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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Second Best

Cold weather is finally creeping into Texas. The grass was wet with a light frost Saturday morning, and my breath froze in a delicate fog. The fire crackled comfortingly in the fireplace for the first time this weekend. As the cold weather hits, I am reminded to be grateful for God's provision for my family. Tonight as I snuggle under my well worn comforter, in my toasty warm house, I am well aware that I am privileged to enjoy such luxuries.

This morning the chilly air sent me searching for a coat to wear to church. I reached into my closet and pulled out a dark red wool coat. This coat has hung in my closet for the last 18 years. 18 years ago, it was a beauty. I bought it at Dillards, and wore it with pride for many years. Today it is down to a single button, the lining is tattered, and the pockets torn. Though no longer very fashionable, it works great at blocking a cold wind.

This summer I heard of a family who lost everything in a fire. As I collected clothes from my closet to share with the family, I reached for the red coat. I knew that it wasn't anything special, but it would work if you didn't have anything better. I took the coat from the hanger, only to hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, "When are you going to stop giving me your second best?" I was not excited about this particular urging. Giving away things one no longer wants is painless. But the Bible teaches that God receives sacrificial worship. I placed the red wool coat back into my closet and pulled out my nice, black, favorite leather coat and added it to the pile.

I do not tell this story to receive glory for myself. I tell the story to illustrate that God wants our very best. In my case, he wanted me to be willing to "get by" with the red coat and give away my favorite coat to someone with great need who would probably have been thankful to just "get by". For me, this was a mile marker event in my Christian faith. I have since begun to realize that my idea of sacrifice for Christ is embarrassingly tiny compared to the type of giving spirit demonstrated in scripture.

This winter every time I wear my old red coat, I want God to remind me about how he sent his very best for me.... Jesus. I want to remember that God is never selfish, and definitely never gives me anything that is second rate. I want to learn what it really means to live as a child of God. What does it really look like to live as though everything I own is simply on loan from God? What does it look like to simply be the steward, not the owner, of all that I have?

I have so far to go in this area of giving God my best. I tend to give God my left overs. He gets whatever time is left over at the end of my day, whatever energy I have left, whatever ministry I can squeeze in around my own personal schedule. I say this not with guilt, but with excitement. I am excited about how God is going to work in my life in this area. I am excited to see how God might use me for the kingdom if I become a little less selfish and a little less attached to my stuff and a little more free about giving to others.

I am silly, giddily excited that I kept the red coat for myself. In hindsight, it seems that giving away my best gave me the best blessing. So this winter as I wear my ancient red coat, I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to change my heart!


Monday Morning Update(s) 11.7.10

Being a student again is definitely getting in the way of my blogging habit. I seem to have time fitting in writing "just for fun" when I have long papers and projects due. I miss my blog time, the opportunity to unwind and empty all the crazy thoughts from my head.

The last two weeks at The Crossroads have been really great. Last weekend we hosted our third annual trunk or treat. I was amazed by the turnout this year. We gave away two hundred hot dogs in the blink of an eye (graciously donated by our local Brookshire's). The employees of the bank where we held our event counted over 400 people that visited their booth. But most amazing was seeing people linger and visit with their neighbors. When we first came to Anna the number one need marked on our 1000 door to door surveys was the need for community. As we continually host community events and get outside our walls (because we don't have any), I see community growing. Our city and other churches are also seeking to meet this need, and I think that families connecting is going to have a great positive impact on the community.

Our entire family dressed up this year for Trunk or Treat. It's been a very long time since we were all in costume. The oldest kids used to be too cool to dress up, and when they were all little, I was too cool to dress up. Check out the photos of our family- unfortunately they are a little blurry from my phone.
James was werewolf, Katie a vampire, Grace a flapper, and Abby was Dorothy.

Our little Dorothy didn't make it all the way to her bed, collapsing in exhaustion in the middle of the living room floor.

Shawn and I dressed as Two-face and bat woman. It was a last minute switch. The flapper costume was originally mine, but was a little snug. I appreciated my friend loaning me her bat woman costume to help me out. We had a lot of fun seeing our students and friends at the Trunk or Treat. My students were giggling for days on end about me being Bat woman!

The last two Sundays at The Crossroads have been great. Shawn preached last Sunday about the monster within us all - our sin nature. Then this week we started a three week series from Dave Ramsey about conquering debt so that we can use our finances for kingdom purposes. We want our people to get serious about tackling their financial bondage to credit cards. I know that we have struggled with debt in the last few years, and just in the last two years have been able to pay it down. I just now as I am writing realized the strangest thing - we took a gigantic pay cut to become church planters, and at the same time have not only paid our bills and got groceries on the table, but we have nearly paid off our debt. How cool is that! God definitely honors obedience!

I would ask that you pray for The Crossroads. We have been through hard times lately, and want to continue to serve faithfully. Our people are hurting, pray that we can help them to find healing in Christ.