<span class="vcard">Carol Burden</span>
Carol Burden

Bridging the Gap by Faith

Bridging a gap the width of the Mississippi required ingenuity, it required new methods, it required steps of faith. Sunday I presented a mid-year direction and financial update for the church. I shared some of the ministry highlights from the year, of which the following are a few:

Worship attendance is averaging about 100 more than a year ago. 
Since January there have been 20 new members join the church and 18 baptisms.
Kidzone average attendance has increased by about 20 kids.
VBS is shaping up to be a record year.
Kids’ soccer and basketball had record participation. 
Our Home School ministry is growing and touching families all over the South End.

Storms Will Come

That story, and the similar story where He walks on water, has many layers of relevance to our lives. One that is hard to stomach is the reality that Jesus took the disciples directly into the storm. He knew there would be a storm, a challenge, a difficulty, and he brought the disciples directly into it. He gave no warning, and He did nothing to divert them from it.

Managing the Between Time

I remember the summer between graduating high school and starting college. It was a time filled with anticipation and excitement, but also with a little fear and trepidation. I was excited for the freedom of setting my own schedule, nobody telling me what to do (or at least I thought… there were still teachers… and bosses… oh, and sometimes my parents), and for the new challenge. But also there was just a hint of wondering if I’d be able to step up to the challenge or not, a healthy fear of wondering how I would fare. Would I lean on self or on Christ? Would my walk strengthen or fade? Would I flourish or flounder?

Look to the Heavens

The moment when it felt the largest … was when we were standing at the base. One son noted, “it’s hard to look up at it.” And it was true. Our natural inclination is to look up and stare at something so impressive, so majestic, a shining display of ingenuity. We naturally look up, and yet it’s also hard to look up. My neck starts to ache. The sun reflects off the stainless steel skin of the arch, forcing me to squint. The brightness of the blue sky also fatigues my eyes. Leaning back to look up and trying to take it all in puts pressure on my lower back in a funny way (I’m sounding older than I am). The size of it all looming over me causes a slight dizzying effect. It’s not long before I have to look back down to take a break from the effort. We naturally want to look up, and yet looking up is hard.

God at Work Behind the Scenes

The thing I learned that day is that God is always working behind the scenes to prepare you for what is next, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Even when you think your work or season of life is a complete waste, He is still at work. One of our memory verses last year was I Corinthians 1:8-9. In it are two powerful phrases: “God is faithful,” and, “He will sustain you.” He is faithfully working behind the scenes to prepare and sustain you for what comes next. This is also a major theme of the book of Esther, which we started studying this past Sunday. God’s name is not even mentioned in Esther, and yet He is at work behind the scenes, orchestrating events. 

We Are Not Professionals

We try to do things with excellence at Valley View. We don’t ever want to excuse laziness or sloppiness. And yet we also never want to think it’s our ability to be polished and well put together or ‘professional’ that will transform the hearts of those who don’t know Christ. There is only one power that does that, and as Andrew pointed out Sunday, it is the power of the Holy Spirit stirring and awakening hearts to know and love Jesus.

Saturating our Hearts in God’s Word

John Piper lists ten reasons to read the Word daily, all of which increased my understanding of how essential our regular reading of God’s Word is for health and life and growth. The Bible is where we see what real life is about. Many of the messages we absorb throughout the day are tugging us toward a false reality – one not concerned with Christ. Starting the day by saturating our minds with truth helps us to believe truth rather than lies.

Total Meaning

Seven years ago I walked into a meeting room to listen to our ministry leader give a monthly update. He said something along the lines of “This year I experienced one of the most profound moments of my life, in fact, apart from the birth of my children, it was likely the most profound moment.” What was it? A total eclipse of the sun. We were living in Little Rock at the time, not in the path of totality, and I didn’t care to take the drive up to Missouri, but after hearing this, I was sure we would drive wherever we had to this time.

Abiding Joy

…even in the midst of challenges, those who know Christ have a peace, a hope, and a joy that gives us the ability to acknowledge that we truly are blessed. That’s one of the things I love about Valley View. I love coming on Sunday and seeing joy pour out of so many, even in the midst of some very real challenges many are facing. We don’t pretend life isn’t hard, and yet we lean on the joy of knowing Christ and the power of community to get through the pain.