Saturday, November 25, 2006

Enter Into the Joy of Your Master

Matthew 25:14-30
"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.

To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'

For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

I don't want anything to do with a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth... and yet, it is what I deserve. Somewhere... and I don't know when... a Spirit of Fear came over me and bound me up, and the crazy thing is... I didn't even know it. Under the grasp of this fear I took my talent and buried it.

I used to FLAUNT my talent when I was a child... ask my Mom. I was so proud of my talent, if I were going to SHARE my talent, I stood in front of the room until all eyes were on me. If you chatted amongst yourselves, I'd stop and wait until you were quiet again. I wanted to show everyone my talent.

When did something I loved to share and teach become something I just wanted to hide?

In my last blog, which left many of you concerned, I wrote to you that I felt like I wasn't being given a place to share this talent of mine. I wrote that I had been encountering gossip and backbiting, not only in church, but also in my family and other networks.

I had been encountering gossip at church and in my family. I had also been experiencing some tension in my dealings regarding the Children's Musical. And yes, this was distracting me from my prayer time. But on Thursday evening, after a lovely Thanksgiving meal, I heard the most hurtful words I have ever heard said about me. My husband listened to my favorite Aunt, my number one fan, tell my daughter: "Ellen, you are so talented, just like your Mom. What a waste."

It is this statement that pushed me over the edge. It is this statement that became the proverbial straw on the camel's back and I was hurt - hurt beyond words. After weeks of feeling hurt coming from everywhere and only desiring Peace, I needed to use this blog to speak into some lives. But then, God revealed something to me: He needed to provoke me. He needed me to GET UP.

Well, I'm up now.

God gave me a Vision of a Center for the Arts over three years ago, and I've been sitting on it. I've kicked it around a bit... kicked it aside a bit.... denied its existence a bit. But it keeps coming back. And silly, crazy me has come up with every excuse not to step out in faith and do what I'm being called to do. God told me to write letters to wealthy landowners who may just donate a parcel of land to build this Center for the Arts. I kept saying, "Yep, God. I'll write the letters." He kept using Pastor Bond's sermons to open my eyes to what I needed to do: "See the miracle." How many times have I heard Pastor Bond preach, "You have everything you need." And yet, I refused to move forward. I kept telling myself, "When Perez comes, he'll be able to tell me what I need to do." Perez never revealed anything to me about my occupation in life, but God used Perez to release me from that spirit of fear. The next step was that blog in being able to speak into others' lives. All the while, I felt God saying "You need to be bolder."
When I read Sister Sarah Klugh's Blog, it hit home when she wrote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. Its not just in some of us, its in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Between yesterday's sermons, last night's concert and coming home and turning to The Word, my heart is FULL. I believe and see the miracle. Then, through an incredible prayer and devotional time this morning another great thing was revealed to me: I spiritually had to step out of the way. The Center for the Arts is not about me and will never be about me. It is for God and His Glory. I am just a servant who will carry it out. This is what was meant when Pastor Bond and Sister Cora both said to me : "You will encounter great success when you begin to Acknowledge Him in All Things." None of this is for me or for my welfare. It is God's.

The Letters have been written and I'm ready to send them. I'll keep you updated with Praise Reports. Right now, I gotta go get my shovel. I know I have a few more talents buried around here. God has shown me that I'm going to need them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

God Called "Us" to Be

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly piled with contempt. Psalms 123:3

From "My Utmost for His Highest:"
"The thing of which we have to beware is not so much damage to our belief in God as damage to our Christian temper. "Therefore take heed to thy spirit, that ye deal not treacherously." The temper of mind is tremendous in its effects, it is the enemy that penetrates right into the soul and distracts the mind from God. There are certain tempers of mind in which we never dare indulge; if we do, we find they have distracted us from faith in God, and until we get back to the quiet mood before God, our faith in Him is nil, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is the thing that rules.

Beware of "the cares of this world," because they are the things that produce a wrong temper of soul. It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.

Another thing that distracts us is the lust of vindication. St. Augustine prayed - "O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself." That temper of mind destroys the soul's faith in God. "I must explain myself; I must get people to understand." Our Lord never explained anything; He left mistakes to correct themselves. When we discern that people are not going on spiritually and allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block our way to God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede."

Bear with me as it is excruciatingly painful for me to speak the truth in love. The Spirit of Fear that has been binding me is gone now and I must share this with you. I see no other way out of my distraction. I see this as my way of interceding without confrontation. I pray that God will convict those who are guilty of this spirit of contempt so that we all may begin to live a richer and fuller life before God.

I am exceedingly piled with contempt. I am distracted by my lust of vindication. In my dealings with people as of late, who shall remain unnamed, I feel an incredible amount of tension in our dealings. I feel like I am being judged. I feel like I am not being given room to grow - to put down roots in my church and community. I am actually being choked out as the flower is by the weed.

I go to my prayer closet every morning. I begin to pray. Instead of being able to sit with God for the few moments I have in one day when I am not surrounded by children, my thoughts immediately turn to:

"Lord, what did I do to offend this person?" "Lord, should I say something, should I email them... what should I do?" "Maybe I should stay away." "Maybe I should find another church." "Maybe I should skip Christmas with my family this year." "Maybe I shouldn't do the Christmas Musical, after all." "Maybe the Theatre Company should call it quits." "Maybe God doesn't love me anymore."

It is not initially my spirit of criticism towards others, however, that is distracting me from God. It is the feeling that I am being criticized. Be it a Spirit of Jealousy or something else that I have not been able to identify, I feel the affects of others' contempt for me and that is blocking MY way to God because I, in a total state of confusion, have started to develop contempt against those who seem mad at me.

Do you see the importance and reciprocity of our relationship here??? There is a Horizontal and a Vertical to the Cross. The Vertical represents our personal relationship with God. The Horizontal represents our relationship to one another. God calls us to be in relationship to one another:

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another" (Mark 9:50).

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John 13:34).

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

"These things I command you, that ye love one another" (John 15:17).

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law" (Rom. 13:8).

"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (1 Thess. 3:12).

"But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another" (1 Thess. 4:9).

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Pet. 1:22).

"For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (1 John 3:11).

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23).

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4:7).

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:11).

"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:12).

"And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another" (2 John 1:5)

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (ROM 12:10).

"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (ROM 12:16).

"Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus" (ROM 15:5).

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (ROM 14:19).

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Thess. 5:11).

"Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God" (ROM 15:7)

"And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another" (ROM 15:14).

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16)

"Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you" (ROM 16:16).

"All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss" (1 Cor. 16:20).

"Greet one another with an holy kiss" (2 Cor. 13:12).

"Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen" (1 Pet. 5:14).

"That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another" (1 Cor. 12:25).

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to be flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13).

"With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Eph. 4:2).

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32).

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Col. 3:13).

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21).

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5)

"Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thess. 4:18).

"But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:25).

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb. 10:24).

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16).

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous" (1 Pet. 3:8).

"Use hospitality one to another without grudging" (1 Pet. 4:9)

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brothers way" (ROM 14:13).

"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal. 5:15).

"Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Gal. 5:26).

"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9).

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the low, but a judge" (Jas. 4:11).

"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door" (Jas. 5:9).

If I am a member of your family and I have wronged you, tell me. If I am a member of your church and you heard that I was doing something wrong, bring it to my attention. But don't think for one minute that I am not sensitive enough to notice how curt your responses to my questions are; your inability to look me in the eye or even smile genuinely. Do not think that I am too spiritually dumb to see your condescension in your dealings with me. Do not fool yourselves into believing that God doesn't hear your gossip; that He doesn't know your heart.

And if you still don't care because it's me... think about when you do it to someone else. You may just stop another person from seeing your light shine. You may have just lost a soul that could have been won to God through you.

As for me, I will continue to pray for God's intervention. I will keep showing Love because my grandmother always taught me that "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."

I will pray for us, that our relationship may one day be restored.