Monday, November 2nd, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Franklin Baptist Association’s Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. It was an honor and privilege to share the Word of God with the women gathered there. Our theme was: Arise, Shine; when we rise up, He shines through!
I so enjoyed sharing this message with the women at the event, that I decided I would like to share it with more of you! If you have about a half hour to spare, it will be worth your time.
I pray the Lord will minister to you through the message as He has ministered to me in giving it and as He ministered to those who heard it live on Monday.
God be with you!
This Thanksgiving I was blessed to meet a wonderful, saintly woman. I learned so much from this dear lady in her mid-eighties. She is one of those people who exude the presence of Christ in everything they do. I hope to remember my time with Winnie for many years to come.
I was most amazed by what Mrs. Winnie S. said as we were sharing our favorite Thanksgiving traditions and what we were thankful for this year. Continue reading
Think about just about any card game out there and what it takes to win. Sure, part of your success in the game relies on your strategy and decisions for game play, but most of your success or failure in the game centers around the cards that you are dealt at the beginning of the game. We’ve all had those great hands that make winning a breeze and have probably been accused of cheating by the people playing with us. We’ve also had those hands that are the worst possible one we could have at that moment and have been tempted to quit before we even start. Think of the sweetness of a win that comes from what started out as a horrible hand. Sometimes we appreciate those wins more because it was hard to get there.
A while ago I had a parent ask me for some discipline ideas. Her daughter got in trouble at school for fighting to be the line leader. Evidently she had pushed a classmate out of the way in order to be first. The mother told me she had her daughter apologize to the teacher, but wanted her daughter to have to do something else as well. I suggested that the mother have her daughter write an apology letter to her classmate and maybe make a little gift to give as well. The mother thought this sounded like a good idea and decided to give it a try.
The next time I saw them, the mother told me that they tried it. Her daughter wrote the letter and was waiting for the first chance to give it to her classmate. The mother thanked me again for the idea and said it seemed to work well. I share this story because I think that this “punishment” can be effective in a number of circumstances. Let me explain: Continue reading
(I originally wrote this on October 27, 2014, but I just haven’t put it up here yet)
Some say that ministry is a lonely road, and they’re right. One of the things they don’t bother to tell you while you’re in college, especially in ministry prep courses, is just how lonely the road can be after graduation. A lot of recent college graduates I’ve talked to have said the same thing. They just didn’t know how hard and lonely it would be!
Think about it: The push in college is not only to get your degree so that you can get that dream job, but to invest in wonderful, life-long friends. But guess what? When graduation day comes, the friends usually disperse all over as the Lord calls them separate ways. Sure, we remain friends, albeit from a distance, but what do we do when we find ourselves in a completely new place with no friends and no connections? Who do we connect with? Who do we befriend?
Those who walk into ministry as singles face this in an especially potent way. As the Lord calls us to new territory where we know no one, we can face deep loneliness. Often times, we don’t have the opportunity to go serve with our best friend or with our closest loved ones. (Maybe it’s just me, but I think that this applies to others too. If you agree, can I get a shout out down below?) Granted, the role of the single adult in the Church and the Kingdom of God are important and vital. It is a key calling, but it is a hard and lonely one.
Yet despite the loneliness that can come with the calling to ministry, God is always present and always with us. Even when the loneliness is overwhelming, He IS there! We are given an opportunity to press into Him in a unique ways and to depend on Him more fully. The challenge is will we take the opportunity and actually do it?
Here’s the other thing: even though ministry and being a vocational minister is a lonely road, we’re not meant to walk it alone. I challenge those of you in ministry to reach out to someone in your church or area whom you can befriend. Share life with them and together seek the Lord encouraging one another in the ministry and in the Lord. We are not meant to live or minister alone. And though we may feel lonely, we are not alone!
It is a wonderful thing to watch the Body of Christ at work serving and loving in numerous and unique ways. No act of love, no service, is worthless. I’ve seen Jesus in people serving meals, in those who sign for those who are deaf. I’ve seen Him in people feeding those who cannot feed themselves and welcoming people different than themselves. I’ve seen Jesus in those who clothe the naked, and those who change diapers in the nursery. I’ve seen Jesus in people leading crafts and teaching music.
Each of us , who are in Christ, has a gift with which to love others. When we love others with the power of the Spirit, Jesus is evident. I believe that our Lord is delighted when He sees His children loving each other and others with His love. Dear follower of Christ, love with the gifts God has given you. Minister to others through the talents you possess. Shine the light of Jesus wherever you are. May others see Him in you and may we see His presence in each other!
My guess is that a variety of things pass through our minds when we hear the word “hospitality”. Perhaps your first thought is of making everything clean, tidy, and arranged “just so”. Perhaps you think of large meals or parties. Perhaps you think of long to-do lists that have no end. Perhaps you think of a special team or committee at your church with that job.
The past month and a half, in conjunction with the past four years, has drastically changed the way I think about hospitality. For a “vagabond” away from home, the greatest gift I could receive was to be welcomed into people’s homes and into their lives. People have apologized to me before for having to run errands with them or see their house a mess, but it is a gift to live “real life” with them. I have been richly blessed to receive the hospitality of many over the past few months and years and I pray that I would be as hospitable to others as the hospitality I have received.
I’ve been asked what my favorite part of my trip was. By far, it was getting to share meals and life with all those I had the blessing of seeing. Hospitality mixed with fellowship is a rich blessing. Do not fear that your house may not be the cleanest or you have little to offer. Welcoming others into your home and life with Christian love can be the greatest gift of all.
There’s nothing quite like being sick or injured to remind you how utterly dependent we are upon others. Though this bout of sickness was not severe, the fact that I was on the road away from home and living in the homes of friends highlighted the need for others in our lives and for not being alone.
We need people around us who are strong when we are weak, and can help pull us up when we’ve fallen down. And we need to do the same for others. We often think of this in spiritual terms, but it is also very true in physical terms. We need each other and sometimes it takes sickness or illness to remind us that we can’t and shouldn’t try to live this life all on our own. This dependence on others also points me to an even greater dependence in my life: my dependence on God.
Everything I am, everything I have is all because of God. Without His presence in my life and without His working in it, I don’t know if I would even be alive today. At the very least, I would be a very different person. I am dependent on God for more things than I even realize. Being sick highlights a glimpse of the number of things that have to “go right” for our bodies to function “normally”. I am thankful that in my dependence I can rely on the Dependable One and those in the family of God! It is a great comfort indeed!
City life is not for me. The constant barrage of motion, sound, sight, and smell is like an all out attack on my body’s internal systems requiring massive usage of my energy reserves just to get by. It overwhelms me in every way. It seems to me that city life take what would already be a busy and full life and makes it a lot faster. Even visiting cities makes me wonder how people live at such a pace. Some people find city life exhilarating and would be bored to tears by rural or small town life. (To each their own I suppose)
For some, stillness is necessary to life, like food or sleep. For others, stillness is something they must almost be forced to have. Yet it is often in stillness and quiet that God chooses to speak. We are told in Scripture to be still and know that He is God (see Ps 46:10), to be still before Him and wait patiently for Him (see Ps 37:7). Psalm 40:1 encourages us that when we wait patiently for the Lord, He hears us. In Isaiah 30:15 the Lord tells Israel, “In returning and res you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (ESV)
All of us, city and country dwellers alike, need to be careful not to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we fail to take time to be still and listen to God. It’s easy to get caught up in all that needs doing, but we need times of stillness to listen and to hear. We are commanded to be still, as we are commanded to rest. We may need different amounts of these things depending on our temperaments and stage of life, but we all need times of both stillness and rest.
Let us each make an internal check and see how often we obey these commands. Let us seek to grow in obedience here as a guard against getting caught in the bustle of life.
When we think of “ministry”, how often do we automatically think of the ministries commonly found in our churches (Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Adult Ministry, etc)? Perhaps we think this way more often than we care to admit. Even if we acknowledge other types of “ministry”, do we consider them all of equal importance? Do we view “ministry” as something that only happens within the church or the walls of the church building? Do we view “ministry” as something that has to be initiated through the institution of the church or as a church outreach?
If this is the case, our view of ministry is too narrow. After all, what is “ministry” anyway? What makes a “ministry” truly ministry? Minstering to others is part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We minister to others as we serve them in love, as we love them with the love of Christ. Service as modeled by our Lord is to put the needs of others first and seek their best. All ministry is important, no matter who is the recipient or what the ministry is.
Ministry to children in a church is important, just as it is important to minister by encouraging friends, family, and anyone you meet over the course of the day. May we all strive to minister to and bless those whose paths we cross. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging and kind word.
All ministry boils down to the two greatest commandments—loving God and loving others. Let us love well as we minister to others. Let us love with the love of God, seeking to bring Him glory through our service.