Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

How much further was God going to stretch me thin?

February 12, 2010

As the waves rhythmically hit the side of my ship rocking me to sleep, I lay in what some would call a bed feeling as though my prayers were hitting the ceiling and falling to the floor with a thud.  I remember wondering, How much further is God going to stretch me thin? and Who am I really? quickly followed by What was I made for? Nearing the end of my time in the Navy, I was also nearing the end of my rope.  Disillusioned with the church, the Christian life as it had been taught to me, and my purpose in life as I understood it, I did not think I could go on.  In a leap of faith, I resigned from the Navy wondering if God was calling me to ministry.  Not knowing what that would look like, and without a job or a plan, I left.  The fog increased since things often get worse before they get better, but then I realized that though I did not, or rather could not, see it at first, God had led me to this place and was in the process of leading the way out.  It has been a long journey thus far, but God has given me quite a few people to help along the way.  While the end of my story has not yet been written, I am currently at seminary and discerning a call into ministry.

[This was written and posted as an entry into a writing contest to win a free Kindle.  The info can be found on Mary DeMuth’s post Win a Kindle! Really!]

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Another First for the Nation

January 13, 2009
Yesterday I found out a woman, Rev. Sharon Watkins, will preach the inaugural sermon.  And I got pretty excited about it!  So excited in fact that I sent a couple friends a text message, sent an e-mail to a few others, and posted it on my Facebook and Twitter.  For those of you who have read this blog from the beginning, you already know about my journey into ministry thus far and can probably understand why this would be so exciting for me.  For those of you who don’t, I will provide a short summary:

1. Brought up in an agnostic home.
2. Became a Christian at 14.
3. Spent the first 12 years of my life as a Christian in traditions that did not allow women to preach or be in leadership over men.
4. Spent 4 years in the Navy where I questions everything but my salvation.
5. With the help of a few friends and after much reading, I began to discern God’s call on my life and understand I could be faithful to scripture and answer the call God has on my life.
6. Started seminary and began the official process for ordination in my denomination [PC(USA)]

Franklin Circle Church

Photo by: Franklin Circle Church

It’s been a rocky road.  Though I have been supported by many friends and members of my family, I have also been called a backsliding Christian.  I have received a letter of concern for my spiritual well being that included a claim that my actions are hypocritical and in direct contradiction with the Bible.  And I have probably been avoided by others.  All that to say that reading this article made me hopeful.  Hopeful that one day I won’t receive scorn and judgement from my brothers and sisters for answering the call of God on my life to use the gifts God has given me to preach, teach, and pastor.  Hopeful that even if people disagree with me they will be able to see that I am attempting to honor God with my whole being.  And it makes me thankful that President-elect Obama and his staff are attempting to start things afresh instead of following the same actions of those before him just becausse “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  And it’s nice that they aren’t afraid to do things that have never been done before for fear of how it will affect approval ratings.  It will be nice to see a woman in the pulpit on that special day.  And as an aside, it will nice to see Bishop Robinson there as well.  I pray that all who are participating in this wonderful event will speak of hope in such a way that people will not place theirs in any one person, government, or nation, but in our gracious and loving God.

And I didn’t even die!

November 21, 2008

[Edited on 11/22/08 @2:26am – The preface for this post is that things were not what they seemed!  Please read the comments for the whole story!]

So as you can see by my last post, the Operations Christmas Child shoebox collection at my church went well.  Last night we transported all the boxes to a collection site in the area.  It was at a pretty large Baptist church in the area that shall remain nameless.  We arrived with three vehicles and a few women from the church came out to meet us.  They asked us about how many boxes and then one lady asked, “What church are you from?”  I responded and she said – no joke – “Oh!  I came and spoke there last year!  And I didn’t even die!”  My internal dialog went something like, “Did she really just say that?  She couldn’t have said that.  She really did just say that.”  Thankfully I was walking away from her already when she said it so I got to keep walking and didn’t really have to say anything in response but I did make an awkward laugh as I was trying to process what she had just said.  Apparently she thought God was going to strike her dead for speaking in church.  I wonder how she would have felt if she realized I was answering a call to ministry.

And so I am left baffled and yet understand completely the rhetoric that this woman ascribes to.  I am discouraged and yet encouraged at the same time.  Overall it really saddens me though.  It saddens me that there are so many folks who cram Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit in boxes they don’t belong in.  It saddens me that they cannot share communion with their fellow brothers and sisters.  And I don’t just mean bread an wine…I mean communion in it’s fullest sense of coming together as the body of Christ.  There are so many walls built up around fundamentalists.  *sigh*

Lord, hear my prayer.

MHA

November 18, 2008

noI am thinking of starting a new support group for folks addicted to ministry.  The introductions would go something like this: “Hello.  My name is Jane and I am a ministry whore.”  The name of the group would be Ministry Whore Anonymous.

Whoa.  Did I really just say that?

Yup.  And all 12 steps are applicable.

I give you that I am may be a bit over the top with my terminology, but it really hits home with me.  I am no longer a ministry whore, but I have been.  If you are even a little bit active in a local church you probably know at least one person who fits into this category.  These are the people who seem to be involved in everything.  The ones who are always frazzled because of the amount of time they spend in ministry because they are the ones who “get things done.”  So people often go to them to ask them to do other things because as the adage goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person.  But I am hoping the term “ministry whore” will hit home with some of you out there in the blogosphere just as it did with me.  Whether you are one of the ones putting out or one of the ones soliciting service, no means no.  After all, if someone can’t respect your no, your yes is really worthless. 

Many times this kind of behavior is justified as being “sold out for the kingdom” or a “Jesus freak.”  And sometimes this is true.  But it seems like many other times it is a twisted sort of “indulgence” that we use as penance to secure our place in the kingdom and earn God’s good will and approval.  We build a sense of pride in the ministries we participate in or lead.  Our identity becomes more dependent on what we are doing for the kingdom than on the one who established that kingdom.

It was helpful for me to realize that Jesus told people “No.”  He told his disciples no, he told his family no, and he told those who wanted to follow him no.  And there were no apologies.  The only person Jesus didn’t say no to was God the Father.  Profound.  Jesus often failed to meet expectations.  He walked away from expectant crowds without telling anyone where he was going, he failed to free Israel from the Romans, he failed to be the messiah the Jews wanted him to be, he failed to do as his parents expected him to.  But he never failed to do God’s bidding though he sweat blood under the pressure of that burden.

For those of you who have read Boundaries by Townsend some of this will be familiar.  For the rest of you, I highly recommend this book.  And remember, no means no.

Photo by: b.fhram

Sincere Concern

November 13, 2008

I received the following message on Facebook today.  I am glad he wrote since he is communicating sincere concern for my spiritual well being.  And I am thankful that though he is concerned, he is not yet judging me.  I admit I say “yet” because I feel the judgement will be forthcoming when I answer. 

Please pray with me that I will answer him in a loving way and that I will be able to communicate my understanding of women in ministry in a way that he might acknowledge the possibility that his understanding is lacking.  And may each word reflect the fact that mine is as well.

Sara,

I have to ask you a question, because I know you have been a great sister to me over the years and hopefully I have been a good brother to you. I have been meaning to write you for awhile but kept putting it off. I am very concerned about the path you are on with seeking to preach to God’s people. How have you justified preaching to men biblically?

I believe God has put a strong passion in your heart for truth and have always appreciated it, but to ignore the bible, and then to preach from the bible is hypocritical. I know your heart, which is why I can write this and know that you will not be too defensive. Please help me understand what you are thinking?

In Christ,
Concerned Brother

Just so you know, I’m not freaking out about all this but it is discouraging and disheartening.  I think maybe that communicating that discouragement to others will keep me from getting militant and defensive.  I think it will keep me humble.  The call that God has on my life is God’s.  I can say it is “my call” only because God has “given” it to me.  But in a very real way it is God’s call which means I don’t need to fight for it.  I need only live it out.