Hope in Ministry

What is Hope?

I’ve heard it said that the English language is one of the hardest languages to learn for someone who does not speak English as their native tongue.…..and, although not holding that as my own experience, I can certainly see how that could/would be accurate.

As a verb, Hope means:

  • To cherish a desire with anticipation
  • To desire with expectation of obtainment
  • To expect with confidence

As a noun, Hope means:

  • A desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment
  • Someone or something on which hopes are centered
  • Something hoped for

Is Hope necessary?

Hope, regardless of any type of religion or belief system, is a necessity…..a part of human living. Without it, human kind would never be able to envision the future. It is something that resides in every person without a thought or a regard as to why we possess it. Although not always held in the highest regard or even recognized audibly, hope, to many, is maybe as small (or grand) as an illusion, an imagining that is desperate, feeble, or even futile. In general, it is legitimate to see hope as a future expectation, even if it is deceptive or unreachable!

So, regarding hope, what is Biblical hope? Where does it reside? Is it the same as “believing”?

What makes Biblical hope different?

The essential difference is really in its source.

When the Bible talks about hope, it is not talking about wishful thinking.  A lot of people say, “I hope to have (something)” when what they really mean is “I wish to have (something).” Therefore, it is important to understand what hope means to a believer (Christian).

As specified above, hope can be defined as a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment. Biblical hope is certainty, not a desire or an expectation.

Certainty is an assured FACT.                                                                                              An expectation is an eager anticipation.

Hope is real because it is founded on faith in the factual content of the Gospel, which is:

  • Jesus was delivered to death on account of our sins (1 Peter 3:18)
  • Jesus was buried (Matthew 27:59-60)
  • Jesus was raised from the dead (Mark 16:1-6)

It is on this basis (faith) that we have HOPE.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Biblical hope becomes possible when there is belief in the living God who acts and intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to keep His promises.

Hope isn’t the same as believing, but hope stems from it! Biblical hope is therefore inseparable from, but not the same as, faith in God. Biblical hope is the certain expectation of the future–the reality of God’s blessings, based upon the reflection of the activities of God’s faithful actions, as revealed in the Bible.

Jesus never explicitly taught his disciples about hope; rather, he taught them not to be anxious about the future because that future was in the hands of a loving Father. (Phil. 4:6)

How can a believer be SURE in his hope?

  • Because God’s promises are sure (1 Peter 1:21)
  • Because of the work being done in us in preparation for Christ’s return (Phil. 1:6).
  • Because we have the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
  • Because hope does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5).

Ministry definitely has its own highs and lows—if you have worked on a church staff or even as a volunteer, you understand. The days when youth ministry is frustrating and I feel like a failure are the days when I get a sense of what God’s heart must feel like when He constantly sees His creation choose a direction other than His. It’s those days that I ask myself how Jesus could have spent so much time in the midst of Judas, his betrayer and yet had so much peace and job? He knew Judas would betray Him because it was prophesied (Psalm 41:9). Days of frustration are what make my journey of faith more real. It reminds me that life isn’t perfect. Part of me says “just deal with it”, but the other part knows that God is so much bigger and more in control than I will ever understand.

God is God and I am not.                                                                                                         It is in these days where I live on Hope.

Hope that my faith in Christ is the same faith that the early disciples had in their ministry. Hope that God is still God and doing something divine in (or despite) the entire world.                                                                                                                                  Hope that my human failures can be used to teach me.                                                 Hope that sin won’t keep conquering people’s lives but God’s Spirit will break through.

Hope.

Hope is what allows people to get out of bed with anticipation that today will be different than yesterday.                                                                                                                  Hope gives people the chance to rest in God’s faithfulness.                                                   Hope is when I let God be God.

Everything else I manage to the best of my human abilities with God’s guidance.

So, please, arise tomorrow….with a fresh new hope for a new blessed day covered in God’s presence and bathed in God’s love.

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Permission to say NO?

Permission Granted.

In the spring of 2005, after working at CABC for almost 3 years, I decided I wanted to be a part of the ministry….permanently. Was it a particular night or one particular service at church that “called” me into ministry? I don’t think so. It wasn’t an “Ah-ha” moment but rather a feeling, a desire to be a part of something bigger than myself.

So, here I am. Almost 8 years later, in ministry full-time. Now granted I think I’ve always been in ministry since I’ve been old enough to know and understand what it meant to serve others, but now, it’s a sacrificed life, one that holds the greatest blessings but also the greatest trials.

I am a people-pleaser. I admit it; it’s a control thing….I want to please others. I want to be liked. I want the praise.

But, along with the praise and the pleasing of others, comes the great responsibility of learning to still hold on to who I am and never forget whose I am.

As a minister you run the risk of burn out unless proper boundaries are set. The attitude of serving one another is highly valued, especially within the church. Jesus said if one wants to become great in the Kingdom, he must be a servant.

So, how do you serve others but also remember yourself and the desire to rest in Jesus and renew yourself for a new day?

Notably, Jesus seemed well aware of His own need to rest and rejuvenate….many times withdrawing alone to rest and to pray. He relied on His Father and depended on Him for discernment in His own life.

So, why then do we, as ones who have a direct connection to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, have such a hard time resting in the knowledge that He provides all we need and we are not obligated or demanded to please others…..

For those (like me) who have a gift of compassion and empathy, the border line becomes hazy of where I end and where YOU begin.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells the church of Corinth, “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’ This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” (vs. 5-6,12,18-21, and 26-27)

I want to be an ear. No, wait…an eye. No, an arm. Wait, maybe a toe. That’s right, a nose. I want to be IT ALL. (And, in reality, I probably COULD, but…..)

I am not serving MY purpose if I try to be all things to all people because ultimately I am disappointing God, who has called ME to be ME. So, whether’s it’s a toe, a foot, a mouth, an arm…..be it and be it boldly.

Along with being individuals (and doing our own part) Paul reminds the CHURCH to join and work together, supporting one another, working together, properly—-not just allowing (or expecting) one person to do all the work. Ephesians 4:16 “…from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

So, we need to figure out, establish, and stick to a healthy boundary, as individuals, so we do not enter into an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship. If (and when) it feels like it becomes one, the CHURCH should be there to help.

I struggle with the idea of saying NO because I want to honor that relationship that I have created (built) with that particular individual, and I’m scared that they will think less of me, if I say NO.

But, serving another in need should come from a free choice, not out of duty or coercion. When serving no longer is a free choice, it creates exhaustion, resentment, and in reality, a relationship is damaged because love is not part of the equation anymore. It has been replaced with coercion and guilt.

Sometimes (although I do bring it on myself) I feel like I have no choice, no control, and ultimately it turns my stomachs into knots, regretting my decision to say YES and burning myself out because it has now become a duty to serve, not a passion.

This does not mean it will be always convenient to serve. It may be a real sacrifice. But one must take the responsibility and choose.

When I’m asked to take on another responsibility (whether it’s a one-time thing or a new role in life) I have (slowly) learned to ask myself:

  • Is this of God?
  • Do I have the time and the resources?
  • Am I doing this out of love or guilt?

If by all means you feel like it’s the Holy Spirit and you are entering into it with gladness, then SERVE!

But, if not, then simply say NO.

There is freedom in that word.

Jesus never called the disciples to serve in a way that injured themselves or, in the long run, achieved burn-out. Yes, they had to make sacrifices along the way, but they also learned their own limitations and recognized when “their plate was full.”

If we continue to say YES and don’t get better at saying NO we can certainly run the risk of:

  1. Other people’s priorities will take precedence over ours.
  2. We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery.
  3. We will end up frustrated and stressed.
  4. We won’t be able to say, “Yes,” to the really important things

You need to recognize, within yourself, that you are finite. You cannot give what you do not have. If you give, give, give, without resting and renewing yourself in who you are and whose you are, you will forget.

So, please learn to say NO…..it’s important to serve others, but not at the expense of yourself or your relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Just a little Valentine Survey…..

How long have you and your significant other been together?

Met: August 19, 2005
Starting Dating: September 5, 2005

Here’s our very 1st picture together

230708_503907719257_9065_n(Sorry it’s tiny)…..

How did you meet?

Paul and I both started Logsdon Seminary in August 2005. We both had the same advisor, Dr. Lyle. Dr. Lyle took us to Java City for coffee on the day of New Student Orientation…..and the rest is history!

If married, how long have you been married?

6 years, 9 months

If you are married, where did you get married? Big or small wedding?

We got married in Abilene, Texas, at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. We probably had about 100-120 people there….I really don’t even remember…..

leaving-4Here we are leaving as Mr. and Mrs. Paul Tanner!

Do you have any nicknames that you call one another?

I usually call Paul Honey Bunny or Babe. He calls me Babe or Honey.

Name 3 things you love most about your honey:

1. He always knows the right thing to say, even if it’s not exactly what I want to hear at the time!
2. He is very level-headed and does not get easily rattled.
3. He makes me smile and laugh on a regular basis, and makes sure that I never take life too seriously.

Tell us how he proposed?

We picked out an engagement ring/wedding ring back in October of 2005 (after a month of dating) but Paul didn’t propose until November 24th, Thanksgiving Day. Because Paul lived in the dorm while we were dating, I actually kept the ring(s) at my apartment (just in case). So, in actuality, I guess I could’ve worn the ring without Paul knowing (except for the fact that we saw each other every day at school)—but, I didn’t.

When Paul and I knew we were going to get engaged, I told him the one thing I wanted him to do was to ask my dad for his “blessing” (not his PERMISSION, but his BLESSING) for us to get married.

So….the Thanksgiving holidays rolled around and we decide to split the time between my parents and his family.

On Wednesday, November 23rd, Paul and I went to Waco to see my parents. Right before we were leaving (to go to Hamilton to see his parents) Paul talked to my dad (in the hallway next to the bathroom) and (I guess) asked for his blessing (I don’t really know what he said). But, I do know what my dad said….NO!

But, needless to say, Paul asked me anyway….

The next morning, on Thanksgiving morning, Paul proposed. You can read about it here.

Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?

Neither, really. I think when we were first married he gave me a teddy bear (it still sits on our bed), but since then, we haven’t exchanged gifts….neither of us care much about “gifts” (it’s not our love language) so it doesn’t bother me at all to NOT get something.

In fact, this year, I’m not even home….I’m in Waco on Valentine’s Day.

Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?

Uuummmm…..probably a “pop in a movie and relax on the couch” kind of girl. Honestly, I’m not really either. I prefer a road trip and just going out to eat.
Tell us one thing you’d like to do with your significant other one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?

Go on an Alaskan cruise!

Tell us what you plan to do today, on this Valentine’s Day.

We’re not together. I’m staying with a friend in Waco, and I guess, Paul’s hanging out at home by himself.

Are you asking for anything this Valentine’s day?

No.

Give us one piece of advice for keeping a relationship strong and full of love.

Laugh a lot. Pray a lot. Say “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you” as often as possible.

Show us a picture of what love means to you:

DSC05684

Watching Paul doing what he loves!! 🙂

Where the Lord leads, I will go….

The idea sounds simple….complete submission to the Father’s will. It’s easier for me now than it was back then.

I grew up in and lived in Waco for the first 24 years of my life. On the exact day of my 25th birthday (August 16, 2005) I moved to Abilene….away from my parents (my hometown, really) for the very first time. In 2002, I did do missions for 12 weeks in South Texas, but here, now, it was permanent. There was no “going home” after my mission was complete. I was starting a brand-new chapter of my life.

Alone.

I moved to Abilene only knowing 1 person and only having met 2-3 other people when I went to visit Logsdon the spring leading up to my move.

Little did I know that three days later, on August 19, 2005, I would meet my husband. I like to think God knew what He was doing and wasn’t going to leave me alone for very long. I don’t like to be alone. If you think about it, my mom stayed in Abilene until Thursday, the 18th, helping me get settled. I went to orientation on the 19th, one day later, and met Paul.

God knew what He was doing. We met, started dating, bought a ring, got engaged and married within 9 months.

I was not alone anymore.

I would like to think the Lord used my life (as a young child, teenager, and single adult) to mold me and shape me into the wife/woman I needed to be to be married to a minister, but it never ceases to amaze me where I am now….and how I got here.

I laugh now and say, “If you don’t ever want to move, don’t marry into the military or the ministry.” Because…it is almost a guarantee, YOU WILL MOVE AROUND…..

Paul and I have been married for almost 7 years and we have lived in 3 different houses, 1 duplex, 1 trailer, and 2 apartments, 4 different cities and 2 different states….

But, wherever He leads, I’ll go.

One year ago today (February 7, 2012) we arrived in Giddings. After being on the road for 2 days, we arrived driving a 16-ft. trailer and pulling our car behind us. We arrived not knowing what in the world we were doing, but only knowing this is where He lead us and we followed.

“So, how has the last year been?” (I was asked today)….

Some days it seems so natural, as if we’ve been here forever…..other days it’s a little more raw, and the emotions of being away from Illinois still cut. But, the key to finding a “home” here is finding a place to belong.

We have fully immersed ourselves in the schools….football and basketball have pretty much consumed our evenings since last August. Every Thursday and Friday night during the fall we were at a football game, and for the past two months, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and/or Friday nights one (or both of us) have been at basketball games…..and, of course, I substitute at the Middle School (mostly), so I am around the students A LOT. You wanna get to know students, spend a day in 7th grade Science with them….that’ll certainly open your eyes to where they come from, what they do, how they act, and where they are headed…..

We have also tried to find our place in the community. Today I went to Subway for lunch with 2 friends. One of my friends has lived here for about 7 years…..she said Hi to about 4-5 people while we were in there…..I thought to myself, “Man, she knows everybody!” But, then again, I am comparing my ONE year of living here to her SEVEN….so it’ll come….I know it will.

We have tried to immerse ourselves in the schools/the community, but we have also tried to reach out to others….

Ministry is NOT about sitting in an office all day, working on bible studies or creating the next best “program” for your church.

Ministry is about people. Ministry is about living life. Ministry is about impromptu lunches with friends. Ministry is about having an early morning breakfast with someone. Ministry is about watching a friend’s daughter, so she can have a break. Ministry is about climbing on the roof of a senior adult’s house and laying shingles that have broken off.

Ministry is about living life, beyond the church walls.

“I want to be your hands and feet. I want to be your voice every time I speak. I want to run to the one’s in need, in the Name of Jesus. I want to give my life away, all for Your Kingdom’s sake. I want to shine a light in the darkest place, in the Name of Jesus.”

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m a sinner, just like everyone else. But, I am saying that I want to be a servant….in the place I am now…..for this chapter of my life.

“So, will you stay?” (I was asked today).

We will stay as long as the Lord has us stay. And, if He leads us somewhere else, we will go.

 

I Wanna Be Unemployed…..

For awhile I’ve been thinking about what it might feel like to be jobless…..to NOT be needed at the church. If my dream came true, Paul and I would not have a job in the church…..we would be unemployed because the children and youth of our church would be so immersed and so engrossed in the Gospel AT HOME that our ministry, as a whole, would not be needed. If the idea of parents nurturing and teaching their children about Christ at home happened everyday, then our jobs would be useless.

Now, please don’t misunderstand what I have to say…..I want to be a part of your child’s life. I want to be needed. Because I love what I do….(read post here)….

BUT…..

How radical would it be if parents actually took Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to heart. Specifically verse 7 when it talks about “impressing” these commandments on your children. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” To impress means “to mark or stamp with or as if with pressure”…..not just to affect them, but to mark them with it…..as if you are “tattooing” your child with the Lord’s commandments.

Over and over again in research (The Christian Chronicle) we see that parents are the primary influence in teen’s lives, especially when we talk about Christian influence. Youth ministers, preachers, church and youth groups are way down on the list, despite what the average “church go-er” thinks.

In “Raising the Bar; Ministry to Youth in the New Millennium,” Alvin Reid reminds us that only 34 percent of North American families eat one meal together each day. The average father spends eight minutes per day with his children. (That includes meals and watching TV.) Only 12 percent of families pray together. The average couple spends only four minutes of uninterrupted time together a day.

We do not have time for relationships. That’s what our behavior says to our children.

We need to saturate the soil of their souls every day, not just Sunday. This isn’t done with the garden hose set on “jet,” but rather a steady, daily shower of God’s word, love and relevance to every aspect of their lives. We need to do everything we can to make sure that we are cultivating their personal relationship with God by asking questions and having open and probing discussions about hard issues. Faith is not a love triangle; kids aren’t saved through parents but through Jesus.

Tim Kimmel writes that some kids see their parents treating faith like a hobby, so they follow suit. Loving the Lord and others is not a hobby; it is a lifestyle.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 calls families into a state of action…..it’s about doing ministry as family, not just being a family.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (emphasis mine).

Nine times in these six verses the Lord commands families to DO something…..

  • Love
  • Impress
  • Talk
  • Walk
  • Lie Down
  • Get Up
  • Tie
  • Bind
  • Write……

If families, as a whole, will embrace this verse, a commandment from the Lord, then I wouldn’t need to do what I do…..I would unemployed….