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5 Things I’m Grateful For This Week

[it feels good to be doing this again!]

1. I’m so thankful for new opportunities. There’s always something more that God has for you, there’s no limit to the amount of blessings and excitement and new prospects He can choose to pour out on you.

2. Incredibly thankful for my loving husband who works so hard and serves God and His church so well. I can’t believe I’m the one who gets to serve and lead by his side – I’m not worthy! Just another example of God’s grace and His unfailing ability to erase the past and create new beginnings.

3. Grateful for an incredible group of college students who Chris and I have the privilege of leading, serving and teaching. They teach me new things constantly – about ministry, about leadership and American culture! Love you guys.

4. I am a self-confessed foodie, so it’s only fair that I feel incredibly thankful for food…I guess it’s the Greek coming out in me – but seriously, I’m so thankful for the ability to get creative with cooking! Perhaps I will post some recipes one day…

5. Grateful to see people around me actively following God’s calling on their lives, even when it means sacrifice and some degree of oppression as a result. I am continuously inspired by the people around me who are so active in serving God – whether it’s down the street from where they live or thousands of miles away.

Who cares if it’s 7am?!

A guest post Adrian Warnock asked me to write for his blog while he’s taking a summer break:

There’s not alot worse than rolling out of bed Sunday morning with a groan in your soul because it’s 7am and you have to serve at your church. Let’s set the scene for a second: Last night you were up late at a birthday party for a member of your small group that you felt obliged to go to, then your alarm wakes you up and you end up allowing yourself ten minutes extra snooze time which makes you rush to get to church and miss your morning coffee. At church you are greeted by the happiest, friendliest team leader and your heart sinks. You don’t want to be smiley, you don’t want to be friendly and worst of all, you don’t want to pray with the team pre-service. Don’t be shocked – we’ve all been there! The fact of the matter is, we’re humans and we’re liable to have many a morning like that. I think alot of us have lost (or perhaps never discovered) the true meaning and reason behind serving our local church. I am a firm believer that every person involved on a Sunday (or during the week as well) is a pivotal building block in the church; whether it’s taking out the trash, controlling a dozen two year olds or preaching the message. I’m sure you’re familiar with those verses in 1 Corinthians (12:14-27 mainly) that talk about how the church works like a body and how every part is important – that’s the word of God; hold on to it! Our goal is to be like Jesus for His glory, and He was the ultimate self-sacrificial servant (Mark 10:45). We need to be excited about serving! We don’t serve to keep the church up and running, it’s not as if God needs us to do that – we serve because it’s what we’ve been called to do. God decided before the dawn of time that you were going to be on the ‘Welcome Team’ on Sunday the 18th July 2010. He planned it all out for you to be at this stage of your spiritual walk. God demands our service and it’s up to us to choose how we do it. Let’s be encouraged to get excited (by the way, what’s more exciting than being involved in God’s perfect plan?!) and to pray about serving – pray for a good attitude, pray that you’ll have the impact that you’re supposed to have, pray through 1 Peter 4:11 – it puts things in a whole new perspective. God is working for and through us – who cares if it’s 7am?!

Get off the fence!

In a big and ever-growing church I’ve recently been able to observe how easy it is to sit back and just attend on a Sunday morning or evening. It is so easy to let other people do the work. I guess from afar it can seem like church runs like clockwork and doesn’t need extra help, or from afar it’s easy to pick out the problems without doing anything about them. However, often what is not realised is that the church runs like clockwork largely due to it’s people serving and offering their time, or that certain problems can be caused by a lack of servers and solved by more people volunteering their services. In a church like CCK (the one that I go to), the fact that we employ a few people to ensure that Sundays run smoothly can seem like the perfect opportunity to turn up to the meeting and simply be ministered to. However as good as that is, God has called us to serve and support our local church. Jesus was huge on serving, let’s be more like Him. Jesus says in Matthew 20:28: “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many .”  Jesus has given His life for us, we need to rise to His calling and serve His church. This in no way means that we have to be giving a whole day a week to it, or even a few hours a week. God knows and appreciates how busy life can be which is why there are other serving opportunities – ones that only take up one Sunday morning or evening every few weeks for example, being part of a rota. I think that we should be throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into building up our local church, regardless of how much of our time and energy we would need to give or how scary it may seem – no sacrifice is big enough to repay Jesus for what He did on the cross. We ought to be challenged by this – it’s surprising how much we can learn by throwing ourselves in the deep end for God.

Things that are hidden

“…In things that are seen and things that are hidden, I’ll seek to delight Your heart oh God…”

This is a line from one of my favourite worship songs at the moment, ‘This is my worship’. It really struck me recently that we can so easily focus only on things that are done in front of people, and forget about who’s approval we are supposed to be seeking. This led me to think about how important it is to be able to take real joy from serving God in the unseen as well as in what is out in the open.  Secret acts of worship, which literally no one but God sees. It strips it all down to the bare minimum; no one’s watching, you’re not going to get any recognition or credit for it, yet God sees. God sees and He delights in it, because it is so blatantly only for Him and His glory. Whether it’s anonymously blessing someone (financially or otherwise) or spending quality time with God in the quiet of your own room, God loves it. Our hearts need to be in a place where it’s no longer about us and our need for affirmation and praise, but where it is all about Him, and giving Him glory. When we are serving or worshipping in church it is so easy to get distracted and feel self-conscious about what we’re doing, which immediately places the focus on ourselves rather than God. When we’re serving and worshipping in the quiet of our hearts where no one else can see, it allows more room for our focus and praise to be on God alone. The ultimate approval we should be sticking our necks out to get is God’s and God’s only. Everyone struggles with this and some ways to keep oursleves in check are to seek opportunities to serve God in areas that are not out in the open, to bless people anonymously, to make certain decisions in the quiet of our hearts, rather than tell everyone about it. There is definitely  a time to make certain situations public, and there are definitely areas of serving that can’t be hidden or secret from most people, but there is also a time to seek God’s approval and His approval only by delighting Him in the hidden, as well as in the seen.

5 things that I’m grateful for this week

– Jumbo packs of Skittles on a stressful day

– The Wicker Park soundtrack; perfect for winding down to (although too much of it gets a bit depressing!)

– The opportunity to serve in something I never thought I’d have the guts to serve in

– Friends that make living in a foreign country just that much easier

– A God whose arms are always open, no matter what page I’m on

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