For those who aren't sharing this little island with me, our church does a Missions Conference around this time every year. This year a Pastor from Santa Maria, CA came with a group of seniors from their church. While the seniors worked with the children, Pastor Schettler gave some amazing messages! Now, I will be honest, it took me a while to come around to the messages, because while I recognized instantly the truth in them, I was just so overwhelmed, and at first, thrown off on the presentation. I have never had a Pastor, or heard a Pastor, with so much enthusiasm! I mean he was all over the stage, and at points was yelling at us because his excitement for his messages seemed to just boil over inside of him. He had no choice but to let it flow out! Not being used to that, I didn't appreciate it at first, I tend to like what I am used to and not care for change or being out of the ordinary patterns, but I now wish I could have gone to all the services (which wasn't for lack of trying, sickness & Jon coming home late from work is what kept us away).
After a week of stewing over somethings, particularly from Sunday morning's service, I admire his confidence and excitement for the messages he shared with us. And I hope people can look at me, and see the same joy overflowing in my life, because we are not meant to keep it all inside. We need to let Jesus' love and light shine through us! And we need to be excited about it!!
On Sunday morning, he shared with our congregation 3 keys to moving stones out of the way so that we are able to minister to the lost world we live in. The first was that we need to get creative! This reminded me of something else I recently learned. During our ladies night for missions last week, we broke into prayer groups who each had a particular missionary that our church supports to pray for. My group prayed for the Childs family in Australia. Apparently in Australia, at least the part they are ministering in, there is a high concentration of cults, specifically Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. And part of our prayer for them was that they may be creative in how they reach the people there, because the traditional methods of going door to door wouldn't be an option because they would want to stand apart from the cults, those 2 in particular, which do tend to do a lot of knocking on doors. And my thought was, boy am I glad I am not them and thats not my job! Because I could never come up with a very creative way to minister to anyone. But after Sunday morning, I realized, though I am not in Australia, nor do I feel called to be a missionary abroad, but I still need to be reaching out, and I still need to be creative about how I approach it. And that is what has gotten me on the path for a new ministry opportunity that with the Lord's guidance I am developing through my love of baking, and sharing those treats with others!
The next key part of moving stones away is confidence. Confidence that when we pray, God will act. Not praying out of obligation, half-heartedly hoping, just maybe God will answer this prayer request if He really wants too. NO!! Pray expecting, knowing, and believing God CAN and God WILL act on our prayers. We may not always get the answer we want, but if we actually have confidence that our prayers will be answered, we could see our friends and family come to know the Lord!! Instead of thinking maybe God will hear, KNOW God will hear your prayers because He ALWAYS does. I know this is definitely an area I need to really concentrate on improving. I need to have faith and confidence that God will answer my prayers; instead of 'just hoping' and praying with a question mark at the end of my prayer when it should be an exclamation point!
And the last part of moving stones and other obstacles out of the way to reach lost souls is to have compassion. As for me, I think my compassion is there...sometimes, when its convenient for me. I can really struggle sometimes with finding little things to irritate me, and then later learning I misjudged. Instead I should always seek to be compassionate and caring to everyone, instead of finding a negative in any given situation. For example, standing in line at the post office to get a package the other day, a woman with a small girl came over and got into this gap in the line. Instantly I was irritated and upset, it was a long line, I had been standing in it for a few minutes but was already getting bored and tired. I thought how dare she just cut her way in, but then I heard her thank the man behind her, and as I observed further I realized she had already been in that spot in the line but had been letting her little girl wander a little, and in her wandering she had gone out of sight. So the woman had been only coming back to her original spot in line, that the man behind her was kind enough to hold, while she retrieved her child. I felt awful! Though this all only happened in my own mind and was not shared with the rest of the crowd, I know God saw how ugly my heart had been, instead of showing compassion to everyone no matter what circumstances were going on. And I realize, even if she had been 'cutting' in line, I was still wrong for not having a loving heart, a compassionate heart toward her. If I want Jesus to use me, then I need to remember to always, regardless of circumstance, be kind, caring, loving and compassionate, in my heart, mind and actions.
All that said, I have a LOT to work on and pray about!! And that was all in ONE message!! But all of us can always improve, no matter where we are in our lives and our walk with the Lord. He never wants us to stand still and just be content to go no further, He wants us bubbling over with joy for Him like Pastor Schettler is! He wants it to pour out of us everywhere we go and in everything we do. And I hope I have done Pastor Schettler some justice in passing on his message. I did the best I could from memory because I did not take notes that day (shame on me!).
"Being unable to get to Him [Jesus] because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying." Mark 2:4 (Creativity)
"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have recieved them, and they will be granted you." Mark 11:24 (Confidence)
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 (Compassion)