January 20, 2015

Sunday's sermon :: my notes

Text :: Matthew 6:9-13 

This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

God's name
God's kingdom
God's will
Our passion 

1 Peter 2:5 reminds us that all Christians are ministers.  We are all in God's ministry.  

"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

How to live this calling out? 
  • Remember / reflect Jesus' mission (going about doing good) 
'Hallowed (holy) by Thy name.' 
  • (Advertising / Representing) - Make Jesus famous! 
Our lives, my life, should be a means by which God's name is praised 

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?"  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

'Thy kingdom come.' 
  • Be a conduit of Grace, and Jesus.
'Thy will be done.' 
  • Ask, seek, knock - and then do! 

"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."(Matthew 26:36-42)
We need to seek God's face, in all that we do, and with such an earnest expectancy.  
All, so that God would be known, renown, in all the earth. 
This prayer - the prayer Jesus gives us - must be the lifeblood of all that we do. 
Sacrificing our self-centered choices, at the alter of Jesus' fame. 
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
(1 Peter 2:9-12) 

For more information on where I worship each week, click here.

January 17, 2015

Art

"To the one who spoke and set the sun ablaze
To the one who stopped the storm and walked the waves
To the one who took the tree so He could say
You matter, I hope you know you matter

I know it's not easy, not saying it's fair
But close as a prayer somebody cares
You're a treasure, don't you know you're treasured

So hold your head high, wait for the dawn
Keep hanging on, your sadness will turn into laughter
Watch it turn into laughter, yeah"




Curtains that I re-purposed from a bed sham cover
in my favorite shade of green - celery.



Phoebe so sweetly constructed this small shelf 
for all my lovely little trinkets, several of which I 
got as gifts at Christmas. 


This wine bottle light was made by my brother
and the candle holder is a favorite of mine I 
picked up a few years back, from a thrift store. 


I love adding little elements to my room that make it feel more homey, and friendly.  Nothing over done, just low-key, artsy, cute and perhaps surprising touches to lighten up the room.  Since I share my room with my sisters, I have to keep things contained, due to space constraints. 

How do you decorate your room?  What is your style? 

January 16, 2015

My happy place

My fingers happily covered in earth
Last year I created a small flower bed under what I call the 'reading tree' in the back yard.  And over the months of colder weather, weeds have grown into my bed.  So today I took action, and cleared them all away.


All clear of weeds 
And then I planted flower bulbs.  And so the anticipation will mount as I wait for the early spring days when those bulbs will be transformed into glorious flowers.


A lovely day to weed 
And the tree will no longer be lonely, as it will have green shoots of flowers growing around it's base. Just thinking about that makes me happy.

January 15, 2015

January 13, 2015

Where are you now?

I have such a soft spot for Folk music, and the bluegrass / classical folk vibes put out by Mumford and Sons is something special.  Especially this song. :)


January 12, 2015

The Drop Box

The Drop Box is a film I became familiar with in 2012, when it won a large award, from the now defunct SAICFF film festival.  It's message is powerful, and unique.  The director, Brian Ivie was recently interviewed and what he had to say was just too important and insightful not to share.

You can read his thoughts here.




January 7, 2015

Missional: Share Your Story

My friend Allison is a wonderfully talented and amazing young lady, whose heart is towards Jesus, and serving Him in ministry.  Today she shares her wisdom and experiences. 

Q: Would you share about your ministry experience with the mission in Tulsa (sorry I forgot the name)?  

I spent this summer as an intern with One Hope, a ministry of Springs of Grace Bible Church in inner-city Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was an incredibly full, fast-paced summer of intense ministry as I joined with the other interns and church staff to do many things: plan, coordinate, and run the “Get Ahead” tutoring program three days per week, put on two huge sports camps, VBS, Girls Club for young women in the community, and Summerfest (a weekly neighborhood barbecue with Bible lessons, fellowship, and activities for children and adults). We also participated in several weekly Bible studies, block ministry, topical studies, 
worship services, and Secret Church, served the church body by cleaning and organizing the building and church vehicles, and were available to help anyone who was in need. 

As an out-of-town intern, I was blessed to witness the “inner workings” of the ministry as I stayed in the home of a wonderful family intimately involved with the church and its programs. The economic and racial diversity of the area is reflected by the members of this incredible church body, and are some of the factors that make the inner city such a unique environment in which to live and minister. The city’s past affects its present in profound ways: during the Tulsa Race Riots in 1921, the city erupted with what was perhaps the most violent demonstration of racial violence in our nation’s history, and racial tension and 
prejudice still run strong. Oppressed by poverty, family disintegration, educational dysfunction, and moral decline, the people of Tulsa need to know the love of Christ. It was a privilege to serve with and learn from the brothers and sisters of Springs of Grace - each coming from a different background and walk of life - as we sought justice, stood up for the oppressed, and promoted reconciliation by proclaiming Jesus Christ as The One Hope.

Q: What has inter-city ministry taught you about God? 

- God  is diverse

  • I learned that God is far too vast and great to be represented by any one individual - it takes all the world’s people, born and unborn, from all the ages past and all the future ahead, to bear His image. The diversity displayed in the human race proclaims the greatness, creativity, and magnificence of God.

- God cares for the poor, and that glorifies Him 

  • God showed His love for us by sending His only Son to become like His creatures - the very poorest of us - and live His life in rejection and poverty. In encountering many challenges this summer, I became painfully aware of my own poverty of spirit, and also witnessed the effects of physical poverty in the lives of many I met and lived alongside. In listening to sermons and participating in Bible studies, I was blown away to see for the first time (how did I miss it before?) the way God loves the poor and cares for them through us, His earthly representatives. Over and over in Scripture, in Old Testament and New, God’s people are commanded to make caring for the poor a priority, giving very specific instructions regarding the “orphans” and “widows,” “aliens” and “strangers,” “sick,” “hungry”, and “forsaken”. God’s glory is clearly seen in the way He lifts up and provides for those who are helpless, lost, and broken - loving those who could never repay Him.
- He loves community

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your 
sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” - 2 Corinthians 8:9

  •  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoy perfect communion. God created us in His image, designing us for community with Himself and other people. I spent this summer in a community of fellow believers, as we met daily for prayer, work, and study, spending long days and late nights praying, working, sweating, laughing, crying, sharing meals, studying, and worshipping God together, “with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” in a way I’ve never done before. I feel I can understand the “gladness of heart” the early church experienced in Acts! It was truly beautiful.
- He cares about people 


  • People are so important to God. God is a person, and created us as people to bear His image on this earth. Spending ten weeks striving to keep the pursuit of God and the good of others as my focus, I was continually humbled by my utter inability to do it in my own strength, and saw God’s strength made manifest in my weakness. Impressed with this truth again and again, I was helped to see how often I tend to value ideas or material things more than people, and could only thank God that He loved me!
Q: What does 'missional' mean to you?

“Missional” is a mindset of purpose. God gives us our purpose, more thrilling and wonderful than we can understand: to glorify Himself. “Missional” living is God-focused, and also connotes servant-hood, recognizing that the only blessed life is one spent for others. We are not our own, and must live that way!

Q: How does it work (look) in your life?

I have been growing in the realization that seeking my own good first cannot possibly make me happy. I know God created me to glorify Himself in a unique way, and I’m trying more and more to discover what that is as a way of honoring Him.  

This quote of Charles Spurgeon’s helps me here:
“You must none of you dream that you are in a position in which you can do nothing at all. That were such a mistake in providence as God cannot commit. You must have some talent entrusted to you, and something given you to do which no one else can do. 
Find out, then, what your sphere is, and occupy it. Ask God to tell you what is your niche, and stand in it, occupying the place till Jesus Christ shall come and give you your reward. Use what ability you have, and use it at once.” (Charles Spurgeon, Counsel for Christian Workers, 10)
Although I can’t say I’ve “figured out” exactly what specific work God has made me for, through prayer and consideration I’m getting closer. In the meantime, although I frequently become anxious that I’m wasting time or not doing enough, I’m striving to be faithful where He has me right now, comforted by the knowledge that time is in His hands and that He will lead me as I trust in Him.

Q: What would you say to other singles who are wanting to be productive for God's kingdom? 

Don’t wait! Be wise in the amount of time you spend “living in the future,” imagining what might be someday. Be thankful and fully present now, faithful to do well whatever it is God has put before you today. Seek Him as hard as you can and use this unique season of life to do what you may not be able to do later. Invite the counsel of older, godly adults. Don’t lean on your own understanding in acting today or planning for the time to come, but in all your ways acknowledge God, who promises to direct your path. 
Remember that your life is not your own - you have been bought with a price: the blood of Christ.

Q: Name 5 things that have shaped your worldview into what it is today.

- Church: I had always thought I became a Christian at a very young age, but it wasn’t until later, when our family began attending the church we are now a part of, that I truly understood who God is, saw the depth of my sin and the punishment I deserved, and realized what Jesus had done for me. I was broken, then rejoiced in God as His true child, and have since watched the Holy Spirit grow and change me in so many ways , confirming that I am His!

- Family: I don’t know why I was born into such an amazing family, but I am so thankful for the love and support they have always shown me, and for the cherished relationships I have with them all.

- Homeschool: One of the greatest gifts I have received was home education, which shaped me for good in more ways than I can know.

- Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper: One of my very favorite books, which inspired me toward the greatest possible life - to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

- Creation: I have always had a special love for every created thing - plants, animals, clouds, outer space, light, wind, mathematics, physics, language, music - and one of my greatest delights is to ponder and point out the ways all of these proclaim the wisdom and glory of God. Through creation God has helped me to understand the concepts of rebirth, resurrection, hope, abiding in Christ the Vine, being led by the Spirit, Jesus as the Light of the world, Bread of Life, Living Water, and so much more that I read about in His Word. I want others to see these things as well, and I pray that God will give me a way to show them.

Favorite verse:

 “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” - Matthew 22:37-39

As singles, our unique place in life seems characterized by uncertainty and big decisions. But the truth is, our lives rest in God - and He and His love for us are absolutely certain! When I wonder what I’m supposed to do and become anxious, these verses remind me of the one thing I know God wants me to do: love. 
That’s it. Do you want to do great things? Then love. It’s an action. That is all God requires of you, and He will take care of the rest. Who can say where love will lead?


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Allison lives with her family in Texas, where she teaches art, tends a garden, reads good books, studies permaculture and sustainability, and seeks to glorify God with her life.

January 5, 2015

Missional: Share Your Story

Adrean is an amazing, hip friend of mine from church, who I have had the privilege of getting to know over the last year or so.  She has such a passion for God, and hurting kids.  She shares her heart in this post.


Q: How and when did you first become active in ministry?

I remember actually telling God this whole church thing and serving Him was too hard but I would give Him one more chance at it. (Only had been saved for a couple of months at this point) that following Sunday the youth pastor came up to me and said "I've been looking for you, I heard you like to work with youth and wanted to know if you would like to help us."It was from that point on that God truly won my heart and He gave me a new vision for my life. Thank goodness God overlooks our foolishness and did take me up on that one more chance.

Q: What does 'missional' mean to you?

Missional to me is not just part of a program a church has. But it's about each believer being like Christ. and how it works in my life is something I starve for in my every day life. Being Missional is part of who I am in Christ. It's what I was created for, to share the truth and love of God. We each are called to build Gods kingdom. Therefore we all have a Mission!

Q: Name 5 things which have shaped your worldview.

1. The Word of God 2. Creation Science 3. Parents 4. Life experience 5. Did I say The Word of God, actually all the others must line up with what the word says.


Q: How would you encourage young people to get involved in ministry?



I tell students we were created to serve. We have a choice in who and what we will serve, that it's up to them to choose. Ministry is not just saved for adults to do but they can use their talents now to spread God's love to those around them.

Q: You just got back from a 3 month stint in Israel, could you share some highlights from your trip.
Trying to choose just a few highlights from my trip is difficult to do. Each day I was there God showed himself in new ways. But I would say the biggest truth I took away with me was learning to trust God with my life. 10 days after getting there a war started. In 50 days over 5000 rockets where fired at Israel. First time the bomb sirens went off I truly didn't know how to react. I wanted to go home and my family was pushing for me to come home too. However, in the middle of it all I could feel God's peace and him saying did I or didn't I tell you to come here? I made a choice and stayed in Israel like the original plan. I am thankful I was obedient to God because during that time I learned about a whole new side of God's love for His people and every time a bomb was fired, fear was broken in my life. If I can trust God with my life than I can trust Him with anything.
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Adrean Stinnett is a woman on a mission to see dreams come to pass and lives transformed by the power of God's word. she was brought up on the outskirts of Durant, OK. It was there she found the passion for the church to catch Gods heart for this world and do something about it. God has called her to be a voice for this generation and to speak out on the truths of living a life of absolutes according to the Bible. She is a graduate of Christ For the Nations in Dallas,Tx and has served on mission trips to Central America, Israel, Inner City Missions, Youth Detention Centers, and various other outreach focused programs. She spent the last five years in Little Rock, Ar working with local youth involved in gangs and director of an outreach center. Adrean believes, by joining with other believers, we will see a lasting impact in our community and nation. She is ready to see the body acquire a deeper passion for the TRUTH and LOVE of Christ.

January 3, 2015

Missional: Share Your Story

Johanna is a friend of mine who my sisters and I had the privilege of meeting at a conference a few years ago. We have kept in touch through various forms of social media, and her journalistic prowess has always impressed me, along with her heart for God.

Q: How and when did you first become active in ministry?
My parents have always been involved in some sort of ministry. I was born while they were on the mission field in Romania during the church planting movement and that has carried through my whole life. I’ve always been passionate about serving God and serving people.
Q: I would love for you to share with us about the magazine you edit.
Absolutely! I’m the editor in chief of Grafted Magazine which is a youth oriented magazine dedicated to creative young people who want to please God in all they do. We have a very strong missional leaning and believe that all believers are called to go. Whether that means moving across the world to a place you’ve never known to share the gospel, or living in your town and sharing the word of God. We hope to encourage young people to pursue the best that God has to offer, in all that they do.
Q: How has your journalistic work connected you with other young people, driven by the passion to serve?
Oh in so many ways! Through my work in the magazine I have been able to talk to some frankly incredible young people who are shaking the world to the very core, and not speaking a word about themselves. I’ve been able to meet youth leaders, young missionaries, people— practically kids— who are making disciples and feeding the church.
Q: What does 'missional' mean to you?
It means leading a life that has purpose, not without meaning and hope. God has set us on a very specific mission, one that He has been working on since the very beginning. God wants for all the nations, every tongue, tribe and people, to bless His name. Living a missional life means taking every opportunity to bless and be a blessing.
Q: How does it work (look) in your life?
Up until this year, and really within the last few months when I took the Perspectives course, I didn’t quite understand how missions looked in my life. Ever since I was very small I’ve claimed that I wanted to be a missionary. But I had always assumed that that meant that I would need to leave and go to some far off place and never see my family again. I guess I read a lot of 19th century missionary biographies growing up. But in my life now, I don’t see that missions means having to leave, but that as you are already going you should be teaching and ministering to all you know.
I’m constantly praying for God to put people in my life that I can be a witness to, unbelievers that need a friend, people questioning what they believe in and people who just need love.
Q: Name 5 things which have shaped your worldview.
Reading Operation World a lot as a child with my family. Understanding the “top line, bottom line” of the bible: That God wants to bless his called out ones… to be a blessing. The Perspectives course Hearing the bible read and talked about openly with my family Studying the bible for myself
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Johanna Schnakenberg is a writer less than she should be, a lover of art and photography and a kisser of every puppy she sees. Her heart is on the unbeliever and outcasts of society and hopes to be a blessing so that all the nations may sing His praises. She is the editor in chief of Grafted Magazine and blogs at Bonfire Hearts.

January 2, 2015

Missional: Share Your Story

My friend Sarah Jo has the inaugural post launching my series Missional: Share Your Story here in 2015.  I am really excited to share with you her responses, and I hope that you will be blessed, and challenged by what she has written.

Q: You discuss marriage and family quite a lot on your blog, was it a challenge for you to step into those roles as a young person?

It has definitely been a challenge - primarily because I wasn’t really prepared for or expecting it, though.  
I didn’t spend a lot of time dreaming about and planning for either while I was growing up, so besides a woeful lack of domesticity, I also had (and still have) a lot of selfishness to work through. I actually think that being young, not purposely waiting and building a career and a life of my own first, made the transition a little easier - but spending the time that I did wait growing in God (instead of building my own little kingdom) would have definitely been beneficial.


Q: How has marriage and motherhood shaped your understanding and practice of ministry, inside and 
outside the home?


Marriage and motherhood have made my practice of ministry more authentic - there’s no space to get 
away and be selfish for awhile without someone being affected and noticing. “Inside” and “outside”the home become the same. That in turn has shaped my understanding - shifting from seeing ministry as something formal, like doing a one-on-one Bible study with a college student, to seeing it as having grace for others’ quirks and serving and loving them in the way that they need (and not necessarily the way that I want to).


Q: I would love if you could share with us about your experience with "loving the city"; did it change 
your understanding of community?


Absolutely!  I initially started supporting local businesses and trying to get to know their owners because 
I saw it as responsible consumerism and because they were interesting people - people that I found it easy to connect with. Then I gradually began to see that they were also an “unreached people group” of sorts, since many of them were so far outside the church-raised Christian culture that interactions between the two were difficult. Our church started highlighting various local businesses and encouraging members to support them - it was interesting to me to see how uncomfortable the church-goers were and the awkward conversations that would arise as they tried to engage people who looked and spoke and acted nothing like them, especially since I had spent so much time in that part of town 

around those people that it wasn’t awkward for me.

It showed me how (in general) the church, especially in the South, has gotten off track in its 

understanding of community, imagining that Christianity will produce people who are all alike and don’t have any problems, and forgetting that bodies are made up of many parts, some of which come with scars that are still an important part of people’s stories. It’s so easy to focus on our differences, especially the external, obvious ones - but I think that focusing on what we have in common (redemption through Christ) helps us to overlook the rough edges and come together in unity.

Q: You have shined a light on human trafficking, each 27th of the month - what got you interested in 
the End it Movement? How has your research informed your view on consumerism?


I was already aware of the sex trade aspect of human trafficking, but a friend retweeted a post from the 
End It Movement last April that introduced me to the labor aspect of modern slavery. It really struck me, because it’s so unnecessary - people working in inhumane conditions to produce things that, for the most part, we don’t even really need. I had already begun a shift away from being a consumer and trying to be more of a co-creator, but that was very much a catalyst in speeding change. Consumerism is what got us into this mess to begin with - all the way back to Eden, we’ve been taking things for ourselves because we thought we deserved them, instead of cultivating the gardens and relationships we’ve 

already been given.

Q: What does 'missional' mean to you? And how does it work (look) in your life?

To me, missional means living life in a manner so distinctly Christian that people notice you’re different, even without necessarily knowing why or how (and then being willing to answer the questions they ask). 
In my life, that includes trying to lift up rather than tear down in conversation, minding what I say and how I say it in general, dressing and behaving in a manner that I believe reflects Christ, and, yes, posting photos of Bible verses and being unashamed in person and on social media about church activities and thoughts that arise from sermons and devotional time - not in a forced or pretentious way, but because that’s what I’m filled with so that’s what flows out. I do not achieve that 100% of the time - but God gives grace for the times that I fall short of living in a loving way.

Q: Name 5 things which have shaped your worldview into what it is today.


-Experiencing Christianity outside the “Bible belt.” Faith is lived out very differently when it is no longer 
assumed, and is less socially acceptable.


-Interacting and being friends with people outside my culture (that is, white, middle-class, Southern, 
Christian-raised), both Christians and nonbelievers. Viewing the world through others’ eyes has had a very healthy effect on the way that I view it.


-Motherhood. Nothing makes you realize how little control you actually have like being given charge of 


a tiny, sentient being with a will of their own. There are so many people (with kids, and without) that I 
have silently judged that I now wish I could find and apologize to.


-Knitting. Everyone uses the same tools and accomplishes the same product, but the steps between are 
individually unique, and the knitting community of extremely diverse, yet still strong and willing to help each other. It’s a beautiful metaphor of the Body of Christ in harmony.


-A growing comprehension of grace. Unmerited favor is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, 
both in being offered to me and in being something that I should display toward others. But that, probably more than anything, has shaped how I view the people and events that surround me.


Q: If you had the opportunity to share one important truth with our generation, what would it be?


The only solution to our aching world’s pain is Christ. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t raise awareness 
and print T-shirts and donate money and run 5-ks and go build schools for orphans in third world countries - but the only way any of that is going to have a far-reaching, lasting effect is if it’s fueled by a love that only comes from Love Himself.


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Sarah Jo Burch lives in the South and is rediscovering her sense of adventure with her handsome and hardworking husband and inquisitive daughter, and blogs (usually over a cup of tea) about faith, the everyday life of a wife and mum, loving her neighbors, gratitude, and knitting - with pictures between. 

You'll find her at Paper-Bark Burch, posting between dishes and rescuing a Small Person who just learned to climb.


January 1, 2015

Missional: Sharing Your Stories of Ministry


In the fall of last year, I ran across an intriguing article titled: Missional Living Doesn’t Wait for Marriage which caught my eye, because it was on a topic I had been pondering. 

As a single gal in my middle twenties, I have often struggled with understanding just where God wants me to be serving Him, and how to carry out that mission I feel tugging on my heart.   As the author of the above mentioned article puts it: 

In this season of life, outside of the covenantal bonds of marriage, singles can be intentional about choosing to live with others and making those people a priority. In regard to my finances, time, talents, and wisdom—the girls I live with are my primary partakers, they get my first-fruits. I seek to defer to them in all things for their good and my sanctification.

When I was a young girl, His direction felt so clear, so absolute; but as I grew older, and my understanding of how God works, the direction of my life changed, and I questioned God’s plans, and what exactly He had in mind for my life’s work. 

I think I missed out on some important life lessons, and blessings, because I was (sometimes unconsciously) holding out for the “perfect ending” to my single years: marriage.  As that has been my deepest desire since I was 17, I thought it only natural to want to do ministry with my future husband. 

As “then” became a distant dream, I began to reconsider what ministry could/should/would look like for someone in my position.   Was it possible for me to be a useful member of God’s team?  How exactly could I contribute, since I felt unqualified in so many ways, and was I even “cut out” for ministry?

I have spent my entire life as a PK (preacher’s kid), which has given me a unique (and sometimes negative) understanding of what ministry looks like.  Since I have been living “inside the glass house” as I told a friend a while back, things can seem different from there, than they would to your average church-goer, even if they are active in ministry. 

There is something glorious about ministry, and something draining.  Doing God’s business, God’s way can be rewarding, and yet a lonely road.  I have seen that in my Dad’s life, as he has struggled with finding friends, since so many times people are just there to need him (his advice, his prayers, his time, etc.).  But, God always has a grander scheme on-going. 

Over the last two years, I have been finding what my place is in the grand scheme, and becoming confident of who I am because of Jesus.  Yes, there are still days when I don’t want to do something because it is hard, or messy, or uncomfortable, but overall, God has been showing me how feeble attempts can be turned into enormous results. 

I still prefer being the person behind-the-scenes, though of late, that has been a rare thing.  Since our family moved last summer, I have gotten involved with my congregation, and in general ministry in the following ways: 

Praise team (this is an on-stage role, which can still be terrifying); Mission trip to West, Texas (with perfect strangers from a “sister” congregation, building a house which is wayyyyyy out of my natural abilities comfort zone); Wednesday Night Live worship lead singer (this is a role I actually enjoy most of the time, but that’s because there’s low lighting ;)); Wednesday Night Live youth instructor (I have been co-teaching with my sister Phoebe this semester, which has been a challenge as I am not a natural teacher); Wednesday Night Live middle school mentor/small group leader (I had a great time walking alongside the younger children last year in this role, and grew some important relationships with the girls in my group); Youth Sunday School class instructor (since our youth leader left this past summer, I have been filling in on Sunday mornings, teaching and leading discussions, and just being a friend to the young people who come). 

There are more opportunities that I have had since we came here, God has used each and every one of them to shape my heart in some way, to break me out of the mold I had placed myself into, and challenged me to grow in ways I did not think possible. 

So here I am today, thankful that God can use someone like me, weak, with a serious lack of confidence, surrounded by people who have given me chances to spread my wings and fly.  And although I may not be soaring like an eagle (I think most times I am barely off the ground), I am not still in the nest, waiting for God to send me a heavenly signal, showing me the next step. 

God doesn’t call us to do the impossible, though it may seem that way to us, since our line of vision is limited to here, and now; He always has the next step planned out.  As a matter of fact, He knows the End from the Beginning, and everything in between.  Isn’t that comforting? 

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As we begin this journey, discovering how God uses ordinary individuals in ministry, I hope that you will consider that right now is the time to be serving God – no matter how young, or how anything-else you might be, right now is the time to seek God with all your life, and to lay aside your desires to pursue His desires.  There is no better time then now