Tag Archives: Discipleship

Hey Jealousy…

When I was growing up, we were in church every time the doors were open.  In fact, we were usually the ones opening the doors.  I spent as much time at church as I did at home.  My parents worked there, I went to school there, my house was practically on the property, and of course there were the services…  Every once in a while I’d ask my parents, “Do I have to go to church tonight?”  Without fail (why did I keep asking?) they would smile cheerfully and say, “Nope.  You don’t have to go.  You get to go!”  No amount of contriving to escape from that explanation ever worked. 

I really didn’t mind going to church.  But every once in a while, I just wanted to stay home.  Now that I’m an adult, I have to admit that every so often I take pleasure in missing a service just because.  I love church and believe it’s important to be an active part of a community of faith, but I’ve never been one who thinks my relationship with God depends on never missing a service. 

My parents were always very big on our attitude.  Bad attitudes were simply not allowed.  While I often begrudged their insistence that my attitude always be good, that I always try to find the good in something, I find these days that I really appreciate that training. 

Most of the time, I look at my life and am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for giving me such blessings.  I have much to be thankful for, including a nice, comfortable house to live in, enough work to keep me busy and financially sound, a good education, godly parents, great friends, and a man who loves me.  I allow the feeling of being treasured by God, provided for, and blessed to wash over me and I rejoice in all that God has done. 

But every once in a while different, unwelcome feelings flood over me.  I won’t list out for you all the failures that accumulate in my mind, but at times they feel overwhelming.  I can’t understand the delays, the rejection, the lack.  When I put all my effort into something and it doesn’t work out, how do I handle the frustration and pain? 

I’ve discovered that when I take my pain and frustration to the Lord, He soothes me.  In prayer I am reminded that God’s timing is perfect.  I am reminded that it’s not my job to make things happen, but to be open to accepting opportunities in obedience when they come.  It’s not my job to make myself a success, but to humbly do all my hand finds to do as unto the Lord and wait for Him to bless me. 

Even so, I find out that a fellow unknown writer/blogger got a major publishing opportunity because something he wrote got shared with the right person at the right time and my small, black, jealous heart twists in pain.  Why him and not me, God?  I like him.  I like his writing.  Why not BOTH of us?  And then the ugliest of thoughts, that maybe he’ll mess up the opportunity and not write anything they want to publish.  Maybe they’ll hate his writing and he’ll go back to being an unknown who is hopefully writing his little blog just like me…   And the soft flutter of angel wings surrounds the green monster in my heart with soothing words of love.  Be happy for him.  Pray that he’ll succeed.  Bless him as he writes.  I have plans for you too. 

And I know it’s true.  I know I absolutely must bless him, cheer for him, and even be happy for him.  I’m not sure if I can do it.  Do I have to, Lord?  Oh, but I get to.  I get to watch my twisted and ugly heart become pure when it is washed with the love of Christ.  I get to allow my Savior into that part of myself and give Him space to work.  And when his first book comes out (for surely it will because he IS incredibly talented), and I congratulate him, I will mean it with all my heart.  And I will know God has transformed me.  I will know my decision to let God change my attitude has made all the difference. 

The thing is, God is the one who has given me the gifts and talents I have.  He is the one who has placed desires in my heart for good things.  Why would God, who created me and loves me, give me these talents and desires and not provide a way for me to use them?  If I continue to walk in obedience to what I believe He is guiding me to do, then I am sure to walk right into more than I could ever imagine for myself. 

So I will be the best I can be at what I’ve been given to do now.  I will be the best friend, the best girlfriend, the best daughter, the best sister and aunt, the best writer, and the best employee I can possibly be.  I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing I am doing what I am able to do, thanking God that He has provided for me.  Most importantly, I will walk in obedience to His Word, doing all I can to stand before my Lord innocently, ready to do His will.  I will trust Him to take care of me. 

I will pray earnestly for the success of all those who have things that I wish I had.  I will pray and pray and pray, not stopping until I can do so without gritting my teeth.  I will pray until my heart really means it and I can really smile as I say the words.  I will even thank God that I get to pray.  Lord, cleanse my jealous heart…

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Vacation

Robertson Hall

 

I went on vacation this week (sort of).  As an alumnus of Regent University School of Divinity I am eligible to take up to four masters-level classes for $100 each.  It’s a little complicated, but basically I can take classes I wasn’t able to take before I graduated at a drastically reduced rate.  (A regular class right now costs each student $1575!)  Since $100 for an entire course is significantly cheaper than most weekend ministry conferences and I’d get to go back to one of my favorite places on earth, I decided to take them up on the offer.  I signed up for a class called “Models of Biblical Discipleship” which is being taught by one of my favorite professors.  I worked as Dr. Chandler’s graduate assistant and took several classes with her.  She has been instrumental in forming my thoughts and plans regarding ministry.  She is a wonderful, godly woman who I cannot say enough about.   

Dr. Diane Chandler

 

I needed to go to Virginia Beach for a weekend to take this class.  It’s an eight-week course, but the majority of it is done online with the exception of the 2 ½ days in class.  I looked into driving the fourteen hours it would take and crashing on a friend’s couch, but that did not seem like the ideal way to set myself up for learning.  Let’s see…  sit in a car for 14 hours, sleep on someone’s cramped couch, then sit in class for 8 hours a day before you get back in the car and sit for another 14 hours.  I don’t think so!   

So I decided to do the “grown up” thing – I booked a flight, got a hotel room, and rented a car.  I found the best deals I could on all of this stuff and found creative ways to pay for it.  I also decided if I was going to be at the beach for a few days, I’d extend the trip a little longer so I could actually enjoy the beach.  I haven’t been on a vacation that didn’t include driving home to South Carolina in six years, so I figured it was time.  Then it crossed my mind that this trip might not be so fun by myself…  I’d booked a hotel right on the beach and it would sit empty most of the time with no one to enjoy it.  So, I mentioned it to a couple friends who I thought would probably be able to go with me and suggested they book their own flights and join me.  Amazingly, they both agreed and without a whole lot of thought or planning, we were off to the beach.  

View from our hotel room

 

After sitting in class for the last 2 ½ days, I’m ready to do something fun and spend the next 1 ½ days enjoying the beach.  Of course, it’s raining, but I’m still on vacation!  I’m planning to visit the church I attended while I was here and take each moment as it comes.  I also got to reconnect with some old friends.   

My sweet friend, Janna, the first person I met at Regent.

 

With friends in the Student Center.

 

As for what I learned this weekend, it was all about how to build relationships with people and nurture them in their relationship with Christ.  It’s a beautiful concept and I’m looking forward to implementing it in a more intentional way in the future.

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Life Has Snuck Up on Me…

Life has snuck up on me recently and prevented me from writing,  As the church’s Community Groups Minister, I was asked to launch small groups church-wide and given very little time to do it.  I also planned a Ministry Fair and a women’s event.  Oh yeah, and I had my regular daily work to do as well. 

The Ministry Fair is over.  The women’s event is this Saturday and I’m just tying up a few loose ends with that now.  And God gave me the grace and energy to write the curriculum, recruit leaders, train them, and get 20 new groups started for the church’s Community Group Ministry – in about a month.  (Thank you to all the wonderful friends who helped me.)

So why am I writing this and not some fun, interesting story?  Because tomorrow I leave for Virignia Beach to take a class at Regent University School of Divinity.  I graduated from there a few years back, but I didn’t get to take all the classes I wanted to take.  They have a great alumni program for continuing education, so I decided it was time to take another class.  This class is called Models of Biblical Discipleship and it’s all about effective ways to disciple people.  While I was at Regent, I worked as the graduate assistant for the professor who is teaching the class.  I’m so happy to be able to take another class from her. 

I’ll go to Virginia Beach tomorrow and will be in class Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  The rest of the semester the class will be online.  I feel a little nuts trying to take this on right now, but I’m also excited about it.  I’m also making a mini-vacation out of it, staying a couple days after the class to enjoy the beach.  Hopefully I’ll get some sunshine! 

Before you get too worried about me, I want to acknowledge the amazing friends that God’s given me.  They have been wonderful during this time.  They’ve listened to my ideas and given me great feedback, brought me meals, researched, edited, and made sure that I keep working out and taking time to laugh.  Even in all this craziness, I made time to get a sunburn because I was having such a good time talking to friends on the patio of Starbucks that 3 hours passed and I have a lovely farmer’s tan and peely arms to show for it.  I am greatly blessed.  (By the friends, that is – not the peely arms…)

I’m hoping to return to actively writing very soon.  Now I’m off to pack!

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