This post was triggered by one sentence that absolutely hit me wrong from the start but the more and more I thought about it the more the Wesleyan in me could not help but articulate why it hit me wrong.
In Beth Moore's study 'Entrusted' in the 4th video session she states, "You are NOT your own worst enemy." She was teaching that Satan and the other devils are very much our enemy. And they are! But the matter of him or them (the devils) being our "worst" enemy has me say, "Beth... let's rethink this." Who is our worst enemy? Here is why I don't think it is Satan or any of the devils that followed him. Though we should be aware of him and not give in to his temptations.
1. Whatever Satan does or says to me cannot separate me from God.
Satan has no power until I/you give it to him. An enemy is only an enemy if they have the power to hurt you. I would say he is an enemy because he wants destruction in our lives... but not our worst enemy. Our problem is that we give Satan power to use against us when we choose sin. He can't do it without us.... so, which one is greater? In James 4:7 it says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." The power is in your hands. When we choose to sin we separate ourselves from God. Satan did not separate us from God, we separated ourselves from God with use of our own free will (this is both talking about personal and original sin). Thank God for prevenient grace! Thank God for Christ's work and mercy that pays for the sin debt we chose!
2. Our sin is just as much our enemy as Satan... and dare I say, I think sin is more of an enemy since it does Separate us from God!
In Matthew 6:13, The Lord's Prayer, some translations read like this, "And deliver us from the evil one." Other translations say, "Deliver us from evil." Which one is it?! Is it an evil being that Christ is modeling us to pray to be delivered from? Or is it general evil? Evil one vs. evil...In the Greek they translate "evil one" and "evil" from πονηρός (poneros) which means evil, wicked, bad, worthless, guilty, be sick, crime...
So, in our English translated Bibles we are at the mercy of the translator to make that decision for us. So, in this passage is Jesus really talking about Satan or is it talking about ALL evil? I would/I do interpret this to mean All EVIL. Which causes me to pray this prayer as I unpack the Lord's Prayer...
Lord, I don't want to just be delivered from Satan. I want to be delivered from Anything and Everything that separates me from you. God deliver me from my sin! Deliver me from my old self... make me new... make me new! Make me yours! Make me Holy! Deliver me from evil! Amen!
3. We have free will.
If we act like our greatest enemy is the one who taunts us instead of the one who can act on it, or the spirit that wants to act in sin, or the part of us... the sinful nature that is of the flesh... that is when we miss our power! God gave us free will.... we can use it for good! but we can also use it for bad. Satan cannot use our free will. But we can use our free will and other people can use their free will. In fact, I am more fearful of other people's free will than I am of Satan. But Jesus Christ doesn't sit back and just let us drown in our sinful nature or our sin that we chose with our free will. He gifts us His Spirit at the very instant we accept Him! And He starts pruning us and through the process of sanctification, entire sanctification.... we are given a new life that we yield up our free will for His will! So even if I am my own worst enemy by choosing sin... Christ crushes all my/all our enemies! I no longer have to be my own worst enemy because Christ. Satan is no longer my worst enemy because he has lost his power... because Christ. I am going to live in the freedom of the Gospel! There is no longer a worst enemy... there are enemies... but they aren't the worst. They've got nothing on my Jesus.
Thanks be to God!
"Satan, go bother a rock." :) Amarie Russell, a good friend and mentor of mine, taught me that saying. I believe it.... we have power to go tell him to bother a rock. "In Christ name, Satan... GO BOTHER A ROCK." And he has to. The power is in you. Use it for good....or you could choose to use it for evil but don't think for a second Satan has any deciding factor over you. He is a defeated enemy.
Tonight, you and me... we tucked her in to her bed as we prayed about her new school. Her new friends. Her new teacher.
She cried. And cried. And cried.
Well, Lord, I am crying too.
She is going into a main stream class. She is just now realizing that she won't have last years teachers and her good friends will not be there with her. No longer is she in a special needs preschool where all her friends are "like" her... but now we enter into the world of Kindergarten. Will she be the only one in her class with an IEP? Will the other kids be able to understand her? Will her teacher be able to understand her? Will kids be nice to her? Will they notice she can't make eye contact? Will they make fun of her for her rubbing her forehead when she gets excited or nervous?
Lord, I am going to ask for 3 things.
1. I am going to ask that you never ever leave her alone! Always be with her and go before her. Surround her with your presence. Your Word says you never leave us and I know it but tonight, tonight my momma heart needs to simply ask you... because I WANT YOU with her. Don't leave my baby, Lord.... I can't go to Kindergarten with her but YOU can! Hold her close, Lord. I am trusting her to you.
2. I am going to ask for 1-2 kids that will be a good good friend. That will understand her. That won't defriend her for a meltdown because she doesn't understand how a game is to be played. Lord, send one or two kids that will make sure she isn't alone on the playground. That will talk to her at lunch.
3. I am going to ask that you keep giving her the spirit of overcoming. The Spirit of perseverance that you have given her from the beginning. She overcome being born at 32 weeks. She overcame bladder reflux. She is overcoming a speech delay. She is rocking autism. Lord, keep that spirit fresh in her. Keep her fighting. Keep her reaching for her goals, not looking at those around her but eyes focused on where she is. She can applaud her classmates for their successes but let her eyes focus on where you have her and her goals. Lord, I gave up asking for perfection... I just want to see her progress keep moving forward. Lord, help her to not feel frustrated when she is having trouble grasping new concepts. Help her have clarity and understanding. Help us help her with learning new skills and concepts.
Lord, and dare I ask it but let her be a Light for you in her own unique way. Let her shine for you. I don't care if she ever shines academically. But may she always shine for you. Help her listen to her teachers. Help her be kind to her classmates and love those around her. Help her to be more and more like you as she grows physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
God, I am going to praise and thank you for what you are going to do in and through her this year. Autism cannot stop you. You are bigger than it. So, I am going to claim that success and victory today with tears streaming and a worried mommy heart. Will it be easy? probably not... but she will grow and learn this year.
Lord, thanks for listening and already moving in my heart to take the worry. I am so thankful I don't have to keep it I can give it to the one who carries all burdens. Thank you, Thank you. Thank you.
In Your precious and Holy Name,
In a few weeks, we will have Baptism Sunday at our church. After service, we are celebrating with a big church summer party! Food, slip and slide, bubble soccer, side walk chalk, bubbles, etc.! It is going to be a blast and it is an occasion to celebrate!
I was joking around saying it would be fun to baptize on the slip and slide! :) And right before you push them down the hill say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The kids would remember it for sure! Hehehe (It's a joke lighten up a little, I know a few people who wouldn't find that funny at all.)
But I started to think about that phrase, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"...
Reflecting on my own baptism, I went under the baptismal waters to represent dying to self, dying to my old ways, dying to sin. But came out of those baptismal waters a risen and new creation... in the "name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." No longer "Bobbi, the sinner" but a now a new found in His Name. It still gives me chills.
Baptized in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the Holy Spirit. By that name, we are named Saints. Paul calls those who are saved by faith "saints" in his letter to the Ephesians. Not a saint because of anything we have done, will do, or who we are but who's name we are found in. We are found saints not because of our worthiness but because of Christ's desire for us. At our baptism, we are immersed in all the operations of the Trinity.
The phrase isn't just a phrase that is said at baptism. But it is essentially the very work of salvation, our old name is gone, and now we are found In His Name. Resurrection defines Jesus' life; resurrection defines our lives. The birthing sac burst opens and out comes a new family member!
Looking forward to baptisms at Brem Naz on August 13th when we welcome new souls as brothers and sisters in Christ! :) Thanks be to God.
Some time ago, on a Nazarene Women's clergy group I am in, someone brought up the overwhelming times she is addressed by the title Ms._________. She wondered if it was prideful wanting her proper title to be used. (Note: This isn't a blog to argue if women can be pastors, in our denomination we affirm women but if your biblical interpretation doesn't you can read our denomination's statement here.) This post got me thinking but it also got me noticing. My ears now sting when I hear Ms.Bobbi. The fact is most women clergy have heard this and it hurts most us. I've been praying about it for a while, talking about it with my mentors, trying to pray my way through it and ignore it. I took one mentor's suggestion to tell them about the change and said, "You know a really cool thing just happened where the Church of the Nazarene recognized my call, what God is doing in and with me, and I've started fully preparing for ordination. Our denomination says my title is now Pastor! How cool is that! That we serve a church that allows us to answer that call!"
Well, it didn't work.
So, I kind of just gave up. Because well, other women in ministry are giving up, too. We give up. I sat here praying tonight and my prayer after going all evening being called Ms.Bobbi was this, "Lord, take away the pride. Lord, take away the sting. Lord, please let it be easier when/if Evy and Kennedy (my daughters) answer the call to Pastor. May the next generation not know this sting."
Because let's be honest for a minute. It hurts when people say we can't answer God's call just because we are women based on a few scripture verses that are taken out of context. And let's be honest, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN clergy has had to face someone who won't recognize that call just because she is female. We all feel this sting at one point or another. I think I hear something at least once a month that comes in the form of discouragement just because I am a woman in pastoral ministry. But tonight, I just wanted to give up on what I am called and hope it's better for the next generation. Because the title isn't the reason I do what I do... my God is the reason and people need to know Him, that's the reason! But giving up on titles sounds good to me. But it still hurts, which I came to realize wasn't pride but it was tied into my love language of words of affirmation. Now, the reason it stings makes sense. But is it a battle worth fighting? That I was unsure of.
And then it hit me.... if I give up, it won't be better for the next generation. Then tonight also, in the parking lot as we were leaving VBS I heard in a little voice, "Pastor Bobbi...". One little girl, out of a sea of adults used the title that God called me to. Because it isn't just a title but it is who we are. When women pastor it isn't just for the office chair but it is essentially who we are (just as men!). When we hear of someone far from God we instantly start praying and searching for them like the Good Shepherd. Pastor means shepherd. In our denomination, when someone is a Pastor that means they are working towards ordination or have been ordained. That means they have put themselves in a place of accountability for spiritual growth for themselves and others. That means they are working through a course of study to prepare and be ready. It means, picking up a pretty heavy cross... not one we asked for but one that God sang into our hearts, "would you be willing to answer this call so that others will know the power of my Cross?"
Tonight, one little girl made me realize that she notices. That she knows women can pastor. She affirmed that in my life, just as my example before her affirmed it in her life. Tonight, one little girl encouraged me to keep running this race even when people aren't cheering. One little girl reminded me that the long nights of studying for my seminary classes are worth it. But she affirmed to me that the next generation has a chance here! That instead of us having to fight to prove our calls, to be called by the right titles... etc.... but she proved that the next generation of Christian leaders may not have to prove that women are just as called as men but she proved that maybe one day... we can just focus on sharing Jesus. Wouldn't that be the day! Every race, every gender, every human has a calling.... He shows no favorites.
So a short list of why you should call "her" pastor:
1. God called her. If you can't call her pastor when she is called you are saying "God you should have chosen someone else." So, is it really us that has the pride issue?
2. Unless you call your male pastors, Mr.__________; show that God and the Church of the Nazarene supports and calls both equally.
3. The next generation needs to hear it. Little girls need to know they can answer this call and little boys need to know that girls can answer the call, too. The ministry of example.
4. The title also allows others to know they can come to us for prayer, spiritual guidance, and needs.
5. It isn't about her worthiness... it is about God's worthiness. He called her and anointed her and He will be glorified through her.
My next thing I wanted to type was, "I am sorry to push a title on you." But then God whispered into my ear, "Stop being apologetic about what I called you to do. Stop apologizing for your call." I am not sorry that God called me. I do wonder why sometimes. I wonder if I am good enough, I have a lot to learn and am learning a lot! I wonder why God called me...I often wonder that. But He is the God who uses the deeply wounded. Praise the God who uses wounded people. There is nothing in me that is worthy to be called except who He has filled me to be and how He guides my steps. Praise the God who calls.