There are 2 strange letters
on your word I see
Their placement on the front
Doesn’t make sense to me
I am pretty good at reading
But these 2 don’t fit
They don’t describe what I see
It’s the meaning I don’t get
The first letter I have seen
In books and other things
The second is also familiar
But confusion is what it brings
The word is badly changed
And it doesn’t reflect the truth
It doesn’t show how I see you
Whether aged or in your youth
These 2 strange letters
Throw everything off track
They mess up your description
And set the meaning back
Without these intruders
The definition wonderfully fits
They initially seem harmless
But shatter hearts to bits
The letters are “I” and “M”
But I remind you they don’t work
The accuser uses them untruthfully
To diminish the Master’s work
The word in question is “perfect”
And in its purest form
Is how I look at you daily
Through sunshine, snow, or storm
Don’t let the enemy convince you
That you are not good enough
And that God can’t possibly love you
With all of your broken stuff
While you may be human
And lacking in many things
You are perfect; you are loved
You are a child of the King
One of my fondest memories of college occured in late fall/ early winter of my sophomore year. This was my second year in our school’s traveling men’s choir, and we happened to be in the midst of a tour in Northern Indiana. This choir (Testament Men’s Choir) was one that traveled around the midwest singing in churches for ther worship services. We were used to singing in large venues and very small ones. No matter what the size, every one of us truly loved what we were doing, and felt God had called us to use the voices He gave us for the glory of the kingdom. Despite our love for what we were doing, sometimes it became a monotonous task to sing the same songs and go through the same routine. This tour turned out to be different…
In Northern Indiana, when we were inbetween performances, we decided to take an excursion to the local mall. Christmas marketing was in full swing and every square inch of the mall reflected this fact. Our song set for choir also reflected the season with the necessary songs to celebrate the birth of Christ. We had the songs memorized almost to boredom, and because of the frequency of how often we sang these tunes, many of us hummed them without even knowing it.
As we formed into clumps of people and scattered throughout the mall to do some shopping, God began to stir something in the hearts of most of the guys. As a few of us were walking around in one of the clothing stores we began to hum one of our tunes called, “In the First Light”. This musical infection started with a couple of the men who were really singing it to give into the fact that is was burrowing in their brain. Then, as the other members heard, they began to join in using their assigned harmonies.
We were not really paying attention to the people around us at first, and after a few lines, we looked up and the staff of this particular clothing store had stopped what they were doing to listen. Tears were coming down the cashier’s face and this started a conversation about what we were doing in town. The patrons and workers were excited that we were singers and wanted to hear more… This gave us an idea.
The small group split up to collect as many of the guys throughout the mall as possible. Our idea was to gather the full group and meet in front of this store to give the workers an impromptu show, and make them smile at the very least. Oddly enough, right outside this store was a piano that the mall often used to randomly entertain patrons with carols and such. We decided to highjack it for our purpose. We also were able to collect nearly every member of the choir for this show.
We began to sing. We had never been so into what we were singing and the harmony poured out like never before…As we sang, people from all over the mall gathered to listen. People were crying, many had their eyes closed in reflection, and some even had out their cell phones recording the event. We never thought anyone would notice, but it moved people unexpectedly. People were drawn to the event. We had a blast!
Here is the point…I think, as the Church, we get the wrong idea about how God moves. We think that we have to set the perfect mood, and make a pursuasive case for belief. What we often forget is that there is something terribly attractive about the concept of God’s people worshiping Him with passion. God will draw people to Him when His people praise. This is how renewal happens. A spark…then a fire.
Trust God today.
Consider these facts:
- Over 27-32 million Americans have significant hearing loss
- About one in four families have at least one member who is deaf or hard-of-hearing
- The number of severely to profoundly deaf people in the US is estimated at 1 million
- Only 2% to 4% of deaf people claim to know Christ as Savior
When I first read these statistics, I honestly skimmed over them as if they were another pile of information to wade through on the internet. It is so hard not to. There is so much information out there that would have startled a person years ago, and we have become so jaded as a culture when it comes to new information of this kind. The stats above came from their website.
Last week, I had the awesome privilege of working, for 5 days, for a ministry called “Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries“. The purpose of my time there was to help the organization develop a fundraising strategy for a campaign they have coming up in the near future. So, my time that week largely consisted of getting to know the ins and outs of the mission, vision, and values of this ministry. Silent Blessings is an organization that desires to bring people, both deaf and hearing, into a profound encounter with the reconciling love of God through Jesus Christ. I would say that is a worthy goal. They also produce a TV show for deaf (and hearing) children that is broadcasted all over the world. It is called Dr. Wonder’s Workshop. All of the actors are deaf and the voice-overs cater to the hearing population.
I know very little sign language and I only personally know a couple deaf people. For a while, for some reason, I have felt like our church has had some sort of call by God to reach out specifically to this people group. I am still not sure how that is going to look structurally, but we have already started dabbling in sign language as a church to prepare for what God has for us.
My week there was exciting, and I felt like I was at home with my temporary co-workers. I felt like we had the same mission in ministry even though I did not have much connection with the deaf commnunity I know God was nudging me. God broke my heart that week, more deeply, for the deaf community. In many surveys, this people group is called the largest unreached people group in America. To hear stories of how the deaf are marginalized, abused, and ignored entirely made me leave my temporary office shaking my head and desiring more of a connection. One stat that really shook me to the core involved the fathers of deaf children. Less than one percent of fathers who have deaf children are engaged with their child to help them grow spiritually, emotionally, or mentally. Not good.
So, as I reflect on last week, I have fond memories, and I look forward to my continued connection with this organization. My heart is filled…but it is also broken. Jesus loves everyone…even those who can’t hear.
Take a look at the video above and catch the passion for why this ministry began. Go to their website and donate!
“Red rover, red rover send Stacy right over!” You remember that game don’t you? Two lines of children would face one another and when your name is called, your job is to run at full speed and attempt to break through the human chain that opposed you. Some would timidly trot only to be captured…others would use this opportunity to take out some aggression. These are the types of things we did at recess as children.
Recess was an incredible time. Next to lunch, it was my personal favorite period of time during school. If we grew up with this as a common occurrence we can close our eyes and remember times when we made terrible decisions, and also lifelong friendships in the midst of a kickball game or on the “time out wall” when we pushed Emily Stevens down the curly slide and she had to be a stinkin’ little tattle tail and rat us out…umm…hypothetically.
As I was reflecting on my experiences during this unstructured time of play, I realized that there were lessons I learned from the playground that can translate into my spiritual life. It may be a stretch, but sometimes it is fun to see how things like this can link our thoughts to wisdom.
There are 5 lessons I think we can take from recess
1. Tetherball is important– The game of tetherball can be a lesson in the way we handle our pain. The point of tetherball is to hit the ball and draw it closer to the center pole. Your opponent’s purpose is to drive the ball farther away from the pole in the opposite direction and oppose your progress. Each day we are tested in the same way. Life abuses us, sends us through trials, and we walk through suffering unwillingly. If we are not careful, we can walk through these struggles and, if not looked at redemptively, they can oppose our growth and draw us further from the center focus…God. God does not want any pain to be wasted. We can use these instances to draw closer to Him.
2. Bullys are everywhere– Whether it be in the work place, in the grocery store, or the bank we know that bullys still exist. We encounter people on a regular basis who seem to desire the worst for us and our well being. Our first impulse may be to put them in their place or get angry, but often we do not see below the surface. Many times the people who are this way are dealing with such deep pain. Pray for them…they need an encounter with God. They are not your enemy.
3. People will chase you– I noticed that, when people chased you at recess, that meant they really like you. Personally, I was a fan of being chased by girls even though I didn’t admit it. Obviously our main goal in life is not to be liked by all, but we must ask ourselves what type of influence we are to others. What kind of life are you living that deserves to be influential? Hopefully it is one that is chasing after Christ.
4. The point is to get sweaty– As kids we knew what recess was really about. Teachers wanted to get us sweaty so we would “get the wiggles out” for the rest of the school day. It was smart because we were more productive in the second half. Many of us limit our Christian experience to reading, and silent reflection. These are absolutely essential, but there is also more to it. When we get closer to God we realize that there must be a point in which we bring action and service to our faith. “Getting sweaty” is the point of a life that draws us closer to Him. We are being formed in His image to be a light to the dark world.
5. Red rover, red rover– Remember this game? I think we can learn something from it. God wants us to live our lives with purpose and focus. With His resourcing we can break through to freedom. The enemy will try to prevent us from growing and being a part of God’s mission, but He has plans for us. Plans that can give us hope and a future…we just need to close our eyes, put our heads down, and run towards Him.
This is just what I have reflected on…it is no comprehesive exposition of scripture, nor is it meant to be used in a university setting. All I know is that God wants us to learn things through every experience we encounter.
Know you are loved. Know you have a purpose.
You may not know this, but if you go to a church, or are “shopping around” for one that fits you there are some things that you may not know about what the pastor is actually thinking. Pastors put on a great front and try to paint on a fake smile, but deep down inside we are cringing at what you just said to us. Don’t get me wrong, we know your heart and know you have the best intentions behind what you are saying to us, but quite frankly, sometimes we also have a bad day and want to throw a tantrum. We are not allowed to though, because we are pastors, and our angel wings are at the cleaners getting polished for the potluck next week. If I am to be brutally honest, some phrases we hear from our parishioners sound like a broken record. I may be out of bounds, and presumptuous by thinking I can speak for all pastors, but I know I can safely speak for many.
Here are 6 things we are tired of hearing…
1. Pastor, it’s not about the numbers… – You know what?!? It is about the numbers. It is all about the numbers. Think about this…as a pastor, a man or woman dedicates their whole life to service for one purpose; spreading the Gospel among as many people as possible. We have sacrificed time, energy, money, and friends to boldly go into whatever mission field God has called us to go and impact as many as we can. So, when people take this lightly, it really stings. As pastors, we get tired of hearing this, because many honestly don’t even think about church until Saturday evening. Do us a favor, and help us spread the message God has called us to…
2. Children are the church of tomorrow- False. Just because they are not good tithers, doesn’t mean they can’t impact the kingdom like anyone else. Children are the church of right now, and should be incorporated into every part of the church body that their abilities can handle.
3. A few people have said…– No…they didn’t. You and Mrs. Jones don’t count when presenting me with that phrase. You are lovely contributors to the kingdom, but Mrs. Jones complains about everything, and if anyone else really said anything about this I will give you $1000. Send around a petition and we will talk. Love you by the way…
4. The church down the road…– Let me stop you right there… First, there is only one Church, and just because that congregation is growing rapidly doesn’t mean they are sinning or “watering down the word”. It could actually be that they are experiencing a revival that God has brought. Second, they are our brothers and sisters. It is our job to help them grow…WHAT?!?! Yes…you hear me right. We are not their competition. We are their support and extended family. Now, put on your big boy pants and pray for them. Love you by the way…
5. Remember when...- It is sometimes a lot of fun to reminisce about things from the past. We only get tired of hearing this when it stands in the way of reaching more people. Remember, what brought us here will not necessarily get us there…I can admit, though, that it is easy to sometimes “throw the baby out with the bath water” and overlook the fact that there are some things we used to do that may work now.
6. I’m only human– Ok…excellent. Now you can sin all you want. Whew… NOPE. The fact is, you are not only human. If you know Christ, and desire to grow in Him, within you dwells a divine substance. The Christian life takes work, and thank God for the grace of correction.
Brothers and sisters…please understand my heart in these writings. It is not an attempt to shame anyone, but a light-hearted look on things that I think we really need to ponder. Let us be thoughtful in the words we speak and Biblical in the thoughts we think. Love you by the way…
What does God see when He looks down at me?
Does He view my attempts at prosperity?
Does He notice when I try to set myself free?
or insult Him with my “praise”.
When I enter His house with a scowl on my face…
When I hope others will be put in their place…
When I simply reject His unfailing grace…
and it all results in malaise.
Does He see the condition of my hurting heart?
Does He desire, for me, a brand new start?
Do I have a purpose; do I have a part?
is living this life something that pays?
While I do not pretend to know His thoughts
It is easy to connect the dots
my stomach tends to turn in in knots
when attempting to navigate this maze
He loves us; it is easy to see
He showed us through a death on a tree
Christ’s life can set us free
and save us from this phase
So give your life to the one who cares
ignore the scowls, the words, the stares
leave a legacy for your heirs
and surrender the rest of your days.