
  • How do we encounter God in the midst of our suffering? You need a relational encounter with the God of the universe.
  • What view of God shapes how you fill in the blanks?
  • We think that knowing “why” is sufficient but we need God. Job asks “why” and is answered by “who.”
  • How do you trust God in the midst of suffering? By celebrating community and rejoicing that in the fact that Jesus saves.
  • At the end of the day all you have is God – is that sufficient for you?

I have so much to learn about God. Some of it He will reveal to me and some He will wait until we get to heaven. I do know that God uses suffering for the good of His Kingdom. Always. Every time. You can count on it. You can believe in it.

I Boast No More

“No more, my God, I boast no more

Of all the duties I have done;

I quit the hopes I held before,

To trust the merits of thy Son.

Now, for the love I bear his name,

What was my gain I count my loss;

My former pride I call my shame,

and nail my glory to his cross.

Ys, and I must and will esteem

All things but loss for Jesus’ sake;

O may my soul be found in him,

And of his righteousness partake!

The best obedience of my hands

dares not appear before thy throne;

But faith can answer thy demands

by pleading what my Lord has done.”

 

-Words by Isaac Watts, Music by Sandra McCracken

This song rang so true to me at church tonight. I hope you find truth and praise within its words.

 

Insanity

God is so incredible!

There is nothing else I can do but praise Him! I am so stupidly excited about Him answering my prayers again (and again and again)!! Insert definition of insane – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – thanks Albert Einstein. I pray and pray and pray and when God answers, I am amazed (and insane)!

God is sovereign which means He does His Will in His Time (aka not mine). I am blessed today to see God’s work thru my life. He answered my prayer from my quiet time this morning with a phone call from a dear friend this evening. My only reaction is one of worship and praise! I don’t know what else to do – I’ve even harassed my roommate whom is exhausted from traveling all week with how incredible God is. The best part? She just smiled and said that I was providing her with the same experience my friend was providing to me 🙂

Lord, please help me to continue to point people to the cross. Please help my relationships (with everyone in my life) to be glorifying to you. Thank you for doing work. Thank you for doing work thru me. Thank you for letting me receive the praise that you deserve.

In His incredibleness, God has also provided me a glimpse of the pain He must feel every time I sin and choose the darkness over His light. Another friend is struggling with the Lord (which is a familiar place for me) but is not finding hope and answers from Jesus. I want so desperately to pull her into the Light and I am so inadequate to do that. Only Jesus can. Only God can change her heart. Lord, please comfort her. Please help her heart to change to you. Please help me to be a tool for you to show how powerful and all consuming you are. And thank you for giving me shining moments of clarity about you. I know that I can never understand you completely and that you have a perfect plan for me which includes patiences and waiting. Please help me to remember your son Jesus in all that I do.

Pirates

Several friends and I went to see the Pirates exhibit at Union Station yesterday – it was good. It’s a National Geographic presentation on what piracy was like from a historic perspective found from the remains of the Whydoh ship that was wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod. You can see more information here.

The most amazing part of the exhibit was how present God was. There were no mentions of God in the actual exhibit materials but the people that I went with pushed me in my relationship with Him so incredibly that I have to write about it. Once again, I find myself amazed by my heavenly Father actually talking to me (maybe one day I will get it thru my head that He loves me enough to want to talk to me all the time if I would just listen).

Some back story: I’ve been struggling with being single. Most of the time I am totally content with where God has put me but recently I’ve had more and more mounting moments of dissatisfaction. God hasn’t given me whom He would have me marry. It’s HIS timing but I want it to MINE.

These moments are fueled by my attraction to a particular boy at church. This boy has not responded or reacted to any situation or conversation we’ve had the way that I thought he would. In fact, every time we talk I end up seeking God to be able to process or understand our conversations. I think this is one of the biggest reasons he’s so attractive. I’ve never been around someone like that before. These conversations have also revealed how broken he and I really are – we need the love and grace of Jesus Christ to make it and we’re both reaching for that with arms and hands wide open. I know that God is calling me to be his friend. NOT his girlfriend. his friend. I pray that my action would reflect God’s desires and not my heart’s.

So yesterday him, I, one of my best friends, another good friend, and one of his good friends went to see the real pirates exhibit. It was on my Kansas City Bucket List. The day was so normal and that was amazing. It’s funny – Christians are not “normal” when it comes to spending time with the opposite sex, especially if there is some attraction there. Women are trying to be patient and wait for whom God would put as the head of their household. Men are trying to be respectful of physical boundaries and learn how to treat women like the bride of Christ. Both are noble desires. Both lead to moments of awkwardness and distance. We over analyze and place too much faith in what we are saying or doing and how the other person will respond. Yesterday was blissful because I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing or worried about the response I would get. I was enjoying spending time with people.

And God was there. The reason I like spending time with this man is because he manages to interject God into the heart of every conversation we have. We were walking around reading about slavery and I made a statement that I was struggling to wrap my mind all the way around a society that trades in humans, that placed a monetary amount on a human being. And how did God let this activity continue to His people, to people made in His image. His comment was wanting to read and study the term “slavery” and how it is used in the Bible, what the derivative of it was, and if God intended for it to be used with so many social connotations that we’ve given it today. Wow – turn me right back around to God’s word when I was struggling.

After the museum we were going to get sushi for lunch but both sushi places ended up being closed (weird, it was 1:30pm on a Saturday but anyway) so we ended up eating at Chipotle. Chipotle is one of my favorite restaurants so I wasn’t complaining but I’m still craving sushi. 🙂

The excellent conversation continued. In normal flow of conversation, he asked me if I would be content with God if I knew He was never going to give me a husband? My response was “yes, I try to live my life each day as if that was my hope but that there were some days that I was going to be bitter or upset about it.” Thinking over this the last few hours, I think I was being truthful in my response but I do have some hope that God will answer my desire to be married and be submissive to my husband. I pray that God would guide my heart to be hopeful only in Him and His Son. I haven’t made an decisions about career or location or anything that revolved around marital status and I want to continue that trend. I am also incredibly thankful to God that He didn’t allow me to marry my ex-fiance. I would either be divorced or trapped in a un-godly marriage. To be so thankful to not be married helps me understand how thankful I should be with whatever God has in store for me.

Now, I’ve over analyzed every comment, look, text, and question that was brought up yesterday and come to several conclusions:

1. God has shown me an example of one quality that I want in my future marriage – the ability to have wonderful conversations with whomever I’m with that push me to grow in faith with God. This is my new deal breaker. This is also what God wants me to understand about seeking Him so that whomever I’m with will also seek Him.

2. When I give up control of a situation and just enjoy it, God is there and is working and is perfect. I need to remember this one more often. His faithfulness is flawless.

3. I need God’s help to be able to be friends with this man. I need God’s help to squash my heart’s desires so that I can let the Holy Spirit shine through me. That is truly what I want – for this man to get to experience the love of God through a positive friend relationship with a woman.

4. God is always guiding me, even when I’m not listening. I’ve been praying for weeks now about not understanding how to go from meeting someone to being married to them. God has answered my prayer by showing me how to spend time with people that fosters deep relationships and conversations and seeds of pursuit that are still focused on God. I’ve sinned in the past by loosing sight of God when I’m in relationships with men and they are not seeking God.

5. I am blessed. I am so incredibly blessed by the Grace of God and the death of His Son Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. The war is remembering Jesus.

5 P’s

Wednesday night was my first member meeting at church. It was a wonderful time to celebrate as a family of faith what has been accomplished with our building fund to date and to worship with God.

Kevin, one of our elders, said he has been praying for us using 5 P’s and encouraged us to do the same.

  • Plain – Lord, please come into my life in all the plain, mundane places. Please capture my heart while I’m brushing my teeth, preparing a document, walking to the car. Help me to search for you in the dark corners and wide open spaces of my life.
  • Pneumatic – God, please empower me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Help me to be like pneumatic equipment, always ready to fire for you in an instant to make a positive difference.
  • Passionate – I want to be passionate about you Lord in all that I do. People should see your face reflected in my actions. Father, please take over my desires and passions for other things and turn them to you.
  • Pleading – Lord help me to be a Christian that prays at every chance I get. Help me to understand the moments when I should be praying.
  • Plodding – Help us to trod the path you have before us, Lord. Help us to continue doing things as you would have us to fulfill your purpose.

 

Haiti

I promised to tell you about my membership interview at Redeemer Fellowship here in Kansas City. If you’re ever in the area and need some food for your soul, you should come in for service. (They also post the sermons each Sunday if you never find yourself in KC and need some spiritual healing too). This church has changed my life in ways only God can orchestrate and I am beyond thankful.

A year or so ago I was in a downward spiral of selfishness and bad habits. My friend (turned roommate) Rachel invited me to go to this church that she loves. I put her off for several months before I gave in and I’ve been there every Sunday I’m in KC since! I thank God daily for putting her in my life. I quickly signed up for the membership class, called Redeemer DNA, to figure out if I wanted to join a church again. I had struggled, and ultimately let myself blame God for actions of a church in Austin and had been using that as the perfect excuse to do whatever I wanted to…

Part of joining Redeemer is taking the class, another part is donating your time and talents so I began to read scripture during worship services. I love to speak to large groups of people, although I prefer to wing-it and not have anything rehearsed. I actually get nervous before reading when I have to say things correctly and even more nervous if the audience knows that I’m supposed to be saying. I find myself leaning on God to be able to make it to the front of the church without tripping and then pronouncing everything correctly without squeaking. It’s been a wonderful learning opportunity for me when I didn’t think it was really going to be.

The final part of the membership process is the membership interview with one of the pastors. “Membership interview” is really the wrong terminology but the english language (language in general) is inadequate to describe this situation. “Pastor meet-and-greet” gets closer to actuality but passes the cheesy line as well….This is not an interview because there is no judgement on if you get to be a member or not, no right or wrong answers. This is a conversation between you and pastor about what you believe in and where you stand in your life. They want to be able to call you by name on Sunday morning. They want to understand what you are struggling with so they can respond to it. They want to make connections and point you in directions of growth.

My growth came from a couple different directions during the course of this conversation. I was talking about how I’m feeling restless and how I’ve been praying for God to send me in his direction in regards to physically where I’m living, and not about living with Rachel or in an apartment or something else, but rather about what city and state and country I should be living in. We delved into the discussion about how I move around to avoid conflict and deep emotional connections with people – it’s easier to move than to tell someone why I don’t like what they are doing. I’ve been working on this but still have this sense of restlessness.

I then focused on trying to balance my work and my life and my faith. I compartmentalize events and escape them by going to work. If I don’t want to deal with something then I simply have to go to work and deal with something else. I have more control with work. I’m now balancing (most of the time) my work demands and creating space in my life for God to work.

All this space has left me with a restlessness on how to fill it. I’ve thought about joining another ministry team at church but just haven’t had one speak to me yet. Evan (my pastor) asked if I had ever thought about going to Haiti with the church for a mission trip. I quickly blurted two (ridiculous) responses: “I don’t like hugging babies, it’s not my thing” and “I question the effectiveness of doing short term mission trips because they tend to validate the goer and not the receivers.”

Evan smiled, got thoughtful, and told me to pray about it before explaining that this trip was to figure out how the church can me more productive in a long-term relationship with the Haiti Orphan Project. He suggested I consider going because of the leadership skills I have and that it was not all about hugging babies.

So I prayed.

And then I signed up to go on the trip. I leave April 30th and come back May 6th.

This is about glorifying God, loving children, and helping develop opportunities for other people in the church to do the same. This is not about me. This is not about my comfort zone. This is about hugging children because they do not have anyone else to hug. This is about learning how other people spend their lives. This is about listening to God work and move in my life and the world. If I pray for an answer and don’t like the one He gives me, I cannot keep praying for answers.

I ask that you pray for this trip. Please pray for safe travels, open hearts and minds, resilient stomachs, and for this to touch and move hundreds of people to action.

Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12 :4-11

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, bu the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds fo tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each on individually as he wills.”

Spiritual gifts are not abilities. Spiritual gifts are opportunities to minister that are appointed by the Spirit of God and empowered by the Spirit of God, for the ministry of the Spirit of God and to unify the body of Christ which is the Church.

Unlike the spiritual gifts tests we take much like personality tests for work and potential career paths, spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit whom dwells within us and means that we are never alone. These tests are not helpful because they are not Biblical and in fact, they constrict us to think that we only have one spiritual gift. It proves us with an excuse to not act when the Holy Spirit provides us an opportunity to.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4:20-11 all list spiritual gifts but they are actually ministries and roles, not gifts in the sense that we think about gifts. In fact, the Greek word that translates into “gifts” is used 17 times in the New Testament (16 times by Paul) but never means ability. It is always used to mean “that which is freely bestowed or given.” Like a present.

These lists also provide a huge amount of diversity and in this diversity we find needs that connect us to each other. In the body of Christ, we cannot function by ourselves. Only the Spirit of God can unite the Church (1 Corinthians 12: 27).

So what to do?

  • Stop asking “where can I use my gift” and start asking “where is God pointing me to a need in the Church to serve?”
  • Pray for clarity. Pray to understan the needs of the body. Pray for the Holy Spirit to equip you in God’s time of opportunity.
  • Serve. Serve someone. Sever someplace. Serve somehow.
  • Make some friends. Have community. Work thru the awkward times of first introductions to really develop relationships with people.

Mark 10:45

This sermon was very interesting to me because I have never made the straight connection between opportunities and my spiritual gifts before. God only gives you the gifts you need for the situations He is calling you into.

For more discussion on this sermon please visit http://www.reedemerkansascity.org to listen to the whole sermon.

Unity thru Holy Communion

1 Corinthians 11:17-24

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of Godby humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

Unity at the table is a result of unity in the table (Jesus Christ). We celebrate communion each week at Redeemer Fellowship because we need that much help and remembrance.

Verses 18-19 discuss how the church at Corinth liked the divisions that were created based on class, communion location, and communion time. They liked the divisions, just like us, because it allows the self-righteous to be recognized.

Verses 20-22 highlight the class divisions between all the members.

When you are divided in faith, you miss the entire point of how God brings everyone together. You can eat the supper but you cannot celebrate it because you do not understand the meal.

Galatians 3:26-19 discusses Jesus coming to reconcile people to God in order to create a family. Revelation 19:6-9 discussed this family being fully redeemed with one voice declaring God as Lord and celebrating in an eternal wedding party. Anything you pursue for unity will only divide you unless you are pursuing Jesus. This is also portrayed in verse 26.

At Redeemer we have tribal divisions (instead of obvious class divisions) that include social justice, age, sex, gender, marital status, children status, a holiness people (based on James 1:27), anti-commitment people (those who leave right after communion and show up late for service), people who hold out forgiveness towards others.

Verses 33-34 discuss Paul’s instructions for how to unify people at the table and make the meal about Jesus. Wait for one another, eat at home, remove the class issues.

Please visit Redeemer Fellowship online to listen to the whole sermon. It’s a good one. Pretty specific to our congregation but with wide applications.

Holy Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The sermon tonight was about Holy Communion. My roommate and I attended church at Redeemer Fellowship (www.redeemerkansascity.org) with a couple of mutual friends. It was one of those friends’ first time in a church (not on Christmas or Easter) in almost 10 years! I was nervous when we first got there but thankfully God calmed my heart so I could focus on what Kevin was preaching.

Kevin talked about how the different denominations within Christianity act out these passages from the Catholics who think the bread and wine are literally Jesus’ body to the Lutherans who think Jesus is the presence around the sacraments, to us, who know this is just bread and wine from the grocery store but that we are symbolically acting out Jesus’ love and commitment to us. Communion links the one unique sacrifice of Jesus on the cross with God’s promise to come again as often as we celebrate communion (which is every week at Redeemer).

Kevin also discussed the juice vs. wine debate. I had never really thought about this discussion too much before but apparently this is an American and recent struggle. A Methodist minister named Thomas Welch started making juice to offer his congregation during the prohibition era. Thomas later left the faith to become the well known juice maker of Welch’s juice and a dentist (moral judgement to you – he sold sugary drinks for kids and then side-lined fixing those same teeth). Redeemer has used juice in the past because they did not want to be a stumbling block for those struggling with alcoholism but tonight announced that we will have wine (and juice) sine that is what Jesus chose to bless – two of the most common elements available at that time.

Jesus taught us about communion during the passover meal. A meal that was full of ceremony and important steps to ensure that your family was passed over by the spirit during the plagues of Egypt (the last of these killing the first born sons of the family). Instead of progressing the meal as usual, Jesus took the bread and cup and told the disciples that it was actual him that they were celebrating – not the slaughtering of a four-legged lamb. Imagine celebrating Christmas each year and then one year when you’re in your mid-20s, having a family friend tell you that the holiday is actually all about them. This is basically what Jesus was doing when he taught the disciples communion for the first time.

I am sure glad that they got it right. There are lots of aspects of the Christian faith that require belief and actions of us to demonstrate God’s love to the rest of the world but communion is one action that God gave to us to tangibly act out our faith. Every time we eat the bread and drink from the cup we are renewing our faith in the promise that Jesus will come again and that his death more than covered up our sins before God.

The four of us went out to dinner after the service and discussed different aspects of the message and our upbringings. It was nice to have an open conversation about differences within denominations. The food at Aladdin’s is always worth the trip too!

I also stopped by Starbucks and had a quick cup of coffee with a lady from the church. I have decided to join the Scripture Reading ministry team. She gave me some basic training and got to know me before taking down my schedule for the next couple months. Hopefully I’ll be able to start impacting the worship experience at Redeemer pretty soon!

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

The wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;

How shall my tongue describe it? Where shall is praise begin?

Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free;

The wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

 

The wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching a mighty host.

By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost.

Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty;

The wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

 

More patient than my fight,

More faithful than my doubt,

Persistent though I run, O how his grace abounds!

Broader than my sin, deeper than my shame,

Stronger than my evil, O praise Jesus’ name!

 

The wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled,

By its transforming power, making him God’s dear child,

Purchasing peace and heaven, for all eternity;

Ther wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

The wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;

How sall my tongue describe it? Where sall its praise begin?