john330a week ago today i had the honor of sharing in the closing general session of group’s 2013 kidmin conference.  our theme for the day was “celebrate Jesus” and i was about to burst with excitement to share what i know God placed on my heart.  we looked at john the baptist in the first chapter of john.  wow, did he ever get celebrating Jesus.  john the baptist truly knew who he wasn’t (“i am not the Messiah.” verse 20), knew it wasn’t about him (“i am the ‘voice’ calling in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” verse 23) and he knew the true worth of the One he was privilege to serve. (“the straps of whose sandal i am not worthy to unite.” verse 27)

through looking closely at john the baptist’s example, God showed me how we can so easily make ministry about us when we are simply the lamp stand for the Light of the world – Jesus.  i was convicted about how the praise of man and innocent encouragement can quickly lead me to try to steal some of His glory!  i have great strides to make in making it all about Him. “He must increase, i must decrease.” john 3:30.

as i continued to study the book of john, i looked for who Jesus was in each chapter. so i set out to memorize a truth of Jesus (and literally just a tiny glimpse of all He is) for each of the 21 chapters.  how could i talk about celebrating Jesus without actually doing so? i know i haven’t begun to grasp it all, but boy how i needed those truths.  see it turns out that i had some unexpected, additional responsibilities placed on me at the conference. i would be lying to say at moments i didn’t have the tendency to be overwhelmed.  what a great gift from Jesus to be able to get away, alone with Him, and recite each of these 21 truths.  see, i thought they were only for my talk on monday morning, but the Jesus in each verse seems to be who sustained me throughout the entire weekend.  here is what i kept saying over and over to myself and also how i ended my talk on celebrating Jesus.


– in chapter one Jesus is the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. 
– in chapter two He is the mighty man of miracles.
– in chapter three Jesus is Savior and the only way to be born again.  
– in chapter four Jesus is the Living Water.
– in chapter five He is Healer and equal to God.
– in chapter six Jesus is the Bread of Life.  
– in chapter seven Jesus is the Christ.
– in chapter eight Jesus is the Light of the world.
– in chapter nine He makes the blind see.
– in chapter ten Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
– in chapter eleven He is the Resurrection and the Life. 
– in chapter twelve He is the Son of Man lifted up.
– in chapter thirteen He is the humble servant. 
– in chapter fourteen Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
– in chapter fifteen He is the True Vine.
– in chapter sixteen He is Overcomer.
– in chapter seventeen Jesus prays for us.
– in chapter eighteen He is called Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews.
– in chapter nineteen Jesus, our Savior, was crucified for us. 
– in chapter twenty Jesus is ALIVE!!!!
– in chapter twenty-one Jesus appears to His disciples, tells Peter to feed His sheep, and we learn that Jesus did so many other things that the world could not hold the volumes of books it would take to record them!  

i have loved my time in john (and have much more time ahead there), but God did something with the truths in those scriptures that not only carried me throughout the conference but encourage and hold me accountable each day as i go forward. i am thankful that even a small glimpse of Jesus shows us that He is enough. He can be our all and all.  He is able and He is worthy to be celebrated!!! what do you need to be reminded about Jesus today?

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i have been blessed, challenged, encouraged, and stretched in many ways in my new ministry position. i am grateful to serve alongside a supervisor/friend that gets ministry and me! she gently guides, patiently listens (bless her heart), thoughtfully instructs, holds me accountable, and personally prays for and with me!  i am a recipient of her many gifts of leadership and am grateful. then, she took it to the next level with the gift of sabbath. 

i am not surprising anyone in service when i say how emotionally exhausting and spiritually depleting ministry can be.  maybe she saw that on our faces as we sat in an ed staff meeting on the edge of summer with to-do lists a mile long.  my idea of help would have been an effective way to get more done or at least three more paid assistants. 😉  i was so wrong. instead of talking new methods, more people, and longer hours, we were challenged with the ironic response of rest! we were taught from and gifted with a copy of 24/6 written by matthew sleuth, md.  that would have been plenty, but then we were handed an accountability card that required action on our part. for the three months of summer, busy months in kidmin, we were to pick one work day a month for a personal sabbath.  we were instructed to not schedule anything on that day except for time with Jesus.  no meetings, no “work”, no email, and no office time until late in the afternoon.  best. gift. ever.

my days of sabbath have challenged me to slow down, sit, and just be with Jesus instead of constantly “doing” for Him.  i experienced extended quiet andphoto 2 prayer times.  i literally stopped and smelled the flowers (hydrangeas, my favorite).  sermon downloads were listened to and Bible study times were unhurried.  i knew i appreciated this time, but not until my last scheduled sabbath was interrupted by unforeseeable circumstances did i know how greatly these  days ministered to me. my three month challenged will now be extended to year round so that i can truly be the Christ-centered leader i am called to be.

i don’t know where this blog post finds you. if you are in ministry i can only imagine how weary, stretched, or worn you may be. maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop doing and begin stopping. the thing your heart may need most is not more trying, but sweet sabbath rest.

*i would love to hear about your personal sabbath experiences. 

here is part two of my friend stephanie’s guest blog post.  you can first part one here.   

At the end of last year God quietly spoke to my heart again, as I felt He did the year before. He challenged me, since I was able (in His strength) to make a daily decision to run and practice the exertion of my will over my what I feel like doing for an entire year (one day at a time). He challenged me to commit 20 minutes a day to Him (roughly how long it takes to run 2 miles) for a year. So this is what I set out to do this year. I set a timer so it’s measurable. I write in my journal to record everything God teaches me. I get on my knees and on my face, I daily offer myself to the Lord, throwing off all opinions, excuses, expectations and plans about me, about Him, and about that time. He made it clear I was to practice being still and knowing He is God. I was to learn to stop and just BE STILL, to just BE me (without masks, without hiding), to BE exposed, to listen to His Voice, listen for His opinion, to let Him teach me the Word — to just BE in His presence and acknowledge Him as God. This felt up-side-down and backwards for days. This was different than my usual definition of a “quiet time” where I get all my devotionals out, put them in a pile and read through each one at a time to see, what “speaks” to me and then I do my Bible study or read a book or listen to a song etc. and then I would go on about my day after checking that off my list, feeling good about myself. This kind of “quiet time” was based on me being in control, sometimes it felt forced, I was attempting to experience God through other peoples experiences. Not that these things are bad, we are meant to encourage one another with our experiences with God. I just can’t sustain my soul on these things, I must personally BE in His presence have His first hand fresh manna, His daily bread, His living water, His Word revealed in the clarity of His light. I did not realize it but I was so thin and shallow spiritually because I was trying to fulfill my spirit with things & pleasures of the world, (possessions, people’s approval, good works, food, pleasure) and when I did meet with God it often tended to be processed, filtered down, experiences with God. It’s like the difference between reading a book about someone or being in personal, connected, raptured relationship with a Jesus, to feel His touch and hear His voice. Something was missing in my walk with God. I was missing Him, starving for Him, His presence, His voice, His revelation. Yes, I’ve had those times of “revelation” and experience with Him but that would be here and there. I am designed to BE in His life-changing presence every single day – my spirit is so desperately hungry for it. This 20-time was to be careful, sacred, open, in His agenda, under His control, His timing, His teaching. Some days, not much happens, but that is ok.  He assures me the process is slow and steady like a endurance running, but other days He moves mountains. Either day is progress. Either day is being with the Creator of the Universe (what a privilege).

So back to my family, when I made this cautious commitment to meet with the Lord everyday, I had the fear of failure staring me in the face (again), but God proved to me that my commitment, my will, could overcome my feelings (I practiced that every day the year before). A miraculous thing happened for me. The commitment shut down the conversation I had with myself of whether or not I would do it or had time for it or would run from God or shut Him out. I was going to do it no matter what – just like the running. And even if I did fail, I live in a relationship of grace with God What did I have to loose? And it’s interesting cause the running commitment started with unity with my husband – to do something for him (complete his year of running) and now my husband has joined me with his own

Josh's (1st Grade) illustration: a scroll (God's word) in a treasure box in a heart and in a cross.
Josh’s (1st Grade) illustration: a scroll (God’s word) in a treasure box in a heart and in a cross.

commitment to meet with the Lord each day and it is transforming his life. My oldest son Josh who is 7 years old said, “I wanna do it too momma”. Each time I meet with God, he meets with God… he has met with God every day of the year so far. Before long, my other son Jayden (6) decided he was missing out and wanted also to take part in this time. So we all, every day, set the timer and our whole house stops and acknowledges God (for 20 minutes). Sometimes we meet God in our closets, sometimes we meet with God outside, and sometimes we just find a spot on the floor we can each be alone with God (together). It’s a humbling thing to see my home stop and honor God, to see my boys learning how to have a posture of praying, of being still and laying face down, of drawing pictures in their journal of what a verse means to them, seeing the prayers they write thanking God for helping them eat a vegetable or praise Him for making dogs or for healing their brother after he had been sick.

Jayden's (Kindergarten) Illustration: Jayden and Jesus together - "God why is the moon in the sky?"
Jayden’s (Kindergarten) Illustration: Jayden and Jesus together – “God why is the moon in the sky?”


And although we meet for only 20 minutes, I have to confess there is a secret to this 20-time. It is a time that starts but it does not stop. God has used this time as an opening of the door to Him each day, acknowledging and seeking Him first and from there everything else is added. God has been using this time to speak to me, quiet my heart, fill me up so that His love spills over into the rest of my day and ultimately into others lives. It’s a natural overflow. And I have discovered that me getting myself in His presence and out of the way, I am actually seeing consistent traction in my walk with Him, because I’m no longer running from Him, hiding from Him, each day, not matter what my mood, no matter my failures, I come back to Him again. My main job is to show up, offer my body as a living sacrifice for this is my spiritual act of worship. Seek Him first, love Him most, and listen to His voice only. Then, I am able to love my family and others as an overflow of how much I love God first. This is a year commitment that I’m now convinced will be a lifetime commitment for me to not let a day go by (if it’s within my power) that I do not get on my knees and face and acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33),

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)

Josh's illustration of scripture: Josh trusting by thinking of Jesus.
Josh’s illustration of scripture: Josh trusting by thinking of Jesus.
Josh’s prayer: “God i want people to know you God and for people to get the Bible and to read the Bible and if people have a Bible and they don’t read the Bible i want for you to tell them to read the Bible.”

many of my ministry days are like snow days. they bolster much hype and a flurry of activity, but without the right conditions nothing sticks. ouch! as i head into a crazy busy week of ministry may this be my prayer each morning:

Lord, help the condition of my heart and the motivation of my intentions be in line with the unparalleled awe of the Savior, so that the flurry of activity in the day ahead brings truths that stick.

fixeyesthis will come as no surprise to those that know me well, but not only am i a “fixer”, i also tend to fixate on issues much longer than is necessary. i stare down overwhelming circumstances trying to come up with the perfect solution. i also hold broken pieces of life together in my own strength willing them to stay together so they are mended. somehow over time, i bought into the lie that if i focus hard enough i can make it all better.

when i choose to stare at the circumstances, whether positive or negative, the circumstances become my focus! how grateful i am for the reminder God keeps sweetly whispering to be from hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” what a relief to know that i don’t have to spend hours fixating on issues desperate to see them solved or restored. i must simply fix my eyes on Jesus.

it is when i look intently at Him i experience:
strength from the strongest
peace from the One who is in control
love perfectly unconditional
direction from the all-knowing Guide
joy undeserved
comfort from my Creator
a hope that doesn’t disappoint

quick fixes can’t deliver; it is where my eyes are fixed that matters most. i know this all in my head. my prayer is with each intentional glance at our Mighty God, it will begin to consume my heart.


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