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 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.)
I’ve been a church-going Christian for over three decades. For over two of those decades, I was a pastor on staff at a church – first as a youth pastor, then as a worship pastor, then as a children’s pastor. During those years, I could give you some good reasons why you should choose go to church, but for me and for the other staff pastors, there was really no “choice.” It’s not like we could wake up on Sunday morning and say, “Eh…I really don’t feel like going to church today.”
Now things are different for me. Earlier this year, my baton was passed to an amazing and dynamic new kids pastor, and since then, after decades of having no “choice” of going to church (if I wanted to keep my job), now I get to choose whether or not I’m going to church each Sunday.
And I choose YES!
Back in kindergarten, this naughty boy taunted me on the playground, “Bird Brain! Bird Brain! You’re nothing but a Bird Brain!!”
That mean mockingbird.
I wanted to cry at the time, because even though I hadn’t taken any science classes yet to know the actual size and capability of a bird’s brain compared to that of a human, at age five I was confident that anyone who likes to eat worms couldn’t be that smart.
But these days, I sometimes wish I had more of a bird brain. Listen to me chirp for a moment.
Did you catch the solar eclipse yesterday? I had a lot of fun viewing it with my sweet neighbor and her grandsons.
All the talk and expectation leading up to this eclipse got me to thinking about waiting for things, and even more so, about waiting upon God. I’m so glad it did, as I learned just a little more about what it means to “wait” on the Lord in the context of one of my favorite verses—Isaiah 40:31.