My Fitness

Thursday, August 9, 2012

somebody's hero

I have thoroughly enjoyed going to church recently.

We've been going through a six-week long sermon series about Heroes. From the very first sermon I could only think of one person, Jennifer Erwin. And I hope she doesn't mind me sharing with all 3 of my readers why.

The first sermon was on John the Baptizer (also known as John the Baptist, but I would hate for people to think he was a member of some popular denomination of the same name). The points were made that he was created rather uniquely. If you're unfamiliar with his story, he was born to a barren, post-menopaus woman and he was filled with the Spirit of God since the womb. Rather unique! He was given a unique purpose to go be the forerunner (the person who came before Christ) of Jesus to prepare people of the day for Jesus' coming.

The pastor took this moment to remind each of us that we are all uniquely created and we all have a divine purpose on our lives.

Think about that.

God created you. He didn't just let you happen. He knew that he wanted you to be born and so he used your parents activities to let you be conceived. He shaped you and molded you. He didn't just let science take over. He used science and he used the natural order of things to bring you into this world. He wanted you to be born.

Why do any of us exist? Why did John exist? He was to prepare people for Jesus. He was to draw them in. He was to leave this place better off than when he entered it. That is all of our purposes. We need to leave things in better shape than what we found them in.

And that's what Jennifer is doing. And that's why Jennifer is my hero.

Hero: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They inspire us. They believe in their calling.

In Ephesians 2:10, the Bible says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We are created for good works. God prepared us to do those good deeds. We are not defined by our good deeds. Rather because we find our definition in Christ, we are compelled to do good deeds.

Our preacher went on to point out that John the Baptizer was called. He had a very specific calling on his life. Because he was called to be the forerunner, he was qualified and divinely equipped to fulfill that calling.

Jesus said that no one was ever greater than John right before John died, but he said for all those entering the kingdom of heaven, John would be the least. If John was so great, and I am in the kingdom of heaven then I am great. But what is that greatness for? It is for those good deeds God has prepared me for.

Salvation is for more than just having sin forgiven. It is to do good works, it is to reach lost people, and it is to change people's lives. We are ministers, those of us who have entered forgiveness. How can I not share the greatest thing that ever happened in my life? I can effect eternity!

How do I do that? Right now my ministry may seem small and unimportant because it is a very small and focussed group: my family. My children and my husband. I may not be their hero, but I will hopefully be able to minister to them so they can find their True Hero in Christ.

How does Jennifer do that? Well, you don't know Jennifer. She is a single, godly woman. Age 25. Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies working as a middle school teacher in a rather scary ISD. And she loves Russia. She loves the Russian people. She loves them so much that despite being rather ordinary she is attempting the extraordinary. She is going to adopt a couple of boys from Russia in the face of opposition of many who mean well.

Jennifer is the very definition of hero. She is ordinary. If you were to meet her, you might not actually think "how ordinary" you'd probably more likely think "how fun! how happy! how godly!" But she is definitely trying the extraordinary. She definitely inspires. I often think, "I want to be able to draw others to Christ the way Jennifer does." And she believes in her calling so much so that she is willing to put the opinions of many well-meaing "mature" Christians on the line. These well-meaning friends have a social stigma against single people adopting. But what they don't realize is that Jennifer's calling is what qualifies her, not a husband. What they don't understand is that the Spirit will equip her, not a wedding band. Besides all that, the Bible very clearly teaches to take care of the orphans. And it never says that single people shouldn't adopt.

Our preacher's last point was that John the Baptizer was consumed. He had one thought, "Glorify Christ." At one point his own disciples even showed concern that everyone was leaving them to follow Jesus instead, and all John said was, "Yes, of course" (paraphrased) because he wanted people to follow Christ.

And that's Jennifer. Jesus Christ consumes Jennifer's thought, mind, and soul. She wants to adopt children just as she was adopted into Jesus' family. She wants to save those children physically so she can hopefully point them to Christ so he can save them spiritually.

That was Sunday 1. Remember there are 6 of these sermons. But I am only going through 3 here.

Sunday 2: Noah was crazy.
Remember that a hero is an ordinary person...and they're crazy. Maybe not clinically.

God called Noah to build an Ark. What's an Ark? Well, Noah didn't even know. It was just going to be this big, huge thing to hold a bunch of animals while it rained...a concept that was new since it had not rained in this fashion ever. Flooding had never taken place in the span from Adam to Noah (which we find out from scientific archaeological evidence is true). So Noah is probably thinking, "Um, ok..? Big boat? Here goes nothing." And that's Jennifer too. When you meet her, you'll think "how lovely! and crazy!"

And quite frankly, it is crazy to try to adopt children and raise them when you have no help.

"Crazy" is the term people use to describe people filled with faith. Even Jesus was called crazy. When there's a calling on your life, you're going to look crazy. Don't let the scrutiny of the uninformed majority deter you from the will of God.

One point of this message that I really needed to hear was about God closing doors. We've heard is said, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." And personally, I've not found that to be true. But what Noah demonstrates, and I can confirm retrospectively, is that when God closes a door, it's to keep you, and me, from drowning.

Whatever God calls you to do will seem bigger than creating an ark. But also, whatever you give up will pale in comparison to what God gives. You may not know where God is moving you, but if you start to move, God will guide. As an old proverb says, "It's easier to steer a moving ship."

What if God has not given you a blueprint? Which is what I was thinking through the entire sermon. I don't feel there is anything crazy in my life so I eagerly waited the answer. "Find someone who does have blueprints and help them."

Jennifer has blueprints. That day was confirmation (not that I needed any) that I needed to help Jennifer. I don't know how. I don't have money. I don't have space or much of anything. But what I do have I offered to her. If she's single, then she will most likely need to send her kids to school. But I offered her the option to let me teach them alongside my own children. That's my small way I can help. Plus I can pray and be a friend.

End of Sunday 2..

Sunday 3: Nehemiah, Rebuilder of the Broken.

Can you think of a better title for what Jennifer is attempting? She wants to rebuild those broken children! If you don't think they are broken, go read a bit about Russian statistics on orphaned Russians.

Heroes actions change lives without consideration to the personal risk.

Can you think of a better description of Jennifer? She's changing the lives of children who would end up dead or worse without considering that she might not be desired by many men because she decided to take children into her home. She's had to break off relationships because of this desire. She might be considered foolish for "losing" a man over these children who aren't even her own yet.

But remember, she's called...and she's crazy. And she's consumed. She's consumed with God and she can't turn her back on those children because God never turned his back on her.

To be like you know Nehemiah? He was a cupbearer for the King of Babylon when Jerusalem was broken and destroyed. He then lead a great rescue and rebuilt Jerusalem with the blessing and help of the Babylonian King.

So to be like Nehemiah, he first asked, "How are they?" How was Jerusalem? Not well. How are the Russian children? Not well. He then had faith to urge a response and ask the King for leave, which he gave along with protection and equipment to rebuild Jerusalem. And Jesus is giving Jennifer all the leave, protection and equipment she needs to rebuild the children of Russia. Finally, Nehemiah has faithfulness even when others tried to harm him and when he met resistance he did not turn to complacency. Jennifer has met more than her share of resistance and it's inspiring to see her resolve and unwavering faithfulness to God in this endeavor.

Sunday 4: Ruth, it's more about the journey than you think

A hero is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things and is a man or woman admired for achievements and qualities.

The one main point from this sermon that made me think of Jennifer was her similar trait to Ruth...they were/are both bull-headed! Ruth refused to accept no from Naomi and Jennifer refuses to accept no from her circumstances. They both know that God has called them and they are both pursuing God and allowing him to direct their paths.

But, I said only 3 days. So I must stop. I will end with this:

It is more about the journey than you think. Abraham was going to kill his son when God asked him to sacrifice him. God didn't let Abraham kill his son, but the sacrifice was still made in his heart. Abraham took that journey and sacrificed his son metaphorically and allowed God to have complete control of his life. This then allowed Abraham to be called the Father of many. Jews, Christians, and even Muslims. All because Abraham took a journey with God.

Now God has not forgotten Jennifer. While Jennifer had to sacrifice relationships to pursue what God has called her to do, God has something better in store for Jennifer.

Just when things seem to be lining up for Jennifer to take this giant leap of faith in her adoption process, God throws her a curve ball to challenge her acceptance of his will. Are those Russian children an idol in her life? If God suddenly said, "wait a minute, I want you to do something else first," would she listen? What if all this time on Jennifer's journey, God's been preparing her for someone special? What if all these trials and triumphs have been sanctifying her for Jeremy?

Who is Jeremy? I can't tell you that, yet, because I don't know. But one day (I hope) I will be able to tell you that he's her husband. And on another day (I hope) I'll be able to tell you that they just adopted a couple of kids from Russia together. And on any day (I know) I will tell you that they are both children of God in pursuit of Him and His will. And every day (I know) I can tell you that Jennifer is my hero.


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