the first shall be last

I have often wondered about the celebrity culture that we live in. Why do movie stars, and performance musicians draw such awe and fandom? When you go to a concert, or a movie, even a major sporting event people fawn over celebrities. Once i was at a major league baseball game and when Ken Griffey Jr. was announced the entire stadium erupted with applause and rose to a standing ovation. Everyone except me that is. I sat there kind of dumbstruck because first of all i was not a baseball fan and i had no idea who this guy was. The other reason was, i never saw baseball players, or artists, or actors or musicians of any kind as being special or better than me. Not that i saw myself as being better than anyone, but i just did not ever find any reason to worship another human being in such a way.

Enter christian celebrity culture and now i am even more perplexed. I wonder why certain christians are elevated to such a high level of influence or fame in the church as we know it. Certainly when God anoints you to do a specific task for Him it comes with a level of influence and notoriety. But in our celebrity culture we have taken this to, in my opinion, unhealthy extremes. We have begun to elevate the minister over the Spirit.

We flock to “worship concerts” because our favorite band is leading worship. (Even when we don’t engage in worship at our church, or on our own.) We spare no expense to attend the latest conference or seminar simply because our favorite speaker is speaking. (Even when we skip church often, or don’t even pick up the Word.) The ones who get called to speak at those conferences and seminars, or to lead worship at those events must have a name because those names will draw the crowd we desire. And that is what inevitably it’s about, drawing the crowd.

But Jesus didn’t say “Get really famous so you can draw a crowd”. He said “go, preach, heal.” Not to say that Jesus did not draw a crowd, He did, but remember it was the very crowd that He drew that turned on Him. That’s a scary thought.

We have been so busy teaching and indoctrinating generations that they have a major “call” on their lives. We also force feed them this mantra of greatness, and chasing their dreams. But what of the quiet and peaceable life that Paul taught us to live? If everyone is the preacher who then is the student? And why do we push young believers to seek a platform? Why is no one actually going into the streets and doing what Jesus asked us to? Why only platforms in large arenas and churches? Why expect others to come to us? And why only minister to fellow christians?

There are hundreds of thousands of believers everywhere today who are not super influential. They are not famous, they may not even have a ministry or minister anywhere. Yet they have just as much anointing, call, wisdom, and access to the throne of power as any of the celebrity christians we worship. Yet these humble believers go unnoticed. Their voice, their ministry goes unheard of. Perhaps their testimony is one that could shake mountains and change nations, yet they are there on the back burner, invisible in obscurity.

Does this mean there is something wrong with them? Did they do something wrong? Have they been sidelined or limited by God because they weren’t good enough, worthy enough, prepared enough? I have a feeling the answer is no. If God will use a donkey He will use even the most broken of humans. He used Saul the christian killer to bring the pure message of the gospel of grace didn’t He? No I believe they are right in the middle of the field ripe for harvest that Christ spoke of.

No these believers are some of the last, the least, the lowly. They didn’t know the right people, so doors weren’t opened for them. They didn’t have enough money to buy into that gig, so they were turned away. Perhaps they were taught that you do not invite yourself to do things, so they waited for someone to notice, to hear, to value them, but they were invisible, no one saw them. These believers, every bit as anointed and powerful as the super pop culture celebrity christians, go overlooked, underappreciated, and often discouraged every day.  But their voice isn’t any less important.

To those believers i want to say thank you. Thank you for continuing to be you, for not quitting, for not giving up. Thank you for being a light in any small way that you can be. Thank you for being a fire that lights the darkness every day in your daily life. Any one could put on a fancy conference and have their name in lights, sweep into a city one day, and sweep out the next, charging an arm and a leg to hear their ministry. But you? You are the faithful that go unpaid, and often un-thanked for your faithful continuance in doing good in preaching the gospel through acts of love and service.

See it isn’t the mega-church worship leading, pastoring, conferencing, televised, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, celebrity acts that bring heaven to earth. They may have their part, but i promise you, the things that make an impact, and change lives are much more simple.

They are the smiles you give at the grocery store. The moments you sit with your child watching stupid you tube videos and laughing. They are the moments you stop and  help someone pick up the books they dropped, or shovel the neighbors walk. The things that impact the world are the seemingly random acts of kindness that you do, when you know full well that they are not at all random. They are purposeful and intentional because you know that the world needs more kindness, love and patience.

So thank you. Thank you for being the invisible ones that walk out your faith with sincerity in obscurity, and hope. Thank you for being love in the hard places, light in the dark places, and hope in this world. We could use fewer conferences, and more community service days. What we need are less seminars and more prayer meetings. We don’t need any more names in lights but we do need to light up one Name, Jesus. And your faithfulness to Him, even when you are invisible brings a smile to His face.

 

Remember His words. “So the last will be first and the first, last”. Don’t worry if you seem to be coming in last, because the losers get the crown.

 

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remember why

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Not here on my blog obviously, i have neglected that for too long. No. I’ve been working on my book “Forgiving God”. I am nearly halfway done with the first draft, and it has been an uphill battle the whole way. Each time i think i am doing well, i hit a wall. And each time i hit that wall i almost give up. Then i remember the reason why i am writing the book and i start writing again.

I am a speaker by nature. I can tell you ten thousand stories, recite hundreds of songs word for word, and quote scripture by heart. Yet when it comes time to write this book it is like an actual torture session. I have no idea what is taking place in the spirit as this book is being birthed but i cannot wait to see what it looks like when it is finished. It really has been a labor of love so far.

See my story is not that special. I have nothing notable about my life. I am not famous, or rich. I do not have the name, or the “package’ so to speak. I am just a woman, raising her kids, loving her family trying to do something that might leave a legacy when i am gone. But i believe that my story, though not extraordinary, is one that will connect with many. No i wasn’t in the twin towers as they collapsed. I haven’t seen dead raised, or limbs grow out like a powerful missionary evangelist. But how much do we really relate to those people?

No my story is pretty ordinary, and takes place every day in every city around the world. People everywhere live lives that are similar to mine. They wrestle with the same questions, and doubts. They fear similar things, and they have had experiences that they cannot really open up and talk about to get help, just like me. And they need answers. Some of them don’t even realize what they are looking for they are just aching. That is where my story needs read.

In the home of a woman who was raped. In the bedroom of the teen who feels unloved. In the backseat of a car where sits a suicidal, broken individual wanting to know the pain ends. That is why i am writing. I remind myself this every time i want to give up because it is difficult.

So this blog is for me. It is so i can say, “Remember Martha that this is not about you. Yes you lived that life, and yes it is painful to open up and write about those long held secrets. No you don’t want people to know because yes some of them will judge you. But for the ones who feel the same way as you, the lost ones, the broken ones, the hurting ones, WRITE. Write it out in tears. Write it out in love. Write it through the pain, and the anxiety, and the PTSD triggers. Write because when you were hurting no one was writing for you. Write because when you needed help there was none, but you can be that help. Remember now that your story, is part of His-story. And one day you will see that He makes all things work together for good, for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Write for love’s sake.”

 

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