I CANNOT BE SORRY for Who I Am

We know, from past posts, I battle the feeling of being inadequate a LOT. Sadly, I didn’t battle this in such a life altering way until I joined the church. Within the church, I started feeling like I wasn’t enough. I don’t have a memory that retains Bible verses as quick as others that can recite the whole Bible from memory. I don’t have the theological PhDs that others have. (I didn’t even finish college!) I could go on and on.

Thankfully, God didn’t call me for all of that. He would have given me a better memory if He wanted to.  He could have given me the drive to get a great education if He wanted to. Now, to be fair, I am in seminary as I do believe being educated regarding the Bible is very important. That way I am not going only off my interpretation of the Bible and/or what others tell me, but truly digging in to it and hearing a variety of opinions.

Another battle I face is being born a leader. You might think that is a super sexy role, so why would I think it was a battle? Outside of the church, it wasn’t hard. I could use my skills and they were celebrated and affirmed consistently. Within the church it is different. Well, within the churches I know about, it might be different at yours.

I came in to our church knowing that there was never a ladder to climb. We do not have female pastors. Fine. Our church does not have a female elder. Fine. All of that is absolutely fine. I knew what I was walking in to. I took a position that used my skill set and I absolutely love. I know I will upset some of you, but I do believe that men should be the lead pastors in the church. I also believe, leading the church on the team of leaders, a woman is NEEDED. When women make up over 1/2 the church, their voices must be represented at all “tables”. Not to push the “women” thing, but to work side by side like we were built to do. To help each other and promote GOD through it all. The challenge I have found when working with both men AND women in the church is when I use my gift of leadership. Now remember, I did not ask to be a leader. It’s a gift GOD gave me. In John 15:16 we read “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.” This is a hard life! Being a “good” Christian is HARD. I don’t think I would’ve chosen to walk in to the craziness it is. But GOD chose me for it. I trust Him.

I battle knowing that He gave me this gift, while others who want it so bad, and strive for it, and educate themselves to become better skilled at it…don’t. We can say that about a lot of gifts. If you have the gift of organization, the rest of us hide and get upset because we aren’t skilled in that way. If you have the gift of teaching, the rest of us hide and get upset because we aren’t skilled in that way….I could go on and on. YOU have a gift the rest of us yearn for. The battle is knowing that God created us all perfectly to do what HE has for us. Though we might want another gift, if we didn’t have the one we uniquely have, there would be an absence in the world.

Romans 8:28-31 says –

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

SO GOOD!!!! Let’s lean on this Biblical truth when we doubt, or battle opposition!

I like what J. Oswald Chambers has to say about it in his book Spiritual Leadership Principles of Excellence for Every Believer.

“I am here neither by selection of an individual nor election of a group buy by the almighty appointment of God.”

We need to be confident as Christians in the gifts He has given us. An even BIGGER step would be to not only be confident in it, but to celebrate others gifts as well. To those who have the gifts we don’t have, celebrate them! And we all need to continuously vow to do our best to enhance and improve the gifts we have been given. It’s not a use it or lose it situation, but it is like a muscle that you have, but can get SO MUCH STRONGER the more you work on it.

What I learned today…I have SO much to say on this subject, I should learn to write more short and sweet blogs.

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I have never opened my Bible.

Lately I have heard soooo many people say they have never opened their Bible. GREAT people who have been going to church most of their lives and/or say they are a Christ follower.

There are some REALLY great books out there that will teach you HOW to read the Bible to get the most from it. My challenge to you is to START to read it by first opening it. Once you get in the habit of opening it, then get a book on how to study it.

I wanted to let you know how I got myself to open the Bible. The first is finding one you like and can carry. I have a small backpack NIV Bible that I started with. There are a lot of versions available. My suggestion is going to the YouVersion app or Bible Gateway and type in a verse that you like. Check out all the different versions and see what suits you. People around you will argue that their version is better, but I would rather YOU enjoy what you are reading…so you want to do it more. You want to make sure it is a size you can carry, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Now, to start off, you will be tempted to buy Bible Tabs… I would suggest NOT doing that. As that will have you giving up on learning where the books are before you even try.

Next, once you have your Bible. Take a minute to “Google” search some of your favorite verses. Find them, then highlight or underline them.

Then, if you go to a church like mine, they hand out notes like these at service –

Fill-in Example

Your goal is to bring your Bible to church with you. As soon as you sit down, start digging in. Look at the first verse on the page, and look to see where you can find it in the table of contents. DO NOT BE EMBARRASSED that you have to look at the table of contents! Everyone has to start somewhere! Find the book, chapter and verse you are looking for and highlight or underline it. For example, I would start with the verse above, 1 Timothy 6:12a.

Now, you will see that there is an “a”. That means they are talking about the first part of the verse. the (NASB) is the version of the Bible they used for the verse. If you have a different version that is OKAY. I go to the verse and underline it, then if it is a verse like 1 Tim 6:12a I will put exclamation points, arrows, etc… as that is a GREAT verse to memorize! Now, if I like the verse, the way it reads in my Bible, terrific, if I like the handout’s version more, I will write ( checkmark + NASB ) which tells me to “check” the NASB version.

I go on to do all of the verses at the service. Above there are 26 verses included in this one lesson! If I don’t have time to underline them all, I do it in the car on the way home or during my time with God during the week.

After I have underlined all of the verses, I take the remainder of my quiet time that week to look at the verses before and after the ones that I really connected with. I underline anything that jumps out at me.

This method got me so very excited to look in to the Bible more! I was learning so much, which in turn lead to even more questions, so I purchased a Study Bible. In the Study Bibles, they have a lot of great information AND verses that reference other places in the Bible that are connected with the area I’m reading!

If you just read this and thought, “That is great, but I still won’t open my Bible”…don’t judge me for saying this…but you need a bathroom Bible. The bathroom is the one place WE ALL go to and spend time in. Put one on the back of the toilet and as soon as you sit down, open it. If you need more direction, put a Bookmark like THIS in it to give you suggestions on what to read. It’s another way to start to read it!

I hope, you see how easy this is can be with HUGE rewards. To have a good relationship, you have to work on getting to know the other person. To have a relationship with Jesus, you need to get to know Him through the Bible. YOU WILL BE BLESSED.

Here are a couple of great books on how to read the Bible that I would suggest –

Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods

40 Days In The Word

To watch this service for the fill-ins and to practice CLICK HERE.

What I learned today…not to assume everyone reads the Bible. Ask and influence them to either read it or share what they were reading and learning. It is truly a game changer in life as all the answers we need are in it. We just have to open it and digest it!

Man Dates

I know, odd title.

As we get older, we have odd situations that pop up by well intentioned people. Sometimes we even put ourselves and/or our loved ones in odd situations.

Let me give you an example. When we are young, we hangout with the people who live around us. Those in our sports programs, from our schools…etc. As adults, we hangout with people from work, or our families. If you are a woman and become a stay at home mom, you go through times of feeling extreme loneliness so you try and join mommy groups

As men, you try and connect with those at work, which can be a challenge if you don’t drink as that seems to be the easiest way for men to connect. Second being working out or a sport.

Living in Orange County, California…most time spent is in making enough money to continue living in the OC. That leaves little time for being around others.

As a couple you dream of other couples you’ll connect with. Generally you like either the man or his wife…rarely both. I say that fairly confidently after a lot of discussions with others.

As soon as you find someone you like, it’s a prayer that the spouses will get along.

Let’s back up. I have always had a hard time finding and keeping friends. My problem is twofold (probably way more than that, but we’ll stick with 2). I don’t trust people. I assume as soon as I like someone they will leave.

With 2 issues like those, it’s been difficult. As I learned to work on my relationship with God, more than any other. I would cry out to God that I wanted a friend that I could trust. One that would stick with me, even when they found out all the ugliness inside of me.

God answered. It did take time, but as I learned how to be in relationships, through what I was learning in the Bible, He brought me an amazing woman who is just about as opposite of me as you could get.

We started a relationship in a ministry we were both involved in. (I had met her through our kids being in a small group together and talked her in to joining the ministry). Though we were so different, we started leaning on each others strengths and supporting each other through the weaknesses…and then we decided…as our relationship grew…it was time to get our husbands together.

We setup a double date to try and maneuver a “man date” to happen between our husbands. Thankfully, conversation flowed throughout the evening and the guys were able to find something THEY could connect with.

This started a great relationship between families.

Are you feeling isolated? Do you wish you had someone to hangout with? Call and shoot the breeze with?

You aren’t meant to be alone. You aren’t meant to live life by yourself. You aren’t meant to be around people who don’t love you enough to hold you accountable.

You can try getting set up on “friend dates” and having your relatives and other well-meaning friends try to connect you for coffee, or time out together.

The best way to find friends? Church. Now you might think that is a completely lame suggestion, but it works.

For example, our church has over 500 “ministries” you can get involved with. Everything from Basketball and Volleyball to Hula Dancing and Landscaping. When you find a ministry that sounds good, you join it! You aren’t tied to it, you can come and go as you please…but it is a great way to find people like YOU.

It’s kinda like when you were young and joined soccer…suddenly, during the soccer season, all those players became your friends. You liked soccer, they liked soccer so you became friends.

I promise…joining a ministry and meeting people who like to do what you like to do, will give you the opportunity to have great discussions, bond with others and give you an activity to GO OUT and do.

This my help prevent any uncomfortable man or woman play date that someone might try and set up.

What I learned today…I am so thankful for my friend and her family. And I am so thankful that people around us think enough of us that they want to introduce us to others that they think we might connect with. AND that as you get older, your circle of friends will get smaller so you can spend more quality time with them while you spend quality time with your family. It’s better to have quality than quantity.