I was taught from an early age to stay faithful to my commitments, even when it is hard. But in the past couple of years I have wanted to quit the hard stuff, like ministry. In fact, in the spirit of transparency, in the few couple of weeks I had decided to do just that. Later this year, after the Come Away retreat was in the books, I would quietly step away from writing and speaking and mentoring in order to ‘just be’. My heart craves ‘just being’ right now like you would not even believe.
November will mark 10 years that I have been in ministry. God gave me a clarion call in late 2007 to a speaking ministry that shared Jesus and His grace. That ministry bloomed into a writing ministry that has allowed me to publish a few books. That ministry blossomed into a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry that has been the most fun thing I have ever done.
So, how did I arrive at this place of wanting to quit? I’ve pondered deeply whether it is a result of God withdrawing my calling to ministry. I’ve even secretly hoped that was the root of it all, yet each time I have tried to settle into that, God has sent something or someone along my path to point me in a different direction.
Like a Scripture: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ~ Romans 11:29
Well, okay, there is that!
Months ago I sat with a wise and trusted counselor who reminded me that perhaps I have not allowed my heart to heal from the traumas I have experienced over the past 3 years.
Almost nothing in my life right now is the way I had envisioned it would be. Loss upon loss. Hurt compounded like interest. There have been blessings come out of it but, like a good ‘bootstrapper’, in the beginning of it all I soldiered on, feeling the pain, but not allowing myself time and space to move through the stages of grief. Is it any wonder I have nothing to pour out?
Still the desire to quit nearly suffocates me on a regular basis. I feel as if I have little of worth to give, and the words that once flowed easily now seem to have dried up. I even have trouble coming up with a worthwhile Facebook post.
Maybe you, too, have wanted to quit. Maybe you want to quit right now. Your job, your marriage, your ministry, your mothering, a friendship, a hobby, life. You want to quit because it has become too hard, too painful, too exhausting, too _____________________. I get that! I really do.
May I invite you to do with your ‘quit’ exactly what I did? Take it to Jesus. Ask Him if He has ‘quitting’ in the plans for you. Ask Him to give you wise counselors. Ask Him to speak to your heart over the whole thing. Ask Him for books to read or music to listen to or walks to take that will help you find His plan for your ‘quit’. Ask Him for peace and healing, for heaven’s sake.
I don’t know what He will tell you about your quit, but I know that He gave me encouragement through Dr. Tony Evans to not completely throw in the towel. He is encouraging me to hop out of the rat race for a time, come to Him, and allow Him to heal my heart. I am re-reading Shelly Miller’s wonderful book entitled, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, and realizing that perhaps part of my ‘quit’ is my disobedience about observing a Sabbath rest each week. God instituted Sabbath for us, and the fact that I do not regularly observe a Sabbath rest smacks of self-sufficiency and pride. And we all know how God feels about pride!
So, where does this leave you and me, dear reader? Well, I might be here with a post, but I also might not. And I am okay with that even though the ‘experts’ tell bloggers that you MUST post regularly in order to get/retain readers. Y’all, I will be here when the Holy Spirit tells my heart to write, and not until. I am grateful for you, and I hope the Spirit gives me permission and desire to return to this space regularly one day, full of His words to share with you. I would be so grateful for your prayers.
Please do not forget about the Come Away retreat! Registration is still open, but there are only a few spaces left. So click over to THIS POST to find out more information about the retreat and how to register.
Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.
Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.
I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.
For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.
As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.
Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.
I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.
I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.
Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.
Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.
NOTE: If you are reading this post via email, you will need go to my website in order to see the video and access the GIFT I have for you. Click HERE to go to my website. When you arrive there, please look for the Friday, April 14th post.
Today I wanted to offer a video post because I hope to be able to convey how important I believe this week’s posts have been. Surely, I am not the only one out there who is desperately in need of a word make-over! Surely, I am not the only one in need of grace for her tongue. Surely, I am not the only one who needs accountability in her life?
I hope you will take the time to watch the video. I also hope you will be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your own heart. Here are links to my Monday and Wednesday posts that I reference in the video.
I would love to hear from you if you decide to take a journey similar to mine. You can use these principles for more than just changing words. They can be used to break free of all kinds of strongholds…lying, anger, alcoholism, adultery, pornography, overeating and so much more. Scripture memorization, prayer, and accountability. Three tools that have the blessing of God for you, His child.
May this gift will be a blessing to you, my readers. I hope it will help you in your journey toward words of grace. Please click the blue button below and follow the prompts to download and print your Grace-Full Scripture Cards.
On Monday I shared with you the beginning of my journey toward speaking words of grace rather than negative words. If you did not catch that post, you really, really need to go HERE and read it because today’s post will not make sense without the the Monday post. So, head on over and read it and I’ll be waiting right here.
This has not been an easy journey because I have come to realize how often negative, critical, grumbling words fill my mouth. As a woman in ministry, I am embarrassed to have to tell you that I have failed in this area time and time again. This is basic Christianity 101, yet here I am in the Holy Spirit’s remedial class. BUT, I’m thankful that He is patient and loving with me, and that He is giving me opportunities to change.
So, on Monday I shared about how prayer and Scripture memorization were key to my journey. Today, I want to share with you how I utilized the process of accountability in my efforts.
Remember my two friends who were the unfortunate recipients of my negative words at lunch that day? Well, the Holy Spirit instructed me to ask them if they would be willing to be my accountability partners in my journey. Here is the email that I sent to my precious friends.
The Holy Spirit has troubled my spirit deeply over my actions and words yesterday. I have asked for forgiveness from Him and you, and I know that I have received it. Yet, I feel there is an action that He is prompting me to take and I am coming to you for help.
I have a question for you. And please know, up front, that it is perfectly okay if you need to say no – I promise! I’m looking for some accountability *just* for the month of March in regard to making ’the words of my mouth acceptable to God’ (Psalm 19:14).
Consistently over the course of my 52 years my mouth has gotten me in trouble….not speaking the truth IN LOVE, speaking when I should not, saying things that are not kind, etc. Yesterday was evidence that I am in great need of a work of the Holy Spirit in this area. My plan is to be diligent in prayer about this and really seek God’s help in controlling my tongue every day. I recognize that my words are a choice and I must choose to not let my tongue be out of control.
I believe that if I can be focused in prayer and effort for the month of March, then controlling my words will become a habit that I can more easily continue. This is where I am asking for your help, if the Lord leads you. Would you maybe be willing to receive a very short email or text from me each morning for the month of March where I can tell you if I was successful the previous day? And if I wasn’t, I can tell you why I don’t think I was. A few sentences, max…I promise not to waste your time in this. Again, if you do not feel led or feel like you can do this, I completely understand. Thank you for considering it.
Both of my friends said “YES”. And so beginning on March 2nd , I ‘reported in’ every morning with my success, or lack thereof, in my efforts to eliminate negative-speak from my life. It is incredible what accountability will do for an effort like this. I knew that I had to report in, and I hated like everything to have to report failure, so I was much more aware of my words throughout the day. Oh, there were a few days where the report was less than stellar, but there were also many wonderfully successful days. In fact, the successful days outnumbered the failure days by a lot.
I learned that in life there are times when negative words must be spoken simply because of circumstances, but they can be spoken without anger and hurt as their fuel. (You must be thinking, what a moron!! She didn’t know that?) I also became much more aware of my thoughts and where negativity was creeping in BEFORE those thoughts became words.
I am happy to report that speaking grace-filled words, or just keeping my mouth shut completely, happens far more often than speaking negative words these days. I still have moments when I slip and speak a negative word, but the Holy Spirit convicts me immediately and I confess my sin. I will likely be a work in progress for a while on this issue, but I’m so thankful that God took me down this path.
Once again today I want to ask you about your words….to your husband or wife….about your husband or wife? About your children…your co-workers…those with whom you attend church….the homeless person on the street….anyone and everyone.
What kind of words do you speak?
Are they anger- or hurt-driven words, or are they words of grace and care?
On Friday I will be back here with a gift for you and some insight from my recent character issues survey. I will also have a challenge for you, so I hope you will join me here. Please go HERE to watch the Friday video post and download your GIFT.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
Do you love music? I sure do. Now, Amazon is offering a free 30 day trial of Amazon Music…any music, anywhere. Click the link below to begin your free trial.
Sometimes passages in Revelation make me scratch my head and wonder what John was smoking! Such is the case today. Two verses at the beginning of chapter 11 that do not seem to fit in with the rest of the chapter. However, I believe the Lord will connect these verses for us before the end of our time together today. So, hang onto your hats and let’s dive into Revelation 11.
Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.
In this passage John becomes a workman being told to take a measuring rod and measure the temple of God. He is told to measure only the inner portion, the parts known as the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. At this point, we need to attempt to establish the identity of the referenced temple. In the history of the Jewish nation, there have been a few temples. The first place of worship for the Israelites was the wilderness tabernacle. The earliest temple was that begun by Solomon around 958 BC. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Zerubbabel built a temple after the Jewish exile. The third temple was the temple of Herod, built around 515 BC and destroyed by Titus in AD 70. There has never been another temple built for the Israelites to use for worship. Is the temple referenced in verse 1 one of these temples? Another option is that a heavenly temple is being referenced. We will see a reference to the heavenly temple later in the chapter.
So, is the temple of Revelation 11:2 any of these, or is it a completely new temple, yet to be built in Jerusalem? I would submit to you that there is yet a temple to be built in Jerusalem in which the Jewish people will, one day, worship and sacrifice.
I believe during the time of the tribulation antichrist will make a covenant with the Jewish people. He will encourage and allow them to build a temple in which they can worship. At the midpoint of that seven years of tribulation, antichrist will break that covenant and set himself up as god in the Jewish temple. Check out Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Daniel 9:27, and Daniel 12:11 for references for future temple worship and sacrifice. We will touch on these later.
If you know anything about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, you know it is currently occupied by Muslims and is the site of two of the most holy places in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gleaming Dome of the Rock. Christians and Jews are forbidden to worship on the Temple Mount. The Mount is not a large patch of ground and there is little room to accommodate a Jewish temple of the size and scope that is anticipated for the tribulation temple.
None of this has hindered Jewish people from planning the re-building of the Temple. Even today, devout Jews are diligently working to construct everything necessary to completely equip a future temple. I’ve seen with my own eyes the work they are doing, and people, they are serious about it. They believe that there will be another temple on the Mount in Jerusalem. I believe it too.
I cannot tell you how it will happen, nor can I tell you when, but it is my firm conviction that a temple will be built on the Mount in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people will worship and sacrifice there.
In verse 2 we come to a very important time reference. Forty-two months. We will see this time reference several places in our study, but in different wording. In Daniel 12, this time period was described as ‘a time, times, and half a time’. Elsewhere in Revelation we will find ‘3 ½ years’ and ‘1260 days’ referenced. Every reference like this seems to be part of the time of tribulation that will come upon the world…either the first half or the last half, which is also known as The Great Tribulation. More on that later.
The ‘nations’ is usually a reference to Gentiles, or everyone who is not Jewish. Such is the case here. The temple would be only for those of Jewish descent. The nations’ trampling of the outer court is highly significant, and is the link to why John wrote these two verses and placed them in chapter 11. We will study that next week and visit with two very interesting characters. Until then, keep your eyes on Jesus.
This post contains affiliate links.
My goal with providing these links at the end of my posts is to offer you something to expand your study of the book of Revelation. Dr. David Jeremiah has written a great book on the players that will emerge in the end times. I think you would really enjoy this book. Click the picture below or THIS LINK to learn more.
When I was a tiny child I had horrible tonsils that kept me sick with a sore throat for most of the first five years of my life. At the age of 5 I underwent surgery to remove the offending tonsils and suddenly I could eat. I ate and ate and ate. In fact, I gained no small amount of weight in a short period of time.
At that point, my sweet Mother, whose intentions were pure and good, began her campaign to make certain I did not become ‘fat’. ‘Fat’ became a word that eventually engulfed me like a disease.
“You cannot have that. It will make you fat.”
“Bread…corn…potatoes…dessert… is fattening.”
I adored food, but food soon became the enemy. By the time I was 18 I was in the throes of an eating disorder, and the demons of anorexia quickly took the message that my Mother had spoken to a whole new and devastating level.
Fat = unacceptable = unlovable
Suddenly love had strings attached to it which led me to do things that I should never have done in order to obtain ‘love’ from humans. I brought my strings-attached love into my marriage and that was disastrous on many levels. Thankfully, my marriage survived and I eventually understood that ‘I will love you if….’ is not genuine love.
In Romans 12:9 Paul speaks of the kind of love that should be part of the life of an authentic Christian.
Let love be genuine. (ESV)
Love must be completely sincere. (GNV)
Love must be sincere. (NIV)
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (NLT)
Obviously Jesus is our model for this kind of love. He loved sincerely, without strings or hypocrisy. He did not pretend to love those with whom He came in contact. He loved them in spite of. He loved them…..
when they were fat.
when they were tall or short.
when they complained.
when they were filthy rich.
when they were dirt poor.
when they were sick.
when they were legalistic.
when they were dirty rotten sinners….like me.
Jesus loved sincerely.
Perhaps you, like me, have a history of love with strings attached. Guess what? Jesus can take that kind of love and turn it into a love in spite of. That is the kind of love Jesus has for you and me. Surely you and I can love other people in the same way.
So, tell me. What kind of love resides in your heart? Be honest now!
NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links.
Here a few links to some great books that go along with my post theme today.