21st Century Gideons’ Guide

One of the things I have always noticed about Gideons’ Bibles in motel rooms is that they include an excellent guide of verses, categorized by topic and issue. A Lubbock friend (Billy Hull) sent me a link to God’s Yellow Pages today, which is like a 21st century Gideons’ guide to the Bible.

The entry that caught my attention tonight was one for “courage.” I blogged earlier today about courage— how it is not the lack of fear, but rather the ability to act despite fear– but this verse (Psalm 27:14) puts yet a different spin on courage that I need to be reminded of.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Courage, in a Christian sense, also means remembering WHO IS IN CONTROL of this world and what my place in it actually is. I think we often think of “courageous people” as folks who went out and “made things happen” — I at least don’t always think of courage as something that involves God’s will– often I think of it as something that is a product of human will. Certainly the choices we make matter… I think a great part of the Christian walk is the struggle to make GOOD and BETTER choices, when faced with temptations and adversity– but in the end we need to recognize the existance of God’s will and His sovereignty.

I am not sure about others, but I know that I RARELY want to wait. For anything. Waiting is not really considered virtuous anymore, in popular culture. Perhaps it never was, but it seems that it was held in higher regard by previous generations. The emphasis now in our consumer-driven society is to NEVER wait: always buy now, always satisfy your urges with rash spending and impulsive decision-making.

Those are poor habits. The Psalmist reminds us that we should strive to be courageous people– and we should take courage in the strength and in the perfect plan of the LORD. Waiting is difficult for adults, at times, just as it seems excruciatingly difficult for my two year old. Yet in waiting, we all should take heart– and have courage. For we may not know the future, but we know who holds the future…. and we can rest easy knowing that the future is in good hands. 🙂

For additional links like these, refer to the official website of the Gideons and click on “Bible Helps” and then “Help in Time of Need.”

Unusual gifts

I was pleased when Wes invited me to participate in the project. I’ve been blogging professionally for a while and also personally. It will be interesting to talk about my journey with others.

One thing I’ve been discovering over the past few years is that tradtional views of spiritual gifts is very limiting. Many tend to think of spiritual gifts in terms of teaching, prophecy, faith, healing and the like. We often think that pastors, elders, and those in visible ministry are the ones that excercise these gifts. Now most of us would quickly acknowledge that it’s much broader than that but we don’t always realize that God has given us interests, abilities and talents that are every bit as spiritual.

I’m sort of a self taught nerd. Over the past 8 years I’ve developed enough skills and knowledge combined with my teaching experience to carve out a nice position helping teachers use technology. As I was developing this talent, I began to realize that our churches could use an infuse of technology. At first it was largely administrative…developing websites, setting up projection systems and supporting office management. I also began to realize the power of video. During this time, I’ve been involved in the creation of numerous videos and presentations designed to draw attention to Christ. I now understand that God has given me a gift of storytelling through video and I’m excited to use this gift in whatever way it’s needed.

At the same time my wife also began turning her ability to design quilts into a ministry as well. She’s created a number of quilts and designs for others including a cancer quilt for a friend of ours. It’s helped us realize the diversity of gifts God has given us and that they are all important. We need to be more diligent in helping others not only discover their gifts but recognize the ones they’re already using.

Our pastor met with a lady who was feeling badly she wasn’t more involved in the church. She genuinely wanted to be used by God. He asked her what she enjoyed. She mentioned she loved her job which was counselling. She had never thought of her job as a ministry. Maybe that seems odd but I wonder if many have missed this too.

“…Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. ” 1 Corinthians 14:12

Look around you, consider the talents and gifts you’ve been given and think about how God can and may already be using them for His glory.

A New Role

I am not a professional blogger, but I am married to one! This is my first, forced if truth be known, blog entry. My husband, three kids, and two dogs and I have recently moved to a great new city. My husband has a great job, and I just found out that I will have a new job begining next Tuesday. After staying home for the past eight years, I am going back to a full time job. The best thing is that it will allow me to continue my “real” full time job as a wife and mother. I’ve been very happy as a stay-home mom. I’ve actually enjoyed keeping my house clean, participating in play groups, and being an active member of the PTA.

I never would have imagined that I could work full time and still be able to pick my kids up after school and put them to bed each night. I think its great that businesses are allowing Moms to work flexible hours, get the job done, and still be there for their families. I am looking forward to getting out, meeting new people, and making a difference in the lives of others.

Indeed you are powerful

I am thrilled to have found a wonderful Friday morning men’s fellowship group at our new church here in Edmond, Oklahoma, very similar to a Friday morning men’s group I participated in back in Lubbock for the past few years. Ever since I went to my first Promisekeepers event, which was probably back in 1998 or so, seeking the fellowship, accountability, laughter and levity of another group of Christian guys has become a very important part of my life.

Our Edmond men’s group is about 50 or 60 men strong each week, and one of the best things about it is that we have men who are all different ages. There are probably more retired guys than younger ones, but I think the age range is very good– it runs from 30s (I don’t think we have any in their 20s in there currently) up to 70s and maybe even 80s. Older guys have so much more “lived experiences” and wisdom than us young whippersnappers, that it is a great opportunity usually to just hang out and listen. I want to have the “margin” and perspective on life that these older guys do NOW, and not wait another forty years to get it. That is a real struggle, but hanging out with these fellows, listening to them and learning from them seems like a good recipie for learning their secrets. Maybe some of that patient, gentle spirit will rub off on me! I am not sure if it is working, but I think there’s a good chance it might be doing some good.

We have started a new book study on John Eldredge’s book, “Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.” I read this book at least three years ago, it was published in in 2001– and I am so glad to have this encouragement to read the book again, reflect on it, and share about it with other guys. I am also very glad to have this blog as a place to record my thoughts and offer them up for feedback and response. I will try and “chunk” my ideas a bit better for this blog than I sometimes do for my primary blog– because I think people are more likely to read shorter posts and part of my purpose is to encourage dialog and responses.

The first excerpt I want to respond to from the book comes from page 10, in chapter 1. Eldredge writes:

Capes and swords, camouflage, bandannas and six-shooters– these are the uniforms of boyhood. Little boys yearn to know they are powerful, they are dangerous, they are someone to be reckoned with.

This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from the movie series “Star Wars.” This is from Episode VI, “Return of the Jedi,” and Darth Vader is speaking to Luke on the planet Endor before he takes him up to his star ship to meet the Emperor. Vader says:

Indeed you are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen.

I love that statement and observation. Yes, Luke has grown powerful in his own right under the guidance of his mentors, Obi-Wan and Yoda. And now, his own father is recognizing him. All children yearn to be acknowledged and recognized by their parents, I think, for the men and women they have and are continuing to grow up to be.

I got in the habit many years ago of having my own children repeat certain phrases that I would tell them. I know that “self-talk” is very important in terms of shaping identity, and there are so many terrible messages in our popular culture today that reinforce the WRONG messages to both young people and adults alike. For my daughters, I often have them repeat the following after me:

I AM powerful.
I AM strong.
I AM beautiful.
I AM smart.
I AM a good thinker.
I AM good.
I AM nice.
I AM sweet.

I want my own children to speak this reality into their own lives: They ARE powerful because God has created them in his own image to be his children, and to do his work. He has equipped them each with talents and gifts that they are called to discover and to use, and part of my role as their father is to help them discover their identity and learn at the end of the day– or rather on the path of their own journey of faith, that they each ARE powerful…. Powerful beyond words, or as Miguel has written before, “powerful beyond measure.”

I think it is very important as parents, teachers and just adults in our society that we help empower young people to believe in themselves and in the calling which they each have in this world to do important work. I have no idea what my children will do in the future, but I do know that I want them to move forward into that future with confidence and sureity about WHOSE they are, and how wonderfully he has crafted them to be his agents on this often dark planet.

Fixing my eyes on Jesus

Hebrews 12:2 to me is a reminder that I should fix my eyes on Jesus every day. Our world is filled with distractions and its media-centric nature makes it (perhaps) more difficult than ever to concentrate on anything for a sustained period of time. Even when I am listening to a sermon at church, my mind often wanders to think about other things. It is a real struggle to keep focused on a Biblical message even when I am in a church on a Sunday morning! How much more difficult it is to stay focused on Christ and his calling for my life out in “the real world?!”

I am working on making time each day to study God’s Word and spend time in prayer with Him. This is a huge challenge for me. I know I need to spend time not only talking to God, but also being quiet so I can listen to Him! God speaks to us, and he speaks to me, but I find myself often in such motion and a buzz of activity that I think I find it hard to listen to him. Being still and listening is a counter-cultural act today, I think. I am reminded of the Biblical exhortation, which was a song our high school choir sang incidentally many years ago: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

God is the creator of the universe, and he is the Father of us all. I think having an opportunity to write about my own journey of faith in this blogspace is going to be a good process for me personally, and hopefully an encouragement to others who are also on a personal journey of faith. I have previously blogged about my Christian faith on my main blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity,” but am now going to post those sorts of thoughts here. By doing this, I in no way want to hide or conceal my faith and my beliefs. To the contrary, I want to have access to a specific forum that is oriented towards topics relating to faith, Christianity, God and Jesus. Because my primary blog focuses mainly on issues relating to educational technology, I have (at times) been a bit reluctant to post ideas, reflections and resources which specifically related to Christianity there. Now that I have access to this dedicated Christian webspace, I do not anticipate having such reservations again!

I do not have all the answers, and I probably don’t have many answers, but I am on a journey of faith that I know in my heart of hearts is the right pathway. God has the answers, and in his time I know he will reveal more to me. He does each day. One of the best things about blogs is the potential they give for authentic sharing and communication. Hopefully the opportunity to share and reflect about our faith will be a blessing to all who visit here. 🙂

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