Foxes in the hen house

May 25, 2010

By Guest Blogger, Amy Vogel

A devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries this week was about letting “little foxes” get into the vineyard of your marriage. Taken from Song of Solomon 2:15 which says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” It centered on maintaining a strong Christian marriage by forgiving your spouse for an offense immediately, almost as soon as you’ve been offended.

However, there are other little foxes that sneak into our minds. Maybe it’s feelings of insecurity or uncertainty about the future. Or annoyance with the constant drama of children; Perhaps you are sick of routine or worried over illness.  It could be physical exhaustion with no end in sight to the “to do” list.  You could need to figure out what to make for dinner from a bare pantry, with no funds to refill it.  Whatever they are, they sneak in and steal joy.

Some people might chalk all this up to hormones or even stress.  Either way, you might feel the need to escape, run away or just plain check out.

We all face these foxes.  While we must be on active alert, it is not our job to hunt down and destroy those things that creep into our emotional consciousness.  We must remember who we are and where our power comes from.  We are sheep and the same Shepherd who protects from the roaring lion also protects from these little foxes that have crept into the mental hen house and nipping our heels to death.

So, how do we access the power of The Good Shepherd to protect us?

We can practice 3 things:

Realize.

These things are sent to distract us.  These foxes lurking around throw us into a frenzy because when we are worked up, we are ineffective.  We become focused on all things horizontal rather than all things vertical.  The power of the spoken word combats these feelings.  So, admit it.  Out loud.  Speaking or writing out our thoughts can remove their power over us.  Moses and the Psalmists confessed their issues to The Lord and as a result, they discovered this freedom.

Return.

After realizing where you are, you can look for a way to get out.  Romans 12:2 reminds we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, so then we determine where God wants us to go.  When the little foxes creep in, get out your Bible.  Let God’s Word shine the light on the path forward.

Restore.

Once the light is on, there is no turning it off.  The light of His word reveals the path out of the darkness and brings His Spirit in the midst of our situation.  This is the same Spirit called the Comforter.  When you are fighting a mental battle, who better to have on your side?

Our Good Shepherd will lead you beside the still waters, away from that dark place of emotion, into the light of His love and peace.

The verses that bookend Song of Solomon 2:15 talk about The Lord as a hiding place, where we see His face, hear His voice and walk with Him.  He is mighty to save and He is holding on.  There is no need to sit in the nasty chicken coop, letting the little foxes get the upper hand.  You can escape to fresh mental air through The Word – to let Him renew your mind and restore your soul.

It’s a choice you have control over – for redemption and renewal in His Truth.

Go for a walk with Him; let Him remind you who you are and that He is firmly in control.

Let Jesus take you away; after all, tomorrow has enough little foxes of its own.

Amy Vogel is a writer and speaker, called to encourage God’s people for the betterment of God’s Church.  Amy has spoken at South Main’s MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, group, among others.

She is currently the Houston Christian Living Examiner and contributor to Response Magazine.  She is writing a book about going to a new level of faith in Christ, called Vertical Focus.  Amy is blessed with an awesome husband, two crazy, beautiful daughters and is a member of Bear Creek United Methodist Church.

Links:

Examiner Page

Personal Blog

Find her on Facebook here or on twitter here


Together we Pray

May 14, 2010

By Amy Grizzle Kane, Minister to Adults

Together in Prayer: Coming To God in Community is a book by Andrew Wheeler.  To be honest, I’m still reading most of it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the author’s main point.  The title of the book is drawn from Acts 1:14, where the early church was “constantly together in prayer.”  Wheeler writes, “The “togetherness” experienced by the early church was more than just physical proximity – it was a oneness of heart and mind reflected in such passages as Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-35.

Praying together is important. Not just praying individually while being in the same room together, but focusing our prayers on the same things, together.  In addition to our own daily prayers, praying together as a church family even as we’re away from each other can be a meaningful and powerful spiritual experience.  To help us experience and remember this, the SMBC Discipleship Committee has developed a monthly prayer calendar– each month a new prayer calendar is available for your use in addition to our SMBC Update weekly prayer list.  Printed copies are available on the Welcome Center table and it is also available online at: http://www.smbc.org/smbcprayers/May.pdf (or at the prayer tab on our smbc homepage).

Praying together is important and it makes a difference. Has this been your experience?


Can you turn off your computer on Sunday? I thought it was impossible…

May 7, 2010

By J.D. Walther, South Main Member

“Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20:8,11

Last month, on the social network Facebook, Amy Grizzle posted a web link to an article in USA Today about “Rediscovering the Sabbath on National Day of Unplugging”.  The article is about a group called Reboot: ‘young Jewish technology entrepreneurs, writers and others who want to “Reboot” the culture, rituals, and traditions they’ve inherited and make them more meaningful in their own lives.’  They advocated people turning off all computers, cell phones, game systems, television or any technology and unplug on the Sabbath.  Crazy?

Actually, I was thinking, “Bravo, Reboot.”  A little radical, but these folks are exploring something very important: the Jewish and Christian practice (or lack thereof?) of Sabbath and our technology use.

As someone who has been active in technology business for over 25+ years, the ‘screens’ we design are meant to draw a person in and keep them coming back.  Come to think about it, we are visual drug dealers…and we are getting better at our trade.

In response to my active and growing technology addiction, I try (although sometimes unsuccessfully) to unplug the computer (except for preparing Sunday School lessons) from sun down on Saturday to sun down on Sunday (Jewish Sabbath time span – sun down to sun down), and for years I do not do business work unless I have ‘a donkey in ditch’.  I find that by Sunday evening, I am ready to ramp up for Monday and being on the computer is unavoidable… turning ‘it’ off Saturday night and Sunday Day has been less of a problem than expected and an act of discovery and reconnection.  I actually look forward to it.

As Amy Grizzle, South Main’s Minister to Adults, wrote in a email to me to prompt this blog: “…this seems like a perfect time to think about taking some time away from technology to spend time with God.”

Yes, it is.  Bravo Amy, Bravo.

So we’re wondering, can you take a Sabbath break from technology?

Would you?

Tell us what you think…

#innerloopchurch


Place of Prayer Available for You

May 4, 2010

New Prayer Room

A quiet retreat for personal prayers is now available on the second floor of the Loessner Building at South Main. It is located on the North hallway in front of the Library entrance. You are welcome to make personal use of the space that overlooks the Chapel Garden. It is a great setting for an important part of our Christian walk.

Prayer for the day:

Teach us, Lord of all loyal hearts and true, to serve Thee as Thou deserves;

to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds;

to toil and not to see for rest;

to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will.

Amen


Sharing Our Stories…Andrea Hoxie

May 2, 2010

This is a fitting day to write about my family of God called South Main Baptist Church. It was seven years ago, Sunday, April 4, that I walked down the south aisle of that wonderful room in which we worship, I met for the first time “that new guy,” a man whom I came to love and respect as my pastor, and my friend.

For five years prior I had visited South Main. The 8:30 worship hour was perfect for me. As a minister of music, it was important for me to have personal worship time in which I could focus solely on communing with God, not having to fret over singers or musicians running late or just not showing up despite their commitment to be in place on time. That meant worshiping with a congregation that I did not serve. I was first invited to South Main by my good friend, Errol Brooks. That was odd, as he was not a member at that time either. Generally, I found the worship hour meaningful and substantial, with scriptures, prayers and songs relevant to the sermon. And, as important, I found the folks to be friendly and outgoing. They made me feel welcome. And if I missed a Sunday or two, a familiar face would greet me with “I was wondering what happened to you — I haven’t see you in a while — is everything okay . . .” .

I always left South Main thinking about when I might next return. On one special occasion, I attended a concert featuring Esther Hinds. I came in and took my usual place near the back. As other folks came in several stopped to speak and give me a word of welcome. Before the concert began, one woman left her seat near the front, came back to me and said “There’s an empty seat in the front. Why don’t you come up and sit with me?” Perhaps she has forgotten, but I hope to always remember Barbara McNeir.

Fast-forward to April 4, 2003. I awoke that morning, feeling the emptiness of not having a church home and being connected to a family of God. It was Sunday, after all, and I belong in worship with like-believing and like-minded folks. Recent weeks had been spent wandering from one house of worship to the next, leaving me feeling like an orphan. I just hadn’t found a place where I felt “at home.” “I know! I’m going to South Main!” The thought was so loud I imagined I heard myself speak the words. Then I called my daughter, “Sweet Pea! I’m going to South Main today.” “Good for you, Mom.” So, I mustered. As I drove around the west side of downtown Houston, an imp whispered in my right ear, “You know, that new guy is there. You don’t know anything about that new guy.” I replied, “That’s okay. Let’s give the new guy a chance.” (Note: you really have to watch the imps. They’ll keep you from doing anything you ought to do.)

I had not visited South Main in several weeks. It was before I had decided I need a church home more than I need to do music ministry. I was emotionally and spritually bruised, bleeding and broken. Even in that state, or perhaps because of it, the hymns bounced of their respective pages, closeting me in their warmth, comfort and blessed assurance. And the “new guy” had something to say. As the invitational hymn began, I found myself halfway down that aisle before I realized it. After the benediction I was overwhelmed by a stream of folks who greeted me with smiles and hugs and handshakes, renewed the acquaintance of the one who became my first and favorite Sunday School teacher, and met many who unknowingly tended my wounds and helped me to heal, just by being who God called them to be and doing what He called them to do –love one another. Their love and caring are unmistakenly genuine and unchanging.

In retrospect I have been the recipient of so much in so many ways in this my first 7 years as a South Mainer. My prayer and plan are that I will give more in the next.

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010


Sharing Our Stories…Kaci Coble

May 2, 2010

By Kaci Coble, South Main Member

Kaci Coble is a new member to South Main Baptist Church.  She is actively involved in the Young Adult Community and periodically writes for The Main Blog.

Finding South Main Baptist Church was like searching for and finally finding my soul mate. Finding a church home was something I’d been meaning to do for some time, but just hadn’t gotten around to. I began “church shopping” – often feeling disappointed or uninspired, but the day I walked into South Main, I knew I was home. I didn’t want to visit another church – I had found my heart right there on that Midtown corner.

South Main is truly a church I didn’t think existed anymore. It’s a genuine, pure, kind-hearted place of love and acceptance. The church family is warm and welcoming without being overbearing; motivational yet non-judgmental. The passion, resources, and opportunities run deep. The pastor, Steve Wells, is nothing shy of amazing. Week in and week out he moves and touches my soul in a way I couldn’t imagine making it through my week without. The message is always an eloquent balance between pick me up and keep me grounded. Never fluffy, not dated, just right. This is truly a place where you can feel God’s grace and peace throughout the buildings and the people alike.

Despite the fabulously ornate sanctuary or the magnificent campus, should all the walls come crumbling down, the group of people left standing would have enough faith and love to move mountains. Becoming a member of this church family was like committing to a lifelong journey together with my soul mate, one I am certain will carry me through all of my sad days as well as my glad days, making life just that much sweeter.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010