Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Ministry Update

You guys.  In my last ministry update, I told you I’d be starting out working around FIVE hours at the HOME building.  Ha.  That was silly.  I have been so excited to jump back into ministry, and there has been so much work to be done, I have been doing 10 PLUS hours.  The good news is that I LOVE it.

The other good news is that you, my friends, have been extremely generous in donating to this work.  Thank you SO much for your support.  It is a great privilege to be a part of the prayer movement in our little town, and it is an even greater honor to be paid and supported to do something I am so passionate about.  Thank you for blessing me.  Hugs and high fives to you all!

I have been busy in the last month meeting with the leadership, staff and volunteers at the HOME building, working to build a cohesive structure and to clarify roles and responsibilities.  In the midst of this work, two words - no, THREE words - have really stuck out to me.

In all of my meetings, I have been learning more about the diversity in our group.  Each of us have taken personality inventories and gift assessment tests that have shed a lot more light on how we are all unique.  These uniquenesses become all the more evident in personal conversation and in the normalcy of just doing life together.  The joy and praise in all of this is that many different giftings are represented - many of us have different talents and perspectives - we each reflect a different facet of the Lord’s character.  On the other hand, though, the challenge in all of this, is that diversity can lead to division ALL too quickly.  We see this in business and churches and families - really, everywhere.  Our differences can become misunderstood, miscommunicated, underappreciated and can be just plain annoying and hurtful to others.  This leads to ineffective businesses, church splits and even divorce.  The HOME building is no different; we are not exempt.  As WE have been working to build a cohesive, unified structure in this ministry, we’ve discovered incredibly beautiful diversity, but stumbled upon evidence of the enemy working to bring division among us as well.  

Which leads me to the second word that stuck out to me - UNITY.
The great challenge in all of this, whether we are talking about our churches, our marriages, our families or the HOME building, is to figure out how to find UNITY in our diversity.  Experiencing unity in the midst of diversity can be tricky, first, because, as humans, we fight with each other, gossip and harbor resentment.  It can be especially tricky, secondly, because the enemy (satan) has a plan to continue this cycle of sin.  He loves to twist our words, foster misunderstanding, tell lies, cause us to take sides, so that we will eventually war against one another and never experience true unity in the Body of Christ.  That is his plan.  So the first step towards unity, in my mind, is to realize that WE - you and I and others in our ministries and families and businesses - WE are not enemies.  OUR.REAL enemy is Satan.

Despite our differences, and even in celebrating our differences and diversity, THEN, we can and MUST agree on something greater than ourselves.  Some of us will like chocolate milk, others will prefer white.  Some of us will be gifted musicians, others will be amazing secretaries.  Some of us will be assertive and bold, others will be quiet and attentive listeners.  Some of us will have prophetic giftings, others will have pastoral ones.  Yet, in it all, we can join forces and lock arms in warring against the plans of the enemy in our community.  We can agree to be on mission together to spread the gospel and share Jesus in our nation.  In this way, our mission will supercede our disagreements, and our diversity will be the very thing that will propel us to victory.  After all, in battle, we need diversity - we need some to wield swords, some to shoot arrows, some to lift the battering ram.  We need some to drive chariots, some to bear armor, some give the commands…  

I can’t help but think of I Corinthians 12 - the passage about unity in the Body of Christ.  A body is made up of many parts - hands, arms, feet, noses, ears and belly buttons.  If the whole body was just an ear, it wouldn’t really be a body at all.  If the whole body was just a nose, it wouldn’t really be a body at all either.  Even more, a hand shouldn’t say to a foot, “I don’t need you!  Your talents are silly!  You are in my way!”  Neither should an eye say to a finger, “You are really annoying, and not very important at all!  I don’t need you!”  God has placed the parts in the body - every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  He has placed diversity and differences in the Body of Christ, just as he wanted them to be.

All the more reason to celebrate each other, appreciate and embrace each other’s differences in calling and gifting, and agree to join together for kingdom purposes.

I told you I wanted to share THREE words, though.  The third word that has been highlighted in my mind, is my most favorite, and the one I get the most excited about.  TESTIMONY is word #3.

Think about what a TESTIMONY we could be to the world, if we really began to live in unity with each other.  If we were extravagantly patient and kind with the personalities we find most frustrating…  If we were incredibly humble and selfless and sacrificial with those we find to be the most prideful…  If we were the most forgiving to those who made the most mistakes…  If we courageously protected the ones who have hurt us the most…  If we trusted the ones we disagreed with the most…  If we hoped and believed the best out of those we questioned the most…  (I Cor. 13) If we persevered and committed and chose and, really, fought to LOVE each other in spite of and because of our differences and diversity…  Wouldn’t the world stop for a second?  They’d think, “Wow, that is a good way…  Why are those people so close?  They disagree on a lot of theological points…  Why are they so loving?  They have hurt each other a lot!  Why are they so united?  They are so different!”  And then, the only answer to their question, the only explanation of this kind of supernatural unity would be….JESUS.  The HOLY SPIRIT.  THAT is the ONLY reason these people - THAT is the ONLY reason WE can be so united and loving with each other.

We can be obedient, we can choose to love, we can surrender to more of the Spirit’s work in our lives and become a SIGN that would make people WONDER…  We can become a shining light, a powerful example and a TESTIMONY to the glory of God with this kind of unity.  

...With all of this in mind…  Would you believe that I’ve started to pray for MORE diversity?  That God would bring MORE differences and unique perspectives and giftings to this ministry?  In this light, more diversity means reflecting more parts of God’s character, and it means more effectiveness in mission.
So.  HERE’s to diverstiy!  HERE’s to UNITY!  Here’s to being a testimony to the world!
Help us resolve conflict courageously, help us to have grace and mercy for each other, help us to fight to understand each other, help us celebrate each other, and beleive the best in each other.  Help us love supernaturally.  May we unify in battle against the enemy, may we unify in mission to see Jesus lifted high and to make your name famous!  

Amen!  May it be so!
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