Midday Connection

A safe place to process your story.

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Midday blog: The Perfect Parent?

Where is it written that the Prodigal’s famous father was…the perfect dad?  Have we ever thought about his parenting?

We see similarities between this father and Christ. Both lovingly, knowingly, accept the wayward child and extend grace to sinners. Both have children with bad attitudes. One attitude these sons share is entitlement. The younger son, with his grab-and-go attitude for his inheritance, the older son who moans,

                                 “I got straight A’s all through school, kept my room

                                clean, didn’t party, dated the good girls, went to youth

                                group, did my Science Fair project solo, fed the dog.

                                I never got a party!”

 Well, something like that.

 Admittedly, the point of Luke 15’s Parables is that the hopelessly lost will remain so without the intervention of a persistent Savior. Each Parable holds a promise of a joyful welcome for the lost and found. 

But Parables always have many teaching layers. It’s not unreasonable that this dad recognized his parental faults and short-comings. “What part have I played in my sons’ attitudes?” Perhaps in the very gut-spinning of a prodigal child’s life, this father came to a self-awareness that allowed him to say, “God, I’m sorry for my sins and hurts that contributed to my own sons’ sins and hurts. You’ve said that our sin is visited on our children. Thank you for forgiving mine. Enable me to forgive my sons’ theirs. Thank you for Your acceptance and comfort.” Perhaps his grace and wisdom of the story’s end were born of self-reflection, grieving over sin, repentance and then the loving, accepting embrace of His Savior.

May God help us to courageously and authentically know our own sin and hurt and then know God’s forgiveness and comfort, enabling us to forgive and comfort others, particularly those with whom we live and work.

“God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NCV)

 

Melinda SchmidtMelinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. To learn more about Melinda, her speaking schedule and her blog please visit her website.

Midday blog: Less about Me, more about We

I’ve been watching the Tour de France for the last 3 weeks. It is the longest race of the cycling season.  Most of the riders have virtually no possibility of winning the Tour. And while only one person can win the race, the Tour de France is largely a team event with moments for individual glory built in.

Each team has nine riders. One is the christened leader. The rest are called domestiques, each world class riders in their own right, but with specific skill sets. Some are great climbers, some sprinters, some incredible pace setters. Their role is to do whatever it takes to help the leader win the Tour de France. They are to spend themselves physically in order for the leader to draft behind them. The leader of the team stays on their wheel when the going gets tough. The domestiques help pull their man up the mountain and back down. They sacrifice themselves to support the leader. Everyone knows what the role demands. Do a good job as a domestique and perhaps you’ll get a chance to lead your own team someday. That’s what happened to Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong. But for most riders they toil in obscurity year in and year out on bike racing’s biggest stages. Without them the star attraction wouldn’t shine as brightly or would be less effective. There is no way LeMond or Armstrong could have won the Tour de France on his own.

This year as I watched Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France, I also watched his younger teammate, Chris Froome, who likely could have taken the win away from Wiggins but honored his commitment to be a domestique. The tour has distinct parallels to the body of Christ.

We each have gifts and talents. Sometimes I’m up front. Sometimes I’m backstage. Sometimes I get the spotlight on me and sometimes I get to shine the spot light on someone else. Each role is good and necessary. The topic of gifts and talents is all over the New Testament. From the words of Paul to the parables of Jesus. The Tour de France is just a contemporary example, a reminder that no one person can do it all and that God doesn’t expect that from anyone. It’s a reminder that this life is far less about the ‘me’ than it is about the ‘we’.

Anita LustreaAnita Lustrea is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and has worked for Moody Radio since 1984. She is a sought-after conference and retreat speaker and loves to connect with Midday Connection listeners face-to-face. Anita lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and her son, John. To learn more about Anita, her speaking schedule and her blog, please visit her website.

Listener blog: Do You Really Love Me?

At one time, I couldn’t own this verse.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

I knew intellectually that it was true. God loves me. He loves everyone, right? I could easily believe that God loves you. But, I struggled to experience it myself.

Because of this, I began to believe a lie. I thought God’s love was tied to my behavior. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t doing enough to earn God’s love. So, I tried harder. I studied more, volunteered more and served more until every morning, noon and night held some commitment. I was exhausted, but kept going. I thought, “Isn’t this what God requires?”

Then one day, I hit a wall. I had an emotional breakdown. It happened the week of a conference I was coordinating. I was such a mess; I couldn’t even attend the conference. Yet in that broken place, I finally experienced God’s love. I knew he had allowed my breakdown. He loved me too much to let me keep living a lie.

I don’t need to earn his love. It’s not based on my performance. It’s based on his. God is love. That’s who he is.

 God loves me because of who he is, not who I am.

God does want me to live a holy life. However, my behavior does not affect his love for me. I can’t do one thing to make him love me any more (or any less).  He loves me so completely, it would be impossible to add one drop to that love. I know it. I feel it. I believe it.

 God loves me. It can sound almost trite. The reality is anything but trite. The reality changed my life.

Reread Zephaniah 3:17. Take a minute to let God quiet you with his love. Think of him delighting in you. Picture Jesus singing as he rejoices over you. 

Peggi Tustan is a leader in women’s ministry who encourages women through writing. Follow her journey as an ordinary woman seeking to live an extraordinary Real Life in Christ at www.peggitustan.blogspot.com. When she’s not writing, you can find Peggi meeting friends for coffee, conversation and chocolate. She resides in Northeast Ohio with her husband Terry. They have two sons in college. Peggi is also on staff at Moody Radio Cleveland.

Midday blog: One Simple Prayer

Towards the end of May, I was invited to participate in a week long gathering of women who serve with Project Hannah; a ministry of TWR, (Trans World Radio) offering compassion, encouragement and hope to suffering women around the world through prayer, awareness and radio programming.

Imagine a room filled with women from various denomination and nations. Women with different styles of prayer and languages praying to a living God who is so faithful. An amazing collective brought together by God united in prayer for women across the world. Individuals who have personally experienced the power of prayer. Within half an hour of being in the room I found myself struggling to contain my tears. I kept thinking what in the world is wrong with me? Why am I so emotional? I was reminded of another time when I experienced something similar and my Pastor said, “when God’s presence is so tangible sometimes all we can do is weep.” There is something really powerful about hearing woman not just pray but cry out to God on behalf of the woman who are broken, hurting and the voiceless. Woman standing in the gap and wrestling with the enemy for souls in bondage.

That day God broke my heart for woman all around the world dealing with injustices; girls as young as nine forced into marriages, or sold for prostitution. Woman in Europe, who suffer mental break downs because they were forced into aborting their babies. Woman in Uruguay who feel so low and have no hope that they commit suicide. Woman in North Africa who are told that if they want to get married they should get circumcised and then disowned because of health complications such as incontinence. The list is heartbreakingly endless, but instead of feeling defeated and overwhelmed I rejoiced at the fact that our God is bigger. My heart skipped a beat as I finally truly grasped that I do not need to make more money, get a certain qualification or become more spiritual to make a difference. It was in that room surrounded by these women who despite their brokenness, fear and imperfection accepted Gods call to prayer. Women who understand James 1:22 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT)

God is raising up a generation that is rising up to take their rightful place at His feet and I’m done fooling myself and hiding behind my insecurities. I am so excited about joining the body of Christ and the sisterhood of prayer.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” Psalm 141:2

Lebo PooeLebo Pooe is a student at Moody Bible Institute and currently serves as an intern for Midday Connection. Lebo was raised in a single parent home in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been a Producer/Presenter for TWR-Africa (Trans World Radio) in Johannesburg. As a result of Moody Radio’s partnership with TWR, she was selected to receive a four-year scholarship to study Communications at Moody Bible Institute. For her, it’s an answer to prayer and a dream fulfilled.

Midday blog: Where’s the Church?

I have an exercise that I often do, and often do it unintentionally, when I’m watching a movie, or go to the theatre, or really any time I’m engaging with a story. I ask myself “Where’s the church?” It’s a challenge to me to see how the author of a piece portrays the church in the story and what that might mean. Do they see the church and Christians as judgmental, crazy or something else entirely? Or is the church even present?

One story in particular stands out to me that left me wondering, where is the church? The first one was written in the early 1990s and deals with a community that is being hard hit by poverty and AIDS. This story was heavily influenced by the author’s own life experiences, and when I got to the end I was struck by the complete absence of the church (except for one part where there’s a funeral).

I wondered after seeing the story what the author’s personal experience had been when it came to the church. Did he see the church reaching out to those who had AIDS, or those who identified themselves as gay? I almost wish that he at least had the church there and as judgmental rather than the church so isolated that it was irrelevant.

I end with this challenge: Let’s make the church visible, and show the love of Christ. This will require work, and effort, and sacrifice. There will be times we’re misunderstood, and seen in the wrong light, but let’s be seen.

Josh Klos is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Radio Communications, he has served as the engineer for Midday Connection since 2010. He is also a part of the volunteer College & 20’s group staff at his church and enjoys spending time outside, as well as at libraries, bookstores and various coffee shops. He’s busy these days with graduate school, where he studying communication and culture.

To learn more about Josh and read his blog, please visit his website.

Listener blog: Rooted

What a wonderful wedding weekend! I’ve been turning over and over in my mind what the father of the groom shared at our table during the rehearsal dinner Friday night. He and his wife live in wine country up in Northern California. Wine is their thing and not only do they enjoy it, they take classes to continue to grow their knowledge and appreciation of all things wine related. Here is something I learned over a sumptuous dinner accompanied by a lovely white wine that I still don’t know how to pronounce:

The best wine comes from grapes that experience an especially difficult season, be it drought or flooding. The drastic change in weather unleashes something in the grapes that produces an exceptional wine.

The parallels to life from this example are too significant to pass by. I know people who have walked through difficult seasons–with rain that doesn’t seem to end, or dryness and heat that cracks the earth. Some become bitter and resentful and die on the inside.

But others who chose to

sink their roots deep into God’s Word,

show up even after reaching the end of their physical limitations and emotional capacities,

walk through, rather than run away or numb away disappointment, grief, and despair,

stay abiding in the Vine (John 15) even when the environment is extreme,

end up displaying a beauty that emanates from places as deep as they have needed to go.

They become the exceptional wine that is set apart in flavor and quality. And they stand out and are admired and appreciated for their character. This character is forged through difficulty, discipline and not giving up when surrounding circumstances threaten to take away life.

I also learned up in wine country there are grapevines over 125 years old. They no longer need to be watered. The root system runs 20-30 feet underground. The grapes produced from these vines are faithful, dependable, certain. And year after year the wine from these grapes is consistently exceptional.

Isn’t that a great picture of what we can become?

Vivian Mabuni joined staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) 23 years ago and has served on the UC Berkeley and UCLA campuses and on the Epic National Executive Team. Epic is the Asian American ministry of Cru. Vivian enjoys teaching and training college students at conferences and retreats and speaking at women’s events. She is a member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and is currently writing a book about her journey facing breast cancer. She has been married 20 years to her husband, Darrin, and is mom to three wonderful kids, Jonathan (18), Michael (15), and Julia (10). They live in Mission Viejo, California along with their German Shepherd, Koa. For more information, please visit her website: vivianmabuni.com

Midday blog: It Matters

Recently my best friend in high school passed away. I’m struggling to wrap my head around the fact that the person who had patiently helped me learn how to share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams is gone. The friend who encouraged me to always verbalize my struggles, confusion, and pain. She would say, “No mater how crazy or insignificant it may seem to you, it matters to God. And it matters to me because it matters to God.” There was something so powerfully comforting about God caring about the things I labelled as petty; even as a rebellious teen with no desire to truly know God. 

About six years and many messed up situations later, I found myself desiring to truly know this God my friend had once told me cared. The more I got to know Him, the more I experienced not just His caring nature, but His extravagant selfless love. It helped me understand why my friend said, “it mattered to her because it mattered to God”. Sadly this is not how many of us Christians feel or live. In fact, the thought that our seemingly unintelligent ramblings and petty insecurities matter to Jesus, is a foreign concept for many Christians. 

If you think about it, why would people believe that their “insignificant” thoughts mattered to Christ when they don’t matter to us, the very people who should care the most? Why is it that both believers and  non-believers do not feel that the church authentically cares about them? Why do we feel unsafe to express our thoughts and feelings in a Christian environment? 

Two years ago I decided that I was done being scared. I was tired of eloquent Christians who supposedly had it all together and I was done trying to be one. As a perfectionist, it’s a scary way to live because there is nothing perfect about authenticity. It’s hard, it’s messy and extremly selfless. Daily, I have to swallow my pride and allow God to be my safety net, my spellcheck and image bearer. Daily, I have to remind myself that it matters, “because it matters to God.”   

Lebo PooeLebo Pooe is a student at Moody Bible Institute and currently serves as an intern for Midday Connection. Lebo was raised in a single parent home in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been a Producer/Presenter for TWR-Africa (Trans World Radio) in Johannesburg. As a result of Moody Radio’s partnership with TWR, she was selected to receive a four-year scholarship to study Communications at Moody Bible Institute. For her, it’s an answer to prayer and a dream fulfilled.

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