by Nora Ross
Since the early church, people have had disagreements, which caused them to separate. Paul and Barnabas worked together to bring the message of the Gospel to many. They decided to return to areas that had been very successful. Barnabas wanted Mark to accompany them and Paul disagreed. There was such disagreement Paul and Barnabas separated. Paul took Silas and Barnabas took John Mark. As a result of this separation, the Gospel was spread to a greater area and number of people.
This passage may sound familiar to you. You may know it from the personal experience of people leaving your church or ministry. People you have worked with for years have left. Maybe, they were there to move you into your home or parsonage when you arrived. Your families have grown together. You are there for them during their triumphs and losses. They are there for you in the good and the bad. You consider them your best friends. You wonder if Barnabas and Paul had this type of relationship. When your friends and partners in ministry leave, it hurts. There have been some who have left without even saying goodbye. There are others you wish would have only said, “Goodbye.” It seems Paul and Barnabas parted on terms that helped them both to succeed in ministry. Paul even seems to have forgiven Mark and speaks favorably of both in his later writings.
There was a time when a family member did something that made the local news. As my husband tried to read the prepared statement, the church wept with us. They followed the request not to discuss the situation. Many of them asked how they could help. When they asked to bring meals and we refused, they delivered them anyway. The newspaper printed our address and people attacked our home. It was only pellet guns; but it was frightening. People from our church offered to come and sit on our porch and protect us. No one left the church as a result of that situation. However, we have had people leave over misunderstood statements and gossip. It seems gossip leads to feelings of entitlement. Everything we know as a Christian is thrown out with the hurt feelings and the need to confide in others. We spiral into a frenzy that becomes difficult to overcome. As pastors and leaders, we need to be careful not to partake in the “prayer request” mentality that says I can talk about this to this person and this person and that person whether they are a part of the problem, or a part of the solution. We are the leaders and should lead by example. We need to question our motives as we share information and listen to information. As we receive and give information, we need to think about whether we would want a member of our congregation hearing or saying this. If it is not appropriate for them, it is not appropriate for us.
A lead pastor once told us that people are as loyal as the last thing you did for them. If we had lived by that choice nugget of pastoral wisdom, we would no longer be in ministry. We would have burned out trying to keep everyone loyal; or, we would have become bitter because we felt we had to give to keep people loyal to us. We minister as God leads us, not with the thoughts of who will leave next, or wondering how long someone will stay. As we live righteously with servants’ hearts, God will provide for us and for those who leave, just as He did for Paul and Barnabas.
by Anna Maschmeyer
A ministry family seems to either exist in the assurance of their mission and longevity of their position or in a state of uncertainty and desire for transition. My ministry family recently took a leap and moved to a new church and city across the state. Transition means many things in the ministry, but for me it meant an opportunity to move in faith into untried territory.
For years I served the church as pastor and volunteer and taught full-time in a public high school. It was the most rewarding and exhausting life. The students are apathetic, curriculum is challenging to implement, assessments are labor intensive, actual learning is complex to assess, and federal and administrative regulation is exhausting. I loved teaching, but the all-encompassing nature of my pastor life and my teacher life took everything out of me.
Roughly three years ago, I began to pray for a better way to do life. I wanted to devote more time to our family and serve the church in a healthier capacity. Our family deserved more of me than it was getting. I intensely wanted to reserve the best of me for my girls, husband, and church. As I sought the Lord for a way to accomplish this, two things became clear. First, God spoke deeply into my heart that my calling was not about my career, but about being more like Him. I had preached this for years. Yet suddenly, it wasn’t just something to say. Jesus did not need my effort at school, my worries over the job, my time preparing lessons and grading; He needed my heart. My job was distracting me from giving Him my full attention. I was in essence serving two masters.
A year ago, we began thinking about transition to a new position. One of the things I wrote in my journal as we began to pray over the transition was, “Lord, I want to be free of the classroom.” I was not trying to be a stay-at-home-mom. As a driven, independent woman, I champion college and career ambition for my female students. So I looked for a position in a school, but out of the classroom. I thought just being out of the classroom would be enough.
When we relocated, the timing of the move meant teaching jobs were not available. As I’ve sought the Lord and explored options, more and more I was called to walk away from my career to be more like Jesus. Since August, I have started teaching our oldest to cook and do laundry. We finally have a regular chore schedule (something I never had time to put together before) for all three girls. My husband and I have been on a date every week since we’ve moved. I've written a 5-week Sunday School curriculum and taught it. The girls and I have had deep conversations about real things like politics, Jesus, and how to make friends. A couple of times my husband has asked, “Who are you?” because I am not falling asleep on the couch at 7 PM or cranky for no reason.
Don’t get me wrong, many of those things I listed above happened in small doses while I was teaching. My girls had chores; we did homework together; we read at night sometimes. My husband and I did date. Our family was not falling apart, but there wasn’t the structure or purpose in our home that I wanted. It was good, but not great. I had two masters constantly pulling me in different directions. The message is that there are good things we can do in our lives and there are God things. Our family was doing good things, but the God things were being squeezed out by exhaustion, stress, time, and mess. Although the budget is tight, I have not been this happy, nor this at peace, in a long time.
The lesson I am learning is that discerning His will is seldom about finding a place or a career, but it is always about becoming more like Him. Peace is there for us when we finally submit every area of ourselves, including our careers, to His Lordship. Our obedience even in the anxiety of transition makes us more like Jesus.
QUESTIONS: What have you learned in a ministry transition? About your faith? About yourself?
by Majetta Morris
A fellow children’s minister approached me in the foyer of our church to ask if I had a baby puppet he could borrow for a ministry engagement. I told him I didn’t, but as the discussion continued, I learned a doll would be appropriate. I informed him I had a life-sized baby doll I use as Baby Jesus at Christmas because it is newborn infant-like. He assured me that he would only need to use the doll during the month of July and it would be returned well before Christmas.
“I don’t need Jesus during July,” I informed him as I walked away. When I saw the aghast looks on bystander’s faces, I immediately realized the faux pas. I turned back blubbering and stumbling over words as I tried to backtrack and rephrase, “I mean, I don’t need the Jesus doll during July.” The damage was already done! The words already said! Others in the vicinity were either staring open-mouthed or laughing aloud.
I’m ashamed to say that sometimes my attitude says, “Jesus, I don’t need you today…or this month. I can handle this by myself.” I plan my day so full of all the things I want to do for Jesus that I fail to ask Him what He would like to do with/through me. Sometimes I go so intensely through my day without realizing that the expression on my face or the acerbity of my speech is telling others that I don’t think I need Jesus to go with me that day. The negative side is that it usually multiplies into more than just one day. It becomes an unintended vacation from Jesus.
It is easy to get so busy working for Him that our relationship with Jesus is put aside; or we take for granted that He will just come along. To start the day, we may have even taken time for a quick devotion to tell Jesus how He can meet our need for the day, instead of asking how we can worship and be with Him throughout the day.
Each day I need to intentionally invite Jesus not to just follow me around, but to walk beside me and before me, allowing me to follow in His steps. Throughout each day, I talk with Him as a friend. I cannot ever go a day, let alone a month, without Jesus. I need Jesus every day in July and every other month! Not just at Christmas.
Majetta Morris, a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, began her first Sunday School teaching assignment when she was twelve. With husband, Wayne, and daughters, Scarlett and Keena, she ministered throughout the southwest U.S. in Kids Krusades for ten years before going to Okinawa, Japan to minister in schools, churches, and the local community for a total of sixteen years. After retiring in Springfield, MO in 2007, she began professionally editing as a freelancer at the request of a friend. Majetta loves reading, writing, crafting, teaching, and editing. Contact Majetta at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance to publish your writing projects.
by Kelly Godzwa
My recent Mexican tianguis adventure (More Than I Bargained For Part 1) was one I will not easily forget. Spending a morning with friends looking for bargains is sure to include great moments and lasting memories. However, this later portion of the excursion didn’t include my friends. You see, as I was paying for my clothing items, I was also typing the amount into my phone app for budgeting. (This is me, trying to keep good track of our spending.) I typed in 380 pesos while the vendor counted my change into my other hand. Only halfway paying attention to the actual transaction, I stuck the bills and coins into the side pocket of my purse. Unfortunately, I later realized I had received 60 pesos too much! Did she forget to charge me for an item? Count incorrectly? Sigh. You know that moment when you vacillate between the easy thing and the right thing? Yup. This was one of those moments. I decided I needed to return; but I couldn’t that day since everything had ended earlier that afternoon.
So, the following Friday I returned. Maneuvering my way to that particular booth, I was glad I had given directions to my friends to find it the previous week. Looking around, I noticed the lady vendor was not there, but her partner was. I asked for a moment of his time with a hand gesture, and he came aside to talk with me. I briefly explained the situation, handed him the amount owed him and shook his hand. His face expressed shock regarding this rare interaction as I imagine mine did when he said, “Kelly, ¿verdad?” (Kelly, right?) He had remembered my name from the previous week! I confirmed his great memory and said, “Dios lo bendiga” (God bless you) as I left his booth, knowing in my heart that I had done the right thing. Now he has a face, a name, and an unusual act to put together. I pray it is a positive connection that communicates his value to me, not simply as a salesperson, but as a human made in God’s image and worthy of a correct business transaction. I also hope it opens the door to further conversations about Christ living in and through me. These impressions left by small actions like that of my friend (see Part 1) or this one with the vendor can have such a lasting impact, in me or in others!
How do we affect our communities? We certainly influence the people around us – by what we say and what we don’t say, what we do and what we fail to do. People see us, evaluate us, and make judgments. What kind of impression do we leave? With the store clerk? With our neighbor? With our boss or co-worker? On the phone with customer service? We make a difference in our world, whether we’re immediately aware of it or not. As people extend grace to us, may it remind us of God’s ultimate grace as we, in turn, extend grace to others. Let’s take courage by choosing to do the right thing, expressing value to those we encounter (especially when it’s not the easy thing), knowing that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness so that we may be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4)
I certainly got more than I bargained for at this tianguis, but the meaningful interactions, the lasting impressions, and reminders of grace and acceptance I experienced are clearly better than any ‘good deal’ I could have found there!
Kelly and her husband, Dave, have served as Southern Missouri District missionaries to Mexico since 2006. While one of her ministry roles includes a position as Mexico field treasurer, she also has been active online in the Refresh Connect groups and leadership team. They have 3 teenage children and a mini schnauzer.
by Kelly Godzwa
Every woman loves finding a good deal, right? Me, too. That’s why I got excited when some of my Mexican friends got to talking about visiting one of the larger ‘tianguis’ (tea-on'-geese) in our city of Mérida. Sounds interesting, right? Picture an enormous flea market with about a hundred different booths covered partially by tarps to keep the sun off the numerous shoppers meandering the narrow makeshift aisles. You can find everything here—from clothing to beauty products, from tropical fish to “fast food,” i.e., homemade quesadillas prepared before your eyes.
Despite my many years in Mexico, I had never gone to this particular tianguis opened on Fridays from about 8 AM to 1 PM, which my friends said was similar to the type you’d find in Mexico City. To my surprise, a few of them hadn’t even gone! So, on Friday morning we met at my house and set out together on our adventure. Glad to have found a parking spot about a block away, we entered near the front-middle of the covered park. We shopped together splitting into mini-groups at times, each looking for a bargain on something we needed. I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but near the end of our time, two of us found a booth where a new bundle of clothing had been dumped on a low table for us to rummage through. Jackpot!
This mass pile of new American items included shirts, pants, and skirts of various sizes from reputable manufacturers–Talbots, American Eagle, etc. All were priced between 60 and 120 pesos, about $3-$6 USD a piece. With our cell phones, we gave directions to the others to let them know where we were in order to get in on the deals. We were there for at least thirty minutes. While I looked, one friend wandered to the booth across the way and returned with a little trinket. She took a hold of the collar of my shirt and place a pin there. Smiling, she clasped the back to the two linked flags of the US and Mexico. When I saw it, I barely managed to hold back the tears. You see, that small action communicated her acceptance of me despite our different upbringings; it told me that our friendship went beyond borders and was valuable to her. I love that this simple shopping excursion provided the backdrop for her meaningful display of affection!
Have you experienced small displays of affection that have had a huge impact on you? This experience makes me aware of how in seemingly small ways I can communicate love through my actions in the day-to-day that may actually speak volumes to another.
“Father, make me mindful of ways I can touch others with Your love.”
As we finished our shopping, we paid and headed out, happy to have shared this experience, wondering, perhaps, when our next outing together would be. Little did I know as we said our good-byes that my personal tianguis story had yet another chapter. (Check back soon for Part 2.)
Kelly and her husband, Dave, have served as Southern Missouri District missionaries to Mexico since 2006. While one of her ministry roles includes a position as Mexico field treasurer, she also has been active online in the Refresh Connect groups and leadership team. They have 3 teenage children and a mini schnauzer.
by Delores Carr
I do cherish my privacy. When dusk comes, I start closing shades and curtains on every window, all of them designed for privacy. My need may come from a number of “window peeper” incidents in my life. I remember an incident from when I was about five or six years old. I was in bed for the night. It was summer and we had no air conditioning, so after lights-out, Mom would open the Venetian blinds to let in whatever breeze there might be. I saw a man’s head outside going back and forth across my window. I kept going to my Mom’s bedroom crying in fear. She assured me there was no one there. She even took a quick peek out the window. Finally, she closed the shades, and put on a nightlight. The next day, our neighbor told us her sister’s boyfriend had been stalking her the night before, and looked in their windows from between our houses!
As a teen, there was a voyeur in our neighborhood. My parents observed him looking in a neighbor’s window (which was NOT covered for privacy), and we heard him outside our home twice. I have since wondered why my parents did not call the police.
And again in adulthood there was a window peeper in our neighborhood. Neighborhood Watch chased him a number of times. We heard him run between our house and our neighbor’s, with the Watch in hot pursuit. We took extra precautions to be sure there were no cracks where he might see in. Physical privacy is important to me.
We often feel the need to protect our hearts and thoughts from the view of others. Self-protection is a strong motivator. Perhaps there is something in our lives we just don’t want others to see. So, we put up curtains and try to make sure there are no cracks where anyone might see into our lives. We don’t want people to see how inadequate we feel. We don’t want others to see that sometimes our faith is weak. Or that sometimes we get angry at our husband or children—or at them. Too often, we think we can hide ourselves from God; that certain things in our life are private even from God. So we pray using pious words we think God “expects” us to use, although in our heart of hearts, we know this is foolish.
We know God said, “…for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.” I Chronicles 28:9b NKJV. Psalm 44:21 tells us he knows the secrets of the heart.
Many years ago my husband and I attended a seminar for ministers and wives. Dr. Richard Dobbins, PHD and pastor, was the speaker. In talking about honesty before God, he made a statement that absolutely liberated me in my prayer times. He said, “When you are talking with the Lord, just say what you really feel. He already knows anyway!! So just get it out in front where the two of you can talk about it.” So instead of saying the proper thing, which is just trying to put up a curtain to hide your true feelings, it’s okay to say, “Lord, Sis. Gossipy Mouth said the ugliest thing about my kid today, and I am mad as a hornet. I really need You to help me calm down, and I really need Your grace to even be civil to her. You said Your grace is sufficient, and I need that grace today, because I don’t seem to have any.” Now you and the Lord are on the same page, in the same room, and the curtains are open.
I encourage you to read Psalm 139 and be blessed, knowing you do not have to protect your privacy from the Lord.
Delores, and her husband, David, have been married for 54 years, and have one son and one daughter as well as two grandsons and one granddaughter that they cherish. They have a long and rich history of ministry. From youth pastor to senior pastor, from church planter to teaching in AG Bible colleges, they have covered this nation from coast to coast. Delores has been director and teacher in pre-school programs, filled the pulpit from time-to-time, and has been a speaker to women's groups. She loves music and writing, and hopes to one day write a book about her family history in the Ozarks.
by Jill St. John
“Is it worth it?”
While eating a meal with a friend, I told her how I was handling a difficult challenge as part of my ministry role at our church. Her response was: “Makes you wonder: Is it worth it?” Those words rang in my head long after the bill was paid; they still do.
“Why this waste?”
During a meal with some friends, a woman approached Jesus with an alabaster flask of very costly, fragrant oil, and proceeded to pour the contents over Jesus’ head as an act of worship. “Why this waste?” said Jesus’ disciples rather heatedly giving suggestions about what she could have done differently with what she had (from Matthew 26:6-9).
As women in ministry, we each have our own alabaster flasks filled with our passions, gifts, resources, strengths, experiences, and callings. As we minister and lead, we pour ourselves out as we serve Jesus, His church, and our communities. It is costly! From my own experience, as with our Sister with the alabaster flask, there is an age-old battle that can occur when we serve Jesus: voices of doubt and discouragement. Those voices amplify my own insecurities: Is what I’m doing making a difference? Is it worth it? What could I have done differently? Sometimes I feel misunderstood. Sometimes I feel that what I do to serve the Lord--and how I do it--is not particularly valued. There is a different Voice we need to hear loud and clear!
“…She has done a beautiful thing for Me…” (from Matthew 26:10) Jesus received our Sister’s gift of love and service with His divine love and favor and blessing! And, dare I say gratitude?!
Unlike the other voices in the room, the Divine Voice spoke to her--and through His Word speaks to us--His acceptance, value, and love. Jesus’ perspective on what we do for Him is divinely different from what others see and sometimes communicate. Jesus understood our Sister. He got her! He gets me! He gets you! He valued what she did for Him! He values what we do for Him!
A dear friend who visited Israel brought me a flask of spikenard—the valuable, fragrant oil Mary poured out as she anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8). As in the Matthew 26 anointing, this act of service to Jesus was called into question and criticized by others. Jesus defended Mary’s actions! Once again, He communicated joyfully receiving and accepting a beautiful offering.
Spikenard is a sweet and earthy fragrance—and strong! I open it and get a whiff to remind myself that Jesus receives, loves, and values my acts of worship and service to and for Him. May our sweet Savior’s Voice, His loving words of favor and blessing, override any other voices, our own or others, in response to our serving Him: You do beautiful things for Me.
One final thing that I find helpful to note is concerning Jesus’ words to the nay-sayers: “Why are you bothering this woman?” Why indeed! May Jesus’ Voice be the loudest as we do beautiful things for Him!
Jill St. John, once a high school English teacher, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. She serves as Co-Pastor alongside her husband, Jason. For the last 23 years, they have served at Evangel Church in Kansas City: 6 years as youth pastors, 17 years as lead pastors. Jill has a passion for Jesus and a zeal for teaching God’s Word – helping others walk in God’s love and purpose. As a 4-time cancer survivor, she knows the goodness of God through the highs and lows of life and ministry. Jill is an authentic, enthusiastic messenger of God’s joy and hope. Teaching, cooking, laughing and hanging out with her husband and two children are the delights of her life!
Guest post by Rhonda Barnes
Perseverance is a word we don’t always like, because if you are to persevere, you must need to push through some kind of difficulty, opposition, or delay. Perseverance often makes me think of endurance, which gives me a picture of a long distance runner.
I have never enjoyed running. When I was in high school, I was on the track team for all the wrong reasons. I liked to do the jumps or maybe the short races or relays, but I certainly wasn’t committed enough to be the one who ran the long distance races.
Those races required too much perseverance. The ability to push through the pain and fatigue when you feel like your lungs are on fire and your legs cannot move another step. I like the way the Message Bible describes perseverance in a long distance race.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message Bible)
This describes our spiritual race during times that require perseverance. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus since He demonstrated for us not only how to start a race, but how to finish it!
In the middle of the race, there are times you feel all alone and you may be tempted to question if you are in the right race. Perseverance is needed when God SEEMS to be absent and SEEMS to be silent! Scripture tells us in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us or forsake us. While I know that to be true, there have been times I have found myself asking, “Where are you?”
A very familiar scripture found in Galatians 6:9 AMP reads: “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”
Two of the greatest enemies in certain stages of the race are doubt and disappointment. When you are in a season where you have been believing and standing in faith for a long time, and your answer has not yet manifested, it is tempting to begin to question if you really heard from God, or if this commitment to the race is really worth it. In some situations, the risk of disappointment is so great that people give in to hopelessness instead of standing in faith and staying in the race. In these times, you must contend and persevere!
I want to encourage you today to persevere! If you are in a difficult leg of your spiritual race, stay close to God so you will be nourished, keep your eye on the prize, and as you stay committed you will be empowered to finish strong.
Rhonda Barnes is an author, speaker, Christian blogger, and gifted teacher of God’s Word. Rhonda was credentialed as an Assemblies of God minister in 2002, and currently serves in a variety of ministries at Grace Community Church in Salem, Missouri. Rhonda’s first book, Road to Transformation, Journey to God’s Glory, was released in 2014. Since then, she launched the Christian teaching blog Secret Place Revelation, inspired by Psalm 91:1. In 2017, she released two additional books, Keys to the Kingdom, and It is Written. Rhonda is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word and enjoys writing, speaking in many settings, and teaching small groups.
To contact Rhonda, please visit www.secretplacerevelation.com or email email@example.com
by Amber Mills
My name is Amber and I have spots on my windows!
“You don’t know what it’s like to fail!” said my husband to me during a conversation about some recent events. Those eight little words cut so deeply they took my breath away. He wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings or boost my ego. It is simply how he sees me. Let me give you a little background so you can understand how this opened a very deep wound. As the oldest child in my family, I was always made to feel my choices influenced those younger than me. This is a weight most firstborn children feel. No biggie! However, somewhere during my time growing up, this expectation began to take on a life of its own. I can’t tell you if those raising me imposed it or if I took this on myself. However it came about, it became my life’s mission to obtain perfection. I didn’t strive for this intentionally, but in looking back, I see how this became a driving force in my life. My nickname became “Miss Goody-two-shoes” because our group of friends always expected me to do the right thing. Although, I would love to hear that statement said about my boys, as a teenage girl, it felt like a curse, like a sentence hanging over me scrutinizing my every action.
As a result of the pressure I felt, I poured myself into my schoolwork to hide from interaction, which resulted in grades every student wants. Thus, fueling the fire of expectations! I took every AIM missions trip I could possibly afford both time wise and financially to escape my reality. More fuel to the fire of expectations! I’ve never smoked. Fuel! Never had even a sip of alcohol. Fuel! I only had one boyfriend who eventually became my husband of now twenty years. A lot of fuel! I am a pastor’s wife and mom of four spirit-filled boys who all are involved in our ministry. I’m drowning in fuel at this point. I found my entire life completely consumed by a roaring fire of expectations! Sadly, I have lived my life feeling like a failure. Those eight words cut deeply because I DO know what it is like to fail. I frequently fail my husband in words and actions. I lose it with my boys over things like gym bags on the living room floor and individual dinner requests. I fail my church family by viewing them as obligations instead of opportunities. I fail in my ministry to women and girls by attempting to perform a life of perfection before them—an unattainable goal by anyone.
Those eight words spoken in that one moment caused my perception and my reality to collide. I allowed them to eat at me for a while. God and I had long talks about what those words represented in my life. After a lot of prayer and pondering, I have come to a conclusion: I am not perfect! But I am also not a failure. Striving to be what others expect will always end in failure because this is a sinful world and we are imperfect people. Striving to live in the center of His will and be what God expects us to be will always end in a life of perfection because God is good and His will for our lives is perfect!
God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.
In ministry, we allow unattainable expectations to be placed on us. We kill ourselves to never take a wrong step—frequently showing a false side. The pressure of living in the fishbowl is real. It is a fact that we are watched. But trying to live, raise a family, and minister under these expectations is like trying to clean your windows blindfolded. No matter how hard you try, there will always be spots. You can push yourself beyond your physical capabilities, but you will still have spots on your windows.
So, why don’t we all try something new. Let’s be okay with the spots on our windows. Let others see dirty dishes in our sinks, laundry piled up, and imperfect families. Let them see our hearts break at times and at others burst with excitement over this imperfect life that we have been called to live. God doesn’t care if we have spots on our windows as long as when people look through them, they see Him! We need every bit of energy we can muster to walk this ministry path. Let’s not waste it on fueling the fire of expectations.
I am a SOMO girl through and through. I was saved, baptized with the Holy Spirit and called into ministry at SOMO Kid’s Camp. My heart is working with women and girls, even though I have a house full of boys. My husband, Greg Mills, and I grew up in the same church in Joplin, MO. We have been married for 20 years. We have served in full time ministry for 19 of those years. We are the lead pastor’s at Camdenton 1st A/G in Camdenton, MO. We have 4 boys which I homeschool. Brandyn, 18 is a freshman in college. Zach, 16 is a sophomore. Camryn, 14 is in 8th grade. My little Kyle is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. I serve as the Children’s pastor and women’s leader in our church as well as the sectional Women’s and Girl’s Ministries rep. I have worked as a children’s pastor for over 15 years. Kids are the key not only to our survival as a church but also in our endless pursuit to evangelize our world. They must be taught who we are, why we are, and what we are truly called to do and be. To be able to walk along side these little ones as they discover these truths for themselves is both a blessing and personally inspiring beyond measure.
By Terry Magness
Have you ever found yourself so caught up in your day that you forgot to eat? I confess I have, but not often. Usually, my body signals when it is hungry or thirsty, and well, you know the rest.
It's a fact: we need food and water in order to live.
According to Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D, records show that severe symptoms of starvation appear approximately thirty-five to forty days in someone deprived of food. Death usually results within forty-five to sixty-one days, that is, if the individual has a source of hydration. In a vegetative, inactive state without food and water, survival would only be ten to fourteen days. The more active the person is the more resources he uses, therefore, lessening his time of survival.
Did you know the less we drink, the less we want to drink? Likewise, when we fast for several days, our sense of hunger diminishes, so that after a week or so, we no longer desire food. Perhaps our internal warning system simply shuts down, or we somehow fail to hear the signals. It remains, unless we decide to eat and drink, and our body dies.
Could the same be true of the human heart deprived of daily intimate fellowship with the Spirit of the living God and His Word? God said through His prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
I remember clearly the day when God took my dry, hardened heart and replaced it with a soft, pliable, and tender heart, one not afraid to be vulnerable. For the first time in many years, I could feel again. I was no longer in survival mode, but I was alive. Once again I could cry tears that had long ago dried up.
We all experience some desert places in our lives. A good question we can ask ourselves during those dry times is, "Am I malnourished or dehydrated in my spirit?" In order to find the answer to that question, I do a pulse check.
"Has my intimacy with Jesus diminished? How is my Word intake level?" If the answer is "yes", I run, not walk, to the Wellspring of Life, and spend some quality time with Him.
Are you feeling parched and dry? Are the pressures of life and ministry mounting? Do you feel yourself going through the motions, or maybe even shutting down? Are the pangs of hunger in your soul acute or are they dangerously fading away?
Stop! Take a break.
Breathe. Nothing is more important than this moment.
Nestle back in your chair and prepare your heart to be filled by Jesus, the Bread of Life. He knows you. You can rest in his Presence. Tip the cup of remembrance to your lips as you sip the essence of His peace, His goodness, His kindness, His love. Let your mind feast on His Word. Drink deeply of the living waters of His Spirit. Acknowledge His eternal life within you, and give thanks for the dawn of a new day.
Terry Magness has been in Christian ministry for forty years, is a licensed minister, author, pastoral counselor to church leaders, missionary, and founder of Grace Harbour Ministries, a Bible based international teaching and discipleship ministry to women. She oversees and teaches needs-based Overcomers classes in her local church, dedicated to helping men and women apply Biblical principles to every life situation. Terry is a lover of people in general, and her family in particular. She enjoys good friends, stimulating conversation, writing, photography, and fishing with her husband, Don.