Tag Archives: ministry

2 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 34; Romans 2

I have changed jobs/ministries over the past 30 years 6 times and as I enter my 31st year of ministry, I start my 7th place of ministry.

Everytime I find myself in transition, I dream of being asked to come back.  I dream that they will realize how much they miss me or need me and quickly find a way to bring me back.  I say dream because it never did happen. I kind of get what David went through when his own family members were not calling him back to serve as their king.

Say to the leaders of Judah, “Why are you the last tribe to think about bringing King David back home?  He is your brother, your own relative! Why haven’t you done anything to bring him back?” – 2 Samuel 19:11-12  CEV

One thing has happened though – somewhere along the way, maybe after 1 or 2 years of being away, I will hear things.  Sometimes they are direct and sometimes indirectly I will hear that it was wrong for them to let me walk away and they should have fought harder to keep me.  The reasons are really good reasons and most have to do with my character and walk with God. God tries to show me that He is my protector, He guides me and when it is my time to go, it is my time.  My character has nothing to do with it, He just wants to protect me and put me in the right place of ministry for that time.

If you honor the Lord,
    his angel will protect you.
 Discover for yourself
    that the Lord is kind.
    Come to him for protection,
    and you will be glad. – Psalm 34:7-8  CEV

Makes me think that maybe I forget to invite God back into my life after going through some of these life-changing transitions. Actually, this last transition was the worst. I had to leave a ministry before God opened the door to the next place.  His goodness was all I had. I turned to Him in ways I would never had done if I was in a safe place.

You surely don’t think much of God’s wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don’t you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him? – Romans 2:3-4  CEV

Father, thank you for loving me even if when there are times I am not thinking of You.  Thank you for caring and protecting me even though I may feel I am not in a safe place.  Each step I take, I take with You.  So looking back, I see You moulding my character, making me into a better leader.  Basically, challenging me to lead others into Your incredible and life-changing presence.  I thank You for giving me this ministry. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Romans, Uncategorized

Numbers 19-21; Colossians 4

She was a mom of three. She devoted herself to home tasks, which later left her feeling helpless after his trespass and abandonment. The home, a prison. Her children, shackles. Outside her window, a perceived freedom of women climbing corporate ladders–she faced having the electricity shut off; broke and broken. It was too much. She felt hopeless.

***

Another woman was recovering during a time that felt like a life sentence. The nurses were wardens and the rules were constricting, restricting punishments. She felt all freedoms had been stripped away. Every day was punctuated by offense, oppression, complaint. The days ticked past. She praised the Lord for what he’d done in the past, but she was unable to praise him in the present for the meal, the care, the provision. She felt trapped, like she was in prison.

***

I was tasked with duties without warning. A lifelong obligation. A tethering, and sometimes too heavy–the bombardment of negativity, of opposition, of uncertainty. I fought against my own complaint, but sometimes, and sometimes often, I still complained. I fought against bitterness, and when I felt its squeeze, I cried out–oh, not this heart, Lord.  I remembered Paul. I thought of his chains.

Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18b, NLT)

If he could find understanding and purpose in the worst of circumstances, could I find them in mine?

If I let him, could God use my circumstance to speak the Gospel? Could he use this circumstance to demonstrate his glory and goodness and sovereignty? What the enemy uses to break and beat down, could my God use to build upon and make new? Where an enemy declares an end, could God pronounce a beginning?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NLT)

Nothing is a surprise to my God, however it may surprise me. These things he knew before time. Tasks prepared in advance. Yes. Don’t let me miss it–that sometimes ministry is in the middle of mess and misery. For Paul, he was literally a prisoner in a prison, but for others, it’s circumstance that feels hopeless, punitive, imprisoning, endless.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” (Colossians 4:17, NLT)

Archippus, did you? Did you carry out the ministry the Lord gave you?

Lord Jesus, you have been with me every step of this journey, and you know how hard it’s been. You know how desperately I begged to quit from the pressure. And whether the job was heaped upon, handed over, appointed–you knew. And you intend(ed) it for my good and your glory. May it be so. Fixing my eyes on you, author and perfecter of faith. You can bring beauty from ashes.

May God’s grace be with you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ecclesiastes 10-12; 2 Timothy 4

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:1-5, NLT)

Oh, Lord, help me. So much crowds and clutters my mind, wanting my attention–help me to be intentional about the things that matter. Help me to stay focused on wholesome teaching and seeking truth so that I will be prepared. Help me to keep my mind clear in every situation.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Proverbs 25-27; 2 Corinthians 6

Proverbs is like texting – short, abrupt, and symbolic.  On first reading, you might be inclined to say, “Duh!” or “What??”  Yet, meanings of a good many Proverbs can be embedded in words that seem common knowledge just like texting uses abbreviations for hidden phrases (OMG – my least favorite). Without context or background, or depending on your private perspective, this brevity of words can be misinterpreted or misdirected.  Then again…verbosity in this paragraph illustrates how simplicity in speech can become compounded confusion.

Take one of my favorite Proverbs, 25:11 for example. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” It looks like a Christmas table decoration in my mind’s eye. I take this Scripture to mean what a feast of encouragement or acceptance we can offer others with thoughtful words. But maybe the glitter refers to a warning given at the right time. Contrast that thought with Proverbs 27:18, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’”  I visualize how a neighbor can impale and burn someone close without expecting the negative reaction to come. Can there be any mistaking the neighbor’s intent or are we to seriously consider the flimsy excuse?

So, though meaning can be extracted from abbreviated, allegorical representations or vignettes of morality, there is something to be said for the painstakingly lengthy letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians defending his ministry, proving his sincerity, and reasserting his authority. He could have said something like, “Dudes, listen up! This is the real deal; I’m bleeding here. I gave you everything and it’s your turn.” (Oh, don’t forget, Paul, to punctuate the sentence with a smiley face.)

But like texting and sometimes the Proverbs, simple statements can lack certain tenderness and empathy that soften a correction or state a nonnegotiable. Paul wrote 12 chapters to describe the various difficulties he faced in serving Christ on behalf of the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).  He repeatedly outlined his faithfulness and begged the church to remember his affections for them (verses 11-13). Paul also expounded on the flaky accusations of false apostles contrasted to his own sacrificial giving (verses 14-18). His writing was laden with strong emotion, and He was not afraid to quote Scripture or speak with the authority of God to point the Corinthians back to the truth of the Gospel. Do you suppose the Corinthians received Paul’s message as caring, genuine, and aimed at restoring a right relationship?

There can be no mistaking this, I think, when you consider the depth with which Paul plunged in proving his love and God’s love evidenced in his writing.  No memo would do.  No texting.  Not even a proverb. He wanted no mistakes in interpretation. There is something to be said for the art of persuasion versus the witty one-liners we struggle to accept as meaningful.

FWIW (for what it’s worth), Janet

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Psalm 109-111, Romans 16

It’s easy to want to skim through Paul’s opening of Romans 16, and that’s always a reminder to me to slow down. To think I would have missed it, as he gives his greetings.

To Phoebe, a deacon, who was helpful to many … especially Paul. Priscilla and Aquinas, co-workers in ministry, risked their lives for him, host church meetings in their home. Epenetus, a first follower in Asia. The many who worked hard for (Paul’s) benefit. Andronicus and Junia, in prison together. He remembers and greets his co-workers in Christ, people who are Good Guys, hard workers for the Lord, brothers and sisters in God’s family, even one who was like a mom.

These people mattered to Paul, and no doubt their love affected the lives of other people–then and today.

I think of people who’ve walked beside me during (or perhaps shared in) a hardship. Ones who mentored me, like a mother, sisters–examples to follow and imitate. Ones who’ve risked comfort or reputation to stand by me. The ones who’ve opened doors of hospitality. Those who’ve been hard workers in ministry. The cookie bakers, the weed pullers, the ones who stay late after a party to help clean up, the ones who show up with grace at Your prompting. You know, it’s a pretty lengthy list, all of it. A humbling love list. I’m so very thankful.

Lord, thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve acted as your body here–to carry a burden and lift it, to offer love, to be an advocate for prayer, those people who stand in the gap.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 20, 21; Matthew 28

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

A commissioning directly from the mouth of Christ…

He has authority in heaven and in earth and now He is passing on that authority to me.

GO. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach.

He will be with me forever.

As a teenager, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala. It was a life changing experience, as most mission trips are. It opened my eyes to a different world, to different customs, to different beliefs. It opened my eyes to lack – financial scarcity, shortage of love, and poverty of spirit – and to need. During that trip, a desire to serve people entered my heart. A short time later, at a Christian conference for teenagers, I felt God’s call to the mission field.

The timing wasn’t right…I was 16. I couldn’t just go. Though I applied for other mission trips, I was consistently turned down. It discouraged me and I gave up the dream. I turned away from my faith.

Fast forward nearly 15 years later. My passion for the Lord reignited, I was on fire. I went to every gathering, Bible study, or worship session I could go to. In one meeting, while Heidi Baker prayed for me, I heard the call to ‘GO’ once more. It was time.

I still didn’t know what it meant to ‘GO’. At first, I thought that it meant traveling to a foreign nation, going to an underdeveloped county in the third world. I though it meant living in a small pocket of the 10/40 window. I thought it meant going to Africa or China or India.

And, it does mean that…

But, it also means going to friends and family who don’t know Christ. It means going into my neighborhood, to the hospital, to the nearby retirement home or assisted living community. It means being a mentor to children who don’t have many quality role models. It means reaching out, giving my time, my energy, my talents, my money.

‘GO’ means loving the ‘unlovable’ no matter where I am and stopping for the one God asks me to stop for.

Yesappa, Thank You for stopping for me; for giving everything you have for my redemption, for my life. Thank You for making me holy, for separating me, and making me Yours (Leviticus 20:26). Thank You for calling me, for giving me Your authority to preach the gospel, and for sending me to Your children who have yet to recognize You as Father. Help me make disciples. Help me baptize in Your Holy Name. Help me teach Your commands. Thank You for Your strength, and for being with me forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1Kings 17; Colossians 4; Ezekiel 47; Psalm 103

fall tree in my backyardMy daughter turns eleven tomorrow. I sat in the kitchen with my husband on Sunday and felt the emotional lump growing in my throat as I talked about making her birthday popovers on a day with an early start and a busy pace. I would do it, and do it happily, because these years fly by–this season (motherhood) feels like it’s rushing by me.

The time before seemed leisurely. But these years after our move, time flies.

Fall’s leafy cascade across my lawn, a changing season. Time moves on.

13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
    like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
    as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:13-16 NLT

Today’s passages are a reminder and refrain: Make the most of every opportunity.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:2-5 NLT

Paul was in prison for proclaiming the gospel, and perhaps, too, to proclaim it there. His sight is focused on opportunity–to serve the Lord wherever he finds himself.

In a different time of life, I remember treading the days, waiting with hope for a new season. The Lord would teach me to serve through the wait, that I might say even then: this is why I am here. I learned, more clearly in hindsight, to see opportunity in trial.

17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” Colossians 4:17 NLT.

I don’t look at this season of motherhood as a prison–it is a gift, sticky and messy and loud. It is a piece of the Why I Am Here: to wake to laundry and popovers and homework to do. To trash days and chores and grocery trips. There is more to these days than the tasks I have numbered–there is a mysterious plan that I am to speak about and many opportunities to speak about it, in my home and outside of it.

Father God: Thank you for this ministry of motherhood. I pray that I will proclaim your message. I pray that I will make the most of every opportunity in word or deed. On the best days, or on the worst, let me always point to your grace and great love for the world.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Colossians, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms