Friday, February 3, 2012

Linking Arms - Pat

While reading the description (pg. 183-84) of the biennial International AIDS Conference Kay Warren attended in Bangkok in 2004, I remembered a time when Paul had a similar experience. Acts 17:16 - While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. In a place where God was numbered among many gods, Paul fulfilled his calling in that place by exalting the one true God and making Him known to those who had not know Him. I have a sentence underlined in my Bible that is in the middle of Paul’s teaching that day. He said, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Kay Warren mentioned another teaching by Paul that led her to understand her God given call to be His hands and feet in the world of HIV/AIDS. This is her passion because this is her call by God.

God established His church to be His body – His hands and feet, but as Scripture teaches, each one is gifted to do that in a unique way. This would be a good time to read 1 Corinthians 12.

So many times we struggle with our purpose or our calling. We wrestle with we aren’t that gifted; we aren’t that special; we aren’t that able, and the truth is, we aren’t. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) But as Paul said in Acts 17:28, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” I wondered if you had discovered how He has gifted you to be His hands and feet because He has gifted you to do that. It won’t look just like Kay Warren’s or Paul’s or Pat’s or your best friend’s or your spouse’s but in some magnificent way we are gifted to be His hands and feet, a light in the darkness.

Many times we can discover our calling seeking God and merging our answers of questions like:
· What are you passionate about?
· What burdens your heart?
· What charges your battery and gives you energy?
· What are you most motivated by?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Unexpected Bond - Pat

Dear Ladies,

I have always been told that you never begin a letter with an apology. I wonder if the same rules apply with a blog… If so, sorry to break the rules and I am sorry that I fell behind in blogging. Life took a turn for the overwhelming this past 2 weeks and I am hanging on with the hope that this too shall pass.

However, I did read chapter 9 last week and was struck by the perspective that Kay Warren gave me about the prostitutes. I never really thought about them from the perspective of what was behind their occupation may have been suffering and even no choice in the matter. It always was just a bad girl occupation not an evil forced on a young girl or woman to kill, steal, and destroy her life. The good news is that Jesus came to give abundant life. He also said in Mark 9:42, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Evil may be free to do evil today but there will come a day when evil has to pay!

The other half of the chapter focused on taking “communion” or the “Lord’s Supper.” I could not help but wonder how we have missed the true purpose and intent of remembering the great gift of His broken body and His precious blood which gave us a new and living way to enter into His presence, both now and forever, and with boldness.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Gift of Presence - Ashley

As followers of Jesus, you and I are containers of God.” (Pg.137)

I love this statement, and it speaks masses to my heart. We tend to focus on the action steps and the list of activities while hurrying past hurting people. We are not just called to be His hands and feet, but also to allow Him to take up residence within us and behold His light, love, and power so that others can experience Jesus when they experience us. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 He calls this gift a “precious treasure”. He does not need us, but He chooses to use us to shine His glory because He knows we need Him. He desires to be seen and known—not us.

It says: “But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shines within us – is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.”

We do not have to go to Africa to have the opportunity to make an invisible God visible (although some may be called there). He sets before His children opportunities everyday to “just be” with hurting people. We must make room for Jesus in our hearts and become His containers of light, love, and power. Many times the greatest gift we can offer someone is not an "action step" but simply the giving of ourselves!

What is your container filled with?

Is there “VACANCY” inside your heart for Him?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Deliberate Choice – Pat

What kind of pain have I experienced in this life and how has it equipped me to be compassionate and suffer with others? This was the primary question that went through my mind as I read Chapter 8. My wonderful daddy suffered a sudden heart attack and died in an instant when he was only 61. I have experienced the devastation of divorce in both my life and my children’s life. There are others but just those two are enough to allow me to see potential to connect with another’s suffering.

So much of the time, I want to avoid people suffering because I have believed that I have nothing to offer them that can make a difference. Words are dangerous because they are interpreted by the one suffering through their suffering and everyone’s experience and filter is different. The potential to offend or be misunderstood is extremely high in suffering situations. However, my eyes have been opened to the power of our presence for someone who is suffering. I pray God will give me the courage and compassion to suffer with others and then anoint me with is Spirit of comfort that others may be comforted.

Here are some questions that Kay Warren’s words stirred up in me.
What suffering have you faced that can be used to minister to another?
How can that experience help you when reaching out to the suffering?
Are you willing to suffer with others?

How about you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Gift of Presence - Pat

I’m not sure what to think or feel about this chapter. "It" overwhelmed me. I am not even sure what “it” is. Is “it” conviction? I have never offered myself to anyone suffering to the degree of those Kay Warren ministered to. Is “it” discouragement? I don’t have a clue of how to start ministering to people suffering so severely and honestly, not sure I want to. Is “it” sadness? Why does life have to be so bad for these people? What kind of difference could I make anyway? One thing I do know is, I did not like “it.”

Lord, please help me to process the emotions and frustrations and fears this chapter stirred up in my soul. I want to be used by You however You choose to use me. Please help me overcome all hindrances to serving and ministering to the suffering, whatever that may look like. Thank You for Your grace and mercy! In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mirrors Don't Lie - Ashley

Does the “good girl” part of you love God passionately and want your life to count? All the while, the “bad girl” part of you can’t seem to break the sin cycle, and you’ve learned to compartmentalize the two. (pg. 122)

If you dare take an honest look, what do you see when you look into the mirror of God’s word?

A) “Good girl”

B) “Bad girl”

C) Secret combination of “both”

Have you acknowledged any secret sin in your OWN life?

I love the way Kay describes how she compartmentalized the longings of her heart and her repetitive actions. As I ponder the above questions, I am asking you to do the same. These are deep, powerful, and life changing questions - not to be taken lightly. Get alone with God. Be still. Ask Him to reveal truth, and then listen. His truth changes everything. Along with truth He will send His healing balm of grace and mercy.

Click on the below link to listen to a powerful message by Kay titled:

“Overflowing Grace”

Lord, as we look into the mirror of Your truth, show us what You see. May the scales be removed from the walls around our heart so we may acknowledge the secret sins that breed within. May we have the humility to receive Your truth, mercy and grace and then offer it freely to others. In Jesus name we pray - AMEN

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mirrors Don’t Lie – Pat

Have you held up the mirror of God’s word and ruthlessly examined your own motives and actions lately? (Definition of Ruthless – having or showing no pity or mercy)

Pg. 117 – “Might I, too, be full of depravity…”
Genesis 8:21 – “although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth”

Pg. 118 – “…what I found instead was the monstrous capacity for evil in my own soul.”
Jeremiah 17:9 – "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

Pg. 119 – “…given the right circumstances anyone of us is capable of any deed.”
1 John 1:8 - If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Kay Warren calls us to “ruthlessly examine” our motives and actions. While doing so, we must remember that “the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." We may fool ourselves but we can’t fool God. He knows us, individually, through and through. While this is a very uncomfortable book, I would rather face and address what is uncomfortable and experience transformation than stay the same. Praise the Lord for loving us enough to expose the evil in our hearts that we may be changed into His image and reflect our Savior.