Friday, April 13, 2012

Going to the Motherland-Africa!!!

"For nothing is impossible with God" Luke 1:37

I have this recurring memory of me wearing a checkered red and white underwear bathing and dancing whimsically under the summer's rain in Haiti. I can't recall if this memory is real or not but I always conclude that it's real because it seems to fit my personality. But this memory always surfaces whenever I'm embarking something this little girl bathing in the rain never thought of ever doing. Going to college, becoming a teacher, getting married, having children, preaching and today going to Africa.

I can probably give you a litany of explanations and names of people who made all of this possible but the One person who deserves all credit is God. God is the only one I know that can take a little girl, who thoroughly enjoyed baths under a summer's rain, to accomplishing what seems to be impossible to man and defying odds.

I no longer dance whimsically under the rain but I do enjoy experiencing God performing impossibilities in my life! Apart from heaven, I'm never certain where this road will lead but based on God's track record in my life, I daily remind myself that I have no reasons to fear.

Where: Kenya, Africa!

Mission: A team of five will be working alongside African nationals to teach 120 women leaders on the issues of trauma, Aids and God's definition of healing.

Thank you to all who were faithful givers to our team and to Irving Bible Church. If you would like to contribute to this trip it is not too late, just go onto the church's website and give online.

Please pray for our team.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gay-dars, Race-dars; Go Deeper!!!

Luke:10: 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’!

One of my favorite activities is people watching! I love watching how people relate to one another, how they make decisions, and my favorite, to predict their next steps and theorize what could have possibly motivated those decisions. My husband hates that about me; he too loves people watching but he normally only has his "gay-dars" on and my followed up questions are usually "what does it mean that this man is gay?" "does it mean to treat him any differently?" He hates those questions!
Like most of us in our society, we normally have our "dars" on; whether it be "gay-dars", "race-dars" "religious group-dars", "weight-dars", "gender-dars" you name it we have it. These "dars" are supposed to help us in making quick decisions without deep thoughts and certainly no heart. But more often than not, I find that these "dars" mostly aid us in making many bad assumptions.

For example, at my previous job at a church, I was on call. I was very tired that day for I received many calls and walk-ins by people needing help. Towards the end of my day a black woman walked in with four children; yup you guessed. I automatically assumed she too needed help, when all she wanted was for me to point her to the children's play area. Would I have made that same assumption if she were a white woman with 4 children? Probably Not! Perhaps all of the "welfare mommas" rhetoric in the media have affected me more than I thought. Yes I repented!

How about when you first meet someone who speaks with an accent. The usual assumption is: he or she is uneducated; unless of course it's a British accent, then it's exotic.

And just recently, my husband and I were at a hotel restaurant eating out in the patio area. A young mother walked in with a baby in a stroller; she scoped out the area and approached the young white couple sitting just a few feet away from us to ask them if she can leave her sleeping baby with them while she went to the buffet line. I instantly thought, how did she "know" that this couple was a "better fit" to watch her baby? If only she knew how much I LOVED children and that I have three on my own. I honestly don't know if I would have made a better decision.

We all use our "dars", our stereotypes to help us in making decisions. However, it is a problem when one group always end up on the negative end of our "dars" and the other always on the positive.

So what do we do with all of this tension? I honestly don't know!!! But we live in a nation where it is estimated that 70% is christian; surely we know a thing or two about what Jesus said of being impartial and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus not only spoke on the subject, he modeled it! In fact he used a compelling story about the good Samaritan to illustrate this point and to challenge us to look deeper and Love well, no matter who the person might be: whether gay, black, white, asian, Indian, Iraqi, fat, skinny or a woman. Read the entire story in Luke: 10: 25-37.

Still confused on how to do this "love" thing, drop the "dars" and go deeper. Here are some suggestions:

1) SLOW down! Quick decisions promote partiality. Take slower steps, relax and approach people as if you know nothing about them. Let them tell you about themselves. I know this fast paced society is not conducive to that kind lifestyle.

2) Retrain your mind! Guess what most of what we're dealing with is learned behavior; in other words a systematic brainwashing. Of course sin is the fuel to the fire but trust me, you're brainwashed. If you have a TV or a computer in your home, you're brainwashed! This is something I try to be conscious of daily. It is so deeply rooted; even when I don't want to have my "dars" on, oops there they are!

3) Practice makes perfect; seriously you will fail at this, a lot! I have, often!!! Ugh; I get so frustrated and disappointed with myself. But I dust myself off, repent and go on doing my best to love well!

4) Get to know people of other races, sizes, gender and sexual orientation. If all you know are people who look like you, think like, behave like, eat at the same restaurants as you, or share the same cultural experiences as you; then you are laying in the most comfortable bed to be a partial thinker. Sorry if this is you but man your "dars" are completely tattooed on your skin. And when I say "know" I'm not just talking about those you serve, I'm talking about those you do life with; you eat with them, disagree with them and show up to their children's school play; that's what I'm talking about! Get out there! Don't be scared! By the way, go ahead and serve but let it be used as a first step.

5) Ask God to help rework your mind and heart! I can't even begin to tell you how deeply rooted these "dars" are; and without God, through Jesus christ by the power of the holy spirit, we ain't got a chance. If you desire to do better in this area, ask God for help; he'll show you!

By the way, I engaged the young mother (from above) in a conversation to tell her how precious her baby was. During our conversation, we realized we had something in common. She's a fraternal twin who looks identical to her sister and I'm the mother of fraternal twins who look very identical to one another. Ha, I couldn't have written a better ending to the story.

Father help us to look deeper than our "dars"!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What's the Big Hoopla with the Cross???

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

While on a recent trip to Haiti, the team was given a fun team building assignment. We camped for the week at Camp De La Grace through Hosean International Ministries. The team was broken into 4 groups and each group was assigned a room for the week. Each room was given the task to decorate their doors with the theme for each day we would teach. Our group was given the theme: Jehovah Jireh, God our provider and God our salvation. It just so happen that our room was housed by a group who was all challenged in the area of artistic creativity. So our door design ended up with a big brown cross covering the entire door. The leaders would then deliberate as to which room artistically communicated the theme of the day the best. Knowing we did not stand a chance in the competition, the competitive person that I am just had to make the case why our room was the best design. So I began a very southern Baptist sermon on the cross; after all who can compete with the cross preached by a southern Baptist preacher. So I preached:

Healing is at the cross
Deliverance is at the cross
Salvation is at the cross
Joy is at the cross
Forgiveness is at the cross
Success is at the cross...

Others from our group chimed in comedically:
Your dinner is at the cross
Clean water is at the cross
Flushing toilet is at the cross
Your Mosquito net is at the cross...

Have we made our case that our door should win; not only is it the best design (lie) but it preaches a powerful message!
We had a great laugh over our sermons on the cross. It was so catchy that we would often repeat it over the course of the week.

But throughout the week I started thinking; with all jokes aside, what exactly is the big hoopla over the cross??? What is its significance in the year 2012 over my life and my current situations?

I will do my best to spare you a southern Baptist sermon but as one who practically grew up with a bible in her hand, I often forget the significance of the cross in my life. I often forget that the cross stands for the ultimate sacrifice a person can make for another. It is the sacrifice of giving up EVERYTHING so that the other might have EVERYTHING good in life. Even in dying for that other person. I often try to think of our human relationships that could possibly mirror such a sacrifice; the closest similarity is a mother’s love for her children. But even in the moments of loving our children selflessly, if truth be told, we often find ourselves grumbling, tired of their constant dirty diapers and other messes and constantly wondering “God is this all you created for me to do?” There IS NO greater love than a God, Jesus, laying down His life not just for the righteous but particularly for the unrighteous, the guilty, those who deserve punishment, ME. I know my human mind can't fathom that kind of love either.

That’s the big HOOPLA with the Cross!!! What a perfect example for us to follow!!! Say what you want about Jesus but you cannot say this God/Man did not exemplify what he preached.
For me, the CROSS means great news!!!! Because Jesus gave up EVERYTHING, I now have an opportunity to experience a meaningful life. Thank you Jesus for the Cross!

Now Back to my sermon:
My smile is because of the CROSS
My ability to live victoriously is because of the Cross
My love is because of the cross
My power and strength are because of the cross
My sanity is because of the cross
My love for the poor is because of the cross
My ability to forgive those who have wronged me is because of the CROSS
Giving to those in need is because of the cross
Living life without worry is because of the cross
Not holding on to resentment is because of the Cross
Can I get an AMEN!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Jesus for your Sacrifice on the Cross!!!!