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.
by Majetta Morris
In preparation to begin service, the in-charge teen technician attempted to start the projector using the remote. After several tries, another worker tried by going to different areas of the room and pushing the button on the remote control. The magic place could not be found. So, the back of the remote was removed and the batteries jiggled. Another attempt was made, but still no working projector. Someone went to purchase new batteries for the remote. Twenty minutes later with new batteries, we tried again. Nothing happened.
The projector had worked fine just a few days earlier. It was mounted on the ceiling, so we knew no one had disturbed it. I visually checked the cord from the computer to the projector. It was connected. We concluded the problem had to be the remote control, but there seemed to be no solution. The laser light came on with the ON button, so the remote must work.
Finally, at worship time, we gave up and stumbled through without words to our songs being projected.
Later that evening, after we finished and went home, a thought occurred to me: Someone had used a small electrical appliance in our multi-use area earlier; maybe the cord had been unplugged at the wall. It was late, I was home, so I didn’t immediately return to check the possibility of the cord being unplugged. However, as soon as I arrived at church the next time, I went immediately to check out my summation of the problem. Sure enough, the plug into the wall was unplugged. All that was needed was the connection to the source and all was well.
This reminds me of the many times I look at everything else, try everything else, do everything else, but fail to check my life to ensure I am still connected to the Source. It is so easy to get disconnected. Little things arise, circumstances take priority, and I don’t even realize I am disconnected.
He says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6 (NKJV). There is only ONE Source to electrify our lives. Stay plugged in.
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. crafting, teaching, and editing.
What do I know about forgiveness?
Enough to know that it isn’t easy. Enough to know that it is a process. And enough to know what it is not.
I was raised to know the importance of forgiveness. It was an easier principle to put into practice as long as I was in the loving home of my childhood. However, as an adult, I have had more reasons to forgive and more years to face its challenges. When it comes to forgiveness, I’ve lived it, accepted it, given it, and messed it up.
It has been decades ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I first realized forgiveness would be a constant presence in my life. I’ll never forget where I was sitting. The way the air felt. The feeling that the bottom had just dropped out of my world. The knowledge that things would never be the same.
My husband--the love of my life, the man I saved myself for, the only man I had ever known in the Biblical sense--had just told me that he had “known” another woman. Not just any woman. A close friend.
He cried. He was SO sorry. He begged my forgiveness.
God did a healing in our marriage.
I did not believe in divorce. However, I did believe in forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He told me if I really had forgiven him, I would not talk about it or bring it up.
Then a few years later, it happened once again. Again, he begged my forgiveness. By then, we had a precious baby girl and pastored a large church. Again, he begged me to tell no one.
We went to six months of marriage counseling which resulted in his promise that it would never happen again--and a promise from me that if it did, I would leave. We stayed together and had another precious baby girl.
God did another healing in our marriage.
Two years later, he confessed to me that he had been involved in three additional affairs over the period of one year. Once again, he begged my forgiveness and wanted to stay together and work it out.
Something inside me broke. I was done. Done covering up. Done having my heart torn to shreds. The divorce was difficult with years of drama and pain.
So you may ask, what do I know about forgiveness?
We cannot balance the scales. Forgiveness means the scales are forever out of balance. It means that one person is always going to owe a debt. It’s only when we forgive the debt that we can heal.
Several years ago, after we had both remarried and re-established our lives, a deep healing came. As we sat visiting on the front porch after he had visited our daughters, I shared with him that although the intellectual decision to forgive him had been made years ago, only recently had I felt that I had emotionally forgiven him. I told him he did not owe me anything and I wanted him to know that I released him to be happy and free in his life. He in turn asked my forgiveness. This time there was such a feeling of peace. I am so grateful the Lord allowed us to have this conversation, because he tragically died two months later.
What do I know about forgiveness?
I know that forgiveness allows you to put the pain and hurt behind you, release it, and move beyond the hurt and heal. With all we have been forgiven in our own lives, how can we not offer forgiveness, love, and mercy to those around us?
If one word could depict a life, Julie Davenport’s would be “redemption.” As a child in the Perkin household, Julie’s character was forged within a legacy of faith, godliness, and ministry. So when she married a charismatic young pastor on the fast-track to prominence, life was everything she’d dreamed it would be . . . on the outside. But inside, alone and hidden from view, Julie endured abuse, betrayal, and infidelities that spiraled to include miscarriage, cancer, divorce, mental illness, and eventually suicide. With a BA in Art Education from Southwest MO State University, Julie served as a parent educator with the Independence MO School District for many years. She is now an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. Today, through speaking engagements and two daughters continuing the legacy of ministry, God is using Julie’s life-story to validate His immeasurable grace and prove His power to redeem what Satan tried so hard to destroy.
Refresh Ministry Women is pleased to announce the formation of the Refresh Writing Team. You know these women. They are ministers, pastors' wives, and missionaries, just like you. They are women with a heart to share wisdom, insight, encouragement, or whatever the Lord lays on their heart.
Why do we need our own writing team at Refresh? Our mission statement includes these words, "We all need a place that is real and honest....” You can count on us to speak truth and life into your journey." Who better to speak real truth about ministry life than these women who bring a vast array of experience, knowledge, passion, and faith to the table? We believe they have something to share with you. Our mission statement also says, "There are no cookie cutter ministry wives. We celebrate our diversity and uniqueness...." These women are in different stages of life, come from various backgrounds, and have unique stories. Oh, what stories and wisdom they will share with us!
Although no two of us are alike, we share common bonds: belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and involvement in ministry. We all need each other. We are a community made stronger by each individual contributing her talent, whether in word or deed, to the whole. We appreciate these busy ladies who are volunteering their time and talent to make a connection and build relationship with us.
New articles by writing team members will be published on the Refresh website at least twice a month beginning in February. As you read what they have to say, please welcome and encourage them by starting a conversation and commenting on what they've written. Let them know how their words blessed you.
Have you ever had a secret that took everything within you to keep from spilling the beans? Of course you have. I love being the bearer of good news: an engagement, a pregnancy, a birth, or a new job—to name a few. Something wonderful is happening at Refresh and I’m about to explode with anticipation!
First, a little background information. For about four years, now, Refresh Ministry Women has maintained our own website at FreshenItUp.org. While some of the writing has come from within our district, most of it has been borrowed from other sites. It’s been our desire to utilize the writing skills and talents of women within the Southern Missouri District to create our own team of writers.
Here it is--drumroll, please! I’m excited to announce to you our own writing team, led by Lisa Harris. Lisa joined me in the office of Refresh Ministry Women prior to its inception. Following a dream and seeking the heart of Jesus, Refresh Ministry Women was created to be a touchpoint for our women in ministry (credentialed women and wives of credential holders). Lisa brings to the table a lifetime of administrative skills, experience as a pastor’s wife, an appreciation for quality resources, and a shared love for our ministry women.
In the next blog, Lisa will introduce each of the members of the Writing Team. Be sure to catch that post (which will arrive in your email box on January 21) to see who has joined the team. Their pictures and bios will be featured. We couldn’t be any more excited for you to meet them!
So, share the secret—it’s lots of fun to share—and join us twice a month for the latest blog at FreshenItUp.org. Their writing is a free resource to you.
May you know His purpose and serve with anticipation!
My husband, Don, and I have been in ministry, together, for more than 35 years. We have four daughters, four sons-in-law, and four grandsons who keep our lives full of joy and laughter. Having pastored the same congregation for more than 25 years, we now minister in a place where we enjoy serving our district ministers and their spouses. Traveling is a shared interest between us, especially as we connect with various churches and church leaders across our state and around the world. Encouraging ministry wives in their unique role and their walk with Jesus is one of my passions. After serving Jesus most of my life, I am still amazed at the grace and goodness of God and I pray that I never get over it. For fun, I love to read and sleuth décor ideas on Pinterest. I enjoy drinking iced tea (no coffee for me), especially with a friend, and taking car rides in the country.
Our daily lives are made up of conversations. Some take place within the context of work. Some happen between friends. Others take place around politics and current events. Still others happen within the family.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes the Church to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6, ESV) Oftentimes, part of being gracious is knowing good questions to ask in order to move conversations forward or effective transitions to use in order to steer them in a different, perhaps more positive, direction.
For the married minister or minister’s wife, one of our most intimate relationships, where valuable conversations are critical, is that between us and our husbands. On her website gracecoversme.com, Christine Hoover expresses, "My husband is my primary partner in life and our communication draws the lines that keep us healthy and humming in marriage, family, and ministry.” I tend to agree. In her blog post on this very topic, Christine goes on to address four key conversations we can consider to support and encourage our husbands. They cover practical issues like schedules, expressing personal needs, our role as helpmate, and reframing situations to focus on God’s faithfulness in life and ministry.
Friends, be strengthened this week in mind and spirit as you invest time in some great conversations with your beloved. Are there some other themes you feel are worth talking about? Feel free to add your own ideas for heart-to-heart dialogues in the comments section below.
Within the greater community of the Assemblies of God, there exist fellow female ministers who desire to encourage other women like themselves. This month we'd like to share a video series entitled "Off Script with Debbie", produced by the Northwest Ministry Network. Episode 4, for example, is about communication in marriage, delivered in a fun format that resembles a talk show. Feel free to explore the entire series here. Also, be on the lookout for a recently completed season two which will be released in the fall of 2018!
Alignment. It’s a word that has stuck in my head this year. I even found a way to create a text widget and put that word in bubble letters on the home page of my phone. What kind of images come to mind when you hear it? Cars? Margins on a page? For me, it brings to mind things matching up, namely priorities and actions.
I recently read an article by Christine Hoover that touched on this very idea. In it, she writes about juggling family, work, and ministry, and expresses how it’s "so helpful to know our God-given priorities, because our priorities help us sift and sort fairly quickly.”
That seems to be the starting point. What are my priorities? Do I know them? Have I written them down? Sometimes, that's the hardest part - slowing down long enough and quieting our spirit to get out a pen and paper and simply make a list, writing down our thoughts about what is most important to us.
For some of us, the list-making task is easy enough, but it can tend toward having the “to-dos” or the schedule lined out before evaluating what drives that list. This is where alignment comes into play. If I prioritize an ordered home, for example, I should probably include a task that involves decluttering or a daily routine that reduces the intake of excess stuff. How good would that feel to have our daily tasks, even mundane ones, supporting our priorities? On the flip side, maybe it's a matter of looking at that to-do list and determining what tasks we could consider eliminating. Dare I suggest cutting out some items? If I take a hard look at my own life, I see some things that don't even make it to a list but that I kind of end up doing by default. Ouch. Lord, please fix my default mode. When I'm not working on a task, I want my default mode to line up with my priorities, too.
Let's align our lives with our priorities as we, together, 'consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.' (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
Would you consider sharing how you align your priorities with your tasks in the comments below? Each one of us will view this topic from our own unique perspective. We'd love to hear your thoughts! If you're in need of some practical tips to get you jumpstarted, feel free to check out Christine's article.
Read full referenced article written by Christine Hoover at her website gracecoversme.com. This article was written by Kelly Godzwa for Refresh Ministry Women.