Posted in assignment, communication, Discipleship, enjoyment, Family

About This Blog Site

Welcome to Jean’s Bird House!

As a retired nurse, part-time church secretary, wife, mom and grandmother, I’ve been provided with countless situations and circumstances where I have learned a lot of life’s lessons. My blogs are pieces and parts of it all. Some silly, some thought provoking, but hopefully all encouraging, helpful, and even some fun.

As I develop our conversations on this site it is my hope that you will see, as I have, how our lives can be filled with experiences that are teachable moments and valuable, to say the least.

The Bird House, like most, is a home that has been and still is, at times, full of activities, situations and circumstances (good and bad). In each one there have been lessons to learn and memories made. It is a place where children and grandchildren come and go and come back again. A place where friends and strangers have been welcomed. Where some come for a season and then are gone, and some remained becoming close friends, even family. But none have come by coincidence but by the divine providence of God. Each one providing opportunities for learning, blessings and being blessed, although we did not always recognized them at the time.

This house has seen laughter and tears; struggles and times of contentment; victories and defeats. We have worked through many of life’s challenges together and shared in many of life’s blessings.

I can tell you, this has not always been my attitude and because of that I have probably missed some real opportunities to bless others and be blessed. But, as I yield to my heavenly Father’s promptings (sometimes more slowly than others) and I serve, in obedience, those He brings to the Bird House, biologically or selectively, I find there will always be blessings in spite of and even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. And I am grateful for each and every one!

So I am hoping you will come along and learn with me, laugh with me, cry with me, and even commiserate with me at times.

Come and join in those blessings!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Posted in character study, communication, Darkness, Discipleship, Light, self-examination

So, What’s Your Angle?

Every morning my husband and I have our coffee at the kitchen table and share in some casual conversation which varies from day to day. It may be about past or future events, our children or grandchildren, the message the pastor preached last week, or any number of things. It’s kind of our way of waking up to the day together. A few days, ago as we sat chatting, our conversation moved to an observation my husband made outside our kitchen window.

We live in a lovely mobile home park and outside our window is a large grassy area we call the green space. On school days some of the children in the park cut across the green space to go to the bus stop. On this particular day my husband commented, “Hey, that kid is going the wrong way.” I didn’t actually see the boy but simply responded “He probably forgot something or isn’t feeling good.” We went on to other topics but after a few minutes I noticed a boy walking across the green space toward the bus stop and the conversation that followed went like this:

Me: Looking out the window, “Is that the same boy you saw earlier going in the wrong direction?”

Husband: Also looking out the window, “What boy?”

Me: Pointing in the direction of the boy, “That boy right there!”

Husband: “I don’t see anyone.”

Me: “How can you not see him, he’s right there!” (pointing out the window again)

Then getting up and going to his side of the table (to prove my point) I found that I couldn’t see the boy at first either and it finally dawned on me that we had been looking out the same window but from two different angles.

After that first cup of coffee to wake us up we are ready for our devotional time looking for some insights from God’s Word, but today it became clear that God was already speaking clearly and giving us some insight, or at least me, from this observation about angles.

Following our discussion regarding the differences in what we could see from out two different views, two lessons emerged for me.

First, God can speak to us from anyplace He wants, even in the ordinary, seemingly insignificant events of our life. Those, often obvious, things we sometimes overlook can be great teaching moments.

Second, we can only see a part of the picture and what we see depends a great deal on which angle we are looking from. We actually never really see the whole picture at once because even if it is right in front of us we must look up and down, side to side and even behind to get the whole picture. Only God, from his view, sees the whole picture including the past, present and future.

When my husband and I were sitting at opposite ends of the table our views were determined by the angle which we were looking at through the window. I couldn’t see the boy going in one direction and he couldn’t see the boy coming from a different direction. Until I went to his side of the table we were at odds with what we saw out the same window. Only when we looked out the window together, from the same vantage point could we see clearly. It was when I made the move to come along side of him that I could see his view and the conversation could continue and come to the conclusion, there was a boy. On that we could agree.

Whether strangers or friends; fellow believers or unbelievers; as God gives us opportunity we who are followers of Jesus Christ need to be the first to go to the other side of the table, walk across a room, or whatever it takes to come alongside and listen. In order to try to see from the other persons perspective we must let Christ lead us as we share His love and light from our own view, our testimony.

In our relationships with people we must remember we are all, as born again believers, in the process of getting to know God. There are some who have very obstructed views of God for various reasons related to past experiences and they may not be as far along in the process as we are. There are some who are much farther along in the process than we are as they have been changed by God in the process in such a way that they have changed position and are able to see from a new angle out of a larger window.

For those who are not yet believers, they are not only looking through a distorted angle that has been drawn by lies, but they are looking into darkness and unable to see the true light and love of Christ.

In the case of the schoolboy, the fact was that he was there. I knew he was there. But until he came into view for my husband it wasn’t a fact for him. He couldn’t see him.

Those living in darkness, not yet believers, have no point of reference, the angle of their view is distorted by the darkness. They, most of all, need someone to come to the table and let the light and love of Christ shine into their darkness so they can see God’s truths.

So, what’s your angle?

Is there someone your sitting at opposite ends of the table with, at school, at work, in the board room, or maybe at church?

The good news is that God is good and He is patient with each of us.

Scripture tells us:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9 (NIV)

“In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NIV

 

 

 

Posted in accountability, character study, Discipleship, faith stages, humility, Light, Promises, responsibility, Weary encouragement hope

Why We Serve Matters

Image result for serving others
Serving is generally the action of helping or doing work for someone. It could be at a job or just doing a favor; a kindness; a good turn or giving a helping
hand.
Ever since I was a small child I have found pleasure in serving others, making them happy, helping them out. I wanted everyone to be happy. But I later found that, because of my own insecurities, what I really wanted was for everyone to like me; to be happy with me.
In the last several years I’ve become more and more aware of what motivates me to serve and I have to say it has in some ways been a pretty rude awakening.
The desire to serve has afforded me many blessings and opportunities in many places and ways, some by choice and some by chance. In some situations there were blessings reaped but some went on without any notice or recognition at all. And I would say to myself “It doesn’t matter.” but underneath I was hurt and I let it define me in both situation.
In part, I believe there is genuine concern for people, especially those who are what some call “down and outers” and probably because, at least in my observation at the time, that was my own social status most of my life. The other side of it isn’t quite as noble.
Recognizing several years ago that my service, though I did enjoy helping others, was born of a deeper desire to be liked, accepted by others, and to be significant in some way in this life . In other words, to feel better about myself and get recognition and confirmation from other people.
At times there would be brief feelings of superiority over those “down and outers”  After all  I was doing better now, more educated and yet willing to help them. Wasn’t that grand of me? When I received the kudos, ata girls and pats on the back for something I had done pride would sneak in. Oh, beware when pride comes in, it takes over and it is followed by a great fall!
However these feeling of superiority were short-lived Soon I would be beating my self up for feeling prideful and it would confirm, in my own mind, that I really wasn’t worthy of the love and acceptance I was looking for. I couldn’t win on the superiority or the humility stage.
In this bodies of flesh we are prone to serve not necessarily seeking but expecting something in return, maybe a gift, a favor in return or recognition. However the old saying,”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” does not apply in serving others in Jesus name. It is often difficult to recognize what our motives are and even more so to address them. But as we ask God to search our hearts and show us any wrong motives He will. And He will also change move and work in our hearts so we recognize the right motives, the same motive Jesus had for serving us, LOVE!
We can write our own script and rehearse it for the applause of men, playing to the wrong audience for sure! Not realizing God has written the Script-ure for us to read that reveals our part in His plan and that part is for the audience of only one, God himself.
God will reveal to each of us that real significance doesn’t come through the accolades of people; how much we do; or how much we have or know. It comes through knowing Christ and who we are in Him. We are His children and therefore  loved and significant in His eyes. Recognition isn’t gained through how much or how many are served. It doesn’t come from the approval of men and women. As His children, who have accepted Christ and His gift of salvation, we are free to serve out of the love He  pours into us. That love is unlimited. We can love others without conditions and it doesn’t take anything away from who we are in Christ but instead enhances our lives and our love of others and Him.
As for me, I’m learning that I can and should use the gifts and abilities God has given me to serve others; to make people smile and to encourage and maybe even make life a little more bearable for them in some way. But I must follow God’s script, His part for me. With regular prayer and self-examination regarding the motives of my heart and remembering it isn’t about doing, it is more about my being. I will serve less out of compulsion, to meet my own need to be needed or guilt. And more to be who God made me to be. Then the motivation to serve will be out of God’s love for me and His command to love and serve one another.
God’s Word tells me and He shows me daily that I am significant to Him and loved by Him all at all times. He makes me aware that He is a good Father and leads me in what He would have me do to be His hands and feet in this world. I need only to let Him lead.
Like Paul says in the New Testament, I have not arrived but “I press on” to make sure that my purpose in serving is to show the love of Christ to others as He has shown love to me and with the expectation being that my life might be an example of God’s service, love and mercy and to direct others to Him, doing all things for the praise of His glory.  (Philippians 3:12-14)
We don’t always get to choose where, how, or who we serve but we always have the choice of how we serve. Sometimes our service matters to many people, sometimes to only a few or may go unnoticed all together. Whether we serve those who appreciate or those who don’t; when it benefits us and when it doesn’t; when serving hinders us or even hurts us or if no one even notices. What matters is obedience in serving and the motivation of the heart that drives us.
I’m not saying it is wrong to receive blessings when we bless others for that is God’s blessing to us, but the key is that we are to bless them not expecting anything in return. Serving even when we know the other person can not give anything back. Our return on our investments will be paid out in huge dividends when Christ returns. And don’t you know we are blessed daily in the here and now whether we are able to serve or not.  Our service is for our good, the good of others and for God’s glory.
Our motivation and our purpose in all things is to serve out of love, sincerely and “to the praise of God’s glory.” (Eph 1:13-14) then there will be joy in place of self centeredness in the service, whether serving at work, play, in relationships, in learning, in teaching; with friends and enemies and in times of blessing and trials. For men may look at the service and the benefits, but God is more concerned with our motivation, purpose and expectations. He looks at our heart attitude. (1 Samuel 16:7) NIV
What motivates you?
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,    1 Peter 4:10-11  (NIV) (emphasis mine)

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.   2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

 


 

Posted in accountability, character study, communication, Discipleship, faith stages, humility, Promises, responsibility, self-examination, Uncategorized

“Education or Transformation?”

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transformation-1

 

Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.                                                                                                                Matthew 28:16-20

These are the instructions Jesus gave to the leadership of the early church after His resurrection and before His ascension back to the Father.They were to go, to make disciples, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey His commands. Jesus prefaced his command with a proclamation that “all authority” was His to give such a command and followed the command with a promise to be with them “to the very end of the age”.

This was and still is the primary work of the church!

However, I believe it is one of the greatest challenges facing the church today. We  invite, entertain, include, educate, baptize, teach them God’s commands and add them to the membership rolls.

Now all these things are important but it seems that in our haste to move new believers along we tend to jump over the “making disciples” part. And I believe one reason we do is because we aren’t sure how to disciple because we may not have been discipled ourselves. God has been convicting me in the area of making disciples but, honestly, I didn’t know how.

Unfortunately, we, “the Church”, in varying degrees, seems to have lost the focus on “making disciples” and in many of our churches we have become more of a social club, entertainment club, and/or an educational center where we can learn many things about what Scripture teaches and the principles we are to live by but fail to move God’s truth from our heads to our hearts, our hands, and our feet. We are not often challenged to put them into practice and can become comfortable with gaining information but not  walking in obedience to God’s commands and according to His principles. Therefore, we see little transformation in our lives. Some who have been Christians for years don’t know how to disciple because many have not yet been taught discipleship themselves, present company not excluded!

To many times I have been guilty of wanting to make it comfortable for new believers so I didn’t challenge them with the truths that sometimes are difficult to live by and in so doing have watered down the scriptures. After all they were saved, and were doing all the things they needed to do.  They were attending church, getting involved in a ministry in the church, tithing, and the list goes on, but there was no significant maturing of fruit in lives as a result of the doing. I realize now believers should do all those things but we also need to be challenged by the God’s word to be more Christlike in our daily activities.

We have programs to increase attendance, to grow the Sunday school and children’s programs and increase membership numbers. We post attendance and offering numbers (see my blog post) Are We Counting What Really Counts There are places on our annual reports for the number of those accepting Christ as Savior and those sanctified.

But how many disciples are we making who are in turn discipling others? Do we have effective training in our churches in discipleship or are we teaching new believers just enough to make them comfortable in their salvation so they can get into heaven but possibly with the smell of smoke on their coattails?

Having been involved in both Bible Studies and Sunday school classes where the teaching on Scripture was excellent and ideas for practical application were discussed yet often where there were few testimonies shared of how God’s truth had transformed lives or the lives of others. To often the story of our conversion, important as it is, is the only testimony we have, but that should only be the beginning. God’s continued changing grace through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit adds to our testimony and God’s power can be seen in our lives as we walk in humble obedience to the principles and commands in His word every day.

However, if what we learn is not applied to everyday life; if we don’t meditate on God’s truths and let them become the guiding force in our lives, we have education but without transformation. We grow in knowledge but lack understanding and do not mature in our faith and we miss out on His best for us. If we don’t interact with God and become  teachable; if we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking and understanding; if the truths of God are not seen in our lives how can it help others believe Jesus could transform their lives.

 

Are our small groups and Sunday school classes just providing information or seeing transformation as a result of spending time together in the Word?

If not, why not?

As we reach out to those who are lost and share the gospel and they respond by receiving Christ as their Savior do we continue to disciple them and help them to grow in their faith? Do we share scriptural truths and God’s commands and challenge them to live by them while sharing our testimony of the challenges where He has brought us victory? Do we share our own testimony of how God has transformed our lives and the lives of so many others?

Do we really disciple?

Are we making disciples?

Just what does it mean to “make disciples”?

Got Questions Ministries web site answers that question pretty well:

“A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way.”

(© Copyright 2002-2016 Got Questions Ministries)

Just how do we go about “making disciples”?

How do we measure how we are doing in this area of the Great Commission, “making disciples”?

In any educational institution there is always a book learning aspect so we know the basic principles we are working from and then a skills lab where we are shown a demonstration of how to apply the knowledge in order to connect what we learned from the book to practical application. Along the way there are test that include both aspects to evaluate proficiency in obtaining the desired outcomes for the skill and the course.

The Bible is our text book and Jesus is our instructor for the skills lab. He made it simple for us by demonstrating how it is done. All through life there are tests used to help us to grow and obtain God’s desired outcomes in us and in His church.

We simply follow the example Jesus set as he went out and chose 12 ordinary men and made disciples out of them, praying for them, spending time with them, speaking God’s truth to them,teaching them and challenging them to obey His commands and live by His principles. This is what should be happening in our Bible Studies, our Sunday School classes, our Small Groups. Praying, teaching, training and practicing the same principles that Jesus taught,  challenging and expecting those we are teaching to do the same. To follow our example as we follow Christ’s.

 

To make disciples we must pray for them, spend time with them, teach them from Scripture and by what the Father has given us to speak, practice what He taught and challenge them to do the same.

His disciples learned from him, watched him, saw how he taught them and followed his example. Believers in the early church followed the disciples example as they followed Christ’s and the church grew in strength and in faith and unity.

How do we measure? Not in tithes or attendance but in the strength and unity of our churches. In how we are able to reach the lost for Christ and make disciples who will go and do the same. And then we will see a steady increase in both tithe and attendance that will blow us away!

“I (Jesus) have set you and example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”                                                                                                                                        John 13:15-17

Is there someone willing to come along side of you to disciple you? Ask them!

Is there someone who needs you to come along side them to disciple them? Reach out to them!

Maybe your sensing a call to begin a discipleship ministry in your church? Start one!

You will be blessed if you do!!!