Imperfect Beginnings

For as long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. I hold myself to a high standard and often exhaust myself trying to reach that mark. While striving for excellence is a good thing, being a painstaking perfectionist has a major downside: it also makes me a procrastinator. I don’t like to start anything until I know I can complete it perfectly. This has led to countless untold stories, unfulfilled dreams, and unshared talents. It’s also led to an assortment of excuses for why these things go undone.

I can’t do this thing, I reason, because it won’t be just right. If my results aren’t up to my high standards, surely my efforts aren’t worthwhile. It’s smarter to wait until I can guarantee a better result. When I know I’ll write fluently, make music flawlessly, share Jesus articulately, and succeed completely, then I’ll begin.

The real reason behind these excuses, though, isn’t wise planning or careful preparation. It’s fear. I am afraid to step out and walk on the waters Jesus has called me to. I’m afraid that my efforts won’t matter; my words, my songs, my heart, won’t make a difference. This fear tries to convince me that it’s not time to step out yet; when the time is “right,” then I can move forward. Until then, I shouldn’t begin anything. I should simply wait… and then wait some more.

For the past year, though, the Lord has been showing me that there’s no such thing as a perfect beginning. We will never feel equipped, confident or qualified enough for the things He calls us to. And we’re not supposed to. Jesus doesn’t call us because we have it all together. He calls us so He can put things together through us, providing what we need and showing His grace and greatness through even our shortcomings. One of my favorite Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The very weaknesses I have allowed to hold me back are what invite the power of God to rest in my life! His grace, not my talent is what equips me to do His will. Jesus doesn’t view our small, unsteady starts as an inconvenience or disappointment; He welcomes and encourages them. He doesn’t merely work with and through our imperfect beginnings; He delights in them.

When I feel that my efforts are uncoordinated or unimportant, Jesus isn’t recording my shortcomings. He is celebrating that the work has started. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).

What has Jesus whispered in your heart that it’s time to begin? Don’t let fear hold you back – Jesus rejoices to see our imperfect, obedient beginnings. Autumn may seem like an odd time to think about “beginnings,” but I often find myself reflecting in the fall. It’s a time to look back on the year that has passed so far and to look ahead to what’s coming. And it’s a time to simply, imperfectly, begin.

Sarah Bio

What Ministry Is Not

I grew up in a pastor’s home. I lived with parents that eat, sleep, breath ministry and working for God’s kingdom. From scrubbing baseboards and painting the church, to studying, praying, and fasting for each sermon and lesson, to dealing with all kinds of people as counselors and psychiatrists, advising with Biblical and Godly wisdom. And you know what, my parents LOVE it. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly. I was raised in an environment where the mentality was: it is a joy, an honor, and a privilege to serve God’s kingdom as ministers. Not one time did I hear my parents grumble or complain about the burdens of ministry. When my parents faced a challenging situation, they never vented or involved me and my sisters. There are things that happened to my parents that I didn’t find out about until I became an adult, because they wanted to protect us and never give us a hazy outlook on ministry. I am eternally grateful for that. I know of others that are pastor/minister’s kids who grew up to resent ministry. They knew about the drama and attacks upon their parents, their parents would be gone all day working at the church, and would pour so much of themselves into their ministry that there was hardly any time or energy for them.

The definition of ministry is literally: servanthood. But, unlike the maids and butlers of royalty- being a servant to God is so rewarding, a blessing, and a powerful experience. Being a servant to God feels like being royalty. Ministry is anything that somehow benefits the kingdom. Yes, some ministries put you on a stage for people to see. But, at the end of the day, God sees ministry as a thing of the heart. If you scrub that church toilet until your fingers bleed, God values that more than the guy who jumps behind a pulpit and didn’t prepare his message (real talk).

Ministry was made to be a practice taken on by a follower of Christ. First you follow, then you serve. When God went looking for disciples, He didn’t stop at asking them to follow. He told them he’d make them fishers of men and that they would have to take up their cross. Ministry is supposed to be something we do because we love God, we want to benefit His kingdom, and want to devote our time and energy as His devoted servants.

Ministry, as satisfying and honorable as it is, is not a relationship in itself. It is supposed to be a product of a relationship.

In church culture, we tend to glorify ministry. We tend to treat it as a status symbol or a fancy title. I remember being a teenage girl and that being the pick-up line guys would use to attract the women, “Yeah, I’m going to be a minister”. When in reality, that probably wasn’t the most pure-hearted statement.

But, for those that are genuinely in ministry (and not trying to pick-up a date), sometimes we feel a pressure to always produce. Like, give a progress update at the end of every day of things we’ve done, people who have been filled with the Holy Ghost, or how many followers we got on our ministry’s Instagram. Without meaning to, we can start behaving like ministry is a job and we are being rated on our performance. Subconsciously we will compare our ministry to others and our work to other churches. Sometimes we wake up stressed and go to bed stressed thinking about our ministerial responsibilities. And that, is simply exhausting and not the way God ever intended ministry to be.

Burn out is a real thing. I have seen it firsthand. Marriages fall apart, churches crumble, and minister’s spirituality suffer. All because a servant of the Lord gave and gave and stopped being refreshed from the fountain. People get spread so thin, trying to pour themselves into ministry with juggling work, school, family and friends, that they eventually breakdown.

It is okay to take a break or even to pull-out of ministries. Yes, you heard me right. I believe whole heartedly ministry is something EVERYONE should be involved in. It’s so rewarding and a blessing to the congregation. But, I have to remind myself that God rather have His relationship with you be priority, strong and thriving, than have you hanging on by a thread doing His work. Your walk with God is so much more important than what you do for Him. Although your local church and pastor appreciates your help (especially in a small church), make sure you are thinking of your spirituality and mental well-being first.

Are you getting burned out?

Do you feel like you have nothing else to give?

Do you find yourself more often stressed than uplifted when helping in the kingdom?

Does it feel like an obligation instead of a privilege?

These are hard questions each of us who are heavily involved in church need to ask ourselves.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What God truly desires from us is communion, intimacy, meditation on His word, and to be priority in your life. Yes, that even means priority over your ministry.

Don’t find your satisfaction in what you do for Christ or the roles He has given you in His kingdom. But, in Him alone. Be thankful for the honor and opportunity of leadership that has been bestowed upon you. But, never let that fog your vision of what is most important…your one true love.

charity

Stuck in a Fairytale

Sometimes, when life get to us, we can feel lost. We feel lost until the next church service. Then it all comes back to us – just to lose ourselves again. Have you ever heard the metaphor of “getting lost in a book”? Where you read a book that so good you just can’t put it down? Living the life of an Apostolic Girl can be like that.

You see your friends out going to parties and it looks like they’re having so much fun. You see other teenage girls with boyfriends. You look at someone’s swim suit post and at how many likes they get. You start to get lost in this lie social media tells of how great their lives are. Until… you learn that teenage girl got pregnant. That boy from your High School overdosed. Their mom committed suicide. These things are real. Instagram is not.

It’s easy to get lost in a fantasy world. People can take one look at your life on instagram and call it perfect, but you have to see what’s behind the filter. It’s hard to not get lost in a perfect world. People get jealous and they want what they’ve been told that they can’t have. Being an Apostolic might mean you have to sacrifice some things. But it is all in God’s plan. Just imagine all the horrible things God has saved you from! You do not have to feel lost, because all you have to do is pray and give your baggage to Him. And, He can do it over and over again.

The Bible says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

This is something that we need to think about. God wants us to have faith in his works. He needs us to have faith in Him and understand why He leads us away from the temptations of this world. You are never too lost to be found.

chelsea blogger

Don’t Take a Holiday

Matthew 28:19- Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

Mark 16:15 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matthew 10:32 – Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

James 5:20 – Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Luke 14:23 – And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled.

Being a soul winner is the most honorable and important purpose our lives can serve, above any other achievement. A precious soul, created by God, a soul that He died for, is headed to hell by our sinful nature. To pull them out of the flames gives the Lord’s heart so much joy. For He is: “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” -II Peter 3:9.

We have a major responsibility as soul winners. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, dreams, goals, problems, and situations. But, if we are to have the true nature of Christ- our love for the lost and care for their souls will always take priority. You think you’ve got it bad?

In this life, it is impossible to avoid hardships. But, imagine going through the same trials:

  • Without the Holy Ghost
  • Body of Christ to support you
  • A relationship with Jesus to comfort you
  • His Word to give you peace

Can we really say we’re surprised when people cut themselves, drown their sorrows in alcohol, numb the pain with drugs, and the even worse- kill themselves? They are defenseless against the enemy because they do not have access to the power that we do. People in the world have no immunity to spiritual attacks.

I am only speaking on this topic because it is something that I am so guilty of. Let’s get personal for a moment… I struggle with getting up in the mornings and sometimes walk into the office 15 minutes late. I’m so happy to be free on my lunch breaks, I have a hard time coming back to work. I know my coworkers see me come in late and my boss noticing my ever growing breaks. I’m not sinning or being immoral. But, am I still doing something just as damaging?

If we have ever claimed or will ever claim to be Christian/Apostolic/Pentecostal there is a responsibility we are taking on. What you say or claim means nothing to those around you if your actions do not to follow suite.

Maybe you think the little stuff like me running late and sneaking into the work place isn’t a big deal.

  • An occasional bad attitude
  • A little white lie to employers/professors
  • Moments of unkindness
  • Immodesty
  • Tolerating ungodliness (not speaking up or fleeing the situation)
  • Ignoring your surroundings (being compassionless and unconcerned)

Your witness doesn’t take a holiday.

You do not need to know someone very well to already form opinions about their character. It’s human nature! Especially in the world, where there is no grace, it is very natural for them to judge and form opinions of you.

People you may think have no idea that you exist, do notice you. Although they may not know your name or know your background- they do make judgments based off of your behavior, each and every day. From you professor, to your classmates, to your landlord, to your boss, to the lady that waits your table… The world is watching.

Being a Christian doesn’t end when you leave the sanctuary. There is no break, pause, or time-out. We must ALWAYS be conscience of our actions.

So, you have a bad day. Boss has been a jerk, you failed an exam, and you’re in a fight with your best-friend. You go to McDonald’s in a bad mood. The girl at the register gets your order wrong and you have to wait 20 minutes for your meal. In your anger and high emotion, you catch an attitude with the girl at the register. You snatch your food and give her a snarky comment and storm off with your eyes rolling.

There’s nothing wrong with having bad days and not being in pleasant moods. BUT, where the error happened was taking out the frustration on someone in the world. Thus ruining your witness. That cashier and everyone in that McDonalds has been affected. (This particular example deals with anger. But this also applies to acting depressed, sad, anxious, etc.)

People in the world are naïve and vulnerable. They have no wisdom from the Holy Ghost or spiritual strength to defend their emotions and perspective.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

In conclusion, our witness doesn’t take a vacation or leave. Everything you do is being watched every day. Although we have our hiding place and refuge within the church and the circle of church friends, we’ve been called to a higher place of responsibility when in the world. If you are struggling with something that may be affecting your witness- pray that God reveals what it is and gives you the determination to conquer it! I will be trying harder, personally. And I hope you do too.

charity

Worship: It’s What I Do

You WILL worship something…what will it be?

Sure, you don’t have a golden image sitting in your closet. But, you could easily devote too much time and energy to relationships, self-image, clothes, possessions, education, and entertainment. Slowly, anything can become what you praise and worship.

We were created to worship! (Revelation 4:11) But of course, God desires to be the only one you worship. When you worship and praise whole heartedly, it is SO satisfying! Because you are fulfilling the essence of why we were created!

Although it feels good and it’s one of the main purposes for our existence…why does worship make us feel uncomfortable? Why can it be so difficult?

The answer is simple. Let’s look at the story of King David…(2 Samuel 6:16)

David was worshiping the Lord and celebrating that the Ark of the Covenant was back in the Holy Land as he danced down the streets of Israel. He was so thrilled and grateful, he was acting a “foo”. Michal, his wife, was embarrassed and even disgusted by his behavior, for it was improper, undignified, and inappropriate for a King to behave in such a way. Worship requires humility. If you’re not having to humble yourself with how expressive, loud, and passionate you are worshiping… is it really a sacrifice? I understand we all worship differently, but either way, you should give your all in worship as King David did. He gave his all despite the opinions, observations, and influences around him. That’s why as young ladies, concerned about our appearance and image, we can struggle with worship (unless it’s the cute patty-cake golf clap). True worship requires surrender, shamelessness, selflessness, and humility.

The Bible talks about all kinds of expressive forms of worship that many may find embarrassing to do in service:

Dancing-Psalms 149:3, hand clapping-Psalm 47, hand raising-Psalms 63:4, singing- Colossians 3:16, shouting- Ezra 3:11-13, bowing- Ephesians 3:14-, and worship through music- Psalm 150.

I encourage you to be a beautiful example, portrayal of your testimony, and a grateful vessel of worship. Once you break through the pride, worry, and distractions, you will see how rewarding worship is to yourself and for your relationship with God!

about blogger

Charity Huba is a 24 year old Floridian, fond of the State’s hot summers and tropical beauty. She is a leader in youth ministry, music ministry, and Sunday school. She has her degree in Political Science and works for the government in the Division of Elections. She adores quality time with her loved ones, musicals, and moon-lit nights.

The Beauty of a Stop Sign

Picture this: You are driving down the road, in a hurry to get to your next destination, but what is that you see? A stop sign. “Ugh, I don’t have time for this,” you think to yourself. However, you only have two options: stop or keep going at the risk of hurting yourself or others. Of course you see the importance in stopping when driving a vehicle, but what about when you are traveling through life? How many of times have you been trucking through life, trying to get to the next destination, only to be stopped by those pesky red signs?

As a very busy and constantly going generation, we tend to see waiting as the worst possible activity. Whether it’s waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line, or waiting at a bus stop, we will always try to avoid this horrible task of waiting. And when avoiding is impossible, we distract ourselves in the meantime. I mean, that’s what scrolling through social media is for, right?

So what happens when God asks you to wait? What if God calls you to something, but it doesn’t happen immediately like you planned? What if there are stop signs standing in between you and your destination?

Did you know that David was anointed by Samuel to be king of all of Israel and then David waited TWENTY-TWO YEARS to be king of all of Israel? TWENTY-TWO. That’s longer than a lot of us have even been alive! I’m sure David became impatient a few times, but what David didn’t know is that he had to wait at certain stop signs before reaching his destination. David had to become ready for what the Lord wanted him to do; therefore, in the mean time, he prepared himself. He defeated a bear, a lion, and Goliath. He even became king of only Judah during his waiting period, but he didn’t stop there because he knew the Lord had promised him so much more.

You must see your waiting periods or stop signs in life like David saw his. Instead of distracting yourself with ungodly relationships, social medias, or your own plans, you must be intentional on how you use the waiting time God has allowed you to have. You have to take this time equipping yourself for the next step instead of being frustrated about your current step. You need to take this time to study God’s word, deepen your relationship with Him, and even find yourself in the beauty of His creation.

God designed every single destination, but He also designed every single stop sign. When you hit a stop sign, look around. Look behind you at what God has done. Look in front of you at what God is going to do. But most importantly, look beneath your feet at the foundation the Lord is building during your waiting period. And always remember to be brave and courageous and wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 27:14).

about sarah

Sarah Barnhill, 21, is from Texas and is the middle sibling out of three girls in the Barnhill family. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with her Bachelor’s degree. Her favorite snack happens to be Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos!

 

I’m Going Where?!

At some point in life, we all question our purpose, or calling. Often, we can go through seasons where we just can’t figure out what it is that we are supposed to be doing. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 10 years in the Apostolic church, it’s that there is a season, or a waiting period, for everything. Some come and go as quickly as a whisper in the wind, while others last for days, months, or maybe even years. I’ve met many people that found out quickly what their calling in life was, while others were still searching.

That goes to show that no two people are the same. If you have already figured out your life’s calling, if you’re already building on it, then that is great! But if you are still searching for an answer about which path your life is supposed to take, know that you are not alone. You can rest in knowing that God has called you to something. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  So whether you are 10, 20, 30 or older, you are called to be great! Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t figured it out just yet.

There is a time for everything and everything is in God’s time. God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That alone tells me, that if I focus on God, on seeking Him and building my relationship with Him, that anything and everything else that I need will be taken care of. When the time is right, He will tell me just what to do and where to go. And then you’ll find yourself asking not “where am I going?” but instead, “I’m going where?”.

about blogger haley

Haley Ivey, 24, resides in Bryant, Arkansas, where she and her husband serve as assistant youth leaders at Solid Rock Pentecostal Church. She enjoys photography, travel, writing and spending time with family.