Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

In 1997 I was living in San Antonio and praying God would send me a friend.  I was so lonely.  My family was far away in another country (Mississippi), and I was spending my free time by myself in an apartment with only the TV to keep me company.  My mom mentioned to me during one of our phone conversations that there was a Cornerstone Baptist Church I should visit.  Apparently one of her friends saw their preacher on TV and thought he was a good preacher.  Well, I couldn't find Cornerstone Baptist Church in the Yellow Pages (that's what we old people used back in the day to find phone numbers).  I called the information line (1411 for those youngsters reading this blog) and asked for the listing in San Antonio for Cornerstone Baptist Church.  The operator, who could have been anywhere in the United States, explained there was no BAPTIST church under that name, but there was a Cornerstone Church listing in San Antonio.  I felt that must be the one, so I asked for their number.   The next thing he said blew me away.  He responded, "What do you need to know about this church?  I sing in the choir there and I could probably answer any questions you have about the church?"

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I could have gotten an operator from anywhere in the United States, and yet the man on the other end of the line was from San Antonio.  AND, not just any San Antonio operator, but one that was an active member in the church I was trying to find out about.  Chills went up my spine.  I have no doubt that God was making a path for me to attend that church!  When I hung up the phone I let God know that I heard Him clearly.  I went to Cornerstone Church the very next Sunday.

God is always directing the paths of His people. He does the unexpected in our lives, and we should expect the unexpected as we walk with Him.  In Acts 10 you can read the story of a Roman army officer named Cornelius. Cornelius was a God-fearing man and very respected.  God told Cornelius to find Peter and bring him back to his home.  This was very unusual because Roman soldiers didn't socialize with Jewish people, besides the fact that Cornelius didn't even know Peter. Cornelius did know he needed to listen to God and act on His Word.  He listened and was obedient.  And Peter had to listen to God and do the unexpected as well.  Peter went to Cornelius' home and his family was saved because of it.  

What if Cornelius would not have followed the unexpected path?  What if Peter would not have followed the unexpected request?  I can only imagine what would have happened if they did not do the unexpected, but in my life I know what would have happened if I would have not gone to Cornerstone Church.  I would not have grown in my relationship with Jesus Christ at the pace God intended.  I would not have met my best friend and husband, Dean Blakeslee.  I was blessed by the unexpected direction God gave me, and so was Cornelius, and so was Peter.

Is God asking you to do something unexpected?  Maybe what He is asking you to do doesn't make sense, or maybe it is outside of your comfort zone?  Don't miss the blessings God has for you!! Follow His lead even if it is unexpected.  

Lord, thanks for doing the unexpected in my life. Thanks for blessings me time, and time, and time again more than I can ever imagine.  Please help me to always be ready for the unexpected paths you open up for me.  In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

For additional study read Acts 10 and list the unexpected things that happened in this chapter.  Also, make a list of the unexpected things you've done under God's direction in the past and the blessings you've received from doing those unexpected things.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baseball Coaches Are Ministers Too!

My son took the pitcher's mound on the little league baseball diamond this past Saturday for the first time ever. He was pretty cool under the pressure, but I was a nervous wreck.  When he struck out the first batter, my eyes filled with tears.  When he fielded the second batter's ball and threw him out at first base I lost it.  I cried like a baby in the stands. Yes, I was THAT mom in the stands.  But, in my defense I had watched my son struggle for a few years in baseball.  He wanted to play, but he's not wired to be as aggressive as some of the other boys.  He needed encouragement from someone other than his parents.  He needed a coach to see that he was good enough and that could do a good job.  

What this coach has done for my son and for many other boys he's coached is amazing and simply life changing for them.  He has said "you can do it" to little boys that need confidence.  He has impacted their lives as they are growing into little men.  I told my son's coach thanks for impacting him in such a positive way.  His reply was to say his job wasn't a big deal, and that I was the one doing the Lord's work as a Pastor. As I thought about that reply, I thought, "No, I'm not the only one doing the Lord's work! This baseball coach is a minister too!!"

In Matthew 28 Jesus tells us to go into the world and make disciples.  I don't think He meant that some Christians would be disciples.  I think He meant ALL Christians should go into the world  And, when He said go into the world, I think He meant to go into the world...into offices, neighborhoods, other churches, AND onto baseball fields.  He wants us to shine where we are planted for Him.  Look what Jesus said in Matthew 5: 14-16:

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

God wants us to be a light in this dark world.  YOU are a minister as much as I am a minister.  

Where's your ministry field?  Who in  your life needs to feel the love of Jesus?  Where can you shine your light that is in your normal routine?

Lord, thank you for Coach Kevin and the other Christian men and women that influence the next generation in a positive way.  Thank you for those shining their lights for You in the office place, in the classroom, and in their neighborhoods.  You are an amazing God that loves us, and I am thankful today for your Son that you sent to die for me. It's in His Precious Name I pray. ~ Amen.

For additional study read 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 and Ephesians 4:7-13.  How has God gifted you? How can you use these gifts for His glory?
Nate warming up before his first batter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don’t Call Me A Religious Leader!!!!

I’m reading through the book of Acts with my Bible study peeps.  We’re actually following the life of Peter.  We’ve seen his struggles and we’ve seen his victories as a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m learning many things through this study, but today it is impressed up on me that I do not want to be seen as a religious leader. Let me repeat, I DO NOT WANT TO BE SEEN AS A RELIGIOUS LEADER!!!

Yes, I’m a Pastor at a church.  Yes, being a Pastor makes me a leader.  Yes, our church would be considered a religious organization.  But, I don’t want to be associated with being a religious leader.  I do however want to be known as a Follower of Jesus Christ.  I want to be known as a Disciple of Jesus.  The term “religious leader” does not bring up good thoughts in my head, but the term Disciple sure does. 

Before you think I’ve fallen off the deep end, I want to refer you to the book of Acts.  The religious leaders in the book of Acts were jealous (Acts 5:17), they walked in fear (Acts 5:26), they were angry and acted in anger (Acts 5:33), and they used physical violence against God’s people (Acts 5:40).  And, these same religious leaders had also used bribery and persuasion to help crucify Jesus (Matthew 26 – 28).  As a Pastor in a church, I am called to reach, teach and help people in the name of Jesus, NOT act like these religious leaders did.

I should note that the people receiving all these negative actions were the ones that followed Jesus.  Peter and the Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they were doing what God called them to do.  They acted with courage and spoke truth.  They went to God in prayer asking His help and blessings.  They did not live in fear, but yet lived their lives in support of each other and most importantly in support of Jesus.  They gave God the glory for the miracles they were performing.  Now, THIS is how I want to be seen.  I want to be seen as a Spirited filled, courageous, truth-speaking, Follower of Jesus Christ.  I want to bring Him glory and honor and point others to the truth of His love for us.

What about you?  Do you think others around you see you as a religious person, or a Spirit-filled Believer?  If you’re not sure, think about asking those in your sphere of influence what they would say you are.

Lord, thank you for the example set in the Bible by Peter and the other Disciples.  What amazing testimonies they have for You.  Please forgive me for when I have acted “religious” and when I have not been obedient to your Holy Spirit.  Help me to live a life that glorifies you.  In the Precious Name of Jesus – Amen.

For a deeper study on this topic, Read Matthew 26 – 28 and Acts 4 – 6.  Make a list of all the actions and attitudes of the religious leaders and the all the actions and attitudes of the Disciples.  Journal what ways you need to change in order to be more like the Disciples.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

You Need to Share!

I share life with a group of women.  They don’t live in my house, but we get together on a regular basis.  While some of these women just recently joined our group, a lot of these women have been sharing life with me for years.  We’ve shared many things – recipes, laughter, tears, prayer requests, lunch, frustrations, joy, and even grief.  When we meet I try to teach and encourage them from what I’ve learned in life, but most meetings I learn more from them than they do from me.  They need me in their life, and I most certainly need them. I would be a hot mess without them, and they would agree with that statement!

What group of women do I share life with?  My Bible study friends.  We are a part of The Church.

Acts 2:42 says “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”  And if we keep reading through Acts 2, we see that verse 44 says the believers shared “everything”.  This is The Church.  This is how God intended us to live.  He never wanted us to be alone.  We were created from a Relationship (The Trinity) for relationships (with Him and each other).  Relationships are important to God, and they should be important to us.

Now, I’ve heard many people say, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.  I know Jesus as my Savior and I can read the Bible on my own.”  Well, here’s what I have to say about that.  Satan wants you alone.  Alone he can get you to believe lies.  When you are alone, you don’t have someone beside you to remind you of God’s truths. Life has struggles, and we were never, ever meant to take those struggles on by ourselves.  Yes, you can take on anything with the help of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  But, wouldn’t it be much easier if you had someone beside you to help you when you struggle? God wants Believers to help each other!

But sometimes it’s not about you! (Actually – it’s never really about you or any one of us, but let’s think about other people for a moment.) Sometimes it’s about someone else.  Sometimes other people need to hear your story about victory over cancer, or victory after a divorce, or victory over an addiction, or whatever your story is.  2 Corinthians 1:4 says we will be able to comfort others with the comfort we have received.  How in the world are you to comfort someone if you aren’t there!??!?!?!  God wouldn’t let you go through hard times unless He intended to use it in some way!  Someone in The Church needs to hear your story.

Are you actively, regularly attending church? What keeps you from going?  How has The Church been a blessing to you?

Lord, thanks for creating The Church.  I’d be a lost child without my Christian friends.  Thank You for women willing to share their lives with me.  Thank you for giving Your life for me. Help me never to take the church for granted.  In the precious name of Jesus – Amen.

For additional study:
·        Read Acts 2:42-47.  List what the Believers did when they met together.  What is God telling you through these scriptures.

·        Read 2 Corinthians 1:4.  Write it in your own words.  Is there a time when God has used your story to comfort someone else, or is there a time when you’ve been encouraged by someone else’s story?