Sep 6, 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!

We have a pasture in our front yard that we put in not long after we moved. I had a vision of fluffy white sheep that would follow us around baaing softly. We got our first lamb, a Tunis sheep that we named Pesakh (Hebrew for Passover).

Little did we know it was the beginning of a long, heart-breaking road. The problems began with our first batch of sheep that we got to keep him company. We had a few red lambs, and a few sets of twins that caused great excitement at our house.

The mama's were great, and we never had to do a thing except oooh and aaah and take pictures of their first wobbly steps. Time moved on and Pesakh died after a battle with another ram. Babies were born and then disappeared in the night. One mama labored for three days with high blood pressure and had to be put down. The final straw was a baby that got kicked by our donkey (another story) and then would not eat. As Nate milked the mama and I rubbed the baby's throat to coax it to suckle, tears ran down my cheeks and I said, "No more. I can't handle the hardships." I felt extremely guilty when babies died, and the fear in the sheep's eyes with high blood pressure when I would peek in on her still haunts me. I didn't know when we brought home Pesakh that farm animals would cause such great heartache.

I have been searching my heart for a quick and easy blog post, but I have not had any flashes of brilliance. There are many references for sheep and shepherds in just the New Testament alone, and I was not sure where to go with this.

There have been many nights of chasing wandering sheep and I have felt the power of Luke 15:4... searching for one lost sheep.

There have been wild dogs in the fence and I felt the power of John 10:12... wolf scattering the sheep.

I have watched the sheep come running at meal time and felt the power of John 10:4... my sheep know my voice.

I have watched Nate running wildly around the field with a shepherd's hook when it was time to shear and have felt the power of Matthew 9:36.... sheep scattered abroad as if they have no shepherd.

I have braved the cold and creature infested barn to gather grain and I have felt the power of John 21:16... feed my sheep.

And I have shed tears when babies died and felt the power of John 10:11... a good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

I have been putting off a blog about sheep, because I knew it was not going to be an easy one. This weekend I got my answer.

Friday night, we received our new book for our bible study, One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven. And Sunday, we were urged to pray for an open door to share the gospel with someone. I began to doubt.... Oh no, Lord. Not me. Not this. I'm unequipped and unsure. I fumble and stutter when asked questions about my faith. I can write it but can I say it? I nervously read the first chapter in the book and slammed it down quickly. Outreach is great... for someone else. Show me your pictures of mission trips and I will cry along with you.
But don't. ask. me. to. do. this.

But in my research I found this....

Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 10:6-7

There are three reasons that I have "ignored" this verse until now.

1. Jesus is preaching to the disciples, not me.
2. I can't preach, I am a woman.
3. I can't go to another country, I am called to be a mom and wife here in the USA.

And Satan loves to remind me of this.

Yet the Bible reveals a little more....

1. In the same speech as Matthew 10, given by Jesus, he says "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." I have always considered this to apply in my life so how can I pick and choose which verses are for only the disciples, and which ones include me?

2. My blog is Minister Grace. Do I think that I am A minister? No. Have I been called TO minister? Absolutely. We all have.
...not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God: who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit... 2 Cor. 3:5-6

3. Are there lost sheep in the USA? Are there lost sheep in Virginia? Are there lost sheep at our elementary schools? Are there lost sheep in our families?
...if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not... 2 Cor.4:3-4

So, I am ready. I desire for the Lord to use me, in some small way, to reach out to the lost. One soul or ten. I cannot save someone. Only He can. But He can steady my hands, give me words, grant me the ability, and increase my strength to be able to be used as a vessel in reaching out to someone. I don't know who, what, when, where, or why, but I do know Him. And He's all I need.

We sold all of our sheep to a woman in Floyd that had a large flock of Tunis and they fit right in. Our pasture was empty for a little bit until we were approached by a woman that trains sheepdogs. So she leases the field for sheep so she can come and practice with her dog.

We feel like we get the better end of the deal, we get to watch her out the window, taking care of them, feeding them, fixing fences, and herding them at night. I have absolutely no idea how you train the dogs. All I know is that she says, Come Down, Lie Down, and whistles a lot. I have a video to share with you on herding sheep. Nate likes to tease her about putting on a show this winter....


hubbardgirl said...

very inspiring blog, joni. pastor terry's serman spoke to me...just me- nobody else has fears like i do! but you know i found out later there are others with the same fears."i can do all things through CHRIST which strengthens me" well i'm off to hillsville!! only GOD knows what opportunities will come my way.

ranelle said...

I think the marvelous thing about God is He created us all so different.perhaps He wants some quieter "reaching out" mixed in with the more obvious outreach. maybe a small touch or kind smile can go a long way, with Gods blessing along with it.I fumble my words as well, and am humbled by it, it is God who giveth strength. Bless you Joni as you endeavor to "minister Grace"

Kristi said...

Sermons like that move me so much. There have been some that I can feel my cheeks getting flushed b/c I know that everyone in the sanctuary KNOWS the pastor is talking about me and it is always the sermon about shortcomings or the sermon that really speaks to what we should be doing as opposed to what we are. It’s never the sermon that says what a good job I am doing! The sermon is made to make us feel convicted. I can remember a couple of times sitting there and getting really frustrated thinking of all the things that “the pastor” was asking of me. I mean really… his kids were grown (meaning he didn’t have homework, practices and baths to deal with after getting off work) and he obviously doesn’t have a fear of public speaking. He does it every Sunday. He’s a man so I know he didn’t worry about the laundry, the dishes or dinner. Yet “he” wanted me to be a disciple. It took me a long time to realize that it was wasn’t him that wanted me to do all those things and moreover that he was just doing what he was called to do by telling me all the things that I SHOULD be doing. Conviction is a very powerful thing. Testimony is as well. I think that by sharing your convictions and your testimony the way you do on here is ministering… even to us. It’s encouraging to me to know that others have the same frustrations and fears that I do. Its enlightening to hear your “ah ha” moments in scripture and even though you might not be standing on a soapbox in the middle of the market telling everyone about the good word. You are reaching people. I shared your blog with some of my friends some are believers and some are not. Really think about all of us who read resolve2worship. She has no idea probably how many people listen to what she has to say. You are using the gifts God gave you..creativity, humor, the ability to write well. I agree too that it doesn’t always have to be this kind of ministry. I can’t tell you how many times someone has just given me a hug and I felt like it was God touching me or like you said Ranelle just a small touch or a smile when no one knew you needed that but God. – Thanks for sharing I loved having this to start my day back to work after a holiday weekend off!

ash.kay said...

well said Joni! thanks for your inspiration! i know i need to do some work in this area too....its easy for me to say "oh well, actions speak louder than i dont technically HAVE to TALK to anyone, but on the other hand i am saying-'Now, Ashley, you KNOW there is always a time to TALK too!" HELP US, Lord Jesus, as we all SHINE for YOU! ps: i was at the Goodwill yest and got a pix frame with a pix of Jesus and the sheep! thought of you! $2 baby! :)

love ya