What if I change my name to Priscilla or Phoebe?

I know the Journey to Oasis (the church plant Derek and I are heading towards) will require me to have the heart of a servant. To show the love of the Father to everyone. To be ready with a gentle hand for those in need. Speak with a patient voice amidst the outcry of children…

<screech> wait a minute…

Have you met me, Lord? Are you kidding me? I can’t even figure out the business end of a glue gun, much less how to be the sweet-spirited church lady that it would seem a church plant will demand.

So, I scramble to find the examples in scripture of fellowship with believers:

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Can I do this? Can I be the helpmeet to organize much of this?

I pray for a Priscilla or Phoebe buried deep within me to emerge as the standard for this journey. In Romans 16, I read where Paul is sending his Personal Greetings to many workers for the body of Christ.

Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert [2] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, [3] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, [4] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers [5] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

There are many examples here of women and men who served the body of Christ and had the moral standard by which we should conduct ourselves today.

But ya’ know…if planting churches is what God wants us to do, then how come a book detailed with job descriptions and key result areas was not included in the Canon?  I mean, seriously, why not?  Donkeys talked, seas were parted, but no instructions for a church plant.  Why not?

I get that these people were great witnesses, servants and in some cases, even strong leaders.  But where is the formula?  Where are the 10 commandments to planting a church?

And then there’s the other church planters around the world, young couples on fire for the Lord, popping out babies and getting their Master’s Degrees simultaneously.  All of them perfectly capable of taking a Q-tip and a pack of matches and building a church that lines up with the Gospel of Christ.

Again Lord…have you met me?  My house is never really clean and I live in a perpetual state of “doing laundry.”

I just want my sisters in Christ to stop hurting.  My heart’s desire is that they look to You as their hope and their future.  I pray for the people who feel only despair on Monday mornings and quiet desperation on Friday evenings.  I want my life to give hope to the lost.  I want to be willing to jump right into the pig pen of their lives and get messy with them.

I know, believe and trust that God did not bring me through the devastation that was my own life, into a wonderful and God-glorifying marriage only so I can passively sit in His presence. Maybe after all this writing and thinking, I have stumbled (quite by accident) upon the truth behind planting a church.

It simply isn’t about me.  It isn’t about me.  Truly…it’s not about me.

It’s about walking through life with God’s chosen people – the messy ones.

And therein lies our Hope that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

The First Detour

My first real posting and already, I’m taking a detour.  While this post probably has little to do with the Journey to Oasis, the heart behind it does. 

My heart aches. My heart aches for those young women out there who are not called to be single and yet have not met the man God is pruning just for them. It’s a long road to be sure, the waiting, the longing, the anticipation that can make you catch your breath each time an introduction is made to someone unattached and available.  I wonder that there must be a constant thought in the backs of these women’s minds of “wow, could this be it” or “should I pursue a friendship in hopes that God has prepared this one just for me.”

My heart aches for those, who in the midst of this pursuit, have given up on God, have directed the blame for their singleness towards God, have forgotten that God is indeed, the One in charge.  Some have become complacent or rather, settled into a life that will soon bring with it bitterness of soul and hardness of heart towards the one true God.  In their minds, their contentment with God rests solely upon the assumed promise of marriage.

Possibilities on one hand.  Contentment with God on the other.  I can hear the still, small voice of God saying, “choose wisely.”  I pray these young women hear it as well.  Their desire to be married is a good one.  Their pursuit of godliness with the hope of marriage and someone to share their lives with is also good.  It is when our sinful and selfish nature demands our “right” to be married or that somehow, marriage will make us whole before God that presents itself as the hurdle to overcome.

To add a note that has been in the back of my mind as I write this…not all single women are young. Not all single women fall into our neatly defined age groups.  Many women have been single for most of their lives.  I think of Dr. Anita J. Cooper (she was single the last time I spoke to her) who directs the Bible Teaching program at Columbia International University.  Dr. Cooper also speaks at women’s retreats and counsels many of her female students with wisdom and guidance on how to glorify God within their personal circumstances and in all of life.

Carolyn McCulley is probably one of the most popular younger woman in ministry serving the single community.  Her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred gives testament to the hope of the Cross above the desire of marriage.  Tough words and tougher love.

I’m not sure how many single women find any hope in the acknowledgment that both of these women give to a life of singleness.  For those that do, I would ask if they are looking to these women for hope or are they looking (and I mean truly looking) to the Cross as the only real hope we have.  The hope that is Jesus Christ.  The hope that is ours in our freedom founded on the Gospel.  The hope that being single is not a curse, it is not a punishment.  It is exactly what it is and nothing more.  It is where your loving Father has you right now, firmly in His grip, never letting go.

The idea of giving encouragement to single women can be daunting.  Many single women view encouragement as patronizing, especially from someone who is married.  Many don’t want to reveal just how heavy their hearts are with this self-induced burden.  Many are just sad and desperately lonely.  There are probably no words, nothing that will convey the hope of the Gospel more than a tender heart and gentle hug.

To all my single sisters….I love you. I pray that your hearts be so over-filled with the love and contentment of Christ, there is room for nothing else. That your lives reflect the goodness of His glory. 

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

another blogger enters the universe!

I have been reading blogs for nearly two years now.  I tried to start a blog early on when I signed on to MySpace, but come on…MySpace?  nah…

So, here I am.  First posting.  Pretty boring actually.  I am in the midst of two (well, technically 3) studies right now that would give me ample fuel for writing, but I should gather my thoughts together first. 

I think I will use this blog for my thoughts on these studies for now and then perhaps move into the realm of soapboxes and shoeshines on down the road.