Sunday, September 28, 2008

He has filled our hearts with wonder

This past week has been tumultuous. As always, everything speeds up in September, but for us Ruglios, this is an extreme.

Currently, I work as a church secretary part time, and although I love my job and the people I work with, I have felt God has been leading me to change to full time employment.

Since May I have been working on writing and rewriting my resume, meeting with career counselors and employment agencies, emailing cover letters to potential employers, networking and asking for prayer. This week, I landed my first two interviews and it felt real enough to tell my Bible study group, the MOPS team and my boss of my leaving. All were so sweet, hating to see me go and wondering how life would go on at the church as I have been such a standard there for now 13 years.

My first interview on Thursday was amazing – a man who may be not be committed to Christ, as we would see it, yet doing Christ’s work, caring for the homeless in a warehouse in Newark with a vast comprehensive program. I was enthralled and encouraged.

I returned to church to work on Friday, pensive and sad and concerned for the people and the work still yet to be accomplished here at Montclair. As is my habit, I sat in the balcony Friday afternoon, finishing the Sunday service PowerPoint, listening to the worship team on CD. One of the songs was Made to Worship (Chris Tomlin), which was in the song list for this Sunday. Through the evening and the next day, it keep playing in my head, Pastor Jeff’s voice and the worship team singing to me over and over.

Today, I stood in the service and as Pastor Jeff began to sing the bridge of that song, I opened my eyes, and stopped worshipping to watch him as he sang it live. And as he did, I said to myself – It’s not him!

And I felt the Father say to me, “No, it is not him, it was never him, but it was Me all along, singing over you as you served Me. I only used his voice.” And I smiled.

How often we fall into the trap of thinking that the Spiritual Gift is attached to the person who ministers to you! Whether it is singing or preaching or even in the Gift of service, we forget - it is Him.

It is not me who served the Body of Christ here at Montclair. It was Christ all along, He only used my hands. And when I leave, He will still be here, using someone else’s hands. How sweet to know that it was never me, it was always Him.

All we are
And all we have
Is all a gift from God that we receive
Brought to life
We open up our eyes
To see the majesty and glory of the King

He has filled our hearts with wonder
So that we always remember

You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
When you and I embrace surrender
When you and I choose to believe
Then you and I will see who we were meant to be

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Looking at photos of others’ family vacations, I thought about how it is impossible to capture on film the beauty and wonder of the beach. How can you transcribe to a photo the warmth of the water, the smell of the surf, the feel of the sand on your feet, different at every hour of the day? At mid-day, the sand is scalding hot at the top of the beach, and sweetly cold at the water’s edge. By evening time, the sand is refreshingly cool, almost a surprise as you slip off your sandals and slide your feet into it. Even the sounds shift: some days, barely a wave, as the water laps gentle onto the shore. Other times, when the surf is high due to a storm, many miles away, it crashes with a boom that echoes all the way to the beach house.

Mostly we walked, together and separately, rediscovering our relationship with each other and the Lord.

As I walked the beach and drank in the sights, sounds, smells and feels, I talked to Jesus. Often He answered me there. Mostly, He was patient and kind and listened as I unloaded my burdens at His feet, wept my frustrations, and sang with thankfulness over the blessings.

I walked the dog daily down our dusty, sandy street. I walked past the tiny homes, in perfectly spaced rows, close enough to the ground to peer in the windows and see the pictures and paneling, the TV sets and messy kitchen tables. I could hear the phones ring, the babies cry, smell the bacon and barbecue. I felt the breeze on my face, the heat of the sun on my arms, and the lumps of pebbles and indents of ditches in the road.

Al and I walked to the bay at Chadwick, stopping as we crossed over the bridge, watching the divers, the fish, the boats, the houses under construction, the fishermen, the birds. In the evening we would walk to Wawa, buy ice cream and carry it to the Chadwick beach boardwalk and eat it on a bench as we watched the moon rise. Other evenings we would walk to the bay side at Ocean Beach 2 and watch the sun set and the stars come out slowly as we sat on a bench looking out at the bay. As we sat, we talked and prayed and laughed and cried, hugged and giggled, and then returned, exhausted, read briefly before collapsing into bed, ending another day.

We enjoyed our grandson, our mornings at Sunday services, talks with neighbors, rides in the boat, especially when the boat got stuck on a grassy island in the middle of the bay, the wind rushing at us, trapping us in shallow water. That was exciting!

What I learned on My Summer Vacation

There was a quality of a study break to this vacation. I read a lot, attended a women’s Bible study and the Leadership Summit. Even saw some movies. I found something to be learned in everything I did. Here’s the summary
  1. It is important to take time to process hurts and deal with it, whether through prayer, journaling, or whatever it takes. Sharing with others is gossip; it is sin and leads to more pain. Sharing with God is prayer and leads to peace. “If I march though life pretending to smile while inside I bleed, I am dishonouring the relationship.” (Yancey, Prayer)
  2. While it is important to take action at times to resolve hurts, always show respect, especially to the men in my life. Because if I do not, I will only succeed in hurting them and not resolving the issue. I do not want to vent indiscriminately; it is not productive. The actions I do need to take always lead to peace and reconciliation, and include encouragement, mercy and kindness, checking my motives and attitudes before the Throne of the King.
  3. Submission is voluntary, a sign of controlling our power, like keeping a fire safe in a fire place. I found out that rowing in different directions gets us no where but tired. It is not so much as about trusting them, but trusting God Himself, who has put others in authority above me. Even Jesus chose to submit to earthly authorities, like His parents and religious and political leaders. He did more than just teach it. He did it. The Lord of Glory Himself will fight for me if I have faith and hold my peace.
  4. Interruptions are for God’s glory. We can find something in every interruption and trial to learn, to grow, or to bless, if we tune into God’s power.
  5. Free will is sacred. (Bruce Almighty, care of Steve McC) God Himself does not violate our free will, even when to do so would be in our best interests. He allows us to make our choices and mistakes and then accepts, forgives and heals us when it’s all over. Can we do less for our children?
  6. Ministry kills IT. (Leadership Summit, Craig Groeschel) “I discovered I had become a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ.” Gulp! Everyone needs time to regroup. I took this seriously this summer, and our Father blessed and refreshed me.
  7. The gospel is a romance not a formula. (Don Miller) Seek to explain our relationship and not list the rules.
  8. Children are sacred. (Monsters Inc.) It is worthwhile to sacrifice everything for them.
  9. There comes a time to let them swim on their own. (Finding Nemo) Everyone needs to grow up sometime. It’s scary, dangerous, messy, inconvenient, emotionally wrenching, but you cannot postpone this step without destroying the relationship, or your child.
  10. Keep the baby, find a new guy. (Juno) The movie was cute but in the end, the end seemed too easy to be realistic. I think Christina made the better choice to keep the baby and ditch the guy. You can always find a new guy :)
  11. Bring it on, God!” (Leadership Summit, Catherine Rohr, Bill Hybels) Pray and then get out of the way. But be prepared for the waiting, have a relentless spirit that will outlast the opposition. Callings are holy, precious things.
  12. “Help, I am a leader trapped in a woman’s body...No mistake was made in heaven when God gave you a gift of leadership or teaching.” (Gifted to Lead, Nancy Beach)
  13. AND THE OTHER SIDE – “I love to think of our personal ‘callings’ as invitations to be part of something divine. When I am invited to a friend’s house for a party, I don’t go over and try to run things. I don’t plan dinner, set the table, invite the guests, clean up the part as the invitee, is simply to show up, go with the flow, and enjoy the festivities.” (He Speaks to Me, Priscilla Shirer)