I keep thinking about the Apostle Paul.
About his testimony, about his faithfulness.
A man whose life was so drastically changed.
Even his name was changed.....a sign of entering into covenant with God through Christ.
He had been known as Saul.
Saul, who was hunting down Christians to see them killed or have them imprisoned.
Saul, who stood by and watched as Stephen was stoned to death because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
Saul, who was so religious, yet had no relationship with God.
Saul, who was so proud of his religious standing, yet was on the way to eternal damnation, because religion never saves anyone.
Yes, I keep thinking about my brother Paul, and about how once he belonged to the Lord, God chose to do mighty things through his life.
But, not by making him a success by worldly standards.
Not by making him strong and powerful.
No, God chose to work through his weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
I gotta tell you, this just flies in the face of every "self-help" book I've ever read, and I read plenty of them before I became a Christian.
Back then I would have read that and thought...I'm not going to be weak! I'm just not! Not for you, not for anybody, and especially not for some Jesus I can't even see. I mean, He's the one putting me through all this right? So why do I just want to lay down and take what He dished out to me? No. no. Nonononononononononononono!
That's how I would have looked at it...like I was being asked to be some weakling.
I was so wrong. So prideful.
Break it down with me, won't you?
WHO was in control of this messenger of satan?
WHO said, in essence, "no" to Paul, with regard to removing the torment?
HOW is power perfected?
Do you believe that, sweet friend? Do you KNOW that you KNOW that it's the truth?
WHAT is God telling Paul that He will give him for survival? Goodness, even more than for survival, for the Gospel to go forth....what is it that God's going to give him in his weakness?
If he weren't boasting in his weakness, what might he boast in instead?
HOW is he boasting in his weakness?
WHAT is his choice about how he is going to deal with the following:
FOR WHOSE SAKE?
When is Paul strong?
Oh my, how I hope and pray that you'll take a few minutes and work through the above questions.
Ask the Lord to teach you, train you, correct you, reprove you. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
I want to share this with you tonight...I still do not know what is going on with my body.
I am still in pain in ways that are hard to explain.
And yes, I'm sure I'll still have freak-out moments much like the one I posted about a few days ago.
But you know, I just keep thinking about our study of Kings & Prophets that we completed a few months ago. In that study, we learned about how the Israelites built a big platform outside of the temple, which King Solomon stood on in front of all the assembly of Israel, in order to pray and dedicate the temple to God.
I remember that when we were studying the details of the temple, that the platform really stood out to me. I kept thinking about how all of the people would have been able to see Solomon, because he was elevated, so to speak.
And I've been thinking about what's going on in my life...and asking the Lord if this might be His platform for me, for us.
You know, I am so deeply passionate about the things that God has called me to.
I'm never accused of being gray. People who know me know where I stand.
But what about others? Is there some way that an illness could be a platform to help others realize that God is good, even when situations aren't? I believe so. Very much so.
I suppose that my being so black & white comes from the fact that I wasted so much of my life in the cesspool.
I often wonder when I'll have the courage to share my whole testimony with you. Suffice it to say, it will break your heart, and then I pray it will give you great encouragement.
I'm that woman in church who can't make it through ONE single worship time without breaking out in tears. And they aren't subtle, ever. I just stand there in service, weeping.
Every. Single. Service.
Forgiven much...so much.
Loves much....so much.
I long for a platform for God's glory. I want to get in front of as many people as God sends my way, and teach them the great treasures they can find if only they'll learn to mine the truth.
If only they'll toss their "fill in the blank" Bible studies out the window. Heck, I suppose across the room does the trick. That's what I did with "Baby Wise" - chucked that book straight across the room.
Shane ducked just in time.
Then he brought home another one...some "spank your kid first time every time, we don't do grace here" kind of book....let's just say, my man got good at ducking when he'd hear pages hurtling across the room.
Um, did I say that I'm passionate about things?!
I have matured though. I don't chuck anything around here anymore, unless it smells like little kid sweat and needs to make it to the laundry room. Those, I chuck. :)
I'm off topic, aren't I?
Here are my passions:
1. That those who don't know the love of God, will come to realize all that He gave through Jesus Christ, that they may come to saving grace through Him, and that they will receive Jesus as Lord and Master.
2. That we as Christian parents, realize the great responsibility we have to raise our children up in the Word of God...and that we get to work at it! NOW!
Yes, I believe we need to raise them in church, too...but church is not to take the place of our jobs before the Lord, of building a firm foundation for our children, in God's Word.
3. That those of us who have been called to lead others in the study of God's Word, must seek the Lord on how to pass the baton to others, and then we MUST be the first in their corner to cheer them and pray for them and encourage them and equip them. We must!
Simply stated, it looks like this:
Susan is in "my" Bible study class of 10 ladies. She doesn't bring the people from her office, or her neighborhood, or her church, or her quilting group. She comes faithfully, but no one comes with her.
Then, one day, Susan decides to lead a class of "her" own. She no longer comes to "mine". Yay!
Because now Susan has a chance to impact the lives of all of those people in her sphere of influence, by teaching them the same tools she's been taught...how to study the Bible for themselves.
So, Susan has 6 friends who come and study with her for 6 months or so, but Susan is smart...she's watching and listening, and she's praying and seeking the Lord, and she's asking Him for someone to pass the baton to.
God answers, and Kate steps forth and leaves Susan's class, in order to start one of "her" own. Susan meets with Kate on a regular basis, just to work through concerns, questions, and to pray over her...Susan really spends time on her face, praying for Kate.
Kate is super outgoing, so she knows lots of people. 20 come to "her" class.
Kate is scared out of her wits, but trusts that she too can boast in her weaknesses, knowing that it's not her own power that's going to enable her to teach, to lead....it's the power of Christ dwelling in her, just as it was for Paul.
Kate has 2 ladies from her class that decide to step out and lead. So, Kate's class size shrinks, but new classes are begun because Kate is focused on God's Kingdom, and not upon building a "Kate Dynasty," where everyone could spend each week just "oohing" and "aahing" over Kate the Great.
Nope, you see Kate is smart. She knows she doesn't want to be exalted, she only wants the Lord to be. She also knows that it's harder to pour into peoples' lives when you have a big class, so she has a second task at hand...she'll still leading her class, but now she's going to also be encouraging and equipping others to lead, very likely through some leadership development classes that Kate and Susan and I will work on together, to prepare, equip and refresh leaders....still keeping our eyes wide open for new leaders to be discovered.
Of Kate's two students turned leaders,
Jan has only 2 students, while Molly has 7.
I started with = 10
I lost Susan = 9
Susan started with = 6
Susan lost Kate = 5
Kate started with = 20
Kate lost Jan and Molly = 18
Jan started with = 2
Molly started with =7
Yet, at then end of the big picture, 41 women are being trained to discover God's Word for themselves through inductive Bible study, all because one person, scared out of her mind, chose to take God at His Word..."My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
In approx. 18 months, we'd now have 5 Precept Bible Study Leaders, and 41+ Precept Students.
That baton was passed 5 times, to 5 different leaders...I may not even know Molly, Jan, Kate, but I do know Susan, and I trusted her character enough to encourage her to step up and lead, therefore, I trust her ability to seek God and listen as He shows her the person(s) to come alongside and encourage and equip.
In a word, the one to grow.
I want you to know, this can happen...and easily.
Next Monday we start our second annual Leadership Development Class. Since our last one, last summer, most of these ladies have been trained to lead, and now we're hoping and praying that they will answer the call, and step out and pass the baton.
Won't you pray for us, please?
We'll be studying Kinsman Redeemer, but we'll also have some extra work each week, which will pertain to leadership. Pray that I'll listen to the Lord in preparing it, won't you please?
Kinsman Redeemer is a life changer. It's only 3 weeks long, but we'll be doing it over 7.
Pray that God laces our hearts together, and that we see His power at work in our weaknesses in ways that will allow us to be awed, knowing that this power could have only come from the Lord.
And pray that when class ends, we'll each be able to report WHAT we're going to lead or study with our respective groups in the fall, and to WHOM God is calling each of us.