Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Superhero Mentality

Some days I sit down to write and I am overwhelmed at the thoughts that swirl and twirl and how do I say what I am thinking, or what the burden on my heart is. Yesterday I came across an article that prompted me to pass it along. I know many people struggle with this, it was what God was laying on my heart as the start of the ministry year is drawing near. I knew with work, my desire to be on worship, practicing keyboards, braille extras, and life at home, my time would need to be well portioned out. Many things start up again in September and at the risk of being the burned out person in hindsight I am thoughtfully and prayerfully considering my evenings and spare time for the fall and winter. God is teaching me to be dependent on Him, and walking through life looking to Him for direction. 

The Superhero Mentality

Why God Doesn't Need Us to Be More Than Human

By Daniel Darling

Weakness is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Elijah. That’s because Elijah did things nobody else did.
Like accurately predicting a three-year drought.
Like calling down fire from heaven.
Like outrunning a king’s chariot.
But the book of James reminds us that Elijah had a “nature like ours” (James 5:17). It’s tough to imagine Elijah as an ordinary man, but a story in 1 Kings 19 sheds light on the humanity of the most feared man in Israel.
Here we find Elijah fresh off a stunning victory on Mount Carmel. He defeated the practitioners of Baal worship. He persuaded all of Israel to swear allegiance to Jehovah. And after his appeal, God opened the floodgates of heaven, ending a year-long country-wide drought.
Not a bad day. And yet, do we find Elijah celebrating his successes? No. No post-game party for Elijah.
Instead, we find him miles from the epicenter of victory, brooding under a shade tree—a mere shadow of the man we saw on Mount Carmel. And he’s begging the Lord to take his life.
From Courage to Fear
So what happened? How did this bullet-proof superhero suddenly crack? And if Elijah can lose it, what does that say to lesser men and women?
It was a perfect storm. Three-and-a-half years of intense ministry. Threats from an enraged and unstable political leader. And a flaw in Elijah’s theology.
Here’s what you and I can learn from Elijah’s downward spiral into discouragement: the prophet bought into a common spiritual myth that still plagues believers today. I call it the “superhero mentality.” Others have labeled it the “missionary mindset” or the “martyr complex.” It’s the mistaken idea that activity for God is a worthy substitute for intimacy withGod. Along the way, we begin to assume responsibility for results and act as if normal human weaknesses don’t apply to Christians.
Honestly, I see a little of the superhero mentality in myself. Granted, I won’t ever be a hairy-chested, Baal-challenging, never-say-die prophet. I sip lattes, attend Weight Watchers®, and prefer to hunt my meat at the local supermarket.
But I have adopted the superhero men-tality by acting as if the entire kingdom of Christ depends on my working another 16-hour day at church or pounding out another Christian book or scheduling another ministry meeting.
And so God allows us who think we’re superhuman to come to the end of our abilities. Then He is there to receive with grace another burned-out prophet.
Practical Ministry
So what was God’s cure for Elijah’s superhero mentality?
Another Bible study?
Another Christian best-seller?
Another three-day seminar?
Those are things we’d suggest. And we have the four-color brochures to prove it. But God didn’t tell Elijah to pray more, read additional Scripture, or build an altar.
No, God did something so practical, it would almost seem unbiblical. He brought food. And not stale cafeteria sandwiches or day-old carryout, either.
This was a fresh meal, cooked to perfection by a heavenly chef and served to Elijah in his shade tree motel.
When was the last time Elijah had eaten? I’m guessing he skipped a few meals because he had “important ministry to do.”
But the Creator of the heavens and the earth—the same One who designed Elijah’s body to be nourished and rested—knew better what His servant really needed.
After Elijah polished off that meal, guess what God did? He brought another. I think there is some important theology tucked away in this story. You don’t even need a degree in Hebrew to pluck it out.
Sometimes physical needs have to be addressed before we can minister spiritually. The truth is that God doesn’t intend for us to try to be superhuman. He delights in our humanity. He shines in our weakness. His glory is revealed when we’re so frail. And we need to lean on Him for strength.
The psalmist writes, “For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14 niv). Funny that God remembers, but we forget.
We often worship in an evangelical culture that’s in love with measurables, so we can see the good we’re doing spiritually. But isn’t our weakness—our inability to produce anything good—at the very heart of the gospel message?
Are we really doing God a favor by neglecting the normal, natural care of our bodies? This is man-centered, performance-based theology. As if God sits aloft in heaven, crossing His fingers and hoping one more saint puts in a 16-hour day.
Here’s the naked truth that revitalized Elijah’s life and equipped him for years of fruitful ministry: God wasn’t dependent on Elijah; God wanted Elijah dependent upon Him.
Under that shade tree, Elijah wasn’t a superhero. He was helpless. He was weak. He was right where God wanted him.
Unfortunately, it often takes a meltdown of biblical proportions for us to come to this place.
(reprinted without permission)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband

Today as I looked through pictures of our last 16 years together I realized lots changes and little does. Our hair and our glasses, changed the most. Our bodies still look about the that deserves an amen. Our kids have all grown up and we have added two grandkids to the mix. Our home has been built, remodelled and finished all in the last 15 years and in that order...yes still finishing our room and bathroom, but have remodelled other rooms along the way LOL. We have been blessed with son in laws....they are all fabulous and we are thankful. We woke up this morning and realized that we don't feel older..I know wait.. until it is cold and we are creaky LOL...but we have grown older. Our hearts are more in tune, our minds think the same and we seldom have complete differences of opinion. I am so thankful for the most amazing man, the wonderful husband, father and papa. For 14 years I have heard every morning "I Love You" before anything else...and it is not because I need to hear it, or that he needs to remind me, it has become a habit that I am fond of....hard for the day to fall apart when your waking thoughts are that I have Jussi as my constant.
Thanks honey for the great years and for the many more to come...for the laughs that we have shared and the tears...for being the God honoring man that I always dreamed of. I love you...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sing, sing, sing...

Worship is like food, sunshine, water, it is my life sustenance. Recently on a trip down island I had a new worship CD I had borrowed and I was singing at the top of my lungs, worshiping, waving my arms in the air, all while driving at the posted 110km/hr. Now this may have been a lil dicey except for the part that God loves to hear our worship, the praises of His people, and I have never heard of an accident that was caused by a person that took their hands off the wheel to lift praises to their King. If Pastor Craig is reading, he probably did...he has the weirdest newsworthy items, good thing we love him. Anyway the depth of worship can be anywhere is the reason for the car story. God doesn't need us to be in a certain place, church or at home, he needs our heart to be in the right place. 

I have always found joy in music. I have been blessed to have children that love to sing, and they have fabulous gifts, that they not only share with me but with others. God is so good.  Worship is defined as the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration or the acknowledgment of worth. It is the expression for me, the expression of my love for my God: so big I cannot put a word to it, but yet so completely personal, I can't define it to anyone else. I know in church some people struggle to clap to the beat, some people find standing difficult, some do not like all the waving and dancing, the bouncing of the youth. I love watching others go to a place where they do not care about anything else but the adoration of the Father, His worthiness, His love for us. There will always be sermons about shouting from the mountain tops, what worship looks like but remember worship is as individual as our smiles. God knows our hearts, the hearts that are happy clapping to the beat, He knows the hearts that want to jump and dance, those that are physically unable to bounce and He knows the hearts like mine. I will worship like David, (in church I will keep my clothes on LOL) unabandoned in my spirit, with victory and freedom that I am able to worship.
I am so thankful for the musicians that share their gifts with all of us. This week I am going to send my praises to heaven every day not to bless Him but to bless me... join will be encouraged, filled and feel closer to Him. Blessings on your week, C

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Love vs Acceptance -

It has been a busy few weeks. I apologize for not getting the posts up. I have so many God moments that I have been overwhelmed. He speaks to me in story, I am sometimes driving, sleeping, gardening, walking or doing my devotions but God shares a thought for me to ponder or an idea to investigate. Some times I get so fired up I write it my head more than once and then this week something funny happened. I had considered the idea of those that feel so judged within the church. Then I branched off to share with Jussi about a person we had met and the fact that she was exactly the person God wanted us to bring to church. Now the person was not one that would have been an easy " Hey, want to come to church" It would have been more of a long term relationship, trust, commitment and non judgemental attitude that would have got her into church. Not because of where she was but where others were.
As I was pondering the church of today and how many had changed, there are still people that would not sit next to the young lady I would be bringing to church. I also knew that the many religions I hear about from friends and the questions they ask, it is  important that I don't take a holy than thou stand. My job as a Christian is to listen, to model, and to share what I believe. I am not a finger pointer. Where is the line between pointing out the sin or the wrongness vs sharing that is wrong according to God...Hard line to differentiate.

As I read a post from a young man in our church, I was so taken, because he had captured what I was thinking. Seth has always struck me as a young man with a deep thought process. His Facebook postings make me think, and certainly convict me to think outside the box. So I would like to share Seth's post, with his permission. I am thankful that his generation is thinking like this and that our church youth group has a young man like Seth.

Just a little while ago I ran into this comment on a Christian message board: 

"so its a trend ... in Christianity in general, to wag ones finger at someone who has differing beliefs than oneself. now im definitely not a typical Christian. i love nature and revere it [it is Gods creation after all. does that mean i worship it? of course not! but it should still be respected], i believe in natural medicine, im liberal [i would have voted for Obama if i had been old enough. sue me], im extremely open minded, and one of my best friends is a Wiccan. if i dont agree with someones behaviour or beliefs, I DONT SAY ANYTHING! i dont mock them [even behind their backs]. i ACCEPT them. ive been chastised so many times ... just because i listen almost exclusively to non-Christian music, most of my friends arent Christian, my beliefs are apparently pagan to some [since when has a reverence of Gods creation been non-Christian?!], i know hardly any Bible verses, and im open minded. i just want to say that being a Christian means you have a responsibility to love people. LOVE. who cares if someones atheist, Bhuddist, Hindu, pagan, Muslim, Jewish, or even a different Christian denomination. love them no matter what, even if they hate you. dont put them down. accept them. Jesus taught us to do that, yet i see that the majority of Christians dont. they sit on high horses and condemn others ... is that Christ-like? not to me. so please, be kind and accepting no matter who it is." 

Now, I agree with the main theme of this post: Christians are called to love others, regardless of their beliefs, choices, or circumstances. But I've noticed that a lot of Christians (including myself) have trouble distinguishing between love and acceptance. 

What do I mean by that? I'm saying that I've often found myself hanging out with non-Christians and have not commented on their sinful behaviour. My motivation is my desire to show them Jesus's unconditional love: it doesn't matter what they do, Jesus loves them and thus I love them too. But by being silent I am really condoning their behaviour. 

Many of my friends don't know any better. They were born in sin and are still living in sin, and they don't even realize it. When I see sin it is my responsibility to point out that's it's wrong, because I am often the only one who can recognize it. I need to be loving, yes, but I also need to tell my friends that what they're doing is wrong. 

While Jesus was loving towards everyone He met, He also wasn't afraid to point out sin. Take the story of the woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders brought her before Jesus, but He didn't condemn her. Instead He told her to "go and sin no more." He showed her mercy, but He also told her to leave her life of sin behind. 

We as Christians are called to be loving and compassionate, but we also have a duty to "go into all the world and make disciples." There IS going to be a judgement day,and you're not doing your friends any favours when you ignore their sin. They don't know any better, and it's your responsibility to bring them to Jesus. 

Don't get me wrong: loving and accepting everyone regardless of who they are or what they do is not a bad thing. That's what Jesus did: He looked past the sin and saw the beautiful child of God that was imprisoned. But He did more than just look: He set them free. 

Thanks Seth...for reminding us that He did more than just look, HE set them free. What a promise we have in Jesus.  
Coming next...Sing, sing, sing...

(ps Annie...sorry it took so long)