Ministry


This year has been CRAZY!!! I know that isn’t an excuse for my lack of posts, though. I’ve been feeling kinda unspiritual lately. I can’t really explain it better than that. Here I am a short week before ordination and feeling…blah spiritually. I’ve decided to take action! And I have. Hopefully my action will get me out of this funk.

You're Invited!

Directions

So, yeah, my wonderful hubby and I will be getting ordained on Thursday, May 8th. I’m very excited! We have worked for this and I will be glad to have accomplished yet another goal in my life. I created an invitation using digi-scrap items. This is Shauna of Pineapple Plantation’s Fancy Pants kit. If you’ll be around Detroit, here is the invite:

I’m sure you’re wondering what I’ve been doing with myself all this time. I am too! lol! No, really, our family had the flu two time this year and that wiped us out for a good 5 or 6 weeks! In my free time, I have been diligently digi-scrapping. I just got into this whole new world. I really love it. I’m a huge fan of Photoshop and I never really got into paper scrapping because of the time, cost and space needed. I really love digi-scrapping. In fact, I am the lead moderator on a new digi-scrapping site. I love it at the Scrap Orchard! Here is a recent layout that I did. I think it’s my best ever! If you like it, click it and leave me some comment love! All of the credits are in the gallery.

Two Peas in a Pod Dreaming

What do you think? I was going for whimsical. I think I did it!

So, we are leaving on Sunday sometime to go down to the campground, owned by the Assemblies of God Michigan District, where we will spend a couple of R & R days and meet my in-laws. They are watching our kids for us while we are at District Council. Tuesday we will head to District Council. Then Thursday everyone, including my family, will meet in Detroit to see us get ordained. I’m super excited! Can you tell? One of the pastors in Detroit offered us their church’s missionary house to stay in, FREE of Charge, while we are there. Isn’t that awesome? We have the whole 4 bedroom house so our family can stay with us Thursday night. Yay!

God always provides for us even when we don’t know how he will do it! Praise the Lord!

Well, now you know I’m still alive. I do feel rather bad about not writing lately. But, I should have plenty to write about our ordination, so look for that in a week or so!

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Well, writing my sermon as if I were writing a blog post seems to have worked well. I was able to more easily change things up and add stuff that I hadn’t typed. Usually I am to scared to stray off my notes or manuscript at all. So, thanks again to Jerrell Jobe for the great suggestion. I wish I had it on video so that I could compare the new way with the old way, but I don’t. I hope everyone’s Sunday was great!

Here is my sermon in blog format. Let’s see how this works. Thanks, Jerrell Jobe for the idea. He just suggested I try writing my sermon as if I were writing a blog post so that it would be easier for me to preach it without reading it and so it will sound more like me. Does that make sense? Thank you, also to PS (a.k.a. purple) for her sermon that I so enjoyed reading. I took some of her ideas and integrated them into my sermon. Also, thanks to St. Inuksuk for the bone idea. Lastly, thanks to Gino and 10b travelling on Flickr for use of their photos. Well, I will preach it tomorrow, so I will let you know if the knew format helps with the preaching. It was fun to write this way.

Today I want to talk to you about God life-giving breath. But first I have talk to you about dry bones. Ezekiel has a vision that is recorded in Ezekiel 37. Verses 1-6 say:

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.'”

The Lord took Ezekiel to a valley of bones. Some commentators believe that this was the same valley that Ezekiel was commissioned at in chapter 3. That would make this vision seem very real to Ezekiel. Maybe God wanted him to know what an important real message this was.

The Lord led him around the valley. Ezekiel could have just glanced around and saw what he needed to see: a valley of dry bones, but God wanted him to feel full weight of the vision of bones. Ezekiel saw that there were many (probably thousands) of bones. Which meant that there were many people represented by the bones, perhaps an entire nation. He also saw that the bones were very dry. There was nothing left on them. These bones were dead. They were without hope.

Otis enjoying a ham bone by Gino on FlickrMost of us here have eaten ham. It is Pastor Chris and I’s favorite meat. He makes the world’s best double glazed honey ham. When we get done eating our ham, there is still meat on the bone, the bone is a dark color and there is still marrow and fat attached. These bones were clean and dry. These were more like a ham bone after you’ve given it to your dog and he has picked it clean, after it is has been bleached white with age and exposure.

The word “dry,” in the Old Testament, referred to raisins (dried out, shriveled), hungry people (dry, empty stomachs), chaff (the dry outer hull of wheat) and trees (especially in the desert climate they are in need of life-giving water).

I’ve been waiting a long time for love by 10b travelling on FlickrThe Lord asked Ezekiel a question. Can these bones live? Ezekiel answers well. He could have said no, but that wouldn’t have given God credit for all He can do. Ezekiel was probably thinking, “Well, they are pretty dead. It’s not likely.” But he realized that God was powerful enough that He probably could do it. So, he answers, “O Lord God, you know.” It was a safe answer, but it also shows that he knew God was powerful.

The Lord then tells him to prophesy to the bones. Now that is a strange thing to do. Ezekiel probably thought, “God, why are you making me do this? You could do it. What do you need me for?” That’s what I would have thought. Who wants to talk to dry bones? I’d be afraid someone was hiding behind some rocks watching and they would start laughing. But Ezekiel is obedient and prophesied saying:

“Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

Ezekiel did what he was told. I wonder what he thought would happen. It’s easy to be cynical and not expect anything. Especially since Ezekiel had prophesied many times before for God and he had always had to speak words of death, destruction and exile. Sometimes, as a pastor, I wonder if what I preach will stir anyone to action. I expect that while he did what God asked of him, Ezekiel felt the same way and didn’t really expect anything to happen. They were dry bones after all. You can’t get any worse audience than that! I think that might be worse than having no audience at all.

But, he says, “suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.” They were being resurrected! What an amazing moment that must have been! I know that when I see something happening in our church, like being asked to start a Sunday evening Bible study, I get excited. This rattling noise was like the sound of battle or an earthquake or of God’s impressive glory. The same word is used in chapter 3 when God lifts Ezekiel up and takes him where he is to prophesy. Ezekiel knew that the sound he heard was God behind him. Though he hadn’t seen it, he had heard God’s glory. So then, he looks at the bones and sees that they have muscle and flesh and skin. But, he notes that there is still no breath in them.

So God tells Ezekiel to prophesy again. Ezekiel prophesies saying,

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”

“Breath,” in Hebrew is the same word that is also used for spirit and wind. The way God tells him to say it emphasizes the determined will of God to “cause (the breath/Spirit/life) to enter their bodies. Isn’t that powerful? They needed God’s Spirit, his life-giving breath.

And what happens? The once dry bones are now alive and breathing. Verse ten says that they “stood on their feet, a vast multitude.” Wow. In Hebrew, the verse uses the equivalent of two verys in other words, a very, very large group. An exceedingly large multitude of people.

So, what did this vision mean? Well, God tells us very clearly what it means. Sometimes, he’s not so clear as this instance. In verses 11-14, God says:

“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'”

At the time of Ezekiel, the Israelites were far from their home, having been taken captive by Babylon. They were suffering physically as well as spiritually. This was all brought on by their own sin and God was working to bring them back to Him through these trials. But they wondered what had happened to God. They felt alone and didn’t know who they were. The Israelites felt hopeless. They felt like dried up bones, dead.

Ezekiel is to prophesy once again, but to his own people. This message was to give them hope and bring them back to God. Here God is promising them that he will resurrect them; bring them back to life and their home. He is foretelling his action so that they will now it was His doing when it happens. Through their political and physical restoration, He will restore them spiritually. He will breathe His life back into them. And this will start by breathing hope into them with the message Ezekiel will prophesy.

Not too many of the Israelites listened to him until some years later when Cyrus the Great of Babylon allowed displaced people to return home in 538 B.C.

Now that we understand the message and the meaning of the message for the Israelites, what is the meaning to us? There are all kinds of things that cause us to feel spiritually dried up. What have you let come between you and God? What fears and anxieties keep you from living the resurrected life? In John 11:25, Jesus, just before breathing life back into Lazarus, tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” God can breathe new life into you today.

So let go of whatever is keeping you from living the resurrected life. Maybe it’s concern over your finances or who the next president will be. Maybe you have medical issues or a relationship that isn’t healthy like it should be. Maybe you fear the violence in the world or are addicted to something that keeps you from God. Maybe you feel alone, you wonder if there really is a God. You wonder if God does actually care about you. Whatever is making you feel dry and dead, give it to God. He will breathe new life into you. He will bring restoration to your soul. He loves you deeply, more than we can even comprehend. He only longs to bring you back to a healthy life in Him. All you need to do is accept the gift of life he offers and give your problems and questions to Him. Don’t let your problems drag you into the grave any longer.

I’m sorry I’ve been so silent the last week or so. I’ve been obsessed with a new project. My section, in the Assemblies of God, Michigan District, wanted a place online where we can keep in touch and my wonderful hubby volunteered me to create a social network on ning.com. I was embarrassed he just volunteered me while I was sitting there, but in the end I’m glad he did. Sometimes, he is like God in that he sees my potential better than I ever can.

I ended up creating the network for the entire Michigan district. For all the ministers and wives and lay who minister. It’s like Facebook, but it’s private. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I wish you all were in Michigan. I invited everyone I had e-mail addresses for in Michigan. If you who are reading this, are in the leadership in an Assembly of God church in the Michigan district and you want an invite, let me know in the comments. If you fill out the e-mail address spot in the form, then you don’t need to leave it in your comment. Here is a link if you just want to request a invite through michiganag.ning.com.

We now have 66 members with 156 invites out! I’m so excited. I advertised it at the Women in Ministry Breakaway I went to this past weekend. Even the assistant superintendent and the director or camp ministries and district supervised churches have joined. It’s so exciting to see something I created be so successful. It was all Chris’ idea, but I did the work. We make a great team. I’m terrible with ideas for some reason.

This weekend was the best breakaway ever for me because through the internet (Facebook and MySpace) I’ve kept up with other women and I knew so many this year. I’m really starting to feel at home in our district and I love it. This should help even more. I’m terrible with names, but with the people’s face in front of me every day, I will remember them next time I see them.

Our speaker was Kristi Hollis from The Power Place. She is a very colorful person. She admits that herself. She has 25 differnt paint colors in her house. Is that even possible??? Anyway, I didn’t know what to expect at first, but she really had a lot of good stuff to say about living in the fishbowl as one in ministry. She talked about realizing that there is a purpose for every moment in our lives and we need to be okay with the moment if we want to succeed at our call. The most important part of our call is love; loving our husband, then our children and then those God has given us in our ministry. She challenged us to come up with a plan to make the changes necessary to fulfill our call.

I have many things I need to change about myself. The ones I thought of were my selfishness, poor housekeeping, lack of quality time with my husband and lack of time spent with God each day. I don’t give God enough of my time.

I am really nervous tonight. Tomorrow night, Chris and I are tag-team preaching for the first time. That is enough to make me nervous, but we are also acting. I am Mary Magdalene and he is Peter. We are doing this for our community services leading up to Easter. Each week a different pastor is a different person from the Gospel of John. The problem is that I don’t act. I never have and I think it may be the first thing in a long time that I have truly felt fear about doing. I can’t even seem to practice with Chris. My mouth is just like sewn shut. I think that I will be able to do it, but not until I’m in front of everyone and don’t have any choice. Of course that worries me because what if I’m wrong and I still can’t do it??? I think I can, I think I can…

My friend, Mary Beth Bradshaw sent an e-mail with her blog post this morning about a contest to get a scholarship to the She Speaks conference. At first, I thought that I wouldn’t mind going, but that I probably could not write a convincing post about why I should recieve the scholarship.

My husband also received her e-mail, though, and asked me about it. And if he thinks something is a good idea, I usually re-evaluate. In the process of re-evaluating I read more about it. I think it would be a great conference to go to. I really need help with the delivery of my sermons and they have speaker evaluation sessions. 10-12 women evaluate you on (quoted from their website):

Introduction: How well did you open? Did it capture the attention of the audience?

Message: How well did you develop your subject? (Example: with story or knowledge of subject)

Support Material: Your use of support, such as Scripture, quotes, references, etc. Did you read from the Bible, a book, etc?

Style: How well is your use of grammar, volume and ability to speak clearly?

Conclusion: Did you build to a climax, end strong, and get your point across?

Delivery: Did you make eye contact, connect with the audience, and show passion about your subject?

Physical Appearance: Were you dressed professionally and appropriately? Were you sincere, believable, warm, and effective, etc?

This is exactly what I need. They also have a blogging track and a women’s ministry track. I would love to know how to get the women in my church motivated to spend some time together. And I would also love to be a better blogger. There have really been some many things that I have come to desire improvement on lately.

Unfortunately, I found out too late to get in on the scholarship. So, if anyone wants to donate $525 for me to go, just let me know! 😉 It would be so fun to road trip it with May Beth! I hope that Mary Beth wins. But, I’m sure that God has His hand in who will win. I pray that it is the person who will benefit most from it.

Well, I finally have a picture of the present my hubby made me for Christmas. I said I would write about it in a previous post, but I haven’t gotten around to it until now. Well, he made me a charm bracelet that is so much more than a charm bracelet. I wrote a while back about my idea for a charm bracelet to help my keep myself straight as to what I’m doing. I’ve got so many hats that I get all confused. So, for Christmas, my hubby made my charm bracelet for me. The picture shows what each charm is for. Each charm is a different aspect of my life. Right now I am being just me by blogging, so I’m the lady with the crazy flowing hair (like in my blog banner at the top of this page). As you may have noticed, the wife charm is a little risqué, but I suppose that’s because the hubby picked it out. 🙂

rosary-bracelet-r.jpg

He had the ingenious idea to make it with a rosary so that I can use it to pray, too. I can use to pray that God will help me to be better at all of these rolls! Of course, I don’t pray Hail Marys. Chris suggested that I pray breath prayers*. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun wrote about breath prayers on pages 204-206 of her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us. It was one of the books Chris had to read for a masters class.

To pray a breath prayer you pick a name for God like Abba and then you say a one line desire of your heart. So, I would say “Abba” (as I breathe in) and pray, “Help me to be a good a mother as you are a Father to me” (as I exhale). I haven’t actually done this yet. Chris suggested I pick a different name of God for each charm and I am just starting to look into it and decide.

The rosary had to be modified to fit my wrist as a bracelet, so there is one less bead for each decade (the ten beads between each of the charms. That just means that I have to count the first bead that hangs down with the charm as both 10 of the decade before it and 1 of the decade after it. I hope that explanation is clearer than it seems to me. On the beads that are right above each of the charms, I pray the Lord’s Prayer. The second picture shows how the bracelet looks when it is off.

After I decide on my breath prayers I may share those with you, too. But, you must admit that he did a pretty good job with my present, huh? Way to go hubby!

bracelet-open-r.jpg

*Disclaimer: This is by no means how you should always pray. This is a prayer that helps you to continually pray throughout the day when you cannot stop what you are doing. You can still pray while doing other things.

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