Thursday, January 26, 2006

Women in Ministry

For centuries many women have faced challenges, discrimination, and even death all in pursuit to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the testimonies of trailblazers who have gone before us, I am encouraged and reminded that it is Jesus Christ Himself who has personally called all women to ministry, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Nevertheless, women today will not be immune from some of the same challenges women faced in the past. Perhaps one of the most pressing challenges women in ministry face today is linked to the role of women in ministry. Unfortunately, many Christian men and women are still unclear on what women can or cannot do in ministry. This one issue has enormous implications for the Body of Christ as it relates to bringing the lost into the kingdom of God, not allowing women to use their spiritual gifts, and thwarting the call and commandment given equally to women by Jesus Christ.
To gain an understanding of the role of women in ministry, one must first look into the Word of God. As I began studying women of the Bible, I was encouraged and excited to learn how God has used many women in different ministry roles throughout scripture. From examples of women of the Old to the New Testament, we today in ministry have a responsibility not to allow their legacies to become lost. For it is by their examples, that we first have been able to understand our calling by the same Lord who called them.
I love the story in John 4 of the Samaritan woman at the well. It was to this woman Christ first revealed that He was the Messiah. In doing this, Jesus not only transcended racial and ethnic lines, but gender lines as well. Upon hearing the news, verse 28 says she went into the city and “testified to the men” about the Messiah, and in verse 39, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.” Christ revealed Himself to this woman at the well first, and He has continued to reveal Himself to women to this present age. Surely we have a role in ministry, which includes women ministering to men. Like the woman at the well, women today must testify and tell others about the Christ revealed to them.
Despite Christ’s affirmation for the role of women in ministry, there are still skeptics, and the question still remains, “How can we overcome this challenge?” May I suggest another question we all should be asking, which is, “How then shall we as women minister?” I believe we should be asking this question because the unfortunate truth is that there will always be challenges in ministry, regardless of gender. Women do not need anyone else to affirm them for ministry; God has already given us His high mark of approval! Therefore, we need to be asking the Lord, “How would you have me to minister? How can I be used as your vessel? How may I serve in your kingdom agenda?” I sincerely believe it will be through humility that Christ will raise up women to be used by Him in ministry. In Matthew 20:26-28 we learn from Christ that whoever wants to be become great must be a servant…and “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ is the standard, and Christ is the answer to overcome this challenge and the many other challenges women in ministry will face in the future. The goal in overcoming the challenge of the role of women in ministry should be to avoid divisiveness within the Body by taking on humility.
In Acts 1:8, Christ says that it will be by power of the Holy Spirit that we will be His witnesses…to the “remotest part of the earth.” We shall overcome…but not by any works of ourselves, but by the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is my prayer that together, women and men in ministry would press forward under the one banner of Christ’s love and enablement of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Heart of Solemn Assembly

Here's a devotional that I wrote for the e-devotional for the singles' ministry at my church. You will read about "solemn assembly" in the article, which is a week-long, church-wide fast we participate in yearly. I hope you will enjoy it and be blessed!

The Heart of Solemn Assembly

Technology today has allowed doctors to see the internal condition of the body in a 3-D image through a procedure called an MRI. The images given to the doctor can precisely pin point any issues inside of the body. When having an MRI image taken, one has to lie down flat, being completely still, and completely quiet. Then the patient enters into the machine, where light is shined on their body in order to accurately see what is inside of them.

This week during Solemn Assembly 2006, have you allowed God to take an MRI image of you? Have you been quiet, not moving a muscle in order to hear His voice? Have you allowed light to be shined upon your heart in order to see what’s on the inside?

God commands of us in Joel 2:13, “Rend your heart and not your garments.”

We serve a God who is in constant pursuit after our hearts and will not relent until it is His. Rendering a few missed television programs and delicious meals is not the “heart” of the fast He has called us to. The fast the Lord has called us to this week is one not only to perform an MRI, but to give us the results of the MRI! The Lord is concerned about the condition of your heart, and that you release the grip you have on your heart, entrusting it to Him.

So as we draw closer to Friday and to the end of Solomon Assembly 2006, do not let today pass by without spending some quiet time with the Lord and asking Him to give you an MRI. However, remember you must be still, be quiet and let His light be shined upon your heart.

Pray as David did in Psalm 139:23-24:

“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 everlasting.”

May you have a blessed day in the Lord as you get to the heart of Solemn Assembly…

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Celebrate Today

I have made a choice that this year will be a year of celebration! Psalm 149:1 says,

"Sing to the Lord a new song..."

After reading that, I thought to myself, "What new song of praise am I singing to the Lord?"

So, in an effort to be more grateful to the Lord for the new things He is doing in my life, I have made a choice to find one new thing everyday to praise God for whether it be small or big. Satan steals our joy from day to day by getting us to focus on what we don't But if we were to look closer, I believe we could find treasures to celebrate today!

Some verses in the Bible we have all read or heard recited so many times that we allow them to lose their effect upon our hearts. I realized this today as I was reading Psalm 118:24:

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

I decided not to roll by that verse that I memorized years ago in my youth group, but to stop and meditate on what that verse means for me today. First, God has blessed me with this I must thank Him for it. I am exactly where I am, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing because this is the day He has made for me. He is Sovereign. The sooner you and I realize that, the better off we'll be!

We are commanded to rejoice! Rejoicing is a verb--it's something you do. Therefore, you and I have to make the choice not to complain, which is the opposite of rejoicing! Then we are commanded to be glad in it. What is the "it" we are to be glad about? The "it" refers to this day--but not just any day, but the day that the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in today knowing that God is in control!

Now, in saying this, I know there are things about today that we are all unhappy about. God did not tell us to rejoice in that...He said to rejoice in the day He has made. Notice the rejoicing has nothing to do with us...but with Him. He is our joy! With the rising of each new day, we can be glad because it reassures us that He is still in control, He is still on the throne!

So, what about you? What are you rejoicing for today? What are you glad about today? How will you celebrate today?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

There is Something about that Name

What do you think about when you hear the name cancer? Unfortunately, it is a name many of us have been aquainted with. Me personally, my grandfather died when I was in the eight grade of lung cancer, and I will be honest with you, cancer scares me. Just the name itself...CANCER, sends chills up my body and a pain in my heart for those who battle cancer daily. To think that cancer can form in one tiny cell in your body and have the power to overtake your body is unbelievable...

I know two people currently who are battling some form of cancer, and my heart goes out to them and their family. Cancer is a name that none of us want to hear when it comes to ourselves or our family members and loved ones. As we have already begun a new year, I wonder how many lives and families will get an unwelcomed visitor of cancer knocking on their doors in 2006?

As I was praying for the two people I know with cancer today, the Lord whispered a sweet truth to me:

"My Name is above every name..."

Wow...JESUS' name is above every name, even cancer! A friend reminded me earlier this week of something I had forgotten:

"There is power in the NAME!"

How often we forget about that when we hear of a friend diagonsed with cancer, or when we face many of life's obstacles. We immediately look horizontally to our circumstances on earth instead of looking up to heaven and saying the name, "Jesus!"

Remember the hymn:

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
there is something about that Name...
Blessed, Savior, Jesus, let all heaven and earth proclaim
that kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
but there's something about that Name."

What a beautiful truth in that old hymn...that all things, even cancer, will one day pass away, but the name of Jesus is the Name above every name that will never cease! Praise God!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dreams I Dream for You

Someday, I hope to completely let go of the reigns of my so-called destiny and allow God the opportunity to blow my mind.
~Jeremiah 29:11

You taste the tears
You're lost in sorrow
You see your yesterdays
I see tomorrow

You see the darkness
I see the spark
You know your failures
But I know your heart

You see your shame
But I see your glory
You read one page
I know the story

I hold a vision
That you'll become
As you grow into the truth
As you learn to walk in love

The dreams I dream for you
Are deper than the ones you're clinging to
More precious than the treasures you pursue

Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view
Then take the cup I offer
And drink deeply of
The dreams I dream for you...

Song by Avalon