Friday, January 29, 2016

BELOW-AVERAGE ME

Learning was never easy for me.
Reading was always a struggle for me.
Studying always defeated me.

In elementary school, I couldn’t see the board and missed most of what was going on. I remember going to the front of the room each day after the bell rang and frantically writing down the spelling words and the homework assignments.

I hated that I couldn’t see.
But I thought it was because I was a Z.

My maiden name is Zulpo.
I was always last. Always in the back.
It sounds sad, but I didn’t mind.
I liked that I could hide in the back.
It was a gift to a socially awkward introvert like me.

It wasn’t until junior high that I realized that I needed glasses.
I just assumed the W-X-Y and Z’s just don’t get to see.
Until my friend, she was a T, let me try on her glasses.

I.COULD.SEE.

Missing so much information during the early years made me hate school.
It was just so hard.

I was never on an honor roll.
I didn’t graduate high school with any scholarships.
And I only made it through a semester and a half of college.

I was always embarrassed that I didn’t get school.
It was always a source of shame.

It’s not that I gave up or that I didn’t try.
I even went back to college several years later to give it another shot.
I lasted a semester. It wasn’t for me.

I’m not even average.
I’m just me.

The problem with learning, reading, and studying being hard is that, as Christians, we are given a book. And not just any book. We are given the very breath of God in written form. We are told the Bible will change us and help us. We are told it is a weapon and can protect us. We are told to study it, memorize it, meditate on it.


But I’m me.
I didn’t understand it.
I just didn't get it.

So many people.
Names I couldn’t pronounce.
So many words.
Their significance I couldn’t figure out.

I have been a Christian for 13 years, 10 months, and 28 days.
And just like school, I was always embarrassed that I struggled reading the Bible.
I mean, my husband is a PREACHER! Which meant more shame for me.

But then God gave me a gift.

Miles Misikir.
Miles’ name means ‘gift from God.'
Misikir means ‘witness or testimony.'

Isn’t that beautiful!
God gave me a gift that has completely changed my witness, my testimony.

But there is another meaning.
One that we should have taken more seriously.
The one my gift seems destine to live up to.

The name Miles also means ‘destroyer’.
DESTROYER!!!

In just 6 short years, this gift, my gift from God,
He has managed to destroy my pride, my shame, and my insecurities.
He has managed to destroy any witness or testimony of who I used to be.

Little by little, God is using the gift of Miles to destroy the old me.
It’s hard. And painful. And worth it.

What God is putting in its place, in the place of shame, is a deep love for His Word and a desire to understand. It is not unusual for me to sit down in the morning to spend time with Him and look up and my day is gone. He is taking the shame of being blind and giving me the gift of sight and I simply can't get enough of what I see. 

The learning.
The studying.
The understanding.

It’s addicting.

When the Holy Spirit helps me grasp a new (for me) concept,
it’s like I’m back in 7th grade putting on those glasses for the first time.

I SEE IT!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?
HOLY SPIRT, DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
AND YOU’RE TAKING THE TIME TO SHOW THIS TO ME!?!

I can’t even.

In those moments, I imagine God, so proud and filled with love. Jumping up and down with excitement for me as I dance around the room with delight.

He knows I struggle.
He knows the shame.
And little by little, He is taking all of that away.

Before, the old me, I couldn’t see.
And now, the new me, God redeemed so I could SEE.

MIND.BLOWN.

Who in the world, but God, could do that?  Who, but God, could take the very thing that brings you shame and use it to give you life?

“And we know [with great confidence]
that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things
to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God,
to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”
{Romans 8:28}

Are you like me and know the importance of spending time in God’s Word?
Are you like me and get discouraged because you don’t understand God’s Word?

The space between the knowing, the struggling, and the understanding is lonely.

The Holy Spirit wants to speak to you. God’s goal is a personal, intimate relationship with you. Protect your heart from the effects of sin so you can clearly hear the whisper of God in the deep places of your being.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

{Psalm 139:23-24}

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#ilovemychurch #ilovecc #crosschurch

Several years ago, when the gift of Miles turned our family upside down, the hardest thing for me was being isolated at home. Miles couldn’t handle the real world and I couldn’t handle Miles. So when we weren’t at therapy, we were home.

I was so used to serving in Keith’s ministry. Right by his side.
I didn’t expect to feel so lost, so useless, so left out.

But God…
He changed my purpose for that season.
I wasn’t being left out, I was being freed up.

When I was in that place of feeling lonely and stuck, God reminded me that I don’t have to be physically present to be on the front line of ministry.  He challenged me to make praying for my husband and the other families we serve with my new ministry. I could have an eternal impact and celebrate all God was doing throughout our church by praying for our staff and their specific ministries every week. I could play a part in protecting their marriages and families by praying for them and their children by name every month. So I did. And what God did in my heart was the most unexpected blessing.

God began to knit these people, these families on my heart.
I want them to walk closely and intimately with Jesus.
I want their marriages to attract people to Jesus.
I want their children to grow up to love Jesus.
I want their ministries to help people know Jesus.

There are so many things I love about my church,
but nothing comes close to the love I have for our staff.

Each person is special.
Each one completely unique.
Each person is important.
Each one part of the team.

And our leader, our Pastor, there is no one else like him.
He is an Early-rising, Jesus-loving, Gospel-preaching, Vision-casting,
SBC-leading, World-traveling, Football-watching, family man.

He is driven.
He is gracious.
And he leads us well.

His eyes and heart are fixed on Jesus and he is “running hard toward the finish line to receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.”

And that’s why we follow him.
We know exactly where he is going.
We know exactly where we will end up.

As I sat down yesterday to pray for my Tuesday’s, our staff, I was simply amazed as I looked at the team God has formed. We all came to Cross Church from different places. And for this season, God has put us all on the same team to serve the same church to reach the same community with one simple goal...
to reach the world for Jesus.

CROSS CHURCH
Springdale  -  Pinnacle Hills  -  Fayetteville  -  Fayetteville East  -  Neosho

The Cross Church staff is made up of difference makers and world changers and standing in the gap for them the last several years has been such a blessing. Life looks different for me now and I am able to go and do and serve again, but I continue the ministry of praying for our staff because it fills me with love and compassion for them. And because lately, I have a stirring.

It's big.
It's heavy.

I feel the weight of it deep in my heart.
And I am expectant.

God is moving.
God is up to something.

Will you join us?
Will you pray with us?
Will you serve with us?

Will you BE THE CHURCH that you want Cross Church to be?
Will you COME EXPECTANT that Jesus will show up and you will leave changed?

The church is not a building, a Pastor, a staff.
The church is a people, a community, a tribe.

Jesus loves the church.
Jesus died for the church.

Together, we are the church.
Together, we are Cross Church.

"God has meticulously put this body together;
He placed each part in the exact place to perform the exact function He wanted."
{1 Corinthians 12:18}