Serving God Together [Day 29: TOGETHER]

I’ve mentioned earlier in this series that God has not granted us a ministry full of women for me to work with. In fact, this past Saturday we had a great attendance, but of the 45 people that showed up for service 2 were little girls and 3 were women. I guess I had these expectations because we had been told so many times that most often in overseas ministry, women are the ones who are faithful to church. In our little church plant, we have not found that to be true. I praise God for all the men God has brought into our ministry and for the young guys my husband is able to train — but where are all the women at?!?

Envy

I see other ladies in ministry who don’t have to look too far to find young women to work with in ministry. Selfies of coffee and open Bibles as they study together make me self-conscious of my lack-luster ladies’ ministry. I am about to finish discipleship lessons with the young lady I have been working with, and we are looking for someone else to study with. One girl we talked to said she has no interest in studying the Bible. The other mysteriously stopped answering my calls. I plan to continue working with this girl. She has grown so much, but I still long to see our influence grow as we grow together in the word of God. I know it will happen some day, but while I’m waiting it is hard to “stay in my lane” and not doubt what God will do.

Encouragement

Rather than envy my sisters in ministry that have at hand what I long for, I can rejoice with them in what God is doing and encourage them in faithfulness. The Bible teaches that we are one body in Christ (Romans 12:4). We all have our specific service to do and our parts to play in the great work of God. While my piece of the puzzle may feel small when held up against what another holds, the truth is it really is all in His hands.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash
Perspective

God calls me to faithfulness with what I’ve been given right now — no matter whether it fits my idea of all it should be. As I remain faithful with what I’m given and cheer on my sisters in their respective ministries, we can all rejoice together in the mysterious work of God. What a wonder that He uses each one of us in our little corners of the world and our small spheres of influence to accomplish His mission in the world!

God gives different gifts. He grants unique graces to each one of us. He gives some thriving ministries and others fledgling flocks that need constant tending. But He gives all of us Himself, and in Him we have relationship with one another. May I always be found faithful in my little work while encouraging my fellow kingdom workers in their own service to Him.

Eternal joy

We can rejoice together right now in what we see God doing. but just think of all we can praise God for when we reach our eternal home. We will see all the pieces of the puzzle perfectly pieced together and praise Him together forevermore.

I “make” God big in my life when I remain faithful in the work He he has given me to do while also supporting and encouraging my brothers and sisters in Christ in their service to the Lord. 

How can you encouraging a brother or sister in their ministry today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Me and My Three Audiences [Day 20: AUDIENCE]

I sit with my friend in her one-room home, and I take in all that she does from how she makes her tea to her preferences on dressing her son. I take note of what she watches on TV and what she says when she answers the phone. Much of what I have learned about my host culture has come through observing the behavior of others in this way. I play audience to everyone I meet here in attempt to understand, imitate, and appreciate their culture.

They don’t mind giving it right back. She asks me a laundry list of questions, mostly about why we do things differently than they do in regards to our children or dietary habits. She watches how I discipline my kids and inquires about my choice of fingernail polish. It used to bother me, feeling picked apart, but I know that she is seeking to understand my culture. I also know, that because our family lives somewhat counter-culturally, her whys will lead me to opportunities to talk about Christ’s difference in our life. She — and by God’s grace, many others — is my audience.

In all these encounters, I have a great opportunity to showcase Christ. I don’t live my life performing for Him because I know He is perfectly pleased with me because of the blood sacrifice. However, I do wish to honor that sacrifice in my daily interactions. Ultimately, He is the audience I am acutely aware is with me and watching at all times. I want to acquaint each member of my audience with Him so they may also have the wonderful gift of His presence in their lives.

Photos by Kelly Rockhold Photography

Three Audiences of My Life

I am someone’s audience

This can be something healthy like learning culture or it can be entirely something else. I recently unfollowed a bunch of accounts on Instagram. While I can’t necessarily recall why I started following theses accounts in the first place, I realized that few of them were feeding me as they should but were rather tempting me towards unhealthy comparison and envy. I had willingly become a part of their audience without concern for what this decision would do for my heart. This lesson is not applicable only to my online life but to my daily life as well. I must be mindful of who and what I allow to influence me.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Other people are a part of my audience

Generally, it’s just two little people, but it still holds true — there are people watching me. This may include people in our ministry, in our neighborhood, or in my little corner of the internet world. While I do not seek the approval of others, I desire to live a life that uplifts the name of Christ and blesses others. I do not perform for my audience, but in the Spirit I try to model who I am made to be in Jesus.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

I should seek only to please one audience

I hesitated to write about this because the whole “Audience of One” thing seems so cliche, but there’s a reason it has caught on. The temptation to perform for others or present our lives to be a certain way is real and ever-present — especially in the digital age. I don’t perform for others, but I don’t perform for God either. That is, I don’t work to please Him. I know because I’m covered in the blood, He is already pleased with me. Instead, I seek to honor that great sacrifice by living in a way that glorifies Him and celebrates my standing with Him.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).

I’m watching. They’re watching. But most importantly, HE is watching.

I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all my interactions.

What can you tell me about your audiences?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

To Rejoice is Greater than to Rush [Day 15: WHEN]

I wrote the following post for Five Minute Friday a few months ago, and I thought it was so fitting for this series. When my little life is less than what I want it to be or I feel stuck in my current circumstances, I don’t have to continue my pattern of waiting, wishing, and whining. I don’t have to rush from one thing to the next in search of something that will fill me. I can do the will of God even when my feelings war against my joy.

To Rejoice is Greater Than to Rush

When will the kids grow up? When is our ministry going to take off? When are we going to get to go out on a date together again? These thoughts come in waves as I rush from one event to the next always wishing the next more comfortable phase would usher itself in while I’m scrambling to catch up to the chaos of the one that came before. I want the fruits of my labors like yesterday, and I really wish we could just get a hurry up on this harvest we’re waiting for. Oh, and when is it okay to rest? Here I am again waiting, wishing, and whining.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In this rush which seems far too routine to me, I wonder what I am missing. I don’t have to search long to find my answer.

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It really couldn’t be more clear than that. While the present may not be savory, it can be sanctifying. I can daily find reason to rejoice rather than rush to the next better thing. The King of the Universe reigns also over my days. I fail never to have the opportunity to commune with him as friend with friend. And I happen to believe that this encouragement to give thanks in every thing is good advice for today, tomorrow and this season and the next one. Actually, forever because I’m told it’s God’s will concerning me, and I know He won’t change His mind on that matter. I want to see what this looks like in daily practice. Do you?

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to do His will be rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks in every circumstance of my little life. 

What can you rejoice in today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Behind Closed Doors [Day 11: DOOR]

I shared yesterday about my identity crisis of sorts which occurred after my son began to attend pre-school. I suddenly found myself with time on my hands — which we know for a mom of young children is a strange feeling! While I’ve always preferred to be out and about or spending time with people, I found that a lot of my time was spent alone. I do have a sweet lady that comes to help me complete the never ending task of cleaning a home in a dusty country, but other than encounters with her and neighbors on my morning and afternoon walks, I had little interaction. More dangerously, I had little accountability.

No one knew how I was spending my day. No one would know what is happening behind closed doors. Thankfully, I had managed to cultivate my devotional and housework habits while my little ones were still home all day. I just found I got them done a lot faster now! I did love to linger in my Bible reading and sip my coffee in peace. But what would I do with the two or three remaining hours before I would go get my son?

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
A new “to-do”

I created a new sort of to-do list to keep my thoughts and plans ordered. It only listed these things: read, write, rest, create, connect, care. I plan to do another post on exactly what each of these entails, but it kept me mainly focused on being in the word and keeping busy while also making time to take care of my body and practice hospitality. Otherwise, I know I would have had a daily date with Netflix. We actually canceled our subscription months ago. Each thing didn’t get accomplished every day, but my list kept me on task until my house filled up again in the afternoon. It also kept me available for my husband and children should they need me during the day. I wasn’t nailed down to some big plan every day, just a few little things that could be squeezed in here or there or rolled into the next day’s list if necessary.

Daily questions

Aside from the to-do list, there are questions I need to ask myself about what happens behind closed doors:

  • Is who I am in private who I am in public? Or what I would want people to perceive me to be?
  • Am I spending my time in idleness (looking at you, Instagram) or in a way that honors Christ?
  • Would I be comfortable with someone I am discipling seeing who I am behind closed doors — or looking at my internet history or mirroring my TV screen?
  • Does my alone time indulge my desires or lift up the needs of others?

As I ask myself these questions I keep Scriptures like this one in mind,

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

Time to grow

No one will probably praise me for staying home a few days of the week, but I know this is my training ground. I shared with you that my prayer is for my schedule to fill up with opportunities for discipleship and ministry. This does not mean that I should wander through this time aimlessly, but rather spend it intentionally. I should be seeking God and growing in my knowledge of Him. As I grow in the Word, I grow in my ability to lead others. I know the Lord will use this time in my life for the rest of my life and ministry.

For now, I want even my empty hours to honor Jesus.

I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all the time He gives me — including my much longed for personal time.  

How can you honor Christ behind closed doors?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

How to Embrace the Smallness of Your Life [Day 10: HOW]

We started our son in pre-school just before he turned three years old. While I don’t feel a compulsion to explain myself to the internet world, I believe we had valid reasons for sending him. The reasons were based mainly on culture and our desire for him to have time with other children — something he was not getting at church or around the neighborhood. In the long run, I’ve seen that it has been so good for him. There are days the mommy guilt creeps back in when I compare myself to some rockstar homeschool mom, but I recognize that God guides us to lead our families in different ways all for His glory.

I suffered an identity crisis when my kids were gone for several hours a day. I didn’t know how to fill my time. I was restless yet idle much of the time. I was wrecked by the insignificance of my existence and resented that no one needed me most of the waking hours of the day — which is funny because I had moments of resentment about being constantly needed in the newborn years. The heart is so fickle.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

In the last year, God has done a work in my heart to train me to embrace the smallness of my life. I’ve learned to trust Him in every aspect and to use me in little ways as I seek to serve Him with the time He gives me each day. He has used the empty hours to make me fall in love with Him more than ever and revel in the life He has given me. While I could never present an exhaustive list which ensures this outcome, I do believe there are a few things we can do to truly embrace the unique lives and callings God gives each one of us.

Repent Sin

Realizing that that my longing for something that God had not granted me was a straight up sin was a big deal for me. I also had to take a hard look at myself and see that many of my ambitions were not God-given but were purely self-motivated. Recognizing the sin, I must repent over and over as I stumble each day. Moving forward, I must make choices that reflect heart change by the Spirit’s hand.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1).

Give Thanks

This is the anecdote for many of my problems. I must learn to be truly grateful for the opportunities and graces God gives to me. Every good thing comes from Him. I will see that He has done great things in my life if I pause to give thanks for each one of them. Even the trials of life or daily disappointments come from His hand, and I can trust He will use it for my good according to His infinite wisdom.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Say “No” to Self

I must surrender my dreams and desires each day to the Lord. I have to decide day by day to trust Him with my collection of concerns and cares. Dying to self, I make way for the Lord to work through me without interference from me. This is the “return” of the repentance. I turn from my sin of selfishness, eyes on Jesus all the way.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Enjoy the Lord

One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 37:4 which admonishes believers to delight in the Lord. The promise attached is that He will give you the desires of your heart. I’ve come to understand over time, however, that this doesn’t mean He gives me everything I want. As I delight in my relationship with Him, loving and learning more of Him, He changes me. He changes my desires to mirror His and accomplishes His will in my life. One of the greatest purposes and privileges of a child of God is to know and enjoy the Savior. When my focus is on loving Jesus, service is an outflow of my full heart for Him.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

I “make” God big when I embrace the small role He gives me to play in this big world and just enjoy being His.