Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learning to Run

One-one thousand…two-one thousand…three-one thousand… I count while I run to keep my pace. I feel my clumsy feet hit the feet with each word. I breathe heavy and feel like I am going to die but finally my time is up and I can literally gasp for relief. Betcha didn’t know that I was a runner, did ya?
For the last three weeks, I have been learning how to run. Yes, I have run short distances before and I played games as a child that required running, but not like this. In three short weeks I have progressed from absolutely no running to running for three minutes! It sounds so small; try it if you don’t believe me! It’s hard! The first time is the easiest but when you do it in cycles (walk, run, walk, run, etc.) for 30 minutes, each running session gets harder no matter how long or short it may be.

Running takes focus and determination, especially if you aren’t that good at it yet. The more focused I become the easier it is to “go the distance” and the less clumsy my feet become, but get me started thinking about how tired I am or how much I would rather be inside taking a shower and suddenly everything changes! In an instant I am breathing harder, sweating more, tripping over my feet more, and wanting to quit.
For the first time in my life, I think I fully understand what Paul was saying to the Galatians…

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7

They were running smooth and steady and growing in their Christian walks, but then they got distracted and lost their focus. They began to let their minds wander and they confused fact for fiction. Soon they were tripping up in their walks and making silly mistakes. Some of them even quit trying all together. As Christians, we must focus on what’s important so we may run a good race. We want to please Christ and finish strong. We can’t let the world cut in and distract us or we will not obey the truth.

Run a good race! Keep your focus! Follow Christ!

What a joy to be able to say…
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School (VBS)…so much fun and yet oh so tiring! Let me tell you I am totally exhausted and I still have two nights left! The best part about VBS is getting to meet a bunch of different kids that you didn’t know before. This week, we have met seven new kids so far and I am sure there will be more tonight. Jimmy and I are teaching the 5th & 6th grade class with the help of Dustin, Kevin, & Shelby. The whole point of the way we structure this class is to help get these kids ready to be a part of the youth group. We want them to know what to expect now that they are old enough to be a part of the “big kids.”

Every year, we take one specific night where someone shares the plan of salvation with the kids. Then the teachers answer any questions the children have and if they want we can pray with them and help them to ask Christ to become a part of their lives. Well last night was that night. Pastor John shared the salvation message and offered the children a chance to pray to receive Christ and then told them to talk to their teachers about it if they “prayed the prayer.” Two of girls approached me and for some reason I got really nervous. It happens to me every year. I don’t know why I get nervous when I counsel youth and children about the gospel…I just do. Give me an adult any day and I am great. Give me a kid and my heart starts racing and I have to work twice as hard. I guess I worry that they won’t understand.

I guess I just have to realize that ultimately it’s not about whether I can make them understand. God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts and He will help them to understand. I simply need to be there to be a tool He uses to teach those children about His love. Yes, some kids pray a prayer that they don’t fully understand, but there are other kids who have really felt the movement of God’s Spirit in their hearts and lives. I am not worthy of being the judge of which kids are which. Thankfully, it is God’s job—not mine! I just need to let go and let God.

Let go today and let God use you to speak His truth.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teachable Moments

Life has been hectic in the Mustion house lately. We are go, Go, GO! Our routine is out of whack between Strawberry Festival and Vacation Bible School. Since I had to work all day on Saturday at the Strawberry Festival, I wasn’t able to do my grocery shopping when I normally do – on Saturday. So while my friend Sondra and her oldest daughter, Shaina, worked on snacks for Vacation Bible School, Jadie (Sondra’s youngest) and I went grocery shopping. It made for a busy Sunday afternoon, especially since I had a meeting at church that night, but we had fun.
While Jadie and I were shopping we started talking about the wind and the sunshine. Jadie didn’t understand why we have wind. Of course, I could have bored her with all the scientific reasons for wind and rain and sunshine, but instead I chose to use this opportunity to have a “teachable moment.” Now you may ask, “What is a teachable moment?”
A teachable moment is an opportunity to share about God/Christ that arises from your day to day activities.

Jadie wanted to know why we had wind. I had two choices: tell her the science or tell her about God creating the wind. So many times I am ashamed to say that I choose the easy way out and just talk about the “facts”. I am happy to say that on Sunday God helped me to seize this teachable moment and I told her the Creation story instead.
That night Sondra and I were talking about my outing with Jadie and how she behaved and all those good details parents love to know and Sondra shared with me the questions that Jadie has been having about Jesus. I thank God for giving me those words to say in that teachable moment. I pray they will be a few of the seeds that will help Jadie find all her answers about Jesus and to come to know Him as her personal Lord and Savior.
I urge you to seize those teachable moments in your own life. They don’t have to be children. Maybe it’s your neighbor or co-worker. Whoever it is, you will not be sorry that you told them about the love of God!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Lifetime of Firsts

Bright and early this morning, I drove my sister to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for her first ever flight. I could tell she was nervous and excited and probably a little scared (although she would never admit it! so I didn't even ask.). Last night before bed we talked about all the important things to know and do and bring on a flight. It was nice to know that my life experience was benefiting someone else. Still all the knowledge in the world can't curb the "first timer" jitters.  It wasn't until all three of the people she was meeting had arrived and they had all checked in that she really began to relax. It's fun watching someone go through a good experience for the first time...not so fun if it is a bad experience.

Life is full of first timer events. Sometimes they are good--like this morning--and sometimes they are bad. We should embrace our first timer experiences and learn from them. Our knowledge and experience may benefit someone else later on down the road.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Strawberry Festival

This week at the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (where I work) things are very hectic. We are in the midst of preparing for one of our three festival fundraisers. Strawberry Festival is on Saturday, June 5th, this year and it is always an all day affair. We have craft venders, a quilt auction, craft auction, food, and campus tours. It is fun but completely and utterly exhausting!
Strawberry Festival is the oldest of the three festivals MBCH holds each year. When it first started 120 years ago, it was the main source of income for the Baptist Orphans Home (now MBCH). It all started when the orphans grew, harvested, and sold their own strawberries in order to keep the home open. Over the years it has changed and evolved. However, in the last 25 years the festival has changed very little. It has stopped adapting to current trends and is stuck in the rut of tradition. As a result, the festivals have become less and less effective in their post of providing major funding for the operation of MBCH. In fact, there were no major changes allowed until last year. I just wonder if it’s too little to late.
Sadly, many of us have a “festival” mentality. As baby Christians we established a pattern of provision for our walk with Christ. We knew what we needed to reach our spiritual goals and we worked hard to meet those goals. As we continued to grow, we would change and adapt our strategy to keep things current and effective. However, just like the festival, many of us get comfortable and stop keeping tabs on the things we are doing and their effectiveness and we get ourselves into a spiritual rut. While we are in this rut, we do the minimum to keep our Christian walk afloat but we never really are as good as we could be. Eventually we will tank if we don’t get out of this rut. Will we learn to grow and change again or will it be to little to late? I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Get out of your rut and start reaching your potential!