Monday, September 23, 2013

Ministry Minded

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’~Matthew 25:37-40

How many times have you ever had this said to you, or spoken words like these to others?

"You do an amazing job of ministering to others!"

"What a wonderful ministry that man has now, after all those years of battling his drug and alcohol addictions!"

"You know, your family really is your ministry!"

Back in June of 2000, after emerging from over 40 years in the Catholic faith and then becoming a part of a church body of an entirely different denomination, I found myself very confused when people would throw the terms 'ministry' or 'minister' (as a verb) around like a softball to one another.   Minister, as far as I was concerned, was the preacher guy (or gal, depending upon how literally your church takes 1 Timothy 2:11-12); to me, it was a noun, not a verb. 

For awhile, I just chalked it up to another bit of Christian lingo I'd have to get used to hearing.  I never went through the trouble to look up the meaning, surmising that minister, when used as a verb, meant 'caring for others,' and therefore, a ministry was a group of church folk who cared for others. Easy enough.  

I was close. The word 'ministry' comes from the Greek term 'diakoneo,'  which translates 'to serve',  so a minister is a person who serves.  I guess we all could be considered ministers. You don't need to be ordained and sporting a white collar or wearing a zucchetto to comfort a grieving parent or to hand a homeless person a bottle of cold water and a sandwich.  True Christian ministry really just means lovingly, humbly, even joyfully serving the needs of others. To paraphrase the the Navy commercial from the late 70s/early 80s: 

"It's not just a vocation -- it's a lifestyle."

Yet, if you don't view it that way, much like I didn't for years, having a ministry sounds like just another pretty cool thing to sign up for and be involved with.  Glamorous, even, at first. 

But if you don't view it as a lifestyle or a life calling, it can quickly snowball into something that's more about YOU and less about those whom you serve. 

I've found there are LOTS of different ministries out there. To name a few:

Homeless ministry
Prayer ministry
Men's/Women's/Youth/Children's ministry
Prison ministry
Special Needs ministry
Shut-Ins visitation ministry
Cancer ministry
Wheelchair ministry
Church Bus ministry
Greeting card ministry
Helping Hands/Meals ministry
Water bottle ministry
Coffee ministry

Wow -- so many ministries,  so little time.  Some sounding so rewarding. Which one to choose?

Actually, I've found -- and found very recently, I might add -- 

that it's not US who do the choosing.  It's God.  

It is He who chooses and calls us to minister to, to serve, WHATEVER you want to call it, those whom Jesus referred to as: 
the least of these

Hmmm.....and just who ARE the least of these? To me, it's a fairly important question.

According to God’s Word in Matthew 25:40, whatever service we have done for and whatever loving compassion we have shown towards someone who was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned or just a stranger in need...“the least of these”....we have done for or shown towards Jesus Christ Himself. 

I also find it to be a difficult question (perhaps you do, too). I'll address that in an upcoming post.

But for now...please give it some thought.  When you hear or read the phrase, the least of these, who or what comes to YOUR mind? 

Whatsoever you do,
for the least of My people 
That you do unto Me.

When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was homeless, you opened your door;
When I was naked, you gave me your coat.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was weary, you helped me find rest.
When I was anxious, you calmed all my fears.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When in a prison, you came to my cell;
When on a sickbed, you cared for my needs.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

When I was laughed at, you stood by my side.
When I was happy, you shared in my joy.
Now enter into the home of my Father.

Whatsoever you do,
for the least of My people 
That you do unto Me. ~ Catholic Hymn

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Taste and See (Join Me Over At The Pure Sacrifice)

Today, I have the sweet privilege of being a guest blogger over at  The Pure Sacrifice,' the blog of a wonderful young woman and sister-in-Christ, Deanna Wiseburn.  

Deanna and I 'met' here in the blogosphere last year, and I've not only seen the tremendous growth in her relationship with Christ, but I've been taken aback (in a good way) at how Deanna has obediently stepped WAY out of her comfort zone to serve our Lord in ways she probably NEVER imagined!  To me, Deanna is living proof of Philippians 4:13 -- she CAN do all things through Christ, who strengthens her!

My hope is once you've finished reading my post, 'Taste And See', you'll spend time looking around and digging deeper into Deanna's inspiring and thought-provoking writings. She has a humble, sincere and gentle spirit, and writes from a heart surrendered completely to Jesus Christ.

But hey...don't just take my word for it. Please click here to head on over with me to The Pure Sacrifice and check it out for yourself.

See you there!

Monday, September 9, 2013

"I Need You!"

I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked; finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch,   pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God. ~ Psalm 40:1-3, The Message

There come times in the midst of our harsh trials and deep sorrows, our anxieties and fears, our confusion and loneliness when we find ourselves in an abyss; a spiritual dead zone, or broken down alongside a dark, unfamiliar and barren stretch of life's road.

We're lost.

We're weary.

And we're frightened.

So much so that all we can do is send up a flare in the form of a desperate, simplistic prayer, in the hopes that Someone will hear us and come to our rescue.

Nothing wordy or eloquent necessary here.  Four words or less will often do. Words often shouted.  Most times whispered.   Almost always accompanied by tears. 

A plead for help.

A cry for mercy.  

A prayer of abandon and surrender.

"Lord, I need You!"

Joining together with all of you for whom this simple, yet powerful prayer is lifesaving and life giving....

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