Tag Archives: ministry

Beyond What I Could Ask or Think

I came home from a ministry meeting tonight with an absolute assurance that I had been in much more than just a meeting.

I was in the very presence of the Lord in that place.

beyond what I could ask or think

And I want to be intentional about capturing and remembering the beautiful and affirming moments that make up this life every bit as much as I want to honestly acknowledge the hard moments.

And this moment was beautiful.

As we all stood in a circle around that table to spend several minutes praying over a new season of ministry and new leadership, though it certainly wasn’t a flashy moment, it was a Holy Spirit filled moment.

It was good and it was powerful.

This summer has been hard. The Lord has been teaching me, stretching me, and growing me in ways that sometimes I’d rather He just not.

But this right here?

This new season of ministry, this new opportunity to serve?

It is nothing other than an answer to a series of prayers and desires I’ve had over years (years!) that I have often been too fearful or hesitant to even name as future hopes, let alone speak into actual requests.

But even that makes this answer in God’s perfect timing that much sweeter, that much more precious, that much more HIS.

I say it often – even when life doesn’t make sense at all – but y’all. Hear me say it in the good times, too.

God is faithful and God is good and God is sovereign.

And while I am quick to claim the truth of those statements … those promises … when life is hard and challenging (because it often is), I want to be just as quick to claim the same truths when life is good and all kinds of exciting.

And this is exciting!

Because in those precious moments of honest prayers from a roomful of fellow leaders who love the Lord and want more of Him and are willing to pour themselves out into the lives of others, I knew I was there for this.

This is what I was made to do in the right now of today.

And I didn’t get here by analyzing the heck out of my circumstances, or perfectly executing a five year plan, or having a clear idea of what this would look like.

I got here because seeking the Lord without an agenda (or much of the time even a clue!) allowed me to obediently say “yes” when the opportunity was presented.

And that is amazingly, beyond what I could ask or think, beautiful!

And this has only just begun.

God is so good.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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{Day 27} Ministry is My Dance

…at least I thought so.

I had just returned from serving in Maryland as a summer missionary, my senior year of college was about to begin, I was actively leading small group Bible Studies and loving it, I had some sweet and developing friendships that I still enjoy today, and I had just gone to see “Step Up” in the theater.

During a climactic scene in the middle of the movie, all of the main characters are gathered at a water-front club in Baltimore. Each one connecting with his or her artistic ability in music or dance. And at one point the whole club joins in…dancing with energy and enthusiasm.

As I watched that scene that appeared so full of emotion and passion, I felt an instant parallel and connection to the atmosphere. Except the connection wasn’t to dancing, specifically…

Ministry was my dance.

It was the one thing that filled me with so much passion and excitement that I could burst. And I found myself longing for that. Longing to pursue the passion. Longing to pursue the dance.

But I think I misunderstood.

Over the course of my senior year, as I continued to grow, serve, lead, and mature, in part through a study on the life of David (Beth Moore’s “A Heart Like His”) I felt certain that God was leading me to apply to seminary. But leading me to vocational ministry? Although I had identified ministry as my dance, I wasn’t so sure. And it felt backwards to be called to seminary without first being called to ministry.

After all, seminary wasn’t ever supposed to be the goal. It was more of a means to an end. For people who already knew the goal.

But fervently praying and trusting that the Lord would stop me should seminary not be the direction He was leading, I began researching different options and found a multi-denominational seminary close to home that would allow me to take classes part-time while working full-time and had a solid reputation for its firm foundation in Scripture.

So I applied, secured a recommendation from my favorite professor, who although committed to his atheistic beliefs, was genuinely supportive and encouraging, was accepted, had an interview, and recounted confidently that I was certain this was where God had led … even though I wasn’t at all certain of where He would lead post-seminary.

But there was one thing that I could never really do. I could never fully write my {required} call to ministry paper.

I felt called to seminary. to study. to love Scripture. to love people. to help others love Scripture. to be an active part of the local church, the body of Christ. to love the atheists and unbelievers around me. to live like Christ. to shine for Him in dark places. even to pursue missions (though always in the short-term).

But ministry? That one passion I had previously referred to as my dance?

I longed for the clarity that I had heard in so many testimonies. I longed for that moment of insight when my path would be drastically and radically altered to follow the Lord to full time missions or ministry. I longed for the writing in the clouds answer.

But it didn’t come.

I left seminary this summer … midway through my Biblical Studies degree program.

Was seminary a mistake? I don’t think so.

I may not have completed the degree, but the learning, the growing, the trusting, the being challenged in heart, soul, mind and strength … I needed that.

When I identified ministry as my dance, I think I misunderstood. I wanted ministry because I thought ministry was the highest expression of loving God. I thought ministry was the way to reach people. But somewhere along the way of pursuing ministry, though not by a conscious decision, it became my goal, my drive, my desire … pursuing ministry had taken the place of pursuing Christ.

And when my passion was rightly restored to loving God and loving people, the place to which He was calling really hadn’t changed.

I know that I am called to imitate Christ and to love His people. At least for now, that means through a job in the secular workplace, through shining for the Gospel in the dark places, through serving in the local church, through being faithful in the small, through taking the next step by faith.

But knowing Christ … and knowing Christ well … must always come first.

I thought seminary would prepare me for future ministry. And in a way, it did. But not in the way I had expected. My time in seminary did prepare me with a readiness to step out and experience faith and trust … while boldly imitating and proclaiming Christ … in a whole new way.

I suppose in a way, ministry is still my dance.

But only when ministry simply means humbly seeking to know and love Christ, faithfully living for Him in the ordinary and everyday, and boldly proclaiming Him to those in need.

Yes, God calls some to pursue vocational ministry. But God calls others to simply pursue Him and to boldly proclaim His gospel from the field where we currently work. Forcing a call to ministry – forcing a direction that may appear to be good – isn’t necessary. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. Not when we are surrendered to ministry, but rather when we are fully surrendered to Him.

**all photos in this post were most graciously made available by my absolute favorite photographer, Kendra Martin Photography** 

Why “The Inner Harbor”?

Between my junior and senior years of college, I spent my break from classes serving as a summer missionary with the North American Mission Board in Maryland.  My ministry area was focused mostly around the Annapolis area, but extended along the “I-95 corridor” reaching into the Baltimore area and occasionally included different parts of the state as well.

Because of the types of ministry we were involved in, the two missionaries I worked the closest with (and lived with) and I often had weekends and/or evenings free to explore.  We went on several memorable outings that summer, and I absolutely fell in love with many of our discovered locations, but my favorite place was the Baltimore Inner Harbor (with the Annapolis Harbor coming in a close second).

Surrounded by shopping, restaurants, eclectic boats, a small amphitheater for live music, the aquarium, Federal Hill, historic housing, and downtown, the Inner Harbor has come to represent for me not only a place for summer missions, but also…

 A place for fun.

  A place to relax and renew.

  A place for thinking and processing.

  And a place where God speaks.