Friends and Heroes

With_dawn_and_jane_2 I got to spend some time this past weekend with some people who are both friends and heroes. Here’s a pic of Miranda and I with Jane and Dawn.

First I’ll tell you about Jane (cause she’s first in the pic if you go left to right)

Jane Miranda and I met Jane 3 years ago through Dawn. Dawn was my summer youth assistant my first year in Lake Jackson and she introduced us to Jane. Jane is a great Christian and she has lots of ideas about how our faith should be lived out. I really enjoy talking to her. She’s funny. Anyway, this past year she was diagnosed with cancer and she’s undergoing treatments right now. That’s why she doesn’t have any hair in the pic – but she has been known to shave her head just for the fun of it too. Anyway, a couple weeks ago she sent out an e-mail describing her feelings and I thought I’d share some of what she wrote here:

I have to admit…sometimes I pray more fervently for complete healings simply for the pleasure of not having to go through chemo again. I’ve never been the most patient person, and this time, the story is the same…I want all of God’s healing and goodness without having to wait or to do any of the work. So this brings us back to this morning. God graciously sent a dear friend to pry into my heart on the very morning when I was determined to “quit” regardless of the evaluation results. I was once told that God’s grace is always on time…I don’t think I’ve believed that to be more true than now. But even after much prying and praying I still wrestled, like the “good” and faithful servant that I am (sarcasm noted). Even throughout the entire afternoon…I was sure that God would HAVE to heal me…I mean, He just HAD to…chemo is too awful, cancer is too lame, people have been praying too hard…and most importantly, I was sick of it all. Sadly, there it was, the core of my whole reasoning…God just HAD to heal me, because I was tired of dealing with cancer. Then this evening, after my stomach stopped making noises, my concentration returned to me, there I sat face to face with my feeble conclusion. The reality is God doesn’t HAVE to heal me…He doesn’t have to do a thing…but He chooses to speak healing into me. Even the breath that I am currently breathing is only possible due to His abundant grace. Without His grace and mercy, life would be empty. I can’t believe how often I forget to count the blessings that He bestows upon me…all I seem to do is demand things that I “need”. Funny isn’t it how we always seem to assume we know what we need more than He does. . . . . . I will continue to have the courage and faith to fight regardless of the results…simply because He is calling me to this place right now, and as it were, I have to work on this whole obedience and patience thing. As a recent quote I read says, “You don’t have to do it well, you just have to do it and well will come one day.” I am realizing now more than ever that perhaps the greatest testament to grace is that He gives us the will to fight each day.

I don’t know about you – but this is the kind of person I look up to – a true hero. Jane has courageously looked into her own heart and realized that God has given her an incredible gift – even with cancer, she recognizes that she doesn’t deserve anything. It’s only His grace that “breathes” into our lives. I also see an incredible faith in her thoughts and I have seen her walking out her life following after Jesus. Cancer. . . .now that’s a scary word, but Jane knows her God is bigger.

Dawn OK – now Dawn. Where do I start with Dawn? As my summer youth assistant, she was great. Dawn truly has a heart for prayer and for the youth that we worked with. It was her desire to know them and really be a part of their lives. For Dawn, ministry comes out of relationship. (That’s my philosophy too.) Anyway, Dawn just got back from Africa where she was doing ministry in Swaziland for the past 7 months. She shared some incredible things and clearly has been called into mission work. Dawn is a tiny woman with a huge faith. She led two different teams of missionaries in Swaziland and talked about how God used them to reach people in incredible ways. God used them to perform healings and even more importantly the miracle of salvation for many African people. Dawn also worked in new Orleans and even hosted a bar-b-que picnic in the neighborhood where she lived. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you know that she lived in the neighborhood which was considered the murder capital of the United States, and when you understand that the racial tensions are extreme – to imagine a little white girl hosting such an event – well – that’s why she’s my hero. Dawn listens to the Lord and acts on what He tells her. No matter what the risk, she understand that if it’s God speaking, it’s not a risk at all. Dawn has incredible courage! I’ve attached an mp3 of Dawn telling our youth about Africa if your interested: Download AfricaMissions 07.05.06.mp3

I thank God that He has given me these precious friends and I pray that He will continue to use them in mighty ways wherever He decides to send them.

Lions, Little Boys, and Me

Here are just a few thoughts about stuff God has been showing me lately. I’m not sure how it all fits together, but I’m gonna try to explain it here as best I can.

The story that sparked my thoughts was from Efrem Smith at Ichthus during the communion service. He talked about a tribe (I think in Africa) where they practice a coming of age ritual for boys. When they are about twelve they are expected to kill a lion in order to become a man! Since I teach a guys small group I wondered what I could do to help my guys “become men.” Anyway, here’s how the boys do it: (According to Efrem this practice is still in existence)

06-06-22The bravest boy sneaks up on the lion while he sleeps and then runs to a certain place where 4 other boys are ready to attack the lion with spears and knives. When the lion is killed, the bravest boy (the one who woke the lion) cuts off the mane and wears it as a symbol of his bravery.

Efrem used this story to go on and talk about the “lion” (Satan) who prowls about seeking to steal, kill, and destroy us. He also spoke of the “lions” in our lives which attack us like addictions, bad habits, unhealthy relationships, etc.

My mind went somewhere else though – I was thinking that Efrem was talking about Satan attacking us, but his story was about these boys attacking him. Maybe that’s the difference in a boy and a man. Boys live life trying to prepare for when Satan attacks them, and men live planning their attack on the lion. It’s the difference in living life defensively or offensively. Another BIG difference is that boys get attacked by a lion they never see, but men (with this definition) CHOOSE THEIR LION. When they attack their lion they know where the resistance will come from.

As I look at different youth who I have watched grow up, I can see pretty clearly how this difference plays out in their lives. Here’s an example I heard this weekend: One of the speakers talked about a 20 year old girl who had gone on mission trip one summer when she was in High School. Now, at the age of 20 (no college) she is running an orphanage for over 50 children. She is living her life offensively. She knows that the lions (Satans) attacks will be on this ministry that she is putting her heart into, but she has also chosen that lion. She has “taken ground” for the kingdom of God. Now, take another girl who went on the same mission trip, who decides to go off to college. She too will fight a lion, but it will be on his ground. She too might very well “take ground” for the kingdom, but her attack will probably come in a way that she would never have expected – Satan will use a relationship to attack her, or maybe her professors will challenge her faith, who knows? – the point is – she doesn’t know where her attack will come or even what her “lion” looks like.

For men – God calls us to be warriors – to be “wild at heart” as one author puts it. I certainly have something in me that wants a “battle to fight” and an “adventure to live.” I wonder how I can live this way? How can I be offensive for God? Which “lion” will I choose? And who are the other 4 guys I should ask to help me in this fight? God show me. I need You.