Psalm 139:23

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of the everlasting."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Catch & Release

I'm trying to blog at least once a week so that I can keep everyone some what updated on the Children's Ministry at Contact. Even if what I say is not the least bit intelligent or insightful, I promise it will be real :). There are several amazing things that are taking place in ministry right now, but what I want to address is a shift in perspective...

 I am beyond blessed! Not many children's ministers, missionaries, rent a christian, (whatever title you label me with) get to say that their family doesn't only support them, but does ministry alongside them. Everyone in my family is an active member at Contact. My parents, Grandma, Aunt & Uncle, brother, & cousins all attend. My Mom & I were discussing ministry this past weekend & what it should look like. She spoke of the book "Same kind of different as me." I will be entirely honest, I have not read the book... I have skimmed it & stolen quotes for illustrations, but I haven't really read it. Unfortunately this thing called college dictates what I have time to read. However I have 2 points based on a quote she shared below...

"I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.' 
Catch and release? I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time. 
'That really bothers me', Denver went on. 'I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look. Then we eat what we other words, we use it to SUSTAIN us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all the trouble to catch a fish, when when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.' 
He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute. Then: 'Did you hear what I said?' 
I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend. 
Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky, then locked onto me again with that drill-bit start. 'So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend.' 
I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on. 
Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: 'But if you is lookin for a REAL friend, then I'll be one. Forever." 
- Ron Hall, "Same kind of different as me" 

This past Sunday my Mom visited with another Mom. She had asked that we talk with her five year old daughter, who would soon bury her Grandma. This is a family we have known for the past nine years. We are absolutely in love with the beautiful children in this family! They are each precious gifts from HIM. Finishing up the conversation my mom stated, "You know we love you & we are here to do whatever you need." As my Mom walked away the other Mom said, "Hey Mrs. Shelly... I love you!" and hugged her. For those of you who do not know this family the story doesn't mean much to you, but for those of us who know them this story means everything! It has taken nine years for this woman to let down her guard and allow us to love her! This moment was monumental! 

Events like last Sunday don't happen unless we are intentional about our love for other people. Sometimes ministry becomes like the quote... "catch & release." I wonder where the other Mom would be if Contact had moved on eight years ago? Would there have ever been a moment where she received love from a christian & reciprocated it? I don't know! What I do know is that when ministry begins to look like "fishing" we are viewing people as projects. Projects are for jobs... ministry isn't a job... people aren't a job! Loving people every day is a gift! I have yet to "work" a day at Contact. That being said, for ministry to ever be effective in someone's life we cannot look at people like I did this book. I don't get to just skim over people & pick out the good parts. Real relationships involve real problems. Real ministry involves walking through real life with people, not skimming over them and deciding who has enough good parts and who doesn't. 

In children's worship I gave the kids stickers. We used the stickers to say 3 separate prayers. The first prayer was individual & they prayed about the marvelous things God would do through them throughout their lives. The second prayer they were asked to pray for someone in the room & give them a sticker. No one in my class prayed for just one person. I ran out of stickers because every child prayed for more than just one other friend! Lastly, we prayed as a class... that God would do things through our class, our part of the body. I asked them why I used stickers? One of my girls replied, "Cause you want us to know God loves all of us." Another replied, "Cause you love us." And another said, "Cause you want us to pray." All of their answers are 100% correct! I explained that furthermore our prayers stick with God. He doesn't forget what we ask of HIM. This idea of STICK is such a huge deal to me. I want to build relationships that STICK eternally. Catching & Releasing is not good enough! People aren't able to be thrown away. Every person I come in contact with is worth sticking with because JESUS died for them too. 

I haven't mastered this level of patience & humility and by no means am I stating that I have. However, just because I am not there yet does not mean that God's standard is anything else. When Jesus was asked what the greatest command is HE answered 2-fold, Love the Lord your God with all of your heart & love your neighbor as yourself. HIS expectations are no different today.  My prayer is that HE will teach us how to love the way HE loves; wholly & completely.

Psalm 72:18, "Praise be to the Lord God, for He alone does marvelous deeds. 

LORD, I ask that you continue to bless Contact. Be with YOUR children. Protect their hearts & guide them in the way they should go. Give us the tools to assist them in their walk with you. Above all help us to love you more completely so that our love for you will spill onto others. Help us to see others value because of who they are in YOU. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the opportunity for a relationship with you. Help us to never forget what you did.
In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moving Forward...

I recently read a friend's blog. She said that rather then making a New Years Resolution, she develops a theme for the year. Her theme for the year of 2010 was "Fearless." No, not Taylor Swift, fall hopelessly in love kind of fearless... really living without the fear of failure. This theme inspired her to go on many ventures during the year, including accepting a job at Disney World. All that being said, I have decided to develop a theme for this year, both for my ministry and for myself personally. My theme for the Children's Ministry for the year of 2011 is "Following in the footsteps of Jesus." The theme for myself personally for the year of 2011 is basically the same as the theme for my kids, "Moving Forward." 

Once I was hired at Contact my mind was flooded with ideas of what I wanted this next year to look like. There are so many concepts I want my kids to learn continually. I kept asking myself what does an effective program look like at Contact? What can I teach that is going to equip my kids not just today, but for the rest of their lives? As I spent time in prayer and attended meetings with other ministers I began to realize the one thing I want more than anything else for my Contact kids... I want them to look like Jesus... to follow in HIS footsteps. All of Christianity hangs on the calling of being like CHRIST... what is there that could be more important than learning to walk like the SAVIOR? 

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to this world any longer but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- HIS good, pleasing, & perfect will.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart."

There is absolutely nothing more important to me than for my kids to know the heart of their Lord & Savior & through knowing HIS heart be transformed into HIS likeness. In order to train children though, I have to continue to grow. I have to move forward. I was told quite some time ago that you learn the most about GOD when you try to teach others about HIM; working at Contact has caused me to see the truth in this statement. It is impossible to effectively teach kids if I am not allowing God to teach me first. I want my kids to learn how to walk in the footsteps of Jesus? That is not going to happen by sitting and talking about it. I have to make a daily decision to show them what it looks like. I want them to value the word? I have to first value the word. I want them to love their neighbor? I have to love them, unconditionally! The list could go on forever. Teaching the word means living the word. 

That being said 2011 will be a year of "moving forward". I'm sure throughout the year that will look many different ways. Some days moving forward is going to mean working out issues in my own life, other days it's going to mean walking with someone else through their issues. Every day it will mean taking my Lord's hand & walking one step forward. All this is not to say that I am not going to fall on my face... I sit here today knowing that I will. I will mess up! I will lose my temper, I will say the wrong things, I will respond the wrong way, but GOD is bigger than my failures & therefore I don't have to be afraid of failing. I GET to show up & love HIS people. I GET to look past peoples shortcomings & look at their heart. Just like the Lord looked at David's heart, and looks at my heart, HE looks at the heart of  HIS people. With that we can all MOVE FORWARD... one step at a time, one day at a time, until we all reach the FINISH LINE! The ultimate goal is that we go to heaven together & I pray today that the Lord helps me view my own life, my ministry, & the lives of others with an eternal set of eyes.

My boyfriend's daddy wrote a song that describes best the vapor that this world is...

I don't have to cross the Jordan alone...

"Now we're just wondering pilgrims so lost & alone,
don't worry I'll see you at home
Soon we'll comfort each other at our eternal home,
don't worry I'll see you at home.
When all of life's troubles have gotten you down,
don't worry I'll see you at home,
Replace with a smile that sorrow & frown,
don't worry I'll see you at home.
Don't worry I'll see you at home,
When all of life's troubles have gone.
God will give us a place at his heavenly throne,
don't worry I'll see you at home.
The cares of this life will burden you down,
don't worry I'll see you at home.
Keep your eyes on the goal of your heavenly crown,
don't worry I'll see you at home."

Written By : Doug N. West

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


For those of you who do not know, I was recently hired as the Children's Minister at Contact on a part time basis until I finish school. I received my dream job! At eight years old I knew that ministry was what I wanted to do with my life, however I did not know the paths God would have me follow in order to get me where HE wanted me to be... at one point I thought I would end up in Honduras, then Houston, then the Dominican Republic. For whatever reason Contact wast the last place I saw myself ending up on a long-term basis.

Contact is such an amazing church! It truly is a church where you simply come as you are. I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be. Although I am beyond excited about this opportunity, it is overwhelming at times. All of the sudden I have this huge responsibility on my shoulders. I have been entrusted with children... entrusted to train, encourage, and help develop their faith... the most important thing they will ever have. When I think about this job I often feel so inadequate. I catch myself saying, "I don't know what I'm doing! I don't have the skills I need." 

Honestly, yesterday I began to realize how ignorant this attitude is. I am completely correct in believing that ministry is an extremely important job, however I am beyond incorrect when I begin to think I do not have the tools to be effective in the kingdom. GOD led me to Contact when I was eleven years old, HE led me back to Contact when I was eighteen. HE did not put me in a position to fail, rather HE placed me in a position to succeed. Rather than getting discouraged when ministry does not go according to plan I need to run towards my FATHER. HE will renew my strength, my passion, and my heart for ministry. Burning out is only possible when I allow it... when I operate from my own strength rather then GOD'S strength. The harder ministry gets the faster I am going to run. This does not mean that ministry is going to be easy or that I will always have the right answers or the right response to any given situation. What it does mean is that I serve a GOD who has the right answers and the right responses. As long as I allow HIM to work in me and through me, HE will be successful in spite of my lack of knowledge, skills, and experience. 

As I begin this new year, this new job, and a new chapter in my life my prayer is simply this... may my life glorify my FATHER in everything I do! May HIS spirit be apparent in my ministry. May my walk be stronger & may I always remember to rely on my FATHER rather then myself.

I am excited about what GOD will do at Contact in the year of 2011. I cannot wait to watch as HIS plans unfold. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing team. HE is always faithful & continuing to bless me every day. I would ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers. 

Psalms 138:3 "In the day that I called you answered me, you encouraged me with strength in my soul."