You are on page 1of 16

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:27-30

Dear Reader,
Give out, give more, give in . . . Our view is finite, our resources limited, our definitions of giving: stunted. Jesus Christ is infinite, his resources unlimited, his definition of giving: focused on eternity. Within the context of John 10, John 10:27-30 says that believers in Jesus Christ are sheep. We are his sheep. We graze in God’s fields. He knows us intimately, and we follow him. He gives us eternal life, and we shall never perish. No one can snatch us from the Father’s hand. Let’s just pause and think on the magnitude of knowing Christ and Christ knowing us. He has emphatically reassured us that we are cupped in the hollow of the Father’s hand. This overwhelms me. Does it reach your inner core too? Jesus Christ has given himself to us. We can keep him all to ourselves, or we can give him away and find out that we have even more to give. The world waits with eyes closed, hands out, on tip-toe, excited to receive something—anything. What will we give? Will it be the Giver of eternal life? Will we give Jesus? In between the lines of this issue you will see the hearts of women who have received and given Jesus Christ in ways that reflect their unique gifts of the Spirit and their place in the body of Christ. All the ways of giving, with a pure heart of love, provide a complete package for the waiting world. Where do you fit on the pages of this issue? Ask God to reveal to you how your individual gifts present Jesus Christ in ways that lead others to eternal life. Have fun wrapping and watching the paper being torn away. “Eyes of hearts” will open (Eph. 1:18), and outstretched hands will receive more than enough to give away. And the circle of Life continues. Give out of love, give more of Jesus . . . give in the ways that God created you to give. In and with the peace of Christ,

Mary Ann

Between the Lines is a magazine of the Journey, a ministry of Christ Church Fairview Heights, IL. © 2012, Christ Church. mychristchurch.com Graphic Design by Justin Aymer

Between the Lines • Winter 2012 • Volume 2, Issue 1

We’d love to know what you think about Between the Lines.
E-mail us at thejourney.betweenthelines@gmail.com In the next issue: Hope This Issue’s Theme: Giving Verse of the Season: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

Meet the Contributors
Julie Crask is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She is also a part-time special education resource teacher at Zion Lutheran School in Belleville, Illinois, and is working to raise money through photography to build a water well in Central Africa. For more info, visit www.works4water.blogspot.com. Roni McDaniels is an active member of Christ Church and has served in various capacities, including AWANA, outreach ministries to the homeless, and leading Bible studies. She has a heart for proclaiming God’s Word through women’s ministries and serving women and children in Honduras and Uganda. Roni has a passion for encouraging women to go deeper in their relationships with God! Kathy O’Dell (affectionately known as “ko”) is a Journey Team member and volunteer staff member for women4given, a Christian women’s organization prioritizing generosity to serve women and children in Christian love. To learn more about women4given, visit www.women4given.com Emily Climaco, Ph.D., is a Journey Team member and the volunteer editor of Between the Lines. The wife of Phil and mom of Caroline, she spends her time reading, thinking, drinking green tea, and laughing with her three-year-old daughter. Lindsay Tallman is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Nature, Biotech, and Commerce magazines. A wife and mother of three, Lindsay enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her quirky children. She and her family live in O’Fallon, Illinois, and worship at Christ Church. Mary Ann Turner is the leader of the Journey Team at Christ Church. A former elementary school teacher, she is the wife of Mark, mother of two grown children, and grandmother to one precious little boy. She enjoys great conversations, hiking with her family, and encouraging others to grow in their Christian faith.

Lessons from a Wise Old Owl
by Mary Ann Turner Peering though the slats of the wood blinds in our bedroom out into the dark of night, it feels as though I am nearly face to face with a huge owl. He is perched on the roof outside our window. Prompted by the incessant “hoot, hoot,” I want a good look at this creature keeping me from slumber. Intimidating, yes. Huge. . .oh my, yes. He would not keep quiet. No shushing up for this old guy. Owl wisdom like a broken record flowed into the night. I was not ready to hear it, not right then. Think what you will, but I am pretty sure it was no accident that this nocturnal visitor sat on my rooftop keeping me from sleep on this particular night. Earlier that evening I arrived home from a meeting. I asked God, with some certainty that the answer was indeed “yes,” if I spoke too much or at the wrong time. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Bible readings we had completed. Everyone at the meeting had read the same passages, and we were to share our thoughts. I was quiet for the first half of the meeting and then began to share off and on in response to several questions asked
4

by other members. What I shared was good and it was true. I had even shared how God had taken me to a deeper awe of him and his Word through the reading I completed. Nothing wrong with what I shared. Nothing wrong with my motives for sharing, either. I desired to share some of the wisdom God imparted through the years—perhaps

it would help. Perhaps. So, what is the problem? Many of the people in the circle of conversation indicated that they were just beginning to read the Bible. They wanted answers. They wanted wisdom. And I gave too much from the wisdom store, all at once, releasing it out like a load of gravel from a dump truck. (Gravel—really? Am I being too hard on myself? Pos-

sibly, but I am not going to give that break to myself, not this time.) I want to learn and grow. I want to be effective and productive in my knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Doing so involves goodness, self-control, brotherly kindness, and love. See 2 Peter 1:5-8. It was quiet and gentle gravel, yes. But too much of it and all at once. Like the incessant “hoot, hoot” of the wise old owl I just didn’t realize when enough was enough. What I believe God was allowing me to see (hear!) was the sound of my incessant sharing of wisdom; it was intimidating rather than comforting to some of the members of the group. Intimidating, yes. Huge . . . oh my, yes. I love the sense of humor that the Lord has with us. I am reminded once again, don’t ask him if you don’t really want to know the answer. But I did want to know—I already knew I spoke too much. Perhaps I thought God might say, “No worries, you did fine.” Then I could drift off to slumber-land and forgettaboutit! God is not about to pacify me or to beat around the bush. And I am glad. I trust him implicitly to “show me his ways, to teach me his paths, to guide me in His truth. For he is God my Savior, and my hope is in him all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5). All day long, even in the middle of the night. Incidentally, the owl never returned to our rooftop. He came by for a visit propelled by an unseen hand. Think what you will . . . Lesson learned, laughter included.
5

Everybody Plays the Fool
by Lindsay Tallman

“And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Phil. 1:6, TLB).
Many years ago when we first began attending Christ Church, I attended one of the very first women’s Journey events. I don’t remember much about the event, but I do remember that when Mary Ann Turner spoke about giving your life to Christ, I was overcome with conviction that it was time to stop riding the fence and give everything in my life to Jesus. Up until that point, from the outside it looked like I was doing all the right things. I attended church, took Bible studies, and I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But on the inside, there was still that stubborn part of me that I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to have the same life I had always had all wrapped up in a pretty Christian bow. Over the years it became obvious that I couldn’t have one foot in this world and
6

one foot in God’s kingdom. And to be honest, trying to do both was exhausting. Looking back, I can see that fear was the main thing that held me back. I was afraid of looking like a fool, or worse, one of those Jesus freaks that we made fun of in high school and college. Probably like many of you, I had people in my past who claimed to be Christians, but turned out to be hypocrites and liars when their true selves were unmasked. I was afraid people would think I was a hypocrite too because I certainly wasn’t perfect. I was afraid of going all in when I still had lingering doubts and questions about the church. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, “Stop fooling yourselves. If you count yourself above average in intelligence, as judged by this world’s standards,

you had better put this all aside and be a fool rather than let it hold you back from the true wisdom from above. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As it says in the book of Job, God uses man’s own brilliance to trap him; he stumbles over his own ‘wisdom’ and falls.” I realized that I had to choose between looking wise to the world or pursuing heavenly knowledge. By choosing to keep one foot in the world, I was a fool for letting it hold me back from God. But if I chose God’s wisdom, I would look like a fool to the world. That night at the Journey, I decided it was time to stop letting my fears keep me from giving everything I had to God. Since I was going to be a fool either way, why not be a fool for Christ? And the hypocrites, well, I realized I was going to have to stop judging God for who they claimed him to be and believing God for who his Word says he is. I came home that night and told my husband that I was done riding the fence; that I couldn’t do it anymore and I was going to give everything I had to God. Luckily for me I didn’t have to change everything overnight, but slowly and surely God began to work on me. Taking that step of blind faith towards God allowed him to start moving me in the right direction. The work was often painful, but as I would die to myself in one area he would nudge me to the next thing that I needed to give over to him. As I began to trust him more and more, something amazing happened. I realized

for the first time in my life, I felt free. Free from caring what other people thought about me. Free to live a life of purpose and passion and free to be the person who he created me to be. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again” (Matt. 16:24-25). I am humbled every day that God loves me enough to pursue me relentlessly. Saying yes to giving everything to God has changed my marriage, my family, and my relationships for the better. I am so thankful. I am never going to arrive, but I can trust God to give me everything I need for the journey. Are you sitting on the fence right now hoping to hide out just a little longer? I promise that there is nothing special at all about me. God’s transforming grace is available to everyone. All we have to do is ask. What are you waiting for? It’s a new year, and there’s never been a better time to give everything you have for God’s glory. Growing up, there was a picture hanging on the wall in between the doorway to my room and my brother’s room that read, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” That same sign now hangs outside the doorways of my children and I smile each time I read it. I don’t know where you are in your journey, but I do know that until our final breath, God is not finished with us yet. God gave the world his only son, and Jesus gave his life for you. I pray that 2012 will be the year you give your life to Jesus.
7

The Gift of Life
by Angela Moore Organ recipients have a unique view of giving and receiving. I have had two heart transplants in my 36 years, one at 12 and one at 32. Because of these two gifts, I have had the opportunity to go to college, get married, teach school, and most recently adopt a baby. The question I ask myself is, how do I give back? Shouldn’t we all ask that question? Haven’t all Christians had spiritual heart transplants? We should all desire to give the gift of our lives, for we have been given the greatest gift, new hearts in Christ. Read more of Angela’s writing at www.angelamoore.typepad.com

Photo by: Julie Crask

“We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
-Winston Churchill

A Passion for Giving
by Kathy O’Dell Pacing at St. Louis airport I was bored. My nephew’s plane was twenty minutes late, and my red jacket was too hot to wear and too bulky to carry. My pacing was only a pensive shuffle— until I saw the wall poster. “CATCH US GIVING,” it read. Whoa—what a great headline! Two days later as I picked up the latest Land’s End catalog for recycling, it happened again. “LOVE GIVING” was the title. Sure, both captions were commercially based, but they are powerful reminders of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 8:7: “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” How does one learn to be generous? Each will learn in a variety of ways. For me, my start was in an act of disobedience that is forever seared in my memory. You see, one Sunday my father asked me to write a $100 check to our hometown church, but I put him off for a week because of their account balance. Five days later my father had a fatal heart attack. With a heavy heart, the check was dropped in the offering the next Sunday, and, I now believe, the giving seed was sown in my heart. Fast forward a lot of years, and giving to my church and other charities increased annually. Yet it took com10

ing to Christ Church, attending Bible studies, accepting new fund-raising responsibilities, and eating dinner with my sister’s family for me to see the complete joy in giving. Talking about helping others was always the best dessert at their Christmas dinner. Everyone—from the youngest to the oldest—was invited to share a personal story of whom he or she helped and how the giver was touched by the experience. Over several years there were stories about making anonymous car payments, mailing certified checks from faraway towns to hide the giver’s identity, giving a child’s soccer gear to a needy teammate, diverting allowance dollars to others, leading a fund drive to arrange a teenager’s orthodontic treatment and helping pay the thousands in costs, and bringing others together to buy a car for a young couple who had no means of transportation. The stories always warmed my heart, but that first year I hoped they’d skip my turn. Whatever I’d said, it was a fumble in comparison to the other stories. Those family testimonies rang out in a mighty way the joy of giving and the richness of a family’s priority placed on generosity. May we all “Love Giving” and be “Caught Giving” in 2012. “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord, and he will repay you!” Prov. 19:17.

Let’s Do This Thing!
by Julie Crask As a mother of three young children, I often feel as though all I do is give. I give my time, energy, patience, love, and many times even my dessert, which is a huge thing for someone who has eaten ice cream almost daily for the last twenty years! At the end of the day mothers are exhausted both physically and emotionally, so how could we possibly give any more, right? This was my thinking until I read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. After reading this book I began to feel that there was something I was supposed to be doing. It wasn’t more laundry, dishes, or cleaning. It was something bigger. Something that would give of myself and help others. So I began to pray. I read about the plight of so many around the world who lack clean water. I watched a video clip by Charity: Water, and felt that this was it! Their website tells of the need to build wells in African villages. One well could provide clean water to 400 people for twenty years at a cost of $5,000 to build. There it was! I went for a walk and continued to pray on how I was actually going to collect $5,000. As I walked and prayed I came up with the phrase “Works 4 Water” and the idea that I could do “works” to earn money for the well. I thought about any talents I might have. My husband can attest that I am no Martha Stewart, so crafts and cooking were out! I have no musical talents either—out! I do, however, own a very nice camera and catch wonderful pictures of my children. There it was! I could take pictures of families and ask them to donate money for the building of this well rather than paying me for my “works.” When I arrived home, sweaty and exhausted, I sat down to rest and noticed two things. The first was our son’s sippy cup filled with nice, clean water, and the second was my new issue of Reader’s Digest with the word “WATER” in huge font on the cover. There it was! My goal is to earn $5,000 for Charity: Water to build a well in Central Africa. I’ve been working towards this goal for four months now and have raised $1,000. I’ve received more blessings through this project than I could have ever imagined. I want to put a challenge out there to get you thinking: what are the works that you can complete? We all have talents, skills, God-given gifts. How can you build your own well (or whatever it is you feel compassionate about)? Deuteronomy 16:17 says, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” The seed is planted. What can we do to change the world? As my daughters like to say, “Let’s do this thing!”
“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:24-25

11

My husband is the most generous person I know, based on thirteen years of observation. Phil gives people and organizations time and money, he’s never let a friend pick up the check at a restaurant, and he doesn’t grumble or even keep track of his giving. Perhaps the part that makes the biggest impression on me is that he doesn’t make a big deal about it. (He’ll probably have a quiet fit when he reads this.)

Hand In, Your Right You Put t Hand Out e Your Lef Leav
by Emily Climaco

scenario in which the younger cousin flaunts her youthfulness, unexpected pregnancy, and the greater cosmic importance of the child she carries. But Mary responds discreetly, deflecting Elizabeth’s praise from herself to God: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant . . .” (Luke 1:46-48). She remains in awe of God, not in her role in the events or her inside information, and she “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Jesus reinforced Mary’s practice when he preached about serving God without fanfare: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Matt. 6:2-4a). When I read this passage, the emphasis falls on humility: give with motives wiped

Who, Me?

Of the people we meet in the Bible, Mary demonstrated an amazing sense of discretion in her dealings with God and others. Hearing about Mary’s pregnancy, her cousin Elizabeth showers her with praise: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! . . .” (Luke 1:42). Mary has good reason to show off. After all, an angel of the Lord has offered her the ultimate mission. Had she been so inclined, Mary could have stolen Elizabeth’s thunder. Imagine a soap-opera
12

clean of selfish ambition. Certainly this is a big part of it, but lately it’s the word “secret” that attracts my attention. While secrecy compels the giver to focus on eternal rather than earthly rewards, it also safeguards the dignity of the receiver.

ford it. I also learned that a little learning is a dangerous thing and a little discretion goes a long way. While I harbor no bitterness toward these people (I later became friends with them), this memory sticks like a familiar splinter to remind me how to give.

Cue Trumpets

I carried my tray through the cafeteria with a small, inconspicuous salad and a Coke, focused on not drawing attention to myself. Spotting an empty seat, I asked, “Is anyone sitting here?” Soon I learned that this was a table of upper-classmen—friendly, student-government types who seemed to know everything. I nibbled unobtrusively and tried to follow the conversation. One of them stated, matter-of-factly, “We chose two scholarship candidates from the bunch: a smart one and a poor one, and I met the smart one earlier. Jacob, I think.” It took me a few moments to realize that I was the other scholarship recipient. Not the smart one but the poor one. I piped up, letting these insiders know that I was the one they were wondering about. Their faces stiffened, as if digesting what had just been said; they offered over-enthusiastic congratulations. I smiled and thanked them, but my thoughts were already elsewhere. The scholarship had been presented as an academic award, not an act of charity. I was humiliated to recognize that my family’s financial-aid standing had worked to my advantage. Looking back, I realize that colleges don’t hand out scholarships willy-nilly: one for the smart one, one for the poor one. I believe that the college bestowed an academic award and a generous gift to someone who couldn’t otherwise af-

Zip It, Self

Unless you’re a hermit, you and I take part in hundreds of tiny transactions everyday—exchanges of words, information, things, money, and so on. Many of these exchanges are insignificant in the big scheme of things, but some of them require giving discreetly. When I have a piece of information about someone, I hold onto it unless I understand my motives for wanting to give it away. Will sharing it merely make me look important? Will it tarnish reputations, hurt feelings, or infringe on privacy? If so, zip it. When an opportunity to give money or things arises, I ask myself other questions. Am I giving primarily out of guilt, the desire to impress, or to compel someone to reciprocate? Will my gift or manner of giving deny the receiver his or her dignity? If so, zip it. I don’t always keep my left hand unaware of my right hand; giving as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount is an ongoing trial-and-error project. I should mention that Phil is generous but also naturally very reserved—it’s just not in his personality to make a big deal of things. Well, at least one advantage of being an introvert is that serving God with discretion comes more easily. And, according to Jesus, that’s a good thing: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt. 6:4b).
13

One sand Thou Gifts
[book revie w]

Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts (Zondervan 2010) is a lovely and inspiring book, written with careful attention even to the most fleeting thoughts. A strange prose-poetry mixture, Voskamp’s language demands close reading in order to take in the beauty of her expression. A busy mother and farmer’s wife, Voskamp blogs regularly at www.aholyexperience.com, where she writes of herself: “I homeschool our six exuberant kids and most days I feel just a tad bit overwhelmed and very crazy. When the kids and the washing machine sleep, I wash my real dirt down with words and The Word.” Check out what she has to say about looking at our world through the eyes of Jesus Christ: “To read His message in moments, I’ll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world. Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The Word has nailscarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, ‘I know. I know.’ The passion on the page is a Person, and the lens I wear of the Word is not abstract idea but the eyes of the God-Man who came and knows the pain” (87). In One Thousand Gifts, you’ll discover the immense gift of Voskamp’s insight and the power of her words in tribute to the Word.

14

REDUCE – get the digital version via e-mail at mychristchurch.com/thejourney REUSE – pass along this issue to a friend when you’re finished RECYCLE – toss in a Paper Retriever bin at Christ Church

When we think of giving, we most often think of financial giving. Beyond tithing, there are so many diverse ways to give of ourselves in God’s service. What’s your passion? What service, act of love, or mission do you engage in that gives you pleasure? What is it you do in which you most feel God’s pleasure? Those mission areas are the ones in which we tend to be spiritually gifted and in which God uses us for his kingdom-making purposes. I’m always amazed at how God empowers us when we step out in faith to serve him (Gal. 5:22-23). One day while visiting a homeless shelter in St. Louis, I met a young woman named Candy, a recovering drug addict who was trying desperately to stay clean. Candy’s four children had been taken from her by the state because of neglect. She was heartbroken but also knew that in her present state she was an unfit mother. Candy and I sat on the floor and talked for two hours. I encouraged her, telling her that God would deliver her from addiction if she would seek him and look to Jesus for her salvation. I prayed fervently with Candy and her situation. I never saw her again, but I know that God had a plan for Candy. Whether Candy said yes to God that day or months or years later, I’ll never know, but I was able to be the listening ear she needed and to provide love and compassion—so she would know that her life mattered and she could call on God to turn it around. Another time, I was helping with a medical clinic in a very poor barrio in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I met an elderly woman named Alejandra, who was

GOD
by Roni McDaniels sick and literally hobbled to the church to have the opportunity to see the doctor. I discovered from the local pastor that Alejandra was a believer. I speak no Spanish, and she spoke no English. I sat with Alejandra, held her, rocked her, and prayed over her in English. The entire time I prayed, she prayed right along with me in Spanish. When she left the clinic that day, Alejandra’s entire countenance had changed and she was smiling! God blessed me that day with the privilege of being Alejandra’s angel. Our God is sovereign, and he loves every one of his children with a love so wide and deep we can’t even fathom it. God alone can overcome the enemy and deliver people from any situation, yet he uses us to bring about his kingdom plans. We simply have to say “yes” to serving God and stepping out in faith. Each day brings a new opportunity to say “yes” to God. How will you answer him today?
15

Giving to

“[A]nd hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:5

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID E. St. Louis, IL Permit #2290

339 Frank Scott Parkway East Fairview Heights, IL 62208