Chronicling 40: Days 113-115 of 365


The past few days have been a distraction with a mixture of struggle.  Big things are happening, lots of things being added to the calendar … and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Even though these are all good things, they are a lot… and some are big steps for my ministry work.  Add in the pending holidays and I wonder… can I really do all of this?  Am I taking on too much?

In my devotion a few days ago, the main point of the passage was that even there, in the hardest or most difficult times God can do miraculous things in you, and through you, for His glory.

I’ve been clinging to that each day.  His timing and purposes are always right and as long as I’m in alignment with His will… I can do hard things.  I can do big things.  I can do intimidating things.

I can because HE can.  He loves me, and you, so much.  Why would I doubt His ability to carry me though what ever it is He has laid before me?  Why would I doubt His provision, when I answered the call … “Who will go…”?

If it is in His will… then it is in His strength.  His provision.  His power.  His timing.  His pathway.  I know He will steer me in the right direction, because He is right and good.  If God is within me, I shall not fall.

Chronicling 40: Day 89 of 365

awakenReally excited to start off a new devotion, and to do this along with some other local ladies.

It’s been a while since I’ve led or participated this kind of a group, as I’ve been busy leading other projects.

We must feed our soul, nourish ourselves with the Word and in fellowship with other believers.

If you are a leader, you can sometimes forget to feed yourself.  Sometimes, as a leader, we need to be a part of a group instead of leading it.  It helps us remember what it is like to be a participate and gives us a glimpse of a perspective we may have lost over all the years of leading.  Sometimes it feels good to be just “one of the girls” instead of the lady in charge.

So, instead of leading an official study group, we’ve come together for “Conversations and Coffee” where we are going to share how the devotion is impacting us, how these words each day are driving us to a deeper relationship with the God who speaks.

Chronicling 40: Day 54 of 365

I was a little more than frustrated.  In the last couple of months I have read some articles that have centered around women in leadership in the church.  The comments that accompanied the articles were tough.

My first observation was that no matter how broadly the articles painted the scope of leadership, the comments were always focused on one area… women in the pulpit, or as Pastors.  I get that is an area that is full of contention, but I’m amazed at the narrow focus.  As if being a “Pastor” is the only way one can lead in the church.  There is a difference between leading a church and leading within the church.  But, based on the comments, it was as if blinders were keeping out all other possibilities.

In another article, it went a bit further and discussed some bigger issues in the way women have been treated in the church.  Woman after woman sharing stories that made my skin crawl. The woman who was told that it wasn’t rape if it was her husband.  The teen told to marry the guy who raped her an impregnated her.  The woman who was told that she needed to submit more and pray harder so that her husband would stop beating her.  The teen girls who were tired of their virginity being equated to bubble gum and gifts that were utterly destroyed once they were used up, as if Jesus couldn’t redeem this part of their life.

Did the comments address this hurts and pains?  Nope, they just continued to debate women in the pulpit.  Lord, help us.  I can recount my own conversation with a Pastor (not my own) who was talking about his church calendar, and how he can’t be everywhere all the time.  When I suggested that he look to some of the women in the church to help ease the load, he replied:  “The best thing the women in my church can do to help me is to take care of their husbands and children”.

What about about the unmarried women?  What about those who don’t have children?

What about our women who feel called like a Deborah, but accused of being a Jezebel for stating they feel called to lead within the church/ministry?

We read in the Scriptures that we are created in the image of God, that we are valuable, and worthy.   We read that we are given gifts and talents.  Yet somewhere, someone decided that the gifts and talents given to women amounted to volunteering in the nursery and making the coffee.

I know of women who lead in fortune 500 companies who can’t even lead a womens Bible Study in their own church.

How does that make sense?

I know of a woman with 30+ years in an industry who volunteered her services to the church, and they said no thank you and hired a young man right out of college.

How does that make sense?

Recently, someone shared with me that she felt that her gifts and calling were hindered in the church.  And that word “hindered” stuck out at me, because I read that several times in accounts from the book “Church Refugees” from Group Publishing.  The book is about the “Dones” in the church, the ones who after years of loyally serving are leaving the church and is actually the largest percentage making an exodus from the “institutional church”.

While I don’t necessarily agree with each individuals personal account (from a doctrine standpoint) there was a common thread of feeling “hindered” in the church from serving in a meaningful way.  And, these were not people who had been in the church a little while, or just come to faith.  Rather these are the people who had been long time members 10+years, faithfully serving, and hoping/praying that the church would see their calling as valuable and support it.  Eventually, they lost hope that they could ever affect change and took their gifts and talents to a place that would embrace them.

Many of the “dones” ended up plugging into community ministries; fellowshipping and serving with other believers as they serve their community.  This is a little scary to think about, because it means that 1. the church’s largest group leaving is comprised of it’s best and 2. the church is either blissfully unaware or blatantly ignoring the exodus.

What does this mean for the future of the church as we know it?

Chronicling 40: Day 44 of 365


I experienced a moment today, that reminded me of the story of the woman who gave two mites:

Luke 21:1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

I ran to the store today to pick up some things for our family, and I had a set budget. I decided whatever I didn’t spend on our needs, I’d put into grabbing supplies for Hurricane Harvey relief and drop off with D-DEY Response Group.

As I was standing there amazed at all that was collected, a man rode up in the rain on his bike. From a small cinch sack he pulled out a 12 pack of sprite, it was the only thing in there and protected from the rain. He was there but just a minute. Then off on his way.

I am fairly certain that this man gave what he had purchase for himself.  Riding home with his purchase, he saw a need greater than his own.

Lord that we could all give so generously.

Chronicling 40: Day 38 of 365


James 3:13-18

How do you show wisdom?

  • a good life
  • deeds done in humility
  • not envious
  • not having selfish ambition
  • pure
  • peace-loving
  • considerate
  • submissive
  • full of mercy
  • good fruit bearing
  • impartial
  • sincerity
  • peacemaking



Chronicling 40: Day 35 of 365


I’m going to tell you something you may not know about me… I have a background in acting.  I’ve been on major movie sets to small theaters.  That is part of my history, one that I believe the Lord intended to use to build up a skill for another use than entertainment.  I’ve learned to hold myself on stage, pace my speech, articulate and enunciate, project my voice, and speak with passion and purpose.  I’ve learned to embrace the value of the perfectly placed pause, strong emphasis, and quiet attentiveness.  I understand what it means to “know your audience”, I can memorize two hours worth of dialogue. 

I recall one of my acting teachers (yes, I’ve studied with acting teachers and coaches since I was in the 7th grade) being very direct in class one day.  The question was “why are you here?”.  He was really asking why do you want to be an actor.  Answers varied.  “I love the attention.”   “I like being able to be other people, to try on someone else’s life for awhile.”   “I want to be famous.”

The student who wanted to be famous was asked to leave.

I’ve mentioned that before, in a previous post.  It came to mind again today.  On Facebook this morning I posted this:


Over the last year, I can think of several very specific moments where someone told me that they saw themselves up on stage sharing their story. 

I think it is wonderful that there is a spirit of hope, in any person, that wants to share their history with others.   I can even understand the draw of the stage, because there you can share with many at one time.  It is inspiring to think about.   We must understand our motives for being on stage, however.  When I previously talked on this subject, and mentioned the kid getting thrown out of class because he wanted to be famous… that was a motive check.  See, he didn’t love the art.  He wasn’t being honest about being the personality who craves attention.  He wanted fame, with fame is usually a desire for wealth… status… notoriety… and adoration.  It is more than asking the world to just look at you, but goes deeper.  Fame is asking the world to validate you.  You look for your value and worth in how others admire you.

That is one reason that I will usually dig a bit deeper and challenge someone who tells me they see themselves on a stage… we must check our motivation.  But, there is a second reason I’ll challenge that vision for yourself.  Being on stage is incredibly impersonal, and it allows you to shut yourself off from individuals.  Let me explain.

When I am on stage, there are a few things that are happening.  First, I am entirely prepared for the moment.  I have made very purposeful decisions on everything from how I styled my hair to the words that flow from my mouth.  Every step of it is calculated, each gesture and hand motion has been practiced numerous times.  Second, I am disconnected from those whom I am speaking to.  You can not see most (if any at all) of the faces you are speaking to.  The lights in the room are down, and lights are pointed right at you.  You may only see the faces of the people in the first few rows, and that really depends on how close the rows are set the stage.  You may see no one, which means you connect with no one.  Three, my time is calculated to the second.  Before speaking, you are prepping in the back.  During speaking you are actively disengaged.  But afterwards you are ushered to a book signing table, where you very quickly work through the line.  Or, if it’s a big conference, you may get a few seconds of meet and greet before being ushered off to your next workshop space or before the audience has to move on to the next speaker.  This means that even when you get the opportunity engage, it is superficial.

It is incredibly impersonal.  You are not forced to look another person in the eye and be vulnerable.  Nor, do you have to deal with the emotional responses of those who relate or can learn from your story.  You don’t have the time to invest in hearing their connection because you have to move on, and have guarded yourself from getting too close to someone else and their issues.  It is a way to keep people at an arms reach.  Even when they have compassion for what trials you went through, as you share your well crafted version of the story, you are still able to keep people at a distance.

This does not mean you don’t care, on the contrary… if your motives are right in the first place… it probably means you can care too much.  Do you know that for most speakers it easier to tell their most horrific stories to a room of 10,000 than to an audience of 1?  That they could write a book and share details with the masses that they couldn’t sit down and share with their own mother?  It’s true.  Even though there are 10,000 people in the audience, there is anonymity in that.

I can tell you the most horrible things about me, that God has worked on in my life, giving Him the glory… because I won’t see you face to face, and I won’t see you again.  The most vulnerable moments are the ones when I share my story face to face, with the people I live in community with.  When I reveal this dark part of my history, and know that I have to look you in the eye again next week.

When you are in a room full of people who don’t know you, it is much easier to not care what they think about you.  Speak in front of people you know well, and you will worry.  Do they judge me for this blip in my past?  Will they treat me differently?  Will this affect our friendship?  Are they going to tell other people in church/community/organization about this?  What if they say something to their children… who then say something to my children?  What if this affects how people treat my family?

Jesus got personal with those whom he encountered.  He got into the pit with the woman who was going to be stoned for adultery.  His feet were dried by the hair of the woman who anointed him with oil and perfume.  He called the children near to him.  He walked out of his way to encounter just one person.  Yes, Jesus also spoke before the multitudes of people but he also took precious moments for face to face encounters. 

Too many are waiting for the platform to tell their story.  They are waiting for the stage spotlight to fall on them, or they are waiting for the publishers to ask for their manuscripts.  Do not wait for the masses to show up before you are open to telling your story.  Start now.  Be willing to go out of your way.  Encounter the one, and then let the Lord handle the rest.

Chronicling 40: Day 33 of 365

A continuation of thought…

FRIENDSHIPSI had not planned to continue talking about friendships, but coincidence brings us back to the subject.

After posting yesterday, I ended up engaging in a conversation about ministry friendships within a networking group of leaders that is nationwide.  I didn’t start the conversation, but it was nothing I had not heard before.  Let’s face it church, we are broken in terms of relationships within the church.  We really need to lean in and listen to what is being said by leaders in the church, and figure out how to fix it.

The comments can be categorized into 4 points.

  1.  I was advised by an older, seasoned, leader not to make friends in the church.
  2.  My greatest hurt has been caused by people in the church I considered friends.
  3.  These friendships have been unequally yoked, where I was more invested in the relationship and they were more interested in position/information.
  4. I have struggled to make lasting, deep, friendships in the church.

The first point reflects the experiences of women who were given this advice as they entered into ministry leadership.  Leaders who had already walked this hard road forewarned these leaders that real friendships would be hard to come by, and it was easier to make friends outside of the church in which they serve (these friends can include ministry leaders in other churches).

The second point reflected the experiences of people, like me, where the relationships we expected to be the most honest, faithful, and trusting… were far from.  Causing these leaders to guard their hearts more in the future, and keep a safe distance.   Friendships in the church were far more superficial.  People who expressed this second point, were most likely to give the advice in the first point… avoid friendships in the church you serve.

The third point revealed what many feared were friendships built for the wrong reasons.  The persons were not as concerned about a real relationship, but rather positioning to the Pastor or ministry leader.  Or, they were really interested in being part of the “in the know” crowd and so it was important to them to foster a good relationship with the Pastor, his wife, and other ministry leaders.  These were manipulative relationships.  Again, those who experienced this may be part of the seasoned leaders advising against close relationships in the church.

The fourth were those who were hurt by rejection.  Even though they were leaders in the church, they just couldn’t seem to break in the cliques of the church.  They felt like outsiders in their own church home.  These women would happily take the risk to foster relationships in the church, but unfortunately the church members are the ones holding their arms extended to create distance.

Church.  What is going on?

How is it that a place where we should feel like a family, we feel outcast?  How is it that it has come to be that our leaders are AFRAID of making friendships in the church because they know the sting of rejection and hurt?  Why is this happening.  I have been pondering it ever since.

Then, to my surprise, I awoke today to find the conversation among the leaders had not stopped while I slept.  A surge of women shared how we must not give up, we must be willing to take the risk of being hurt, and try to build community in our own churches.  These leaders spoke truth, about the enemy trying to isolate us and break up the community in our churches.  They spoke of division, reconciliation, forgiveness, not having a spirit of fear, etc.  All the right things.

So, I pondered a bit more. Here are my conclusions…

  1.  We own one of the chips in this broken vessel.  It is entirely possible that because we are in church with other Christians, leading with other Christians, we were expecting more of them.  We expected they would treat friendship differently than the world, we forgot that they too are imperfect sinners.  But, since we elevated our expectations of them… perhaps we trusted too much, too quickly.  When the hurt came, it hurt more deeply because we were not cautious from the start.  We must use discernment in selection whom we trust, and with what we trust them with.
  2.   We must have friends outside of the church too.  Let’s face it, if there is turmoil in the church, the last thing I need to do is bring that up during Wednesday night small group.  I don’t need to air the church’s dirty laundry to the other members.  But, I may need one or two ministry leading friends whom I can trust to pray for our church/ministry with me.  It is good to have friends IN and OUT of the church in which we serve. 
  3.  The church body is also accountable for some of the chips in this broken vessel.  Relationships are two way streets, both equally committed.  Church members and other leaders need to check their motives in these friendships.  They need to own up and accept responsibility when they mess up.  They, too, need to do a better job at being a friend.  More open.  More receptive.  More honest.  We must all be the kind of friend that we want to have. 
  4. Lazy discipleship is part of the problem.  The church has gotten lazy about discipleship.  We count on warm bodies willing to press play on the DVD player to lead our small groups and Bible studies.  We don’t disciple our leaders, who in turn do not disciple those whom they lead.  We have not taught people how Christian friendships and relationships should differ, because we are not truly discipling them. 

So what do we do?  How do we restore the type of community that we should have among our family of believers?

BUILD COMMUNITY:  We need real community.  Not Sunday fellowship, and Wednesday small group.  A full, robust, church calendar gives ample opportunities for us to meet new faces, connect with people who have similar interests, and get to enjoy one another personally.  Through connecting to one another personally, we can find our “tribe” of friends.

DISCIPLE PEOPLE:  We need to really invest in the spiritual growth of those under our charge. We can not expect them to behave a certain way in relationships if we have not made the effort to show them the way.  Mentoring partners, discipleship partners, is huge in helping to develop others to a spiritual maturity that includes what Biblical friendship and relationships look like.  Perhaps they do not know how because they have not been pointed to those areas of the scriptures.

BE WISE AND GENTLE:  Even sheep can bite, even the best sheep can take a nip occasionally.  There are wolves among the sheep, so we must be wise to discern who to bring into our inner circle.  But, that doesn’t mean to ostracize ourselves from others.  When we are wise and gentle to those around us, we can sense when even the best of people will need boundaries (sometimes just temporarily).

BE WILLING:  We can’t share our desire for close friends in the church while we run away from them.  Some of us, those who are wounded, may need to step into those waters a bit more cautiously.  But be willing to take those steps.

BE PATIENT:  For those who have been trying to make friends, recognize that you may be dealing with a person who is gun shy from prior hurt.  Be patient, move the relationship along slowly.  For those who have been hurt, be patient with yourself.  Not all healing takes place instantly.  For some it is a process, that serves a purpose often greater than we realize at the moment.

I think we can find good, healthy, strong, and deep friendships within the church that we serve.  But, clearly there is some brokenness we need to tend to.