4 Ways to Give God the Glory and Not Yourself

gloryHave you ever been tempted to give yourself the glory for something you did, instead of giving God the glory?

Let’s play out a scenario here… You’ve just finished doing something awesome for the Lord.  Maybe it was lead a Bible study at your church, plan an outreach event for your church that brought in many people, or even led a group of people on a mission trip.  Whatever it was, it was a HUGE success!  Everyone is saying what a great job you did.  The pastor makes you stand up in front of everyone while they applaud you. “Great job!  You are awesome!”  Everyone rises to their feet and gives praise to you for a job well done.  And you love it!  You love the attention. You love that people are giving you credit for all the hard work you did.  You deserve it for sure. Doing this thing that God called you to do wasn’t easy.  Thankfully others recognize that and are giving you praise!

What is wrong with this picture?  Some of you may say nothing.  It’s okay to be recognized.  And you are right.  There is nothing wrong with being recognized.  The problem comes when we are taking the credit for what God has done.  The problem is when our hearts are in it for the wrong reasons.  The problem is when we do what God calls us to do for selfish reasons and not for what God wants us to do. The problem is when we boast of what we have done.  It is NOT right to take credit when all the glory needs to go to God.  God gave you some great gifts in order to do the thing which He called you to do.  God is using those gifts for His purposes and not yours.  You are God’s vessel.  You are being used by God to to share His name with others.  God is using you, yes, but for what He wants and NOT for what you want.

So how do I enjoy the praise, thanks, and pats on the back, without losing sight of God?

Here are four ways you can make sure you give God the glory and not yourself:

1.  Pray   Before you do anything, pray A LOT!  Ask for God’s will to be revealed to you. Ask God to give you wisdom in all you do for Him.

2.  Study Scripture   Dive into the Bible and fill yourself with His words.  Let them flow through you.   It will be helpful to know His Word and it will keep you from washing up on the shore, having forgotten all about God in what you are doing.  A great Scripture to memorize to help you with this is Psalm 115:1:

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and your faithfulness.

3.  Praise God At All Times    In everything you do, thank God.  Thank God for the good things and the bad things in your life.  Everything that happens, God can use to do His will.  Praise God at all times!

4.  Say “Go God!”  A friend of mine says this all the time, especially when she is thanked for doing something.  She says it helps keep her focused on God and what He does through her.  It keeps the emphasis off her and puts it on God, which is exactly where it should be. So the next time you are thanked for something you did for the Lord, just say “Go God!”

God has each of us where we are for a reason.  He has us there to serve HIS purpose.  He wants to do great things through us. However, we must be willing to step out of that spotlight and make sure God shines brightly and not us.  When we learn to do that, God will bless us so much more.

All praise and glory goes to our Lord!

Telling the Good News: My Takeaways from The Belong Tour

img_8720This weekend I was able to attend the Belong Tour in Atlanta with women from my church.  Words cannot describe how excited I was to be going to this event.  For one, I was ready to worship.  As a Children’s Minister I don’t get to go to worship very much, so here was a chance for me to worship the Lord along with many women.  Singing to the Lord is one of my favorite things to do and I was ready to sing!

Second, I was ready to hear from the Lord from this amazing line-up of speakers:  Jen Hatmaker, Shauna Niequest, Patsy Clairmont, Nichole Nordeman, Angela Davis, and Sharon Irving.  I look up to these women and knew that I was going to get some awesome God-spoken words from them.  I was ready to hear these women speak!

But as I walked out of the door after Friday night’s session, all I could feel was disappointment.  Where was Jesus?  He was mentioned very little.  Where were the worship songs?  We sang more secular songs than worship ones.  Why did we not pray?  I was praying in my seat, though!  Why did they choose not to speak the Word of God that night?  There was no mention of any Scripture.

More questions rang through my head…What did I sign up for?  Did I misunderstand the meaning of The Belong Tour?  Did I come with too high expectations? Did anyone else feel the same way I did?  Where are you, Lord?

I prayed many times that night and on Saturday morning before we returned for another day of The Belong Tour.  I asked God to be present.  I asked God to take away my negative attitude so I could see Him in this event.  I asked God to give me an open mind.  I asked God to bring good from this event.

And friends….God did all those things and more.

I am writing this post because I want to share with you all the great things I did get out of The Belong Tour, even though it was not at all what I thought it would be.

  1.  Fellowship    On our way to the event we picked up a friend and when she got in the car she yelled, “Party!!!”.  That’s what it felt like for me that weekend.  A big party with my church friends.  I got to spend a weekend in beautiful fellowship with the ladies from our church…which is something I don’t get to do often.  One great thing about this conference was that we were able to get younger women from our church to attend, so it was awesome to see the merging of older women (who really aren’t old) and younger women.  I enjoyed our talks, our prayers, and just being with them.  They were a refreshment to my soul.
  2. Laughter     The amount of time I spent laughing this weekend was crazy!  Every time we got in the car someone would say something that started the non-stop laughter.  There were times I could not stop laughing.  These women brought joy and happiness into my life this weekend.
  3. Love    My church friends showed love to everyone this weekend. From the hugs, high fives, encouraging words, and prayers, I definitely felt the love.  And most importantly I felt the love of Jesus showered upon me by these precious women of God.
  4. Confirmation of God’s calling   This was the most important takeaway that I received this weekend.  I felt God confirming my calling to teach, write, and speak the Word of God to others, especially women.  He confirmed this by giving me this verse from Psalm 40:9-10

“I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.  I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” 

When I read that, tears welled in my eyes.  God does not want me to keep Him hidden.  He wants me to speak boldly of Him to “the great congregation”.  God wants me to live a life that leads others to Him.  He wants me to share the love of Jesus by telling them what amazing things He has done for me and for others.

I do NOT want to be a woman who conceals Jesus and hides Him away in my heart.  When I speak in front of others, write on my blog or in books, or stand to teach about Jesus, I want God to get the glory.  I want others to know who Jesus is.  I want them to see how awesome, powerful, mighty, faithful, loving, compassionate, and holy is the Lord our God.  I want “the great congregation” to see Jesus in and through me.

On our way to the hotel Friday night, after one of my own prayers to the Lord about where He was in all of that, we got off our exit and in a HUGE, bright billboard on that exit was the word, “JESUS”.  He was there.  He’s always there…even in events where I felt there should have been more of Him presented.  He never fails to show up.  He has been and will always be present with us.

I believe that no matter what happens to you, what expectations you have that are not met, or things turn out totally different that what you thought, that “God works all things for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28).

Friends, may we be reminded today of the words of Jesus, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go on your way.” (Luke 10:2-3).

The name of Jesus needs to be shared.  His name needs to be made known so that all can have eternal salvation.

Are you ready to be one of the laborers?

Here am I Lord, send me.

I’m ready to just…ABIDE

I’m just going tabide 2o be honest for a minute…

I am tired, worn out, and in need of rest.

Now that I said it, does that mean I get instant rejuvination?

Boy, I wish!

Life as a full-time mom & wife, and a full-time Children’s Minister has caught up to me. I am struggling.  My eyes are open and I’m awake, but I feel like I just go through the motions.

People that know me, know that I am full of energy.  Always on the go.  Always doing something.  My mom says that God gave me the gift of energy.  And He did.  But sometimes I let my battery get really low.

I need a re-charge.

Today I am going to Chicago for that re-charge.

I am going to the KidMin Conference in Chicago.  It’s an awesome Children’s Ministriy Conference sponsored by Group Publishing.  I am ready to connect with other leaders who do exactly what I do and to gain some new ideas and insight in the field of Children’s Ministry.  But, I think I am most ready to be away for a few days to rest and re-charge.

Life in Children’s Ministry is like riding a rollercoaster.  It’s thrilling, exciting, adventurous, and super fast.  There is always something to do.  You go from one hill to another with little time in between.  Just when one event or activity ends, another begins.  Up, down, up, down, up, down….

It’s an awesome ride because I have the best people on that rollercoaster with me.  I have the best kids in my ministry, the best volunteers, the best Nursery staff, the best church staff, and the best church members wabideho are super supportive. It’s an exciting ride with lots of fun people who keep me laughing and smiling.

The theme for the KidMin Conference is ABIDE.  And that, my friends, is what I am ready to do.

I am ready to just abide.  I want a few days to be in the presence of the Lord.  I want to spend time worshiping Him because He is so awesome.  I just want to sit at His feet and be with Him.

We were asked a while back from some of the leaders at Group Publishing to write down a word or phrase of what abide means to us.  For me, it’s to be spiritually connected.  To abide with the Lord is to be spiritually connected to Him.  When we abide with God we are quiet, calm, listening, and fully present with Him.  No distractions, no demands of life pulling at you, no deadlines to meet, no nothing.  It’s just you and Him.

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it  abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.     John 15:4

I am ready to abide.  I want to sit at His feet.  I am ready, Lord.

If you will be at the KidMin Conference, come find me and introduce yourself.  I would love to connect with you!

Share Jesus in a Letter

Back then we didn’t have the internet.  We just shared Jesus by writing letters and using cassette tapes.

This was said by a man named Oscar who grew up in El Salvador and has lived in the U.S. for the past 45 years.  He and his wife have a heart for sharing Jesus with others.  He said when they first arrived in the U.S., communication, obviously, was nothing like it is today. One of the ways they shared Jesus was by writing letters and recording themselves speaking onto cassette tapes.  Then they would share those with friends and family members.

Praise the Lord!Jesus Loves You! (2)My Aunt Donna was another person who shared Jesus through her letters.  She lives in Illinois so we didn’t see her much growing up, but she would always send us letters and even make us a few things.  At the end of every letter she would write:  “Praise the Lord!  Jesus loves you!”  And I mean every letter had that in there.  She didn’t just sometimes share it.  She shared it every time.  I always loved getting letters from her when I was a kid.  She continues to share Jesus with everyone today, too.  Her dedication to sharing Jesus with others is truly amazing.

Oscar and Donna remind me of Paul in the Bible.  Paul wrote letters to people in many different cities and he shared Jesus in those letters.   He did not let distance stop him or even prison.  He wrote and wrote and wrote so others could be encouraged by the words that God told him to write.

You can be like Paul, Oscar, and Donna, too, and share Jesus through letters.  Since our digital world is so much bigger these days, snail mail has slowed down, but it isn’t gone.  I encourage you to share Jesus with someone today.  That could be a child in your ministry, your parents, your children, your spouse, an old friend, or a co-worker.  Just sit down and pull out a piece of paper and write what’s on your heart.

Maybe you really despise writing with a pen and paper.  It takes such a long time.  Then write them an e-mail, send them a text, or send them a message through social media.  Whatever you want, just share Jesus with them today.

I have been feeling the call from God to share Jesus more.  This call is about writing my story and sharing my life with you.  I am excited to announce that next week I am launching a new blog.  This will be a blog about choosing faith over fear and the struggles I have had through my life with many different types of fears.  This new blog is my way of sharing Jesus every day with you.  If you’ve ever been a slave of fear, then this blog is for you.  I want you to know that you are not alone, but also to encourage you to overcome each and every fear with the help and power of Jesus Christ.

Once the new site is up and going, I will share with you the website address.  I’ll continue blogging here on KidMin Days, too, so you can still get ideas for your ministry!

Now go on and write that letter, e-mail, message, or text today.  Jesus needs to be shared!

 

Ministry Is…Part 2

Thanks to all of you out there who minister to people every day.  Each and every one of you is a minister, even if you don’t see yourself as one.

Here is part 2 of Ministry Is…

3.  Helping, when you feel like you’re the one that needs the help.ministry is

Ever had a period of your life when everything seemed to go wrong and you cried out to God for help?  During this time, all you wanted was to hear comforting words, for someone to give you a hug, and for God to take all this bad stuff away?

I remember five years ago when I felt this way.  I was having some issues with my health.  All of it stemmed from taking steroids when I had bronchitis.  Those things made me super anxious and not able to sleep for over a month.  Then I developed some gall bladder issues.  Not a fun year for me.

During that time, all I wanted was to be pain-free, to be able to sleep well, and for someone to understand what I was going through.  I was the one who needed the help.

But, I read somewhere about keeping a gratitude journal and every day writing out those things which you are thankful for.  I also decided I would write letters of encouragement to others who were suffering or letters to people I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Doing both these things helped me tremendously.  God helped me see I needed to be the one to help, even when I didn’t feel like it.  God was using me to help others, even when I felt like I was the one who needed help.  And I do remember one friend writing back telling me how my encouragement helped her because she had been having some health problems, too.

Be a minister to someone else.  Send them an encouraging note.  Fill it with Scripture that has been helpful to you.  Help others, even when you feel like you are the one that needs the help.

4.  Telling God to “use me”, when you’d rather ask to be rescued.

You heard God calling you.  You are excited!  You want to be as confident as Isaiah when he said in Isaiah 6:8:  “Here am I Lord, send me.”

You want God to use you.  You want to do great things for the Lord.  But, you are scared.  You want to turn the other way.  You doubt God because you feel like you are the one who needs to be rescued.  You are like David who says in Psalm 70:1:  “Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly Lord to help me.”  

Why is God wanting to use me?  I am definitely not qualified.  I am in need of rescue. I need God to send someone to help me, not me telling Him to use me.  I must be hearing wrong.  God didn’t call me.  He doesn’t need my help.

All these doubts go through your mind.  However, after much prayer, you tell God to use you.  Even though you feel like you need to be rescued, you are faithful and want to be used by God.  In the end, God does rescue you.  He does so much through you because you were willing to be faithful and serve Him.  Don’t be afraid.  Allow God to use you in mighty ways.

5.  Encouraging, even when you don’t understand God’s reasoning.

I don’t get it, Lord.  

Ever said that to God?  I know I have many times.  We can’t comprehend why things happen.  We don’t understand why God would allow something like that to happen: loss of loved one, loss of job, loss of house, health decline, etc.

During those times of not understanding, God wants to use us to encourage others. It is hard to be uplifting during a time of loss in someone’s life, no matter what the loss is.  And what’s even harder is encouraging someone when you have no idea of what they are going through.  You haven’t suffered a loss like theirs.  You don’t have a clue on how to encourage them.

But, you encourage the best way you know how:  through the Word of the Lord. Share Scripture you feel is uplifting and encouraging.  I love when a friend sends a Bible verse my way.  It always happens to be the exact Scripture I need to hear that day.  God knows what each person needs.  He sends his ministers (each of you) to be uplifting and encouraging to all those around you.

Be a minister.  Go do the work of the Lord today.

Stayed tune for the final post of Ministry Is…

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She Speaks…Here I Come

Have you ever been excited about something, but scared about it at the same time? You’ve got butterflies in your stomach when you think about this thing because you are super nervous, but then at other times you jump up and down because you are excited.

That’s the way I feel about She Speaks.

She Speaks is a conference for women who feel God calling them to write and speak.  It’s sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  (If you are a woman and don’t yet subscribe to their daily devotions then you should.  Check them out here:  http://proverbs31.org/)

So, why am I attending this conference?  One simple answer.  I am obeying God.  SS15_iamattending_button-01

I’ve been writing for almost two years now.  During this time I have felt God telling me to write my story (which I posted about here: http://kidmindays.com/2014/10/10/write-your-story/).   I have begun writing a book, but wasn’t sure how in the world I was going to be able to share it with others.

And then God opened the door for me to attend She Speaks.

During this conference, I will be able to attend workshops that will help me with writing and speaking.  I will get a chance to meet 700+ women who also feel God calling them to write and speak.  I will also have the opportunity to meet with a few publishers and pitch my book idea to them.  And that’s where the scary part comes in.

In this book, I share about my life in the ministry: the fears I have had and have overcome in serving God.  First of all, that’s scary.  I open up and share personal stories that many people will read.  I am not one to openly share, but that’s what I feel God wants me to do.

Second of all, it’s scary because I have to pitch this book idea to publishers.  I have to hook them with my story and hope they are intrigued enough to want to publish my book.  And this brings on so many other fears that I have had to pray about and overcome.

But, over the past few weeks, I have learned that I am not the only woman attending this conference who is scared.  I am part of the She Speaks Facebook page and have had enjoyed meeting and learning more about these women who will be attending the conference, too.  Many of them are sharing their fears and insecurities they feel in going to this conference and in writing and speaking.  It brings me comfort to know I am not alone in my fears.  And these women have also been so supportive.  I am looking forward to meeting them.

She Speaks takes place July 23-25 in Charlotte, NC,  I ask for your prayers as I prepare for this conference.  Over the next month, I will be busy writing a book proposal, writing a one-sheet, making business cards, and praying.  I ask you to pray for me as I begin to do these things.  Pray for God’s wisdom, for me to hear and listen to God, and for me to walk the path which God wants.

I am ready to learn more.  I am ready to be obedient and go where God sends me in this new path of writing and speaking.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”    Isaiah 6:8

 

Cool Ministry Moments:  The Time I Met Andy Griffith

For those of us in ministry, we always have some pretty cool moments that we will never forget.  Ones that will stick with us forever.  I thought it would be fun to begin a series of blog posts where I share with you some of my cool ministry moments over the past 14 years.  I hope you enjoy the series!

This past week I made a connection with someone on Facebook and this triggered a memory of one of the coolest ministry moments I have had. I posted on Facebook that I was wanting to give away some VBS supplies I had leftover from last year. It turns out the person who is in need of them is the Children’s Minister at the church where I did my field education placement when I was in school at Duke.  Such a small world!

photo 2In the summer of 2000 I was assigned to work with children and youth at Mount Olivet UMC in Manteo, NC.  I would be assisting the Director of Children and Youth in planning activities for the summer.  This pretty little town is in the Outer Banks.  I was super excited to be heading to the beach for my internship.  Who wouldn’t be, right?

I went to meet with the pastor before the summer began.  He took me to lunch and filled me in on the church:  the different programs, types of worship services, and exactly what I would be doing.  He also mentioned one cool piece of information:  Andy Griffith was a church member.  Wow!  How cool!  I was going to get to meet Andy Griffith.  I was excited!

But, he then went on to say that Andy had just suffered a heart attack and although he was recovering well, he probably would not be at church that summer.  What a bummer.  I was looking forward to meeting Andy.

photo 3
One of our VBS experiences. We made an outdoor tent as we learned about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness.

The summer was a blast!  I learned so much about working in a church from the pastor, staff, and congregation of Mount Olivet.  Great kids and youth to work with as well.  We had so much fun going on trips, doing Bible studies, doing VBS, and I really enjoyed getting a hands-on experience of what it was like to work in a church.

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My older sister and I at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. She and my nephew came to visit that summer.

 

 

 

I had a lot of first time experiences that summer:  going to Busch Gardens in Virginia, visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, visiting and learning about each of the lighthouses on the Outer Banks, doing a sunrise Bible study at Jockey’s Ridge State Park (the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern U.S.), seeing wild horses on Ocracoke Island, going to the Lost Colony drama (a play about Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempts to establish a settlement on Roanoake Island), eating raw oysters (something I found very gross and have never done again), and getting to be part of a church staff. Lots of fun times that summer.

The summer seemed to fly by.  It was my next to last Sunday at the church when the pastor pulled me aside before the service started.  He told me that Andy Griffith and his wife, Cindi, were at the worship service that was getting ready to begin.  Oh my goodness.  I couldn’t believe it and I hoped the pastor would introduce me before he left the church.

I sat in the front row of the church like I always do.  Sitting two rows behind me was Andy Griffith.  When we sang the hymns, I could clearly hear his beautiful Gospel voice that we all know.

It was the first Sunday in August and in the United Methodist Church we always celebrate communion.  One of my duties as the intern was to assist in communion.  Andy and Cindi just happened to be on my side of the rail that morning.  I got to tell Andy “the body of Christ broken for you.”  How many people can say they have done that?

After the service ended, I joined the pastor out front to greet everyone as they left.  Andy came through the line and the pastor introduced me to him. He shook my hand and told me it was nice to meet me.  Very cool!!

That day was a highlight for me, but what I took away from that summer was much better.  God had given me an affirmation of His calling.  I was doing what God wanted me to do.  I got to share Jesus with so many kids and teens and help nurture and love them on their spiritual journey.  I was following God’s will and that, my friends, was the best feeling in the whole world.

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The view of Roanoke Sound from the house I stayed in. Loved seeing this view every day.
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I would sit on the pier across from where I lived and read books and write letters to family and friends almost every afternoon.
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My mother and younger sister came to visit, too!