Choices in ministry. Should I attend the women’s Bible study, sign up to be a mentor, or go through the counselor training?
Sometimes it’s difficult to give up a Saturday to attend something. It might even make you wonder why you are going, especially when you don’t have to get there early set up chairs, cut up scones or make sure there’s coffee. I love it when you attend something you aren’t really sure about and God meets you in a real way. You know your Heavenly Father invited you there so he could give you a gift. That’s what happened to me.
Last Saturday, along with the Canyon Moms group I lead, we attended our AOG SoCal Women’s Network event led by Pastor Nonda Houston, cheerleader of women leaders in our region. Pastor Nonda opened our time together describing her own progression to totally depend on God this past year, and how life circumstances and events left her feeling trampled. Yet this dear woman chose to press into God so he could move her forward. The process was painful and unwelcome. None of us welcome change, hurt or feeling out of control. Masterfully, Nonda took us to the word of God, specifically to John 11. You remember the story of the death of Lazarus, after a summary, she briefly explained how Martha and Mary, felt overlooked, out of control, and even angered that Jesus didn’t arrive before their brother passed away. In her presentation, she cited John 11:43, 44,“ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Here’s where it gets good. Pastor Nonda explained, “We are about unwrapping the grave clothes and showing our women freedom in Christ. But our motivation must come from our WHY.
We are free to walk in wholeness, to leave the brokenness and show others how to do the same.
I loved her practical points, I will share them here:
- Up close and hands on. We are called forward into action. This involves physical touch, tenderness and compassion. Listening with our hearts, helping with our actions.
- Get beyond the stench. Lazarus had been dead for four days – we too, must press in beyond the stench and get involved. If we look at our own limitations and examine ourselves, we will get past serving for need to be met. We can’t smell our own smells and see our own sin unless we ask God to help us self-examine and move ahead.
- Be obedient. Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.” Whatever Jesus says to do, we must do it. Let our response time be little, our obedient time be quick.
- Stay focused and committed which will result in complete freedom. We’re all in a process –on a journey.
Pastor Nonda closed our time together with a quote, “The pressing and the crushing will result in God moving us forward.” Memorably, she sealed the teaching with a special tangible gift. We were each handed a tattered piece of muslim with Isaiah 61:1 printed on it, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Pastor Nonda’s helpers moved quickly through the crowd of about sixty women and one by one, each of us received the tattered piece of muslim, the grave clothes, if you will, of Lazarus. It was a moving scene, as many of us worshiped holding the scripture imprinted fabric overhead, some clasping it to their breast, yet others held it to their faces to blot away their tears. I chose to re-embrace and re-commit to the ministry of unwrapping. I want to help others remove their grave clothes. What this means for me is to strengthen my resolve to make time to listen, to pray over, and to be present for those God brings my way. This summer, let’s give ourselves permission to rest, to take in from God, to feast at his table of renewal. Maybe it will be during an event or a time where you least expect him to meet you and give you a gift. Will you notice? I hope so. I am praying for you.
Dig a Little Deeper: 2 Corinthians 4:5-15 “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”