Making People a Part of Your Journey

Life Lessons on Manitou

A month ago, our family attempted our toughest hike to date. The famous Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado.The Manitou Incline is a converted rail-car track. It is an intense one mile ascent with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking determination!

Our family was excited and as ready as Floridians could be for this hike. One portion of the experience that I had not factored in were the people we would meet along the journey. We thought we would arrive early enough that very few people would even be on the trail. That was an inaccurate assumption! The trail was full even at 6:00 AM on a Saturday.

There were military service men and women hiking for conditioning, a local set of twin brothers and their younger brother who hike the trail everyday and twice on Saturday, and a woman with a prosthetic leg, along with a host of out-of-towners and tourists just like us.

One man in particular made our acquaintance and a lasting impression as well. His name was Don. Don is a father of three grown boys and a first timer at hiking Manitou. He stopped periodically to ask us questions about our kids and comment on what a great job we were doing as parents for having our kids attempt something so difficult at such an early age. (We may have been crazy, but we accepted commendable too.) He encouraged us and visited with us when he could have carried on and continued with little thought of the family of four attempting the same journey he was on.

But he didn’t.

Don made people a part of his journey, and we benefited from his encouragement and company.

As we neared the summit of Manitou, there was Don waiting on our family and cheering us on to the finish. He waited to take our picture and celebrate with us. He took the time to text the pictures to my husband and give him some pointers for navigating the four mile descent down Barr Trail. Don wasn’t obligated to go the second mile, but the second mile is why he is more memorable than many other people we hiked the Incline with that day.

As we bustle about our everyday jobs and activities, let’s strive to make the second, memorable mile for someone who is walking the same direction we are. Who knows, maybe in taking time to encourage and celebrate another person’s journey will forever change our own.

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*Photo courtesy of our friend, Don.

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A Little Help from Our Friends

 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. ~ Hebrews 13:15

Moses was admittedly weak of tongue and all-but refused the job that God set before him in a blaze of burning glory. He doubted his own strength and abilities to complete the assignment of bringing God’s people out of Egyptian slavery and into the promised land. Little did Moses realize that his greatest tribulations would not come from the hard-hearted Pharaoh of Egypt, but the ungrateful, complaining hearts of God’s chosen people. Time and time again the Israelites cried out to Moses with complaints to which Moses replied something to the effect: “Am I God? Cry out to God!”

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The lips of God’s own, newly-delivered people did not acknowledge His name; rather the embittered Israelites questioned the intentions of the one whom God sent. Why have you brought us here to die? It was better for us in Egypt. Did you bring us here for us to hunger and thirst to death?

But in each case, Moses produced fruit of lips that acknowledged God’s name. He petitioned the Father on the people’s behalf and interceded when as yet the Intercessor, Christ Jesus, was yet to come. Moses was a godly, gracious leader who lived continually in the practice of praising and petitioning God. Yes, his temper had the better part of him on a few occasions, but his example is primarily exemplary.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.~Hebrews 13:16

Sometimes that which we are called to share is simply our strength.

Moses, shortly after exiting Egypt, appointed Joshua to gather men to fight with Amalek. Moses, with the staff the Lord had provided at the burning bush, went up to the top of a hill overlooking the battleground. He took his brother and spokesman, Aaron, and another man, Hur, with him. As the battle raged, Moses discovered that whenever he held up his hands, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.

Moses needed his hands to be lifted high towards heaven in order for the battle to be won. A stance of surrender, a stance of awe and praise towards God. But oh how we grow tired and weary in battle!

But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. ~Exodus 17:12

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Are you a Moses in your own time, or perhaps you know a fellow servant like Moses? Remember, Moses needed a rock on which to rest and friends to help him persevere in a surrendered posture until the setting of the sun.

Could it be that God has brought us into someone’s life for such a time as this? To stand alongside and declare, “I am here to serve you with the strength God has given me until the sun sets on your battle.”

May we find the practice of praise a midst our arsenal and the pursuit to serve one another in our creed. May we see each other to the sunset and our arms can rest in Him.

Do you ever wish you could keep all the people documented in the Bible straight in your head? For instance, “Who was Aaron? What was his relation to Moses?” Have you ever wondered how the pieces of the Bible weave together to form the story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration? Well, my husband Ron and his ministry assistant have written a wonderful resource that I would like to introduce to you. The book is called, Connect the Dots Making Sense of the Bible: A 50 Day Journey Through the Bible. This resource documents in brief narratives 50 of the most well-known characters in the Bible along with 12 of the vilest characters in the Bible. Additionally, there is a fifty day reading plan to develop an overview of the Bible and a synopsis of the 66 books of the Bible entitled,Connect The Dots Making Sense of the Bible: Group Guide (Volume 2).

I would love for you to visit Amazon by clicking on the link below. You can purchase their book there along with a wonderful small group curriculum guide to help your small group make sense of the Bible. I hope you will join us on the journey to connecting the dots.  Ron and Deborah have done the heavy lifting like Aaron and Hur for Moses. Will you let them aid you in the strength to stand as an equipped ambassador of God? I hope so.


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Preparing a Friendship

Have you ever made an unexpected friend? I have! On more than one occasion my first impressions of someone  has given me a skewed version of reality. Upon further inspection, combined with greater portions of time spent in their company, I made friends with people whom I considered outside the realm of my personal comfort zone. First, this required my speaking up and reaching out, much like Barnabas to Saul.

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In Acts 9:20-30, Luke records Paul’s meeting with the disciples in Damascus. Paul then preaches in the synagogues proving Jesus is the Christ which leads to the plot of the Jews to kill the ex-persecutor of Christians, Paul, or Saul of Tarsus. However, Paul’s disciples take him by night and let him down in a basket through an opening in the city wall.

Paul travels to Jerusalem, where the disciples are afraid of him; they do not believe his conversion is true. But Barnabas raises the risk and puts faith in the profession of Paul. Thereafter, Paul preaches boldly in Jerusalem until the disciples learn the Hellenists are seeking to kill Paul. So the disciples send Paul off to Tarsus.

Later in Acts 13, we see Barnabas and Saul (Paul) commissioned by the Holy Spirit to be set apart for His work. Although Paul and Barnabas will later have such differences in ministry that they part ways, I wonder if during their stint in joint ministry did these two men talk over the time when Barnabas took courage to believe in the evidence of Paul’s amazing grace conversion?

Jesus said that people will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. In choosing to give Paul a chance and believe on his word that he was a changed man, by the grace of Jesus alone, Barnabas demonstrated the love of Christ to Paul.

This week’s memory verse for Colossal Coaster World, VBS 2013, is  2 Timothy 1:7:

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

God’s Spirit continues to work power, love, and a sound mind in and through disciples of Christ Jesus. We too are to be known by our love for one another. This week at Calvary Church, our children are packing bags of food in partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere (here). One way we can show our love  is by sharing our resources to pay for the food of brothers and sisters in need. The cost is $2,500. Prayerfully consider if you will give to this cause.

First impressions, and past impressions, aren’t always correct. We can choose to be fearful and subsequently miss out on relationships that will bring us closer to the person Christ is developing us into, or we can live out of His Spirit of power, love, and a mind that is unafraid. Praise the Lord, He has given us a Spirit to guide us and the gift of a sound mind to face our fears and trust in God. (1 Timothy 2:7)

What about you? Is God preparing you for a friendship with an unlikely candidate? Pray that He will guide you to speak up and reach out to the people that He places in your path today. Who knows, one day you may look back together and say, “Remember when…?”

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The Unseen Soccer Mom

I pass moms that look similar to me frequently.

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Dunkin Donuts coffee. Check.

Two or more car seats. Check.

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One of two styles going on: 1. Workout soccer mom. 2. I am trying to accessorize with earrings and matching clothes soccer mom.  Check. Check.

Smiling while dragging assisting one child and carrying the other one on your hip. Check. (This is only a portion of the time. Often they are running ahead of me in the grassy or carpeted portions of the landscape or sweetly holding hands. Check.)

Watching as the kids run into daddy’s arms and welcome him home while finishing up that one last thing.Then welcoming him with a hug and kiss (assuming I am not at the breaking point). Check.

What about all of the unseen moments of a mom? Are the private moments and mutterings identifiable?

Last week while parking at Target I was listening to Moody Bible Radio and heard a preacher say something along the lines of the following.

Women size one another up upon first meeting. They quickly look at one another and determine many things about one another including will she be a threat to my husband? Will she threaten my social standing in a group?

In other words, is this woman superior to me in some way and ultimately is she a threat?

Oh my, that takes soccer mom to a whole new level! The pastor preaching said that he knows this happens because many women have told him.

Can you identify with these statements?

My answer is a resounding YES!

Yikes! That scenario spelled out puts many feelings in perspective. I can attest this happens in my mind instantly without seeking to do so nor being cognizant that it is happening.

This is a result of sin entering a perfectly ordered world. Pride and insecurity at their worst.

When I look at moms that are similar to me on the outside I wonder the likeness of the unseen portions of their days.

Did they have their time in God’s word this morning? Do they know Jesus at all? If they do not know Jesus how on earth are they processing all the demands of marriage, family, and perhaps career? What is on their minds, to do lists, bucket lists?

What insecurities tease them? What temptations are they struggling with? Do they know they are beautiful and loved?

I am really not a soccer mom. My daughter takes dance and my son has not begun organized sports. However, I am a mom and I understand the world and the Bible are two different pulls on our lives. I know that authentic encouraging relationships between women are hard to develop. I am so thankful for women that God is placing in my path that are reaching out to me.

Can I honestly say that being a (youth) pastor’s wife somewhat makes relationships even harder? Is that ok confess? I hope so.

Whether we size one another up or not, we need each other. We need community among women that will encourage us on grande vanilla latte matching earring days and on homemade Foldger’s in my cup out the door to the gym days. It is how we proceed after the initial seconds of sizing each other up that will determine the flow of our relationships.

We need to be willing to communicate some of the unseen soccer mom at surface level so that in looking at one another we see more than coffee cups. We see souls searching for the same One. We see that we are really not all that different. We see a sister.

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