I’ve Discovered I Was Wrong

Lately I’ve been pondering what ministry actually is. 

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve had it wrong for many, many years. Ministry has evolved in my mind from something you do at a specific location, to a way of living life. A little less than a decade ago, we ministered to college age students in a downstairs basement room of our church for a few hours on Tuesday nights. We soon became threadbare as we attempted to balance home, work and church obligations.

We sought everywhere for the answer to our primary burning question: how do you balance it all?

These last couple of years we weren’t in a formal ministry position, but we were ministering.

Lunch on a Sunday afternoon for the college students; we bribed them to hang out with us. I miss cramming 25 people into my tiny living room for yet another pasta dish {because pasta’s cheap, right?}. We caught up on their week, listened to their plans, and laughed as they played with our kids.

Conversations on a patio, escaping the heat of our homes for the cool breeze of a So Cal night. Children playing {fighting} together and parents gossiping about marriage, parenting, ministry and futures. You can be a mentor {and be mentored} if you just take the time to be with other people.

Facebook, Twitter, blogs, texts, email and more. Seeing people’s needs and meeting them where they’re at. Offering prayers, advice, support, encouragement and assistance.

Jesus came to earth to live among us. He understands our pain, joys, frustrations, temptations and needs because He is fully human. Breaking bread with fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors…the broken, sick, and lost.

After His death and resurrection, His disciples formed a community of individuals who lived life in common, viewing the needs of others as above their own.

This is the type of ministry I dream of…

Today I’m also posting over at Everyday Testimony…I’d love for you to join me there as I share how God has blessed me lately, and you can add your own testimony in the comments!

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The Weight of Glory

This weekend Josh and I headed out on a date to the Getty Villa in Malibu. This spectacular museum, dedicated to the art and antiquities from ancient Greece and Rome, also includes a beautiful reproduction of a traditional Roman garden. Of course, art inspires art, so we had our camera at the ready.

As I sat there sipping a latte, watching Josh take pictures of plants, sculptures and architecture, I realized how inadequate I feel in my ability to capture the grandeur surrounding me. Everywhere I looked there was something worthy of a photograph, and I felt overwhelmed by the wealth of beauty and creativity.

“This is how I feel about ministry.”

The thought came unbidden, but instantly settled firmly in my brain. There are so many needs out there, whether the person already knows God or not, and I feel unskilled and under prepared to deal with them. Josh and I sense God leading us down a path that feels shaky. Not foundationally, but like gravel on a steep incline; once you start down it you pick up momentum and are unable to stop. Our steps are uncertain, but He knows what lies around the bend.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” was Jesus’ reaction as He witnessed the distress of the people in the towns and villages He visited. Sitting in an ancient Roman garden, I felt the weight of those words for us today. There are people who need the healing, deliverance, restoration, hope and salvation found only in Jesus.

For us, it is time to start putting one foot in front of another, believing that God will fill in those areas where we feel inadequate to the task.

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So {humor me} I want to share a few of my favorite pics from our day. And yes, we brought Silas with us on our date.

Almost every picture Josh took of me had me making some sort of silly face. I don’t know why I do this. Someone make me stop.

I loved watching Silas crawl up and down this giant walkway. He had so much fun!

I was really proud of this picture! I love the colors and it made me want a fountain with lily pads in my home someday. Ha!

Nothing is more attractive than a man playing with his son!

Gah! Too much cuteness!! I can’t believe he’s almost one!

At first, I was just taking a picture of the sign because I liked that is said “Balm.” After I took it I realized that my name was on it! It seemed to confirm a lot of what God had been speaking to me earlier that day. To be a balm to those in need is a lofty goal!

This was my attempt to get all artsy with my DSLR features.

All in all, it was a lovely day with beautiful weather, magnificent surroundings, and two of my favorite guys! I am not getting paid to say this, but if you ever get a chance to visit either the Getty Center or the Getty Villa, don’t pass it up!

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My, Aren’t We Nosey?

What is it about human nature that makes us so concerned with the lives of others?

A trip through the check-out line at the grocery store inevitably includes bombardment by numerous publications, ones that make their money spreading the latest gossip about celebrities. Who’s dating who? Can you believe they wore that? Guess how she messed up?

Obsession with the day-to-day lives of others isn’t confined to celebrities. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more are ways to check in with our fellow human beings on a minute basis. We love to be in the know…

What About This Man?

Monday I wrote about a life-changing moment between Jesus and Peter. Following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He had a picnic breakfast on the beach with His disciples (John 21). During that meal Jesus confirms Peter’s calling, despite his betrayal during Jesus’ imprisonment.

What must Peter have felt during that conversation? Not only was Jesus dismissing any guilt or shame Peter had regarding his denial of Jesus, He was charging Peter with the task of tending His sheep. I can only imagine what was going through his mind.

Oh, but wait…we don’t need to imagine…look what Peter’s reaction is:

“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them…So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!'” (John 21:20-22)

Peter’s response to Jesus’ revelation of his future was, “What about John?”

I don’t highlight Peter’s actions to condemn him, more it’s because I realized how normal they are. I’m constantly comparing myself to those around me; whether material possessions, physical appearance, or accomplishments. As a parent, I compare my children to other people’s children.

Don’t even get me started about comparisons in blogging.

You’d think, though, that in the area of spirituality and my walk with God there would be no place for comparison. It’s holy, set apart. Obviously not.

The Horse and His Boy

I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I have learned so many spiritual lessons through C.S. Lewis’ narratives of the imaginary land of Narnia.

One of my favorite books in the series is The Horse and His Boy. The book tells the story of two children, Shasta and Aravis, and two talking horses, Bree and Hwin, as they travel from Calormen to Narnia. I’m not quite sure why it’s my favorite, but it’s the one I pick up most frequently to re-read.

courtesy of photobucket.com

Towards the end of the book, there is a scene that has always stuck with me. Shasta, encounters a Presence while traveling alone.  This Voice in the fog explains to Shasta the purpose behind many of the trials they had come up against in their travels. When Shasta asks for information regarding an experience Aravis had, the voice replies:

“Child…I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

A few chapters later, Lewis reiterates the point when Aravis asks about the future of a young servant girl she had wronged. Again, the voice says:

“Child…I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

Keep Focused on Him

Peter’s redemptive conversation with Jesus, Shasta and Aravis’ illuminating encounters with Aslan; these are major moments. Yet in these times each is concerned with what will happen to others. Instead of appreciating the gravity and significance of what they were experiencing, they asked, “But what about so-and-so?”

How often have I sought out God for guidance, asking Him to reveal the plans He has for me, and then turned around to say, “What are you doing with them?”

Each of us has a unique purpose in God’s kingdom. Comparing and contrasting giftings, callings and ministries is not what God desires us to do. Instead, He reveals to us what our plan is, where our path to follow lies, and then expects us to walk it while keeping our eyes focused on Him.

I can’t promise that I still won’t be tempted to check out the latest gossip rag headline or do a little Facebook stalking, but I do know that the most important thing is to not be obsessed with how God is using others.

My obsession needs to be to live out the story He’s telling me about me.

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(needed to be reminded of these truths from the archives today)

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Today I’m guest posting for Kay Weight on her blog Heart & Soul Pursuits! She is running a series called “Inspire Me.”

“Inspire me” is an invitation to gather with the heart of an amazing sisterhood of girls across the earth living their lives ‘destined, devoted and daring’. A gathering of ordinary girls living extra-ordinary lives. So whoever you are and wherever you come from we would love to hear from you. {Kay Weight}

Take a moment to discover what I have dedicated myself to this week, and see what others are sharing!

The Next Top Iron Pastor America

Augustin Théodule Ribot: The cook and the cat

Image via Wikipedia

 

I’m somewhat addicted to food competition reality TV shows.

 

 

And by somewhat, I mean completely addicted. My DVR is full of Top this and Next that and Chefs made from Iron. As a connoisseur of this genre, I feel that I can now provide some insight into the contestants.

There are three different types of contestant that always appear:

The Street Fighter: This chef has worked their way up from the bottom. They went to the school of hard knocks and they have everything to prove. The chip on their shoulder can be seen miles away, and they are out to get those snooty, culinary school chefs.

The Recent Graduate: This chef is a recent graduate of a high ranked culinary school. They have their technique down, they know the language and they’re eager to display their knife skills. The knowledge they’ve gained has inflated their head to the point where they are unable to see anyone else around them.

The Old Dog: This chef might have started out as a Street Fighter or a Graduate, but they have 20+ years of experience under their belt. The other contestants are intimidated by this chef’s empire, while they’re just in it to show they’ve still got it. An expert at their style of cooking, they have a hard time thinking outside the box.

Occasionally, there’s a fourth contestant:

The Woman: This chef could also be considered a part of any of the previous three categories of contestant, but they have the added handicap of being a woman in a male dominated field. This is interesting to me because in the home, women are the usual meal provider.

As interesting as you may find my breakdown of reality show food competition contestants, what does this possibly have to do with you? Some of you overachiever ones may have already figured it out…

I see this same breakdown within the church, specifically church leadership.

There is the Street Fighter leader, the one who still sports the tattoos and rebel clothes to prove that they’ve got street cred and a past. They’ve lived and have actually been saved from something, which makes their faith of more importance. They are the ones who want to go out in the marketplace to witness to everyone they see. They’re not afraid to take risks and their ministry is one of passion, heart and soul.

There is the Recent Graduate leader. This is the recent bible college student, with a head full of knowledge and not much experience to match it. They want to name their ministry something in Greek or Hebrew to be authentic. Their hermeneutics are fully exegeted and each bullet point starts with the same letter. They’re eager to try out all of the theories and programs they learned about at school. These leaders are in touch with the latest ministry trends, not really committed to a set style of leadership yet.

The Old Dog leader is set in their ways. They have found a style that fits them, one they’ve found success with, and they’re comfortable. They’re in it for the long haul, and nothing’s going to derail them. They scoff at the notions of the Graduate; they’ve seen trends come and go. Perseverance, hard work and commitment are what’s important.

Then, once again, there’s the ladies. Although women make up the higher percentage of lay volunteers within the church, they’re not really approved to lead. Well, they can lead the women’s or children’s ministries, but they’re still fighting their way forward to compete with the big dogs.

Again, you may have found this all to be interesting, but don’t really see the point in spelling it out.

Here’s the point:

In the reality show competitions, each contestant is striving to prove that they’re better than the others, all the while hiding their own insecurities.

Life experience is better.

Professional training is key.

Age outranks youth.

Gender shouldn’t matter.

The same thing is happening within the church. And everyone is right.

Life experience is important.

Knowledge is useful.

Age provides maturity and wisdom.

Gender differences shouldn’t matter.

But everyone is wrong too.

Life experience without knowledge can lead to poor theology. Knowledge without life experience frequently ends in a cold, lifeless ministry. Age can still learn from youth, and youth needs to respect age. Women are not men, but men are not women; both have a valuable perspective to provide the church.

Instead of viewing it as a competition, we need to recognize that each individual has something unique to provide. We all can learn from each other and become more effective in the process.

Now I need to go get something to eat, all this talk about food has made me hungry.

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