Created to Praise

Just me being me the way He made me

Persecuted August 23, 2009

Filed under: ministry,Prayer,Thoughts on Love — 6kids1me @ 7:57 pm

This morning we visited Christian Challenge. Once again, I loved that the kids worshiped with us. Everyone was so helpful and kind. The kids LOVED their classes. Good stuff all around. I’d go into a big play-by-play about every blessing we found in the church this morning, but I want to get into something very important. The message.

The message this morning was very moving, disturbing and powerful. Rodney and I spent a good part of the morning talking about it and I want to share some of it with you. I won’t even attempt to re-teach what was given to us this morning, but rather to give a very brief overview and share our hearts on the subject.

This morning, we learned of persecuted Christians in the world today. Yeah, yeah, we all know there’s persecution to the body of Christ. But that was back during the Inquisition, or during the Dark Ages right? Or it’s going on in a small scale way in those backwoods, third world countries right? Ummmm, no. The following statistics shocked us into awareness.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…….

1. There are approximately 70 million Christian martyrs?
2. OVER 65% OF THESE ARE FROM THE LAST 100 YEARS?!?!?!!?
3. There are an estimated 160,000 martyrs per year?

I grew up reading about Christian martyrs. Having attended a Christian school, it was required reading. But I always saw it in the context of past events. To think of the horrific ways my fellow Christians are being tortured and killed today, even living in fear, is just heartbreaking. Burned alive in their homes with their families, killed execution style, beaten to death, hung, so much more than I can imagine.

And yet, these faithful refuse to denounce Christ. They stand firm, even when facing certain death…..even when their families’ lives are in the balance. That’s how certain they are in Christ. Though I hope to never become a martyr…oh to have faith like that!

The question was asked, “What can I do?” Well, according to the sermon, we can do four things…..

1. PRAY. Pray from the deepest parts of our hearts. Pray for them. Pray diligently and often. Just pray.

2. Give – there are certain organizations that work to spread the word about the persecuted church and help in any way they can. Try http://www.opendoorsusa.org and http://www.persecution.com . Sorry, my links are working for some reason today, so you’ll have to copy/paste to go to those sites.

3. Get involved ….did you know you can write letters directly to imprisoned Christians worldwide? Try http://www.prisoneralert.com . Also go to http://www.biblesunbound.com to help with Bible distribution for those who are desperate for the Word.

4. Remember – Think of them often. Put a sticky note up on your icebox, write it on your prayer list, talk about them as you have your morning coffee. Keep them always in your mind. Just don’t forget that they need you to remember them and pray for them. At church, we were given a few links of chains to remind us of those in chains. That’s now attatched to our key rings as a constant reminder.

Our family is praying specifically for two families that the pastor mentioned this morning. These families happen to be his friends, so it really made the message hit home hard. You see, the pastor is my friend as well. It could just as easily be ME or my family that was being persecuted or living in fear. So we are praying diligently for Thomas Rai, Babar Ditta and their families. Along with praying for these families, we are also praying for the many Christians living under persecution right now all over the world. And we know that the Lord hears our prayers.

Nathan, I’m sorry. I said I wasn’t going to re-teach your message, but I did use your notes to share. I didn’t think you’d mind. 🙂

Please, my friends, pray for those Christians who are suffering for our shared faith today. It could very easily be you and me tomorrow who needs those prayers. If we won’t pray today for them, who will pray for us when it’s our turn?

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Outsider’s Perspective and Awakening August 9, 2009

I visited a new church this morning. It was quite an experience and I’ve decided to share it with y’all. I’m going to start by stating just the facts and then I’ll move on to what I think.

This is a church in Central Louisiana. It’s a fairly large church for this area. They have more than one service each Sunday. The service I attended appeared to have between 350 to 400 people in attendance. Don’t quote me on that though, since I’m pretty bad at guessing numbers. The facilities were very nice, modern and super clean.

We arrived a bit early so the kids could get to their classes. I was very pleased that everyone in the children’s department was so super nice and they had very good security measures in place. This is important in a church of a large size. Also, help was needed finding our way around the facilities and everyone we approached for help was super nice and helpful. In fact, they walked us aaaalllll the way where we needed to be each time, rather than just telling us where to go and hoping we made it. I was grateful for that. Trust me, that kind of thing matters to a first time visitor.

I had been invited to this church by a friend, but that friend had apparently gone to a different service, since I couldn’t find them at this one (she’d told me where to look for her). So I took my seat alone on the second row from the back. I should mention this is a rather large church, but the building was pretty packed, so there weren’t a lot of seats to choose from. However, I did find one with no problem.

When I arrived, they had already started the worship service. The singers were all on the platform singing a lovely, moving song. It seemed to be “special music” though since the congregation was seated and only listening. After that song, the congregation stood and sang a few songs. There was a “meet and greet” time for visitors, then the offering, then more singing, then special music, then the message.

Okay, that’s the basics. Now I’ll tell you what I experienced during all of that.

After listening to the first music special, we were invited to worship with the people on the platform. There were some traditional hymns mixed with a couple of contemporary songs. I knew all the songs they were singing, so it was easy to join in…which is what I did. Y’all know I love to worship. However, I stayed pretty subdued since that’s what everyone else was doing. But you know how it is…you start singing to the Lord and you just find that your hands are raised to Him. I promise I wasn’t loud y’all (I know that is hard to believe, but it’s true LOL) but you’d have thought I was drowning out the choir. Seriously, I was quiet.

Hang on, I’ll get back to the worship in just a sec….let me address the meet and greet first. In a room with over 300 people in it, I was greeted by FIVE people….two who were seated next to me, one usher handing out welcome packets, one lady passing by and one older gentleman. The older gentleman really touched my heart. He appeared to walk all the way over to me from the other side of the room….like he was there JUST to welcome ME. After shaking my hand, he walked all the way back to his seat. That one act of kindness did a lot for me.

Okay back to the worship. So I was singing quietly, but I did have my hands raised. Toward the end of the song, I heard laughter. Thinking little of it, I continued to worship. After the song, I realized the laughter was directed toward me. When I opened my eyes I found some young people pointing at me and giggling. Becoming a bit self concious, I tried to ignore it, but noticed that others were looking at me too. Weird, but okay. After all, I’m the visitor and maybe I was doing something wrong.

Next song, more giggling, pointing and staring. That was enough for me to gather my things and begin to walk away.

But when I got to the back of the church, a song caught my attention. It was one of those songs that uses the Word of God to worship Him. You know what I mean right? Bible verses being the lyrics? Well those songs are so powerful, I just can’t help myself…I have to worship. Those songs beckon you to worship! So I stood in the very back of the church, forgetting everyone around me (sort of) and worshipped. I did keep my voice very very low though, so as not to draw attention to myself. But I couldn’t help raising my hands. I just couldn’t help it. Song over. Hands down. Eyes open. Giggling, pointing, and the back three rows of the church turned around looking at me. Well, that was enough for me. I left. I won’t be back.

I got to the parking lot and told the kids that we were going to worship without worrying what people thought. So we got in the van, turned on a Kutless CD and worshiped. It was awesome! The Lord stepped right into our van and stayed there with us the whole time. Thank you, Lord. I really needed your presence today.

This visit today was NOT a good experience for me. However, it rekindled something in me that I thought had possibly gone away forever. I wanted sooooo much to shake that whole church…the whole building…to get their attention. I wanted to shout to the rafters “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MISSING??!?!?!? HE LOVES YOU! WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY MATTER? WORSHIP HIM!!!!!”

My desire has always been to worship. But more than that, I want others to worship with me. I don’t really know how to explain it well, but if people would just have that ONE moment where they realize how worthy He is….they just won’t be worried about much else anymore. I love to be there when they have that moment. I love to see the transformation in them. I love to worship with them after that. It’s fantastic! And when you’re in a room full of people who’ve all (or mostly all) had that moment, it’s SHARED worship. Somehow it brings people closer together as they draw closer to the Lord. Ugh. See I told you couldn’t explain it well.

But I want that again. I want to worship with like-minded people. I want to sing to my Lord without ridicule or shame. I want to raise my hands to Him and pour out my love on Him while He pours out His love on me and those around me. I want to, once again, stand in the doorway of the Holy of Holies and say to everyone….”I’m going in to worship and I invite you to come with me.”

Today’s experience was anything but great but something wonderful came out of it. The Lord reminded me who I am. I am a worshiper. All of us are, actually, just some of us haven’t realized it yet. LOL But seriously, He has called me to a purpose and it’s time I got to it. No, I’m not going to start hitting up local churches for a worship leader job. HAHHA To the contrary, I’m hoping He never asks me to do that again. But I AM going to worship. I am going to find a congregation of like-minded people and I am going to stand in the midst of them as together we worship our God. It’s time I got back to being what He made me to be.

On a side note, I should mention….there are most likely some God-fearing, loving & wonderful people in that church. In fact, I have no doubt that I met some today. But it was made perfectly clear to me that I don’t belong there. But now I have hope that there is SOMEWHERE for me and my family where we will belong…and I’m determined to find it. 🙂

 

Change Lives Today! May 14, 2008

Filed under: Charity,keeping it real,ministry,Thoughts on Love — 6kids1me @ 10:05 am

I just found a revolutionary new way to change lives.  It’s called Kiva.  This is from their website:

1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

2) Kiva’s microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur’s chances of success.

3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

I’m really impressed by this for a lot of reasons.  These are my top two:

*  I can make an immediate investment in someone’s life.

*  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Once the loan is repaid, I can re-invest that money into someone else’s life.

I’m doing my best to get a link added into my sidebar over there —–> but until then, click here to go to Kiva’s website.  Check it out!

Better yet, make a loan! You can lend as little as $25. The one I chose is the Banda B7 B Group. They’re at only 56% funding for their loan and could really use your help! Click their name to lend them a hand.

 

Loving the Unlovable April 28, 2008

Filed under: Charity,ministry,Thoughts on Love — 6kids1me @ 2:32 pm

I had said that I would come back and give more of my thoughts on our LIFE Group lesson.  I’m finally doing that.  This is a real lesson in transparency for me.  But here goes….

I have trouble loving the unlovable.  There are some people that just plain rub me the wrong way.  They get on my nerves.  They aggrevate me.  They irritate me.  I don’t even like them, so how am I supposed to love them?

Well, I could give the comfortable, typical Christian answer…..”You don’t have to like them, but you can still love them.”  Can I really?  I guess that depends on how I define the word “love.”

In my mind, love is an action word….not a feeling.  I don’t believe that I can say “I love you” and it mean anything if I’m not willing to back it up.  Our lesson had focused on that a bit and I was glad to see that.  But I want to elaborate on that for a minute.  Bear with me….

If I say that I love you, and then you call me at 2am needing help….what should my response be?  Should I tell you to call back at a decent hour, or should I help?  Sure it’s easy to say that I should help…but the actual doing is another matter.  That can get uncomfortable.  Am I willing to get uncomfortable for someone that I say I love?  Do I really love them if I’m not willing?

Here’s the hard one for me…..

If you hurt my feelings, what should my reaction be?  You hurt my feelings.  Sounds minor, but it’s really huge.  Can I love you enough to tell you that you hurt my feelings?  What if you respond with, “So what?”  Can I still love you?  What if you took advantage of me?  What if you embarrassed me in front of other people?  Can I still love you then? 

What if you just generally tick me off?  Can I still love you?

That gets difficult for me sometimes.  I want to love you, but you just make it so hard. 

So I think that love isn’t always easy.  The feeling of love is very easy.  It’s warm and cozy and everything nice.  But the action of loving takes effort.  Sometimes it comes at a price.  Sometimes I have to lay aside my hurt feelings to love someone.  I might have to get outside of my comfort zone.  And most likely, I’ll never get anything in return.  Am I willing to do that?  Am I really….or do I just say that I am?

I believe that Jesus is the perfect example of what real love is.  His love for us came at a price.  He paid the price because He knew that real love is more than a feeling…it’s action.  He paid the price because He really does love us.  And as a Christ follower, I need to be willing to do the same.  Thankfully, I haven’t had to lay down my life for anybody.  But would I be willing to do that….even for a person who I consider “unlovable?”