Monday, January 30, 2006

Life on the Back Burner

Do you ever feel like God has put your life on the back burner?

Last Thursday God gave me a peek at what he has been cooking up. As I look back, I see that God has been working on this for a long time.

Two years ago, God called me into women’s ministry. It was an exciting growth experience for me. During that time, God gave me a passion to assist women in discovering who they are created to be. My greatest desire is to help women take their focus off their circumstances and experience a deeper intimacy with Christ. I loved letting God put my passion in action.

Then we moved. It has been wonderful. But, I miss the rush of seeing God at work so specifically in the lives around me. There have been many good places I could get involved. But each time I pray about them, I sense God saying “wait, I’m working on something else.”

Last Thursday, he revealed the “something else.” It took a few weeks to get me in the physical place to see it. It has taken a life time to get me in the spiritual place to be able to recognize it.

I was pretty certain where God was pointing but asked a few friends to pray about this decision with me. I received the encouragement I needed from those friends and from my husband. Then - God is so fun - he added more confirmation through the message at church yesterday.

The message focused on Jesus life among those considered outcasts. It was as if God delivered that message just for me. Since we began to pray about this move, my husband and I felt God preparing us to be more involved outside our typical Christian circles. I thought going to public schools was the biggest part of that plan. HA! God has something a little different in the works.

God is giving me the opportunity to build relationships with women in prison. I will be working with Kairos Prison Ministry. This is an exciting new adventure. I might have missed it if I busied myself with other “good” opportunities.

God is always at work even when we feel like things are not happening. Each day is either a step on the path God is clearing or our attempt to blaze our own path.

You are never on God’s back burner. Just wait. He’s working on something. Whatever he is asking of you today relates to his plan for tomorrow. Keep watching.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

Friday, January 27, 2006

What's a Woman to Do?

I’ve attended a variety of churches over the years. Some ordain women without hesitation. Others ordain and welcome women according to their giftedness yet are considered the black sheep of the denomination because of such actions. I have also participated with groups where women are restricted from certain church leadership positions.

Frankly, I am puzzled by this issue. There are plenty of scriptures that can be used to back either position. So which Christian sect is correct? And is it important? After all, there is no perfect church. Or is there?

Jesus replied, "You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven."

Matthew 16:17-19

Sadly, the world’s view of the church today is similar to the response in Matthew 16:13-14. Many people thought Jesus was perhaps John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet. In other words, to them, Jesus was a leader with followers, no different than other great leaders but perhaps with a different perspective of life.

In John 17:22-23, Jesus says this about the church: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity (perfected into one) to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

There is nothing more exciting than to worship and minister with an ecumenical group of believers. Controversial issues often keep these experiences from happening. These issues can be stumbling blocks to those seeking truth. Or they can be obstacles which create a shadow of darkness keeping the light of Christ from being seen from certain positions.

Restricting the role of women in church is more than a controversial issue. This stance depletes the ability of the church to reflect the fullness of God. “God created man (mankind) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Has Christ not restored mankind back to the relationship before sin? Must the church – the true church – live under the curse that resulted from sin? (Genesis 3:16 curse on woman - man will rule over her)

Where is the church Christ is building? Are the things locked by the church today also locked in heaven? Is the church seen by the world the Body of Christ or are we perhaps only human and cursed by our disobedience the same as those outside the walls of a church?

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV)

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Preparing for Discipleship - Part 2

In Preparing for Discipleship - Part 1, I blogged my thoughts on “community” after viewing the Ray Vander Laan video series That the World May Know. Today, I give you my perspective of other building blocks mentioned in Faith Lessons: In the Dust of the Rabbi.


This one seems simple. If we are going to be a disciple or follower of a specific teaching, it would be wise to know the teaching. Do we do that in other areas? I’m not sure. How often do people vote based on political party instead of spending time learning about the life of the candidate?

Disciples of any Rabbi in Jesus day, where expected to study and know scripture for themselves. They needed to know it well enough to debate it. They did not just listen and nod (or nod off) as the Rabbi taught. It was interactive instruction.

Do you truly want to be a disciple of Christ? Know his teaching for yourself. Be able to discuss it with him. Can you represent his teaching in discussion with others? Questions are the best way to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you read scripture. Just be sure to ask someone who is also a true disciple of Christ. Find a small group or Bible study that focuses on scripture more than on life issues. Let scripture be a pre-requisite to life issue discussion groups.


As I understand it, all Jewish boys had a certain level of schooling. At a certain age, many would end the formal education and join their father in his work. Those who desired to become disciples of a Rabbi continued in formal schooling.

Are you settling for the minimum amount of schooling in scripture? Do you just attend preaching and worship weekly or maybe less often? What is your desire? Does work and leisure occupy more time than sitting under the instruction of a more learned disciple of Christ?

God’s thoughts and ways are so much greater than any human thoughts, we can never learn all there is to learn about his ways in this lifetime. Children’s Bible Stories are for children. Is it time for you to begin searching for the significance of those Bible stories?

Being a disciple of Christ is not like math and science. It is a way of life. We continually grow in our understanding of the meaning and purpose of God’s ways as we sit under the instruction of those “who want to be who the Rabbi is”. (That is the definition of disciple from Part 1.)


Those who know me, know that I really like the word passion. To me, passion is the difference in existing and living. The Passion of the Christ movie sparked my fascination with the concept of true passion. It is the fuel for Determination.

According to Ray Vander Laan, those who wanted to be disciples of a Rabbi were so passionate about it that they would spend as much time with him as possible. Sleeping, eating, walking. They wanted more than just to know what the Rabbi taught. They wanted to live as the Rabbi lived.

Are you passionate about being a disciple of Christ? Do you set out with determination to read your Bible but then fail? Do you determine to pray for others then fall asleep trying – if you remember to pray at all? Do you make resolutions to join a Bible study but then let your fears or busy-ness keep you from doing so? Quit being determined on your own strength. Get passionate about Christ. Seek more than to just do the “right things.” Sleep, eat, walk and talk with the one you want to be like.

This is where mentoring comes in. We have Rabbi’s among us even in the protestant church. Look around. Who do you want to be like? Approach her/him. Ask if you may be her/his disciple. It will be as rewarding for her/him as it is for you.

Jesus’ Disciples

There were some differences between the disciples of Christ and other disciples. The typical process of becoming the disciple of a Rabbi was to be in the right community, know scripture, continue with additional schooling, become passionate enough to approach a Rabbi and ask if you could follow him.

Jesus did things a little different. Jesus went to a small town. Selected five of his twelve disciples from this common village. They were not well schooled. It’s doubtful they were passionate about Jesus – they were a bit skeptical from time to time. And most encouraging to me, Jesus asked them to follow him. They did not ask Jesus.

Preparing to be a disciple of most Rabbis took a lot of work before you could attain the status of disciple. Christ doesn’t require any preparation. He offers on-the-job training. "Follow Me," He told them, "and I will make you fishers of men!" (Matthew 4:19)

I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit, and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.

John 15:15b-16

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Preparing for Discipleship - Part 1

That the World May Know is one of the best video teaching series I have ever seen.

From the session titled Faith Lessons: In the Dust of the Rabbi - Becoming a Disciple, Ray Vander Laan contrasts Jesus' disciples with disciples of other Rabbis.

The segment I viewed last night focused on the building blocks of discipleship and preparing to become a disciple. I won't try to type out all my thoughts from this experience. Ray Vander Laan's teaching style is captivating and full of insights that make scripture much more understandable. I'll share just a little bit of what I gleaned.

Please keep in mind, I am sharing thoughts stirred by the video. I do not claim to present the information with the same factual/instructional basis as Ray Vander Laan. You need to view the material yourself for his insights. I highly recommend the entire series.

Building Blocks of Discipleship
"Community was more important than the individual.” It is interesting to me that the task at hand for many churches is to define what community is and then how to get there. How did the church lose its sense of community?

My mind is buzzing with theories to answer that question. I’ll go with the Church Lady response: Could it be…Satan? Satan has persuaded many to live as though the individual is more important than community. Perhaps the evolution of this mindset came through the industrial revolution which brought us to the consumer mentality.

In the days of family business and agriculture, the individual had a personal interest in the success of his work. It not only put food on his table, the work also affected the reputation of the family.

Today, we talk about entitlements, equal opportunity, and fair wages. As our facilitator pointed out last night, people today shop around for a church that offers what they want. We look for a shallow version of community for what we can get out of it, without consideration to our part in making that group a true community.

This concept has been on my mind for a couple of years. My role in women’s ministry provided the opportunity to observe several Bible studies. When someone attends a Bible study as a consumer, there is a high probability that they will drop out after a few weeks. Those who attend with the desire to become what they learn will 1) be there 2) study 3) ask questions and 4) share what they are learning.

What is a Disciple? According to Ray Vander Laan, it is someone who wants to be what the Rabbi is. That requires spending a lot of time with the Rabbi – learning his ways, not hanging around when it is convenient to see what he will do for you.

I will share more on the other Building Blocks of Discipleship - scripture, schooling, and passion - in future blogs.

For more info on the That the World May Know video series click here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Graceful Love

“[God’s] acceptance of us is not so much unconditional – that may never motivate change – as it is gracious.”

Elizabeth Ingrig, Release Your Potential

Many well-meaning Christians attempt to encourage someone by saying “we are to love everyone; we don’t have to like them.” The biblical concept here is to love the sinner, hate the sin. But most of the time we don’t separate the sin from the sinner.

An author I recently read suggests there are only two categories of people: believers and non-believers. Theoretically, I agree. In reality, we are more likely to classify people by what they do. Without separating their actions from who they are, we categorize the person – not just their behavior - as good or bad.

In this scenario we elevate ourselves to judge, making our interpretation of good the standard. We give ourselves a pat on the back for loving someone that doesn’t deserve to be liked according to our standards or our prejudices. Sometimes, we even call it ministry.

I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind when he said “love your neighbor.”

It is not unconditional love that draws one person to another. Would you be drawn to someone who said they loved you but didn’t want to be with you?

We all fall into the “bad” category according to God’s standards. Acknowledging our dependence on Christ doesn’t make us “good.” It means we confess that we are bad and Jesus is the only reason we can be in relationship with a truly good God.

God doesn’t say, “I love you but I’m going to stay away from you because I don’t like what you do.” He simply says “I love you. I forgive you. Now spend time with me and let me give you real life.”

God’s love is evident through grace. Christ didn’t instruct us to say the words “I love you.” He instructed us to love others, judging them in the same way we judge ourselves.

If God’s grace overflows through me, others will be drawn to him. They will since that I am no different than they are. The only difference may be that I am a believer and they are not. The believer lives for the sake of Christ. The non-believer lives for some other sake. Other than that we are all the same.

God came to earth as a baby to be with us as we are so that we could be with him as he intended.

Who is the difficult person in your life? Are you willing to let them see God’s grace in your life? Do you recognize that without Christ you fall into the same category as them?

Believers are not better than non-believers. We just had someone willing to throw us a life preserver and we humbled ourselves to grab onto Him instead of trying to swim to shore on our own.

“Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” Titus 1:4

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
Email for reprint permission