Monday, August 31, 2009

humility, grace, and gratitude

Orchard Hill Church had a special worship service at Gallagher-Bluedorn yesterday morning. It was a beautiful, moving where you could really experience the power and presence of God in the room and one where you could really taste unity as we gathered and worshiped as one heart our Creator, the lover of our souls, our Savior.

A friend used the word "humility" to best describe the morning. I decided to look up the definition for humble: having or showing consciousness of one's defects or shortcomings; not proud, not arrogant, not self-assertive, modest, showing submissive respect. There was this sense of humble acknowledgement of who we are as well as who is the One who comes in love to save and restore us.

Our leader prayed this morning in staff meeting that we would be humble in everything. This is such a good charge for me. A glad conviction. A needed reminder on a daily basis, as it is so often pride, power, position, privilege, and prejudice that steer me off course regularly. Humility is the opposite of all of these pesky p's.

Another word I would use for yesterday's service is "grace"....found in the unconditional love and forgiveness of our God, and found in one another as we each acknowledge our brokenness and reach out in acceptance and love toward one another.

And one last word..."gratitude". Gratitude for the power of God to change lives. I cannot change myself. Only God can. There was a moving "cardboard testimony" yesterday in the service that was evidence to this truth. I don't have a video of our church's cardboard testimonies, but you can see another church's experience at this link:

As we seek to live on mission with Jesus, I pray humility, grace, and gratitude for the journey.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

St. Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897

I found a terrific book at the public library called The Heart of a Saint. Author Bert Ghezzi writes one chapter each on 10 spiritual heroes/heroines. Each short chapter has a bit of a biography, some of the featured person's quotes, a bit of commentary by the author, and some questions for reflection by the reader. I read the first chapter on Saint Therese of Lisieux yesterday.

Though she died at the age of 24, St. Therese had lived her last 9 years in a convent and is known not for lofty achievements in the world's standards, but rather lofty achievements in Kingdom sense. Her full devotion to Jesus and doing everything with love and the passion of Jesus was her renown. Her words:

"The most trivial act, one that no one knows about, provided it is inspired by love, is often of greater worth than the greatest achievement. It is not the value or even the apparent holiness of deeds which counts, but only the love put into them. And no one can say that he cannot do these little things for God, for everyone is capable of them."

Friday, August 21, 2009

let's get personal

Yes, the Holy Spirit really can speak through cats. I've previously blogged about cat lessons on the acreage, so I'll just add another story to the growing lot of feline posts.
On June 16, Harriet, our resident, ferrol farm cat, had a litter of four kittens in our garage. I almost tripped on the scene as I went out to our garage cupboards for picnic table service. It wasn't but a few days later that Harriet decided to get her babes outside and away from the humans. Of course, having witnessed the birth, our children were intent on finding where she hid them, and after a few weeks and a few moves around the acreage, we took them back to the garage so we could begin to acclamate the kitties to people. With food and water close by and a shelter overhead, Harriet didn't object much to the move, and she continued to nurse her babes.
Week 3: Our kids had named the four with unisex names: Reilly, Taylor, Tracy, and Sam. It's hard to tell the gender of a small kitten! So cute were these balls of fluff!
Week 4: Sara pointed out a small little sore on Tracy's chest. Looked like a bug bite or small puncture wound.
Week 5: Tracy's wound had grown, was infected, and well, hideous. I was pulling weeds in the flower garden on a Sunday afternoon and overhearing Sara on the phone crying to a veterinarian on call for the weekend and telling him about Tracy's wound. I got on the phone and learned that Tracy most likely had "Bot Fly Parasite"...a parasite that made a hole to breathe by in Tracy's chest then morphed into a grub that was living under her skin! A high fever would come if this grub stayed put. So, off to the vet with Tracy and Sara, and Tracy gets the grub taken out of her body. They even put it in a jar for us to see. Gross!
Week 6: Sam got adopted by a friend of a friend. Tracy needed to be on antibiotics and keep the chest sore free from dirt so that it could heal. We headed on vacation to MN and decided to take all three kitties with us so that Tracy could heal and so that they could all wean and get litter trained. Seven hours of kittens in a cat carrier on our laps! And a week of fun having them in the cabin. Snuggly, funny, playful. And successful potty training (much easier than with dogs!)
Week 9: We've just said good-bye this week to Reilly, Taylor, and finally, Tracy last night. The ad in the swap sheet did the trick, and I took the kittens to "show them" to two homes mid-week who both took a kitty. Then, last night, another family came out to our place and took Tracy home with them. You wouldn't believe how I scoped out the people. Tried to ask questions and get a sense of how well I thought they'd love and take care of these kittens.
Now, get this. The other day, Nathan and his friends were in our garage and pulled a few ball bats out of a rubbermaid garbage can we use for sports equipment. A cat jumped out of the garbage can, and when Nathan looked down in the can, there were 4 little kittens...probably about 2-3 weeks old! Another cat from our acreage must have had them in there and we didn't even know it these past few weeks! Once found, she promptly strutted each kitten out by the scruff to an undisclosed location. We haven't found them. The chances of these kittens being killed and eaten out in the woods is great, and even if they survive, they'll be wild unless we begin to play with them soon. I don't really lose too much sleep about it, though, and honestly, my kneejerk response is that I don't want to take the emotional and physical time and energy to get involved with yet another litter. As of now, there's no personal connection with these kittens.
First Holy Spirit learning: I must get in personal with people so that I can come to know them, be known myself, appreciate and value the life of another, grow my heart in compassion. When it's personal, I find that I begin to authentically care for the wellbeing of people (animals), I better understand their real needs, and I grow compelled to take some action. Where there's connection and relationship, compassion and love have a chance to grow.
Second Holy Spirit learning: It's in my human nature to avoid and steer clear of getting personal. Relationships are messy. Especially when I get personal with people (animals) who have great need. Getting personal interrupts my agenda and life. Out of sight, out of mind is easier. And as I stay separate from those in need, I don't often even feel too badly, because compassion and love don't grow very well while I'm removed from getting personal.
And so that leaves me in a real negative cycle: I don't get involved personally, therefore I don't grow compassion, therefore I don't get involved because I don't have compassion. I figure that the only way that I can break this cycle is to intentionally discipline myself to get involved and get personal! Now, I know that there are such things as needed boundaries, but with that said, I would dare say that we could all be challenged somewhere, somehow to get personal with someone who may be quite different from us, someone who is in need today. Jesus may not have engaged in and healed everyone while he walked the earth, but he followed the Spirit's promptings and definitely got up close and personal with people.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Christ Music cds available

If you like a little R and B/gospel/hiphop music, you might want to check out Dante Marcellous's "Christ Music" cd. We're having a good time listening to it repeatedly these days.

Update from Molly in Cambodia

Hello friends! New House…So sorry I haven’t been on top of the updates! I’ve been back in Cambodia for a month now and things have been rolling as usual. As we continue to expand at our base, I came back to Cambodia with someone sleeping in my bed! I was kicked out of my own house, which is fine with me. After praying with some girls we asked God to just show us a house to live in. We jumped on our motos and a friend took us to a house he knew was for rent, we walked in and it looked like it would be perfect. After praying some more we agreed and just signed a year contract! So I now live in this big house with 2 other girls, I have my own room, which is weird! I don’t sleep on a bunk bed any more, which is even weirder! As we continue to grow more, girl staff will be moving in to our home. We really are blessed to have a safe, nice home to live in. It is such a blessing, but every morning I get a reality check at 4 am when my neighbor starts to set up her noodle shop in front of her house, her baby cries about 5 am, which is my second alarm clock and by 5:30 I’m up, I can walk in to our kitchen and maybe get a cup of coffee, but while the water is heating up, I take the broom and sweep out all the ants, bugs and sometimes frogs that come in through a small opening in our door during the night. Then I grab the coffee and let it cool while I’m moving our motorcycles out of our living room, because it doubles as the garage at night, if the motos were outside they would get stolen. And if I need to jump in to the shower I head back to the kitchen, plug in this huge pump that pumps the water up through the house to the bathroom that makes a noise like your getting your teeth drilled out at the dentist. My house is a zoo in the morning!Did I mention I love Cambodia, because I do, life is a little different here, but always full of adventure and fun, even if we have ants.

Health Care…I’ve started teaching a health care class at our Youth Center, I have 9 students and we have covered basic handwashing, dehydration, temperature and pulse so far. They are mostly high school students are interested in nursing and want to know more. They ask me funny questions like, “if you are taking your temperature in your mouth can you eat ice at the same time?” One girl in my class is named Vanny, she is 19 and has been studying English at the Youth Center for 6 months already. She didn’t know about Jesus until she came to study English and now she has a Bible and has started to ask great questions about what the truth is. Please pray for Vanny, she is very smart and motivated, there is a promise from God that is, if we seek truth we will find it. Please pray for Vanny as she seeks truth, she will find it!

Neighborhood Slums…We just had a church team from Virginia come and visit us in Cambodia. One day I took 3 of the women on a walk through the slum area on our block. As we walked we came to a house where 3 teenagers were sitting and talking. One girl looked up and her eye was bright red with pus flowing out. I asked her what happened to her eye. She said that one of her friends had a “sick eye” and she looked at her friend which made her have a “sick eye” I explained to her that she needed medicine and to wash her hands. They were very interested in talking so I said I would bring back medicine later that day. When I came back that afternoon, she was gone I asked her friends where she was and they told me she was selling beer. Selling beer in Cambodia isn’t like America. She works at a really sketchy place where there is more than like prostitution. She is only 16 years old. Her name is Mary. Her friends took the medicine and said they would give it to her when she got home in the morning. Please pray for Mary. Pray that I would find her again and get to help her with more than just her eye.

That’s what I’m currently up to in Cambodia. Please pray that God would help my heart be open to what he wants to show me in Battambang. Please pray that I would continue to help lead this base well and we would do what God wants us to do! Thanks so much! Peace. Molly

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Ephesians 3:20-21 lesson...again.

I'm wondering how many lessons it may take before I begin to really believe this verse:

"Now, to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen."

I just spent the past two evenings at the Gallagher-Bluedorn being totally amazed at a God who did immeasurably more than I dared to ask or that I could imagine.

Friday night's Salvation Army Benefit, featuring Trin-i-tee 5:7 and a children's choir from Salvation Army, brought a diverse crowd together at Gallagher like I've not seen before. Black and white, Cedar Falls and Waterloo... filled the whole main floor and the worship atmosphere was tremendous. It was awe-some! And very real....the fact that it wasn't ultra-polished helped the audience feel even more of a part of the evening. It felt casual and conversational. And when one of the 11 year old soloists was up there singing "God of the City", people were urging her on when she started off

a bit shaky and off key, and whoopin' it up when she began to nail it and bring goosebumps. In the van ride to the concert, I was sharing my low expectations for the night with my husband...believing the Gallagher-Bluedorn would not be the venue that would draw people, and I didn't think there'd be all that many more people than were at the June practice concert at East High. I forgot to really add God into the equation, and He blew it out of the water.

Last night's concert with Trin-i-tee 5:7 was just as inspiring. SHOUT friends Chassidi Ferguson, Dante Means, Travis Lloyd, and Ellaysa Newton were able to share their tremendous gifts from the stage as a part of the concert, and Trin-i-tee 5:7, well, their voices and sharing were outstanding.
Here's my ongoing lesson from God as I walk with friends from SHOUT and Harvest: Leadership principles are good, it's true. In fact, I'm currently reading a book from the Drucker Foundation called The Leader of the Future with many helpful essays from top leaders on leadership. But, what's even more true is a God who shows up in transformational ways through people who are humbly seeking hard after Him, praying fervently, and very actively anticipating God's blessings in faith. I'm becoming more and more aware that I have become somewhat dulled in my faith as I've grown to rely too heavily on things like effective strategies, guiding leadership principles, tightly wrapped programming, etc. In other words, people. All of this learning about how things seem to work best is fine only to the degree that I'm on my knees anticipating God to show up and do HIS work. Over and over again, God is showing me His work through people and circumstances that could be explained as "only God", as there is no other explanation if you took Him out of the equation. He uses the weak to lead the strong, the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; He is continually challenging the gods of self-sufficiency and pride that live within me. Praise be to God for His amazing power and His surprising ways.

photos: (top) Dante and Travis meeting folks after the show. (middle) Justin Moe getting photo with Trin-i-tee 5:7 (bottom) a few of the Salvation Army choir kids in line to get some autographs from T57.