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Archive for April, 2013

One of my favorite musicals is the Phantom of the Opera. A man wears a mask because of his disfigured face, and falls in love with a young singer that he tutors. His thinking is that since he “gave her” the voice to sing, she would love him all the more. By the end of it you feel sorry for him. Here is a man who will never experience love because he tries to intimidate someone into loving him instead of being honest about who he really is.

It made me think about us as Christians. Many times we wear masks so others will not see the real us. We wear them to cover pain, insecurities and flaws. We fear that if others see who we really are we won’t be accepted.

God created us for a relationship with Himself. But He also knew we would need others. It bothers me when people say to me they don’t want to tell others of their prayer needs. They fear people will think of them as Christians without faith, or they don’t want to ask for help because it is a sign of weakness.

I have learned that is exactly what the body of Christ is for. Verses like, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them.” Or “Bear one another’s burdens” come to mind.

At one time my family was going through a dark time. My husband’s mother was dying and I became a temporary single mother of three children ages 9, 8, and 3. This was because he would leave the house at 6 in the morning for work and not get home until 10 at night from the hospital. I was so tired I couldn’t even work the microwave. One Sunday in our Sunday school I broke down crying and asked for prayer that God would give me strength to make it through the day. What I received was four days of dinners. Those dinners gave relief from the stress and renewed energy for the days ahead. I had to remove the mask of the “good Christian” who could handle anything, and show my true struggles, which in turn released the burden emotionally as well as physically.

The church was meant to come together not only to worship God, but also to help each other. Of course there was a risk of being vulnerable. There always is. However, if I wasn’t transparent two things would have happened. First, people would not know the real me and the ways they could intercede on my behalf. Secondly, not only would I have cheated myself out seeing God’s provision, I would have hindered others from receiving the blessing that comes from serving.

The Phantom in the musical chose to hide and to become feared instead of loved. But I wonder, if he had taken the risk of removing his mask and being vulnerable, people would perhaps have become more compassionate and loving. He may have even been freed from his prison of loneliness.

As Christians God asks us to remove the masks and live in the freedom of allowing other to see who we are and to risking the exposure of our flaws so that He may work in our lives through those around us.

Do you risk coming out from behind your masks and show others who you really are and the struggles you face? When fellowshipping with other believers, do they feel comfortable sharing themselves with you?

Who knows by taking that risk we may help others take their masks off also.

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2 (NIV 1984)

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Have you noticed the news lately? There seems to be no end to the troubled teens, high crime rates, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, poverty and a lack of morality in this country not to mention the world.

Over the past few years I have cried out to God much like the prophet Habakkuk, “Why aren’t you doing anything about this? Why are you allowing those of us who truly follow you suffer the consequences of those who don’t? (Not to say that we are perfect)

The pastor of my church just finished a series entitled “Live Sent”. He challenged us to prayer walk our neighborhoods asking God to show us how we could reach our neighbors. He had the audacity to tell me I needed to do more, by getting out of my house and meet new people and share God’s love.

He was nuts. He was right. I needed to come out of my hiding places (the walls of my home and out from the written word) and become “Jesus” to those around me. And dare I say it, move outward from my neighborhood into the community. I wasn’t to be a Bible thumper but show love and build relationships. One neighbor, ended up in the Bible Study group I had been in three weeks later.

A month and a half ago I was called by someone at my daughter’s middle school and asked if I would like to become a mentor. I went to the training session just to see what it was all about. I walked out saying “It’s not my thing.” Why should I give a half an hour a week to some one who probably was not there on their own accord and rebellious to the core?

God gently reminded me that even a middle school student needed His love. I felt ashamed especially when I looked at my own daughters. They aren’t perfect or have the perfect parents. What they do have are parents who try to live as an example of Christ. If I can give another middle school student a little hope and godly love, it would be worth it. That is what it’s all about, being available to what God has for me. I can’t wait to meet the middle school student I am going to mentor.

What about you? Will you live sent and do something with the pain, hurt or need you see around you? Maybe He is waiting for you to say “yes, I will go.” Maybe it will be the local pregnancy center as a counselor, or Big Brothers Big Sisters, or feed the homeless. It could simply be getting to know your neighbors next door.

WARNING: Don’t ask unless you are willing to get out of your comfort zone, because He will answer.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!
As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21 (NIV 1984)

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