Thursday, November 15, 2007

Guest Blogger: Leonard

Leonard is a dear brother in ministry from California. Here's what's on his heart/mind today:

Go make disciples… These are the marching orders of our friend, Jesus. On the surface it seems simple and sometimes when we read the accounts in the book of Acts the details of how disciples were made gets lost in the fact that people were converted. Of course Jesus makes it easy to understand, travel with 12 guys for three plus years and “viola’” you have disciples. I have been in ministry over 25 years and still struggle to make disciples, but here are a few of my random thoughts that I am trying to flesh out as I endeavor to carry out the marching orders of my friend, Jesus.

Make discipleship about becoming a friend of God rather than looking like a Christian. Near the end of Jesus ministry he pulls his guys together and says. I am not calling you servants anymore; I am calling you friends because a friend knows what their friend is up to. (this is the Leonard's slandered perversion) As I disciple people one of the primary truths I try to teach is what a friendship with God looks like. Here are a few of the descriptions I try to apply.

I want people to understand the size of their friend. When I was a kid I was short. I had a couple big friends. The size of my friends gave me confidence to be a bit of a daredevil smarty pants. I could muster up courage to say things I might not have were it not for the size of my friends riding backup. One reason for boldness is the size of our friend. God is immeasurable and honestly, that is cool. When faced with a tough conversation or decision I will often think, “Do you know how big my friend is? He can do anything!”

I want people to understand loyalty. Loyalty is the quality in a friendship that allows us to not understand and still remain close friends. I have to admit, sometimes it is loyalty in my friendship with Christ that holds me until the fog can clear.

I want people to understand gratefulness. When gratefulness is in a friendship, faithfulness is in a friendship. I cannot remain faithful to any friendship I am not grateful for and I cannot be grateful unless I choose humility. The key to any great friendship is putting your friend first. No greater love hand any man than this than he lay down his life for his friends. This is not just a statement about Christ’s friendship with me but a standard for my friendship with him and his frineds.

Familiarity is huge in a great friendship. I have a buddy and we simply know. I know what he is thinking and he knows what I am thinking. This has made for the best in our friendship. We rarely have to apologize to each other because we rarely offend each other. We talk for hours on end, repeating stories because we know we love to hear each others thinking. We know exactly how to encourage each other because we are aware of each others strengths and weaknesses. This has happened by logging the time necessary to be familiar. Familiarity breeds contempt only when humility is absent.

I want people to understand love. Love is the action word for all friendships. Love is what causes me to live out the desires of my friend’s heart. In other words I love what my friend loves because I love my friend. Love is what drives remembering the values of friendship and of my friend in the middle of life. Here is another one of my slanderd perversions of scripture.

Love is the act of kindness; love is patience applied; love is the enjoyment of my friends success (does not envy), love is the sharing of my success; (does not boast), love is seeking others first, love is choosing to not let hurt turn into anger; love chooses to erase the chalk board of offense; love holds on to holiness while being embarrassed by sin; love shields friends and friendship from harm; love starts every conversation believing the best; love is confident love is the best path; (love hopes) love hangs in and love holds the line when nothing else will. 1 Corinthians 13 kind of…

I want people to understand sacrifice. Great friendships are never based upon doing the minimum but upon sacrifice. No friendship ever grew deep without generosity. This is really the premise of “we love because he loved first.” God’s sacrificial, generous investment of love into my life is why I love.

Here is the impact. When friendship is a primary value, the tools for friendship are not burdensome. Church, the bible, prayer, giving, witnessing, serving are all on the list of good Christians but in reality these do not make me a good Christian, they are how I express and build friendship. Because I value my friendship with Christ these become no brainier’s to me, not burdens of being a Christian.

For discussion: How do you build your friendship with God? How do you teach others to build a friendship with God?

Cheese - Local News.

"Cheese" will be discussed Tuesday (November 20th) afternoon from 1-4 at the American Town Hall next to the library on Travis Street.

I first posted about Cheese in June...

Cheese? A Warning!

Hello. You've Reached The....

If you were to call the number we give as our home phone.. you would think you've dialed the wrong number unless you know my maiden name or my mother's name. The voice would be that of the man who was my dad and had been her husband and etc.... Time marches on....

This morning, the woman of the house gave her son-in-law and daughter (me) permission to now change the message on the phone. We've been waiting for her to make the decision in her own timing. This is one area where life has been a little strange for the past year plus. And yet, it has served a great reminder in so many ways....

Our Father longs for us to know and recognize His voice.. For it to bring us comfort and all that should be associated with a father's love. I can still recall the sound of my daddy's voice. And yet, today just like yesterday.... and God's will permitting... like tomorrow.. it is not my favorite voice to know or have known.... There is only One Real Father.

Whose voice would answer your inner phone?

"Letting It Roll."

As someone told me last night, "Camey? Your family lives the weirdest life. I'm not sure how you guys keep up with it all." This morning, I definitely have to agree. Back when we surrendered to full-time ministry in 2004, we knew we were in for a wild ride... Little did we know. And yet we suspected....

This morning my hubby said, "We're letting it roll." This statement comes after the wildest day in ministry yet. And given a few of the ones we've had thus far... that's saying a lot. My long gray brunette hair feels like it is has been in an electric socket. And yet, I'm having to laugh. More than any thing else... praising God and seeking His face.

As I said yesterday.... we're in transition. That was never more clear than on November 14th, 2007. It's like we're standing on the edge of today... of tomorrow.... the very next moment. It is one of those times in life where God is more of a mystery to me than normal. If you were to see the map of my/our life up until now.. you would know that is huge statement coming from me. I am a woman who wasn't supposed to have children. We have three sons.... one of which almost died three times in his first month of life and is as healthy as a horse today. I've known what it is to be fed, bathed, unable to move due to being paralyzed from the neck down and told there is no hope. I've seen the doctors faces when a complete healing with no medical explanation has taken place. Mystery.....

Before my hubby and I surrendered to full-time ministry, he was all set to be a life-long employee of the company he was working for. In 2005, he/we walked away from the benefits of full-time employment with a major company for 17 years. We gave away and/or sold almost every thing we've had the blessing of calling ours.... All because of this mystery.

And letting it roll never sounded so good. Never sounded so freeing. Because one thing we've come to feel in our bones is that this life is not ours..... and as much as we think we know we can determine what tomorrow will hold... it remains a mystery... as does today.. this moment.

How are you letting it roll?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For the Love of Trouble

Trouble wears her name well. I was fortunate to spend some time with her earlier. The conversations we have are some of the most heavy hitting of any I've ever had with anyone. She walked up to me in the foyer of the physical church building and asked, "So what's new that you can talk about?" We hugged as we always do... unless of course one of us ain't hugging that day for whatever the reason....

Like I was sharing with Trouble, I know individuals who say that most of their closest friends, along with themselves, smoke weed on a regular basis. They do not honestly see any thing wrong with it. And I know that someone reading this might just fall on that side too. All I can say is that I personally do not believe it is the thing to do. Does that mean I won't walk through life with that individual?.... with you? No, that's not what that means.

For the love of Trouble.... we understand that all we can do is be there. To pray for whatever is going on that is causing someone to want to do drugs in the first place. For most know that it may start with weed but rarely stays there..... it can have life long affects... and effects....

Trouble is old enough to be my grandmother. We both believe that Jesus is answer. There is no age gap in that belief.

Pray for Trouble's extended family. And pray for your own and mine too. Drugs do touch all of our lives whether or not we inhale, snort, shoot up,....... ourselves.

Conversations With Austin

First I have to start by saying.... Man, I love that kid. Thank You, Lord for the gift of him.

Austin and I have the most in-depth conversations normally when going to and from the physical church building. Hubby and I believe in sharing with our sons what is truly happening in our lives on age (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical) level scale. Today's conversation was raw and honest to the core.

Austin has been called into the ministry. The specifics are not known as of yet. He is definitely a leader already and greatly involved in numerous areas. The conversation today was the perfect opportunity to really speak about the struggles, that as individuals, we can have about listening to God and following His will no matter what that means.

Along the lines of "God's will permitting"..... We talked about the fact that I plan things as a woman minister with the understanding that I follow his dad. I am committed to being wherever he is at and whatever God has for our lives. At times, that definitely puts me in a strange and uncomfortable place. I wouldn't be any where else honestly. I'm not an in the box type of person. That's not who God has called me to be...... nor my hubby.... or our family.

I am so thankful for conversations with Austin. I am grateful that his love for God outweighs his comfort level. And that he understands that his mom looks to his dad as the spiritual leader of our household. Yes, his mom was called into ministry also..... But not to overshadow his dad. His dad supports his mom 100% as his mom does him. We do so with the understanding that at the beginning of the day, at the end..... and every moment in the middle.... it is not about us....

It is all about Him. And after all.... aren't all Christ-followers called to follow Him... to serve?

God's Will Permitting. Tranformers.

Someone noticed that I have started saying, "God's will permitting."

God's will permitting.... for while one can make plans for tomorrow, tomorrow is truly an unknown.

And yes, at this moment we are seeking God's will for our lives. Aren't we always supposed to be?

At this moment, we are in a specific time of transition. We ask for your prayers.

I submit to you, however, as Christ-followers, we should remain in the state of transition.

Why? Growing in Him. Not remaining the same today as we were yesterday.

He is the Ultimate Transformer!

Crashing Waves

If you are a Christ-follower, where are you this moment?

Are you in the boat, sitting all nice and neat and safe?

Or are you out in the crashing waves knowing it is only with His hand can you walk?

Engulf His Word. Let it permeate your heart. And then ask His help.

Get out of the boat and into the crashing waves.

Know that He is there ready to meet you.

Don't be lukewarm or cold. Be HOT!

Crashing Waves. His net is secure.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Raise Me Up

Today concluded the parenting class that I have been teaching the last 10 weeks at our physical church building. As I sit here thinking back over the classes, I cannot help but be beyond thankful. My main purpose as a Bible study teacher, no matter what the particular study may concentrate on, is to always bring individuals back to the cross and to the empty tomb. To help each individual grow in their walk with Jesus or to want to start one if they haven't already. Another purpose is to come up along side of them and help them in areas where they might need a hand. This sort of thing is not possible in of my own accord. It is only possible with the guidance of His Spirit.

I started off the very first class by being as transparent as I know how to be. And I stayed that course for the remainder of the classes. One thing I've learned time and time again, the more I show myself to be real, the more real I become. Apparently, at times, I can be intimidating. Or so I've been told. One of the Titus 2 women in my life told me before this class, "Camey? You just let your hair down and let them see you." I even took my shoes off and provided chocolate like I do for my Sunday group. God is good.

This class was by far one of the best ones I've ever been a part of. It is only in Him that I boast. For it is only Him who can take such a diverse group of women and a teacher like me and come up with a formula for success. In January, God's will permitting of course, I am scheduled to teach a marriage class. Upon sharing this information with this class, I asked for a show of hands of those who would be interested, all but one raised her hand. I asked a couple of the women afterwards what could I do next time to help them get even more out of the study than they did this time. They both said, "Camey? Do it like you did this one. Continue to follow His lead."

I am convinced all the more after this class that my research over the years holds true. That individuals long for others to come up along side of them and simply walk with them - warts and all. When we are able to share from our hearts, all pretenses left at the door, the Word can truly come alive in ways that are only possible because of Him. I shared my struggles as a Christ-follower, as a wife, and as a parent. And they in turn, shared back. And in the end, we were each brought back to the cross and the empty tomb.

It is finished because He alone raised each one of us up.

A grateful teacher and life long student

Monday, November 12, 2007

Marriage: It Takes More Than Two

So..... I start this with a confession. Normally, hubby/Brother G, is gone on Mondays. I had been planning on blogging on this subject today for a couple of weeks now. He didn't leave home until just a little bit ago. Apparently, I've been walking around with a certain kind of smile on my face all day. He kept calling me out on it. He knows I am up to something. What, he doesn't know.... It is no coincidence that I am writing on this subject today and he is doing what he is doing tonight.... preaching to pastors/preachers on the subject of marriage. As I sit here at his computer listening to his music and having lifted him up in prayer, I am filled with joy.

Earlier, he gave me his sermon outline to read. I had to laugh. If you remember back in the post on "Spiritual Intimacy," I referenced a certain commercial. He has the same reference as part of his sermon. And I think that goes to show the validity of this post even more so. He and I are on the same page. That doesn't necessarily happen because of the two of us.... but because of the three. We are not in this marriage just as a husband and a wife; nor as a man and woman alone.

As with the premise behind "Spiritual Intimacy," I write about marriage and he preaches. One thing we've learned over our many years together, marriage is not just about us. It cannot fully be all God intends for it to be when we're in it for ourselves. The world tells us that if we're not happy 24/7, and/or if our spouse is not meeting all our needs/wants, it's okay for us to just leave. Yet, one thing we know for certain is that it is humanly impossible for any one person to meet all our needs. They were not intended to do so in the first place. Marriage should be based on the foundation of God and then built with His guiding hand every single day, not just on Sunday or before chowing down at the table or at some holiday.

One thing that can help couples become closer in their marriage is praying together. It definitely works for us. They don't have to be fancy, formal, long prayers. Just prayers that speak from the heart and are open to the fact that God truly knows what is best for us even when we can't always see tomorrow or the next moment. In understanding better what is best for us also comes the fact that it may and probably will include trials and storms.... It is being found faithful to looking to Him through the thick and thin... and then to each other. His love is what truly binds two hearts together and intertwines them as one.

Marriage is made even more complicated when a child or children are involved. One reason why so many marriages are in trouble today is that the couple has forgotten to be a couple. They've become so engrossed in being "mom" or "dad" or "the parents" that they don't make time to stay connected like they were before. Dating each other is vital to having a healthy marriage. Does that mean that the dates have to be expensive and the two of you get all dolled up or dressed to the nines? Nah. Dates can be simply going out for coffee, grabbing a bite to eat, sitting and talking without any interruptions. We had a great date just this past Saturday night. We went to a matinee movie, had dinner and then got coffee. We were home by 8:30 p.m. And yet, that date spoke volumes to our children about their parents and our marriage. We aim for at least one date a week.

Marriage should be a triangle with God as the center top point.

If you're married? How's it going this moment? Where is God in it? And where are you with God?

More to come on this subject. Stay tuned.


Okay local church body. We need 125 more turkeys by this Sunday.

That's by this Sunday. Please do your part to help make this a blessed Thanksgiving for neighbors in our community.

C'mon....... TURKEYS!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Being Silent.

It always strikes me as funny when someone says to me that I am being too silent. I received that message from two different individuals today. Interestingly enough? I'm not normally around these two people that often in the first place. This is my official position on being silent.

There are definitely times when I am silent on purpose. My thoughts or opinions on a particular issue are not necessarily warranted. Instead of just being another voice in the crowd, I choose to be silent. Now that does not mean that I do not care about the issue at hand, it just means that I probably would not have any thing new to add to the conversation. Or it could mean that what I might add could be taken a couple of ways. Instead of taking the chance on being misunderstood and then possibly taken out of context when quoted, I keep my mouth shut.

What really struck me though about one of the times this morning, I was being silent because I had been talking and then decided to listen instead. When I closed my mouth, opened my ears, and truly listened, I knew it was not necessary for me to say more. To do so would have been squashing the Spirit's voice telling me to stay silent.

There are times when it is okay for me to speak. There are other times when it is best for me to be silent. In my own relationship with the Lord, I'd rather stay silent because He has told me to, than to open my mouth and be being disobedient just to have a voice on an issue.

That's my official position on being silent.

Sometimes silence is golden