Archive for February, 2015

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

Everybody Needs a Friend Who Cares.  Love it when I see Jesus in my kids!

 

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

I have only been white water rafting once and it was in the middle of a terrible summer drought so that what should have been a harrowing, exciting and somewhat dangerous adventure turned out to be more of a stroll in the park on a sunny day.  I know that this same river in other seasons has been dangerous to the point of claiming lives.  The rivers and streams of David’s Israel were just as changeable.  One minute they could be quiet streams bubbling along and then a cloud burst, perhaps not even in the immediate vicinity, could swell them to deadly proportions.  The “quiet waters” is probably a reference to the many small springs throughout the land of Israel.  Cool, clean and refreshing these springs were a safe place of comfort for thirsty sheep.  God desires to lead us in places of refreshing safety; paths of restoration and righteousness that fulfill His purpose for His people.   Enjoying the rest and nutrition of the green pastures and following our Great Shepherd beside the quiet refreshing, restoring waters of His grace and love are Spiritual disciplines.  There is the temptation during the Nineteen Days to believe that we do not need to walk in the Spirit.  Everything seems wonderful….nothing could happen to steal the joy and peace we feel right.  When we place ourselves in that frame of mind we begin to rely on the circumstances of our life for our well-being instead of our Great Shepherd.  David makes it clear that the pastures and waters are not about circumstances.  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”  Righteousness and restoration are about our relationship with God.

Here is the hook.  Since the pasture and the waters are not about circumstances, we are no less resting in green pastures on day 20 than we are on day 2.  Just because we have a situational change (even a drastic one) the reality of the Spiritual disciplines of the pasture and the waters are not impacted whatsoever!  However it does not FEEL that way!  If we could just ride the whole way on our feeling of well-being then it would not involve Spiritual discipline.  When I was holding Nisa and rejoicing in well-being as Christmas approached and we felt gifted beyond belief the pasture and the waters seemed a no brainer.  When I sat on that hospital bed with my wife’s health failing beside me and heard the word’s, “I am sorry Allana has leukemia”  and then “I am sorry but the leukemia is Philadelphia positive, without a bone marrow transplant….” it would seem that everything had changed.  The pasture vanished, the waters became bitter….or had they. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.  The valley of the shadow of death is about circumstance.  The verbs in Hebrew are all in the same tense (except for anointed).  They all indicate current and ongoing action.  The green pastures and still waters do not vanish because we are in the valley.  If we focus on His rod of guidance and his staff of protection the nourishing green grass of His Word and the refreshing waters of His Spirit remain as we walk the path of Righteousness because none of it depends on me or my circumstances.  It all depends on HIS NAME.  “And there is salvation in no * one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Enjoy the green pastures and still waters TODAY!

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This is from Allana’s Blog.  The link is on this page but I thought I would copy it here because this content is awesome even outside of the framework of what she is doing with True Beauty.

I did want to spin it a little bit for those of you who are ministry leaders.  I think sometimes Church and Ministry leadership push people into weariness because there are spots to fill and initiatives to undertake.  Brothers and sisters in Christ who fall into one of these categories get pushed or even just “encouraged” into taking on ministry that they shouldn’t.  Are spots being filled in ministry done with a “sigh of relief” or with real prayerful consideration.  There is NO position worth filling at the cost of a person’s Spiritual Health and relationship with God!

Blessings,

Sam

Saying that you are weary in ministry almost sound taboo! But, let’s face it; I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t become weary in ministry at one time or another. If you are in ministry and this has never happened to you, I would love to know your secret, as I have also faced this weariness.


Looking back over my life, I see a few different reasons why I became weary. I also see my flaw of giving up and what I should have done differently. Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes, or perhaps you have faced the same types of things happening in your own life and it may help you know what to do from here.


1. Drained from insecurity


October 2003, we got connected with a young couple who was planting a church in Pontiac, Michigan. After a couple weeks, Bobby approached me and asked if I would lead worship for the church. I accepted; however, we didn’t have a band, and I didn’t know how to play an instrument, so I sang with a CD. At first it was really no big deal. There were less than 10 of us in the church, so for me it was like singing at my mom’s bible studies. As the church grew, however; so did my insecurity. I had an okay voice, I could usually sing on key, but I wasn’t professionally trained. I seriously started doubting myself. A lot of it came when I sang for a little while with a woman who was a serious power house singer. She wanted and felt that she should be the worship leader, because she had been musically trained. Bobby felt that I needed to stay as the worship leader, because I had a heart for worship. I will never forgot what he said, “Having a heart for worship outshines talent any day.” I tried to take courage in his words, but when the woman left the church because of it, my heart sank. As we added more and more people to the worship team, I felt smaller and smaller. I literally cried all the way to church begging God to help me to just focus on Him through worship. But, then I would cry all the way home, because of all the flaws in myself that I could see. It was pure torture! I was a mess. I was so insecure and overly sensitive that I let everything rock my boat, and if someone else didn’t do it I would stand in my own canoe and rock it myself. I left hurt and completely empty.


I am once again singing on our worship team. My first week back I was extremely insecure, but God is showing me something: a heart of worship truly is what He wants. If God is calling you to something that challenges your insecurity, just rest at His feet. He will give you what you need. I no longer dread singing; in fact, I enjoy it and can’t wait until the next month when I get to sing again. God is good!


2. Drained because you are in ministry for the wrong reasons
There have been many times that I have gotten busy in ministry that uplifts me. I feel the rush of acceptance when people compliment what I have done or am doing. I pour my time and energy in places that I feel encouragement. I will be transparent with you, there are times that I will pour into friends and others who need me because I don’t feel needed, wanted, accepted, or appreciated at home. Why did I love to greet? Because you get to smile at someone and usually have them smile back at you. It’s rewarding. Doing laundry, doing dishes, and cleaning the bathroom are not really rewarding. They are repeat-it jobs. The result is as soon as you clean it, someone will need those jobs to be done again within moments. These house chores can make you feel weary. “Ugh, Nisa, I just put all those blocks away a second ago.” “Robert, I just mopped the floor, don’t walk in here with your muddy shoes.” Oh yeah, I’m a mom. We cannot push our family to the side because we don’t feel rewarded there. We cannot strive to do more for an away from the home type of ministry than we do at home because we get rewarded by feeling accepted and appreciated. Our ministry starts in the home. And we need to stop seeing doing the dishes, laundry, or the vacuuming as a drag, but as something God has called us to do. Last week I talked a little bit of Martha and how sometimes the dishes can wait while we need to snuggle our child instead. However, there needs to be a balance there. Those of us who are moms and wives are called to be homemakers. Snuggling with your baby is important, but you can’t just do that all day. I learned a very valuable lesson. It was about four years into our marriage and we went to a church where they were talking about marriage. I will never forget what the pastor said, “You need to hear how your partner says, ‘I love you,’ and you need to learn how to say, ‘I love you,’ in a way that your partner can hear it. One is as important as the other.” I left that message completely changed as a wife. I learned that Sam working so hard is his way of saying, “I love you,” when I use to read it as, “I can’t stand being home with you. I would rather be at work.” And I realized that Sam hears, “I love you,” when I take the time to cook a good meal and make sure the house is tidied up when he walks in the door. Do I ever get drained from pouring myself at home? Of course! I human and am, therefore, selfish! I would rather hang out on FB than make sure Nisa’s toys are picked up for the hundredth time that day. But, I am finding it easier to experience joy in what God has called me to do, and being okay with receiving HIS acceptance instead of needing it from someone else. This is huge!


3. Drained from pouring out in too many places


All of these go hand in hand for me. When I feel insecure, I jump into any ministry that I am certain that I can get a pat on the back. I also typically throw myself into way too many places of ministry. Sometimes when I am running away from my chaos, I find that I become too busy. Seems like an oxymoron, but it’s true for me. In 2010, I was dealing with my anger with God over everything I had lost, but I was also dealing with resurfacing memories of pain and abuse that I hadn’t yet healed from. I felt overloaded inside. So, I got involved in everything. By the time that 2011 came around we were busy every single day. On Monday Nights, Sam and I were youth leaders, so we drove Emily, Robert, two other friends, and ourselves 30 minutes to church for youth group. We stayed late and helped set the church back up, causing us to not get back home until almost 10:00 p.m. On Tuesday nights, we drove almost an hour to The Lewis House to go to their prayer nights around the community. On Wednesday nights, we drove the 30 minutes for shine practice and church that night. On Thursday nights, we drove the hour to The Lewis House for their community dinner outreach. On Friday nights, we drove back to The Lewis House for their church service, where we watched the kids of those who came to the service. On Saturday nights, we drove the 30 minutes to church for their Saturday night service. At this point, I was leading children’s worship almost every Saturday night. For many Sunday mornings during 2011, I led children’s worship for two services. We were also leading the youth group Outreach program and filling in when needed. Once a month, we were greeters and I was on the adult worship team. Having my fingers in too many areas of ministry, I was beyond weary. It was a lot. By the end of 2011, we had moved into The Lewis House, and had dropped a lot of the extra ministries at church. I also gave myself time to heal during this time from what I had been through emotionally over the previous two years.


4. Drained from doing things you aren’t really called to do


I am finding it is very important to make sure you are being called to a ministry before just stepping into it. I am currently in this position. I have become very weary of where I have been placed, because I neglected to ask God if this particular ministry opportunity is for me. I wanted to be back in ministry, reaching out, to be back doing what I was doing before, or at least getting started there. I jumped back into being a “yes” person, and I really need to stop saying yes before taking time to pray about it. You know, sometimes I find that my prayer is, “Lord, if I am supposed to do this, please open the door.” Sigh, I am finding that sometimes that door opens, but I still am not supposed to walk through it. So here I am learning this lesson again. This goes with everything in life, not just ministry. I believe our society is becoming increasingly busy with life; school, work, church, kid, and family obligations. When does it end? Take a look at your calendar. Does it overwhelm you? What can you cut out? As we have been decluttering our houses, I think it is also time to start decluttering our lives. I am thankful for George and Sarah Williams, the directors of The Lewis House, (when it was still going). They made us commit to having one day off from ministry to spend with our family, and to having one date night every other week. They went so far as to giving us date night cards so that we could do that. Let’s not just be constant “yes” people. What time are we stealing from our families? Are we not protecting them by allowing them to fill up their calendars too? Do some soul searching with God.


5. Drained from fighting God’s plans


This is my recent lesson.
When The Lewis House closed April 2014, my heart was broken. I was just starting to feel better and I was ready to get back to it. I missed interacting with our neighborhood, ministering with kids at the after school program we ran, dancing with the girls that would come two days a week, and randomly inviting our neighbors to dinner. I was ready, or, at least I felt I was ready. When Sam and I prayed for months for direction and God having had lain on our hearts that we were supposed to move again, I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to close this chapter of my heartbeat. It still brings me to tears when thinking about it.


I felt guilty for being so sad. God moved us to a beautiful home that was small, but much easier to take care of, and yet my heart felt weary. I was longing for the past and becoming angry about my present. But, I realized God needs me exactly where I am right now. I’m not out of ministry, it just looks different. I thought I was becoming weary because I wasn’t doing what I wanted to, but really I was becoming weary because I was not accepting what God had called me to do.


Oh, it is a learning curve for me! I struggle with saying no to the things that I want to do. But, I am finding that as I let go of my insecurity and find my security at His feet, I am no longer weary. My weariness vanishes when: I don’t jump into anything because I need man’s approval, but thrive on what God is saying to my heart; when I keep my calendar as empty as possible and focus on what is truly important; and when I really pray about what I am supposed to be involved in, instead of just jumping into things because they sound good. I don’t grow tired. I am able to serve my family, which is my very first place of ministry. And, most importantly, when you pour yourself into God’s word, dwell in His presence, and focus on His truths you are continuously being renewed!

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures

What a lovely picture in words.  We can all envision ourselves laying out in luxurious grass, running our hands through it and wiggling our toes.  I certainly do not want to ruin your revery but lets get back to the imagery of David’s psalm as a whole.  It is easy to do when we go back to the Hebrew.  Deshe’ Naveh, is translated “green pastures”.  The imagery is a little more direct and specific.  Deshe’ is not the color green but specifically refers to fresh grass, as opposed to withered, dry grass.  It is the kind of grass that a shepherd would recognize as healthy and nutritious for his sheep.  Naveh is a specific reference to a dwelling place for both sheep and shepherd.  Nathan the prophet tells David that it was God who took him from the sheep and the “Naveh” to make him king.  Scripture repeatedly uses this word for The Lord’s “habitation” or “dwelling place”.  Deshe’ Naveh is not about a fuzzy, feel good place, it is about a place that promotes real health and wellness for us in the presence of our great shepherd, in the presence of our God.  Like sheep we are all too ready to eat whatever toxic plants look good at the moment (yes sheep will poison themselves if left in an environment with plants toxic to them).  It is only when we follow our shepherd that we will find the Deshe’ Naveh that we so desperately need.

So by now you are probably asking, what does this have to do with the Nineteen Days?  It is easy to see and feel the Deshe’ Naveh in the sunny calm of the nineteen days.  Too often we spend the Nineteen Days wiggling our toes in the grass instead of taking in the nutrition and wellness that is the provision of the Good Shepherd.  Then when the fuzzy comfort of the sunshine is suddenly replaced by bitterness of the storm we think that the Deshe’ Naveh is gone and we run.  Like silly sheep we run from the very place of health and wellness that God has made our habitation over some wind, thunder, lightning and rain.  We are tempted to eat the toxic greenery, just because there it feels like the sun is shining.  We break our legs in the rocky crags as we run to what appears to be shelter.  Will the good shepherd track us down and beckon us back to the Deshe’ Naveh, even carry us while we heal?  Amen and Amen YES!  But he also honors our free will and if we do not surrender to the arms of the shepherd the results can be devastating to all.

I pray true health and wellness for you all.  May you always choose to rest with Your Shepherd in the Deshe’ Naveh

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

This premise is a must.  It is not a theory, a cute saying or even a prayerful wish.  It is only when you function within this Spiritual Truth without regard to apparent circumstances that you can look back at the Nineteen days without fear.  This passage would of course be out of step if it was talking about a fulfillment of all my personal desires.  The translation of the Hebrew word chacer here as “want” is unfortunate in a modern translation.  This word is really about lacking basic needs (not even cultural and certainly not the “me” generational concept of needs).  It could even be translated “become empty”.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they lacked (chacer) ten righteous men.  The reality is that the shepherd does not serve the “wants”/desires of His flock.  He serves the needs of his flock as he guides them in His wisdom and for His purposes.  It is when we release our own will to the Shepherd that we rest in the assurance that we will never “become empty”.

 

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