Monday, June 27, 2011

What's the difference? Missions & Ministry

Today I saw a great visual of the work God is doing in my church. I truly wish I could have captured it in photo, but didn't think it was quite appropriate to break out my phone during the commissioning part of the service. This next week nearly 300 people from Shades are going out on mission trips... to New York City, to Peru, and to South Africa. The sight of all of those people in the altar, and then the hundred or so who joined them for prayer was just... beautiful. I am so thankful to be apart of a ministry that is so focused on missions.

This past week I was asked to explain how my "ministry" (something to that effect) is lived out on a daily basis. I was in a situation in which I had to respond quickly, but in retrospect I am proud of my answer... I explained that I believe that God calls all of His children to do a certain work. He puts us in jobs so that we can be Him and show Him to others, and meet a need that has not been met. So my ministry is not what one may believe as conventional ministry, as I am not a minister and I do not work in a church, but frankly... the majority of us do not work in churches, so if the only "ministers" in the world were those on a church payroll, this world would be a much needier place.

This picture I have in my head from this morning and the question from earlier in the week has really gotten me thinking, What is the difference between Missions and Ministry? Is there one? How does that difference play out in my life... does it play out in my life?

As usual, when I'm thinking of difference in words I go straight to the dictionary to see what good ole Webster has to tell me about the differences. I also looked up the definition of minister, to clarify who exactly these definitions refer to.

mis·sion   /ˈmɪʃən/ [mish-uhn]
–noun Also called foreign mission ( for defs. 3, 6 ) .

1. a group or committee of persons sent to a foreign country to conduct negotiations, establish relations, provide scientific and technical assistance, or the like.
2. the business with which such a group is charged.
3. a permanent diplomatic establishment abroad; embassy; legation.

min·is·try   /ˈmɪnəstri/ [min-uh-stree]
–noun, plural -tries.

1. the service, functions, or profession of a minister of religion.
2. the body or class of ministers of religion; clergy.
3. the service, function, or office of a minister of state.

min·is·ter   /ˈmɪnəstər/ [min-uh-ster] Show IPA
1. a person authorized to conduct religious worship; member of the clergy; pastor.
2. a person authorized to administer sacraments, as at mass.
3. a person appointed by or under the authority of a sovereign or head of a government to some high office of state, especially to that of head of an administrative department: the minister of finance.
4. a diplomatic representative accredited by one government to another and ranking next below an ambassador. Compare envoy1 ( def. 1 ) .
5. a person acting as the agent or instrument of another.

–verb (used with object)
6. to administer or apply: to minister the last rites.
7. Archaic . to furnish; supply.

–verb (used without object)
8. to perform the functions of a religious minister.
9. to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.: to minister to the needs of the hungry.
10. to contribute, as to comfort or happiness.

To first think about the difference in Missions and Ministry, I felt I needed to know how I fall into the minister definition, if I did fall into the category of a minister, by definition. Here's the kicker friends... ALL CHRISTIANS ARE BY DEFINITION  A "MINISTER". Check out those items I highlighted in blue. If you profess to be a child of God... then you are most definitely "acting as the agent or instrument of another." But we aren't just serving "another" y'all... we are serving the Most High and Holy Creator, who from our first breath intended for us to "give service" (#9) to others. I believe that by doing #9 you are also fulfilling the #10 part of this definition.

{In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.}
Acts 20:35 ESV

{So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.}
Philippians 2:1-4 ESV
So since we now know where we fall in the minister category, looking at the definition of mission and ministry is a bit easier to understand. From where I'm sitting, at first glance is seems the "Mission" is the project, the goal, the plan... Of course naturally, I think of a mission trip, when I think of the word mission, but a mission doesn't have to be something you go across town, country, time zones to complete. A mission, by its own definition can be a charge. Sounds a bit like this to me:
{Go into all the world and preach
the good news to all creation.}
- Jesus

Sound familiar?

So how do we "Ministers" go about this "mission"... well, that's where the "ministry" part comes in... notice the word I highlighted in that definition... service. Our ministry is what we do. Ministry is to action and Mission is to charge. God gave us the charge, and He gives each one of us the tools, the calling, the desire to carry out that charge in our specific ways. You can contribute to that charge in ways I can't... and vice versa. You may not cross paths with college students every day as I do... but I don't spend a lot of time with kids, with sick people, with those in financial trouble. Just as He has given you an opportunity to live out your ministry in your job, God has given me the calling to work with college students, and the experiences I need in order to minister to them. Sometimes theses students, my coworkers, sometime the parents just need someone to listen, they need advice, they need an answer to a question on a frustrating day. Those times that I can fulfill that need... that's a time when I am ministering to someone... that's a time when I am fulfilling my ministry and my mission.

Those are times when I am fulfilled by the opportunity to serve my
Lord in the specific area He has called me to work.
Those are the times when I am fulfilled by my Lord.

{In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.}
Acts 20:35 ESV

Here's ultimately the way this has played out in my head...
Minister (adj) + Mission (noun) = Ministry (verb)

Simple. Practical. Possible.

Love Y'all,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day...

I have been debating for days whether or not I would go to church today... because in my own words, "it would be hard." I packed a dress, but as of last night still had not decided what today. As I started praying about it last night, and rationalizing as I always do, I kept thinking about my blog from last Sunday, and giving my burden up to the Lord. 
"This morning I asked God to take on my burden of Sorrow... but I also asked him to give me the faith to let him have it."
I decided that if I did not go to church on the chance that I might cry or get upset, that I was not truly giving that burden to the Lord. It was the right thing to do... I wasn't excited about it, but it was the way I could follow through with my committment to let Him have my burden.

So did I cry at church? Well, the answer is yes... but it had nothing to do with Daddy. It was the story of this:
In retrospect I remember the Visa commercial about the Redmonds, but this story is the epitome of what a father is supposed to be. They may not all have the arena of Olympics and get world renowned attention for simply doing their job, but our daddies are supposed to encourage us, foster us, teach us in the ways we should grow...

I can't tell you how proud I am to be Dannon Cole's daughter....

 and to be the granddaughter of Claude Cole and Maurice Scarbrough...

These men are great examples to me of how to live life, how to serve the Lord, how to love my family, and how to be an example to others. Failures, mistakes, and all... these men were respected by their peers, by their elders, and by following generations. Such a Legacy to live up to... such a nice aim to have... I pray I can live up to that Legacy throughout my life.

{To be a success at life,
you have to be a success at living.}
- Daddy

Love Y'all,

He gives me strength...

This evening, Philippians 4:13 has been in my head...

{I can do all things through Christ

who strengthens me.}

I remember the day daddy died I kept thinking that I didn't know how to do life without him... in fact, I didn't think I could. For the first few weeks there would be times when I wanted his opinion or needed to ask him a question, and would physically pick up the phone to then remember that I deleted his number the day he died. I didn't want to be tempted to call and listen to his voicemail, (to this day his phone is on one of the desks in the house). There were a few of those times that I had little come aparts... but they faded over time. I wouldn't think about him being gone for a few days, because sometimes it just seemed like he was off on the rig at work, but then that reality would set in, that he wasn't reachable... that I would never ever talk to him again in a conversation (outside of my dreams)... and those were the times the heavy heaving heart hurting sobs would come out, which was not a pretty sight (ugly crying at its best). I can remember hearing a groaning noise during one of those tear fests and realizing it was coming from me... that was my reality in the months after he died.

My reality now is this: I have only been able to "do life" without my earthly father, because my Heavenly Father gives me the strength to.

Life, for better or for worse, moves on regardless of who is physically present in our lives. Despite that pain, it is important that we gather the lessons we have learned from those individuals (I include all of my grandparents in this as well), and use them to help us throughout future. They may not be on the other end of the phone line or at the other end of the dinner table to give us advice, but the things they said in the past will always be in our memory in the future. Daddy will help me make decisions 20 years from now if I will remember his wisdom in the days to come.

I always thought that daddy could help me to solve any problem... but my Heavenly Father creates the problems so that I can solve them WITH HIS HELP. Why? Because He gets the glory out of my progress, because I know that I couldn't have made it to June 21, 2009... much less today without Him, without the people He has put in my life, without the desires He has put in my heart, and without the lessons I have learned through this valley.

I am so amazed at His faithfulness to me. I see things so often that show me that His hand is in my life. He has my whole world in His hands... and I have no desire to put it in any other place.

As I sit here and type this I think about how dependent my relationship with my F/fathers have been on one another. Without daddy, who was always my spiritual leader in the home, I may not have ever become a Christian and would not have had the role model in the Faith that I did growing up, or learned the lessons from him that I was able to glean. Without God, well... Dannon Cole wouldn't have been my daddy. I think I had a better understanding of what a relationship with my Heavenly Father should be like based on my relationship with daddy. Our communication was always open and honest, discipline was always a result of his love (and my bad behavior), understanding was only a conversation away, and no matter what I thought, daddy generally knew what was best for me, even when I didn't. The same is true for God's relationships with His children, it hurts Him more than it hurts us when we do something wrong and must face the consequences. As Christians we have a direct and open line of communication with him through prayer... and He does know best. No one knows us better than our creator.

I miss him so much, and most days... words just can't describe what that feels like. I wish I had his gift for words, his knowledge of The Word... and that's something I'm working on, because just with everything else, that's something I cannot do on my own. Just as daddy showed his family so much strength during his life here on earth, my Heavenly Father provides us with His all knowing, all powerful omniscient strength to get us day to day... and sometimes minute to minute. I didn't think I could do life without my Daddy, but I know I couldn't do life without my Father.

{1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall

abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust...

9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place...

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone...

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.}

Psalm 91: 1-2, 9, 11-12, 14-16

No matter what your earthly father is like (and I pray that y'all are as blessed as I was), please remember that strength can always be found in your Heavenly Father. He knows were you are, even in the darkest past of that Valley, but through His salvation He will deliver you if you need Him. As for your earthly father, be thankful for him, pray for him, learn from him, respect him and listen to him... there will come a day when you may not be able to... and every second spent together will be more valuable to you than anything in the world. While you are at it... give him a hug, and one for me too... because I'm thankful for him b/c he helped create you.

Love Y'all,


Thursday, June 16, 2011

About Goals... some words from Daddy.

I am currently sitting at my desk, working on my "Employee Self Assessment and Goals" evaluation... and as I am looking for a file on my computer I came across one titled 'A LETTER TO YOUTH - Daddy'

Okay God, thanks for meddlin' in my day... and it's only 10 am.

I'm not quite a youth anymore... but this letter speaks to me just as much as it would to the high school seniors or college freshmen it appears to be directed at (ironic considering my job, eh?)... so I wanted to share it with you, if there is anyone out there reading. There are some points in here (I have put in bold) that I believe are so necessary to personal success in life. These are things I need to keep in mind during every day, especially the ones when daily work becomes the daily grind. As I read this letter, it made me wish I knew what Daddy's "ultimate goal" was. I can pretty much guarantee it had nothing to do with the oil field or his profession, but was more about his relationships and his family.

"A letter to Young People:

What do you want to accomplish during you life? What is your dream? Everyone
should have a dream.
Whoever you are, what sex, race, nationality, age, or
intellect, possibilities do exist?

I believe that there are only two channels that anyone may accomplish their
goals. I assume you do have goals. No matter how perfect the plan without a
goal to reach, it is an empty, meaningless pursuit.

Only two tools lie at anyone’s disposal to accomplish anything. They are
your ability, and your intellect. Can you think of another? These tools are
the great equalizers. For its not how much you possess but how you manage
what you possess that determines how long it will take you to achieve your goals, or whether you achieve them at all.

Only those who are severely handicapped are denied natural talents, and if
you believe in God they might be termed gifts. I think to acknowledge
natural ability is prerequisite to beginning your quest for success. I have
met people who either were ignorant of their natural talents, or denied that
they possessed them. To accept your natural self is assurance of a greater
degree of success in life.
Remember: to be a success at life, you must be a
success at living, and to choose a career on any other basis is to choose
misery and discontentment.

I encourage you to do two things as you work toward independence. One, be
honest with yourself, really honest. How else will you truly know what you
consist of? Ask yourself these questions.

1. What are my natural interests?

2. What are my natural abilities?

3. What is my natural potential intellectually?

4. What are my PRESENT limitations? (Push it!)

Don’t try to choose a specific career if you're not sure yet. Just know
You’ll be light years ahead of most people even older than
yourself. Once you have answered these questions you can begin to formulate
your plan. Don’t try to do it all yourself, and try to be patient. Don’t
make these decisions emotionally. You can alter your master plan along
life’s way but to realize you made a major mistake later will cost you years
of wasted time, and time is something we all have a limited amount of.

Secondly, set goals. Set your ultimate goal first. It's the one that will
provide direction for the others. Start with your dream and back up to your
present position setting intermediate goals along the way. Don’t be too hard
and demanding with your goals. Take it from someone who knows. If you can’t
enjoy the pursuit of a goal you will be thoroughly disappointed with the
accomplishment of it. Life is to be enjoyed not endured.

I have to tell you a truth. Success can’t be guaranteed in life, but failure
can. It’s something all of us experience and you will not be the exception. How you deal with this reality will greatly influence your ability to achieve your goals.
Be an optimist. As Winston Churchill said, “It doesn’t make much sense being anything else." Remember that failure is
only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again. Don’t be afraid of failure, it is a far greater teacher, and character developer that
It will reveal to you more about yourself than most any other experience. Thomas Edison failed many times to make electricity a reality, and then was told many times it would never be necessary or marketable.

One other thing that I believe to be essential to the maintenance of self is
this. Make yourself valuable to others. It doesn’t cost a dime, you
don’t have to have a job, and you must do it voluntarily. The most
miserable person in the world is the one who selfish. No manner of success can fill the void we feel when we are of no use to anyone.

Know your limits. Every once in a while try to break through the
barriers. You will fail sometimes, but there will be times that you truly
amaze yourself.

Good Luck,

Dannon Cole

I've known my goal for a while now... to serve others.

After personally answering those 4 questions, I am more confident that my opportunity to serve others is not bound to volunteer work, but can be lived out daily. Because ultimately... as I serve others, I am serving the Lord.

{May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;

establish the work of our hands for us yes,

establish the work of our hands.}

Psalm 90:17

{Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for men...

It is the Lord Christ you are serving.}

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever your goals are... go for them,

and commit them to the Lord.

Love Y'all,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

So come lay down, the burdens that you carry...

This morning I asked God to take on my burden of Sorrow... but I also asked him to give me the faith to let him have it. I don't want it anymore. I've never thought that sorrow was something I was hanging on to, but it appears to me that though I may not be clinging to sorrow - I also have not given that burden to Him... and boy is it a burden. Heavier than any other burden in life, because Sorrow affects EVERY aspect of life. In everything I do I bring it with me.. sometimes it hides in the shadows, other times it is center stage (those are the times I ugly cry and am boohoo emotional). Sometimes it affects relationships, both in good and bad ways. It's both a bonding yet awkward subject. It's always in the back of my mind, and anything can trigger it. A picture, A song, A thought.

Psalm 71 is a passage which serves as a great reference for dealing with the uncertainties in life. In church today Pastor Danny referenced this chapter in regard to getting bad news at the doctors office (specifically cancer), but these verses spoke to me in regards to how I am dealing with the sorrow I have felt... I'm so thankful for the way God reveals things to us and directs His word to us when we may not expect it.

Sorrow and the uncertainty of dealing with it has caused me to seek refuge in God more...

{1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;

turn your ear to me and save me.

3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go;

give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.}

to Hope in God...

{14 As for me, I will always have hope;

I will praise you more and more.}

to seek restoration from the only One who can truly provide it to me...

{ 20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,

you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth

you will again bring me up.}

and finally, to Praise him through it all...

{22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God;

I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you —

I whom you have delivered.}

... because despite all the sorrow there is always:

More Thanks.

More Hope.

More Faith.

... I pray that I will truly give this burden to the Lord in more than just words. I pray that I will will trust in the obvious... that He can take this burden and deal with it in a much better way than I can...

{My mouth will tell of your righteousness,

of your salvation all day long,

though I know not its measure.}

Psalm 71:15

Love Y'all,