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Part 1: “What’s your Burning Bush?”
One of life’s most frequently asked questions is, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” The following questions usually ensue: “Are these ideas from you Lord, or from me? What are my giftings and where do I fit in with the scheme of doing ‘great things’ for God?”
A decade ago a good friend of mine asked me the question: “What’s your burning-bush?” The context for this question is Exodus 3:1-4; here we find Moses tending a flock of sheep (not even his own) when he comes upon the burning bush.
1Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
Factors Surrounding the Bush
Moses saw the “bush” and through that encounter received his calling for the rest of his life—40 more years. Here are some factors surrounding this event that I hope will speak to you, challenge you, and encourage you.
1. God knew who Moses was.
Moses was called by name, twice. Think about this… did Moses know God at this moment? Unlikely. Raised as an Egyptian, fled from his own people, married the daughter of a (most likely at the time) pagan priest. 40 years later… 80-year old Moses encounters the bush
Did God know Moses? Absolutely. He called Him by name twice.
2. God knew where Moses was.
He knew his physical location on the mountain (He knew where to find him). He knew his age, He knew his fears, He knew his history and testimony, his successes and failures (He was aware of his identity questions.
3. God knew how to get Moses’ attention!
For Moses it was a bush that was burning, without burning up.
4. It was Moses’ response, that drew a response from God.
Read the first part of verse 4… “Moses saw it and then turned aside. When God saw this…”
Forget Moses… What About You?!
My point is this: What is YOUR burning bush? What is it that you notice as you go to work, to school, to church, when you lie in bed at night dreaming? What is in your make-up and design that is attracted to specific things? Do you want to heal the sick and lame that you see—in body, mind or spirit? Is it a word of knowledge to reach someone? Is it the homeless, or the elderly, or the children, who always seem so obvious to you, yet not to others? Do you find yourself thinking about new businesses or new ministry opportunities before they exist?
Don’t assume that everyone else notices the things that you notice: they don’t! You may walk the same street as another person yet see completely different things. In fact, this is a strategy I often use with my own outreach teams or during ministry to help reveal gifts, calling and God-inspired opportunities. God could be trying to get your attention in a way specific to you, so stop trying to find Him the way other people have; turn aside to what He is showing you Himself. For example, He probably won’t bring you to a plant that is on fire yet not burning up!
3 Questions to Consider:
- Do you recognize what it could be that God is using to get your attention? Your heart, your vision, your desire, passion, or those ‘unique-to-you’ ideas?
- Are you looking for it?
- Will you turn aside to investigate?
One final word… Even 80 years isn’t too late. Moses was 80 years old when he saw his burning bush, and he had been through a lot of “stuff”. It’s never too late for anyone with God; He hasn’t forgotten your name.
What is your burning bush?
Read Part 2 HERE.
Jeremy West has been on staff with Youth With A Mission since 1995. He teaches and runs training programs globally in the fields of discipleship and leadership development.
By Guest Blogger: Jan Martinez
Editor’s Note: Jan Martinez is the founder and Director of Christ Kitchen in Spokane, Washington. Christ Kitchen seeks to ‘love women out of poverty’ by providing employment opportunities as a means to discipleship. Jan’s book titled ‘Christ Kitchen’ releases this week.
I’d never witnessed a beating. To this day I shudder when I remember it. I had been reading in my car before a doctor’s appointment and happened to notice a young woman leaving the hospital. She was maybe 25 years old, very thin, pale complexion, worried eyes. She wore tired jeans and a loose fitting blue and white t-shirt. Her sandal had a broken strap and slapped awkwardly on the cement walk. As she hooked her purse over her shoulder, I watched her look around anxiously scanning the parking lot. Perhaps that is what caught my attention – her apprehension attracting mine. Her body shook slightly and I saw that she was crying. As she walked toward me, the pain on her face displayed untold miseries as if she carried a horrible burden.
My heart went out to her. Had she just lost a loved one, received bad news, a fatal diagnosis? It made me ponder what my face looked like after learning I had breast cancer. Curious what we think about when viewing another’s pain. Screeching brakes startled me out of my reflections as an older model sedan came skidding to a stop behind my car. “Get in!” screamed a clearly enraged man to the woman. Her crying stopped immediately when she saw him. In that moment, I interpreted her immediate calm as relief, like finally she had someone to share her burden, her sorrow. Now I imagine that it was actually certain fear of what would follow.
As soon as she got in the car, that huge, muscled man lit into her like a prizefighter on a punching bag. He struck her again and again – powerful, closed-fist blows to her face and belly. “Who’s (smack!) baby (smack!) is it?” the maniac bellowed as her body absorbed the blows and ricocheted off the window and seat.
I screamed. A deadly, guttural, hate-filled roar welled up in me. Instinctively, I jumped out of my car spilling my book and purse onto the pavement. What did I think I was going to do? Rip her out of a moving car in Hollywood cop-story style? Save her from the clutches of a mad man? I simply screamed. I screamed at him to stop. I doubt he even heard me as he put his car in gear and drove his bleeding baby’s mother away.
Did I get his license plate and report the assault to the police? Did I check at the hospital to find out who she was and make a report to Child Protective Services? I’m ashamed to say those ideas only occurred to me later. What I did was sit down on the curb as if I’d been punched in the stomach; a groan escaping me in sympathy with hers. And then I sobbed. I cried for that woman’s beaten body, for the possibility that he had killed the life within her, for their future, for my impotence, for the violence that’s hidden in a third of all relationships in our country.
I now carry my business cards in an easily accessible pocket or wallet. These perky little marketing tools advertising Christ Kitchen gift baskets and catered fare as well as my contact information are hardly a worthy defense against bullies or crazed offenders. But under our Christ Kitchen logo it says, a place of hope for women in poverty and I pray fervently for beaten souls to find hope. I hand these cards out to women in trouble, practicing for the time I am once again up against devastating odds. I pressed one into the hand of an overwrought mom in Target who was yelling at her crying baby. “Come see us,” I offered after she let me hold her child while she shopped. I jumped out of my car downtown and slipped a card into the shirt pocket of an inebriated woman slumped beside a building, hoping she might follow my prayers for her to our ministry.
If anything, the woman in the blue and white t-shirt taught me to be ready, intentional. My mentor, Jill Briscoe, always says, “The mission field is between your two feet.” At times it comes screeching to a halt interrupting our solitude and at others we have to act on simple clues God sets right in front of us. This must be what Paul meant when he wrote Timothy, “Be ready, in season and out of season, to preach the Word.”
“Be the Word,” my Lord comforts me when this violent world assaults my sweet life with powerful blows as I watch the evening news or drive through my neighborhood. “Be hope to my lost world.”
From Guest Blogger: Shawn Woo
As an avid Bible reader, I need a simple and user-friendly interface that facilitates my daily reading and sharing of the Bible, but as a pastor-in-training, I also need powerful features and extensive resources for in-depth exegetical study. Olive Tree serves these dual functions for me as my default Bible Study App.
Every morning, I use the M’Cheyne Bible-Reading Plan, which gets me through the New Testament and the Psalms twice, and the rest of the Old Testament once, in a year. Olive Tree reminds me what to read and shows me the progress I am making so I never have to worry about losing my place.
Of course, I don’t merely read from the plan. Sometimes I need to study a particular passage or research a topic, then I use the search function to find what I need via verse references or key words (Bye bye concordance!).
While reading, I highlight verses and passages that speak to me afresh, and share them on Facebook and/or Twitter. You can even highlight multiple verses at a time, which is very convenient! I use the blue highlighter for the OT, red for the NT, and yellow for my memory verses.
In addition to highlighting, I take notes, which I have sorted into six categories, Exegesis, Gospel, Mission, Spiritual Formation, Theology, and Miscellaneous. Within each of these categories I have sub-categories. For example, I have my Theology folder subdivided into major Systematic Theology categories. Each individual note is also tagged with key words and/or phrases so that I can easily find them.
These functions greatly facilitate my Bible study, because my notes are collected and organized in accessible fashion, as opposed to being scattered throughout thousands of pages. Furthermore, I never have to worry about losing all my highlights and notes when I get a new Bible. Olive Tree automatically syncs my highlights and notes across the different Bible versions that I have on my device! I can also back-up my notes on Evernote through Olive Tree for added security.
When I need to delve deeper into a passage of Scripture in preparation for preaching, I reference the original Greek or Hebrew, do word studies using theological dictionaries, and peruse my favorite commentaries for further insights.
Having Olive Tree on my phone means that I have the Bible with me everywhere I go. It’s a great way to stay connected to the Word of God as I go about my business in the world!
One of the signs of burnout is when you stop caring about the things you really should care about. You know you should take better care of your body, but you eat another bowl of ice cream instead. You know you shouldn’t watch so much TV, but you veg-out on mind numbing idiocy for hours anyhow (there’s a reason some call it the idiot box). You know you should spend more quality time with your family, but you choose to hibernate in the garage alone. You know you should drag your butt out of bed and go to church, but you roll over and think, “I’ll go next week” (and you’re the pastor!).
Burnout isn’t pretty. It isn’t fun. And it’s never anyone’s plan. You didn’t wake up one day and say, “Hmmm, wonder what I can do this week to end up in a pile of drool and in a fetal position, numb to everything?”
Typically, the path to becoming emotional toast happens slowly and unintentionally. You said, “Yes!” when you should have said “No!” to another commitment outside of your gift mix. You said, “Just this one time…” when you should have said, “Thank you, I’ll pass.” You did something out of obligation or to keep somebody happy because you still wrestle with being a people-pleaser. Or maybe you suffer from a “Messiah” complex and actually believe that the world might stop spinning if you stop spinning all the plates you’ve got up in the air.
Whatever the reason, the honest truth is, we are responsible for our choices, and all too often we choose poorly.
Okay, so that’s the problem. What’s the solution?
1. Own it and confess it. Living in denial about burnout is foolish. The path to health starts with acknowledging you need to change, and you want help.
2. Develop a trusting relationship with someone who will encourage and support you. This guy or gal shouldn’t be the “margin police” in your life, but they should be able to ask you the hard questions in love.
3. Intentionally carve out time in your calendar for rest and recuperation. I make appointments in my day-timer for me to be with me. If someone asks, “Are you available tomorrow at 8am for coffee?” and I’ve made an appointment to be with a cup of coffee and a good book, I say, “Sorry, no, I already have an appointment at that time.” And for heaven’s sake (and yours), don’t feel guilty about it!
4. Learn to practice the power of no! Where did we get the crazy idea “no” is a bad word? If you are going to survive for the long haul, you better figure out that always saying “yes” will kill ya!
5. Make a firm commitment to run, walk, bike, or Zumba at least three times a week for at least thirty minutes. How many times do we have to be told about the benefit of physical exercise? Seriously, this is a no brainer. By the way, go back and read #3 and then schedule several weekly appointments with the treadmill.
6. Rather than zone out, zoom out. Practice the lost art of reflection. Stop at least once a week, if not once a day, and zoom out to see the big picture. One of the easiest ways to suffer burnout is to lose sight of what truly does and doesn’t matter. I hate procrastination. I generally operate with the idea of not putting off until tomorrow what can be done today. But I’m learning to ask this simple and powerful question, “If I don’t do this, will it really matter in a week, a month, or a year from now?” Guess what? I’m not as critical to the world’s survival as I thought I was.
Burnout is a serious issue. You can’t be the man or woman of God you are destined to become if you lack the passion and energy needed to accomplish what He has called you to do. We need to have the long view and learn to live wisely.