Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Help: Part II


In last Saturday's blog post, I shared my opinion on the wildly successful novel and film The Help. I believe this story has become amazingly popular for many reasons. One reason is because it presents a fictional account of a largely true story. Kathryn Stockett weaved the stories of thousands of African American maids and their Caucasian employers in with interesting, and often hilarious, fictional anecdotes. She intertwined the great stories of love between these southern folks with the horror stories that many of us would rather bury away for all eternity. The result is a wonderful, emotionally moving tapestry.

Stockett has shared much about her loving relationship with the maid that helped raise her, Demetrie. Here are a few of her own words:
"Growing up in Mississippi, almost every family I knew had a black woman working in their house -- cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the white children. That was life in Mississippi. When I moved to New York, though, I realized my "normal" wasn't quite the same as the rest of America's. I knew a lot of Southerners in the city, and every now and then we'd talk about what we missed from the South. Inevitably, somebody would start talking about the maid they grew up with, some little thing that made us all remember... Everybody had a story to tell. Twenty years later, with a million things to do in New York City, there we were still talking about the women who'd raised us in our mama's kitchens. It was probably on one of those late nights, homesick, when I realized I wanted to write about those relationships from my childhood.
 "I realize there's a tendency to idealize the past, but some of the women I spoke to, especially the middle-aged generation, just fell apart before they even started talking. After a while, I started to better understand what they were feeling. I felt it too. It wasn't just that they missed these women so deeply. I think they wished that they could tell them, one last time, "Thank you for everything." There was a sense that they hadn't thanked them enough."
The Help is Kathryn Stockett's "thank you" to her now deceased maid Demetrie and all the other African American maids in history.

After reading, and watching, this tribute, I now feel called to write some true stories of my own. And what better place to share these stories but here at "Sojourner of Truth"? For the next few weeks, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, I will share stories of people that have changed our country's history. Some of them are still changing history today. Many of these people are fairly unknown, and I can't wait to introduce you to them. My blog will be my thank you to these people going out on a limb to change our world.

Join me this Saturday for my first true story. I can hardly wait to get started!

Sharing the Truth In Love,

Carla

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Help: Let's Talk About It



When one person says I should blog about a particular topic, I nod my head politely and say, "Hmmm. That would be a good topic." When another person says I should blog about the same topic, I nod more affirmatively and seriously consider blogging on the topic. When a third person mentions that same topic to me, I sit my rear end down, open my laptop, and start blogging.

So here I am with my rear end planted to my padded dining room chair, beginning this blog that three people have told me I just have to write. So let us begin our discussion of The Help...

First of all, I have read the book and seen the movie. I loved them both. I laughed. I cried. Several emotions were evoked deep down within my soul. Some good. Some bad. I'll share some of them with you today, approaching this discussion as "Good News" and "Bad News."

The Good News

I could go on and on over the good news behind The Help. First of all, from an artistic perspective, the film adaptation of The Help far exceeded my expectations. I love books and movies, but I'm usually disappointed when a book is adapted to film. Of course, no one could possibly fit a 400-plus page book into a two-hour film, but director/screenwriter Tate Taylor did an amazing job. I'm sure author Kathryn Stockett was quite pleased.

I think it's amazing how this book, and especially the film, has people talking -- African Americans, Caucasians, men, women, people from all walks of life. And we're not just talking about the film either. We're talking about race. We're talking about race relations in the 1960's. We're talking about race relations today. And we're making comparisons and wondering how far we've really come.

Also, the actors did an amazing job portraying their various characters. Aibileen, while afraid to rock the boat in the fragile racial climate of Jackson, Mississippi, takes a bold stand when she agrees to assist Skeeter with her controversial book about the relationships between African American maids and their Caucasian employers. Instead of agreeing to interviews by Skeeter, Aibileen decides to write her own story, thus breaking even more rules. Although subtle in the movie, the book reveals Aibileen as a promising writer who actually co-writes The Help. And when Skeeter begins preparing to move to New York for her dream-job as an editor, Aibileen takes over her position as ghostwriter of the "domestic assistance" column at the local newspaper.

I love Minny, the spunky, no-nonsense maid whose sharp tongue leads to the termination of several jobs she needs to make ends meet for her large family. Minny provides the comic relief in this intense story, as she storms through life like a tornado, leaving others quaking in her wake. Yet Minny is a woman of great paradox. While she refuses to accept disrespect from her Caucasian employers, she remains in an abusive relationship with her husband. And while she clearly dislikes Caucasian women, she befriends her newest employer, Celia, a social outcast that the other society women view as "poor white trash."

Skeeter, a recent college graduate, holds her own in this unusual trio. Despising the maltreatment of African Americans in her town, she fulfills her longing to make a difference by writing The Help. Appalled over Mississippi's racial laws, she fights back with the only weapon she possesses -- her pen. As a writer, I admire that. One of my favorite quotes was written by the 16th Century Christian church reformer Martin Luther:

"If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write."

Skeeter -- and Kathryn Stockett, for that matter -- did just that.

Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter all fear the possible ramifications of writing The Help, but they're even more afraid of remaining silent. Their silence would have perpetuated the status quo. Their silence would have stunted growth and change in a community in desperate need of it.

Which brings me to...

The Bad News

Now I have to admit that a lot has changed since the 1960's. Our president is biracial, yet identified himself on the 2010 U.S Census as African American. Some of the wealthiest people in our county (Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Jay-Z) are African American. Many people of African descent have moved beyond our history as domestic help to now hire and manage their own domestic help.

And our laws have changed quite a bit. For the most part, our laws now protect African Americans from mistreatment and discrimination on the basis of race. Thanks to the Little Rock Nine and Brown v. Board of Education we can attend any school we choose. We can buy a house in any neighborhood we choose. We can utilize any form of public transportation we desire. The government has made great strides in protecting our rights as a minority race in this country. The laws have changed a lot about our country.

Yet, can the government change hearts? Can legislation affect the actions and thoughts of man?

I honestly don't think so. I'll list a few incidents from my personal life experiences to make my case:
  • The law didn't change the heart of a little boy in a Chickfila play area when he said, with my children in earshot, "I'll be glad when all the Black people leave." I suspect that little boy was parroting the words of some adult in his life.
  • The law didn't prevent someone from writing "KKK" and "Nig---" all over public utility boxes near our home in Tennessee.
  • The law didn't keep someone from writing "KKK" on the bathroom wall of my sons' school in Tennessee and hanging a miniature imaginary noose from a stall. The law didn't prevent the school's principal from trying to cover-up the incident.
  • The law hasn't erased the disparity in our son's Arkansas public high school that needs to make improvements because of the lack of scholastic achievement of African American students.
And while the law has desegregated schools, restaurants, public transportation and even marriages, it's done nothing to desegregate our churches. The fact that civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in the 1960's -- that eleven o'clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week -- is still true today.

One more point before I wrap up. In The Help Skeeter writes the book that the African American maids cannot possibly write. In 1960's Mississippi, a Caucasian person had to write that book. Well, it's 2011, but as an African American I must assert that Caucasians still have to write our books.

Now hear me out. I have absolutely no problem with Stockett writing this story. I believe she wrote the story she was called to write. And I'm glad she did. But I've been wondering since I read the book if an African American woman had written the same exact book, would the world have taken notice? Would the book have risen so quickly to the New York Times bestseller list? Would it have transformed into a major box office smash so quickly? Would there be all the buzz surrounding it right now?

I think probably not. African Americans still have a hard time being heard (or read, for that matter). And when we are, we often get labeled as the "angry Black man" or "angry Black woman." So, we still often need our Caucasian friends to write our stories. That is, if we want the world to take notice.

So I leave you with an encore of the words of Martin Luther. "If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write."

That's what I'm hoping to do here at "Sojourner of Truth."

Speaking the Truth in Love,

Carla


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wholeness: Do You Know Whose You Are?



In the 2003 comedy Bruce Almighty, television reporter Bruce Nolan views life as a glass half-empty. Convinced he's the unluckiest guy in the world, he complains that God must be sleeping on the job. So he gets the chance of a lifetime: God personally hands over the reigns of the world to Bruce, allowing him to run the world. Bruce relishes in his new-found powers, using them to tilt the world in his favor. He becomes "Mr. Exclusive," his station's top reporter/anchor, and his life takes a huge turn for the best... until it all begins to unravel.

While a simplistic and comical view of God and His sovereignty, Bruce Almighty actually presents us with some profound truths. I'll list a few:
  • We humans sometimes wonder if God really has our best interest at heart
  • We often ask the age-old question: if God is a good God, then why does He allow bad things to happen?
  • Quite frankly, we sometimes think we could do a better job with our lives
Just writing that last thought made me cringe. How can we presume to think we could actually do a better job with our lives than God? If I'm honest, I must admit that there have been a few times in my life when I've felt this way. It's usually those times when it felt like my life was unraveling at the seams.

And yet, I can also recall the culmination of those times -- how God brings me to myself and reminds me of Who He really is. How unbelievably big He is. How He doesn't just see the present circumstances of my life, but the future. He reminds me that He see it all -- the past, present and future. And He reminds me that while my life is very significant to Him, it's just not all about me. It's really about Him and His plans for the entire world -- the world yesterday, today and tomorrow. He shows me that even the difficult things I go through have a greater purpose in my life and the lives of others around me.

When brought face to face with God and His enormity, I can do little but drop to my knees. I am humbled. I am in awe of how amazing He is.

In last Tuesday's blog post I listed several identifying qualities of God's children. If you haven't read them, do so when you get a chance. Now I'd like to present you with several attributes of God. My list certainly isn't all-inclusive. I don't know if the English language -- or any language for that matter -- could fully define God in His totality. He's too big for our finite man-made language. He's too big even for our minds to comprehend. But with the help of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, here's a good start for you:

God is:

Eternal - Psalm 90:2, Revelation 1:8
Omnipotent (All-powerful) - Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17
Omniscient (All-knowing) - Job 37:16
Omnipresent (Everywhere at all times) - Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 139:7-10
Faithful and True - Revelation 19:11
Good - Psalm 34:8, 100:5, 106:1
Love - 1 John 4:8
Holy - Isaiah 6:3
Righteous - Romans 3:25-26
Jealous (earnestly protective or watchful) - Exodus 20:5
Merciful and Gracious - Psalm 103:8
Patient - Romans 2:4
Perfect - Matthew 5:48, Psalm 18:30
Beautiful - Psalm 27:4

We typically go through life selfishly, desiring things that we believe will make our lives better. May we desire the one thing that King David, a man after God's own heart, desired.
"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple." Psalm 27:4
Let's end with a song by Chris Tomlin that magnifies how great God is in all His majesty, holiness and beauty. He is truly Indescribable.



Made Whole In Him,

Carla

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wholeness: Imagine Us

Do you ever have one of those days when your heart just longs for Christ's return? Do you ever wonder how long God will wait until He raptures His children out of this world? I know He has a plan. I certainly know His plan is much better than mine. And yet today I find myself longing to see Him face-to-face. I long for Him to take away the pains of this world and replace it with His awesome glory.

I know He's waiting until more come to know Him. I know He wishes that no man should perish. And I'm aware that there are still many people groups around the world that have yet to hear His name. The number that will complete His Church has yet to be reached.

I know that, and still today, I just wish...

My heart is heavy over a story I heard yesterday. A young girl, just thirteen years old, was raped by her own uncle. The family is torn. The girl is forever scarred, her innocence taken away. I don't know this family, only the person that relayed this story to me, and yet my heart aches for them. My heart aches for that little girl.

And there are so many stories like this. Some will never be told. They will remain in the minds and hearts of the parties involved. Those stories will remain secrets that will be taken to graves. My heart aches for all these stories and the people in them.

In Tuesday's blog, I shared about who we are in Christ. We are children of the King of Kings. We are royalty -- princes and princesses. I hope you were blessed by reading the truths about those of us that know Christ. They certainly encouraged me.

But have you ever stopped to imagine yourself truly walking in those truths? What if we, God's chosen children, truly believed that we are "seated with Christ in heavenly places"? Do you think we'd walk in confidence, instead of insecurity? What if we truly believed we were "overcomers"? Do you think we'd live life expecting God's blessing and joy, instead of fretting over every single trial -- big or small-- that comes our way? And what if we believed we were "new creations in Christ"? Would we fall for the same temptations and sins that so easily beset us? And what about the fact that we're accepted by God and loved by God? Would we work so hard to make everyone else love us?

I'd like to propose today that we would all be different people indeed, if we just truly believed these truths about ourselves. I'd be different. You'd be different. The Body of Christ would be different. The world would be different.

Sometimes it helps to just visualize a different life for ourselves. It helps to visualize a different you and me. Now hang in there with me as we do a little exercise. Think about your life yesterday. Think about the things you chose to do and the things you chose not to do. Imagine your interactions with others throughout the day. Try to recall your conversations (in person, via phone, email, facebook, etc.) Now imagine the same day without hangups, insecurities, fears and ungodly thought patterns. How would your day have been different? Close your eyes and think about it for a moment.

I'll go out on a limb and share my thoughts. My day would have looked different in at least two points. I would have asked my hairstylist if there was anything I could pray about for her. Thankfully after some time she began to share her heart with me anyway. Praise God for that. And a phone conversation I had with a colleague would have gone a lot differently. I would have shared my thoughts on the project we're working on together. I wouldn't have worried about him thinking I was overstepping my bounds or trying to be the boss. I would have risked the possible rejection of my ideas. I would spoken boldly, without fear or reservation.

My day would have been different. I would have been different. How about you?

Today, I want to close with a video by Kirk Franklin, Imagine Me. In 2007 I was blessed to see Kirk sing this song live right before the new year of 2008. What deliverance I felt to say bye-bye to my mistakes, insecurities and fears of the entire year. And we can do that today. Hallelujah!



Made Whole In Him,

Carla

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wholeness: Do you know who you are?



Last year Disney presented Tangled, its version of the beloved German fairy tale Rapunzel. In this musical adaptation, Gothel, an evil woman longing for eternal youth, kidnaps Rapunzel from her royal family, then masquerades as her mother. Gothel hides Rapunzel in a tower, forbidding her to leave, ever fearful that she will discover her true heritage. If she loses Rapunzel, she loses the magical power of Rapunzel's hair that she uses to maintain her youth and beauty. Gothel's worst fear is Rapunzel discovering her true identity.

Rapunzel is a child of the King, but she doesn't know it.

Guess what? So are you.

If you've begun a relationship with God through Christ, you are His son or daughter. You are a child of the King. And not only the King, but the King of Kings.

Now, let's be honest. On a good day -- maybe a day we've had our time reading the Word or a Sunday that we've enjoyed great worship and a good sermon -- we can easily believe this truth about ourselves. No matter what we look like, no matter how we may have failed God the day before, we know we're royalty.

But what about the other days? The days when we're feeling weary, uninspired, frustrated, depressed or confused. The days when we just can't seem to get our stuff together. The days when that condemning voice haunts us with reminders of our every mistake, our every imperfection, our every sin.

It's those days that we need to be reminder by our Kingly Father that we are precious in His eyes. On those days we need to hear His compassionate voice remind us of His love for us.

What makes it so difficult to hear His voice, however, is the competing voice of condemnation that's screaming in our heads. That voice often drowns out the voice of our Father. And what's tricky about that voice is it often sounds like our own.

When the Spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days, Jesus was tempted by the devil there. After fasting for the full forty days, naturally Jesus was hungry. The enemy, relentless in his tactics, first tempts Jesus by challenging Him to turn a stone to bread. Yet Jesus perseveres, resisting each of the devil's temptations.

But let's look a little closer. What's really the first challenge that the devil presents?
"The devil said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Luke 4:3
Satan first challenges Jesus' identity. He begins with "If you are the Son of God..."

And He attacks us the same way. When we face a trial or difficulty, when we fall into sin, when we don't feel like we measure up to those around us, he slyly poses the same question to us -- "If you are a child of God..."

Two Sundays ago, my husband Anthony preached from this same text. He compiled a list of scriptures that clearly identify who we are in Christ. Read this list out loud, meditate on it, believe it. And may these truths and scriptures empower you the next time the enemy tries to fill your head with his lies.

AS A CHRIST FOLLOWER, YOU ARE:
In Christ - 2 Corinthians 5:17
A new creation - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Made alive in Christ - Ephesians 2:5
Raised up with Christ - Ephesians 2:6
Seated with Christ in heavenly places - Ephesians 2:6
Blessed - Ephesians 1:3
The righteousness of God - 2 Corinthians 5:21
More than a conqueror - Romans 8:37
An overcomer - 1 John 5:5
Indwelt with God's Spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:19
Baptized by God's Spirit - 1 Corinthians 12:13
Sealed with God's Spirit - Ephesians 4:30
Redeemed - Psalm 107:2
Forgiven - Colossians 2:13
Washed, Justified and Sanctified - 1 Corinthians 6:11
Light - Ephesians 5:8
His workmanship - Ephesians 2:10
A citizen of heaven - Ephesians 2:19
A member of God's household - Ephesians 2:19
A sinner who measures up - 1 Timothy 1:15
Elected by God - Colossians 3:12
Chosen by God - Ephesians 1:4
Predestined by God - Ephesians 1:5
Adopted by God - Ephesians 1:5
Accepted - Ephesians 1:6
Loved by God - John 17:23
A joint heir with Christ - Romans 8:17
A saint of God - Philippians 1:1
A soldier of God - 2 Timothy 2:4
Holy, Blameless and Above Reproach in God's sight - Colossians 1:22
A child of God - 1 John 3:1

And if you still don't believe who you are in Christ, check out this song by Israel Houghton, I Know Who I Am...


Let's walk in confidence in who we are in Christ. Amen!

Made Whole In Him,

Carla

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brokenness: Much More Than A Fairy Tale



Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses, and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again

We all remember the Humpty Dumpty riddle that our moms and grade school teachers taught us. Poor Humpty. Imagine being an egg, hanging out on a wall watching the hustle and bustle of the townspeople around you, then suddenly, you've fallen from the wall. You find yourself lying on the ground, shattered into hundreds of pieces. And what's worse -- no one can put you back together again.

Unfortunately this story isn't just found in storybooks. It's the story of so many that claim to know Christ as personal savior -- shattered into hundreds of pieces, with no one able to put them back together again. 



People today are falling off the walls of the world and breaking into a million pieces. In No Perfect People Allowed: Creating A Come As You Are Culture In The Church, Pastor John Burke examines today's post-Christian culture and the methods needed to minister to it. In the following excerpt, he gives us a frightening peek into the world we live in today:
"If you are reaching the average person under age forty, more than likely, one out of every three women you interact with will have had an abortion. One or even two out of six women you talk to will have been sexually molested. More than six out of ten people you speak with will think living together before marriage is the wisest way to prevent divorce, and five out of those ten will have lived with someone. Most will have been sexually active, and the thought of waiting until marriage will sound totally foreign and will need explaining. Most men will have struggled with pornography or serious problems with lust. One in five to ten people will struggle with substance abuse. At least one in five and as high as two out of five people who come to your church will smoke. These are the people Christ came to seek and save."
The statistics are staggering. And unfortunately, they aren't confined to the unbelieving world around us. The Christian world is full of broken people. Our churches are packed with women scarred by sexual abuse, men addicted to pornography, people addicted to food, sex and/or alcohol, singles living together, couples divorcing for unbiblical reasons and the list goes on and on.

Okay, so we know we've got a problem in the body of Christ. So what do we about it? Well, I'm no scientist. And that's a good thing, because my solution for brokenness is completely unscientific. In fact it's what you'd call an oxymoron. But here goes:

The solution to brokenness is brokenness.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but hang in there with me. When we're broken because of sin -- whether it's sin we've committed or sin that has been committed against us -- we need to be broken in spirit.

When the prophet Nathan rebuked King David for the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and conspiring to murder her husband, David fell on his face before His God to confess his sin and recommit his life to His King. In Psalm 51, David's song to the Lord speaks of his remorse and repentance before God. Psalm 51 is a song of a man broken by sin who solves his sin problem by confessing his sin, turning away from his sin and being broken by God.
"You do not delight in sacrifices, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:16-17
Please don't live another day broken by the sins of your past and present. I'm a firm believer in seeking help from trained counselors. So by all means, seek help from a good Christian counselor and/or a Christian support group. Seek support and prayer from strong believers in your life. Spend time with God in His Word and in prayer. But most of all, allow the God of the universe to break you, so He can build you back up.

You can't possibly put yourself back together again. No person can put you back together again. But praise God, He can.

I'll close with a song by Darwin Hobbs, "Break Me." May these lyrics be our prayer today.




Becoming Whole In Him,

Carla

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wholeness: The Testimony of a Rainbow

I just sat down to begin writing today's post, and you'll never guess what I spotted. Outside my home there appeared a humongous, gorgeous rainbow. I've never seen a rainbow so large, so close, so distinct in its colors and design. I wonder if it's a once in a lifetime gift from God.

The interesting thing about this rainbow: it appeared in the middle of a thunderstorm. The thunder still roared, lightning still pierced through the sky, dark clouds still loomed in the atmosphere.

And yet there it was in the middle of all that turmoil: a magnificent rainbow. (Trust me, our pictures don't do it justice.)



I'm not a superstitious person, and I don't usually act according to every whim and circumstance, but I think God is speaking to me right now. I believe He's telling me that He's interrupting the regularly scheduled program. The things I planned to say here today must wait. The thoughts I intended to present are going on a shelf. He is completely rewriting my script. So you'll have to come back on Saturday to read what I originally planned to share today. I sure hope you do.

But today I think God wants me to speak on the topic of HOPE. That's what that rainbow spoke to me. What is hope? I searched dictionary.com, and two of their definitions rise to the top. Let's unpackage both.

1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

As believers in Christ, we can have assurance that no matter what takes place in our lives, it can turn out for the best. Now is this just some pie in the sky kind of belief, or is there some validity to what I'm saying? Well, the Word clearly tells us, and many of you know this scripture by heart and recite it often:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
So everything works for our good, right? Even when we experience disease, depression, financial distress, illness and even death?

Now, I don't want to be irreverent towards the Word of God or shatter your faith in this particular scripture, but my husband Anthony taught me something years ago that totally transformed my understanding of Romans 8:28. So hold on. I'll bring it home in a minute. Just hang in there with me.

Now visualize your darkest moment, your most difficult period in your life, your greatest disappointment. Now think of the "good" that came out of that experience or period of time. Some of you will have very concrete answers. Through an illness God brought a special person into your life. After a financial crisis, you learned how to manage your money in a way that brought you prosperity and allowed you to give to others.

Others of you are still scratching your head right now. You can't think of much good that's come out of the death of your loved one or your miscarriage or from September 11, 2001.

So does Romans 8:28 only work for certain people? Are you somehow exempt from its power? Am I?

To receive the full promise of Romans 8:28, we've got to dig a little deeper. We've got to go to the next verse.
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." Romans 8:29
Let's put our focus on the highlighted part of this verse. God has predestined His children to be conformed to the image of His Son -- Jesus Christ. So let's put the two verses together. God makes all things in our lives work together for our good. And what is the good He's working together? The good is the process of you and I conforming to the image of Christ.

Ahhh... So our trials and difficulties work together for our good, because God uses them to conform us to the image of Christ. So God uses the horrible, downright crappy things in my life to make me more like Him. That's the good that He wants to do in every single experience of my life. Amen! Doesn't that truth make you want to shout?

So, on to the next definition...

2. to believe, desire or trust



Years ago, while going through a dark time in my life, I did a Beth Moore Bible study entitled Believing God. This was the period of time when my emotions were reeling through the whirlwind of two miscarriages and an adoption loss within the matter of a year and a half. As far as I was concerned, I had pretty much shut down on God. I knew I was still a Christian, but I figured if I went under the radar, maybe He'd stop picking on me. It seemed like the people that suffered the head-on collisions of life were the people really fired up for God and His work. In my perspective, the people cruising through life with barely a dent or scratch were the ones that went to church every Sunday, but didn't cause much of a stir for God or the Enemy.

I decided I was going to become the latter.

And then Miss Beth met me right where I was. There were days that I wept silently on my friend's couch as Beth implored us to not only believe in God, but to believe God. Trust Him. Have total faith in Him. Place our HOPE in Him.

And I implore you today. Sometimes the thunder will roar, the lightning will pierce and the dark clouds will loom. Sometimes the storms of life will come in fiercely but quickly. Other times they will last for weeks, months, even years. But know this. God loves you. He is good -- always. He is your HOPE.

Like the breathtaking rainbow that appeared in my small part of the world today, HOPE is always there -- even in the midst of a horrible storm. I will live and die with my faith in that truth. I hope you will too.

Made Whole in Him,

Carla

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wholeness In Christ: We Gotta Grow Up

Hey everybody. It feels like I haven't spoken with you in months. Actually it's only been days, but I guess six days feel like an eternity when you've just completed 31 straight days of blogging! If you're new to "Sojourner of Truth," I'll take a moment to bring you up to speed. For the month of July I linked arms with four other ladies to blog everyday for the entire month. My topic was "31 Days of Purpose," and I believe God really met us here. He certainly met me here. You can read any and all of those posts by clicking on the "2011 - July" link in my "blog archive" to the lower right of this post.

So...

Whatever do we do with ourselves now? Well, I've been praying, and God recently gave me an answer to that question. First of all, I will blog regularly, on every Tuesday and Saturday. So tune in twice a week, and I'll promise to meet you here. You can even subscribe to receive my blog posts through your email account. Also to the right of this post, you can find the "Follow by email" box to sign up. (By the way, it's very easy to unsubscribe if you should choose to later.) And please let me know you're following by joining my group of "followers." You can add a photo, or not, if you like.

Secondly, God has given me a new topic for our next series of blogs. For the next month or so, I will blog on the topic of "Wholeness In Christ." I'll spend a few days just explaining what that means, but I'd love to begin the explanation with a movie. You know I love movies...




In the 1988 romantic comedy Big, Josh Baskin is a little boy stuck in a man's body -- literally. After telling a magical fortune-telling machine of his wish to be big, that night his 13-year-old body transforms into the body of a grown man. As an up-and-coming employee at a toy company, he must maneuver personal relationships and business responsibilities that far exceed his teenage mind.

Yet Josh manages, and we learn a lesson about nurturing the little child within us. The memorable scene above, where Josh plays a duet on a foot-operated piano with his boss, encourages us all to experience life with a light heart and jovial spirit.

Even though quite endearing as a Hollywood movie, a little boy going through life in the body of a grown man wouldn't exactly go over well in the real world. Think about it. Would you want your boss, your professor, your spouse or your pastor to look like a grown man or woman, yet really be a kid on the inside? Be honest. It ain't cute at all.

But then again, we know some adults like that, don't we? Ever seen a coworker have a full-blown temper tantrum? Ever wonder if the grown man giving you "the bird" in traffic somehow got mentally stuck in puberty? Ever wonder why some grown folks can't get along any better than toddlers playing together in the sandbox? Whew!

Breathe in, breathe out.

Okay, so... I don't know about you, but just thinking about the immaturity of adults around me can raise my blood pressure.

But think about it. Don't you get stuck in childish ways sometimes? Don't I get stuck in childish ways sometimes? Like the time I found myself yelling at one of my very strong-willed children, with my fists balled at my sides and my feet stomping to give the syllables of my words emphasis. At the time, I was furious that this particular child had refused to go with the flow. But later, I had a good laugh over my own behavior. I mean really, who had the worst temper tantrum -- the child or me?

And I'm only covering one aspect of wholeness when I discuss maturity. Over the next few weeks, we'll uncover more. But before I go let me share something God gave me this morning to tie my July purpose blogs in with this concept of wholeness. It's a math equation of sorts:

Purpose = Go
Wholeness = Come

Now let me break that down in a way that even I can understand. When we pursue our purpose in Christ, we go for Jesus. When we pursue wholeness in Christ, we come to Jesus. In order to pursue our purpose, and go out into the world to represent Him, we've got to come to Jesus so He can fill us up. If we're filled halfway, we can't possibly pursue the purpose He created us for.



"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
God wants to fill us daily with Himself. Let's come to Him. Let's rest in Him. Right now, close your eyes and ask Him to fill you today. And know that I have prayed the same.

Made Whole In Him,

Carla