A Passionate Pursuit! ( God…. I don’t want to die a Bachelor)

Originally written May 1, 2017
He was 16 yrs old and scared to death he might die a bachelor as his mentor and 80 some year old friend who he affectionately called Brother Toby was.
Brother Toby was a man in the church my husband grew up in, he was a bachelor all his life. My husband Jeff had looked up to him all his life and suddenly at the ripe old age of 16 my husband decides there is 1 thing for sure he does not want to follow Brother Toby’s footsteps in and that is, He doesn’t want to be a bachelor.
So the story I’ve been told is Jeff begin to pray ” Oh, Lord Please don’t let me be a bachelor! “.  It just so happened that Jeff’s home church was without a pastor and Jeff”s dad was the head deacon at the time and therefore, he had all the resume’s of prospective pastors. So, Jeff decides what better wife to have than a preachers daughter and since Jeff was on the hunt, because in his mind, time was a wasting. Jeff decides to sneak into his fathers office and search the family pictures sent with the pastoral resumes to find the pastor with the daughter that Jeff had decided he would marry. It just so happened my father had submitted his resume to the church and I am told, that Jeff narrowed the pictures of the preachers daughter’s down from the top 10, to 5 to, 3 and then you guessed it…… me!
To make a long story short, I guess you could say the rest is History! There were several sets of circumstances but my father ultimately became the pastor and 4 yrs later Jeff and I were married at the ripe old ages 17 and 20.
Jeff was determined that I was going to be his wife, and apparently God was in favor of that because of the circumstances that followed.
You know, this got me thinking……..
What separates those of us who are just attending church and those of us who are being the church? Jeff could of been the typical teenage boy who dated several different girls and refused to look for any kind of real commitment at such a young age. But Jeff was on a mission, He had a what I would call a “God given desire” that he would not let anyone or anything distract him from. The fact is when Jeff heard a group of boys from the church talking about trying to pursue me, he step right up and told them “She is mine, so don’t even bother” (and we hadn’t even met yet!) He often jokingly but rightly tells everyone that he and God are a lot alike, the both loved me first.
See Jeff was determined there was nothing casual about his persecute of me.  I think that’s what makes the difference from those attending church and those being the church. Just attending the church, is like casual dating with no expectations of commitment. Being the church is the expectation that God wants to speak to me so He can speak through me. There is an expectation of a commitment and a calling beyond ourselves when we ARE the church. If we are only attending the church we simply check it off our list, like knots on our belt in a dating relationship. We walk out the door after completing our weekly or sometimes semi or less weekly routine.  It is like you are saying “I have come and done my religious duty every Sunday and I am done” (ie going and sitting in a pew, then going home to wait to do it all over again whenever the next time that it is convenient)
Being the church is like an all in relationship, it is living a life of faith everyday expecting God to speak to you, so you can share Him with others. It was not uncommon for Jeff to claim his stake in our relationship before we had even met, the very first Sunday my father spoke at his home church. Jeff made it clear under no uncertain terms that he liked me. As my father shook hands with the people as they walked out the front door of the church. Jeff boldly proclaims before my father that ” You are gonna get this church if I have anything to do with it” When my father replies ” Oh yeah? Why?”Jeff confidently responds ” Because of your beautiful daughter” then he turned and walked away. It left my father speechless because I was only 13 yrs old at the time and still playing with barbie dolls.
If we are going to be the church, if we are going to follow in the abundant life God has called us to live. We need to approach it like an all out committed relationship, and in this day and age where, committed relationships are hard to come by. Let me challenge you to give Jesus your all. Like nothing you have ever loved before because He loves you like no one has ever loved you before.God wants to be your friend, He cares about every aspect of your life. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells His people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”See, He is in a committed relationship with you so much that He gave His life for you. (Which is what we just celebrated a few weeks ago) The question is, How committed are we to Him? Do we use Him like a vending machine and just call on Him when we need something or do we sincerely desire to know Him, are we committed to what His word says, we should do and are we so in captivated in His love for us that our gratitude towards Him pours out of us in the way we live our life?
Let me tell you today, that if you have only been an attender of church instead, of being the church. It is not to late. He is waiting right now with His arms out stretched. He so wants to spend more time with you and He, like my husband Jeff has never given up, even when I was not interested and totally unattracted to Jeff. Jeff never stopped loving me, he never stopped pursuing me and was waiting with open arms when I was ready. Christ is waiting on you today. There is more to this walk with Christ then just attending church and checking it off our list of things to do for the week.1 Cor. 3:16  tells us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  God wants to speak to you, so He can speak through you, We have a mission to share His love and life with others, but if we don’t really know Him, if we are not passionately pursuing Him. Then we aren’t being the Church, we are simply filling a pew. Go be the Church this week! Because God is passionately pursuing you.
Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!

Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way!

Call me a sexist or old fashion, but I think it is the wife’s job to manage the home,  that means cooking, cleaning, scheduling, etc.  Now, before you start sending me any letters and tell me that we don’t live in the 1950’s
anymore. Hear me out, I am not against the man helping around the house and working together with him as a team. But, I believe the ultimate responsibility rest on the wife to make sure that the home is a place of rest and peace
when your family comes home at the end of a long day. Whether that means, doing the work herself, hiring it out or
delegating jobs to the family members. But, typically for most of us it includes, managing those that live in the house by constantly reminding them that, they need to pick up after themselves. If you have kids, then it is our job to raise them to be responsible functioning members of society .

My kids know I am not their slave. My children  know or it might be more correct to say, They have been told, to keep their things picked up. Just because they have been told doesn’t mean they always do it!

After returning home last week from being gone for a month, taking care of my son’s family because his wife has been sick. Needless to say, when I returned to my home the house wasn’t exactly up to my standards, which I
competently understand  since I had left my husband and son here by themselves and truly didn’t expect it to be. I mean it is one thing for me to come home and find some dirty dishes in the sink or dusting to be done. But the welding mask under the end table and the fishing pole and guns left in the living room was totally unacceptable. I wasn’t having any of this outdoor equipment in my living room.  When the young man that did it knows, how I feel about those things. He has a room and garage to keep that stuff in. There is no and I repeat NO need to have any of it in my living room area. I kept my cool for the first few days, asking nicely for things to be returned to their rightful place. But, after repeatedly asking my son to get his fishing pole out of our living area, I just decided to do what I have done for years when my children do not pick up their things after being asked.

See, when my children were much younger, they knew they needed to keep the living area’s for our home picked up and presentable. I have always let them live pretty much how ever they want in their bedrooms, but the shared
living areas with us and possible guests need to be kept pretty much immaculate or what I like to call “Model Home Status” I guess being raised in a minister’s home and expecting company at any time and knowing that
that company was like your father’s employer makes one be a little more nervous about what your home looks like. Plus, it isn’t uncommon for us to have unexpected guest that might end up staying for dinner or even have to
spend the night. So, I was simply raised with the fact your home and yourself must be presentable for guest at all times. Because sometimes living Behind the Parsonage Walls, can feel like living in a fish
bowl.

When my kids were growing up. They learned quickly that mom isn’t going to pick up after them. If they valued something then they needed to keep it picked up and put away, if they weren’t playing with it. Otherwise, if I
told them to pick it up and they didn’t’ I simply went and got a black trash bag and started throwing there stuff away. Now, don’t think I am “That Stupid”  I didn’t actually trash the expensive toys I or someone else
had bought for them. Nope! But they didn’t know that,  all they knew was it was going out to the garage to be put out by the curb the next trash day.

But the truth is, I would go out there weeks later, see if there was something of value in the bag and either reintegrate it back in my children’s toy box without them knowing it or give it away to some deserving kid if mine had out grown it. They still know to this day, if they don’t keep their things picked up out of our common living spaces I
will throw them out. Oh! Not in the trash anymore. I just throw it out the back door.  My son has more than once had to walk out in the snow to get his size 16 men’s shoes he left in the middle of the living room floor,
because anything that big is a tripping hazard anyway!

So, as you can imagine after a couple times of asking for a certain fishing pole to be removed from my living room when I returned home and it wasn’t, the same faint happened to his fishing pole. Well almost……you see in my
anger and yes I was angry! I sorta forgot about the hook on the end of that pole and it wasn’t just a single hook but a 3 prong one. So ,when I slung that pole out the back door, You guessed it! One of those hooks got stuck
in my hand. Wow! all of the sudden I wasn’t angry anymore and as I called for help,  Chad came out of the garage door to see the blood dripping from my hand. His eyes sunk, he knew exactly what happened. I could tell he felt
terrible.

And this got me thinking……….
Isn’t that just like us sometimes. We get all upset because we don’t get the answer we want or God doesn’t answer us when we expect Him to.  So, we get in all this fear and decide to take matters into our own hands and do
something about it ourselves and that is usually when we make our biggest mistakes. Then, like Chad, Christ doesn’t come and say I knew you were going to do this, Christ doesn’t reprimand us or make fun of us for the
mistakes we make. He just looks at us.   I imagine with this huge disappointed look on His face,  just like Chad looked at me with huge concerned in his eyes thinking. ” I was going to do it in MY time” couldn’t
you have just waited?

See, Christ isn’t there to beat us up or tell us “He told us so”  Yes, there our consequences at times when we make bad choices just as there were for me. But Christ loves us and like Chad, would do anything in the world
for me, Christ loves us too and gave His life for us, He has a plan for us also. It just isn’t always in our timing.

You know the protocol son had a similar problem in the bible he couldn’t wait for his dad to die so he
could get all his inheritance. So he asked his dad for it early and decided to go out
and live his life as he chose. Making one mistake after another. Fulfilling his own wants and dreams. Never considering what the long term consequences of his choices would be. You can read the whole story in
the book of Luke Chapter 15 and it starts at verse 11

We do that today, don’t we. We don’t like how our life is going or we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it and there we go, off doing our own thing. with no regard to what Christ has done for us or wants for us.
We forget that we could refer to the maker of the universe who knows the past, present and future, who could give us direction and advice for the best plans for our lives. But instead we want it our way. Whether you call
yourself a follower of Christ or you simply are checking out these claims of Christ. We all are guilty of wanting our own way at least some of the time. We don’t like being told no or wait a little while. More accurately, we don’t trust Him to do it we are unwilling to wait for the answer in His time. We want OUR way and
we want it now!

If I had been more patient and waited for Chad knowing he had, had a busy weekend and would get to it. I would not of ended up in the ER with a bill I didn’t need and a bandage on my hand along with and evening wasted. Oh! and a really sore arm because those tetanus shots hurt!

I am so thankful that just like the father of the protocol son who welcomed his son home, with open arms. So does our Heavenly Father! His love for us is unconditional it doesn’t matter how many times we mess up. His love is
unexplainable and it is because of the very fact that He loves us so much that we need to trust Him more. We need to die to our own desires and trust the one who loves us unconditionally!

The choice is ours, Will we trust Christ? Will we wait Patiently? Will we accept His forgiveness and understanding when we mess up? Will we refuse to beat ourselves up for what mistakes we have made?  I urge you to accept His
love and trust Him today. Don’t let any mistake you have made keep you from knowing that you can start all over again and be welcomed into the family of God.

Karma or Reciprocity?

Karma or Reciprocity?

My daughter recently quit her job. Oh! it wasn’t because she really
wanted to. She loves her job. But her lease was up on her apartment.
Her roommate was moving to another town for her next leg of school and
since the school year was over she decided to come home for the
summer, before returning to Kansas City next year for school and live
in the dorms to be a “real college student”.

Over the last 3 years my daughter has given 3 days a week and then
some to 8 little kids under the age of 11 as their personal nanny. She
has helped homeschool them, helped potty trained them, she has feed
them, bathed them and loved these littles like her own. In return, the
momma of these sweet littles has loved my daughter. She has bought her
lunches, given her raises and most recently took her out on a girls
night because she wanted to make her send off was super special.  I in
return have loved on this young momma in different ways, sending
special thank you messages and gifts as well. Why you say? Because she
has loved my daughter for loving her littles.

All this love being thrown around got me thinking…..

You know some people would call this Karma. The word Karma comes from
Hinduism and Buddhism religion meaning “The sum of a persons actions
in this or previous states of existence, viewed as deciding fate in
future existences. and all to often I see that term being tossed
around and some call it destiny or fate, following as an effect from a
cause. ” The over use of this word “Karma”  really drives me crazy
(but that is another story)

See I believe there is another word for it. It is called reciprocity.
The dictionary defines it as, “To give full, etc., in return, to give
receive interchange.” You know there is a verse in the bible that
talks about it too:
“Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For
with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” Luke 6:38

Give and it shall be given…. I believe that means the good bad and
ugly attitudes of our life comes back to us. The scripture goes on to
say, pressed down shaken together and running over. Often times we
hear preachers use this term in the financial realm when trying to get
an offering to take up a collection to raise some sort of funds for
something.  But, I believe it also happens in the give and it shall be
given kind of way with how we treat people, the measure of love and
grace we show to others or the lack thereof will come back to us
pressed down, shaken together and running over.

I liken it to a trash can, you put trash in it over and over again
till it gets full. Then because you don’t want to bother taking it out
right now,  you put your big foot up in there and step on the stuff in
the can. pressing it down to make more room for more trash. Then you
continue to fill it up again. You repeat the process again and again
until nothing else will fit and it can’t be pressed down any further.

It is at that point that I believe it comes back to you. It is an
example of Reciprocity. Imagine what that would look like when you
dump it out. It was pressed down, shaken and continue to fill back up
till it was overflowing. That is what comes back to us.

Just like when my daughter loves on those babies, the mother out of
appreciation for someone that she could trust her children with and
show love, loved my daughter. In return, because that momma loved my
daughter, I loved her back.

Its been said there is nothing like a mother’s love and if you’re a
mother you know there is nothing like knowing your babies are being
loved.

That’s why I believe we need to always be aware that what we do, what
we say, how we treat others will come back to us and not because of
some Buddist-Hindu religion but because God’s word said it first. God
is the ultimate authority.

God invented the Law of Reciprocity and it is up to us on how it comes
back to us.
So every time you go to throw trash away ask yourself ” Am I treating
others like trash?” or ‘Am I blessing others and showing them the same
grace and mercy God has given to me.” ?

By
Alesa Lewis Miller
Pastor’s Wife of Lighthouse Worship Center
Mom of 3 Mimi of 3 and Blogger.

How To Get Committed!

How To Get Committed!

How To Get Committed

As long as I have been in ministry, which has pretty much been all my life
since I was raised in a preacher’s home, I have heard people say “This is my
church” or “I go to that church.” Yet, in some cases these people rarely,
if ever darken the door of the church building.

I have a friend who lives in the small Southeast Kansas town of about 1,300
people and she had the same issue happen the other day. See, the church she
has attended forever is struggling and is considering closing the doors.
When the officials that would help make that decision held a meeting with
the church body to consider what to do, lo and behold guess who showed
up?

Yep, it was people that hadn’t been to that church in years! During the
meeting they stated their reasons why the church should be kept open, and
vocalized their objection to even consider closing it!

See, for years I have watched (through my friend’s eyes) this church
struggle and flounder, barely hanging on. For most of those years it has
been her family that has held it together. The church was struggling to pay the bills and
praying for lost souls to come to church yet never able to reach the
full potential God had called this church to be. They were limited to what they could accomplish with a congregation of three or so people. Now my friend has felt the release to leave and go to another church and if her church dies, it dies.
You know the funny thing she told me about all those people who showed up
for the meeting to proclaim that this church needed to stay open, she told
me they didn’t show up for service the very next Sunday. These people
wanted to complain and wanted a service provided for them to call “theirs”
but they were unwilling to participate in making it happen.

This got me thinking………..
What if Christ was as faithful to us as we are to church?

The Bible talks to us about attending church, it says “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” And you know what else the verse says before that? “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good
works”. Hebrews 10:24-25

You know, in small towns I think I have noticed this more than ever, people
say, “this church” or “that church” is my church. Yet, in some cases they
don’t attend regularly nor do they go to another church. Calling a church “my church” is more than just the fact you have been there a few times, or that grandma attended there or your family helped build the church. No, to say “That is MY church” is saying you have made a commitment to that church. A true commitment to a church requires four things.

1. Commit to Your Church with Your Time. Commit that you are going to give your time each week to attend services, not just when you feel like it or on the days when the weather isn’t good for fishing. But commit you will be there when the doors are open.
Because what if God was only available to you as often as you felt like
going to church? Don’t you hate friends that only show up when they
want something? Imagine how frustrating it is for God who wants to give us
His best but yet we are unwilling to have a relationship with Him on an
everyday basis or go to His house as He’s asked us to do. Remember it is a fact that kids who grow up in homes that don’t attend church regularly grow up to be adults who don’t attend church regularly. This thing called living for Christ is more about a relationship and any relationship starts out by spending time with the one you want to build that relationship with, and I know you can spend time with God other then at church But you know what else you do in relationships? To keep any relationship going and strong you with someone you love you soon learn what they love and you desire to please them. Committing your time church pleases God.

2. Commit to Your Church with Your Talent.
Commit that you will give of your talents whether that is, cleaning toilets or baking in the bake sale. I know a lady who’s ministry was baking cinnamon rolls and going around town and sharing the love of Jesus by giving them away. I bet if you have lived in Kiowa County very long or knew a volunteer that helped rebuild Greensburg you know her too.
She simply looked around and saw what she had to give and gave her talent away to
others. What do you have? What can you do?

3.Commit to Your Church with Your Ministry Gifts.
Commit to use the gifts God has given you for His Glory. There are many gifts God has given us, the Bible talks about preaching and teaching, evangelism, etc…and don’t get me wrong we need all of those and the others that Eph 4:11 mentions too. You can volunteer to serve somewhere in the church even if it is only handing out the bulletin or coming in during the week and assuring there are tithing envelopes, pens, and pencils in the pews. Volunteer with the children’s ministry or rock a baby in the nursery. Just ask your pastor where you can serve, and after you pick him or her up off the floor because
someone volunteered without being asked, I am sure he can find something
that fits your gifts.

4. Commit to Your Church with Your Tithe.
God says that you are to take care of His bride and the church is His bride. When you say “this is my church” or ” I go to that church,” it means you are responsible for taking care of that church. In the Bible, tithe is defined as 1/10 of what we earn. See, when we realize that everything we have is God’s and all He has asked us to do is give back to His bride 10% of what He has given us it’s not so bad. It is like your neighbor going away and asking you to look after his wife, and he tells you “I will send you $1,000.00 a month if you will look after my wife by just giving her $100.00 of it each month I am gone.”What would you do? That whole $1,000.00 is your neighbor’s but yet he has
just said, give my bride 10% of that each month and I will keep sending you
the $1,000.00.

Tithing is simply acknowledging everything we have is His
and giving back what He has asked for, so His bride (the church) will be
taken care of. Well, perhaps you say “I don’t like that preacher” or “someone at that church didn’t wave at me when I waved at them so I am not giving that church
another dime.” Well let me first remind you that you aren’t giving the money
to the church or even the people in the church. The Bible says “Everything
we do should be as unto the Lord” Col 3:23. So when you tithe, you are giving to God not to man and the worst part about holding it back is that you are blatantly
defining what God has said in His word to do.

See it is unfortunate that as our smaller communities grow smaller, we are
losing more and more businesses, jobs, hospitals,schools and yes even
churches because I believe we have forgotten what it means to really belong
to something.

Let me encourage you today, either get behind and REALLY commit to the
church to which you claim to belong, or go find one to which you can commit. But don’t say “this is my church” or ” I go to that church” if you aren’t willing to be
committed. Just think what could have happened if the people who were
doing all the talking at my friend’s church put some real commitment with
all the “lip service” they were giving.

If you don’t have a church home let me encourage you to find one. I have to
say I have never seen a more faithful group of people than the church my
husband pastors. They have truly learned what “My Church” means. Those that
attend faithfully have adopted this commitment and truly know what it means
to belong.

I think all too often we forget that Christ gave himself for us. He was
beaten in front of the whole town and hung on a cross, naked in front of
all to see and some of us are not willing to lift a finger to help support
the local church, Because it “might not” be good enough or we are worried we will
be embarrassed. Many are trying to live down, or live up to the reputations we had as teenagers. In small towns we are all too often slow to forget and move on from the past. Whether it be our own reputations or someone else’s the fact that people can’t get past the past sometimes hinders many from moving on and growing in just what God has in store for them. I am so thankful God says, that when we ask forgiveness, our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. Let’s not let the past hold us back from being and doing all that God wants us to be. Let us remember what Hebrews10:25 says “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

So what church are you going to be committed to this next Sunday? Wherever it is, don’t forget what real commitment is.

By
Alesa Lewis Miller
Pastor’s wife of Lighthouse Worship Center, Blogger and Mom of 3
Just do it!!

Just do it!!

Conversations at my house today…….. I was giving my daughter some directions of how I thought she should handle a certain situation, to which she responded “Don’t you think I know that Mom?”  To which I responded  “Well if you knew that, then I assumed you would have done it already but you haven’t done it yet,  So, No! I don’t!

See, I believe when you know something to do, you should do it, In fact, I believe that is what God thinks too since He tells us in James “17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 (NKJV)

Since when did we become a generation of people who know to do good but don’t do it ? Since when did we become a generation that knows to do right but doesn’t do it?  Why is it that all the sudden it has become okay to be complacent, with just a wait and see kind of attitude? If we want to be true followers of Christ we have to stop being governed by our appetites, feelings and or our wants.  We must be governed by God’s word. And God’s word says”  23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23 (NKJV)” 

I understand there are times that we have to be patient and wait but there other times and more often than not, we should just simply need to do. Do what we know is right, do what is expected of us and in most cases go above and beyond what is expected of us. Just as we would, if God Himself, was sitting there watching us. Because you know what? He is!!! If we are suppose to be at work at 7am, be there 5 min early. If we have a report due don’t wait till the last minute to write it. If we know someone is ill, don’t wait for someone else to call on them. But all to often, it is too easy for us to sit around and wait for “someone else to do it” or when we get “comfortable enough” or when we “feel like it”.

I sure am glad God didn’t wait till He felt like it, to go to the cross.  I believe that’s what the Bible talks about when He says to take up the cross and follow me.  Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do and I’m not talking super spiritual things either, I’m talking day-to-day life things that make us responsible. Things that make us respectable. Those are the kind of things we need to be considering in our everyday lives. Those are the kind of things that make our witness reputable. So what are you going to do today? Are you going to do what you know is right to do or you just going to wait around until you feel like it?

And by the way…. My daughter did what she knew was right! I love that Girl!!

 

So close we can’t see

You know being raised in a ministers home and now being married to a minister, I have lived all over the country and each place my husband and I have lived, we have always made a point to get out and learn about the community. We always go see the sights. Sometimes we will just get in the car and drive, then stop in at the first little place we come up on and check it out,  we have been known to spend  the whole day just walking through a town and visiting every business. One of our favorite things to do is check out the local restaurants so we can experience the local cuisine, we may all be american’s, but there is definitely a difference in how and what we eat. From the seafood and down home cooking of the south to the fresh beef, sandwich spread and sauerkraut of the mid-west. One of our favorite things to do is go to those little, as some would say “hole in the wall” restaurants and experience the atmosphere of the community. Another fun thing that we feel helps us learn about our new community is check out the local museums and tourist locations in the area just to help us experience what others who have lived here for years or maybe even all their lives, already know.

We are always excited to share what we have learned with our present congregation where we are living.  Excitedly and almost proudly we share our recently new found knowledge and more often than not we are met with a “deer in headlights” kind of looks, even from prominent people in the community who should be aware of what is going on in their town and surrounding areas.  It seems to us more often then not, people who have lived in the same town for a long-time tend not to really actually know about the area they live. They are content to be in their own little world, mainly their home and work, without ever experiencing all that is available to them. They are so close they don’t even see what they have at their disposal.

This got me thinking……….

It seems to me that most people fall into the trap of just living their life, unconcerned about everything around them and all that it has to offer, or better yet, what they could offer to it. They have what some would call tunnel vision and I am not just talking about restaurants and museums I am talking about. The needs of others, or the very need in our own soul to grown deeper in a relationship with Christ. Perhaps we were raised in church and it is “just what you do” instead of it “being who you are” perhaps people know you go to church but they don’t see the loving, forgiving spirit that God gives us everyday,  in you. Often, we are so consumed with our daily to-do lists just to survive, we are forgetting what God has really called us to do. Oh! I have heard all my life, excuses like “Well, it’s just not in my nature to talk to people about God, I am not as out going as you” or “Its not my personality to raise my hands or clap in church” and you know I have really thought about this, and it was like the Lord said to me one day “They are right” “It is not their nature to do those things, because sin is the root of our nature.” It is only when we follow Christ we learn to die to our self and in the same way we turn away from sin, we also have to choose to turn and do the right thing. Even if that means we have to step outside our comfort zone. Because truth is our comfort zone is probably more on the selfish side then it is on the Godly side.

See God cares enough that He not only knows all the good places to eat in town, but He also knows your favorite food. 🙂 Seriously though, He does knows every hair on your head and knew every time you would say or do something to hurt Him and yet He still gave His life for you. He wasn’t inward focused but He was outward driven, driven so much that even though He did not want to hang on a cross where nails would be hammered into his feet and hands, where He would be stripped naked and beaten for you and me, even though He didn’t “feel” like going through all that, He did it anyway for you and me. (see Matt 26:39 & Luke 22:42 ) He loved us enough! He cared for us enough! That He left the comforts and home of heaven above and gave His life for you and me. So don’t you think you and I can step out of our comfort zone, can’t we look beyond ourselves, get involved in our community, reach out to our neighbors that live around us and most importantly, give Him ALL the praise and glory He deserves?Let’s not be so close, that we can’t see what is right in front of us.

The Ananais Complex

The Ananais Complex

You are in ministry. You have given your life for the call of God. That means doing things like staying up late at night with strangers because they need to talk; maybe missing a meal with the family because a parishioner is in need. It means getting a late night call and running out to be with the family of someone who was just in an accident. It means surprise guests for dinner; driving someone to the next town because they have no other way there. It means sometimes spending your family’s budget more on the ministry then on your family. It means you probably drive a used car and live in a house where you have no say as to what color it is or where it is located.
Well, that is ministry in the “traditional sense.” You know, the one where it is just understood that the Pastor is the only one who can tell someone about Jesus because, after all, he has the degree and gets the pay check.
Often times in ministry, whether in the “traditional sense” or not, those of us who tell others about Jesus have felt like, “Why should I even keep doing this? I am not appreciated; and I am not doing any good?” We are the unmentioned in the Bible; you know, the kind who do what they are supposed to do but never really see great things happen in their ministry, like thousands coming to hear them speak! No, we are that rural pastor in the town of two hundred, faithfully serving His community and church of twenty souls.  We are the faithful turtle in the Tortoise and the Hare story; just plugging along, maybe working a secular job simply to make ends meet. Why? – Because of our passion for Christ and desire to serve Him. We wait and listen for that still small voice so we can do what God has called us to do, to be some instrument of His will.
Recently, I was reading the story of Saul’s conversion and something jumped out at me I had never noticed before and it got me thinking…..
Acts 9:10-16 New International Version (NIV)
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”  “Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

When people read this story, their focus usually is on Saul, but today let’s looks at the other main character in this story:  Ananias. Not much is said about Ananias. In fact only this and one other verse comments on him in the whole biblethe-story-tortoise-and-hare-clip-art-1788881.
Acts 22:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

It says he was “a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews” . . .
That’s it!  A devout man . . . having a good testimony! That’s all the Bible says about him. Nowhere else in the Bible is this man mentioned.

Perhaps Ananias was a faithful pastor or maybe just an ordinary follower of Christ, giving his best to God every day. Probably feeling like he wasn’t making a huge difference in his community. Possibly feeling some days, like “What’s the use? I am not making a difference.” It is very possible he never really knew, in this life, the impact his obedience to God had when he went and prayed for Saul. Little did he realize what Saul would go on to do and the tremendous impact Saul would have on the world. I seriously doubt that Ananias ever thought Saul would write almost two thirds of the New Testament when he spoke the words, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know . . . For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard . . .” I am pretty sure Ananias was only considering the healing that had just taken place in Saul’s body and had no idea of the magnitude of what this guy, who was later called Paul, would do for God.  Little did he know that the Bible, which Paul was a huge part of writing, would still be being sold over 2000 years later. WOW! Talk about IMPACT! So many times we get focused on the “here and now” and forget that God’s vision is so much bigger than the “here and now!”  His thoughts are eternal!
I don’t know what you are feeling today, but you need to know that, as long as you are following what God has called you to do, you are not a failure and you have no idea of what impact you are making on those around you. We don’t know who the “Paul” may be, in your life. So don’t be disheartened; don’t give up; never quit! Just trust in God. Continue to do what He has called you to do. You may feel like the tortoise in this race of life, but remember: in the end, the tortoise wins!