Thanksgiving is next week, and I’m still wrestling with this whole topic of giving. Not so much with the topic of “Thanks” giving. For sure I was horrible at giving thanks in my twenties, but I hope I’ve grown a bit in the gratitude department over the years.
Mostly, I’m grappling with “Fill-in-the-Blanks” giving. You could fill in the blanks with just about anything. Giving of _____ (time, money, possessions, control, empathy, encouragement, etc…).
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
Really, Paul? In any and every situation? How can you live “in want” and still be content? Are you just trying to sound extra spiritual? Are you in denial?
I love a good prank, don’t you? I learned to love a good prank from childhood, as my mom is the queen of all pranksters. Just ask our pastor about the tasty sponge cake she made (with all-natural ingredients) for his family. 🙂
She is the one you would least expect to play a trick on you, as she is trustworthy, kind, and would never tell a lie – except for the time she emptied the tube of Crest toothpaste and refilled it with Colgate toothpaste to prove to my dad he would never know the difference.
And she was right.
But even more than I can trust my mom, I can completely trust God’s word. I can fully trust what Jesus says. Always. But I have to confess, there have been plenty of times when I have been reading His word, I’ve thought, “You’re joking, right? This is a prank, right? Wait a minute. Maybe I didn’t understand this. Let me read it again.”
Convinced that my current job has to be one of the most dangerous “non-military” jobs in the world, I googled, “world’s most dangerous jobs” to see where mine landed. I was shocked! It didn’t even show up in the top 25.
It must be a conspiracy. Or at least some really bad typos.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, and I don’t want to minimize the danger that:
- Logging Workers
- Hazardous Material Workers, and
face. Whereas they definitely face more life-threatening conditions than I ever will at my job, I will potentially face way more mindset- and relationship-threatening conditions.
What is my ultra-dangerous job?
Do you by chance have a friend who has the nerve to send Bible-reading homework assignments to your inbox? This week, I realized I have “that friend.”
And I love her all the more for it.
The email (as I remember it) went something like this:
Don’t be a slacker. This week, read 2 Kings 4:8-37, then answer these questions:
I’m a hot mess. There are two opposing women with voices that often sound a lot like mine who get into heated arguments inside my head—sometimes for days in a row. One’s name is Shouldalyn Moore, and the other’s name is Stella Brate. Their latest argument is concerning the birthday of my blog.
I have often wondered how it must feel for a couple who wasn’t even “planning it” to find out they’re pregnant. I imagine the emotions are intense in all directions.
“SURPRISE! WE’RE PREGNANT!!”
“Oh NO! I have two years of school left!”
“Oh YAY! I always wanted to be a mom!”
“Oh crud! How are we going to afford this?”
“Oh sweet! I’ve always wondered what it feels like to be pregnant!”
The one thing I imagine they all have in common—assuming they firmly believe that abortion is not an option—is that they didn’t spend a whole lot of time making the choice, “Hmmm, should we have this kid or not?” No, the kid is on it’s way.
It’s time for a “Back-to-Church” pop quiz! 🙂
What does “BBB” really stand for?
- Better Business Bureau
- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Body, Brick & Bride
- All of the Above
What metaphors represent followers of Jesus in the Bible?
- Body members
- The Bride
- All of the Above
And the answer to both questions is…
I’m pretty sure I love God with all my heart. I’m quite confident that Jesus is my #1 treasure in life. I enjoy singing. I love playing and listening to music. I hope all my piano and guitar students become worship leaders. I was a worship pastor on staff at a church for years, for goodness’ sake. So how can I be so easily distracted during “worship time” at church then?
We all can become distracted and complacent in our worship, but what if we wholeheartedly arrived at church each week to join the Body of Christ in seeking Him and pouring out our praise on Him? What if we offered Him something that actually cost us something, and did it while helping others in need? What if He listened to us and responded in mind-blowing ways?
I could probably call myself a “sermon junkie.” I watch several sermons a week on YouTube, and I’m blessed to belong to a church where the pastor is a good preacher. But there have still been seasons over the last couple decades where I’ve left the church after a Sunday service feeling like, “Eh…today’s sermon was okay. I’ve pretty much heard it before.”
One of the dangers we face the longer we’ve been in the church is losing the spark we had at first for hearing God’s Word preached so we could go out that very week and apply what we learned. My mission is to do all I can to protect my heart and yours from becoming stagnant or calloused when it comes to hearing and living out the truth of the Gospel.
If you’ve been in the church for quite some time, and have ever wished your pastor would preach better sermons, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, and watch the video first, and follow it up with the 5 action steps.
Two caveats about the video:
- At the beginning of the video, I’m “acting irreverently” exaggeratedly and on purpose, to help make a point.
- If you’re a new Christian, you’re not the target audience for this post. If you’re a new Christian who is excited to listen to every sermon possible, and to hear and learn God’s Word so you can apply it in your own life, don’t ever stop! (And help the “been there – heard that” older Christians in your church to regain the joy of falling in love with Jesus and of telling others about Him.)