Month: October 2016

Superheroes and Superpowers

superheroes-and-superpowersHave you noticed how many superheroes there are lately? I grew up with Batman and Robin and the Lone Ranger and Superman and Spiderman, but now there are so many more.

And everybody’s talking about superpowers. Human resource people even ask potential employees about their superpowers.

Superheroes have moved inside the church too. Kids are learning about Bible superheroes in Vacation Bible School.

It all sounds so innocent until we compare ourselves to these “superheroes” and wonder why our “superpowers” don’t help us win all our battles against evil.

  • Paul’s superpower was boldness – I wish I could be as bold as him. I wish I could fearlessly carry the gospel into hostile places like he did.
  • Barnabas’ superpower was forgiveness – I wish I could forgive people the way Barnabas forgave Paul for persecuting the church and Mark for deserting him and Paul on their missionary journey.
  • David’s superpower was bravery – I wish could be as brave as David was in the face of enemies likes lions and giants and wicked kings.
  • Esther’s superpower was faith in God – I wish I could be as confident in my faith as Esther was even when she was facing the possibility of the death of all of her nation.
  • Mary’s superpower was trust in God – I wish I could trust God as Mary did even when she knew she was going to be shamed  for being pregnant out of wedlock.

And what is the result of all of this comparing ourselves to people we have made into superheroes?

  • Negativity
  • Pessimism
  • Depression
  • Resentment

All of these lead to distancing ourselves from God. We know that we can never live up to these “superheroes” and our “superpowers” will never be equal to theirs so there’s really no point in trying. No point in asking God for help – we will always be second-rate, barely making it into the kingdom.

Sounds terrible, right? But there is an antidote.

Let go of the superhero/superpower myth and start telling yourself the truth.

  • God made me as I am on purpose.
  • God started a good work in me and will finish it.
  • Jesus is the author, perfecter, and finisher of my faith.

Who is the subject of those statements? God is!

Who is the real superhero? God is!

And what is His superpower (among others)? Making something pretty special out of ordinary people like you and me.

Paul, Barnabas, David, Esther, and Mary were not superheroes and they didn’t have superpowers, but they had a God who is the only superhero with an endless supply of true superpowers.

And YOU have the SAME God!

 

Photography by Unsplash

Eat Up!

eat-upFor a long time Jeremiah, the book, has been one of my favorite books of the Bible and Jeremiah, the man, has been one of my favorite biblical characters.

Jeremiah knew ups and downs, heights of joy and depths of depression. He saw terrible events in the history of Israel, events that would shake the faith of the most faithful, and yet he always fell back on what he knew about his faithful God.

Jeremiah 15 is just one example. It begins with God banishes His people from His sight and sending to them four destroyers to kill, tear, devour, and destroy. Then comes Jeremiah’s complaint that he has been cursed without cause.

But…verse 15 marks the turning point that Jeremiah always comes back to. He knows that it is for God’s sake that he is reproached and cursed. He knows that he is not forsaken.

And then the verse that I love – verse 16.

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

Eating the Word of God…the picture of eating the Word of God is more than just skimming through, reading a chapter a day. Eating – chewing, swallowing, digesting. Jeremiah ate God’s words and the result was joy and delight of heart and the remembrance that he belonged to God and need not despair.

As early voting begins and the election is bearing down upon us, many of us wonder if we are headed for terrible events in our history, events that could shake our faith. Maybe.

But if we will be like Jeremiah – if we will eat the Word of God – chew the Word, swallow the Word, digest the Word – we will know joy whatever happens; we will be delighted in our hearts; and we will know that as those who are called by His name, He will be faithful to us no matter what happens.

So – eat up!

Photography by CreationSwap

Hop on over to Five Minute Friday to see other blogs based on the word prompt “Eat”.Five-Minute-Friday-4

Running on Empty

running-on-emptyIf you are

  • a woman engaged in full-time ministry or
  • the wife of a man in full-time ministry or
  • a missionary,

you are probably at risk of running on empty.

If this describes you, have I ever got a book you need to put on your reading list – Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry by Barbara Bancroft. With experience as a church planter’s wife and as a foreign missionary wife, Barbara is well qualified to write to other women in ministry. She writes honestly and directly but with compassion and grace.

In the very first chapter Barbara addresses the fact that ministry can bring out the worst in us. We are faced with situations that are too hard for us. For instance, no one told me that being married to the pastor’s wife would mean having to bite my tongue while some crazy woman made a list of my husband’s faults. No one told me that as an inexperienced 21-year-old I was going to be trying to help an abused teenage girl. Barbara truthfully writes, “Ministry confronts us with our insufficiency over and over.” Ministry pushes us every day to remember who we are in Christ and to move forward in His strength alone. As Barbara says, “A heart abiding in Christ is prepared for ministry when it comes.”

The first chapter had me hooked and I wanted to read more. The second chapter took me off guard. The title is “Proverbs 31 Remix”. I’ve been a Christian wife for almost 36 years. I have heard Proverbs 31 taught and preached more times than I can count. There was a time when I could barely read that chapter because it filled me with guilt about all that I was not. Barbara says that most women feel the same way I did, but her perspective changes everything.

“Since the coming of Christ changed how we read the Old Testament, it would be good to see how his coming changes our understanding and application of this passage. We might begin by viewing King Lemuel as a ‘type’ or forerunner of Christ.” She says that the way we normally apply Proverbs 31 makes us the center of the discussion. But “with Christ as our focus, we can appreciate the amazing truths this passage reveals. Our King’s bountiful provision for us, his bride, gives us all we need to be extravagantly creative as we love and serve him and seek to bless those around us.” Proverbs 31 is not a checklist for the Christian wife but is a treasury of the abundant wealth the King showers out on us as His precious bride.

“It is from the wealth of the king and her position as his wife that the virtuous woman is able to be and do all the things represented in this passage. Out of that relationship she prospers, and from his resources she is blessed and able to bless others.” And one last quote from this chapter – “Christ deeply loves and rejoices over his bride. Our faith and ability to trust him and step into ministry grow stronger as we understand that we are the ones he has chosen.”

After just these first two chapters I was in love with this book and felt like Barbara Bancroft was my friend in ministry. The rest of the book is just as wonderful although reading some of it and thinking through the ideas was more than difficult. Barbara pushed me to face up to some sins that I had buried and that had made ministry so much harder and less fulfilling than it should be. Chapters 7 and 8, titled “Fair is a Four-Letter Word” and “The Pit of Entitlement and Envy” were pretty rough, but I am so glad that I continued to read and that God used what I read to show me myself and his acceptance and forgiveness.

Throughout the book, Barbara directs our attention away from ourselves and away from our weaknesses and turns it to Christ and to His strength that He offers so freely through the Gospel. She reminds us that the Gospel is not just the power of God for salvation, but it is the power of God for us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

If you’re feeling like life isn’t fair – that ministry is too hard for you –  that nobody really cares how hard you work in your area of ministry – that you’re running on empty, please pick up a copy of Barbara Bancroft’s book. Read it slowly and thoughtfully and let God use it to fill you back up.

Put It in Park

put-it-in-park“Now put it in park and turn off the car. That’s it for today. Good job!”

Her first driving lesson was over and I tried not to show my relief. We were both in one piece – maybe a little shaky – but one piece, and my little red car had come out of that lesson unscathed.

This was my third teenage driver to train. I should be used to it, right? But no, in the months to come, each time we drove back to our house and she put the car in park I was relieved again.

Several years later, it began again with my last teen driver – but still the reliable little red car. And we made it through that driving course successfully again.

That little red car holds lots of memories for me and those two teen drivers. Endless conversations about life (when I was wishing desperately that she or he were more focused on the road), bumps against the curb, first day driving without mom (oh, that was so hard!), first date, and painting a senior parking space for that car.

But then came the driver’s side window that wouldn’t roll down (no more drive-throughs), the air-conditioning that barely worked (not good in Texas summers), the locks that wouldn’t lock, and then a series of minor repairs leading up to that day we knew was coming but wished wasn’t.

The last day that one of our family members would put it in park and walk away.

It was a good little car. I remember that day we brought it home – finally a red car – something I’d always wanted. And for fourteen years we stuffed that little red car with tons of memories.

Until the day when we could no longer justify the cost of the repairs and we had to park it for the last time. I have to admit I was sad, but now there’s a nice looking black car parked in the space where the red car had been and it’s time to start stuffing that car with my son’s memories.

I can’t wait to see what those will be!

 

Hop on over to Five Minute Friday to see how other blogger responded to the writing prompt word “park”.

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Photography from Pixabay

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