Essential vs. Non-Essential

Who is essential to the church?  Who does the church need to be “The Church”?  Surely, the pastor is essential.  What is Saddleback’s church without Rick Warren?  Or Hillsong without Brian Houston? And the worship music is essential, right?  Look at Hillsong again with Joel Houston & hello?, Darlene Zschech!  Look at what great things Kristian Stanfill and others are doing with the Passion tour.  These are certainly essential to the greater church, right?  What about my local church?  Who’s essential there?  Once again, of course the pastors and worship leaders are essential.  And the Sunday School teachers – what’s church without that?  I was reading Jason Johnson’s blog about who is essential in regards to adoption and foster care.  He reminded me, “Unique gifts are given to unique individuals, not for their own good but for the good of the whole body 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 .  These roles are established not on the basis of rank, as if one person’s position was more important than another, but on the premise that when each member fulfills their responsibility the whole body will function better together for it.”  In this case he is saying that there are many ways to support the orphaned without actually bringing a child into your home.

But the same goes for the makings of my church.  Everyone is essential.  We aren’t, or rather shouldn’t be, ranked according to importance as we see it.  What am I getting at, you ask?  Disability.  Even those with disability are essential to the body of the church.  My son has disabilities and he has a job in our church.  Is he essential to that job?  Nope.  If he wasn’t doing it would it still get done?  Of course.  That job is something that just about any of us could do.  But what about his greater role in the church?  What is his role that is making the body of the church function better?  I can’t be completely sure of what God is using my boy for, but I can tell you what I’m learning from him…

Disability has made my son completely dependent on God’s provisions.  Food, shelter, clothing – he has no concerns for how those will be accomplished.  He is completely reliant on God’s provision.  Does he worry about them?  Not one bit.  Yet, he has all of those things and more.  Another thing I’m learning from him is unconditional love.  When he wants to talk with someone he does not look at how old they are, what they are wearing or what brand of clothing they have on, whether their hair is fixed flawlessly or if it’s even combed.  He accepts everyone as they are … without judgement.  He just wants to be with you, close to you, spend time with you.  He remembers to pray for others.  I can say to him we need to pray for somebody.  By the time we get to his bedtime prayers later that same night I will have forgotten.  Not him.  He will always remind me to pray for that person.  And he is welcoming.  He absolutely loves to welcome people into his home, show them around, share in what he has been blessed with.  He doesn’t care if his bed is made, if everything is in its place or what he looks like.  He just wants YOU.

I can’t wait for when we truly embrace that Christ is stronger in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I think then we will see more fully the power of God in our churches.  Now I can’t say I know exactly what Christ meant when he said “those who are last will be first”.  But I have a picture of all those with disability, those whose functions in the body aren’t so clearly defined.  I picture my boy standing with the first … next to Christ.

The Bible verse I’m loving today:
2 Corinthians 12:9

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Keep it to your self?

Why blog, you ask?  Two reasons: #1. It’s cathartic.  I could lay awake for hours in the middle of the night thinking about ‘things’.  Things that seem so important, revolutionary, traumatic, but in the morning they are really quite trivial.  Just journal, you say.  But here’s #2.  Transparency.  I’m tired of everyone going along like they haven’t a care in the world.  Myself included.  I come from a family of women that like to say, “I’m fine”.  My grandmother said this a lot with a sly grin on her face.  This told us she wasn’t really fine, but she wasn’t going to talk about it. “I am strong, I am invincible, I am WOMAN!” This is one of my favorite Helen Reddy songs from my childhood. My mother’s album. Another woman from the “I’m fine” generation. Or how about this one, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan…” And well, you remember the rest of that one.  Sure, I can go for a while with this attitude.  But at some point something gives.  And it’s usually not pretty.

I wonder what would happen if we all started being a little more honest about what’s really going on in our lives? Instead of ‘I’m fine’, we owned up to mistakes, hurts and needs.  Now I’m not talking about being a bunch of whiny-babies. ‘Cause I ain’t got no time for that.  But I’m famous for not even letting in those closest to me.  Yes, I’ve been hurt from opening up.  Hurt by well-meaning and even not-so-well-meaning Christians who should know better.  And by opening myself up I will probably be hurt again.  But how many others will be brought closer to Christ by my opening up? How much closer will I be brought to Christ?  I have a friend who’s opening up in her blog about how painful divorce is.  Bart Millard of Mercy Me is opening up about things in his life.  He’s being honest and I absolutely love it.

I recently read a book that is now one of my favorites, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  It’s the story of a man that not only survived World War II, but survived horrific treatment as a prisoner of war.  This book told me things about WWII that I wish I had known when my grandfather was talking about his experiences.  It should be used as a text book in schools. I learned more about that war from this book than I ever learned in history class.  But not only did it tell of his war experience but of the post traumatic stress he endured after returning home.  The PTSD caused him and his family problems that they could not overcome … Until one night when he met Christ through Billy Graham.  By putting his faith in Jesus he was brought out of his PTSD and his family was transformed.  And now how many others have been transformed by his opening up and letting us into his life?  Angelina Jolie was at least so moved by it she’s making a movie from this book.  I wonder what it told her about Christ?

Recently I opened up about some struggles I was having with my son with special needs.  This struggle put me on the minds of friends and also my husband.  I am so thankful for the prayers and encouragement from them.  It is comforting and freeing to know that others are bringing my needs before Christ.  In the midst of our struggle my husband shared a bible verse with me. Just having that verse on my mind got me through some tough days.  How powerful and changing the word of God can be.  How much more powerful and changing will it be when we share it with others?

The bible verse I’m loving today is…
Psalm 130:5

Sometimes I just don’t get it …

There are seasons in life that I just don’t get.  I don’t understand or know the reason we have to go through them.  What is God doing in our lives that we have to go through this pain? Trials are hard.  Sometime too hard.  Why do we have to hurt?  And what’s worse for me, why do we have to watch our loved ones hurt?  I think seeing another’s pain can be worse because we can’t fix it.  I want to fix hurt people.  I want to have it all together that I appear ‘fixed’.  I don’t like appearing broken to other people.  I don’t like when people see me in that place.  
This past weekend the entire Bass Pro Shop saw me and my kids ‘broken’.  My 17-year old son who has special needs, both physical and intellectual, is going through a season that I don’t get.  He is expressing himself through behaviors that are loud, painful (to him & anyone in close proximity), and publicly unacceptable.  He won’t stop just because someone tells him it’s inappropriate.  So while we made our way out of the depths of the store with him hitting, pinching, pulling hair (lots of hair) and screaming everyone in our path saw how broken we were.  Almost everyone gave me looks of shock & disgust.  They wanted nothing to do with us.  One man gave me what I needed – an open door & the quiet comment of, “I understand”.  
Isn’t this what Christ gives us? An open door to him, quietly waiting for us to come to him.  That’s all he wants is for us to go to him first.  But sometimes I have to go through all the crappy trials to realize Christ just wants me near him.  God has allowed me to get to a place where the only thing left to do is go to him.  
I learned long ago that God is using disability to bring us and others closer to him.  The Bible’s John 9 says he used disability to display the works of God. So I guess if going through the tough stuff is going to get me closer to seeing God’s works, I’m in.  I may not ever understand the season of trials or see what God is doing but who am I to get in the way of the Creator of … everything.  And man, I want to be close to that …

The Bible verse I’m loving today…
John 9:1-3