Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
My first official mission post was the spring of 2000 in Tulia, Texas. First Baptist Church Tulia saw a need to reach out to their community, particularly the children, who had been left behind in the wake of a controversial city wide drug bust.
I was not the first choice for this job. I started Citychurch Tulia with the young man whom I was engaged to in college. His heart was not in the work. For that and many other reasons I ended the engagement. The first matter of business we discussed at the end of our relationship was what to do about this new work. This ministry was only a few months old. In our last phone conversation he made it clear he was "done" with Tulia.
The decision for me to take the lead happened at Pizza Hut the next week. I wish we'd had a secretary take official minutes of this meeting. They would be an amusing historical record. Present were Don Lane Sr. (my dad), and Charles Davenport the pastor at FBC Tulia. I sat across from these important men in my life, my face still swollen from crying all week, broken hearted, and confused by all that had happened. Dad and Charles saw something different. They were excited about putting me in a place of leadership. The move was seconded and made official before I could finish my salad or tell them whether or not I wanted the job.
It was now my responsibility to plan and coordinate with volunteers from the church and to minister to the children. Now, if you are picturing little cherubs who sit and listen intently to Bible stories while they draw a picture of you and them walking through the park, let me just say, it wasn't like that.
The kids we ministered to in Tulia were a tough crowd. They didn't like me because I was white. They were angry because they felt like victims, and they saw everyone of us as "those people". Still, week after week we prepared a meal and served them demonstrating the love of Christ from our hearts for them.
People like to talk about things in life that "make or break you". I think Tulia started the process of making me. It was a rough two years and I'm sure I never lived up to anyone else's expectations about what I was supposed to do. What I did discover in Tulia was my "grain". On one hand I felt like my life was falling a part, on the other hand there was part of my life being supernaturally protected and nurtured. What was being preserved in me was the part that concerns Jesus, the seed of the Gospel.
The last couple of weeks for the Clement family have been exciting. We’ve had our weekly brushes with law enforcement, worked around financial issues and had our eyes open daily to why we are here. We have really encouraging and discouraging moments.
It just so happened that the lesson I’ve been preparing to teach last week was on the life of Job. We are following a timeline in the Old Testament otherwise I would have sidestepped this story. It’s difficult enough to answer my own “why questions” when reading Job, even more difficult to answer the questions of children.
One of the studies I listened to stated how some believe the conversation Satan had with God about Job was unique to the Old Testament. He pointed out the instance where Jesus exposed Satan’s plan to Simon Peter in Luke 22:31. I looked the passage up for myself and the heart of Jesus for Peter, his disciple, comforted me.
31 “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 “Lord,” he told Him, “I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!”
34 “I tell you, Peter,” He said, “the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!”
First of all, I can relate to Peter’s blind passion. Jesus calls out his name twice, “Simon! Simon!” in the same way we would yell someone’s name to get their attention to warn them of danger. Peter is oblivious to the importance of Jesus’ message. At this moment in time there is no context of betrayal for Peter to file this warning away. Peter was so passionate about serving and following Jesus he could never imagine the day where he might fail completely in this pursuit.
The problem is, no matter how zealous we are, we can all be blindsided by our human weakness. The miracle happens when Jesus uses us anyway. I love the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:7 that says “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” We are broken vessels and when we are filled with the Spirit of God he shines through our brokenness and Jesus is glorified.
Here Jesus sees Peter’s denial and He is warning Peter, “Listen, Satan has asked me for you, to sift you . . .” This sifting is what they would do after the harvest to wheat. They would take the wheat and throw it up into the wind. As the wind would blow by the chaff would blow away. At the end of this sifting all that would be left was the part the farmer cared about. The grain. The grain of wheat is most useful part of plant, because it provided nourishment and could be used to produce more grain.
If Jesus wasn’t able to look past all of Peter’s “chaff” to the grain He wouldn’ have been giving instruction here. You don’t see an instance of Jesus giving Judas the same kind of warning. He knew Satan had consumed Judas. No part of Judas’ life was ever truly devoted to following Jesus; As a consequence his entire life was destroyed.
What encouraged me the most was when Jesus told Peter, “but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail . . .” I wonder how many times Jesus has interceded for me at the throne of God. I know He has. There is no other explanation for my existence. There have been countless times, despite the horrible darkness of depression and fear, I’ve awoken to a new day. It’s not because of my own strength. I can hear a voice in my spirit say, “It’s too soon to give up. Keep walking with me and I’ll get you through this to where I want you to be.”
Just as it was for Peter, it has never been enough for me to just survive this life. The final word Jesus gave to Peter was some solid instruction in verse 32 “and you, when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus was saying, “Peter, you’re going to fall on your face. Don’t give up! I’m going to redeem you then I want you to go and preach the good news of this salvation you’ve experienced. Tell the whole hopeless story. Tell them how you came to know forgiveness and restoration. This hope, this redemption - this is “the grain.”
John 12:24-25 says “I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
As a follower of Christ I’m still growing to see the importance of building a life around the things that matter to Him. That way when we fall, when we fail, when we feel like we’re losing everything we know that after the storm what will be left will be useful for eternal purposes when placed in the hands of our creator. If we keep the faith.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Step 1.) Wait until thirty minutes before your little sister's birthday party. This way your mom and dad will be busy and distracted from what you're doing.
Step 2.) Find your most powerful Nerf gun and about three bullets. Be sure to use the bullets with the hard plastic tips.
Step 3.) Since you know you'll get in trouble shooting your brother in the mouth with a nerf gun, be sure and get your brother's permission this way you're in on it together. Don't bother asking your parents for permission. Afterall, they're busy with the party and they won't mind the mouth shooting since it's serving a utilitarian purpose. But if you get caught make sure both of you are smiling it will make it look like you're working together. Parents like it when their kids are getting along.
Step 4.) If the Nerf gun doesn't complete the extraction you will need to find some string. This may create a problem because it's now 15 minutes until your sisters birthday. If your mom cleaned your room over the weekend and threw away your kite string, you'll need parental assistance.
Step 5.) If your mom says she doesn't have any string, don't let that slow you down. Go to the junk drawer and just start digging. You'll have to really dig and drag things out to make sure there isn't any string. If your mom complains that your making a mess while she's trying to clean for the party just keep sharing the big picture. Talk about how badly Sean wants this tooth pulled, how great it will be to have the tooth fairy come for a visit along the birthday festivities and Easter bunny!
Step 6.) You might be met with resistance with the string on the door knob method. Now it's time to find Dad's tools. You'll need a pair of pliers. Go to the closet where dad keeps his tools and just dump them out in the entry way. Again, mom won't mind. She seemed excited about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter bunny coming. After all she said, "Yeah, that would be JUST GREAT!"
Step 7.) You're running out of time now. It's time to leave for your sister's party. So just go in the bathroom and have your oldest brother yank that tooth out! You might get blood all over the place but mom will clean that up. The important thing to remember is to work as a team and don't let anything get in your way! Good luck! Let us know how this works out for you!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
1.) The Gift of Correction
Ofcourse, God understands my needs! I know He cares for me when I'm hurting, but I'm so glad He takes the time to shape my heart to be more like His.
2.) A Glimpse of His Heart
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Thank you Jesus!
Friday, February 10, 2012
Yesterday I got to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Chad and I were invited to share about what God is doing at Truth Baptist Church with the Village Baptist WMU group. Since we landed here in Oklahoma City I’ve wanted to get over there to thank them for helping our family during a critical time in our lives.
In 1995, When my mom and dad found out it would be necessary for them to move to Oklahoma City and be closer to the transplant center at Baptist hospital, a huge draw back was not having a place to stay in the city. Most people from out of town bring a motor home or stay in local motels. About one week at the Days Inn was all Mom and Dad could afford.
Mom, who has always been resourceful, decided to call and see if any churches in town still had houses open for missionaries to stay while on furlough. Without knowing any more about us than that we were a pastor’s family and had a need, Village Baptist allowed us to use their mission home indefinitely.
When Chad and I arrived at Village yesterday morning we were greeted by a retired missionary named Helen. As the rest of the group gathered and introduced themselves, I realized that almost everyone in this group had served on the mission field in some way. I felt at home sharing our stories. They, more than anyone else, understand the sacrifice and importance of planting a church in an apartment community with over 15,000 residents who are largely un-churched.
The problem we all have, and I believe it is our human nature, is that we want a clearly defined group who we are obligated to love and serve. In Luke chapter 10:25 a Pharisee came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded in verse 26 by asking this expert of the law, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 27 “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”
29 “But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
What the Pharisee wanted was to make sure that he was following the letter of the law. It even says he was asking for clarification in order to “justify himself”.
Jesus answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers who beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down that road but when he saw him he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan on his journey came to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and told the inn keeper , ‘take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for any extra you spend.” Luke 10:30-35Yesterday, as I shared the story of how their church had helped my family not a single person in the room could remember us staying in their home. They weren’t sure whom the members of their congregation were who brought the huge holiday baskets and made sure the house was furnished with clean towels and linens. At the time, we didn’t necessarily fit into any of their programs and had nothing to offer in return; still they had compassion. However, this gift, which was insignificant to the life of their church, had a huge impact on me and on my family.
“The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ “
When I consider those who have blessed our family in times of need and whose friendship helped heal our hearts, when I think of the sacrifice of Jesus, it moves me to do for others what I can and minister to others His name. We must learn to obey the principle of this parable, which is to be less concerned with defining who our neighbors are and more concerned with whether or not the world around us considers us theirs.
Monday, January 30, 2012
This time last year I was sitting in the parking lot of P.F. Chang’s about to go in for another job interview. Having lost a bunch of weight none of my clothes fit, so Chad’s mom who is about six inches shorter than me loaned me some pants.
Something about feeling the cold air on my ankles has always blown a hole in my confidence; still I walked in with my head up, sat down for the interview and tried to convince the twenty-year-old that I was capable of serving food to people in a cheerful and timely manner.
They didn’t give me the job. The last thing I wanted to do was drive back to Jones having failed in yet another job interview. It was so frustrating! I went back to the car and just sat there and cried. I needed to feel God’s presence but could not see Him, could not hear His voice and we so desperately needed His direction.
My senior year of high school my mom and dad moved to Oklahoma City. Dad had been put on the waiting list for a liver at Baptist Hospital and they needed to be closer since they could receive a call at anytime.
My two older brothers and I took part time jobs and were going to school. We would pool our meager income to take care of the household needs, but nobody had money in their pockets. Every weekend we’d drive from Amarillo to Oklahoma City to spend time with mom and dad.
One night I was working a double shift at the fabric store. It was during the holidays and it felt like everybody was buying beautiful things to decorate their homes and celebrate. I had almost forgotten what time of year it was, because we were so focused on what Dad was going through.
It came time for my dinner break. Without a car to leave the store and without any money I just sat in the break room. I was hungry and thirsty and wanted my momma. There was nothing to be done about any of my “wants” so I just put my head down on the table and started to cry.
About that time I heard a “clunk” in the coke machine behind me. I turned around and a cold Diet Dr. Pepper had fallen out. Just happened to be my favorite!
Of all the times God has made His presence known to me this is the one I recall the most often. I felt like the most insignificant person on earth, still He provided and comforted me in the middle of my pain.
This was my “Jacob moment”. God made His presence known to my soul and like Jacob I realized “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” Genesis 28:16
As I sat in the parking lot last January, after failing in the interview, I recalled this moment when as a young woman and all the other times in my life that I became aware of the presence of my Heavenly Father. Even through this difficult time He was at work. Not long after this day we moved into our apartment and started Truth Baptist. Having been guided by God’s hand through a series of disappointments, trials and victories we are making progress today.
Recently I ran across the sermons of G. Campbell Morgan, a British Evangelist and Bible Scholar in the early 1900’s, who wrote
“To be conscious of God is immediately to have a new interpretation of life, to discover that the earth itself is more than dust, that all flowers are more than the operation of blind force; to believe with Jesus that God clothes the grass, and robes the lily as Solomon was never arrayed, that He is with the birds, and remains their comrade in their dying. All creation utters forth this great evangel when a man is conscious of God. "This is the age-abiding life, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ."
What a beautiful awareness! I pray to never lose sight of the presence of God and His plan to transform the lives of those around us. Relying on this promise “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b