Finding the sacred in this place

Hats and sunglasses, that’s what my son likes, and he’s amassing a collection.

When we headed to the beach this week to enjoy the weather,  he popped his Paw Patrol baseball cap on his head .

“This is my beach hat,” he announced.

Then he gave me the full run-down.  His Batman hat is for playgrounds.  His Paw Patrol hat is for the beach.  And, when he gets a Star Wars hat , that will be for the aquarium.  “My aquarium hat,” he says.

This is funny on so many levels.

For one thing, he doesn’t need an aquarium hat since we are infrequent visitors.

And for  another thing, we really and truly just grab whichever hat we can find whenever it’s time to go to wherever we’re going.  We have more than one hat precisely because we don’t always know where any given hat is at any given moment.

Hats are essential  wardrobe pieces for us.  We are fair-skinned folks who burn at the slightest hint of sunshine.

But exactly how many hats does he plan on having anyway?

Specific hats for specific places may not be practical or likely by any stretch of the imagination, and yet I love the idea of valuing place, all the individual beauty and uniqueness of this place and that place.

How something changes in us as we travel from  here to there, something about us in those destinations that might even require a new and different hat.

It’s so biblical, isn’t it, the way God’s story roots itself  in geography and location?  The Holy Land and Mount Sinai, Eden and Bethel ,right on to Bethlehem, to gardens and mountaintops, the Sea of  Galilee, the Jordan River.

God’s story in us does the same thing.

There are places that have entwined themselves with my own salvation story:  a childhood neighborhood, a college campus,  a church, a two-year sojourn in New Jersey, and the long-term settling in Virginia where God continues to work in me.

Maybe certain places in our lives are set aside for a holy work of significance.

Like the way the burning bush drew Moses’s attention out in the wilderness, and how God brought him and all of Israel back to that same holy mountain after they made it out of Egypt.

Or the way Jacob camped out at Bethel and saw a vision of a stairway to heaven and then returned to the same place years later to settle there with his family and build an altar to God.

It helps to know what places have holy significance for us, especially when we’re seeking His face.  Where do we go when we want to be alone with Jesus?  Where do we go when we’re desperate for a glimpse of Him or to hear His voice?  Where do we go when we need hush and peace and a stillness in our hearts?

Where is our Bethel?  Where is our Sinai?

Where is the place of spiritual retreat?

For  me, it’s a back deck or a porch, just one small step from inside my house to outside my house and there I am, in a peaceful place.

Sometimes, though,  I need to run away from the ordinary, everyday.  These aren’t long trips, just a drive to the botanical gardens, or to a museum, or the beach–anywhere there is beauty and there is quiet.

My go-to holy place, though, is a mobile one–it’s in a walk  The location matters less than the opportunity to stride in rhythm and not talk for about 30 minutes.   This is a sacred space for me.

It  also helps to know that God does focused work in specific places.

This is Gilgal for Saul.  That’s where the prophet Samuel sent the newly anointed King to wait before being presented to Israel.  That’s where Saul is crowned.  It’s also the same exact place where Saul loses his kingship, as he gives up waiting for Samuel and disobeys God’s instructions (1 Samuel 10:8,  11:15, 13:7).

Gilgal is where Saul both received and lost the kingship.

What if Saul had recognized the significance of the place?  Gilgal is where I wait and where God is faithful.  Maybe he would have been more patient.

Perhaps this place where you are right now is the growing place or the place of rest.  Maybe it is the land of milk and honey or maybe it is the waiting place.

It could be the place of worship or the place of calling.  Maybe it’s the place where we’re poured out or maybe it’s the well where Jesus fills us.

Where are you now?  In this place God has brought you, how is He at work?

Why Can’t I Go to the Carnival Now?

psalm 62-1 MSG

There were tears.

Lots of them.

We’re fully immersed in end-of-the-year testing for my school-age kids, which in Virginia means taking the SOL’s (Standards of Learning).

Maybe you think that means we’re stressed or anxious.

Actually, we’re doing a lot of celebrating.

The girls get more than cereal or toast for breakfast on SOL days, and it’s not often they wake up to a hot breakfast on a Monday morning.

I leave them extra notes of love and encouragement in their lunch bags and slip in treats as well.

They don’t have their regular homework load (hurray!) and we can spend the afternoons playing, relaxing and occasionally running out for ice cream to reward them for their labors.

We celebrate every day they finish a test because we’re one step closer to summer.

So for my first grader—who is too young to take the SOLs (they start in third grade)—all this celebrating seems suspiciously unfair.

Even if she also gets hot breakfasts, ice cream treats, and fun nights just like her older sisters, she’s pretty sure she’s missing out.

That’s why she was bawling at bedtime last week, because her older sisters get to go to the SOL carnival and she can’t.

This carnival is for all the kids at school who take the SOL’s, which means third graders and up.

My first grader has a problem with that.

No water slide?  No games with prizes?  No cotton candy?  No face painting?  No popcorn?

She’s pretty sure she can’t wait until she’s in third grade to experience the joys of the SOL carnival.  Why should she wait, after all, when the older girls are having all the fun now?

We try to reason with her.

How the SOLs are hard work and this is their reward.  Would she want to take those tests now when she hasn’t learned what she needs to know?

We explain how her sisters didn’t get to go to the carnival in first grade either.  They also were first graders who didn’t get to go once upon a time.

Why rush these things?  Sure, there are incentives to growing up.  But there are responsibilities, too.  There are drawbacks and hard jobs and lots of work.

We want her to enjoy now.

She wants to rush on to what she imagines is the glorious future.  She overlooks the hard and longs for the ultimate reward.

We’re asking her to wait.

And waiting is tough.  Waiting requires trusting God’s timing.  Waiting demands patience.  Waiting wearies us because even though we’re moving forward on this journey, sometimes we just feel stuck.

Waiting means lingering with God in the here and now instead of wanting the end already, can we just skip to the end?!

Waiting tugs at our faith and nudges us with doubts because we wonder if God has abandoned us and forgotten us along the way.

I wonder how much I’m like my little girl, so obsessed with future blessing that I want to skip to the end?

And what would that truly mean?  It would mean missing the journey.  It would mean receiving blessings I’m unprepared for and responsibilities I can’t carry.

In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel the prophet anointed the teenage shepherd boy, David, to be king of Israel after Saul.

But that doesn’t mean they held a coronation ceremony right away.

No, Saul was still the king at  the time, so David just went right back to the fields to tend sheep.

Then he defeated Goliath and went to live in Saul’s palace a while.

Then Saul’s jealousy became rage and David spent 13 years running for his life.

Then Saul died.

Even then, David didn’t rush to take the throne. Instead, he spent another 7-1/2 years reigning over Judah alone from a city called Hebron.

Sheila Walsh writes:

“David was content to stay where God told him to stay for as long as it took” (The Longing in Me, p. 93).

All those years of waiting (more than 20 !) between the moment that oil poured down on his head to anoint him as king and the moment when he settled into the Jerusalem palace, David didn’t seem to push ahead.

He didn’t kill Saul.  He didn’t start public opinion campaigns to sway the populace to his side.  He didn’t connive or contrive, plot or plan a way to skip to the end.

He trusted God “for as long as it took.”

Can we trust God like that?

What a day it must have been when David finally sat on that throne in Jerusalem.  King.  After all those years.

God had done the work.  David hadn’t pushed it along or made it happen.  God had done it.  All God and only God.

May that be our testimony too when God completes the work He’s doing in us.

 

Ask Me More: I Don’t Really Need to Hear Who Had the Lego First

Most days my kids get along like peanut butter and jelly.  But some days it’s more like peanut butter and mayonnaise.

She thinks I really need to know that her sister called her a bad name and took the Lego that she needed for her Lego house.

Her sister thinks I really need to know that she had the Lego first and, by the way, she only called her a name because she called her a name first.

Pretty soon, everyone’s crying and shouting and interrupting each other with “nah-ah” and “ah-hah” and “I didn’t” and “She did.”

They’re waving their arms frantically at me as if that helps me understand the complicated chain of events that led to this sibling explosion.

Maybe a better mom than me could sort through all the noise to discover the instigator, the true culprit here, and the ultimate source of injustice.

Me?  I’m not that better mom.  All I know is they needed to stop fighting in my face, like, 5 minutes ago because it’s totally trampling all over my peace and happy, holy, Jesus-girl joy.

And what about minivan fights?  I can’t even send them to separate corners because seatbelts have certain restrictions and even though these children are driving me crazy at the moment, I do actually love them and want them to be safe.  So I can’t tie one to the roof or anything.

Pretty soon, I’m the crazy mom behind the wheel whispering the name of “Jesus” over and over again because there’s nothing I need more at that moment than some saving grace.

When we fought as kids, my own mom used to make us quote Ephesians 4:29.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)

She’d interrupt the tattling and squabbling with, “What’s the Bible say?”  And then, BAM, we’d have to quote Ephesians 4:29 at her.  It’s pretty hard to keep on fighting while actively quoting the word of God.

It’s genius.

So, I’m thinking of making up some of my own verse cards. Maybe a little Ephesians.

Maybe this:

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)

And this one, too:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34)

As it is, I’m giving the Mom-speech.john13

Show kindness.  Give grace.  Be gentle, slow-to-anger.

And, I’m thinking as I whisper Bible-truth to my daughters that maybe this isn’t just a lesson for my kids.

It’s a lesson for the church.

We have our own way of erupting into sibling squabbles and could there be any uglier noise to God’s ears than His own children battling it out?

My daughters seem to think that I really want to hear about their sisters’ offenses.

And maybe sometimes in the church we think God really wants to hear what’s wrong with those around us.  We think we’re somehow doing God a favor, rooting out unrighteousness or hypocrisy, failure or imperfection.

Saul (who became Paul) did.  He plowed through the New Testament church like a raging bull in a china shop, smashing to pieces any believers he encountered.

He was a murderer, a church-persecutor, thinking he was doing God’s will the whole time.

But when Jesus showed up as a blinding light in the middle of a highway to Damascus, Saul crashed to the ground and heard this:

“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3).

It’s a stunning question, because Saul didn’t even know who this was.  This was the resurrected Jesus he didn’t even believe in.

So, when Saul asked his own question, “Who are you?” Jesus gave the shocking reply:

“I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! (Acts 9:5).

Persecuting Jesus?  Nah.  Saul was persecuting wayward Jews who were tainting the law.  That’s what he thought.

But Jesus takes it personally when we hurt His people.

And sadly, so much of the time it’s His own people hurting one another with our legalism, judgment and in-house fighting, all in the name of zealous righteousness.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

Instead of taking it to prayer, instead of confessing our own sins or showing grace, instead of overlooking faults or even speaking the truth but doing it in love, we’re making a horrible racket of hurting our brothers and sisters in Christ.

No, we’re not killing one another or sending each other off to prison like Saul did.  But too much of the time, we’re acting out of self-righteous rage, not love.

And that’s just noise to Him.

So maybe God can ask us that same question when we’re all enthusiastic about condemning another believer.

Why are you persecuting ME?

Oh Lord, forgive us.  We didn’t know that was You we were hurting all along.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Super Glue, Broken Things, and Wholeness

“Mom, I have to show you,” my three-year-old said.

She had dragged in the cat bed while I was in the shower and as I got ready for the day, 053she chattered away about what she had collected from around the house.  Out came some books, some toys, some Barbie clothes.

She giggled about them. How funny to pile them all into the cat bed!

Then she reached the bottom and stepped back nervously, asking me to peek inside for the final object.

I leaned in closer for a look.  Picking up the mystery object, I fingered it and spun it in my hands until I realized that I was holding a small head.

I glanced back at my tiny girl, shifting nervously on her feet, her eyes moist and ready to overflow with tears.

“Did it break?”  She nodded and I scooped her up and gave her a hug.  We looked on my dresser where the Willow Tree angel sat, a mother (now headless) cradling a baby.  “We can glue it back together,” I assured my daughter and she grinned and skipped away.

Brokenness seems to be following me around these days: A broken mother on my dresser…A bowl I dropped on the kitchen floor while making dinner, then swept up in pieces and tossed into the trash…The ceramic chimes my daughter had painted after Christmas that fell off her dresser and cracked in three places.

We moms know about broken things.

Some of them I could glue together, not quite as good as new, but enough to hide the cracks and broken places from most casual onlookers.  But the bowl I had to toss away, too shattered to be useful anymore.

It’s one of the beautiful ministries of God to us, the way He chooses to bind up wounds and heal broken hearts. 

But I couldn’t have squirted out the super glue and held the head back into place if my daughter had hidden it away instead of bringing it to my feet.

And as long as we carry our pieces to God, not hide away in shame or frustration, or try to fix things on our own, or collapse in helpless self-pity…only then can He bring wholeness and healing to the broken.  And aren’t we all at least a little broken?

Always He forgives.
Always He mends. 
Always He shows compassion.

And always He redeems and uses us, not in spite of our brokenness, but because of the way we’ve yielded it to Him.

It’s a theme strung through verse after verse when I read through The Message last year, this promise of wholeness.

David prayed it after being delivered from Saul:

“God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
..

   I feel put back together 
2 Samuel 22:21-25, Psalm 18

I can’t say I always feel put back together.  Sometimes closer inspection reveals those super-glued cracks.  Sometimes a few trivial annoyances chip away at my soul, chip…chip….chip until I’m all in pieces of ugliness and impatience.  At other times, it’s a crushing blow and I’m so delicate against the force of it.

Broken again, Lord.  So sorry that I’m broken again.

But at Christmas I read anew who our Messiah, our Savior is:

His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings
(Isaiah 9:6-7).

I know those verses.  “Prince of Peace.” That’s what it should say.  (I talk aloud to my Bible, explaining it to the pages).

But Shalom, peace, that’s what it’s talking about here.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says: “The general meaning behind the root š-l-m is of completion and fulfillment—of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship.”

Ah and there it is.  Jesus is our Peace, putting us back together, making us whole, restoring our relationship with God, fulfilling and completing us.

He is our Prince of Wholeness.

What a promise for the broken.

And there’s this lovely, overwhelmingly miraculous part of this wholeness, that it isn’t just for our own comfort or personal happiness.  It’s not so life will be a bit easier and our shoulders a little less burdened by guilt or our self-esteem boosted so we can peek into the mirror with confidence.

In her study on Nehemiah, Kelly Minter wrote:

Essentially wholeness is not the end, but the very beginning, because wholeness allows us to give much more of our hearts, possessions, time, wisdom, money, friendship and love away  (p. 7).

We seek this wholeness–in our finances, in our hearts, in our relationships, in our homes, in our ministries, in our marriages, in our minds….not as the ultimate end.

Lord, heal us so we may be more of a blessing to others.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

I’ll Wait For the 7:30

Today, I am tired.

And it shows.  Words seem tricky and hard to maneuver, elusive and even a little mocking as they play hide and seek in my mind.  This morning with my kids, I would snap my fingers and squint my eyes trying to think—“What’s that word . .  what’s that word again . . oh, yeah, shoes.  Yes, put your shoes on.”

The trouble started just a few weeks ago when my toddler appeared by my bedside at 6:00 a.m. and announced it was morning and time to get up for the day.

Now, many of you are routinely early risers and prefer waking in the darkness and sipping hot coffee leisurely over your devotions before heading out for your morning commute.

At our house, however, morning begins at 7:00 a.m. So, when my early riser appeared another morning at 5:45, I mumbled, “It’s still night time.”

“No, it’s morning,” she answered and pointed out the window to the few glimmers of sunlight visible through the blinds.

Unwilling to give in, I explained, “You really need more sleep.”

With a simple, “I’m awake,” she bounced out of my room ready for cheerful activity while I shuffled behind her like a zombie.

What my toddler doesn’t understand is that waking me too early in the day ultimately short-changes her.  I’m a happier, more cheerful, more productive, more energetic, more playful mommy when we all agree to sleep until 7 a.m.

Impatience typically has a way of short-changing all of us.  We miss out on God’s best because we’re not willing to wait for it, settling instead for whatever barely acceptable option presents itself.

Or, while we wait we make it clear that we hate this.  We hate the unknown of it all, the required patience, the uncertainty, the lack of control, and the destruction of our own agenda.  We whine.  We nag.  We grumble and complain.  We envy others who already have that ministry, that relationship, that job, that child, that clear direction, that future.

It’s as if we pop up to the throne at 5:45 and announce, “It’s time!  I’m awake. Let’s get going.”  God’s plan, however, is to present us with His 7:30 best.

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel wanted something from God. Following the leadership of Moses and Joshua, a series of judges had led the nation and delivered them from the perpetual persecution of the Philistines and other surrounding enemies.

This era of judges ended with Samuel the prophet, who led the people to rededicate themselves to God.  When he tried to pass the baton of authority to his sons, however, the people quickly complained:  “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV).

The people didn’t trust God’s ability to choose their rulers and they were no longer willing to wait for Gideons and Samsons and Deborahs to deliver them, to direct them spiritually, to lead them into battle or to arbitrate their disagreements.

They wanted what other nations had—-assured succession and an inherited throne.  Not only that, they wanted it at 5:45 and they weren’t willing to wait until 7:30.

In her book, A Heart Like His, Beth Moore writes:

“God had already planned a king for the people.  Their lack of patience was to cost them dearly.  If they had waited for the Lord’s choice instead of demanding their way, how different might the story have been?” (pp. 32-33).

God’s design for a Messianic line and for an eternal kingship to emerge from the tribe of Judah and through the house of David required the king of God’s choosing at the time of God’s choosing.

Instead, the people wanted a king and they wanted one NOW. So they settled for Saul.

Then, years later, unwilling to wait for Samuel to offer a promised sacrifice on the eve of battle—full of as much impatience as the nation that had demanded a king in the first place--Saul did the unthinkable.  He, a king and not an anointed priest, sacrificed to God.  That cost him his reign.

Thus, Samuel traveled to a man named Jesse’s house and anointed a ruddy and handsome young shepherd to be God’s chosen king.  Indeed:

He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
    to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance.
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand (Psalm 78:70-72).

God wanted a shepherd to shepherd His people, just as He later chose fishermen to become fishers of men. 

That was God’s best.

God’s best was a man who would write:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation (Psalm 62:1, ESV).

The Message version says:

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul (Psalm 62:1-2, MSG).

Unlike the impatient nation of Israel demanding a king like other nations had …
Unlike Saul impatiently giving up on the tardy Samuel and offering a sacrifice on his own …

David waited for God, waited in silence, waited as long as God saidIf we want God’s very best for us, we must do the same.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King



Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #1, Barnabas

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

We have the world’s largest dress-up collection.

Our closet holds two Rubbermaid containers full of tiaras, fairy wands and wings, long flowing dresses, and clickety-clacky high-heeled shoes.

But after my daughters choose their perfect outfits, they find themselves missing a piece in most of their fairy-tale games.

They can play Sleeping Beauty, but there’s no prince to wake her up.

They can play Cinderella, but there’s not much point in going to a ball if you have no dance partner.

They can play Snow White, but once she eats the poisoned apple, she’s a goner without a prince to rescue her.

With three girls in the family, we’ve got the princess roles pretty well covered, but we’re always missing the prince.  My oldest daughter always suggests what seems like the perfect solution, “Mom, if you just had a boy than he could play with us.”

Never mind that he won’t pop out of the womb and instantly be ready to ride over the hill and wake sleeping princesses.  Or that even if they waited until he was five years old, he might prefer playing Legos to wearing tights and a feather cap and dancing at balls.

My girls are missing a role.

It’s made me think about the roles we are sometimes missing in our own lives and ministries.  Maybe we all could do some recruiting for some open positions in our circle of friends.

Job posting #1: Barnabas

  • Must be willing to believe in you when no one else does.
  • Must always “have your back” and stand up for you against opposition.
  • Must know exactly the right encouraging words to say when you need it most.
  • Must be willing to work alongside you and give you friendship and practical help in whatever God calls you to do.

All applications will be considered.  Deadline for applying is as soon as you can! Equal opportunity employer.

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to put their arms around you and say, “You’re great.  You’re beautiful.  I believe in you.  What you do matters.  Don’t quit.  I’m with you all the way.”?

You need a Barnabas.

We all do, I suppose.

It’s hard for any of us to be strong and confident on the tough days when our hair doesn’t look right in the mirror and the ten outfits we try on make us look frumpy.  Oh, and of course a runway model stands next to us in line just to accentuate our plainness.

We tend all day to needs that seem so vital to the little people at our feet, but don’t ever seem to make it on the news.

We pour ourselves daily into ministries that don’t make a bestseller list or pack arenas and at times seem to make so little difference, no one would care if you quit.

We make ourselves vulnerable and put ourselves out there in obedience to God’s call and others come trampling all over our dreams with massive steel-toed boots of apathy or even outright opposition.

Yes, we surely need a Barnabas.

Paul certainly did.

Paul didn’t start out as a massively famous and successful missionary who penned the bulk of the New Testament.  He began as a devout Jewish man named Saul who was famous for his brutal persecution of the early church.

When he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and dramatically converted to Christianity, the disciples didn’t welcome him into the Christian fold with welcome arms either.

They were terrified of him, “not believing that he was a real disciple” (Acts 9:26).

The church thought Saul was a faker with a capital “F.”   Everyone except Barnabas, that is.

Luke writes, “But Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord” (Acts 9:27).

This was Barnabas’s great spiritual gift, encouraging others in their faith and bolstering their ministry.  In fact, his real name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, “which means ‘son of encouragement'” (Acts 4:36).

It makes sense then that Barnabas would believe in Saul when no one else did.

He wasn’t just a source of encouragement for Saul.  In the early days of the church, the Gospel message was spreading, but only to Jews at first.  When some people crossed the line and started telling Gentiles about Jesus, the church leaders weren’t too sure that this was acceptable.

So, who did they send to visit with the Greek believers in Antioch?

Barnabas, of course.  Just like he did with Saul, he put aside prejudice and “he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24).

Barnabas was forever encouraging others, telling them “Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  I see God at work in you.”

Even when others counted people out, he had the faith to see what God was doing in their lives.  Not only that, he put himself on the line in order to give the ministry of others a boost.

He didn’t just affirm God’s call on Saul’s life, he said, “I’ll come alongside and join you in your work.  I’ll travel with you.  I’ll endure hardship and persecution because I believe in the call God has placed on your heart.”

Without Barnabas, would we have Paul?  Would the Gospel have spread to Gentiles everywhere?  Would Paul’s New Testament epistles be written?

Maybe not.  It took someone with the gift of encouragement to help Saul reach the full potential of the Paul we know.

We all need a Barnabas.

And we all need to be a Barnabas for others.  Someone today needs you to be a Barnabas for them.  How will you be the encouragement they need?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Women Warriors, Part I

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”
Galatians 1:10

“Tinkerbell or Princesses,” I asked my daughters as we stared at the 20 different tubes of children’s toothpaste on the shelves.

“Tinkerbell,” shouts my middle girl.

“Princesses,” shouts my oldest dressed all in pink with bows in her hair.

My baby makes a grab for the Little Einsteins tube on the shelf.

I toss the plain old children’s Crest toothpaste into the cart, noting that it is $1, Tinkerbell is more than $2 and princesses tops out at a whopping almost-$4.  It’s a conspiracy really.  Princess stuff always costs more.  What in the world are we teaching these little girls of ours about materialism and money and . . . .but I digress.

Slowly I’m learning a lesson over and over every day as three little faces flash disappointed glances back at me when I buy toothpaste and when I choose a show on television.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

I want to make everybody happy so desperately.  If I could tiptoe through life with everyone always agreeing with me, that’s what I’d do.

But it’s impossible.  If you go to Wal-Mart with more than 1.5 children, you’ll likely hear the opinions of strangers on your family planning skills.

If you stay at home with your kids, you’ll probably read how you wasted all of the money spent on your education. If you dress up and head out the door every day for work, you’ll probably feel condemned by the moms wearing jeans and flip-flops and toting their kids to the library for story time on a weekday morning.

If you pull out the school books at your kitchen table for your kids each day, moms will hint at the damage you’re doing by not socializing your children enough. If you watch your child step onto a school bus each morning with her back pack and packed lunch, you’ll be reminded that you aren’t protecting your children from worldly indoctrination.

Women Warriors.  That’s what many of us become.  Mama Bears defending our choices against the criticism of others.  We get backed into corners and our claws extend.  So, we spend much of our time engaged in battles, aligning with others on our “side” and slinging weighted insults at the “enemy.”

Let’s face it.  Too much of the time, we women are cruel to other women.

And it’s worse on the Internet.  We sit anonymously behind our computers and hurl our opinions at others.  Throwing around scientific evidence, philosophical arguments, medical findings, and —-yes, even Scripture—we offer proof of why we are right and others are wrong.

So, what’s a girl to do?  How do you make the right choices for you and your family and not feel the need to defend yourself every time you sense the critical stares of random shoppers or read an article railing against the choices you have made?

For starters, we walk in the assurance of our calling.

Do What You Are Called to Do

When the teenage shepherd boy, David, stood in front of King Saul, he boldly announced that he would fight the bellowing giant even though the battle-trained fighting men were cowering in their tents. At first, Saul declared it was impossible.  A wimpy little kid was no match for the expert warrior with size on his side.

But, David prevailed and Saul agreed to let him fight Goliath, with one condition.  David had to wear Saul’s armor.

Saul thought he was helping David out.

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. (1 Samuel 17:38-39).

How often do we try to sling our own personal tunics over the shoulders of other women, assuming that all they need is our advice, our method, our choices, our plans?  We tell them (or imply) that if they want to be good wives, good moms, good Christian women, then they must do it our way and with the tools we ourselves have found useful.

But, the call God has given you is a poor fit for another woman.

In the same way, Saul’s armor confined David’s movements and made him easy prey for Goliath’s attack.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.   Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine (1 Samuel 17:39-40).

David had the assurance of his calling.  He knew what God told him to do and how he was supposed to do it.  So, he declined to wear the armor of another and stood against Goliath bare-shouldered instead, hurling a stone in a slingshot over his head, and killing the giant as a result.  He vanquished the enemy that day because he listened to God and not anyone else, even a well-meaning, older, wiser and more experienced king.

When you feel yourself in an Incredible Hulk-like transformation, from reasonable woman to claws-extended She-Mama in defense of your life and family and personal choices, breathe deeply and ask:

  • Am I doing what I know God has called me to do?
  • Is it possible that she, although doing something differently than me, could also be doing what God has called her to do?
  • Can I let her obey God without feeling personally criticized by her every decision and action?
  • Do I really need to defend myself against implied (or stated) criticism?  Or can I instead let it go, choosing to walk confidently in my own calling and not worry about anyone else’s opinion?
  • If I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and she’s doing what she’s supposed to do, then is this war between us necessary?

What has God called you to do?  Whatever it is, do it.  People will disagree with you.  People will criticize you.  People won’t understand.

Sometimes you may need to defend yourself, but there are so many times when we can choose to ignore the snide remarks and disapproving glares, because we know that we are doing what God wants us to do.  And that really should be all that matters.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.