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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do-ers and Be-ers

If you know me personally, you will have heard me mention my sister who has in the last few years become a New Creation in Christ. And when someone describes what it looks like to be “on fire for the Lord,” you can just insert her name. I just LOVE being around her so I can be lit by the flame.

Since becoming a New Creation, she’s signed up and volunteered for more things than I have in the number of years I would have considered myself a New Creation. She is a “Do-er.” I, on the other hand, am a “Be-er.”

What is a do-er and a be-er (hyphens needed so you don’t think I’m a Budweiser)? A do-er is action-oriented, where a be-er is contemplative. A do-er wants to make things happen. A be-er wants to go over the pros and cons to make sure it’s done right. And when it comes to exercise, my sister takes Tae-Bo, and I much prefer Yoga. Get the picture.

So which is better? Ha ha! That was a trick question. The answer is neither.

In our culture we tend to favor do-ers. They get things done. I love these people! But what of the other? Well, the answer to this question can be found in … you guessed it, the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42 we are told that when Jesus came to the house of Mary and Martha, and Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet rather than help Martha prepare the meal, Mary had chosen what was best. Mary was the be-er in this situation. She wanted to “be with” her Lord when she had the opportunity. In fact, isn’t that what God wants of us? To be in relationship with Him.

Listening to my sister talk, excitedly, about all the things she is doing, I grew concerned that she would burn herself out. So I sent her an email with the verses on Mary and Martha in the hope she’d get the message. She wanted to know which one I thought she was. Oh boy! Later, she told me God must really be laying this message on her heart because her pastor devoted a sermon to it recently, and when she listened to the recording of the sermon, it got stuck in the CD changer in her car, available at any moment for her to listen to again and again … as she drove off to complete one task or another.

So can you take the “Mary Thing” a little too far? If you ever visited my home you would be inclined to believe—Yes! I joke that my kitchen floor crunches when you walk on it (this is where all you do-ers cringe!) When I told my mother about the conversation I’d had with my sister on this topic, she laughed in such a way as to tell me she wished I had a little more Martha in me. Oh yeah? Well me too!

But before I expound on Martha’s gifts, let me just clarify. If you ever have the choice between doing the dishes and being with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christ-Thing should always win. And though sometimes being with family who needs you is another form of being with Christ, sometimes Christ is not the other choice at all. For instance, maybe I should (finally) sweep my kitchen floor rather than read that Romance novel (even if it is a Christian one). What was that, honey? Oh, my husband just shouted, “Amen!” (This is where I stifle the urge to say “Do it yourself!”). Yes, and maybe I should sign up to help the homeless rather than watch one of the “Housewives of …” Reality shows.

James 2:14-17 tells us faith without deeds is dead. We just need to make sure our deeds are not done without consulting God and inviting Him into the process of sharing our good works. Otherwise these deeds will glorify us and not the God we meant them to.

So my question is, was Jesus a Be-er or a Do-er? You should know how to answer this by now. He was both! After all, He is complete. If you read of His life, you will see He spent long hours in solitude with His Father. You will also see He spent much time teaching and healing. And though Jesus is our example, we should also recognize how God has gifted us and has left us weak. This allows us to see where we need to challenge ourselves, but also who to align ourselves with. If you are a be-er, find a do-er who will inspire you and implement the ideas you’ve brought to the table. If you are a do-er, find a be-er who will help you design and evaluate your plans while bringing God into them.

Both of these things are essential. Be-ers without do-ers get nothing done. They have lots of ideas, know how they will work, all the pros and cons, but never put them into action. Do-ers without be-ers get lots of things done, but to no purpose. They end up exhausted, having checked off their entire list, and not yet achieved the ultimate goal.

But together, they are part of the Body of Christ. As I said before, Christ is complete. We are each parts of His Body and can only work best when we work together and appreciate His other parts.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Writer's Body

As I begin this journey as a regular blogger, I have been asking my friends to check it out. One friend just reminded me of a Body that is working in my life right now--my writing critique partners. Some of you may know I am writing a novel. To take on such a task it's a good idea to join a critique group. As I looked into doing this, I prayed a lot! And boy was God generous! Not only did He drop me into two critique groups, but He created a Writer's Body within them.

First Corinthians 12:4-11 tells us we are all given different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit; different kinds of service, but the same Lord. These are to work for the common good. And that's what my "Writer's Body" does. What an amazing group. Not just because they all are so skilled as writers, but because God put them together in such a way.

For those of you who don't know what a critique group is, it's a group of writers who will look at your work and tell you how you can improve it. You send it out to them after you've poured out your heart and soul on paper and then it comes back looking as though it met a dragon in battle :o). But just as God allows us to go through the Valley of Shadow and Death to stretch and grow us ... so do my critique partners spar with my Work-In-Progress in order to make it better. And that they most surely do!

My "Writer's Body," as I think I will now call them, is fully equipped with arms, legs, a torso, eyes, ears and all the rest. In writer's terms that would mean the following: Someone who can spot my telling (when it needs to be showing), my overuse of words, my cliches and my long-winded diatribes that make no sense. Other members will give me examples of how to describe something more fluidly, use commas appropriately and to tighten up my language. Oh there is so much more. And my critiquers do this. I send out my WIP and each sends it back with their own set of skills having polished out the smudges. And even though I am sometimes weary at the newly created work on the chapter I thought was done, I know down to the pit of my being God has been very, very good to me! I am truly blessed by this group and my writing has shown their hard work on my behalf.

Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

His Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

His power is made perfect in weakness. I don't know whether to say "Oh yeah!" "Amen!" or just sigh deeply at the idea. I just know that it gives me great comfort, 'cause on my worst day He is very powerful! I love that! In fact, a counselor friend and I have often talked about how some of our best counseling sessions were when we were sick. The Holy Spirit moved right into our empty vessels and did His Work, while we just sat there and watched. An awesome sight!!!

I could list off many figures in Biblical history whose lives embodied this concept (and I will eventually--the Bible is rife with flawed characters who are used by God), but today let's just look at the idea of God's power in our weaknesses. We know He uses our gifts, but how does He use weaknesses. Well, for one, they keep us focused on Him. If we are reminded of our strengths alone, we might be tempted to become boastful. "Look what I did." We take all the glory and worse yet, we come to rely on ourselves alone for all that God is. Eventually that leads to separation from Him.

I have been amazed in watching the lives of several leaders of large or mega-churches. I often worry some of these men may become "too big for their britches" as their congregation grows. And it has happened! However, in some cases, God has given them what the apostle Paul would call a "thorn." This has come in the form of a particular acknowledged fear, a handicap of self or child, or a serious, chronic illness. In these cases these "thorns" have kept them humbly on their knees, relying on the Creator of the Universe for their every need ... and their lives, ministries and congregations are better for it. Should we then call them blessings?

Paul, in 2Corinthians 12:1-10, begins by speaking of his visions and revelations from the Lord. This is a man who had, in his early life, relied heavily on his study of scripture and the law. But when Jesus first appeared to him, he was blinded. And though this blinding was temporary, many scholars believe the thorn he spoke of in his writings was a continual degeneration of his sight. Why would God allow this to happen to the man who is most known for spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles? I believe God wanted to take away Paul's temptation to rely on his own study of the law and focus on his new relationship with the Lord. His physical sight was replaced by visions and revelations that did not appear on paper, but came from God Himself. Now I ask you, which is more powerful?! And would Paul have done as much without it? Would he have known his Creator as well?

So when you are down and feeling useless, remember you are an empty vessel of the Lord. And with Him, anything is possible. Without Him, you are just empty. So take some time today, open your Bible and fill your tank! His power is made perfect in weakness.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Body Parts

A couple of years ago I volunteered to lead a devotion for my homeschool group. Being a person who learns best with visuals I brought in paper representations of body parts and handed them out to a number of people in the audience. Those who received these were then asked to gather in groups in the way we usually choose churches, finding others like themselves. So, of course, the arms made one church, the legs another, and so on.

When all the "churches" were formed I pointed out each, noting their strenths and weaknesses. For instance, the "Leg Church" was really going places ... but they couldn't do much when they got there. In fact, they couldn't even see enough to know what needed to be done. So I asked the "body parts" to form churches as Christ would. My homeschooling ladies are smart cookies so they made full bodies with Christ as the head. Each body had two arms and two legs, a torso, eyes, ears, etc., just as a body should.

So, too, should the Body of Christ. And yet, we still focus on finding churches and groups where everyone is "like us," and we don't always appreciate why God made some of us different. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be around people who understand your world, your gifts and your challenges. There is a comfort in that. At the same time, sometimes we are called to be drawn out of our comfort zone and work in tandem with other, different, members of the Body. Not just to work with, but to help and understand the differences of the other members and what their purpose is.

First Corinthians 12:21-27 specifically calls us to reach out to the weaker members of the Body and treat them with special honor. It also tells us these parts are indispensable. There should be no division. If one suffers, every part suffers. If one is honored, every part rejoices with it.

So I ask you to look at the world around you and view the other members of the Body. I want you to look at that person you have a tendency to not understand or maybe even think as (dare I say it) deficient (as if the rest of us aren't in some way :o)). See them through the spectacles of their Creator. He gave them gifts. They may be different from yours, but they are most definitely there. Maybe you can even be the one to help that person find them. Now wouldn't that be cool?!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lord of All Creation

Lord of all creation. I love that title. Our God is the Lord of all creation! Not just the earth, moon and stars, but of the insects, amebas and dirt. He is also the Creator of what we call human beings. That's us!
So if He is our creator, and He is infallible, why are we so flawed? Honestly, I don't think I am learn-ed enough to expound on that topic with great accuracy, but I hope to speak to how He uses these flaws to His Glory!
In Ephesians 4:12-14, Paul tells us He gave each of us specific tasks to prepare us for works of service so the body of Christ may be built up. We are to use these gifts to reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature. In other words our maturity, as a "body", comes from each of us accomplishing our different tasks in a unified mechanism to accomplish His goals. Every cog in that mechanism is vital. You are vital!
God doesn't make mistakes. He made you. He has a plan and a purpose for you in the Body of Christ, but the only way to find out what that is is to ask Him. And only when you do, will you know the fulfillment of seeing your gifts really shine!
So why are we flawed? Think of those flaws like holes in a puzzle piece where the peg of another piece fits. We are meant to live in communion with the rest of the Body. If we were self-sufficient we wouldn't do that . I need you and you need me, so we join to form a Body. One member's strength may be to help the other build from a weakness. Or it could be to fill the gap of that weakness all together.
So what does that mean to a Body of believers? It means we need to appreciate and understand both our gifts and weaknesses as well as those of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Appreciate who you are in Him, but also appreciate who others are as well. They were created in His image and fashioned for His work. See them how God sees them and you will no longer linger on their flaws.
Read 1Corinthians 12:21-27. More on this in my next blog.