Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Entitlement: I Have Fallen Back in to the American Mindset

Yep. That's right. I have been back from Haiti for 36 days, and I experienced my first grumbling and thoughts of entitlement.

On Saturday, we handed out fliers for WOW JAM, an event that is happening on Saturday May 3rd at McLane High School at 4 pm. First disappointment...in a church of about 1450 people, 15 people showed up to hand out 2,100 fliers. Therefore, not all of the fliers were handed out in our designated area on Saturday. One section was not even touched and then one section had to be finished.

Dawn Underwood, Scott's executive assistant, volunteered to help me hand out the rest of the fliers on Monday. My thoughts "Perfect, now it won't take as long"

Not so. Yesterday, for those of you that live in Fresno, know that it was in the 90's. We began with the unfinished section. We both had terrible attitudes. It was hot and I wasn't happy that the people in our church suck and couldn't help out for an hour on Saturday.

As we were almost finished with the unfinished section (we decided to only do that one part since it was so stinkin' hot!), it hit me.

I was one of those people that I don't like. My exact words to Dawn...

Stephanie: "Dawn, do you know what?"

Dawn: "What?"

Stephanie: "If I were in a third world country, say Haiti, I would not be complaining about this. I would not care how hot it is, I would not care that I was finishing somebody elses work, I would not care that there was no people interaction. I would be happy that I was serving."

Dawn: "huh"

Stephanie: "Yeah. I would say 'yippity skip' and be on my way...I would just be happy that I was serving...I just became the American church goer that I don't like. The one who doesn't think that life should be the least bit uncomfortable...I took on a feeling of entitlement...I don't like myself right now."

And that wasn't the only thing that I had to do yesterday that put me outside, in the heat. I was privileged to be able to drive bags of groceries to another church for WOW JAM in the church truck that has no air conditioner. But this time, I put my grumbling aside and had fun singing, and sweating, in the car.

The Lord was gracious to me, and when I was on my way back to The Bridge during my first trip, Blake called me. He was finishing up with an appointment, and said he would help me with the next load...and his truck has air conditioning. :)

So Dawn and I finished up passing out the fliers this morning, and both of our attitudes were much better than yesterday.

I think I need to go back and read some of my previous blogs (especially the one on Surrendering My Rights in Haiti... and Beyond) and journal entries to remind myself of all that I am called to do, and more importantly what I am not to be like. Jesus came to serve and not to be served...and it is my desire that I follow that example and remember it daily.

I really suck sometimes, but am so thankful that I serve a God that knows I am going to stumble and be selfish, show me the error of my way, forgive me, and the entire time loves me and lovingly puts me back on the right track.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Past Month...

I have been semi-absent from blogging this month. My life has been really good and really crazy all at the same time. For those of you that read this and don't read any of my friends blogs, I am dating Blake German, and he has taken quite a bit of my time...but I'm not complaining

So to recap this last month....
-I continue to struggle with the injustice and poverty in the world. The Lord has been showing me a lot of scripture concerning his heart for such things. It hasn't been easy to deal with.

-Work has had its ups and downs. This week has been really good. I am finally getting some stuff done that I have wanted to accomplish for months. I have had a peace inside of me concerning work this week. Wondering if it has anything to do with the extra amount of time that I have been spending with Jesus...I'm gonna go with yes. Usually when work isn't stressful, it is just the calm before the storm, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Lord has definitely gone before me this week and paved the way.

-I think I have the most amazing boyfriend. He tried to make me cookies last week after we had a discussion via email where I told him I didn't want flowers anymore, I wanted chocolate chip cookies. It didn't turn out exactly as he planned, but it was extremely sweet. You can see how that turned out by clicking here. Last Friday morning, Blake knew that I was at Uncle Harry's reading. When I went out to my car, there were flowers on my windshield with a note. :)
We went to Santa Cruz a couple weekends ago and had a great time. I made him lay out on the beach (something he has never done before) and we both decided next time we would bring Luke and Sarah Mundy with us so the boys could play and Sarah and I could lay out.
Although Blake normally lets me get my way, and he always tells me we can do what I want, last night I let him have a night. We went to the driving range and hit golf balls (and I didn't suck, which was a plus since I am kinda competitive), he chose the restaurant (Cheese Cake), he even chose the dessert (Adams Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple cheesecake), and then I even let him pick out the movie that we watched (except he picked a chick flick for me, What Women Want). He has done numerous other sweet things, but I don't want to make anyone sick because of how sweet he is. :)

-I have seen more carpet samples than I have ever wanted to in my entire life. My parents are going to be getting new carpet, and my mom insists on getting my opinion. Which is funny because she doesn't really want my opinion, she just wants to find somebody who agrees with what she likes...she is even making Blake look at carpet, but so far he has been a champ.

-Last Friday night Sarah, Luke, Blake, and I tried to go to the Monster Truck Rally at the Fresno Fairgrounds. It was sold out!!!! I never knew that there were so many rednecks living in Fresno.

-The Office is back on, which makes me extremely happy. What has been disappointing is the length of the show (only 30 minutes) and to be honest, two of the three episodes haven't been that funny.

-Lots of good conversations with good friends over good meals...I really do have some amazing friends!

When Life and Beliefs Collide

I just finished reading this book called When Life and Beliefs Collide:How Knowing God Makes a Difference. I started this book back in October when I was going through a difficult time. It doesn't normally take this long for me to read a book (in fact, I read about 4 other books before I finished this one). But I have no doubt that this was all a part of God's timing...I was suppose to read the parts that I read during this exact time in my life.

The basic idea of the book is that as women believe in God, we need to know our theology. We need to really know God. There will be times when we will be ezers (help meets) to friends or to our spouse, and they will need our theology to help get them through the tough times. The biblical illustration is Mary of Bethany (and Martha for that matter too). The author talks about Mary's three encounters with Jesus.

I strongly recommend the book to everyone (even men). There will be times in your life when your reality and your theology are not going to match up, and how well you know Him really will make all the difference.

At the end of the book, she gives reading suggestions for different topics as well as a section on studying the Bible.

When I do my quiet time, there is not one set way that I do it. If I am not going through a book of the Bible, I will often as God to lead me to whatever scripture He wants me to read, and most of the time the passage either relates to something going on in my life immediately, something to help me encourage a fellow believer, or it is a recurring theme He is trying to help me understand, to know Him in a deeper way.

The author suggests asking three questions when reading scripture...1) What does this tell me about God? 2)What does this tell me about myself? 3) What difference does it make for me to know this?

I have loved using these three questions this past week. Instead of reading scripture, journaling, praying, and then going on my way, I have to stop and really think about it. I have to read the passage several times, and ask God to reveal these things to me. God usually speaks to me during the time that I spend with Him, but this past week, the scripture and what I have learned has really stuck with me. I am letting the Word penetrate into my heart, and that is one step that I am glad to make to know my God better.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Am I To Do?

I subsribe to Shaun Groves blog, and he posted the video below. He found the video at The Haiti Nurse. I decided to check out the site and once again I was reminded of the things I saw in Haiti, and even the atrocities that I wasn't able to see. And once again my heart broke. And I ask myself "How I can I just sit back and do nothing?"

Possibly it is to be "just there". Because if we don't do it, who will?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Deep Hurt of Words

There was a situation this past weekend where myself and somebody I care deeply about were judged, attacked, and deeply hurt by people he cares for. This was completely unwarranted and I believe was an attack by the enemy. I am still deeply hurt about it. I know that I can either hold onto this hurt, and become bitter, or I can give it over to the Lord for Him to help me forgive.

After holding onto it for two days, I decided that it was time to give it to the Lord. Tuesday morning I went to Uncle Harry's, got my bagel, put my ipod on, and opened up my Bible. I asked the Lord to lead me to whatever scripture was best, and I landed on Psalm 141.

vs 3-5
"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me no eat of their delicacies. Let a righteous man strike me-it is a kindness. Let him rebuke me-it is like oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers."

The Lord reminded me that the things that were said were lies. It was the enemy trying to tear both of us down and to create a fear within us. The words that were spoken were of evil, they seemed to have been said with malice.

After I overcame the shock (well, I guess I still am in shock), I wanted to call these people up and ask them how they have the audacity to treat people this way. When I read this scripture, I realized that if I did that, then I would be stooping to their level. If these people truly cared about us, they would not have spoken the way they did. The things that were said have no bearing on either of our lives.

If a brother or sister in Christ comes to me in truth and love, that is when I will take what they are saying into consideration. As the scripture says, it is kindness and like oil to my head.

We forget how powerful our tongue is, how deep words can hurt. Once something is said, you can never take it back.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Living, Active, Penetrating

We have started a new series at The Bridge, Route 66. This is a play off of the old highway and the fact that there are 66 books in the bible.

In Life Group tonight, we went over the discussion based questions. On Sunday and tonight, one of the scriptures that we read was Hebrews 4:12-13.

vs 12 reads "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Stop. Think. Meditate.

The Bible is: Living. Active. Penetrating.

The problem with most Christians is that we read the bible, then we go on our day and forget what we just read. What good is that? When we meditate on scripture, when we memorize scripture, we not only know it with our heads, we let it penetrate into our hearts. And when a situation or temptation comes, we can claim it as truth because it is living and it is active.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Have it Your Way

This life is not suppose to be about me. I confess that it is hard to really believe that in this world, in this American culture. We live in a consumeristic culture. Even at church we think that we should be able to have it the way we want it. Different music, shorter message, more programs, different series...

I think that the church has given into this mentality. Some churches have video venues to tailor to certain audiences. Jesus was counterculture. He did not try to fit in, he did not make life easy or comfortable for those he encountered. He challenged them...He challenged their way of thinking.

Church is not Burger King. You don't get to have it your way.

My heart has been in turmoil since I have been home from Haiti. My way of thinking has been challenged. What I had thought was important to me has been challenged. It would be easy for me to go back to Haiti and live, and not deal with all that I am feeling. I have tried to seek the Lord during this time, to give it all to him to help me deal with, but if I am honest with myself, I haven't laid it at the foot of the cross. I am not sure how to process it all, not sure if I want to know what the Lord really wants to teach me.

God is in the midst of doing something with me. During the process, it is always hard. But once I am on the other side of the growing pains, I understand the heart of my creator that much better. And that makes it worth it.

Nothing But God...

"When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need”

This was in an email I received the other day. I am not sure where it is from, but it is so true.

I saw this exemplified in the people of Haiti. Most days, all they have is God.

And He is more than enough.