Saturday, April 26, 2008

Servant Evangelism Tip For The Week - Starting Small

So once you catch the vision for bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world, it's common to assume the way to begin is to try to do "something really big for God!" That's certainly the "American way," but in our experience, bigger isn't always better.

We recommend doing something profound: Start small. Remember our motto: small things done with great love will change the world. Small seeds grow into tall trees, and they're small for a reason - to take greatest advantage of the tiniest of openings and opportunities.

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe by television and the movies, changing the world is a pretty simple and humble process. Though it's serious business, it's often really fun, too. You don't have to write a best-selling book or become a missionary to some far away foreign land. World-changing opportunities will present themselves when you step out your door.

One group of Christ-followers we know had a simple idea as they watched people walking down the boardwalk at the beach in Santa Cruz, California. They'd noticed lots of people uncomfortably brushing the sand off their feet as they walked along and wondered, "Didn't Jesus teach his followers to serve by washing feet?" One of the group members relates this story from their experience:

"Our church friends said, 'No one is going to let you touch their feet! You guys are crazy!' But they couldn't have been more wrong.We set up at the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz about 1:00 in the afternoon. There were just a handful of us. We chose a spot right at the entrance to the beach. Our supplies consisted of two fold-up chairs, two plastic containers, paper towels, liquid Dial soap, a five gallon jug to haul water, and a heart for the lost.

Our opening line went something like, 'Hi, would you like to sit down and let us rinse the sand from your feet?' We had very few refusals! In fact, we were so busy that we actually had people lined up! We took about three minutes with each person. We silently prayed as we worked, but when asked, about 95% of the people let us pray out loud with them. There were many heart touching encounters that day, but there was one I'll always remember. One gentleman from Asia kept calling one of our team members "Jesus." When we tried to correct him and explain who Jesus was, he replied, 'I know who Jesus is, and you are just like him.'

We all knew that if we showed up and were faithful, Jesus would show up, too. And let me tell you, seeing people on that beach through Jesus' eyes was absolutely amazing!"

Maybe this story doesn't sound particularly earth shattering, but we think it's exactly how God likes us to go about changing our world. This little group of board walk foot-washers was responding in the spirit of Jesus to a simple need they had observed. In fact, what they did calls to mind Ephesians 5:1-2 which tells us to, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

When we think of Jesus giving himself up as a sacrifice to God, we're likely to focus exclusively on one event that took place on the cross and forget the lifetime of service that preceded it. Jesus was "giving himself up" all the time. From the moment he awoke in the morning, to the time he went to sleep every night, his was a lifestyle dedicated to serving the Father by serving others.

It isn't one big moment in your life - one big act of service - that will change the world. It's the little things. The everyday things. It's the way you live your life moment to moment, day to

From the book, "Outflow: Outward-focused living in a self focused world" by Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thanking God for the Small Stuff

It's funny how we sometimes so easily take for granted things that have become such a part of our lives, we don't even notice them...until they are gone that is.

Such was the case earlier this week when huge storms rolled through the Granbury area, spawning a couple of tornadoes, hail, very high straight line winds, and torrential rains. Even though this sort of weather event is common place for Texas in the springtime, this time around, the effects lingered for the Shearon family.

Thanks to the storm, we lost electricity at our house at about 8:30 PM on Wednesday night. So, using the light we could generate from a couple of lap top computers and three cell phones, we gathered up all the candles we could find throughout the house and got them lit. I have to admit, it's always a little fun to sit around admiring the soft glow of the candle light. After all, the power always comes back on in a few minutes, so this is no huge inconvenience. Right?

Well a few minutes turned into twenty, then forty, then an hour. Okay, enough of the soft glow already. The new is beginning to wear off the candles now, and besides, it's getting a little hot and sticky in the house without the AC. Hmm, now we are getting close to 10:00 PM and it's time to start getting things ready for bed. Have you ever tried to pick out clothes by candle light? Surely the power will be back on before we actually turn in for the night. Or...maybe not.

Well, it's midnight now. That few minutes has turned into more than three hours. Good grief it's really hot in here, and no one can sleep for sticking to the sheets! When will the power come back on?? Surely it will be turned back on by morning...or so we hoped.

Awakened by the gentle tones of the cell phone alarm, I fumble around in the darkness for my glasses and take a peek at the clock radio...the electric clock radio by the bed. Drats! No flashing red numerals! I can't believe the power has still not come back on. About that time the thought hits me - without electricity, there's...NO COFFEE!!! A person can only take so much. So I thought of the old saying, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" the donut shop up on the highway just behind our house. I can see that they have the blessed electricity it takes to brew coffee.

Once the coffee is coursing through the veins, things seem to get a little better - for the moment. So now the whole family is up and trying to get showers and get ready for school and work...still in the dark. So, more candle light is needed. The soft glow is not nearly as appealing this morning as it was for the first ten minutes or so last night. At this point, our oldest daughter has given up all hope of surviving the morning, so she's off to her cousins house across town to get ready for school. Finally, everyone manages to get ready and we all get to our appointed places to begin our Thursday morning routines. I walk into the court room where I work and I take my place at the clerk's desk where I sit during criminal court every Thursday morning. I sit down with my clipboard and my cup of coffee to catch my breath before the Judge comes in to take the bench...and some wise-guy lawyer (who goes to our church and I really do love) who actually had electricity this morning, walks by and says to me - "nice socks." In fear and trepidation, I look down to discover that I have one navy blue and one black sock on. Now in the murky darkness of a candle lit morning, a navy blue and black dress sock look deceivingly similar. Not so under the white hot illumination of the fluorescent lights in the court room. To the contrary, I might as well have been wearing a flashing neon sign on my foot. Needless to say, I never crossed my legs in court that morning and I kept both feet planted squarely on the floor.

As soon as court is over, I head home to change the socks and hopefully to find the power back on. After all, it's now nearly 11:00 AM. Surely after fourteen hours they've been able to get the power back on.

Much to my disappointment when I arrived home for the sock exchange, there was still no power. So now I've grabbed my cell phone, which for the last fourteen hours has been used more as a flash light/alarm clock than phone, and I frantically start dialing the electric company customer service number. After all, I'm a customer and I need service. Upon reaching the customer service representative (after a fifteen to twenty minute hold time) and giving her my name and address, it was requested of me that I hold while she checked to see if I was in the "downed service grid." I proceeded to explain to the lady that I was most definitely in the "downed service grid" because I was standing next to the light switch and I was flipping it up and down and nothing was happening. To which she replied, "please hold." So I held.

A few minutes later, she came back on the line and confirmed that I was indeed in the "downed service grid," and that there were crews out working diligently to repair the service. Nothing that she had told me up to this point seemed to be much of a revelation, so I pressed for a little more definitive answer as to when we might expect to have power restored. At which time I received the mother of all "downed service grid" bad news..."it could be anywhere from several more hours to several more days." What?! Several more days?? How could she sit on the other end of this phone line and tell me, while I'm standing here in my one navy blue and one black dress sock, that I could potentially be looking at another several days of this electrically deprived life?

Faced with this possibility, my thoughts now turned to something of the most critical importance at times like this - food. What about all that meat we have in the freezer out in the garage? For the love of pork chops, I couldn't stand the thoughts of letting all that meat defrost and spoil. So like any red blooded American male, I went into emergency management mode. I had to act and I had to act fast, so I sprang into action. I grabbed my cell phone and squeezed out the final precious few seconds I had in the battery to call my sister across town to inquire about the availability of her freezer. Eureka! Her freezer was empty. So I ran to the freezer to begin unloading all the meat into shopping bags and a small ice chest. Now those of you who know me, probably know that I ride a small Daytona Scooter. It's not one of my vehicles that I drive, it' the only vehicle I drive, unless my wife and my daughter are not using their vehicles, which of course, on this day they were. So I packed the storage compartment under the seat full of meat, and I sat the ice chest full of meat on the foot deck of the scooter between my feet and for good measure, I stacked a box of half defrosted corny dogs and a package of chicken legs on top of the ice chest, and off I went across town to my sisters house in Acton.

After two hours and several trips back and forth across town transferring our soon to be thawed meat into my sisters freezer, I arrived back home at around 2:30 PM to see the electric company repair truck parked in the field down the street from our house. As I pulled into our driveway, my outside security lights flickered twice and then came to life. Our electricity had been restored! I was so happy to have the power back on at that moment, I didn't even care that I had just spent the last two hours hauling a freezer full of meat (by scooter) across town.

As I went into the house to close the windows, turn on the AC and start the monumental task of resetting all the clocks, a couple of thoughts occurred to me. The first was this - how totally spoiled I am to the modern conveniences of life, and the second was this - how little appreciation I have for the little things that I just take for granted each and every day. I go to the light switch and I flip it and I just expect to see light...never giving thought to the technological marvel of electricity and to how important it is in our daily lives.

It made me really stop and think about how often I fail to give God thanks for the "small, everyday" ways He blesses me. Unfortunately, it often takes losing something, even temporarily, to remind us of how blessed we truly are. How awesome would it be if we could all live each and every day in a conscious and deliberate attitude of thanks for all God has blessed us with.

Men in the Kitchen! Wooooman!

On Fridays I have the distinct pleasure of being at the desk in the main foyer of our local physical church building. If you were to call our number - I would be the voice answering the phone. Today is no ordinary Friday. There's men in our kitchen cooking dinner and preparing for tonight. I must confess to rather enjoying seeing these men in our kitchen. Not only are they cooking, they've been decorating tables and various other things. Men.... Did you catch that?

One asked if he could trade places with me for a few minutes. He's currently chopping lettuce for the salads. I shared with him the story about the day Brother G filled in for me due to my having a stomach bug. Still to this day, individuals tell me how strange it was calling the physical church building and hearing a man's voice instead of mine... a woman's. Then finding it even more interesting learning it was my husband's voice instead of his wife's.

Men are in the kitchen. This woman is answering the phone and greeting guests and family members as they are walking in to the physical church building. Personally? I think I've got the better end of this deal.

Humor is a great thing!

Life is full of humorous moments even if at times we have to look for them.

Have you looked at your moments today? Find some thing to laugh at.....

Make someone laugh and you've helped them to smile.

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.

Have you be a giver today?

(Bet you thought this post was about the roles of men and women didn't you....)

Eventful Thank You's. Serve...

This morning as I sit here pondering an event today.... I cannot help but be found with thank you's on my lips and in my heart.

At 8:30 a.m., the pro shop here at our highly secure gated community will be welcoming individuals on behalf of our family. And while I do not have a golfing bone in my body and have always been honest about it, I do so love many individuals who do. While I will be at the physical church building, they will be teeing off and sharing stories and creating new memories together. For that, I am thankful. My presence at such events are not necessary for them to carry on.

Our two youngest sons attend public school. They are out of school today. Again, I am met with gratitude. Travis is quite the golfer at age thirteen. He will be playing today with a man who our family holds close even though we do not necessarily agree with him on numerous issues. What we do agree about is priceless. His love for my daddy and my mom for years created a love for my husband, sons, and myself just as deep if not deeper. Our sons see this man as a grandfather figure since their grandpa's passing. Again a gratitude that cannot be fully explained.

There's a man who will also be playing in the event today. He came into our lives most unexpectedly and yet, came as no surprise to God. Our relationships with him are ones that have gone the gamut from bad to good and in-between. It has been over a year now since he and my mother have been dating. As I've mentioned on Life in the Moments before, his presence in our lives has been one that causes many many interesting moments for us all. One thing I know I can say without question, he loves my mother and my mother loves him. He will be playing along side of my mother today.

I remain grateful for the conversations that my daddy and I had over the time in-between his dash. Even more so the ones that were difficult and beyond raw. I am thankful that he shared me with his desire to see my mom, his wife over 43 years plus at the time, move on after his passing. It wasn't just his desire as I've also shared here. He knew she would find a man within six months that she would either marry or would love like that. I am thankful for his love for my mother. There are truly no words that do it justice.

There are many others who will be playing today. They will be remembering all the golfing events my daddy, their buddy, got together over the years. Always knowing that the real purpose of the events was not golf. It was to share God's love in a way that was outside of a building. A way that God truly used as a ministry in my parents lives and helped bring countless individuals to Him as a result. Only God could do that..... my daddy knew that as does my mom.

The bench on hole #1 is in memory of my daddy. I am grateful to those who had it placed there. For I have heard story after story of individuals sitting on it and receiving shade while there. That sitting on the bench does not just remind them of him.... but The One whom he served.

I, like my daddy, believe that life's moments are better spent serving Him and others on His behalf. It is a privilege, responsibility, and untold blessing.

How can you serve Him by serving others today? Make today's moments count!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Local Update II

1) Need to haul away your tree limbs from last night's storm? The county site just south of the law enforcement center will be open today from 1-5 and Friday from 9-5 for persons to take their tree limbs.

2) If you need assistance with #2, please call the physical church building. Yes, we have much going on given this weekend's events but we are here to serve however we can.

3) Speaking of this weekend's events... My lack of discussing them on Life in the Moments has been intentional. It comes from a life time of going through times such as these. It is an effort to be sensitive to all involved whether here locally or not. It also comes from being a staff member as well as a part of the body.

Local Update!

Yes, the physical church building is open today.

If you have damage and are in need of some help, please call us.

We will be getting some teams together as we determine what the needs are.

If you know someone who needs help and they are not a part of this body. Call us.

Trouble, The Mayor, and Lester are already here. What an example they set of how one never retires from serving our Lord.

Serve God. Serve others because of His love for you and yours for Him.

Praising Him in the Storm

Last night Granbury and the surrounding communities had major storms. Funnel clouds were spotted.... Our local body was gathered in a couple of areas of our physical church building.

I've written about Trouble before. As we stood in the foyer.. she said, "I'd rather be here with people I love than at home by myself. If I can't be with my kids, I'll take being with my other family."

As I went around to various areas checking on different individuals, I was deeply touched to see how they were interacting with each other. Young, old, and in-between like me.

I could not help but praise Him in the storm.

Is there damage? Yes. How much? Yet to be determined.

Where does my help come from? The Maker of the Heaven and the earth.

Stay tuned today for our Servant Evangelism tip from Micky!

Make today count!!! And as always, you were just prayed for no matter where you're at this moment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prayer for a Friend...

One of the biggest joys that I've shared about here on Life in the Moments is walking through life with others - the seen and unseen as I call them.

Tonight my mind is on one such friend. A friend that most would assume is seen given how public their lives are. And yet, as surely as I am sitting here - I submit this friend is very much unseen in some ways.

And as I lift this friend up in prayer, I am reminded that God sees this friend. God knows this friend's pain. While we cannot begin to understand why this pain is necessary, we know and trust that on the other side of this storm, the sea will be calm yet again.

I ask for you to pray for this friend. This friend has been a tremendous blessing in my(our) life. This friend has been there for me and it is my privilege and countless blessing to be there for them.

To this friend.... My lack of response to you today was met with groanings on your behalf.

Sometimes words are not sufficient. Fortunately, God understands it all even when we do not.

And one thing this friend has helped teach me - sometimes listening is better than any thing we can say.

Open Ears Closed Mouth

Unending Gratitude.

Today was the last meeting for this particular Tuesday morning Bible study group. It has been my sheer pleasure in being their teacher and walking along side of each one. It has also been one of the biggest growth times for me as a teacher and as a Christ follower. I am in a constant stage of learning - I remain a student. I am grateful.

Each week I asked the women to dig deep with me but more importantly in their walks with Him. The Sermon on the Mount was met with a variety of responses. Most of which I will keep quiet for the purpose of this post. There needs to be safe places for individuals to share. One thing I know for sure as a teacher - your students will not go where you are not willing to go yourself first. If you're relying on your self - you will miss the mark every single time. If you ask His Spirit to be your guide - let go and watch! Talk about freedom....

For those of you who have been praying for me as their teacher... for each one of them...

I am met with unending gratitude. And honestly, no words could ever do it justice.

If I could ask one thing more - keep praying. God is moving here in Granbury!

Today was absolute proof.

Testimony - Michael S.

Last weekend we did several service projects around all of hood county. We were at the schools, churches, other big businesses, parks, ball fields, and communities. We passed out water, food, healthy kids fliers, car washes, cookies, we helped do yard work, bagged groceries, pumped gas, etc. We were all over the place doing so many things and helping out so many people. I have been involved in every Love Granbury, when we do the monthly ones and i was involved last year in the really big one that we did. But this year more churches were involved and thousands of people were affected by our efforts. That is nothing short of God's handiwork because there is absolutely no way that we could have accomplished all that we did on our own. God was and is moving in Granbury, He was with us on Saturday and provided in abundance so that we could accomplish the task that He had set out for that weekend. My group was in for the long haul and i really appreciate them for that. Love Granbury was scheduled to be over at 2:00. We grabbed a quick bite to eat then we were back to work. After the official Love Granbury was over we worked on a lady's yard, trimming bushes and hauling off a massive tree branch that had fallen in her yard. When we finished there we went on to another lady's house and she needed her yard mowed and weed eated, so we jumped on that. We worked until it was time to go to the church for the evening service and finally made it back home to get cleaned up. Love Granbury was very successful and i look forward to all the other projects we will do in the future.

Love Granbury, however, was not over on Saturday. Helping out people and meeting them where THEY are and bringing Jesus to them is something that we should do on a daily basis. There will always be more people in need than there are people to help. I am very excited to see what God can and will do in Granbury, Texas, but it is up to us to be faithful and accomplish the task that Jesus sets out for us on a daily basis.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Doctor and the Great Physician.

Yesterday, I was reading the local newspaper online just like I do every single day. As I came to a story about an accident involving a motorcyclist - I knew that there would be a connection between that individual and myself. I started praying for that individual's family.

Today, as I was reading, there was her name in print. A name that was found on daddy's prescription bottles for many years. A name that was discussed numerous times in this home. A name that I came to know with red hair, glasses, and a "How are we doing today?" A name that I called when the daughter became the caregiver those last 18 months.

One day when I was out to lunch with some of my seminary friends, I ran into this woman. Her words to me that day, I have not forgotten. They remain with me still.... even more so now.

While I believe that the doctor is now with the Great Physician, I ask for prayers for her three children. Two daughters and a son. And if you're local and run across a Shank, ask them this simple and yet profound question, "How are we doing today?" and please be willing to listen.

For in life's moments it is clear, "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Broken Pieces. Beauty Abounds.

There are people that come through life who take up residence in our very being. This morning, I saw one such person coming my way as I stood in a hallway. I had heard earlier in the week that she was hoping to be there today. This was the first time I've seen her since January. And yet, the not first time I've really laid my eyes upon her beauty.

This woman's life was changed on the last Sunday of January. The impact of what happened that morning affected more than just her honestly. Her car skidded off the road and flipped. The windshield broke into pieces and smashed her face and body. It was astonishing that she even made it out alive. Today it was clear - she is still much very living.

I've written about this woman on Life in the Moments before. Our connection is deeper than deep. We're prayer partners and do not have to be together in the same room to be there for each other. Like I said, this was the first time I've seen her since January. And yet, our relationship has grown stronger in that time.

As I stood there taking in my dear precious friend - I could not help but notice her sheer beauty. For even though she was wearing sunglasses inside the building to hide the damage to her eyes and help protect them, she was more radiant than ever. She would not trade the past few months for a new car even though the one she was driving that day was totalled in a flash.

That's what broken pieces can do when we surrender to God's healing hands to mend us. We may not look the same again. We may only be a slight resemblance to what we once were. And yet, we may be like pieces that are brought together and create stained glass that truly lets His light shine through.

Broken pieces. Beauty abounds because of Him alone. Sylvia would testify to that as would I.

We'll take being weird like that. How about you?