Why My Heart Needs To Be Heavy

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Tuesday morning at the local Pastors Fellowship a representative of Baptist Mid Missions played a recently completed field video from Australia to highlight the need for more foreign missionaries.

That video is important to me because I’m actually in it, and even remember driving the men from their audio and visual department around when the filming took place…however I’ve never watched it.

The video has been played in a number of Churches while presenting my ministry of course, but I have never watched that DVD on my own because of the things it reminded me of.

•      It reminded me of the people in Australia who desperately needed Christ

•      It reminded me of the great need for more missionaries

•      It reminded me of the dear friends and co-workers in Australia

•      And more than anything else it reminded me of my desire to return

These emotions have a profound effect on me since I’m in a stage of ministry that focuses on getting practical experience while waiting for my Visa process to be completed. Therefore the faces and voices in that video are powerful reminders of what I miss, but cannot do anything about right now.

Yet there must be a healthier response to these emotions than putting a DVD in one of my drawers never to see the light of day.

In recent months the Lord has been teaching me ways that having a heavy heart (sadness, sorrow, frustration) can be a blessing for my life instead of a curse.

1.     A Heavy Heart keeps me close to God

2.    A Heavy Heart highlights an inability to live in my own strength or wisdom

3.    A Heavy Heart keeps me from losing sight of what’s important (returning to Australia)

4.    A Heavy Heart leads to sharing my burden or struggles with Brothers and Sisters in Christ

5.    A Heavy Heart is a constant reminder God has called me to Australia

Most of us have parts of our lives that will bring great sorrow and pain to our heart just by thinking of them.  It’s tempting to hide from that, but those emotions actually come from God, and therefore are part of His plan for our lives.

Which is why I just watched the field council video from Australia

It felt like someone had taken out my heart and stomped on it but that’s okay, someday soon I will watch it in Melbourne, and thank God for His faithfulness.

Three Things Jonathan Martin Teaches Us About Being a People Pleaser

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On February 14 the long-awaited report from an independent Law Firm on the situation between Miami Dolphin football players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin was released.

Most people focus on it’s conclusion that Martin was bullied by Dolphins teammates, but his own explanation of the situation points to a deeper problem

“I figured out a major source of my anxiety,” he wrote to his mother during his ordeal.   “I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me.” from NY Times Article; Jonathan Martin and the Soft, White Private School Question

As the article explains, Jonathan blamed this People Pleasing attitude on going to private schools, writing to his father “I suppose it’s white private school conditioning, turning the other cheek.

Understandably that article focuses on the private school question (did they fail Martin by not “toughening him up” in preparation for the NFL?)  However his comment also reveals three things about People Pleasers.

1.  They Avoid Confrontation:  It’s interesting to note being a professional athlete in the NFL didn’t give him enough confidence to confront those who were “disrespecting him”

2.  They Take Any Abuse:  When mistreated he “laughed it off” and acted as if their actions didn’t hurt him when in reality the pain was very real

3.  They Are Addicted to Acceptance:  The idea of “always wanting people to like them”  led Jonathan to set aside his own desires or things that may make him angry so other people could be happy

Oh there’s one more thing Jonathan Martin teaches us about being a People Pleaser…it never works

I don’t care how hard you try, it’s impossible to be accepted by everyone (take it from me a recovering Approval Addict).  Eventually the pressure will become too much and you will explode;  Jonathan Martin learned that the hard way after suffering what was called an emotional breakdown in the teams cafeteria and leaving the Miami Dolphins.

I truly hope Jonathan finds a new team in the NFL, but his own experience teaches us a very important lesson; we aren’t created to be People Pleasers.

Why The Unsaved Need To See Us Angry

970752_sad_young_boy_on_the_bankI’m normally a pretty relaxed person so it takes quite a bit for me to get angry, however there are moments when displaying anger before the unsaved is absolutely necessary.

Last Tuesday I was waiting for kindergartners and first graders to arrive for an after school Bible program.  I’ve been able to teach and help organize these classes for a long time, and it’s been and incredible blessing, but last week was one of those days when things didn’t go well.

For starters the name tags for children weren’t properly organized by age group or boys and girls so I had to go through each one looking for every child’s tag.  This kept me from helping keep the group under control, so it didn’t take long for things to get VERY LOUD.

Some girls became indignant when I couldn’t remember their name (I usually give name tags to only the boys) and were giving me a lecture on the subject

One of the boys was yelling at another because he “threw his hat”

A student whose mother was a teacher went into her classroom looking for candy after he was told four times not to go in her room, and once entering refused to leave

A girl lost her ear-ring and became convinced another boy had “stolen it” which led to a very heated argument

Once the girl couldn’t find her ear-ring she started crying, so all of the other girls comforted her while ganging up on the boy who had stolen it (he hadn’t)

Another boy was playing in the middle of the hall after I had told him roughly one-hundred times to stay against the wall

All of this and other things that happened within five minutes caused me to go from “relaxed and happy John” to “angry John” and I proceeded to let the boys know when they had been taken down the hall to their bathroom a few  moments later.  The actual words can’t be remembered; but I remember lots of finger pointing, a raised voice, and threats of going to the office while they all looked at the floor.

Now some people may have an issue with my showing anger to kindergarteners and first graders since they were just being kids, however in my opinion it was very important they saw Mr. John angry.  This of course did bring things under control (we had an awesome class from that point on) but it was what I did after the speech that was more important.

The first thing I did was take a deep breath and calmly explained I didn’t want to be angry with them, but they brought it upon themselves by not listening to me when we asked them to do things.  For the rest of class I focused on praising those same boys who had made me angry a half-hour before and thanking them for doing such a good job obeying the rules.  And though the dreaded “naughty chair” was used a few times during class, I was always careful to explain why they were there.

There is a need for the lost in our community to see us frustrated and angry in extreme situations because it allows us to model “anger under control.”  I’m sure many of those boys had seen their mother and father angry about disobedience, but sadly that would lead to unhealthy actions like yelling or violence.  So it’s important that they see someone who is indeed angry, but doesn’t stay that way.

This doesn’t mean we as Christians should walk around getting angry at everything.  But in those rare cases we do, it’s important to show Love and Grace as well.

The Lost Art of Apology

Young man reading the bibleThe goals for one of my High School seniors this month is to get back on the schools track team that he was kicked off last semester.  Breaking their “never skip a practice rule” by scheduling a doctors appointment was bad enough, but the real issue was not going to that appointment (sleeping at home instead) so when the track coach called the office they informed him the student never showed up.

What was his way of getting back onto the team?  Just show up at tryouts and hope the track coach had forgotten what happened last semester.  After I asked why he didn’t just apologize for skipping practice he thought about it for a moment and said, “I’m too proud.”

I’m sure that male ego has something to do with it, but the real reason for his trying to sneak onto the team comes from a misunderstanding of what it truly means to apologize for something.  In the students mind after saying he was sorry for staying at home and sleeping instead of training the track coach should take him back with open arms.   After all, that’s the way things are done in every sitcom (think Everyone Loves Raymond, or Home Improvement)

Step One:  Husband makes a stupid mistake and tries to keep his wife from finding out

Step Two:  Wife finds out what her Husband did

Step Three:  Hilarity Ensues

Step Four:  Husband apologizes, and all is right with the world in about five minutes

But the real world doesn’t work like that….

In reality it takes more than just an apology or five minutes of waiting for wounds to be forgotten, that can actually take months, or even years for completion.  And living outside of a sitcom demands restitution (a price be paid to make things right).  In the students situation the humiliation of apologizing was involved here, but also running extra laps, and being watched closer than any of the other athletes so the slightest thing wrong brought swift punishment.

Now a lot of people would blame television for this unrealistic portrayal of life (just say your sorry and everything will be fine) but I would blame those who have an influence in the young persons life.  Sometimes I do wish television would portray a clearer picture of reality in these situations were relationship restoration takes more than an hour.  But until that day it’s our responsibility as Believers in Christ to not only explain what real apology looks like, but illustrate it through a life of confession when we have done wrong.

Why You Should Pull the Tooth Now

Profile wThere were a lot of places I wanted to be at 2:00 yesterday afternoon, but sitting in a dentist chair definitely wasn’t one of them, yet there I was having a tooth extracted in preparation for some dental work.  As the dentist pulled with what appeared to be a pair of pliers a single question kept coming into my head, “Why am I doing this?”

This particular tooth is in desperate need of work but it hasn’t gotten to point of causing pain or discomfort yet.  The crazy thing is its possible to go months or years till an infection or other serious problem forces you to visit the dentist, and like many individuals I reserve these “pleasant visits” for the moment you can’t see straight because of the pain.

So why was I having a tooth extracted when it wasn’t totally necessary?  Because if you don’t deal with a problem before it becomes serious, they will come back to haunt you.

There was another tooth that needed work done during my last furlough in 2009, but instead of getting it taken care of at a time when it would be easy (living with my parents allowed me to save money) I chose to go back without the work done.  Then in 2010…you guessed it…I had to have extensive work done because it was infected.

Thankfully the Lord provided the funds to do this, but it took almost all my savings so when the American Dollar fell through that decision dramatically affected my ministry.

It is incredibly easy to put a difficult decision off till later; but these challenges have a bad habit of showing up at the worst possible time.

So I am begging you….pull the tooth

Have that difficult conversation with someone you love

Confess the weakness or sin that has become such a huge part of your life

Take the step of Faith that fills your heart with fear.

Do what needs to be done now so you don’t regret it later

I spent lots of time during 2011 and 2012 thinking about the financial needs that presented obstacles to my ministry, and how they were created.  Looking at it now I can locate the Tipping Point to these challenges….it was the decision to delay my dental work.  And on the return home the Lord helped me determine to never make that mistake again.  For the mouth that was filled with blood yesterday will be praising God for His Wisdom while serving on the Mission Field

Why Christians Can’t be Facebook Stalkers

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Ministering the the Physical and Spiritual Need 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of my goals for 2014 (other than the major one of returning to Australia) have to do with my use of Social Media. Near the top of the list I’ve written in big words, “Stop Being a Facebook Stalker.” The term Facebook Stalker may seem frightening to some of you but it’s actually quite common since it refers to someone who enjoys reading the posts of friends on sites like Facebook or Twitter, but never actually becomes a part of the conversation.

Actually Facebook Stalker is one of the fastest growing personality types online, and for good reason. We live in an incredibly busy world were individuals are sharing countless facts about their lives every day. It would be impossible to type a comment (or even click the like button) for everything our friends share, and even then it wouldn’t be a well thought out response.

But this doesn’t change the fact that Christians can’t be Facebook Stalkers

The thing is in the midst of those status updates we will find someone who is genuinely crying out for help. They may phrase their need in the form of a joke like I usually do, but as Christians it’s still our responsibility to minister to that need with the Gospel. The problem is we aren’t able to do this while Facebook Stalking.

One Stalking variation involves responding to a persons post in the fastest way possible. Yes, taking a few moments to respond with an encouraging message like “We know that all things work together for Good to them that love God” or “bless our heart” if you’re in the South will help the person feel better. But in most cases that only deals with the surface need (encouragement) and ignores the deeper need (refocusing their eyes on God, giving the person an opportunity to release their frustration, share our own experiences with them).

I’m aware that life is incredibly busy (especially for those of you with children) but I can’t help but think God gave us the gift of Social Media so we could minister to others in their time of need.

That thought reminds me of a day in Australia when after the Lord closed a door of ministry I shared my frustration and discouragement about it on Facebook. Within half an hour friends had not only commented on the post, but were chatting with me online and sharing Bible Verses that helped them when they were struggling with setbacks.

In my mind that’s the Vision God would have for Social Media, Christian’s going past the half-minute response (please bear in mind I don’t even do that much!) and having a conversation online about how those struggles can point them to Christ.

Of course we don’t have time to chat with everyone who expresses a need online, but there are ways when even that thirty-second response can minister to their deeper need.

1. Be transparent and share how God helped you through a situation like the one they are facing (You may want to send this as a private message, but keep in mind they may be seen in the News Feed as well)

2. Try to meet up with them at a later time. A face-to-face conversation is the greatest thing you could give to that person because it allows them to share openly their fears and concerns. It’s also possible to do this using Skype of FaceTime if you have a few moments to talk

3. Word a genuine prayer that you have already prayed to God on their behalf and put it in the comments section.

4. Sometimes the simple phrase “how can I help?” will do a world of good

5. Share Scripture that can be encouraging to them in that time…try to be careful about using the Bible as an aspirin in this situation however (don’t worry all things work together for good to those that love God)

Social Media is used for many things; a place to share opinions,a stage on which we promote the person we want people to see us as, an entourage that hangs onto our every word, or an online diary were we can write when angry. In the end however the world of Social Media in my opinion is about finding, and meeting the needs of others (Believer or Unbeliever) with the Gospel of Christ