Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Help me, Lord, to trust you with every part of me–my emotions, my fears, my dreams, my innermost thoughts. Teach me how to pour out my heart to You so that I may receive the gift of sweet communion.

Amen.

-Stacy Pyle

Psalm 69: Praying for Deliverance While Drowning by Kyndall Rothaus

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

As for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.”–Psalm 69:1-3; 13-15

Just when will an “acceptable time” for my deliverance be? I am sick of “God’s time” being different from our time. I’m asking, pay attention to my time, because in me-time, I am on the verge of drowning. Have you noticed?

The water here is deep, and I have forgotten how to swim. I want to be plucked right out of these waves. I do not want to listen to my friends off in the distance, reminding me how to swim. I do not want to paddle towards the life preserver floating five feet away. I do not want to tread water where sharks might lurk beneath me.

What’s that you say? You sent the voices of friends and the life-preserver, and you gave me these strong legs for treading, and you’ve kept the sharks from attacking thus far? Oh. Well, I’m still asking for more. Get me out of this mess.

What’s that you say? Your voice is fading out here. I can’t hear you over the raging waves. Hello? Are you there?

Tread. Tread. Tread.

Reach for life preserver.

Listen to friends, calling out reminders of how to swim in deep water.

Focus on the coming boat, not the possibility of sharks.

All of this is God talking, God rescuing. I didn’t know it would be this hard. I didn’t know it would take this long.

Later: at home, soaked, but wrapped in warm dry towels. I didn’t know it would feel so miraculous to have made it. I didn’t know I could feel this grateful. I didn’t understand for quite some time that God was in the small things, that deliverance was right there in the water with me.

Kyndall Rae Rothaus is the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. On Sunday, May 31, 2015, she was called by Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, to be their new pastor. Kyndall is the author of Preacher Breath, available at Smyth and Helwys She blogs at kyndallrae.com.

THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Elizabeth Squires

 

Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry proudly introduces an amazing minister. Today, we are pleased to introduce you to Elizabeth Squires.

Liz, tell us about where and how are you currently serving in ministry?

In April of this year, I began a new chapter in my life. I am now in full-time ministry in Pennar Community Church in Pembroke Dock, West Wales. I am pastor of this congregation made up of forty to fifty people.

God has called me to the most beautiful part of Wales, and I am feeling blessed by my surroundings. As I learn more about the people in church and in this community, I don’t doubt that God will use them to bless my life and my ministry too.

I came to Pembroke Dock from a small church in the Welsh Valley’s where I served as a part-time minister. I miss the people there with whom I had ministered with for nearly five years, but I am really excited by new opportunities and experiences that are opening up in front of me.

What experiences have shaped and prepared you for your present role?

I became a Christian at age eleven in the Salvation Army. In the Salvation Army, women are considered equal to men when it comes to leading, preaching and ‘doing’ church. At eleven, I knew God was calling me ministry, and it seemed very normal at that time, and that experience shaped my formative years in the faith.

When my parents and I left the Salvation Army and joined a local Baptist church, I found that women did not have as prominent a role, but the stirring to ministry didn’t completely leave me. In 1997, South Wales Baptist College affirmed God’s call on my life as they accepted me for ministerial training.

Along the way, I have witnessed church both at its best and at its worst. I studied for a time at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and there I found that church could be a place of openness, transparency, acceptance, and love. Yet some of my other church experiences have been the complete opposite of all those things. Both negative and positive experiences have molded me into the minister I am today.

I know that when church works, it is an amazing, life-affirming and faith-changing experience as God unfolds His plans for all of our lives. That’s why I love doing what God has called me to do–because God changes people–and that makes everything worth it.

Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?

I will always be thankful that when God called me in to ministry, women in leadership was normal, but the first person that inspired me was Hetty Watkins, my music teacher in school. She believed in me. She encouraged me to blow my own trumpet (literally) and that caused a shy teenager to gain some confidence.

The minister I was placed with during my first year in Baptist College was John Hayward, and he became my mentor after I left college. He showed me what it meant to have the heart of a pastor, that it was good to love the people God places you among. His untimely death in 2013 was a shock to his community; such was the impact he made on people.

I loved my time at Campbell, and would love to have spent more time soaking up the influence of people like Pam Durso, Joyce, Mashtare, Kheresa Harmon, and Clella Lee (I could go on). They were filled with love and kindness and affirmed the gifts God had placed in all those in their care.

In more recent years, one of my inspirations has been a friend. Delyth Jenkins has shown me what it is to be a woman of faith, as she trusts God through all things. She challenges me when my anxieties and questions get too loud!

What advice would you give a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry?

I would tell her to trust what is going on within, regardless of what outside influences tell her. I would encourage her to look for and talk to people (women) who are in ministry, to hear their stories and to learn from them.

I would tell her to spend time praying and studying her Bible, because really, the only approval that matters is God’s and He can bring about His plans and purposes in the most surprising of ways! After all, look at what He’s done in the life of a shy Valley’s girl from Wales! Who’d have thought?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What it Means to Preach! by C. Lynn Brinkley

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

My daughter recently graduated from high school. As at most graduations, the normal plea to family and friends was given, “please hold your applause so each graduate’s name can be heard.” The school even gave an opportunity for everyone to clap, scream, and celebrate their particular graduate before the names were called. You would think that would suffice—NOT!

There were a few guests who did not adhere to the program protocol and yelled when their graduate’s name was called. Why do some people feel they are above the rules and the rules do not apply to them? Yes, your graduate probably has a past story that makes it necessary to let the trumpet sound; but when celebration impedes the family and friends of the next graduate it is just inconsiderate. This is such a serious matter that my daughter looked up in the stands as she proceeded to the stage. She made the gesture of the “hush sign” as if to say to our family, “Don’t you all embarrass me. Even you, Ms. Manners!” Well, we did not embarrass her. We followed the rules.

A fundamental principle of etiquette according to the Post Institute is respect. We show respect not just by what we refrain from doing but also by intentional acts, such as being on time, dressing appropriately, or giving our full attention to the person or people we’re with. The Golden Rule to treat people the way you want to be treated was adopted from Jesus’ teachings on love, appreciation, and respect: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

I am understanding, sometimes, when people outside the church fail to do things “decently and in order,” but when rules of protocol are broken inside the church, I cringe. For example . . .

I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to a funeral, and there is time allotted for designated persons to share their reflections about the deceased. These persons are asked to limit their remarks to anywhere from two to five minutes. Yet, there is always that one person who feels they knew the deceased better than anyone else, and they decide they should be allotted more time to speak even if it goes against the family’s wishes. Or, what about that person who is not on the program and invites himself or herself to make remarks or to sing a song?

I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding a worship service we attended in which the speaker was asked to speak/preach for twenty minutes. As the twenty-minute mark came, then the thirty-minute mark, then forty (it is estimated the sermon went on for about an hour), I noticed that people in the pews began to squirm, frown, nod, and some even left. The preacher failed to follow the request of the host to speak no more than twenty minutes. As a result of the preachers long diatribe, he lost his listeners, the energy left the room, the program did not end as scheduled, and the Good News was not proclaimed!

When doing church ministry, I was always taught to do what you are asked to do (and no more) then sit down! Some will argue that there are times when the Spirit moves and takes over the program. No arguments from me if it is in fact the Spirit (not the flesh) guiding one’s actions. At any rate, unless you are given permission by the pastor or host to give remarks, sing a song, share a testimony . . . Don’t do it! It is bad manners to go against established protocol. Let’s show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T as we lead worship. This is what it means to me!

C. Lynn Brinkley serves as the director of student services and alumni relations at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Lynn is also an adjunct professor at Campbell and an ordained minister at First Baptist Church in Clinton. For more information about proper attire in the pulpit, check out Lynn’s new book: Manners & Money: A Manual on Preaching Etiquette.

Kinsey Finds a Hero by Meredith Stone

Whether we are at a theme park, Chuck-E-Cheese, a local play, or university football game, my seven-year-old daughter, Kinsey, loves to meet the “characters.” Although she can’t sit still for more than five minutes, she will happily wait in line for half an hour to take a picture with Bugs Bunny–even if she has never seen a Bugs cartoon. She always wants to hang around after an event and meet the actors who starred in the play or the costumed mascot at the end of a game. Kinsey just has an affinity for characters.

Last week my husband and I brought both our daughters to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Dallas. We began our week at Baptist Women in Ministry’s annual worship service. Squirming Kinsey sat on my lap as the service began. After a few minutes, Pam Durso introduced a young woman who would be supported by the BWIM’s Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler missions fund. As the young woman got up to speak, I whispered in Kinsey’s ear, “Shh. Please be quiet right now. This is mom’s friend Lauren Brewer Bass and I want to hear what she says.” Kinsey quieted down and listened carefully . . .  and then proceeded to continue fidgeting once Lauren was done.

Later at BWIM’s luncheon Kinsey heard Pam say that Lauren had written a book and would be signing copies after the lunch. On her way out, Kinsey quietly made a note of how neat it looked for people to stand in line and have Lauren sign their books.

When we arrived at the headquarters hotel just hours later, Kinsey spotted a banner with Lauren’s picture on it and shouted, “Hey, look! It’s Lauren Brewer Bass!” Then, Kinsey heard my husband and I talk about how Lauren and her husband, David, would be commissioned as field personnel during the Wednesday evening worship service.

As we prepared to go to dinner Wednesday evening, out of the blue Kinsey proclaimed as if it had been churning in her little head all day, “I want to be like Lauren Brewer Bass when I grow up! I want to write books and sign books and have my picture on banners. Will you read Lauren’s book to me once we get home?”

Kinsey had found a hero, a character. For the next forty-eight hours I heard the name “Lauren Brewer Bass” over and over. Once Kinsey realized that Lauren was moving to Cambodia to be a missionary she was a little concerned that she wouldn’t be able to see Lauren much, but she still chanted her name, “Lau-ren, Lau-ren, Lau-ren,” as we waited in line to get a picture with Lauren at Smyth & Helwys’ book signing on Thursday night.

I am so grateful to be a part of a fellowship that has characters like Lauren Brewer Bass. Baptist Women in Ministry and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are places where a seven-year-old girl can find heroes who write books, sign books, have their pictures on banners, and even go to Cambodia to share God’s grace and hope.

You can buy Lauren’s book, Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage from Smyth & Helwys, HERE, or learn more about Lauren and David’s work on their BLOG.  My family will be supporting Lauren and David in their ministry, and I will keep Kinsey updated on all things “Lauren” in the years ahead. You also can give to support Lauren and David as well as other CBF field personnel HERE so that little girls and boys around the world can find characters and heroes worth standing in line for and chanting about.

Meredith Stone is director of ministry guidance and instructor of Christian ministry and scripture, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas.

Psalm 64: Praises Be to God on High by Kyndall Rothaus

“But God will shoot his arrow at them; they will be wounded suddenly. Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake with horror. Then everyone will fear; they will tell what God has brought about, and ponder what he has done.”–Psalm 64:7-9

“Let their table be a trap for them, a snare for their allies. Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. May their camp be a desolation; let no one live in their tents. For they persecute those whom you have struck down, and those whom you have wounded they attack still more. Add guilt to their guilt; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.”–Psalm 69:22-28

All honor and praise be given to God on high for not answering prayer.

If you answered us, we’d all be dead.
Thank you for not annihilating our enemies,
even when we ask for it,
or annihilating us when our enemies say their prayers.

Thank you for being more merciful
than we want you to be.
Thank you for listening to our anger
and to our violent inclinations,
and telling us, “No.”

“I will not send calamity
on your cheating ex, your controlling
boss, or your abusive father.
Cast all your hurts upon me.
But I will not wage your wars.
I will understand all your pain.
I will bind all your wounds.
And then I will ask you
to become mercy.

Mercy will feel like a re-opening of the wound,
but it will not be.
It will be the sting of disinfectant,
keeping you from disease.
I will not let your victimhood
turn you sour.
So come to me.
Bring me your enemies
as well as your wrath
and we will do business.
I will exchange your hardship
for strength and growth and recovery.
Lay on me all your most painful memory
and I will make beauty from ashes.

In answer to your prayers,

God.”

Kyndall Rae Rothaus is the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. On Sunday, May 31, 2015, she was called by Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, to be their new pastor. Kyndall is the author of Preacher Breath, available at Smyth and Helwys. She blogs at kyndallrae.com.

THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Lauren Brewer Bass

Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are especially pleased to introduce you to Lauren Brewer Bass.

Lauren, tell us about your ministry journey. 

I am currently a co-director of a spiritual retreat center in Denver, Colorado, but that will change this fall. My husband, David, and I are preparing to serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia is experiencing a dynamic church planting movement, and we will be relocating to there to come alongside the Cambodia Baptist Union, supporting the hundreds of new pastors they work with. After immersing ourselves in the Khmer language and culture, we will begin developing strategies to support these pastors through leadership and theological training programs and economic development initiatives.

Tell us a bit about this new book?  And tell us about the writing process?

Five Hundred MilesMy book is titled Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage. The book uses stories and metaphors from a five-hundred-mile-long pilgrimage I walked across Spain a few years back to give voice to many of the things I wished I had heard as I struggled to understand my calling. It’s part memoir, part guidebook, and part adventure story.

I’ve joked that writing the book was a longer and at times harder journey than the five-hundred-mile-long hike that inspired the book. Writing and shaping your words is a lot of work, and sharing your story in general is a vulnerable process. The journey of my calling has not always been easy or tidy, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over some of the messier portions. I realized, though, that I was writing the book precisely because my journey was messy–and because everyone’s journey is messy. I wanted others who might be struggling in their journeys to understand that they aren’t outliers in this process of understanding and following a calling.

Who or what has inspired you along the way as you pursued your calling?   

My community has really inspired me as I have pursued my calling. From Sunday School and Girls in Action teachers to my community of friends, family and mentors–my community has affirmed my gifts, struggled alongside me and prayed for me season after season.

Even as I wrote my book, I frequently thought about the community that was inspiring me and also inspiring the book itself. I created a PDF with a collage of photos that I kept on my computer desktop. The photos were of women who inspired me to follow my calling, and they were the women I had in mind as I wrote the book. They ranged from my youth leaders and seminary classmates to my five-year-old niece to the septuagenarian volunteers that I came to love at the downtown church where I formerly worked. They were mentors and friends. When I doubted my ability, my calling or that I had anything to say–I turned to them.

What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?

Some of the best ministry advice I have ever received is from one of my favorite researchers and writers, Brene Brown. She says that gratitude is the gateway to joy. In Five Hundred Miles, I write a lot about how a discipline of gratitude has reshaped me. This advice–to lean into gratitude–might not seem like “ministry advice,” but I have found that ministry is hard and often draining work. Remembering to focus on gratitude helps me avoid becoming overwhelmed with both petty complaints and serious injustices that don’t seem to budge. The advice seems simple, but it has changed my perspective in ministry again and again.

To learn more about Lauren’s new adventures as she prepares for the move to Cambodia, visit the website and blog she and David have created.

Finding Home in My Calling by Amy Starr Russell

I cringe a little when I think about those words spoken to me so many years ago. “What you are feeling, this calling to ministry, this calling means you are meant to marry a minister.” In my middle teenage years, this was one response I received when I first became aware of my ministerial calling. Even though they would sting later, those words did not sting then. My grandfather was a minister and my grandmother a minister’s spouse. I thought, “So, I am called to be like my grandmother.” I loved my grandmother. Why would I not want to be like her? She was strong and opinionated. She was loving and supportive. And she also added a heavy measure of sass to any basketball game, whether she was watching her grandchildren play or she was watching the Tarheels on TV. She was not perfect, but I loved her.

As a teenager, I shared these thoughts about my calling with my grandmother. I still remember the restaurant we were in and the smile on her face as I talked. I was flattered when she said she thought I had the qualities to be a minister’s spouse. Long hours without your spouse, being moved again and again for a new calling, and living your life in a fishbowl were certainly no easy task. It meant something to me when she said I had the gifts to be married to a minister.

But I was sixteen, I was not thinking about marriage.

After a few years, and a few religion courses in college, I began to nurse some anger about this advice offered to me. I finally began to ask myself why I could not be a minister. This feeling of calling that I couldn’t quite put words to, seemed to speak to my own vocational decisions, not just those of a hypothetical spouse.

It took me until my mid-twenties to seriously pursue the calling I first felt as a teenager. Perhaps this delay took place because of the mixed messages I received as I was trying to make sense of what was calling me from within and without. Perhaps I needed time to be sure this was the path where I belonged, the path where I would be at home. Perhaps I needed some distance from the people who would tell me I was not welcome to call ministry home. Perhaps I needed time to develop the strength of a minister’s spouse, just like my grandmother.

I often think about the ministerial legacy left by my grandfather AND my grandmother. Both their lives taught me what it means to be a minister. Their lives taught me what it means to have grace for our spouses and for our congregations. It is not cheap grace. This grace is messy. Sometimes, it comes after harsh words. Sometimes, it comes in the midst of deep silence. This grace has to be re-negotiated day after day and year after year. This is grace that, not only allows, but beckons each person to make their calling their home.

In addition to my memories, what I still have of my grandmother is an opal ring. When I wear the ring, it reminds me of the strength it took her to make her calling home, and it reminds me of my own strength, the strength I received from her and from each woman in my family.

Oh, and did I forget to mention? I also married a minister.

Amy Starr Russell is associate minister at First Baptist Church, Henderson, North Carolina.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

God, help me to see your people with new eyes today. Thank you for making me a new creation by your transforming power.

– Melanie Storie

Psalm 63: My Flesh Faints by Kyndall Rothaus

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”–Psalm 63:1-8

My soul thirsts. My flesh faints. This is why I have stopped letting myself want you. Soul-thirsting, flesh-fainting agony I face when I want but you do not show. It is too hard to have spiritual wants. Frequently they lead to disappointment.

I’ll settle for a god I can define, who is small enough to keep in a box, who I can control, who I can understand. I will settle for a god I can trust to be just the way I expect. I will settle for a god I know how to defend . . .

No, wait, this will never do. It isn’t too often, but now and again I have caught a glimpse of who you really are and it was too big for a box. You were love. You were power. You were bigger than life. You expanded my soul, you satisfied my heart, you lingered from my thoughts into my dreams, you infected my lips with songs of joy.

When I lose that connection with you, I feel bereft and dry and thirsty. I feel faint. I feel abandoned.

Please tell me you have not left. Please tell me we are not through. Please tell me I have not misunderstood that you are there, somewhere. Please tell me I am not the only one who wants. Please tell me you are reaching towards me too.

Kyndall Rae Rothaus is the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. On Sunday, May 31, 2015, she was called by Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, to be their new pastor. She is the author of Preacher Breath, available at Smyth and Helwys. She blogs at kyndallrae.com.