Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning To Be Content in the State Im In! :)

I know that it has been a long time since I have written a blog.  I don't know why I operate the way I do, but I only write these when I get an inspiration to do so.  And wow, do I get inspiration at the weirdest times and in the weirdest places! :)   For some reason, out of the blue, this random thought ran across my mind today… Am I content?

Content is defined as a state of satisfaction, or being in a state of peaceful happiness.  Now I know that we all know that being happy comes and goes.  That having the joy of the Lord is what is really important.  But being content is something that we all strive for.   Contentment doesn't necessarily come from a financial place, it often comes as a product of having a moment of realization that your life is exactly where it should be.

There are many things that life can bring to try and take us out of a state of contentment.  The biggest of these is one of the oldest tricks in the book…and boy does the enemy know how to use it to his advantage.   It's getting us to look and see what others have and compare our lives to theirs.      We have all been guilty of doing this and honestly, I can not tell you a time that this way of thinking has ever benefited me!

I always feel like if I am going to say things to people, it's only fair that I use myself as an example…so here goes!    I remember when I was in the beginning years of my marriage.  We were excited about having kids but had suffered miscarriages.  I remember the feelings of frustration when I would hear people saying things like "we didn't even try and now we are pregnant again!" or when I would hear of ladies having babies and giving them up for adoption or contemplating abortion...I would want to scream to the heavens WHY????   Here I am wanting a child and these people don't!!  I would have to squash the feeling that something was wrong with me, that somehow I was being punished for something.   And then God blessed me with my son.   I suffered another miscarriage after he was born, but there was something about having him that made me OK.  I had been given a great gift and even though I would have been happy to have had more, I wasn't going to waste one minute that God had given me with the child I had.

Flash forward to the present.  I have found myself in a place that I never thought I would be..single.   I have had those moments again when I see people posting pictures of the flowers that their husbands got them "just because", or when I see the Happy Anniversary pictures, when I spend yet another Friday night at home alone hahahaha…now I sound like a bad country song! :)   There are moments I can't help but ask God why?   What now?  Why me?  But then I take my focus off of what everyone else has that I don't and I look at what God has given me.   I have a wonderful, supportive family that has been there for me in more ways than I could ever share.  I have a wonderful job at a church that I love - getting to do what I love.   I have good friends that are there for me and make me laugh and more than that, I am watching my son grow into a young man of God.  He is healthy, happy and awesome.  He is growing up way too fast and I am cherishing each and every moment that I have with him.   

So life isn't all roses every moment - when is it ever?   I know that regardless of my circumstances, I have a Savior who loves me and longs to give me the greatest life.   The older I get, the know I understand what is really valuable in my life.   Sure I would love to be more financially secure, I would love to be able to go back and do some things different,  I would love to know if I was going to be alone the rest of my life.   But you can drive yourself crazy trying to find answers to questions when its not time.  And more than always looking and focusing on what is not…you miss what is!   I am going to cherish these next few years with my son because it won't be long until he moves on to the next phase of his life.  I am going to take advantage of the people that God has surrounded me with in this moment.   I am going to see each day as an opportunity to appreciate where I am and make my now the best that it can be.   Because I am confident while I am in this time,  God has already prepared what is next.

What are you struggling with?   What do you lack that you see in other people and envy it?  Has the enemy constantly reminded you of what you don't have or who you are not and you have bought into the constant lie that he speaks to you?   Take a step back and focus on the following scriptures knowing that He who began a good work in you IS faithful to complete it!   God didn't forget you or fail to remember His promises to you!! When you learn to be happy with who and where you are, you gain a healthy and positive outlook on life.   Good times and bad times will come - but they will not define you!   Learning to be content in whatever state you are in, will grow you.    The real secret to a successful life is learning that whether you have or have not, God is God.  He will see you through, trials only last for a season and most importantly,  He has a plan for each one of us and He will give us what we need to see us through!

Philippians 4:11-13New International Version (NIV)

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

With you in this thing called life! :)
April Phipps

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is your Kryptonite?

I have always been a sucker for super hero movies!   Super heroes can accomplish daring feats of power, they always seem to be on the side of good and let's be honest…for the most part they are usually very good looking! :)  Another reason I love them is that the super hero is always fighting for Justice.   There is a wrong…they are there to make it right.  Real life can be so frustrating sometimes when it seems like there is no justice and bad people prevail.  It's an escape to go and watch the good guys always win!

A year or so ago, the classic Superman movie was remade once again.   Now I am not here to debate whether you thought it was good or not.  I loved it…my blog…so it was good! :)  There were so many elements present in the movie that could be paralleled to real life.   Clark Kent had to figure out who he was in order to become who he was meant to be.   Could that preach right there or what?    Superman  had to put aside his personal feelings and agendas in order to accomplish greater things for the common good.  Now we know it's make believe because that goes against our human nature right?  How hard is that to do?  You must be from another world :)   So many things I could talk about but what I feel led to write about is the infamous weakness of Superman…Kryptonite.

  1. Kryptonite
  2. Kryptonite (not to be confused with Krypton) is a fictional material from the Superman mythos—the ore form of a radioactive element from Superman's home planet of Krypton. Within the mythos, it is the ultimate natural weakness of Superman and most other Kryptonians.

    Kryptonite is the one thing that can stop Superman.  And from our fictional definition above, we see that it is described as the "ultimate natural weakness".   Every time our hero would get anywhere in the vicinity of the stuff it would cause him to start to stumble and deviate from his projected path.  The closer he would get, the more crippling the effect!    I don't know what got me to thinking about this tonight.  But I begin to ask myself "what is my kryptonite?"  
    Maybe it's because I am getting ready to step outside of my comfort zone and teach a Bible Study.  The enemy has been extremely active in the last week or so trying to discourage and dissuade me.     How many times  have I seen him try to play the same tricks on me and how many times do I fall for the same stupid things?   I begin to think about my Kryptonite and I realized what it was. My kryptonite is Insecurity.   Always has been.  Should it be any surprise to me that the devil has whispered in my ear  every filthy lie about my ability, my calling and who I belong to these last few weeks?   I know that I should know better, but my humanity gets in the way and I often let my guard down when it comes to believing his lies about me.   Funny thing, I have no problem in encouraging and believing in other people.   But it's so hard to believe in the good for yourself sometimes!
    How did Superman overcome the effects of Kryptonite and even become some what immune to the stuff?   In the short term, if it was covered and he was removed away from it, his powers would return.   Over time, in different versions of the Superman story, the more he was exposed to the same Kryptonite, the less it had an effect on him.  Wow!!!     If I applied this to my spiritual life and put it to test against my personal "kryptonite" how would that work??
    Simple…I have to learn to "remove" myself by stop listening to the enemy!  I have to learn to fill my mind with the Word of God and start reminding my self what God has to say about who I am, what I can do and what He created me for.    And then sometimes, I have to recognize the enemies "overexposure".    Really Devil…you are trying that again?   Same old enemy, same old tricks.   The Bible says that they over came by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Revelations 12:11)   God's Word trumps the devils "kryptonite" every time!!!    God will break the hold the enemy has on our lives but then we must follow it up by speaking His Word to ourselves and to those things that would come to kill, steal and destroy who we are.    The hardest battles in the movies would always come right before the big finale.   Even though we would know in our minds how the movie would end - Superman wins - we had those moments of doubt when it looks like all hope was lost and that he may not be able to overcome the obstacles.  
    The same is so very true about life.  Some of the hardest things we fight are usually precursors to a major victory that God is wanting to bring us.  If we learn to hold steadfast on His promises, not get weary in our well doing, and keep our belief in Him - even though we doubt ourselves - God always comes through and we win!    What is your kryptonite?  Are you allowing the smaller of things to have to big of a place in your life?  Are you let a small cut turn into an infection in your heart?  Begin to speak the Word of God over yourself and to the enemy who has to bow at the mention of His name.   The movies are written by man and they can manipulate the ending.   The Word of God was divinely inspired and that is one ending that can not be altered or changed no matter what the enemy throws against it.  Remember Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!   Quit playing with the kryptonite in your life.  Bury it and move on into the purpose that God has for you!!  I will do the same :)   
    In this thing called life with you my friends!
    April Phipps

Monday, March 10, 2014

All You Need Is Love :)

We all grow up hoping that we will discover that we possess some kind of talent.   We would love to be known for our singing, or our dancing, or our ability to speak in public.     Wouldn't it be incredible to have a talent that could support us financially, some way that we could leave our mark?   We can spend a lot of money developing our skills.   But the greatest irony is that we all have a gift that we can share and it doesn't cost us anything.

People enjoy being entertained but they NEED to be loved.  The value of a smile or an encouraging word cannot be measured in monetary terms.   Have you ever been having a bad day and received a text, call or message from a friend that just seemed to be right what you needed to hear?   Have you ever felt unloved or neglected and someone offered you a smile or a hug?   There is no way to describe the feeling that you get when you feel like someone else understands how you feel or knows what you are going through.  

Being an encourager is the greatest talent of all.  It won't make you famous, it won't make you rich as far as monetarily but it will make you rich in friendship.   Today's world is a fast paced place.  We fall into our routines and get easily lost in the hustle and bustle of life.   Sometimes we feel like we can hardly keep our own heads above water, much less take the time to worry about someone else's problems.  

When we were little, a lot of us were taught "to do unto others as we would have them do unto us".  This was the Golden Rule.   Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten this simple, easy principle.  When life seems to be piling a lot on you, the greatest way to cope is to step outside yourself and focus on someone else.   Planting a good seed of a  smile, hug or an encouraging word into the life of another has a way of blooming in your own life just when you seem to need it the most.     

We may never sing like Whitney, dance like Gene Kelly or speak like Billy Graham.  But we can be the "hero" of someone's day simply by noticing that they are there and taking a moment to show that we care!!       I would rather die rich in friends, than lonely with all the talent in the world!

In this thing called life with you my friends :)
April Phipps

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Portable Pulpit

I know it has been awhile since I have blogged :)   I felt the inspiration to write again the other day when I was talking to a friend who was bemoaning the lack of ministry opportunities coming their way.  It reminded me of how close minded we can be about what we consider "ministry".  Please don't get me wrong…I have been guilty of this too.   I mean it can't be ministry unless it's up front, in public, for all to see right? :)

I was taking in all the person was talking about and I started to share my story with them.   Three years ago this April, my life and ministry partner decided to walk away.  And when he walked away, so did a lot of the ministry opportunities that I was given.  He was the up front man, the "talker" in the eyes of a lot of people.   I have been ordained since I was 23 years old and have been working in the ministry full time since then.  I am considerably older now :)    Since my divorce, I have been asked to "preach" publicly one, count it, ONE time.  And that opportunity was given to me by my parents while we were overseas on a missions trip!  When my husband walked away, there were no churches or ministries beating down my door with opportunities.   In my previous job, I discipled several young people who went into full time ministry.  No calls about coming to speak or share for anyone.   In fact a lot of the ministries and ministry people I was connected with seemed to disappear altogether.   Out of sight, out of mind.   I was no longer part of a power couple, so apparently some thought my ministry abilities were connected only to the fact that I was married to a minister.   The SINGLE opportunity that came my way was that of the position of a church receptionist.  And thus began the real transformation of what I considered "ministry".

While answering the phones, I began to have such a clearer understanding of how important each and every person is in the body of Christ.   I knew these things, but I had been on the "up front" side for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to not be one of those people.    My definition of "my pulpit" became the same description as a telephone and a desk.  I realized that I was the first impression that people would have when they called the church.  Some were seeking simple answers, some needing prayer, some wanting to complain and be validated in their complaints and then some just seeking information.   What I said or "preached" to them would set the tone for their attitude towards the church in general.  If I did not express care or interest in them over the phone, they could leave with the thought that the church in general did not care for them.    My callousness could cause them to not darken the door of the church and have the opportunity to hear the message the Pastor would bring.

And the transformation of my thinking continued from there.  After about a year at the receptionist  position, the job of Community Impact Director  a.k.a. Outreach Director came open at the church.  Now I seriously do not want to offend or shock anyone with this next statement BUT I did not ever dream or set out to be an Outreach Pastor.  I did not pray for the opportunity to present itself to me to go out into the "trenches".   The position came open and the Pastor needed someone to run with it and asked me.  I was trained in ministry to "see a need and fill it" and I knew that I could do the job so I ran with it.  Close to 2 years later, I can say that I now have what I call a "portable pulpit".      This week my "pulpit" took the form of my Toyota Four Runner.  It was out delivering food to people who were needy for physical food and even more needy for the hope of Jesus.   Some weeks, it has taken the form of balloons and candy where over 5,000 people have come through a door for an event like Trunk or Treat and left feeling loved and cared for.   My "pulpit" has looked like 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies and has reached children and families with the knowledge that someone cares about them and that Jesus thinks they are special!

My point of all of this "me" stuff, is what I told my friend.   Why do you consider ministry only what happens on a Sunday or a Wednesday or behind a piece of wood or plexiglass?    Why is it that we think the only time that God can really use us is when there is music to be played behind us and a carpeted altar for us to kneel at.   ALL of those things are good and powerful BUT God is not to be boxed or limited.   He is everywhere that we are.  He is in the work place, at school, in the restaurant.   So are those needing to be ministered too.  They surround us every day at the water cooler, at the bus stop, waiting in line.   People are passing them by on every side.  All it takes is you to stop for one second and give a minute to care!  That is ministry.  An encouraging phone call.   A positive text.   Making a meal when someone is sick.  Giving a ride to someone stranded.    We are all ministers and our "pulpits" come in different shapes and sizes.   We only miss them we when are limited in our thinking as to what they should look like!   Ministry comes often when no one that can pat us on the back or sing our praise is around to witness it.   And that way, God gets all the glory.   What does your "pulpit" look like today?  Are you ready and waiting for it?

In this thing called life with you!  Your Friend - April Phipps