His perspective, my balance......

…Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful… (1 Corinthians 10:23)

I have this ongoing struggle, and I know I am not alone in this. When you are on staff with a church, the struggle is intensified all the more I think. This need to do something good all the time, every time the opportunity presents itself, and especially if nobody steps up to make it happen. I’m learning as I get a bit older, and after asking for and receiving wisdom from those who have gone before me, that this is a balance I must find for myself. A big part of that struggle is this need to please. Is it a need to please others, and by that I mean other Christians—especially our immediate church community and fellow staff members—or is it a desire to please Father God? This is where the struggle is very, very real for me. I felt for so much of my life, if I said and did the right things that I was told would make me a good person, then I was set. I was at church every time the doors were open, for every event that was on the church schedule, in church choir/worship ministry, in handbells, helping with various ministries, going on mission trips, helping with outreach projects, volunteering in special projects around the church and in our community……so I must be way up on the Father’s list of good, right? And to add to all that, I was taught to memorize all the scriptures, the Roman Road, the latest witnessing tools that our youth ministers and camp leadership told us would enable us to share the gospel and save so many for Jesus. Can you sense the pressure, the intense pressure building from all of this? I am my worst enemy. God knows it and the devil knows it too. God reminds me by His unconditional love, His mercy by the blood of His Son on the Cross, that guilt has no place in my life. As I headed into my first years of marriage with Ryan, and we had our first opportunities to serve in ministry and then on staff, I learned very quickly I was going to have to find that balance for myself. I listened and watched as others in ministry took on far more than they should have, and I attempted to do the same. I learned from others who found balance and seemed to flourish, truly find a place in a thriving ministry and saw great things come out of it as they followed the Father’s leading. I have been in the unfortunate position to witness leadership burn out, give in to temptation, and never return to ministry. I have heard and experienced personally some tragic stories coming out of ministry, marriages ending, children going astray, severe mental illness and suicide. The struggle is real, and the consequences to losing sight of our perspective on God’s intent for our good can be brutal.

I learned at some point between churches and staff positions, that it is okay and absolutely necessary to say no. It is vital for the balance of you and your family to learn to embrace the necessity to not do every single thing that is good for the Kingdom. I am not intended to do every single thing. You are not intended to do every single thing. That pressure that comes with this struggle, is not from God and is in fact from ourselves. I keep coming back to perspective. For so long, not sure how long now, God has been speaking to me clearly about the necessity to get His perspective and keep it. When I choose His perspective first, everything else flows through it. When everything else flows through Him, then I can find my balance, I can say no without guilt.

What do I need to let go of? What do you need to let go of? What’s driving you to do every single thing that you are doing? If you’re first response isn’t God, if your heart is not 100% certain it is entirely about God and His call to you to do this, then consider it is not necessarily helpful. There is a whole lot we could list that is permissible. A whole lot. But not everything is helpful. Especially if it is at the expense of your time with Father God, and your family. Consider it, then re-set your focus on God’s perspective. Everything, everything, everything flows through it and it is entirely good.

I think Rick Warren’s words sum it up well, so I’m just going to leave this here for you….

‘If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. He’ll get you so busy that you don’t have time for the important stuff—time alone with God, ministry and mission.’
(Daily Hope with Rick Warren, “Don’t Be Distracted from the Work God Has for You”, connect@newsletter.purposedriven.com)

Love, love, love......

“Long before he laid down the earth’s foundations, [God] had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love” (Ephesians 1:4 MSG)

In my life, I think I’ve experienced love on several levels but I am no expert. None of us can claim that. If you can, well, you aren’t human. We are all lifelong students in the experience of love. My first experience with love was most likely before I was aware of it, as an infant. If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about. The look on a baby’s face when that first smile appears, tiny hands reaching up, a sleepy one snuggling in to sleep in the arms of Mom and Dad. We see it in their eyes, I can’t explain it but it is a glow that only a parent can see. Love. I think in some way, it is our love reflecting back to us in their eyes. It is indescribable and something that makes a lasting impression the moment it happens.

As a teenager, I remember the first boy I had a crush on and thought I “loved”. I look back at those years, and I see a girl who was caught up in what those new emotions, new feelings did to my heart. That first crush, first heart break, finding my way through the raw emotion of it all and wondering how I’d ever recover, well, it was just the beginning of my journey into discovering the many different kinds of love.

Somewhere between that first crush and my first boyfriend, I found the Lord pressing into my heart to renew my commitment to Him. I had accepted Christ at a very young age, 7 years old, so I was very immature in my faith but I think God sees and understands that and intends to use it for our growth and maturity as a Christ follower. At the age of 12, I found myself wrestling and collapsing into a new found level of faith in Christ and made the decision to renew my commitment to Him.

As a college student, and two more intense relationships under my belt so to speak, I found myself really struggling to establish a healthier self-esteem because I was finding that my happiness was depending far too much on having a companion. Thankfully I was able to get some much needed therapy and work through a number of issues, giving me an opportunity to identify what I needed and how best to step forward in the life I had been blessed with and did not fully appreciate. I am so grateful for the people in my life through those years—my family, my best friends, my mentors, my teachers/professors, pastors and so many other people in my life who were praying for me to find peace, to be empowered and fully rooted in Christ. That was a season of my life in which I fully appreciated for the first time the depth of love that Christ has for me. I believe God allows us to reach the rawest moments in our lives to teach us just how fully, abundantly He loves us!

He does not require or desire anything less than for us to simply know Him. He doesn’t want sacrifices, He simply wants us to embrace the mercy He has given us so freely.

'I don’t want burnt offerings; I want people to know Me… '(Hosea 6:6 The Voice)

Love is at its best when we know in our hearts Whose we are, how highly blessed and beautiful we are in Christ, and we can confidently walk through life knowing nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary to our relationship with the Father. Everything is secondary.

I love my husband, I love my children, but I love Jesus more. He is first and best in my life, and because of that my focus on any given day should begin there. His love is enough, always enough. When I am at my worst, He is there to lift my eyes to His presence and fill my heart with a love that cannot be matched by anything this world would attempt to equal.

Where does it begin for you? What will you choose today when you consider how you have experienced love in this life? Return to Him, to His first and best love for you.

There is no other, none greater, and none better. He is Jesus, and He loves us.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...