Advice for Ministry

Jeremiah 29:11 & 13
My humble advice about ministry: God bless your heart for wanting to reach others. As for advice, pray for open doors, and then when God opens them be willing to walk through them if you sense God’s leading. Even though, they are not the doors you expected to open or wanted to open.
Many times, it will not be like you think. Try to stay humble no matter how people treat you. Good or bad. Try to stay grateful to God.
If you have a family, put them first. This of course, is first after God. Ministry can become more important than your family, and this is something God would never want.
Don’t worry about what other people think of you, but worry about what God thinks of you. When you feel that He is telling you to say, “No,” have the courage to do that too. Don’t let ministry push out a relationship with your Heavenly Father.
Always, love and forgive His people even when they hurt you. This is what He would want, but don’t allow them to abuse you. Shake the dust off then.
Take care of yourself, eat right, rest, and remember to have fun. There will be times you will be at the top and other times at the bottom. But it’s not about you, it’s about Him. Give God the credit and praise always, and rest in Him during times of failure and loss.
Never forget to pray, spend time apart, and to love God more than anything. Remember you’re not alone, He is with you even when you feel forsaken, misunderstood, and undervalued. You are loved, not for what you do, but because you are His!

No really: What Would You Do?

What would you do

“What would you do?” appears to be a popular question. When you enter the phrase in the Google search engine, over 917 million results are listed.

At the top of the list is the site This link directs folks to the ABC series, “What Would You Do?” The 9 p.m. Friday evening program is both an in-depth study of ethics and human nature, and an intriguing look at how ordinary people react when confronted with societal issues like sexual harassment, theft, bullying, domestic violence, racism, hazing, etc.

This is not a new question for journalists to consider. In the early 1950s, aspiring writer Jacqueline Lee Bouvier authored a column for the Times-Herald in Washington. In an indirect way, young Jackie sometimes asked her readers, “What Would You Do?” Jackie and John Kennedy

For example, one specific piece questioned, “Would you rescue a great artist who is a scoundrel, or a commonplace, honest family man?” Later, this budding journalist would become Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, our nation’s First Lady. It is Jackie’s question about human responsibility posed back then, that apparently still interests TV viewers today. For instance, in some episodes of the ABC show viewers are asked, “What would you do?” if you saw two lifeguards getting drunk in the middle of their shift? Or what about intervening, if you observed a man slipping a drug into his date’s drink? Would you react in the same way, if his date was dressed seductively? What would you do about a baby locked in a hot car?

According to an Associated Press article titled, “TV show uses hidden cameras to expose attitudes” by TV writer David Bauder, the show’s producer Chris Whipple got the idea for the series from “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. “There was an immediate response in the ratings after Primetime carried the first segment in 2004 with an actor portraying a babysitter verbally abusing a boy in a park,” according to Bauder. Five hour-long segments were produced in 2008 anchored by veteran broadcaster John Quinones, who originally joined ABC News in 1982. The program quickly soared in the ratings, and devoted fans continue to watch.

In the nineties, Nickelodeon had their own version of “What Would You Do?” While, other viewers might find the ABC series similar to the comedic TV show, “Candid Camera,” but its content is not as amusing, as it is revealing. Although there are some humorous moments and less serious subjects featured in ABC’s “What Would You Do?” For example, one classic show featured two wedding crashers, who were at times engaging, and at other times, blatantly rude, resulting in some pretty good laughs.

But it is not the chuckles that impress me. It is observing human nature at its very best when a heroic soul intervenes on behalf of a stranger facing some kind of injustice. It is also observing humanity at its worst, because onlookers often turn their apathetic heads away, and allow individuals being mistreated to suffer alone. Besides, when people react on hidden camera, they have no idea anyone is watching.

One standard of commonsense ethics can be found in the universal acceptance of the Bible’s Golden Rule which states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) Similarly, in a spiritual sense, the show is reminiscent of the timeless classic by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps: What would Jesus do? Written in 1896, the allegorical work is one of the best-selling books of all time.

In His Steps - Barbour books edition

In His Steps – Barbour books edition

Wikipedia explains that in Sheldon’s book, “…many of the novel’s characters [are] asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’ when faced with decisions of some importance.” Sheldon lived in the pages of his own book, confronting poverty, educational disparity, and racism first hand.

In the 1990’s, the motto, “WWJD?” became a popular phrase in our country adorning bracelets and bumper stickers everywhere. After all, people need a role model for the behavior that they embrace when confronted with an unfair circumstance.

As for the ABC show, I’ll bet Jesus would have had something to say about the episode where a blind woman was unjustly shortchanged by a bakery cashier. Yet I’m not sure He would have loudly and repeatedly told the obnoxious clerk to “shut up” like an intervening male customer did. Still, in his own way, the righteously indignant man really was a knight in shining armor trying to assist a vision-impaired damsel in distress. But the real question is not what he did, but, “What would you do?”

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her at     


A Postcard’s Reminder of Hope by Christina Ryan Claypool

“Help me, Jesus!” Desperately, I prayed this little prayer looking towards the ceiling wondering if Heaven was listening, because the cash register in my thrift/antique store hadn’t rung up many sales lately.

Pictured my postcard with my verse of 2014, Jeremiah 29:11 (Jer.29:13)

Pictured my postcard with my verse of 2014, Jeremiah 29:11 (Jer.29:13)

It was about two decades ago and I was a single mom supporting my young son with the proceeds from my retail establishment. We lived in the back in a tiny apartment and I tried my very best to be frugal with the earnings my small business brought in. But there hadn’t been much income in awhile, and I was pretty frantic. Today, I still pray these three powerful words whenever I don’t know how else to pray. I call this my breath prayer. It is not so much that I recite it while asking for divine assistance. Rather it just comes spontaneously from a place deep inside that believes God is still in control, when circumstances scream that all is lost.

And I have to be honest with you, that’s where I’ve been for months. Like there is just no way that God can make everything alright. This is in contrast to my image as a woman of steadfast faith who has written Christian recovery books and in the past worked in television ministry. So, when I first saw a post asking for guest bloggers to share their Scripture for 2014, I tried to ignore it. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and pretend that I had something significantly spiritual to tell others when I was experiencing my own dark night of the soul. But the request haunted me. “What will your 2014 Scripture be?” a still small voice asked relentlessly. Suddenly, I knew what it was, because there is an old postcard on my refrigerator that seemed to shout, “I’m it. Look at me.”

Our wonderful wedding on June 8, 2002

Our wonderful wedding on June 8, 2002

To explain about the postcard, I have to travel
back in time. For my husband’s job as a school administrator we have had to move four times in the past twelve years. My spouse came into my life late when my son was grown, and no longer living with me. Even though our first move wasn’t far, it caused me to leave my hometown, and to be miles away from my adult child. I was grieving, and just couldn’t be consoled.

Back then in 2004, I was also attending graduate school in ministry at Ohio’s Mt. Vernon Nazarene University. Every other month, I would travel to the campus for a week of intensive classes. One day in the university book shop, I happened to notice a postcard with a sky blue background and beautiful rainbow with the printed words, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…plans to give you hope and a future…” Jeremiah 29:11. I had always loved this verse. It also said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 Impulsively, I bought the postcard and tucked it away. I didn’t think much about it, until it came time for our move.

We had rented a lovely ranch house just across the street from the school where my husband would be the principal. Finding the house had been divine intervention, because it was the only home available to rent in the village of 1200 people. Reciprocally, we were an answer to prayer for the owner who was a gracious Christian widow looking for responsible tenants. I was in my new kitchen surrounded by moving boxes busily putting away dishes, when I noticed the familiar looking postcard on the refrigerator that the widow was letting us use. She had left it there. It can’t be? I thought to myself. But it was the very same sky blue postcard with Jeremiah 29:11 that I had purchased just a short time earlier at the MVNU bookstore. It reminded me that God was in control and that He had orchestrated the move, and that He would have plans for a wonderful future wherever we went.

Since then, during every move, I make sure to prominently place the postcard where I can see it on whatever refrigerator I have. Then unexpectedly last winter, another particularly special house we were renting was being sold, and we couldn’t afford to buy it. Moving DayI prayed and prayed that somehow God would help us make that old brick home ours, and was devastated while packing boxes again realizing that this was not to be His plan. I tried to be grateful as God provided a perfect place in a nearby city for my hubby and me to go, one that would finally be our own. But during the move, I seriously injured both of my knees with one requiring extensive surgery. Much of the last six months I have spent in a new community knowing almost no one, trapped inside recovering from painful surgery, further away from my son and with my spouse working his usual 12 hour days. Often, I must admit I have felt forgotten even by God.

But it was that postcard on my refrigerator that wouldn’t let me believe the lie that our Heavenly Father doesn’t care. ““For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,” these words kept reminding me that there is always a divine plan, even when our world appears random and chaotic. My late mother used to always joke, “God, I know you have a plan, but it sure would be nice to have a clue.” When we are distressed, we forget that we can trust our Creator, and that He is working out good on our behalf in the midst of difficult circumstances. When all seems lost, and our best days seem behind us, God promises us that, “He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

As we begin this new year of 2014, I’m sure that many of you reading this are in need of hope in your own lives. With hope, which is my word for 2014, we can face whatever today brings, knowing that there will be blessings waiting in our tomorrows. For me, restored health is granting me the gift of truly believing the message of Jeremiah 29:11 again, my Scripture for 2014. Like the children of Israel who found their way even in exile, I will find my way in this new place. I am here by God’s plan, not chance.

Admittedly, there were many times these last months when my heart anxiously cried out, “Help me, Jesus.” Now, I am able to remember that He always does. Like that day in my store twenty years ago, when I didn’t know how I would be able to pay the rent. God came through and brought me the finances I needed. Whatever you need today, may this blog post remind you that he has a wonderful future for you, too. May the gift of His hope be yours as we ring in 2014. Happy New Year!