Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Ministry”

The Kitchen

dirty-kitchen

I had a check in my spirit from the first time I was introduced to the “kitchen” teaching.  It was introduced to me when I began my assent in ministry servant leadership sort of as a heads up of what happens in the behind the scenes.  Basically the teaching compares the inner working of a ministry to what happens in the kitchen at a busy restaurant where the tension is high, food is flung, toes are stepped on…all overlooked when the result is a beautifully served meal, worth all of the drama as the unsuspecting customer goes away well fed and watered.   I had the dvd at home on my desk but was never moved to watch it until I found myself poised to step into the kitchen.  I figured it was time to watch it and as I did I was not impressed. In fact my response was HUH?  I shelved the thought only to be reminded of it from time to time as newbies were being groomed.  Again, my spirit would be checked time after time.  Truthfully, I felt that all that kitchen talk was simply justification for poor behavior.

I had a conversation with a former staffer of a church who also held the same behind the scenes views and my “check” was confirmed when this person shared how they found it difficult to transition from a behind the scenes “server” to “well fed and watered customer” after having been behind the scenes and privy to the “kitchen.”  That stuck with me and again that teaching checked me.

I love “kitchen” shows.  There’s Top Chef/Top Chef Masters (my two favorites) and there are a host of others, one of which bears the name, “Hell’s Kitchen” which I’ve never seen, whose name pretty much proves my next point.  In watching Top Chef I have observed the behavior of the participants to be rude, obnoxious, unhelpful, competitive, cliquish, divisive, bullying and a host of other such adjectives.  This is typical kitchen behavior which is considered the norm and to some quite entertaining.  The more I heard of the “kitchen” teaching and then watched these shows, the more I realized that was a teaching which I know hurts the heart of the Father because that behavior should not be behavior His children partake in…period.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident which are:…idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy… But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Galatians 5:19-23

I’ve observed restaurant behavior…the servers running around hurriedly, stressed out, never able to engage with the people they are serving.   Afraid to make mistakes and going to great lengths to cover those made, always fearing the consequences of their mistake and never quite pleasing those they serve.  I always appreciate the waiter who lingers at our table and I have found that the tip is always a little more generous for that person.  I’ve also seen the chef in action… sweaty and rushed, irritated and sometimes barking at his staff.  There’s a lot of stress in the kitchen.

The last thing I’ve noticed is how unattractive a messy kitchen is..folks getting burned, slipping on the dirt…getting caught themselves in traps set for intruders.   If we walked into half the kitchens that served us, I doubt we’d ever return.  Is it worth it to go through all of the drama in order to serve up a great meal?  Who cleans the kitchen?  Does it ever get really clean?  Customers aren’t blind.  They catch glimpses of the kitchen, notice when their favorite servers are missing, have conversations with those who are left behind…those disgruntled servers.

When I finally asked the question, “Lord, where in the Word is this acceptable ministry behavior?” He pointed me to Martha and Mary.  The only place I’ve encountered any talk close to “kitchen” talk was when Jesus corrected Martha for being “worried and upset over details,” pointing out that Mary had “discovered the one thing about which to be concerned.” 

The answer to all of this?  He would love it if we would clean the kitchen, maintain the kitchen’s cleanliness, make repairs quickly and do maintenance checks to avoid major breakdowns/failures.  I suspect that there are also sharp knives in this clean kitchen, but they are used as intended and SAFELY stored away. 🙂

clean-kitchen

“Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day.  Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job.  A God blessed man or woman, I tell you.  It won’t be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation. “Matthew 24:45-47 MSG

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My Friend Ruth

I was blessed with an opportunity to teach at our church’s school of ministry on the subject of prayer, one of my favorite subjects ever!

Pause for a bunny trail…you know if you ever wonder what your strength is or what your calling is, take a look at your book shelf for a hint.  If you were to take a peek at mine, you’d see mostly books on prayer.  I love prayer…I see my prayers…I see myself in the throne room; I see myself seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  I love prayer…I’ll probably touch that subject another time…back on track now.

Towards the end of the class I was sharing about prayer hindrances, unforgiveness being one such hindrance.  I told a story of a friend who had called me for prayer.  I knew that she and another friend of ours were involved in a scrape of some sort and I listened as she shared her prayer request, noticing that it was something that she had been anguishing over for some time.  I told her to get her bible and turn to Mark 11:23-24 “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  She was squealing with delight as she read these scriptures aloud and I could hear her highlighter screeching across the page.  I then asked her to read the next verse...”And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  “Hello, hello, are you still there?”  <silence>.  Exactly!!!  I shared with the class that I didn’t know if she ever “got it.”  She claimed she and our friend had settled their differences…I knew they hadn’t at the time.  I encouraged my class to pursue peace, seek forgiveness early…release in order to receive.

After class, there were people who stayed behind for prayer mostly and I noticed a woman in her seat watching me.  She got up from her seat when everyone else had left and asked me if she could speak to me.  She told me her name was Ruth.  She was a petite woman and I towered over her in my heels and my instinct was to remove my heels to come down a little closer to her.  She was crying as she asked me to forgive her.  Huh?  I asked her whether we knew each other.  No, she said, but I have talked about you, I’ve said mean things about you.  I was a bit surprised.  This was a first for me.  “Have we met?  Have I been mean to you?”  She said, “No, you asked me to move over a seat in church.”  I asked her if I was rude and she said I was not and she realized it was her…all her.  I just melted as I listened to her ask for forgiveness as she tried to make sense out of something so senseless.  We embraced and I took her hands and we prayed and of course I released her.  That took some boldness.  Ruth is my hero!!  I have made it a point to look for her at church to squeeze her.  Ruth has become one of my greatest encouragers.  She has no idea, unless she reads this, that the Lord used her in a mighty way to encourage me.  She had grown accustomed to seeing me in a particular seat during a particular service.  She had not seen me and reached out on more than one occasion to encourage me and to reiterate how much she missed seeing me in my normal spot.  She was looking for me…she was missing me.  I’ll not forget that!  Thank you Ruth, mi hermana!!  Te quiero mucho!!! ❤

And when you least expect it, you find yourself forgiving someone for something only they were being tormented over; and when you least expect it, you release and encourage a new friend; and when you least expect it your new friend becomes one of your biggest blessings.

Forgiveness….necessary…empowering…strengthening…healing…building.

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” James 5:16 The Message Bible

“Be…quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 The Message Bible

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

Come Away With Me

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee.
I long to be filled with longing.  I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.

This A.W. Tozer prayer is how chapter six of Francis Chan’s book entitled “Crazy Love” began and I came to a screeching halt as I was plowing through that book.  I stayed right there and read it again and again.  It resonated so for me.  If we are being totally honest, every one of us has been in that misty lowland wandering and waiting, having lost that “loving feeling.”  We can get so busy in life and in ministry that we forget that One…our first love.  We can be so involved pouring out that we forget to refill, recharge.  I’m in the refilling stage, getting reacquainted with my first love, enjoying the quiet times…not doing…just being.  Being available when He speaks, listening intently…removing myself from stuff and desiring Him, thirsting for Him, longing for Him.  I’ve heard Him say “come away with me,” and so I will.

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