“I’ll be back in a few days to collect the equipment. Try to run the fans and dehumidifiers as long as you can stand it,” he said as he nodded reassuringly and left my house.
Seven air movers, two dehumidifiers, two walls, two ceilings, one floor, two bathrooms, and two vanities later, we are drying out a freak flooding incident that greeted us when we returned from church a week ago.
And his parting shot was:
“We’ll be back to get our equipment.”
You know what? The equipment, while loud enough to have to shout to be heard over it, is not bothering me. Sure, I have to move the air movers to get to my cabinets. Yes, two bathrooms are currently unusable. Accessing the laundry machines is a challenge.
But I actually like the equipment. It makes me feel safe, in-process, moving forward, working toward a remedy. I dread its removal, to be honest.
Pro-vaccine or not, my whole family volunteered for flu shots this past autumn so we would be healthy and ready to see Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: addiction, Body of Christ, building up the body of Christ, equip the saints, equip you with everything good, equipment, equipped, equipped for every good work, fullness of Christ, God equips, Hebrews 13, loss, may be complete, messy marriage, mismanaged finances, scripture, Throne of Christ, Throne of Grace, training in righteousness, wayward child, work of ministry
“You’re getting stronger. I can see that about you. I can tell that you realize what isn’t in your control, and there is a peace about you.”
That was her assessment of me as I sat across from this professional who walked me through an emotionally difficult time.
Stronger? Really? You can see that?
See, the thing is: I feel stronger. I didn’t realize, however, that it was evident to anyone else.
But where does my strength come from?
Sure, the squats, lunges, and planks (one of my warrior princesses told me to add a “dead bug”) I do a few times a week are toning my physical body, but what about my spirit? How do I exercise that?
How did I build my spiritual muscles during a time when staying in bed, perseverating on what was out of my control, and escaping through other means were tempting alternatives?
Sometimes it was a minute-by-minute battle, but the choices were critical in determining if I ended up character-toned and feet planted more firmly in God’s amazing grace.
God’s Word offers me solutions and truth in every circumstance.
1. “Work out” according to His Word Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: arm every morning, armor of God, exercising faith, faith, God's presence, God's word, him who strengthens me, Isaiah 40, joy of the Lord, Lord is my strength, Nehemiah 8:10, power to the faint, refuge and strength, run and not be weary, salvation in time of trouble, saving refuge, shall renew their strength, spiritual muscle, strength and shield, strength of His might, strength of his people, strengthen me according to your word, strengthening faith, strong in the Lord, then I am strong, they who wait for the Lord, to him who has no might, training in faith, very present help in trouble, when i am weak, where does my strength come from, wings like eagles
My week consisted of my high school sophomore son’s history paper on the negative influences of social Darwinism on society and my third grader’s Wampanoag mishoon (canoe) project. The older one wrote an intense analysis that squeezed every brain cell I had just to follow it (although it was wonderful to be reading a paper like that again—especially one written by my offspring!). His paper flowed so well because of his passion for the subject, unlike last year’s history paper around the Indo-China Wars, for which he had no enthusiasm or interest.
My third grade son’s mishoon project required patience and varied approaches to focusing his ADHD superpowers long enough to remember the information he needed to communicate in a video presentation. I tried note cards with prompts. I tried rehearsing. Then I took a deep breath and left the room. I am pretty good at offering strategies to help his mind slow down a bit and order itself, but I was fresh out of patience and ideas. I wasn’t mean about it, but I took a break.
Enter my extremely calm husband, who decided to write out all the information Little Man (my third grader) spoke to him. Having it completely written out on cue cards, Little Man felt free to look up and let his full personality out during the video. Solving the logistical, executive functioning problem made a way for creativity to flow. It was as if we watched a door unlock and the real person come through. He instantly went into newscaster mode and ended up with such a charismatic presentation, he could run for president—oh wait, let’s not make that connection this year! [Smile.]
So, I’m just curious:
What gets in our way of letting our God-given personality and passions come out? Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: desires of our hearts, desires of your heart, draw near to God, dreaming with God, dreams God gives us, ephesians 2:10, giftings, God's plans, God's purposes, good works, Hebrews 11:6, jeremiah 29:11, potential, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 37:4, purposes, talents, way you should go
We continue this week with the last installment of a three-part series on healthy Christian churches. The goal of this series is not population growth in a church but to give our churches a “check-up” to see if they are healthy or suffering from dysfunction: toxic dynamics, wrong teaching, or unbalanced leadership.
The first 10 signs can be found at 5 Signs of a Healthy Christian Church and 5 More Signs of a Healthy Christian Church (Part 2).
At the end of this list is a “bonus” sign listed, but really it is essential in the same way as Number One (Christ is the center of conversations, preaching, teaching, programs, prayer, worship, and all decisions.) Be sure to check it out because we begin and end with who God is, and really, isn’t that upon whom our faith is built? Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: bearing fruit, church accountability, church dysfunction, church health, church leadership, dysfunctional church, fruit of the Spirit, healthy churches, heaven, heaven and hell, hell is real, Holy Spirit, pastoral accountability, praying churches, trinity
I had just finished reminding my children to be careful with my cousin’s beagle Holly. She has some spinal issues that give her pain once in a while. We’re used to being rough and tumble with our ornery Shih Tzus, but around Holly, we aim for being more delicate.
Imagine my surprise when, outside, Holly suddenly took off in a beagle dash across the side yard, giving chase like there’s no tomorrow.
I got the distinct feeling she was giving us her best, showing us what she could do, impressing us.
How does a fragile dog suddenly pick herself up and run like a strong, youthful puppy?
Motivation. Who is she running for?
Where does she get the sudden strength when she’s otherwise a bit weak?
That’s an interesting question, isn’t it?
How about you? Who are you running for?
What motivates you to be your very best?
Like Holly, I’ve been a bit Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: beagle, Chariots of Fire, complacency, draw strength, energy boost, enlarge my heart, Eric Liddell, faith in God, finished the race, fought the good fight, He renews us, kept the faith, King Solomon, lack of faith, motivation, paths of uprightness, Psalm 119_32, relationship with God, renewed strength, run and not be weary, run the race, training, way of wisdom, weariness, When I run I feel His pleasure, wings like eagles, you will not stumble
Last week we discussed 5 Signs of a Healthy Christian Church in an effort to take the pulse of our churches and discern whether they are healthy or suffering from dysfunction: toxic dynamics, wrong teaching, or unbalanced leadership.
This series is not intended to determine metrics for church growth. It serves more as a checklist to measure the heart, practice, and biblical integrity of our individual Christian churches.
Be sure to revisit our starting point in last week’s blog post, but here’s a quick recap of the first five points covered:
- Christ is the center of conversations, preaching, teaching, programs, prayer, worship, and all decisions.
- Conviction (repentance) and grace are both present.
- The church welcomes and includes children, individuals with special needs and disabilities, and the mentally ill. This takes place from the top down.
- There are sinners, still working through their sanctification, in the church.
- The pastor is not a solo act. He is accountable to his denomination and/or affiliation.
Picking up where we left off, let’s examine five more signs of a healthy church. How is your church doing? Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: Body of Christ, church dysfunction, church elders, church health, church leadership, dysfunctional church, gossip, healthy church, healthy churches, miracles, partiality, pastoral accountability, pastoral care, pastoral humility, pastoral transparency, safe churches, servant leader
Once again, it is my great delight to share a piece from Tammie Wommack’s beautiful heart here at Espressos of Faith. Tammie lost her son Joshua in 2008 to suicide. Ever since, she and her husband Rick have been slowly healing and are passionate about sharing their journey, hope, and paths to finding peace and joy again with other grieving families. They are also fiercely committed to suicide prevention. Their story is an amazingly redemptive one. I hope your heart is encouraged and loved on by her sincere words.
Tammie and I first crossed paths in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where we were both living at the time, rocked by different circumstances in each of our lives. God has reconnected us, and I’m so thankful for her courage, vulnerability, and willingness to be used by God to help others. May God continue to bless you, Tammie (and Rick)!
As Rick and I travel around this beautiful country, moving from one destination to the next, we eventually find ourselves heading back to Clarksville, Tennessee, for many reasons: our precious grandchildren who keep us young, our friends who have been a lifeline and anchor for us on this grief journey, business matters that must be taken care of so we can stay on the road, doctor appointments, etc.
Our arrival to Clarksville is always mixed with so many different emotions. My heart, mind, body, and soul begin to prepare days before we get to what I call the “Joshua Zone.” I brace myself for the overwhelming rush of emotions that I know I will experience.
Grief is truly a very rough and long roller coaster ride. For me, the emotions are always followed by the temptation to drink alcohol so that I cannot feel that rush of emotions I know await me as I enter the city limits. I feel like I have to be constantly on guard.
The length of time we stay and the number of our visits has varied over the years, but the feelings are still just as strong now as they were the first time we had to travel back there after Joshua died. It seems I am never really able to let my guard down until we are heading out of the city of Clarksville, Tennessee.
While I write about my grief often, I don’t always talk about my temptation to Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: addiction and grief, after loss, alcohol and grief, child death, child loss, finding joy again after loss, God's plans, God's purposes, Good Samaritan, grieving, grieving parents, healing from loss, hope after loss, mourning, parent grief, purpose in grief, redemptive story, suicide, suicide loss, suicide prevention, surrender to God, temptation, where is God
I think from time to time it’s good to do a “wellness check” on our churches. Over decades of church participation, I’ve been able to reflect on unhealthy congregations from the vantage point of safe, healthy ones.
With some regularity, I watch hurting folks crawl out of churches, still strong in their faith, but damaged and limping from the psychology of unhealthy leadership. Twice in my life, I, too, had to detox from churches that damage.
Why is that? How did well intentioned, theologically sound, God-fearing pastors and ministers of the Word end up being instruments of harm?
And really, no church is going to be perfect, so what’s the big deal?
To be clear, I do not have a theology degree. I do not currently have a paid staff position of ministry (although I have in the past). I have been merely an observer of brokenness within the church and have studied what it is that leads faith-filled, humble people to run for the exit ramp after years of trying to make it work.
I prefer to take it from the positive side. If you find your church has most of these elements, then I would say Read the rest of this entry »
Tags: 1 Timothy 4:12, church and disabilities, church and the mentally ill, church dysfunction, church elders, church health, church is for sinners, church leadership, churches need grace, Galatians 2:11, grace upon grace, healthy churches, hebrews 12, Hebrews 4:16, Jesus as the center, Jesus loves children, John 1:14, pastoral accountability, Paul corrects Peter, perfecter of our faith, special needs ministry, Throne of Grace