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Archive for January, 2008

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I want to read this book so bad I can’t stand it – and I really only want to read it because I’m in love with the title.  It’s next on my list of things to purchase. In the mean time, I think I may start using the categories feature on this blog, and I may make one category entirely devoted to this topic. I get pretty worked up about it, and there are few things I would love to share more than my two cents about the stupid things I always hear about Christians doing. I’m out of time for tonight, but I’ll post soon with some stories about this category. I’ve got some good ones.

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Ashamed.

I was reading the Beth Moore blog today. I read it religiously. She had posted two questions for her readers to answer. The first one had to do with the spiritual bondage that threatens you the most, and the second was about the greatest obstacle to freedom from that bondage. I usually don’t reply to things like that because there are so many other women on those boards, but I always enjoying reading the responses. The responses I read today were a bit overwhelming. They were so sad. So frustrated. So hopeless. You could almost sense the brokenness pouring out from the hearts of anonymous writers. Over and over again, women responded concerning issues related to addiction, marital dissatisfaction, pride, self-image, eating issues, sexual perversions…the list went on and on and on. There was some really deep stuff on the list, some intensely shameful sin and some incredibly faulty thinking. 

I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those women were being honest about their sin and bondage for the first time. Some of them even mentioned it in their post. It was the first time they had ever dared to admit it or verbalize (through font, of course) their shame and struggle. In the required anonymity of the response, they were admitting things so deep and so consuming that they had never dared to share it with anyone else before.  They were so ashamed.

It got me thinking about shame. It is so consuming. In my darkest and most vulnerable moments, I have literally hidden under the covers of my bed to hide from shame. I can almost relive those moments if I think about them too long.  My chest tightens and my face gets flushed even at the thought. Undoubtedly, it is so easy to assume that no one else in the world could handle my darkest shame. I must be worse off. I must have bigger issues. I have good reason to take on a heaping portion of shame.

We believe such lies.  I was so reminded by the honest answers today that we are all dark. We all have issues. We all have major sin in our lives. And we walk around, carrying the dark secrets inside of us, hoping that no one will see our worst. We are so ashamed, and we carry our shame day in and day out all because we believe the lie that no one else is dark or shameful. We worry about the exposure of our darkest secrets because we fear that we might find out that we really are the worst off and really are the most shameful.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces shall never hide in shame.”  What would happen if we refused to be bound to shame? What would we do if we weren’t so fearful of people finding out our deepest secrets? What would happen if we risked authentic confession within the boundaries of Christian community? Could we do it? Or are we too ashamed? Will we refuse the radiance that our Keeper offers us?

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Okay. So I know what my purposes are within girls’ ministry. Teach Truth (discipleship). Speak Life (encouragement). Love Relentlessly (evangelism).

As my friends would note, I am a type-A beaver when it comes to organizational issues. I’m working on a tiered breakdown of my vision for girls’ ministry. It will hopefully look like a flow chart or a bubble diagram when I am done. Tonight, though, I want to just flow through some rambling thoughts I have about my vision. I don’t know how these will all fit together or where they will fit into the flow chart, but I am certain that these are things I am passionate about.

1. As I have arrived at the transition into women’s ministry, I have taken notice on more than one occasion that most significant women’s ministry is rooted in crisis management. This is not true for all women’s ministry organizations, but it just seems like most of the girly books at a Christian book store are dealing with crisis, and everywhere I go, I hear speakers talking about intense bondage and hurt and hopelessness. Speakers are dealing with failing marriages, rebellious children, depression, eating disorders, addictions, and all kinds of other hurts and life crises. Case in point: my own women’s ministry is getting ready to start a study called “When Life Hurts and Dreams Fade…” It makes me sad.  Are most women looking for a ministry to act in the role of a counselor? And if that is the case, and women’s ministry is indeed very crisis-oriented, how in the world did we get to a place of needing that? What have we missed for too long that girls would grow into women who cannot understand hurt and crisis?  How can I help disciple girls now so that they don’t require a crisis-management ministry as adults? How can I help girls learn to deal with challenge and hurt and bondage while they are young so that they can spend more mature years resting in the faithfulness of their Keeper?

2. Family is everything. Even if we don’t want it to be, family (or lack thereof) is the single most defining aspect of our life situation. Their influence is inescapable.  How can I effectively engage in ministry with parents at my age? How can I be a resource for parents even as a single non-parent?

3. If making disciples is the supreme call of ministry, I want to be able to connect girls with women who can disciple them. There is something significant about one-to-one mentoring and discipleship. I see a disconnect between a generation of girls who consistently hope for a Godly mentoring relationship and a generation of Godly women who want to invest their lives in spiritually hungry girls.  There is no lack of women to mentor or girls to be mentored. How can I become a mediator between the two? What does that look like?

4. Girls just want to have fun. I love it when I get the point with a group of friends where I feel totally uninhibited. I can say whatever I need to say and do whatever I need to do, and I know that they are going to laugh with me along the way. I am at a place where I am just understanding what it is to recapture that sense of uninhibited joy. I see girls all the time who are so concerned with the stresses of school and friends and family and life in general that they can’t even imagine the freedom to dance and laugh generously and to feel safe in authenticity. How can I be a part of recapturing that sense of childlike freedom? How can I help girls build relationships that are so safe and real that they become a place of uninhibited joy?  

More to come…maybe even in the form of a diagram.

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Dreaming.

This was the question posed to me on the phone tonight: if I had a blank slate and a ministry to develop, what would I do? What would my dream ministry be like? What vision do I have for girls’ ministry?

I consider myself to be quite the dreamer. When it comes to life plans, it’s not just that I’ve had a bunch- I have a bunch. I want to do so much and to be so many things. I want to go further and dig deeper and expand my territories more than I yet can even dream.  My dreams, though, are so broad and so vague. Usually, I like them to be that way. I like that there are a million ways my dreams could play out. I like that any number of scenarios or situations could be a part of my dreaming big.  There is safety in ambiguous dreaming. I don’t have to commit to just one hope, and I don’t risk missing out on a dream when it is ambiguous.

Then, tonight, the question was posed concerning my dream of doing girls’ ministry…and I think it is time to put some flesh on that dream. The dream is becoming a reality, and I need to dream in detail so that I don’t miss my best opportunity. I have to move from dreaming to envisioning. What would I do if I could do anything in world? What would be the most important? What philosophy would I operate under? What strategies and programs and events would be on my list of things to try? What are the goals, and how will I know when I have achieved them???

Here is what I know so far, and here is what I want to flesh out piece-by-piece in the next few days:

Teach Truth – Speak Life – Love Relentlessly

More to come…

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Back to school.

I started back with class this week. This term, I’m taking Theories of Counseling. It promises to be a really good course – especially since I’ve already used this textbook before (in undergrad at Lee). It should be more of a review and update than a lot of new information.

Earlier this week, I was thinking about how much I really do enjoy being in classes. Most of the time, people think that I am absolutely crazy to try working my job at Long Hollow and to do school at the same time. In reality, though, while there are definitely some weeks where work absolutely consumes my life (Quest, anyone?), there are a lot more weeks where I just work a typical forty-hour week, and I head home just like anyone else with a day-job. I’m not bored with my life without school, but I do think that there is something that I just love about being consistently challenged to learn and grow.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with my degree when I am done with school (or how in the world I’m going to pay off my student loans), but I like the process and the accomplishment of it.  I doubt I will be done after this degree. There are at least three more degrees  and one other graduate-level program that I would like to complete at some point in the future.  I just like learning, and I know that as soon as I pay off this Master’s, I’ll be ready to tackle the next one.

Even I think I’m a nerd.

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Short and simple.

It never ceases to amaze me how amazingly perfect God’s timing is. I am blown away. If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. That’s all I have to say about that for now.

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Restless.

I’ve been in an unusually contemplative mood today. And, for whatever reason, I’ve been really restless for the past few weeks. I’m in a funk of discontent, and I am craving some excitement and change. I don’t know what that means at all. I just know that’s how I feel. Discontent.

I get this way often. As soon as the newness and challenge of transition wear off, I start wondering when I will venture into the next major life change.  I’ve been working for Long Hollow for eight months now. I know that is not a long stint of time by any stretch of the imagination, but for me, this is the most stable I have been since my sophomore year of high school. I don’t really know what to do with the routine.  This is new territory for me.

I’ve often heard pastors and teachers talk about the sin of discontentment.  I have mixed feelings about it. I understand that in a general sense, being discontent with this thing or that thing or this area of life or that area of life can be a problem. But not all restlessness and discontentment is sinful, is it? I’ve been in this place a hundred times before – feeling like something needs to change, not being satisfied with current life circumstances, feeling ready for a new transition. Sometimes, it has been an issue of sin in my life. But more often than not, these feelings are soon followed by some sort of change or transition or release. The discontent has been a preparation for whatever is next.

I’m stuck in the not-knowing-yet phase. I keep wondering whether this is the good kind of discontent that is preparing my heart for a change or if this is a chance for me to choose satisfaction in what the Lord has already given to me.  My life policy is this: wherever I am, be all there. I don’t want this restlessness to get in the way of the work God has chosen for me now. I don’t know if this kind of dissatisfaction is good or bad. All I know is that I am restless. Deep in my heart, I crave something greater, something exciting, something new – and I’m praying to only be holy discontent.  

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