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Perfectly ImperfectRecently our church hired a new organist/choir director.  We were blessed with a number of candidates, three of whom could easily do the job.  Who to pick?

One candidate had more experience and brought sheet music along for the ride.  Another was an excellent teacher, perfect for helping us improve our sound. A third excelled in playing the organ, vastly important given our cobbled together, quirky pipe organ.

Each had strengths, yet none of them was perfect, just like the people God calls to a variety of tasks.  Yes, you heard me.  God regularly calls the imperfect. Moses was a poor public speaker (give the job to my brother). Martha probably had a bit of a temper (make her help me!).  Paul started his career persecuting the Jews.

I think there are several reasons that God calls the imperfect to work for Him.

We are all imperfect.  If he waited for perfection, he’d have to do it all himself and that’s not what he wants. That would be easy.

He uses us so that we can grow in some way. Moses had to learn to lead.  For choir, I had to learn to get up in front of church without having a panic attack.

So often society encourages us to excel and to dominate.  “Be the very best!” Serving in an area in which you are not the best encourages you to be humble.

He wants us to work together.  Have you ever heard an amazing choir?  They sound that good together.  Each singer individually would not be so amazing.  Our gifts grow as they combine.

No, we can’t say yes to everyone who asks us to do something. That just makes our lives crazy and no one needs that.  But when God calls, it is for a reason even if it means overcoming anxiety or a weakness.  He needs willing hands and we need to grow.

Maybe we should think of it as a match made in Heaven.

–SueBE

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Serve God every day. Serve Him in all you do.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this and wondered. How? How can I do this and be who I am? Or does it mean that I should be a missionary or a preacher?

Because I’m not cut from a missionary or preachers cloth. I’m not a people person. Sure, I like them well enough right up until I’ve had enough. And that threshold is way too low to be either a missionary or a preacher.

Are those the only ways to serve God? Are the rest of us, those in other professions, openly defying him?

That’s always been one of those uncomfortable thoughts in the back of my mind. Then I saw this video.

First of all, let me lay this out. I don’t know if waiter Michael Garcia is Christian or Buddhist or non-religious in every way. I don’t have a clue.

What I do know is that he served God along with a meal. He stood up for a child with Down’s Syndrom. He didn’t pretend not to hear it when another customer made rude comments. He stood firm and said no.

Whether you are a waiter or a writer, an electrician or a janitor, a surgeon and a steward, you too can serve God. It is in how you treat people with fairness and compassion. It is in demanding similar treatment from others.

Serve God every day. You don’t have to be a missionary or a preacher. You can still carry His word to others.

–SueBE

 

Whether your big family celebration is Christmas or Christmas Eve, Christmas is only the beginning, the start of a year long celebration of Light, Shalom, the Word.

We had a very special gift this year – Christmas on Sunday. Not only did I get my favorite Christmas Eve candlelight service, I also had a special Christmas morning sermon by Pastor Helen. She presented us with two Christmas stories – the one we all know from Luke but also the story from John.

The light of one candle.

Christ is the light, a gift of structure, a patterned design sent by God to combat the darkness.

What darkness? Read the headlines. Watch the news. The players may be different, but the concerns are much the same.

Poverty. Unemployment. Fear. Prejudice. War. Depression.

No, you alone can’t over come these things and it would be simplistic for me to suggest that you could. But you can carry the Light of Christ with you into the Darkness. One small candle. Drop a coin in a tin cup. Put a canned good into a barrel. Invite someone to dinner in your home even if you are serving something simple like soup and sandwiches. Write someone a note telling them about the difference they have made in your life.

Seventeen candles -- quite a difference.

None of these actions is huge. They are small acts. Tiny candles in a sea of darkness. But think about lighting one small candle each week. One tiny act, 52 times. Now think about the light given off by 52 small candles.

What if I did this? What if you did this? How far would Christ’s light reach into the darkness?

–SueBE

Are you one of those women who feels compelled to say “yes” whenever someone asks you a favor?  Do you spend hours every week listening as your neighbor/friend/sister pours out her troubles which seem pretty consistent with the ones she had last week?  Is your life a traffic jam of committee meetings and volunteer hours, all of which you dread?

Its okay to say, “No.”  Or maybe, “Not right now.  That’s not what He wants me to focus on at the moment.”

Several weeks ago, a woman at church asked if she could nominate me to be an Elder.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I told her I’d have to think about it although I just wanted to say, “No way. What have I ever done to you?”

Fortunately, another friend came to my rescue.  Sort of.  “Do you have any idea how much she hates meetings?”

The woman who asked to nominate me looked more than a little put out.  The fact of the matter is that we need new people on the board, but I really and truly do hate meetings.  Still, the church needs people. . . “Give me time to think about it,” I said.

Fortunately, I didn’t just think about it.  After all, I can talk myself into all kinds of things.  This time I did something else.  I prayed about it while walking the labyrinth.  “Lord, is this what you want me to do?  Do you want me to be an Elder?  How can I best serve my church?”

I walked.  I prayed.  I listened.  My mind wandered.  I listened.  I thought about an errand. I prayed some more.  Did I want to hear His answer?  He does have a habit of telling me to do things I don’t want to do.

Still, I listened.

“Pray.”

“What?  I am praying.  How do you want me to serve my church?”

“Pray.”

“I am!  What do you want me to do?”

“Pray.”

At first, I thought that He wanted me to keep praying about this particular issue.  We have already established that I can be a little dense.  But finally I came to a different conclusion. He wants me to spend my time, right now and in the near future in prayer.  Coming to Him.  In His presence.  Praying for my church and those around me.

What about being an Elder?

I asked how He wanted me to serve my church.  He didn’t tell me to accept the nomination.  He gave me a very specific job. The job I’m pretty sure he wants me to do.

Sometimes it really is okay to say no.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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