Archive - September, 2009

A return to childhood…

Five posters, at least a dozen figurines, stickers, magazines, videos, television specials… you name it, I had it. We all have our childhood heroes. Some people have princesses or superheroes. I had Sting – a face-painted, hardcore professional WCW wrestler. Clad in a black trench coat, he often dropped down from the ceiling, armed with a baseball bat. He was sometimes silent, sometimes extremely vocal, and always had a penetrating glare. I loved him. I always felt safer at night with his picture on my wall, and if you go into my room in PA, his poster still proudly hangs above my bed.

Heartbroken when he left the ring, a pre-teen version of me hoped that a newly acquired birthday gift would shed some light on his retirement. As I pressed play on the VCR, I anxiously listened to his biography, waiting to hear why he abandoned me and his millions of fans. Finally the line came, to paraphrase, “In 1998, I found Jesus and had to take a sabbatical…”

My jaw dropped. Sting is a Christian?!? Not only a Christian, but a self proclaimed “born again” Christian- the kind my momma warned me about. I ran into the next room “Mummy, you will never believe this… Sting quit because he says he was born again and that he needs to talk with Jesus about his career”. “Great Kera, your buddy has become another one of those Jesus freaks… that’s disappointing.” I didn’t know what to think… but I knew that I was done watching wrestling because it wasn’t the same without him.

It amuses me now. My hero left wrestling to preach. True story. He made a return to the arena a few years ago under the same character, but I was never interested enough to follow his comeback. His biography still says that he is a born-again Christian, of the pentecostal persuasion… his home church is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

Under the heading of Luke 15:24 “He was lost & is found again”, his biography on his website reads: “Now Sting is a born-again Christian with a passion for others to know Christ as their personal savior. Steve “Sting” Borden often speaks at churches, conferences, and appears on TBN [wrestling circuit] to share his testimony to the world. Sting is often heard quoting 2 Corinthians 7:10, ” For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

For some odd reason, as I was sharing my testimony over coffee with a new friend this morning, my mind flash backed to praying in my room and the Sting portrait on my wall. So I Googled his name, and discovered that he wrote a memoir detailing his journey with God, and I definitely just ordered it. Look forward to a book review when I find out how Jesus changed the heart of my childhood hero.

Random comments from the peanut gallery

  • I learned more over a bowl of pancake batter last night than I have in months.
  • Right now, my life needs a mentor and a muzzle.
  • i think that sleep is awesome and dreams are amazing. Such an opinion shift in my life.
  • So, when did I become a huggy person? I have recently realized that a hug totally brightens my day.
  • Praying with people is one of my favorite things to do. Consider this, two years ago I was afraid to pray in someone else’s presence.
  • Why is marriage the hot topic of conversation lately? And, why am I okay spending hours talking about it?
  • I’m strongly considering buying a car over winter break. I feel like i’m living in a different city than I was in this summer because of the lack of transportation.
  • Living alone reminds me of my senior year of high school. It’s honestly been both the biggest struggle of this semester and a huge blessing.
  • When I say I’m going to live in my car, I’m only partly kidding. I would love to live that simply. If it was feasible, I totally would.
  • My favorite thing about my commute is that I’m generally the only white person on the overly packed bus. I miss the inter city, and part of me longs to flee the country.
  • My main motivation for writing this is to see if the iPhone blogging app I just downloaded works.

second thoughts…

This is a fun little anecdote from my textbook that I thought I would share because it made me think about how I would respond in this situation.

A story is told of an old professor who believed in the virgin birth of Christ some other liberal professors ridiculed him because of this belief. One of them said, “Suppose a young woman entered the hospital near here today. If she had a baby boy and claimed that she was a virgin, would you believe her?” The old professor stroked his beard and was silent for a moment. Then he answered, “No, I probably wouldn’t, however, if that baby boy grew up and he could open the eyes of the blind, enable cripples to walk, heal lepers, raise the dead, call a little group of followers and radically change their lives, be raised from the dead, change the course of the history of the world, be called Savior by a third of the earth’s population after 2,000 years, and live in the hearts of people, then I think I would listen to that woman’s story a second time!”

“How God builds a leader”

We have been studying the calling of the twelve disciples in small group, and tonight we are examining Peter. I love Peter because I relate to him more than any other character in the Bible. He was a natural born leader, eager to participate, quick to assert his opinion, and determined to get the job done. His strong personality was both a virtue and a vice- as it often got him into trouble. Peter was so driven that his desire to do the right thing often lead to him doing the exact opposite of what God would have wanted Him to do. He rebuked Jesus when he should have supported Him, he spoke at the Transfiguration when he should have remained silent, he attacked the solider in the garden when he should have embraced peace. Peter was lacking humility, submission,and restraint. Through teaching, correction, experience, and rebuke Jesus molded Peter into the solid rock he was destined to be. Peter was born to be a leader, but he had to be transformed by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit before he could fulfill his role as a leader in the Church.

While I also have a bit of Jonah embedded in my history of leadership development, I am inspired by Peter because I see many parallels between his transformative process and my own. Like Peter, I am a natural born leader- quick to initiate, to be involved, to volunteer, to question, to answer, to speak… driven, determined, eager… and still in need of some serious transformation.

I love John MacArthur’s analysis of Peter’s transformation in his book Twelve Ordinary Men. (Which is definitely worth reading, we are using it as a reference as we plan small group and its an excellent book.)

“Peter was formed and equipped by God’s sovereign design to be the leader. Moreover, Christ Himself shaped and trained Peter to be the leader. Therefore, when we look at Peter, we see how God builds a leader.

Peter’s name is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name except Jesus. No one speaks as often as Peter, and no one is spoken to by the Lord as often as Peter. No disciple is frequently rebuked by the Lord as Peter; and no disciple ever rebukes the Lord except Peter. No one else confessed Christ more boldy or acknowledged His lordship more explicitly; yet no other disciple ever verbally denied Christ as forcefully or publicly as Peter did. No one is praised and blessed by Christ the way Peter was; yet Peter was the only one Christ ever addressed as Satan. The Lord had harsher things to say to Peter than He ever said to any of the others.

All of that contributed to making him the leader Christ wanted him to be. God took a common man with an ambivalent, vacillating, impulsive, unsubmissive personality and shaped him into a rocklike leader- the greatest preacher among the apostles and in every sense the dominant figure in the first twelve chapters of Acts, where the church was born.” (38-39).
I don’t know about you, but I find this truth to be extremely encouraging. Peter was messed up and he messed up continually. Jesus loved him enough to discipline him, to mold him, to shape him into the rock. I fully believe that Christ desires to transform each one of us to fit the roles we are destined to fulfill just as He transformed Peter from a loud-mouthed fisherman into the leader of His Church. While none of us may be called to apostleship, we are called to specific places in God’s Kingdom where our skills, character traits, and experiences can be most effective. Christ is intentional. The way God designed us is inline with our destiny, our life experiences are part of the transformation process, and our character develops as we learn and grow along the way.

I am messed up and I mess up continually, yet I know that Christ is transforming me so that I can fulfill His plan for my life…. and that is just too awesome for words.

Dreamer’s Disease

It is becoming increasingly difficult to wake up in the morning. My dreams are just too interesting to part with lately. Last night’s dream was particularly unusual, amusing, and thought provoking.

In my dream, I was enrolled in a nude dance class. I had no qualms about the lack of required dress or any concerns about my lack of rhythm or grace. Week after week, I attended this class consistently for upwards of a year, and I absolutely loved it. Until, one day, I walked into the the studio and was horrified to see a group of my friend signing up for the class. I immediately turned around and fled to the door. It was too late. I had already been seen. One of the other participants in the class called my name to ask why I was leaving and the group acknowledged my presence. Horrified, I was stuck… lost for words… and dumbfounded.

Then I woke up, grateful that the nudity was just an awareness, not a visual. Right now I know you are thinking “What? Why is she sharing this?”, but bare with me for a second (no pun intended). I’m sharing this because I believe that God speaks to me through dreams, and this particular dream has a lesson behind it.

Let’s address the obvious curiosity first… nudity? Well, God has a sense of humor, and nudity is actually a great representation of humility. Before Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they were nude before God. They walked around as they were with nothing to hide behind. When you are naked, you are just you. Your insecurities, your fears, your abandoned facades, your appearance stripped of all your material possessions are all laid out there for anyone to see… There is a sense of shame knowing that you are breaking a social norm, but also a freedom in knowing that you are not living by the world’s standards. Nakedness is intimidating. It suggests intimacy and vulnerability. It is also the place of utmost humility. You cannot fabricate anything or strip anything away… you just are.

Personally, the idea of nakedness scares me. Actually, the idea of showing skin in general scares me … so rest assured that I am not promoting nudity in a literal sense. The idea of being “naked before God” has long been used as a metaphor for humbling oneself before God, and I think this image is an accurate portrayal of true humility.

Second question to address, why on earth would I enroll in a dance class? Here is a secret: one of my favorite things about living alone right now is that I can dance around ( and skip down the hallways) without anyone seeing me make an idiot of myself. It’s a secret love that I would never consider doing in public because it’s rather hysterical. I refuse to dance around anyone I know. However, if I am alone or in a situation where I will never see anyone again, I’m game. It is something that I enjoy, but also makes me extremely uncomfortable and self-conscience. The perceived judgment generates fear of people’s reactions, and I flat out refuse to participate.

So, the dance class symbolizes: something that I value in life because it enriches my spirit, but needs to be refined before it can be incorporated into my public life. It represents something that I simultaneously love and fear. It represents an experience that I am glad to share with strangers, but hesitant to share with friends because I fear that it will damage their opinion of me.

I must confess that this is largely how I approach the idea of ministry. It has been a secret desire for awhile, but something I fear publicly addressing because I am afraid of judgment- mainly messing up. What if I am not really called to do this or I screw up? People I respect will view me differently. What will my friends think of me when they see how crazy I really am? I am fine utilizing my giftings and sharing my thoughts when I know no one in the room. Insert one good friend , and I am hesitant to speak. The idea of doing ministry excites me, but the idea of doing ministry where people know me terrifies me.

My dream reminds me that I need to humbly just be myself in every situation, especially when I am with my friends, family, and community. Members of a community need to be willing to humble themselves before one another. We need to share both humiliations and dreams, concerns and joys, the good and the bad. Until the facades are stripped away and we are willing to share what we are learning with one another, we can never truly say that we are walking through life together.

Learning and growing and celebrating together are a lot easier when everyone is themselves- for better and worse- and there is nothing to hide behind. The shame of our nakedness is something that the devil loves to use to keep us isolated from one another and from God himself. Ever wonder how God would have responded if Adam and Eve would have approached Him to confess what they had done and repented instead of hiding from Him in shame? Even though I know how the story ends, I find myself asking “what if”. Likewise, I wonder how things would have been different if I had initially decided to be myself and bare all in my current Christian community instead of spending two years hiding behind a false enigma.

One of the roadblocks in the Church today is that people are too afraid to get naked.
Humility makes room for God to work.When we collectively humble ourselves, we invite God to use our community to glorify Himself. In his book Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening, Dan Hayes gives us this choice: “We can choose to stay oppressed and impoverished, lower the trajectory of our prayers, acquiesce to life as it is, accept our circumstances, bow to determinism, and embrace an anemic version of Christianity. Or we can humble ourselves, rise up, and cry out. It is choosing the latter course that causes the winds of revival to begin to blow” (45).

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