You are qualified to minister!

Why is it that our imperfections make us feel as though we are unqualified to minister?

Logically, we know that no one is perfect.  When it comes to ourselves; however, we have this harsh standard of judgment that we hold ourselves up against.  We think our imperfections are too imperfect.  If people only knew…  Why would anyone want to listen to us…  What makes us so special or all-knowing…

Let me tell you this.  Your imperfections are Exactly what make you qualified to minister.  It is because you are imperfect that you know how to relate to the imperfections of others.  It is because of your past trials that you understand what others are going through.  It is precisely because of the pain you’ve experienced that you can speak to another’s pain.

No hurting person wants to be ministered to by someone who acts like their own life is perfect and that nothing has ever gone wrong for them.  We always relate much more to people who are real and have scars, just like us .

Having gone through your trials, your pain, and your battles has made you the minister that you were meant to be.  I know for a fact that God doesn’t allow things to happen in our lives without having something good come from them.  If that good thing is that our faith is built, then we are better for it.  If that good thing is that our character is stronger, than praise be to Him!  If that good thing is that we now rely on the One who gives the strength, then we have come out as winners.

You get it?  There is a verse in 2 Timothy that really speaks to me on this.  Chapter 3, verse 7 says, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Is that what we are doing?  Always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?  It is time for that to stop!  It is time to come to the knowledge of the truth, once and for all.

My pain and my trials have equipped me for ministry.  What I have learned through them and through God’s Word have equipped me for ministry.  What you have learned has done the same for you.  It is time to stop doubting, to trust in God, to come to the full knowledge of the truth, and to minister as though the end is drawing near.  Because brothers and sisters, I assure you the end is indeed drawing nigh.

The very fact that you have come out on this side of your battle, still looking to God as your Source, says that you have endured!  Now, there are others out there in need of the same Savior, Healer, Deliverer, and Provider that you’ve been leaning upon.  It is time for you to go forth and minister!

Fulfill your ministry,

jamie

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All you need is love

Pr. 2:6:  “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

My mom and I were talking about love yesterday.  Perhaps that is what caused this dream I had last night.

I was in an old school building and there was an evil woman forming in the wall.  I was with a group and as we were waiting for the moment for her to form, I flashed back to the last time she had come.  We had tried to defeat her with battle, but apparently had not won.  She had turned some of our group into animals and although she had gone away for a time, she was now forming again.

A man and I gathered some of our loved ones that had turned to animals and hid in a closet, blocking the door, and preparing to fight again.  As we were waiting, I realized that fighting was not the answer.  The answer was love.

I opened the door, and as the evil one approached, instead of striking out at her, I began speaking love.  We all sat around her, and I reminded her of the good in her.  I told her why she was special.  I spoke lovingly of the things about her that were uniquely created, and about why I loved her.

As I spoke, she was motionless; unable to move in the presence of my love.  Her face began changing and eventually I could tell that she was free.  There was nothing dark or evil about her any longer.  She smiled and everyone cheered.  That’s my last memory of the dream.

As evil takes form in our world, and turns some of our loved ones to ‘animals’, and as we stand in the face of things that seems scary, I believe the same answer holds true.

Do we need to strike out at others?  Is it best that we prove our point?  Do we need to attack people with the Word or our opinions of the Word?  Is aggression towards sinners the answer?  I don’t think so.

I believe the love of God deserves more credit than that.  God is love, and His love for us is so strong that He gave His only Son that we should not perish.  We cannot keep that love for ourselves and offer only condemnation and judgment to those around us who are less than perfect.

Realizing that we are not the ultimate judge, we are here to offer hope, love, compassion, understanding, empathy, and the beauty of the freedoms in Christ.  Loving sinners does not mean you love sin.  It means you are following Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Beatles weren’t the first ones to let us know that all we need is love.  Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

Let’s trust Him enough to offer that love and leave the rest to Him.

Loving you,

jamie

 

Tasty but destructive

Pr. 26:22:  The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

I read an article that was written about one of my great-aunts who passed on a few weeks ago.  She would have been 100 years old this winter.  The author of the article had gone to visit her and asked my great-aunt what life advice she would give a middle-ager.

The 3 things my great-aunt said she would have done differently were to read her Bible more, pray more, and not believe things she heard about others without having first heard their side.

I didn’t see that last one coming.  Not something I would expect to hear a 99-year-old woman saying; however, perhaps a relationship in her life was lost or altered in her middle years that caused her to still think such a thing all those years later.  I’m not sure.

This verse tells us that it shouldn’t be surprising, though.  Words of gossip do not just bounce off of us, but are taken in, savored, digested, and soaked up into our very core.  It then becomes very difficult to erase what we’ve heard, lie or not, because our minds are so hungry to make us feel better about ourselves.

If a 99-year-old woman, knowing she’s passing on to eternity, is still thinking about the effects of a decision like this, it seems it is certainly something we shouldn’t take lightly.

I guess the best thing is probably to avoid gossip at all, whenever possible.  Then, if there is a situation where we do hear something, we can take her other advice and pray more.  We can pray that God would help us be responsible with what we’ve heard and either help us forget it, if it isn’t necessary for us to know or concern ourselves with; or to give us a proper setting to hear the other side.

Remembering that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short of the glory of God and of perfection, we must be careful with not only what we hear, but also what we choose to do with those words.  We can choose to savor, digest, and soak it in to raise ourselves up, or we can choose to protect, love, and build others up.  With God all things are possible.

Soaking in the advice,

jamie

Choose not to be the kindling

Pr. 26:21:  “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

My husband has been working on mastering the art of fire making.  He now only technically needs 1 stick to start a fire.  From there we only have to add more wood to turn it into an entire campfire.  If we didn’t douse the fire with water afterwards, it could spread and grow even larger.

Words can be the same.  Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 words to kindle strife.  That strife then has the potential to grow larger and larger.

As the wood that ignites the fire, we can be contentious, provoking others by arousing and igniting anger and conflict.  Conversely, we can take preventative measures when speaking, possibly even quenching the fires already beginning to catch their lives ablaze, by allowing rivers of living water to flow out of our hearts.

When we believe in Jesus, He fills us with Living Water, and He said those waters will flow from our hearts.  (Luke 7:38)

We certainly have the option of holding that back from others, kindling strife through harshness, unforgiveness, meanness, disdain, indifference, apathy, impatience, intolerance, and blame.            (Sorry, I was on a roll)

Or we could, instead, recognize the thirst in others around us, and choose to pour forth the living water through forgiveness, compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and understanding.

Remembering that first and foremost, God is love, we can realize that we are all broken and imperfect, and offer His love to those around us.  Those words we speak are either kindling a fire of conflict and strife, or refreshing and encouraging a thirsty soul.

Before speaking, we need to think ahead, and do our part to prevent strife.  Everyone could use a refreshing douse of living water to extinguish the fires and quench their thirsty soul.

Pretty thirsty myself,

jamie

What’s that in your eye?

Mt. 7:3-4: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

Have you ever wondered if the speck we are seeing in someone else’s eye is really a reflection of the plank in our own eye?  Perhaps the shadow of our plank is reflecting off the surface of their life.

It is so easy for us to notice the imperfections in others.  Sometimes I think we even create issues that aren’t truly there, as a result of our own guilty consciences or our own inner feelings.

A simple example of this is a tired child who cries over the unfairness of everything.  The real issue isn’t that everything everyone else is doing is actually unfair.  The real issue is their own plank:  they are tired and need to rest.  The specks they are seeing in everyone else are only a reflection of their own plank.

The examples of planks grow more serious as we grow older:  jealousy, insecurity, dishonesty, adultery, deception, addiction, two-facedness, etc.  All can result in an hypocrisy in our lives…we have these things within us, but harshly project them onto others or judge them in error, when what we “think” we see in them is really the reflection of our own internal issues.

Has anyone else noticed this?  This morning I read John 8 about the adulteress that was caught in the act and brought to Jesus for stoning. Certainly she had sinned and broken the law, but what Jesus asked her accusers was, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

It is so easy for us to see the sins in the lives of others, and sometimes, perhaps the sin we see is real, but we really need to worry more about our own issues.

When we notice specks in the lives of those around us more often than we notice them in ourselves, it is likely that we are actually carrying around a plank.  Our plank is probably reflecting off of them and showing something that isn’t even there.

If that is the case, we need to seek the Lord’s counsel and help for our own sins and issues, and pray that the Lord would help us see others through His eyes of love.  When we submit to the Lord and allow Him to change us, the Word says that we will see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  (If it’s our place to do so…and if there truly is one)

I hope that today, like me, you will bear with the specks on those around you, and ask God to remove the planks from your own life.  What a happier environment we will create as we do so.

Trying not to leave splinters,

jamie