I was born with a mole on my left cheek, commonly referred to as a “beauty mark.” Once I hit my teenage years I had made it a point to get that mole removed. I had forgotten all about that beauty mark until last week in my quiet time when these words came through my inbox from Christian author and speaker, Ann Voskamp:
“Every day we get to decide, do we mar the world or mark the world? We don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It all matters. The only way we ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself – and this will hurt.”
And I thought about our team of 25 working now in the Dominican Republic, giving themselves away and leaving bits of themselves behind - beauty marks on the world.
They will leave the beauty mark of love as they give the gift of their time and their hearts to people they don’t know, bringing the good news of the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it.
They will leave the beauty mark of compassion and justice as they seek to help feed those who are hungry and reach out to those who are orphaned. This compassion will be evidenced as they labor to build the second floor of a small Christian school in a small community - with this school being the only light for the gospel. They will leave the beauty mark of encouragement as they minister to those who have given their lives to work in these orphanages and schools.
There is no doubt they will leave many other marks than these. And they will be marked in return by their experiences while there, but that is their story to tell. Please pray with me for our team. They have gone where God has called them, not for their glory, but for His. They have taken their “little cup of resources to an ocean of need.” And God will make it enough. And He will be glorified as they leave beauty marks on that side of the world.
During Vacation Bible School, one of our leaders decided to literally make his students “Jesus seekers.” He asked one of us as staff to hide a plastic Jesus figurine somewhere in the building so his class of 6 and 7 year-olds could seek and find Jesus each day.
When it was my turn to hide the toy, I placed it behind a case of CDs, then watched as a wide-eyed child exclaimed excitedly, “I see him!”
I must admit I felt like that child many times during our galactic adventure this year as I watched God show up in miraculous ways.
Our journey began back in January of this year. As our children’s team began planning, we honestly didn’t know what Vacation Bible School would look like this year. Finances were different, many of our faithful volunteers had returned to work full time and could no longer help, and the school calendar meant no time to prep our beloved skit team.
However, one by one we watched as the Lord blessed despite these obstacles.
Where finances had been limited, He provided a generous donation.
Where volunteers seemed scarce, He sent dads and college students to make up the difference.
Where timing eliminated the possibility of daily live skits, He provided in the form of videos.
During the three years that I have had the privilege of directing Vacation Bible School at Bear Creek Church, the Lord has continued to open my eyes to His faithfulness and to His grace. He knows exactly what we need to reach boys and girls for Him – and He provides it year after year.
So, on the Sunday of our VBS Celebration as I stood at the finish line for our epic adventure and listened to Pastor David share the stats from our week: 52 salvations, 250 volunteers, $3,677 donated for missions, one thought bubbled up in my soul: “I see Him!”
Anyone who has spent anytime with preschoolers knows what a precious age this is to nurture and create a foundation of faith. Never again does innocence and truth reconcile so completely as it does during these years. A child believes and accepts Jesus as the truth and the way because we tell them so; they share the gospel and Jesus' love almost carelessly, in the most beautiful way.
Preschoolers aren't just parrots repeating and regurgitating what they're told; they are sponges soaking in all they observe around them. We owe this generation a legion of leaders who will cultivate that fragile trait of telling the world around them that Jesus is real and He is the way to salvation (or in preschool words, "Jesus is the best!") which comes out so effortlessly at this age. Preschoolers change the world. They touch the people closest to them with their imaginations and excitement and inspire us to do better, BE better. We would be foolish to discount them as too small to make a difference in His kingdom.
In fact, we could all take a page from our tiny counterparts and share the gospel with childlike faith: like no one could possibly discount it, like it is the most important story to be told - because it truly is.
At last – someone finally showed me the lid to the puzzle box with the picture! The picture is of God’s family here on earth, choosing to serve each other with the spiritual gifts, heart (passion), abilities, personality and experiences that God has given us. Each one of us has a piece of the puzzle that only we can fill. There is no one else on earth like me (my husband might say Amen to that!) or you. Pastor David nailed down powerful scripture to paint us a picture of what serving God should look like.
We've had fun the last couple of weeks trying to solve the puzzle on our own. Now, it’s time to get serious, or as my dad used to say, “this is where the rubber meets the road.” We each have a choice to make. If you are not serving anywhere, it’s time to start praying and asking God to help you find a place to serve.
If you are currently serving, then you already know the joy of serving in a ministry area. I’d like to ask you to start praying about who you can ask to come serve with you. There is nothing more effective than a personal invitation to serve with a friend.
If you have no idea where to start, we have a SHAPE class where you can receive advice and suggestions regarding opportunities where you can observe on a Sunday or Wednesday to see if it’s something you might be interested in.
Come to a class on Wednesday, May 10 and May 17 at 6:45 PM (must attend both classes) or Sunday May 21 at 10:15 AM. Sign up by calling the church office, at any booth on Sunday or by registering here.
If you didn’t have a chance to sign up yesterday, you can express interest here or by signing up at one of the lobby booths May 14, 21 or 28.
As Pastor David reminded us on Sunday, we know we have been called to serve:
For me, the joy of serving God by serving other people far outweighs the Golden Ticket that Willie Wonka offered. A lifetime of free chocolate is a sweet gig, but when you die, you can’t take it with you. The joy of serving others stays with me for eternity and more importantly, if there’s one person who comes to know Christ because of me opening a door, singing a song at VBS, or directing traffic in the parking lot, that’s one more person who can go on to serve someone else too.
So, I walk into church this morning, knowing that I still have to wait another week to find out about the blue puzzle piece I received last week. However, I pass a couple of staff members and they are all in blue t-shirts with the question, “Are You the Missing Piece?” The bulletin has an identical ad, and there’s another puzzle piece in my lap. Upon closer reflection, the puzzle piece is shaped like a little person and there’s lots of blue. Missing Person? Well, of course I am not missing. I am sitting here in the worship center, in my same seat, in front of my friends, quite aware of where I am.
Come on and think. I can figure this out. I need a picture; where’s the box lid with a picture of what the pieces come together to make? The guys on Survivor figure out puzzles every week without a box lid picture. However, they also have all the pieces in front of them. I have two, and they don’t fit together at all. What if I ask the people around me to share their pieces? Surely, we can figure it out if we work together.
But, what am I missing from? An event? A class? A team? Whatever it is, they must want me really bad, because now there are digital signs all around the church asking me the same question.
How am I a piece? Am I a big piece or a little piece? A piece of cake? A piece of pie? (Sorry, I got sidetracked there - guess I should have eaten breakfast this morning!)
Aaron Morris is giving announcements, and all he tells me is to come back May 7. I may be REACHING here trying to CONNECT the pieces, but I’m beginning to think that I’m being called to be a part of something because I keep hearing that I’ve been EQUIPPED to be SENT. If only someone would show me the box lid.
Join us May 7 at Bear Creek Church as we find out the meaning of the blue puzzle piece.
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