My Rights Vs. My Responsibility Blog Series
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
How true this is. When I was a child I did think like a child and I acted like a child and I threw tantrums like a child. As I grew I put those childish ways behind me. At least physically and outwardly. However, I did not spiritually or inwardly. What do I mean about this? I mean innately I am selfish and all my selfish desires often overshadow what I am supposed to do and how I should think and act. In this series we will share how as followers of Christ we must change our view point about what we have a right to do versus what we have a responsibility to do.
I have 2 beautiful children as I shared in our previous blog series called Seasons, which can be found here. Amazingly enough, as innocent as babies are when they are born, they are also innately selfish. Truth be told that selfish desire is one of instinct for survival. They cry when they are hungry, it doesn’t matter that is 2 AM and Mom is exhausted they are hungry and need to be fed at that time. They cry when they soil their diaper. Again, they do not consider that mom just put them in the car seat and is trying to get to an appointment on time, this is the nature of who they are and they only thing they know. As they grow their selfishness grows with them. In the beginning, this selfishness is a survival instinct, but as they grow they do not so much need this instinct to survive but it becomes a stronger and stronger trait unless it is corrected and curbed by authority. That authority being the parents or guardians in that child’s life. Now we have all seen kids who have not had that trait corrected. We see kids who have never been told no and who still get their way, simply because they want to and can.
I want to suggest that far too often we are this way as adults, at least in our relationship with Christ. The world tells us we have the RIGHT to live however we want to live. We have the right to love whoever we want to love, the right to eat whatever we want to eat, sleep wherever we want to sleep, act, however, we want to act, say whatever we want to say, and basically, do whatever we want to do. This is true, to a point at least. Of course, if you break the law there are consequences, but society tells us that as long as what we do isn’t hurting someone else it is our right.
I can agree with this, you have the Right to do those things, but what about responsibility? Groan, we all have responsibilities, we have jobs, kids to raise, spouses to help, homes to keep clean, homework to do, etc. the list goes on and on, but that is not really the responsibility I am speaking about. I am talking about the responsibility that comes when you make a commitment to Christ, the responsibility that comes when you supposedly surrender your will to Him. You may have the right to do whatever you want, but when you ask Christ to become the Lord of your life, you lay down that right and pick up the responsibility of a relationship with Him.
When I was an immature Christian, I often felt the injustice of what was required of me. I grew up a kid of parents in ministry. To me, this meant I was held to a higher standard than my friends. There were a lot of things that my friends did that I, was not allowed to do. To me, this felt unfair and I often was frustrated with not being able to do these things. One big example was movies. Growing up I was not allowed to watch anything over the rating of PG, not at home and most definitely not with my friends. In high school my friends and I would do Friday movie nights, eventually, it got to where I was no longer invited because often this is how the conversation would go.:
Friend 1 Calls– Hey Laura, we are having a movie night, want to come?
Me – Yes, what are we watching?
Friend 1 – Remember the Titans
Me-Okay I will check with my mom
Me– Mom can I go watch Remember the Titans at Friend 1’s house?
Mom – What is it rated?
Mom – Okay, be home on time, go nowhere else and have fun
I would then go to my friend’s house
Friend 2 – Hey guys everyone is here are we ready to start The Replacements
Me – I thought we were watching Remember the Titans
Friend 1 – We just told you that so you didn’t have to lie to your mom
Me – I have to call my mom
Conversation with my mom –
Me – Mom they changed the movie, they are watching The Replacements
Mom – What is it rated?
Me – PG-13
Mom – I do not want you to watch that movie, it is not something we value, but I will leave the decision up to you.
Me – I am on my way home.
Now I am not saying that as a teenager I was perfect and that I always followed the rules, of course, I had my rebellious moments, but my friends did eventually stop inviting me to Friday movie nights because I usually went home from them anyway. Now I was always angered by this, I was angry with my friends for not choosing something I could watch, and I was angry with my parents for having such strict rules. Also, I truly knew I could not get away with lying to my parents about the movie, which is why I normally went home. I will not say it was purely out of the goodness of my heart. My reasons were much more selfish than that.
Looking back now I am thankful for my parent's rules, they really did protect me from a lot of garbage and helped me immensely to keep many negative and impure things form my brain. However, I still was a selfish person, and even though I outwardly obeyed, most of my obedience was out of the reality that I could not often get away with things or with lying and I hated being in trouble. I did, of course, get in trouble and was duly punished, but I far too often related my punishments to a thought that I have heard out of my own children’s mouths, as young as they are, and that is the words “it’s not fair.”
It wasn’t fair that my parents held me to a higher standard. It wasn’t fair that my friends didn’t care about my feelings. It wasn’t fair that I had to be the good kid because my parents were in ministry. It wasn’t fair that I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 17. It wasn’t fair that God had called me to be different than my friends. It wasn’t fair that when I did start dating a non-Christian boy that my parents made me break up with Him. It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t wear short shorts or spaghetti strap shirts. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair. Have you ever been told, “life isn’t fair”? I have. I have also already told my kids that fact, in a language they can understand. Life isn’t fair and my life wasn’t fair. Truth be told it is a good thing life isn’t fair.
If life was fair the first time I sped through a yellow light the police officer would have given me a ticket. If life was fair, the first time I went bridge jumping I would have broken my ankle instead of only spraining it. If life was fair I would have been grounded a lot more often then I actually was since I didn’t always follow the rules and didn’t always get caught. If life was fair, God would never have given me a second chance through His son Jesus on the cross.
Life isn’t fair, and for that I am thankful. When I was young I thought like a child, and I acted like a child. After I left home, I watched pretty much whatever I wanted. I read whatever I wanted and I went wherever I wanted. Now I was a good kid and didn’t go too crazy but I still did things that my parents would not have approved of. When I got into college one of my favorite shows to watch was Friends. I loved that show, I thought it was hilarious and I watched it as often as I could. However, I also began to struggle with lust. At the time I did not at all see the correlation between the two, but I often felt terrible about the thoughts that would randomly enter my head, the dreams I would have and I felt a lot of shame over them. I had read the bible and knew what Jesus had said about lusting.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You must not be guilty of adultery.’ But I tell you that if anyone looks at a woman with lust, he has already committed adultery with her in his mind. If your right eye causes you to sin, then take it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right-hand causes you to sin, then cut it off and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30
I didn’t want to go to hell because of my issues, but I didn’t know where they were coming from. Then one day I was reading my bible and studying in Ephesians when I came across this verse:
"But among you, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this, you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Ephesians 5:3-5
As I read this verse I became very aware of the thoughts again in my head. The thoughts I fought daily, the thoughts that seemed to plague my mind at night when I slept. I grew angrier and angrier with myself. I didn't surround myself with crazy people. I didn't watch terrible shows. I didn't read books full of sex. So why on earth did I keep having those thoughts? I prayed and asked God to answer me, I was so good in my mind, so why was I struggling so much?
Remember this is selfish Laura talking, self-righteous Laura talking. I was furious, I denied myself so many things so why was I still struggling? At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit. He as he often has in my life came in a nudge, a memory of late nights of episodes of Friends. He reminded me of the humor and the inferences in that show. I felt convicted and yet I had questions. I have friends who watch Friends and have no issues. I have godly friends who love that show and have no issues. At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of something else that I have always known quite acutely. I am not my friends.
I have always known this fact, I have always been very different from my friends. This is the reason I did go home from those Friday night movie get-togethers. It was why eventually they stopped inviting me to go out because most of the time I would not lie to my parents. Also, He reminded me that I had always been much more sensitive to things. Early on I would have nightmares over silly things. I watched the Fox and the Hound and had nightmares for months about foxes. If I hung out with people who were living sinful lives, I would become ill and have to leave because of the things binding their lives. I had always been sensitive to the things of God as well as evil. Therefore, I was different. God was calling me to something different. He was calling me to a responsibility He had not given others.
Truthfully, He has called all of us to a different standard. A standard that He didn't call the world too. He has called us, His followers, those sold out to Him to a different type of responsibility. Now I am not saying that you should not watch Friends. I cannot judge what God is calling you to do or not do. I can, however, tell you that He is calling you to be different. When you accept Him as your Lord and Savior He sets you apart.
I believe that after you become a Christian God does not suddenly dump all of your sins in your lap and expect you to change it all that day. If He did that you would curl up in a ball and ask Him to end your life because it would be too much. Instead, He slowly reveals things to you and shows you what displeases Him, then He asks you to surrender those things to Him. However, it is your choice to live out your Rights or accept the responsibility to live separate.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 NLT
I had to make the choice to walk away from shows like Friends, music with sexual inferences and I have not always done it right and at times have had to make course corrections. However, in my mid 20's I decided that I would give up my Rights and pick up the responsibility of living out my Christian walk. It is also your choice, do you want to be renewed and changed, accepting the responsibility of living a life for Him? Or do you want to live a life of destruction clinging to your rights?
It is a lot to think about, we will continue this series over the next 6 weeks. I hope you will continue with us on this journey.
Now Go in God Knowing that He Is Enough for You.
Eating Less Marshmallows
In this new series, Laura and I are exploring the topic of Rights versus Responsibilities. Unfortunately, now we live in an age of entitlement. Our culture has migrated toward participation trophies and medals just for trying. We often hear this generation, my millennial generation, characterized as lazy, easily-offended, and entitled. A generation that believes their rights trump their responsibilities. Not all millennials demonstrate this behavior, but the majority of them certainly are giving us a bad rap.
However, those that identify as Christ-followers fall under a different category. Whether you are generation X, Y, or Z, we who identify as Christians are called to be Christ-like, we are to be counter-cultural. This means we are to give up our position, our rights, and our privileges because that’s the example Christ lead. This life just isn’t fair. It isn’t supposed to be fair. “Life isn’t fair get over it.” (I believe I’m quoting my second-grade elementary school teacher, if I remember correctly). We’re intended to crave a just world, a different world, that’s heaven.
But here we are on planet Earth living out our days waving around our rights and neglecting our responsibilities. Last week, Laura kicked off our series with a great post, please take a gander here. I, like Laura, was an immature Christian feeling my rights trumped my responsibilities.
However, unlike Laura I actually choose not to watch PG-13 movies of my own volition and I never had this desire to wear skimpy clothes because spaghetti straps made me feel weird. I don’t recall feeling that my life was unfair compared to my peers. I actually intentionally choose to be different from them.
In my Stats class a guy apparently made a sexual innuendo while talking to our table group. I asked what he meant, and he said, “You’re a prude, Megan, you wouldn’t understand.” I actually had to look up what the word “prude” meant.
In my senior year of high school, I had a free fourth period. Instead of hanging out with friends during this time or going out to lunch, I marched my little patootie over to the library. And not just the “social” part of the library out in the open, I went to that little quiet area, that area with cubbies completely walled off from anybody.
So I wouldn’t say I struggled with the “Blah blah is doing it, why can’t I?” conversation. For my age, I was definitely responsible. I had a good group of girlfriends, we stayed out of trouble, I didn’t do the drugs/alcohol thing, I didn’t party, I excelled in school, I did my chores, and I practiced my piano. So yes, I was responsible at a young age. I was the teenager that watched television with my parents on Friday night and was in bed by 9pm. Not because I was forced to, I just really enjoyed being home, it was safe for me. I remember never having a curfew when my friends and I would go to school dances, I’m sure my parents were just happy I was being social for once.
In retrospect I dealt with a different type of entitlement. I felt that it was my right to get anything that I worked hard enough for. In my mind, hard work always equaled success. It equaled results. If I worked hard then it was my right to get what I worked hard for. It was mine.
I felt it was my right to get A’s when I worked hard. I felt it was my right to get a car when I earned my driver’s license. I felt it was my right to go to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo because I worked for that goal since 8th grade. I understood the value of hard work, but I also felt there was always a reward as a result of it.
There’s this little video on Youtube about children and a marshmallow, reflecting the correlation of delayed gratification and future success. You can watch the video experiment here and the TED talk reflecting on the results here. I would characterize past, present, and future Megan as one that is good at denying her immediate needs for the sake of a future reward. However, past Megan applied this ability to delay gratification in order to make her successful.
Much, if not all, my hard work especially in high school was driven by selfish reasons. Doing well in school is certainly not a bad thing at all, in fact I highly encourage it, but an undercurrent of selfishness drove me to excel. There’s was always something in it for me, not only that, I didn’t want anyone close to achieving my kind of success. It was my right, if I was the best it was because I deserved it and worked hard for it. I liked the view from the top.
I worked hard to go to Cal Poly and I did end up going there. However, I didn’t want anyone else to join me. If that was the case, then I probably shouldn’t have picked a university only an hour and half away from my hometown. Turns out lots of students from my graduating class joined me at Cal Poly. It flustered me to no end because I was the one planning my application since 8th grade. Then these peons decided months before the application was due to submit it and we both end up in the same place.
Mrs. Shinnerer’s quote still rings in my ears, “Life isn’t fair get over it.”
We are all bent toward sin, toward selfishness, and that’s where things get messy. That’s where we feel our rights trump our responsibilities.
Now what if we married the delayed gratification marshmallow principle with our call to be Christ-like? Christ gave up his rights, his privileges as God’s one and only Son and took on the responsibility of redeeming mankind from their sin and selfishness.
What if, just what if, we delayed our gratification here on Earth for our much greater reward in heaven? What if we shed the millennial mindset of “my rights are greater than my responsibilities” and accept Christ-like responsibility?
In two weeks, when I post my “I Am” blog for this series, I’ll be sharing how my mindset has transitioned through the natural process of maturing as an adult and as a woman of God. I’ve (at a snail pace) transitioned from, “it’s my right to have what I work hard for,” to this thing, this God’s Enough – Women’s Ministry thing, is all about shedding our rights and stepping into much more responsibility, Christ-like responsibility. I’m excited to share it with you!
At the end of the TED Talk I linked above, the last thing Joachim de Posada said was, “In the [United] States, we are eating more marshmallows than we’re producing.”
Let us, as Christ-followers, eat less metaphorical marshmallows and become a marshmallow factory of Christ-like responsibility.
Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!
With Love, Megan
One of my favorite movies is UP. I laugh so hard every time the dogs get distracted by what they think might be a squirrel. I laugh so hard when the dogs yell squirrel and watch it repeatedly. It reminds me a lot of myself. I have struggled most of my life with ADHD and therefore have always struggled to stay focused.
Of course, in childhood, this was very difficult and school was a challenge for me. I was also dyslexic so I did not cope well until I was given tools to help me. I learned that I needed to keep my hands busy, to keep my mind engaged. Yes, I mean like a fidget spinner (they do help though not every child needs one in the classroom). I do not let my son take his fidget spinner to school because he does not need a coping mechanism to pay attention. Back in the day, we didn’t have fidget spinners so I used things like silly putty, doodling on the corners of my paper and or typing on a keyboard, (once I had a laptop). These things were not the end all answers but they helped and over time I found ways and created habits and patterns that helped me to stay focused and on task for longer periods of time. For example, I know if I can move every hour or so I am okay and can focus better than if I just sit and try to listen and stay focused for hours on end. I still take times when I get up and move around throughout the day. This helps me to clear my head. This is my coping mechanism.
In my relationship with God, I have also found myself distracted. This is not the same as the distraction with ADHD. This is a distraction I have chosen. This is a distraction that I make for myself. This is a distraction that I put ahead of my responsibilities. The distractions are my right; however, they detract from that which is best and most effective in my relationship with God. I want to say something a little shocking right now, being distracted isn’t necessarily a sin. Distraction themselves are not always sinful, but if something interferes with or takes away from your relationship with God it can be very detrimental and will hurt you in the long run.
Satan cannot force you to sin, and truthfully, he doesn’t need to. When we choose distractions as our rights over investment in our walk with the Lord we find ourselves on a slippery slope. The distractions that we choose over our walk with God began to take place of our fellowship with Him. As those things slip into the place of what we should be doing we drift from the steadfast relationship with Him and find ourselves lost. Why lost, because of what Matthew tells us in chapter 7.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NLT
See the path to Heaven, is narrow and difficult, however, the path to destruction and hell is huge and full of distractions. Those distractions do not have to be a sin, they just have to pull us away from the path that is set before us, by God.
In the I Was portion of this series I wrote about how I struggled with lust when watching Friends. I also mentioned that it was not necessarily a sin for others to watch Friends, but for me it is wrong. Not just because I began to struggle with sinful things when I watch it but also because it was a distraction.
For me, distractions have come in many different forms. At times it is movies, other times it is a book, occasionally it is people and even at other times, it is just the business of life. See God doesn’t just want us, He doesn’t just want us to make Him Lord of our life, He wants us to have an actual relationship with Him.
Each morning as I start my day I listen to the bible, this is a part of my morning routine and my time with God. While I am listening, I will work on some other things such as packing lunches and getting ready for the day. There are times though when I realize I have been listening for 15 minutes and haven’t heard one word of the verses spoken. When this happens, I usually start the section over. I listen to the Bible more than I read because I retain more when I listen, due to having dyslexia. However, I can still become distracted while listening. That distraction can be my kids walking in and out of the kitchen. Another distraction might be water running in my laundry room, which is right off my kitchen. These things take away from what I am listening too and therefore take away from the message, as a whole. When this happens, I have to stop and review or even start over. The distractions are not necessarily bad, however, they are like the squirrels to the dogs in UP. They interrupt the moment. Now my kids are not evil, nor is my washing machine, they just create distractions that I have to work around in order to have my quiet time with God. Those distractions I will take time for, but I also make it a priority to spend time with God, undistracted so that I can remain close in a relationship with him.
Here are some things that I have at times chosen purposefully that distract from my relationship with God and therefore began to pull me off the narrow path. One is books. Are books bad? No, literature is amazing. However, if I focused on reading books and never stopped to focus my mind on my relationship with God I began to lose ground in my relationship with God. It is like this if when my husband wants to go on a date with me, I decide instead I want to finish the last chapter of a book I am reading, this will detract from my relationship with him and he might even stop taking me out on dates. If when my kids ask to put a puzzle together with me I decide I don’t want to because then I cannot listen to my audiobook, which is too mature for them, this hurts my relationship with them and tells them I do not value them as much as I do the book to which I am listening. I have chosen not to do that to my kids or my husband and if I won’t do that to them, why do I do it to God?
The truth is I have the right to choose distractions good or bad. I have the right to say I want to read right now instead of praying. The choice is mine I can choose my rights or I can choose to pick up the responsibility of my relationship with Christ and ignore the Squirrels. Do not panic, there are ways to cope with distractions.
Does this mean I will never listen to another audiobook or watch TV again? No, however, I must make sure I recognize when those things are becoming a distraction from what is most important. I do not want them to hinder my surrender and relationship to my Creator. So you can keep calm I am not saying you have to be a nun and only read the bible, just recognize distractions as what they are, and refocus on the things of God, that is your responsibility.
In this life, I Am choosing to make sure I stay on His straight and narrow and avoid Squirrels.
Now Go in God Knowing that He is Enough for You.
I often glamorize the life of a female speaker and Bible teacher. I’ve found myself enamored with their life, from the outside looking in, it just seems like the best combination. You mean your job is to read, study the Scriptures, and encourage women? What a great deal.
However, the reality is that this road Laura and I are on is much more sticky. We see powerful speakers in household names like the Beth Moores, Lysa TerKeursts, and Priscilla Shirers of this world. We see the glamour of thousands of people clamoring to hear them speak. We don’t see the closed door conversations, we don’t see the grimace of those in the audience, we don’t see their email inbox.
When Laura and I took the plunge this past January, when we made the decision to push forward with God’s Enough, one of the first things I told her was, “Laura, this scares me.”
Laura’s response, “Me too. At least we’ll be scared together.”
As I study scripture, I see that effective ministry was done in two’s. Moses and Aaron of the Old Testament, Paul and Timothy of the New Testament, just to name a couple. Even during Jesus’s ministry, He sent out his disciples in groups of two (Mark 6:7). There must be a reason for this, then I remembered Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV).
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The repetition of ministry duo’s in the Bible is not just a suggestion, it’s encouraged and highly recommended. Churches today have adopted that mentality when hiring ministry staff. In fact, when Laura was interviewed for her Ministerial Credentials, they also interviewed her husband, Ted. (Side note: I’m hoping to test and interview for my credentials in 2019 in which case both me and my husband, Ben, will be interviewed.) When stepping into a ministry position, churches oftentimes look for a person in a strong marriage relationship. Why? Because ministry is rough. It can be demanding and draining, and it never turns off. A ministry worker must have a strong support system in place to face the storms of ministry. This is why Ecclesiastes, a book of Solomon’s wisdom, reveals that two are better than one. In the seven months of God’s Enough, Laura and I have seen the power of two vision-oriented women working together towards a common goal. Up front, Laura and I know that not everything we do is 50/50. I take the lead on somethings and she takes the lead on others. We also recognize that life happens and will continue to happen. As a team we encourage one another, put pressure on one another, and grow together in this ministry.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Oftentimes, we see this verse in the context of a marriage relationship. The husband and wife and God equal the three stands. Similarly, both Laura and I are each in solid marriage relationships. Essentially God’s Enough is a five-cord strand and will not be quickly broken by this world. We have a solid support system in each other and in our husbands, all of whom have personal, ongoing relationships with Christ.
However, something bugs me. This thing we’re doing is not uncommon. While we would love to be the only ones paving the way for speaking and writing women’s ministry, we’re not. We follow a long line of trailblazing women who have set the pace. In addition, we have lots of peers seeking to do exactly what we are doing.
As Laura saw one evening during a game night with our husbands, I have a competitive nature. I want to win. You’ll see in my previous blog post, when I put my mind to something I want to be the best. But the tricky part of being a competitive woman is that my sinfulness and selfishness creep in. This can make ministry messy. To be honest, over the course of the last seven months, I have battled my own selfish desire.
I’ve been listening to a podcast recently and just became head over heels for it. But in one of the episodes she shared her story. I learned that she went from blogging and making little videos on Facebook to getting hundreds of millions of views within an eight-month time frame.
I immediately found myself so jealous of her. She’s only a year older than me and yet she came about so much success in such a short time frame.
Ben knew I was stewing on something, so he asked what was on my mind. I shared how I was battling this jealousy I had of this woman’s success. I immediately felt the conviction of my jealousy, I knew it was ungodly to be feeling this way. And yet, I still wrestled with the human fleshly side that wanted name recognition, success, and praise. While processing this jealousy out loud with Ben, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that this was a heart issue. If my desire for God’s Enough – Women’s Ministry is name recognition, fame, and success, then it’s not a ministry. I’ll be doing it for my own glory, not to accomplish the work of God’s Kingdom. If I, half of God’s Enough, crave name recognition, or people clamoring to hear me speak, or financial success, this ministry really won’t go anywhere. (Then Ben frankly told me I needed to include this in my next blog post, so here I am.)
Because I’ve glamorized the life of a writer and speaker, I found myself craving worldly success. I didn’t realize this was bubbling in my heart until my reaction to this podcast brought it to the surface.
So, here’s my prayer.
A battle rages between my selfish, sinful nature and my desire to genuinely reconcile women to you. Please, mold my heart to fit your righteous will. Remove this desire for fame and success from my heart. Make Laura sensitive to the Spirit when I battle this fame, so she may speak to me in loving truth (and vice a versa). I pray over Ted and Ben, that you also make them sensitive to the Spirit as they walk alongside us in this ministry. Lord, I relinquish my right to success. God’s Enough – Women’s Ministry has nothing to do with Laura and Megan, we are simply vessels, mouthpieces. This ministry is about shedding our selfish rights and stepping into much more responsibility, Christ-like responsibility. Teach me to be an effective, humble minister for your Kingdom. You’ve given both Laura and I unique testimonies and you’ve brought Laura and I together. You’ve guided us these last seven months as God’s Enough has taken shape. Our right is not to land a book deal with a big Christian Publishing company and our right is not to have thousands listen to us speak. Our responsibility is to put in the hard work of ministry as we remain connected to Christ, the vine (John 15: 4-5). Our responsibility is to ensure our heart is in the right place. Our responsibility is to push the notion of “being discovered” out of our heads and focus on the community we’ve been placed in. Lord, we are yours to use. Keep us in your loving care, keep us humble, and teach us to be responsible.
Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!
With Love, Megan
Evaluating My Soil
In this journey of Rights Vs. Responsibility I have found that God is pinpointing some things in my life, and helping me to recognize that He is no where near done with me. As Megan shared last week He is showing both of us how we need to respond to Him and that we need to grow. None of us is perfect and we will not arrive, so to speak, until we reach heaven. However, our responsibility as believers is to hear God's word, let it take root in our lives, and grow. It is like the Parable found in Matthew 13.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
In our lives, each and every one of us has had seeds planted. These seeds come in words of encouragement from others. They come from sermons we have heard. If we are reading our bible seeds are being planted in our minds and hearts. There are many ways that these seeds come into our lives, however, that does not mean that they will take root. As we read in Matthew 13 the farmer went out and planted many seeds, but only in the good soil did those seeds bear a harvest.
It is our responsibility to make sure that we are that good soil, ready to allow those seeds to take root and bear a harvest. How do we do this? Let's take a little bit deeper dive to better understand to see how. You can find Jesus' explanation of the parable in Matthew 13:18-23 if you would like to read it for yourself.
Have you ever read something that you didn't understand? I have. For me, this is a common experience, mainly because I am dyslexic and often have to read things a few times before they make sense. That is like the seeds the seeds that fell on the path, the birds at them. This would represent those who hear (God's word) and do not understand its meaning, and so Satan snatches them away.
How do we take responsibility when we do not understand what we read or hear about God and the Bible? When we do not understand what we are hearing or reading we must search for the answers. Reread the verse, ask other, smarter Christians questions, even look at Bible commentaries to find answers. Mainly do not use a lack of understanding as an excuse to not taking responsibility for your actions. If you will take the responsibility to find the answers and the truth you will be better prepared for persecution.
Have you ever had a moment when you were so excited about something new in your life, maybe it was a gift or something you just bought and someone came along and had something better and suddenly what you had didn’t feel as great? Or maybe you just learned something new and someone came along with a different argument or interpretation and made you feel stupid? This is like the seeds planted in the rocky soil, it sprang up quickly but then it was scorched and withered because its roots were not deep enough. As Jesus explains later on, in Matthew 13, this reflects those who hear the Word and receive it with joy, but fall away when faced with persecution.
How then do we overcome the hurdle of persecution in our walk with God? Prepare our hearts and minds for God's word. Remove the rocks, the things that hinder us. In my, I Am post I talked about distractions, and how they can be hindrances in our walk of faith. So, watch out for the distractions and things that will keep the seeds from going deep. Persecution will come our way that is just reality in this life. If we have removed distractions and things that make us doubt God's word we will face that persecution with more confidence.
In life, there are many times where we can feel as though we are not able to overcome worries. Worries, those things that keep us up at night, the things that cloud our hopes and stop our dreams. This is the example of the seeds that fell among the thorns. They, the seeds, tried to grow but were choked out by the growing thorns. This is like us when we hear God's word but the worries of this world and our lives prevent those seeds from bearing fruit.
There are always things to worry about, stresses that will come our way and distract us from the things of God. It is not those situations that are the problem as much as the fact that our dwelling on them will destroy any confidence we have in God. So how do we rise above the worry? We daily surrender it to Him. Each and every day we have to let Him carry those burdens for us. We need to lay them at His feet and not pick them back up. When we begin to dwell on them, we stop and say "no, I have already surrendered that to God."
Finally, we come to the healthy soil, the soil that produces a crop. This is the soil of the person who has let go of their rights and accepted the responsibility of their relationship with Christ. They have not let a lack of understanding keep them from diving deeper into God's word. They have removed distractions and have given their worries to Him. He has become the Lord of their life fully and they are now sowing seeds in the lives of others. They have come to a realization that they are not the Enough, He is. They have given up their rights to take on the responsibility of a life and relationship with Him.
In my walk with the Lord, I know that in order to be fruitful I must daily evaluate the soil of my life. I must look at my heart and mind and make sure it is ready to accept His word without misunderstanding, distractions, and as Megan mentioned last week, pride. See I have to make Him greater in my life than I am. The more I allow God to take over my life and His word to infiltrate my heart, the more I realize who he is. I then remember that I am not great, He is, I am not the most, He is, I am not worthy, He is, and I am not Enough, but He is. John says it best when he spoke of the bridegroom, Jesus.
"It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else." John 3:29-31 NLT
He is greater than anyone else and if we are choosing our responsibilities over our rights we will realize His greatness far surpasses our own. His greatness is what transforms us from shallow, worried, and rocky path believers to deep, responsible fertile believers who bear fruit for Him.
So, I encourage you today to evaluate the soil of your heart and mind. Let go of your rights as a believer and accept the responsibility of making Him greater in your life so that you can produce fruit. Every day I will continue to give up my rights and instead continue in the responsibilities He has given me to bear fruit. I will be evaluating my soil.
Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You.
Thinking of Myself Less - A Conversation on Sin, the Apostle Paul, and C.S. Lewis
Laura and I meet up a few times a month to chat about God’s Enough logistics. Sometimes the conversation takes a tangent and we talk about some other stuff. Such was the case this past week.
I really do not know how it came up, but suddenly I am sharing, “Laura, this week I have been really feeling the burden of my sin.”
All last week, I really struggled with this weight on my shoulders. It was a different kind of weight than just stress. Frankly, it was hard to describe, which is why I probably blurted it out to her. Laura usually has good insight, so I like sharing these things with her.
At this point in my life, I am not actively choosing a life of sin, like my days entrenched in the eating disorder. But I am a sinner. I do sin every day. And last week, I was so aware of my sin – whether it was a thought, word, or action – and it really hurt. It felt burdensome.
Laura quickly resonated with my struggle as it is something she has wrestled with herself. She gracefully responded that as I grow closer to God my heart becomes like His. God hates sin. In fact, He sent His Only Son to die for our sins to reconcile us to Him. Our sin hurts Him because He recklessly loves us.
So, God slowly reveals our sin to us. He exposes a behavior, a habit, or a personality trait that is not pleasing to Him. As He reveals little by little, our responsibility is to align back with God’s direction and His vision. We confess this behavior, habit, or trait and use the Holy Spirit’s strength to overcome it. However, if God revealed to us every sin in our life all at once, we would just curl up into a ball and never get up (paraphrase of Laura). If exposed to the reality of all our sin all at once, we would become paralyzed with fear, shame, and guilt. Laura used the analogy of our physical skin. If we were to peel back each of the layers, one by one, eventually we will hit nerves causing pain.
In all my maturity my response was, “Why is everyone else not struggling with this?”
She kindly reminded me that even a couple years ago I was not at this place.
Then a few days later, Laura texted me sharing a devotional that succinctly answered what we were just talking about.
You can find this on the Youversion Bible App (Bible in One Year 2018) Day 214 under “Devotional.”
“The light of God’s presence reveals the dark places in our hearts – the sins we would like to conceal even from ourselves. The psalmist says, ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling-place… You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence’ (vv.1a, 8).
The longer we spend in God’s presence the more the light shines and highlights our sin. The apostle Paul started out by describing himself as ‘the least of the apostles’ (1 Corinthians 15:9). Later on he called himself ‘less than the least of all God's people’ (Ephesians 3:8). Finally, he described himself as ‘the worst of sinners’! (1 Timothy 1:16).
It is not that he got worse; it is simply that, through the awesome power of God’s presence, he became more and more aware of the light shining in his heart. That could seem very negative, but actually for Paul it was quite the opposite. His overwhelming feeling was gratitude and praise because no matter what he had done wrong, he knew that he was forgiven and could know relationship with God.
As Christians, we can look forward to that relationship lasting forever. God is eternal, ‘From everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Psalm 90:2b). Yet we know only too well the fragility of human life. The psalmist reminds us that we return to dust as mortals (v.3), we are like new grass that by the evening is dry and withered (vv.5–6), and our usual life span is seventy or eighty years (v.10).
God’s everlasting nature is part of who he is. For us, eternal life is not automatic or natural. ‘The wages of sin is death’, but the gift from the everlasting God is ‘eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
The part that struck me was about Apostle Paul. I never noticed how his writing digressed from the “least of the apostles” to the “worst of all sinners.” Like the devotional stated, it is not that Paul became any worse, actively choosing a life of sin. No, as he grew closer to God more light was shed on his own sin. He realized no amount of works could qualify him into righteousness. Fortunately for us, and like Paul, we live on this side of history, this side of the covenant. Jesus’ work on the cross covered all our sins. All that burdensome ugliness exposed in the light of God’s goodness is covered with the sacrificial blood of Jesus. I am not required to sacrifice an animal to atone for my sins like the Old Covenant commanded. I, on this side of history, not only am considered blameless in God’s eyes, but I have a right relationship with Him. He is not a far-off distant idea. He is close, He is with me and I will be with Him eternally. His love and grace envelop me. His Holy Spirit guides me.
So, we see in Paul’s writings that as he grew closer and closer to God, Paul thought of himself less.
Originally, when I wrote that last sentence I said, “he thought less of himself.” But, I changed it to what you see above because of this C.S. Lewis quote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
To succinctly wrap up the God's Enough - Women's Ministry Rights vs Responsibilities blog series, I conclude with the following: our rights as Christ-followers are little and our responsibilities are great. Our selfishness and pride (see my last two blog posts here and here) give us a false sense of rights, as if we deserve anything God gives us. With that mindset, our responsibilities are neglected. Instead, our responsibility is to acknowledge our sin and feel the weight of it, because quite frankly it is incredibly humbling. But thankfully our responsibility does not end there. We must release this burden to God because He’s already ransomed us. He bought us for a price, the price of sacrificing His One and Only Son. Our responsibility is to live in humility, but not in a spirit of self-deprecation. Instead, we are to think of ourselves less so that we may make God greater in our life. Fortunately for us, we serve an Almighty, Sovereign God who quite frankly has everything under His control. To honor Him, I will be thinking of myself less.
*As a side note, if you are interested in listening to the Bible in a year, you can check out the Youversion Bible reading plan mentioned above. Laura likes to use it because of its audio portion. After all, she is a wife, a mom, has a full-time job in ministry, and is a co-founder of God’s Enough – she is very busy. I was introduced to the Daily Audio Bible by my mom (thanks mom!) this year and have been listening to that daily. Just some good options!
Now Go in God Knowing He is Enough for You!
With Love, Megan
Tagged: C.S. Lewis