Delighted to Share

I’m doing another Five Minute Friday free write today, and our prompt is the word share. Here we go!

Growing up in church I got the idea that “ministry” was a specific category of activities such as verbally sharing the Gospel or leading a Bible study. In college I began to volunteer with a parachurch youth ministry whose guiding Scripture was 1 Thessalonians 2:8, which says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

I was entrusted with a group of several middle school girls with which to do Bible study, but I was also encouraged to “do life” with them. Over the course of several years God gave me a deep love for these sweet and energetic girls as I taught them the Word and prayed for them but also participated in sleepovers and picnics, tennis matches and choir concerts.

Meanwhile the parents of these girls either consciously or subconsciously adopted this same philosophy of relational ministry with me. They told me about what God had done in their lives—not through any kind of formal discipleship program but rather on walks, over coffee, and on their porch swings. I will be forever changed by the powerful ministry that occurred through my relationships with both the girls and their parents.

Imagine my sheepish surprise when I realized that this “new” way of doing ministry is exactly what Jesus did on earth! He preached and performed miracles, of course, but He also gathered a small group of friends around Him—the disciples—and He lived life with them. They ate, fished, and traveled together. Judging by the way the disciples later radically devoted their entire lives to spreading the Gospel even while experiencing persecution, I’d say His ministry method was successful, and I believe this type of relational ministry packs a similar punch today.

Want to do “ministry?” Share the Gospel, and share your life.

Has anyone "shared the Gospel" with you by sharing their life with you? I'd love to hear about it!

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22 Birthday Wishes for My Favorite 22 Year-Old

When I was 22, fresh out of school and ready to start my first “real” job, I moved in with a fun and kind family with whom I’d become acquainted in my college town. Their daughter, Mariah, was 16 at the time, and we became close friends. Though she and I are both technically only children, in each other we gained a sister. We have milked that sister relationship for all the adventures, heart-to-hearts, and shenanigans it’s worth! This weekend she’s turning 22, and I’ve got some birthday wishes for her:


1.  May your hot tub be hot and your pool cool.

2.  May your fridge be stocked with chocolate chip cookie dough every time you get a craving.

3.  May your TV give you gifts of quality entertainment—like the distinct pleasure of watching couples who met online meet in real life on Catfish.

4.  May your nearest Vera Bradley store be an outlet.

5.  May your tummy be ever full. There’s no shame in Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes at 10:00pm.

6.  May your radio be tuned to country music and your GPS set to Nashville.

7.  May your scooter have plenty of gas to take you to Sonic and back on half-price milkshake night.

8.  May your weather forecast be accurate and your interior closet nearby. If you’re really lucky, your loved ones will wedge you in there with pillows.

9.  May your personal photographer be always handy and willing. (Psst! Brandon, this is you now!)

10.  May your shopping trips be met with the desire to see your purchases modeled in a fashion show at home. Lights and music? Even better.

11.  May ice storms and snow days find you in the company of family, friends, and endless rounds of Mexican Train dominoes.

12.  May your need for much sleep be accommodated. If it’s hot inside, sleep on your backyard trampoline. Do what you need to do!

13.  May your crazy plans have an accomplice—skateboarding lessons by cover of darkness and the like.

14.  May your resolve to be yourself never waver…even after everyone else has stopped listening to Justin Bieber. (I'll still be listening to the Biebs, which may or may not make you feel better.)

15.  May your priorities be straight: jet skiing or GRE prep course—you tell me… That was a test; if you said jet skiing, you passed.

16.  May your maturity never prevent you from jumping on a trampoline.

17.  May your late-night secrets find a listening ear and an understanding heart.

18.  May your confidence never fade that you are beautiful and you have beautiful things to offer the world.

19.  May your adventures be many.

20.  May your heartaches be few.

21.  May your disappointments remind you to believe in something better from Jesus.

22.  May your knowledge that you are loved be steadfast—by God, your husband, your parents, your family, friends, and me!

Happy Birthday, Sis!

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Oil Your Back

The other day my husband and I had one of those “discussions”—my diplomatic reframe of arguments—in which he just wasn’t getting it, and I wasn’t getting it either! Neither of us had a clue what the other was trying to say, as if I were speaking Swahili and he Klingon. Nevertheless we were back on the same planet, understanding each other and coexisting peaceably within twenty minutes, thanks largely to Greg’s patience, calm spirit, and refusal to emotionally escalate at the breakneck rate towards which I tend. I’ll admit to being as sensitive as the next woman, if not a little more, so my husband’s steadfastness is an asset to me personally and to our marriage.

I told him as much following our argument—I mean discussion—and thanked him for not being easily offended. He said, “I keep my back oily,” to which I wrinkled my nose and said, “Eww! TMI!”, then, “Wait…What are we talking about here?” He said, “You know, like a duck.” I didn’t know—I guess duck facts fall into the unfortunate 90% of sixth-grade science class learning that didn’t make it to the present day—so he explained to me that ducks have glands that produce oil that causes water to easily roll off of their backs; this means that they can swim around all day without being wet and weighed down. (He’s a farmer; he knows these things.) In a similar way Greg keeps his figurative (Thank goodness!) back oily so that many of the things he could be offended by simply roll off.

How? I think there’s a secret in Proverbs 19:11, a verse both Greg and I have sought to epitomize, though this is easier said than done. It says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Let’s examine this verse more closely. First, it’s wise to be patient; this isn’t rocket science. The wiser you are, the more patient you will be when people misunderstand and offend you. And guess what? God gives wisdom to anyone who asks for it (James 1:5). Next, when I overlook an offense, it is to my glory!—not in a weird, “worship me” sort of way but rather as an indication of who I am, my character, which ultimately points back to whose I am, Christ's! The definition for the Hebrew word for “glory” (tiph’arah) includes beauty, honor, and bravery—I love that! It takes bravery to let someone off the hook who has offended me.

Finally, let’s explore the part of this verse with which I have the most difficulty: overlook. I bristle at the thought of “overlooking” an offense because to me this seems to carry the idea of pretending the offense never happened, saying it didn’t hurt even though it did, and basically being in denial, of which I'm not a big fan. Once again the Hebrew definition is helpful; to “overlook” (‘abar) something is to pass over, by, or through it, and this is the same word used to describe how the Spirit of God passed over those doorframes painted with blood that fateful night in ancient Egypt (See Exodus 12:12, 23.). Those homes which were passed over were spared from death and "overlooked" by the Destroyer in response to the presence of lamb’s blood, which foreshadowed the death of Jesus, the satisfactory payment for all offenses throughout history. In other words, to 'abar something is not to simply ignore it for no reason but rather to make an intentional choice to move on from it for a good reason.

The good reason we can make the difficult and even crazy choice to overlook others' offenses against us is that Jesus has taken all offenses upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24), and it's His job, not ours, to deal with them (Romans 12:19). He is just, giving mercy freely but only to those who make Him the Lord of their lives (Romans 9-10), and He does not remove the consequences of sin (Galatians 6:7-8). Let's take our hurts to Jesus and trust Him to deal with those who hurt us because He is more than capable! Let's pick our battles carefully and examine our motives when we’re confronting an offender. Some offenses need to be addressed, and some need to roll off our backs. Let’s keep our backs oily through a steady intake of the Word and output of prayer so we can swim around freely and unburdened by offense like we were created to do.

How about you? How do you keep your back oily? Let me know in the comments.

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