August 23, 2010

Ecclesiophobia

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 (The Message)

Our Bible study lesson yesterday at church was on FEAR and how it is a big tool that Satan uses to distract and destroy a believer’s walk with Christ. It can even keep one from becoming a believer as well. In preparation for the lesson, I thought a lot about fear in my own life and even hit the Internet for a few ideas.

First let me say, I am not talking about the fear that keeps us from trouble, much like we don’t put our hand on a hot stove for fear of getting burned. Nor do I refer to a healthy fear, as in respect or reverence unto God. But that kind of fear that binds, controls, and keeps us from living the abundant life we have in Christ.

We are a phobic country. Germs, spiders, heights, etc… I discovered online at www.phobialis.com that there are a gazillion fears that all have a phobia name. My favorite phobia is ANATIDAEPHOBIA. I bet in a million years you couldn’t guess what the fear behind this is unless you were in class Sunday or you suffer from it. Wanna know what it is? Here we go; it is a fear that somewhere, somehow, some time – a duck is watching you.

Go ahead and laugh. Get it out of your system. Actually, we about rolled on the floor. In fact, the list on-line contained more laughable phobia’s than I thought possible – unless you are the one with the phobia. We did have to agree that while we laughed on this one, the one with the fear does not.

That brings us to my thought from the day. I credit my class’s discussion and God’s grace for it. The thought is this: some people suffer from a fear of church called Ecclesiophobia. Perhaps we better know it by:

1. Church is just a bunch of hypocrites
2. Church is just a bunch of rules and I’m not giving up fun
3. Church will expose my past and people will judge me
4. Church is where I got hurt a long time ago
5. Church only talks about money

Need I go on? Toady, I am not going to address those people who have this fear. I am addressing those of us who are already churched. Why? I came to the conclusion that we, the church body, might be responsible for feeding this fear.

Those of us in church today and loving it - need to make this known to others. We are all sinners. We all have a past. Most of us a sorted past, some more sorted than others. Yet Christ Jesus died for us all regardless of our past. Actually He died for us while we were still in the “middle” of our past. When was the last time we past that truth along to another? When was the last time we appreciate our own church because of this truth? What inventive ways could we come up with to love and encourage others outside the church to see us without fear?
I can think of volumes more to say yet I can think of another thing that I need to say. So I’ll leave you and the Holy Spirit to ponder over this.
But in case, someone reads this that is not familiar with me – please know sweet one that it is Jesus that saves and makes the transformation in your life. He is the life-giver and the fear releaser. Church is just a great place to get together with other released prisoners (or even not so released yet people) to continue to hear the truth and receive love – one to another.

Choose freedom over fear!
Barbara

August 18, 2010

Beauty and The Beast

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” Psalm 119:35 (NIV)

Today, I want to tell you about my delight from God.

Living in Denver brought out the “hiker-chick” in me. Since moving home, I have missed my mountains and hiking in them. Walking here in Florida is good and I am trying to do more of it. However, there is something that resonates “sacred” within my soul when walking the wilderness.

Something else I should point out. I am an avid critter person. I love critters of all shapes and sizes. God did some pretty spectacular work in creating critters. They bring a great range of emotion and pleasure in our lives. I have been fortunate to count many critters in my “Yep, I’ve seen them in the wild” experiences.

I’ve fed chipmunks and even had one crawling on my shirt this vacation. I’ve seen a mountain lion run across a four lane highway in front of my car. I have pictures of elk, antelope, moose and marmots. I’ve even been chased by a gator, Gail you can stop laughing now.

But one or two critters have escaped capture by my camera. Sad to say, I’d never seen a bear – except in a zoo. Also sad to say, I am the idiot that wants to see a bear. My friends think I am odd, but I guess that is the wonder of me.

I know the dangers and I don’t have a death wish but I REALLY want to see a bear. I once heard Luci Swindol talk about praying for a lion while in Africa and it worked. So I figured I’d give prayer a shot. Now my prayer for several years has been very specific: a) Lord, I want to see a bear. b) I’d like it to be at a safe distance. c) I’d like to not be eaten and d) I want to get a picture.

Be careful what you pray for.

On Friday morning July 30, Bob and I hiked the Maroon Bells trail in Aspen before heading into Denver for a church event. We’d hiked past the lake up a very small, muddy trail. Woods and mountains encompassed us. Because the trees were dense, the sky was obscured. It was shady and cool and exquisite. Then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a chipmunk!

I love chipmunks. I am very fond of Chip and Dale and wondered which one had run across my path. So I began to sneak up the trail, tiptoeing silently. Bob, who was lurking behind me, figured out what I was doing and followed suite. The only sound heard was a soft rustling of the leaves.

Then another movement caught my attention, just in front me. At first, I figured another hiker was coming downhill. But this hiker was all brown and had the cutest face. OMG! It was a bear! A real bear! A bear that probably had real teeth! I stopped dead in my tracks, hoping that would only be a figure of speech.

My first reaction was to take cover (slowly) behind an Aspen tree. This was laughable since an Aspen is only slightly bigger round than a toothpick. Actually, I had no sense of fear whatever, which really surprised me. Yet, a sense of alertness and caution came on strong. Without turning around, I quietly asked Bob to stop and back up slowly. He was confused why we’d do this over a chipmunk, until I said, “Bear.”

Even then, I suppose he wasn’t too worried, as I was the one in front! I wanted a picture so bad, but decided the one in my brain was sufficient and kept backing up, very slowly, careful to not turn my back on our new friend. Within a few seconds, I had skillfully maneuvered behind my hubby, who wasn’t moving at all! Why?

I realized my sweetie had the camera and was taking aim. There was glare on our screen but he snapped a shot and then the bear moved! Gulp! No worries, mate. Mr. Bear only turned to proceed merrily up the mountain, no where near us or the path back to civilization.

Needless to say, God heard my prayer, and yes to my naysayer buddies, He answered my prayer! He give me such a delight that I about danced all the way back down the path, taking great and glorious pride in announcing, “We just saw a bear!” to everyone we met.

So you see nothing super spiritual except God delighted me to my toes. We all need a good delight now and then. What can God do to delight you today? Maybe you don’t want to see a bear. Maybe you just want 5 minutes of alone time. Ask Him. Perhaps seeing a rainbow would you thrill you to no ends. Ask Him. Ask Him to surprise you. Delight in God and let Him - delight you today.

Delightfully loving God,
Barbara

For those who want proof:


August 09, 2010

Head & Shoulders, Knees and Toes

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9: 6 & 7 (KJV)

Isn’t there an old children’s song that starts out “Head and shoulders, knees and toes?” It just sounds familiar. This weekend, I couldn’t get this chorus out of my head. Shortly you may understand why.

Now we’ve been on vacation and I am sure you will be hearing more about that soon! However, from July 30 to August 1, Bob and I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the church we belonged to in Denver. The church is First Southern Baptist of Northglenn Colorado and is shepherded by Pastor John Talbert. During our residence there, Pastor John was not only our minister but also a dear friend, as he is today.

For this milestone event, the church invited former pastors and former members of the church to be present. The Hispanic, the Korean and the Brazilian churches that use the facilities were also among honored invitees. We had a service Friday night and there were two services on Saturday. Sunday brought the culmination for our time together and for this morning I wanted to share a brief testimony of that service and what has been stuck inside my brain ever since.

For Sunday morning service, we met at a local hotel ballroom because the small church would not have accommodated the large turnout. The former pastor and guest speaker, Benny King, delivered an uplifting message. Then Pastor John Talbert made several recognitions of past members and then invited the pastors of the Hispanic, Korean and Brazilian to come forward, display their country’s flag and give us a brief testimony of their ministry. It was wonderful.

While I enjoyed every minute, I experienced some disappointment because it appeared Pastor John would not be preaching. But it wasn’t too long before we all were sweetly surprised. At the last minute, Pastor John took the podium. He began by showing us a picture of a cheerleading pyramid. That was interesting, not very spiritual, but interesting.

Then he requested that if anyone had been church members in the 60’s (when the church was established) to stand. A handful of lovely people rose to their feet. They smiled, while being recognized, and then reseated themselves. Pastor John asked those members in the 70’s to stand. A noticeably larger group stood. The process was repeated for each decade ending with those who became member from 2000-2010. Each group was larger than the one before.

Let us digress to the cheerleaders and the pyramid. Pastor John pointed out that the church was actually an inverted pyramid with each generation building upon the shoulders of the last generation – a work started on the foundation of Jesus Christ. What an analogy with such truth!

Regardless of how large or small your congregation is, no matter if you experience a lull at some point during your growth, we should be building on the shoulders of those who came before us and then, live a life worthy of the calling of Christ, so as to support those who come behind us.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, I probably don’t have to tell you – but I will. Since you and I are the church – the body of Christ, it means we, individually, have to answer some hard questions.

• Is your foundation the Rock of Ages?

• Will all who come behind you – find you faithful?

• Will you leave them something to light their way and build upon?

• How strong are your shoulders – right now?

Let me encourage you to be Christ-minded, use your shoulders and knees to support Kingdom ministry and let your toes lead your feet down the narrow path. While you are at it, make sure you bring someone with you!

Head and shoulder, knees and toes – we will reap what we sows!
Barbara