Posted in accountability, Children, communication, enjoyment, faith stages, Family, humility, quiet, self-examination, Work

Lessons from the Front Desk and Beyond

926338625-canstock5690339 My husband and I spent the past year doing volunteer work at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For us this was an opportunity of a lifetime! Most of our lives we have been involved in raising children, six of our own and three foster sons as well as other foster children and at one time we had even talked of opening a children’s home of our own one day. But it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

We had been serving as volunteers at the Children’s Home for several years, first with church groups and later going there for two weeks each year with another couple, so when the option came to serve long term we gave it serious thought and began to pray and seek God’s direction. It took almost three years before the way would be clear for us to make a one year commitment. We set the date for April of 2016 to April 2017.

We are both thankful for the opportunity and glad that we took this step in faith to serve God for that year at Hephzibah! Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner when we were younger and in better shape.

This past year has been an experience in faith, faith for strength to serve, faith for good health while we served, and faith for God to watch over our family that we left 950 miles behind for a year. And God did not disappoint!

There were many great experiences during our year of service. Experiences in learning new skills, in meeting new friends, and seeing new places. But the greatest experiences, for me, were the lessons learned at the front desk of the administration building where I spent many days filling in the gaps for the regular receptionist and as an interim receptionist between the permanent receptionists.

Now I will have to admit that it was no secret that this was not my favorite assignment while I was there. My favorite assignment was working in their donation center where I did sorting, organizing and distributing necessary items to the children and staff. This work gave me instant gratification and “felt” important and appreciated. And I worked alone a lot of the time so I could work at my own pace.

But the most valuable lessons are always learned in community with other people! I often felt that my contribution as a receptionist was small because I “just” answered the phone and greeted people directing them to where they needed to go or who they needed to talk to. Not exactly earth shaking work but as time went on and I had the opportunity to interact with many of the kids, staff, other volunteers and even the vendors and service people and I found fellowship, blessings and enjoyment in the work.

It is sad but true that it wasn’t until the last couple of months when we were completing our year and preparing to return home that I really began to realize the learning experiences God had blessed me with at that front desk as I interacted with the Hephzibah community. Not only did I learn the skills I needed to do the work but also some lessons that are still ongoing today in changing my life!

I learned what it is to accept people where they are and that everyone has a story if we are willing to listen;  that everyone needs encouragement (even those who may seem to have it all together); lessons in being accepted just the way I am and accepting encouragement as well.

In the area of communications; lessons about when to speak and when to be still, and especially about when to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I mess up the proper sequence.

My husband and I learned some things together as well.

God blessed us with time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a blessed but busy life. And after 52 years of marriage, six married children, three foster sons, fifteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren, friends, church, and community, we had built up a lot of hustle and bustle back home.

We had more time to pray and listen for God, to stop and smell the flowers and to enjoy new experiences, make new friends and create new memories. We were often able to minister one-on-one to staff, kids and other volunteers whenever and wherever God gave us the opportunities, and we learned to accept the ministry of others to us.

Other lessons learned: 

We can live with less

Our children and grand-children can survive without us (they knew that but I didn’t)

We can still work five days a week but not as fast as we once could

We can still be useful even though we are retired

And solitude is not necessarily a bad thing

But for me the best of all was that our year at Hephzibah gave us the opportunity to serve God and do ministry together in a place we love. A place where we were blessed and hopefully blessed others. A place where we worked alongside some amazing people who often face struggles and many of the challenges that every ministry experiences, yet they remain faithful and passionate in serving at risk teens and children who have been neglected and abused, and they share with them that they are loved, that they are the King’s Kids!

For most of us “baby boomers” retirement offers many great opportunities for travel, winter homes in the south, and cruises and all that is great. We have been blessed with some of these opportunities as well.

But for my husband and I, we will always be most thankful for this opportunity.

It’s been a great year!

Posted in Darkness, enjoyment, faith stages, Light, Peaceful, Weary encouragement hope

“Let There Be Light”

light vs dark

“People who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:3

As a child, and even into adulthood, I had a very real fear of the dark. Sharing a bedroom with my sister was a great comfort to me at bedtime until I was seven and we moved to a larger home where we four children all had our own room. My sister and brother were ex-tactic, but I was horrified.

It was great during the daytime to have my own space but I dreaded bedtime. For awhile my sister would let me come in at night to sleep with her but it wore thin pretty fast. She was three years older than I and wanted her “privacy” so she complained to my folks, who then said I needed to stay in my own bed. Oh, they tried to console me by assuring me there was nothing to be afraid of because they were right downstairs if I needed them but this was little consolation. Downstairs was a long ways off for a little girl afraid of the dark. It didn’t help that there was a big maple tree outside my widow and after dark, especially when the wind blew, its shadow moved in front of my window. My imagination ran wild and I was certain there was a witch in the tree, looking in my window and just waiting for me to fall asleep. I would not get back up for any reason until morning because I was afraid if I put my legs over the edge of the bed the witch or something else would be under the bed and grab my legs.

Just before it would get dark I would turn the light on in my room and  check my closet and under my bed before turning off the light to get into bed.I am not sure what I would have done if someone was there, but that dilemma didn’t cross my mind at the time. As soon as the light was off  I would make a beeline for the bed, jump onto the bed, and get the covers over me. Because everyone knows if the covers are over you no one can get you. That routine would stay with me for many years, some of it, even into my adult life if I was alone at night.

I have since gotten over this terrible fear, well mostly anyway (I still check the closets sometimes if I’m home alone). As a matter of fact I like my room as dark as I can get it at night when I go to bed. There have been a few nights when I’ve been alone and there was still a little underlying anxiety at night and I have also been known to have some grandkids spend the night a few times because I didn’t want to be alone at night.

But on a brighter note, no pun intended, it goes without saying, over all I love the light!!

 I am a morning person and feel the most productive in the daytime. I love lots of windows in my house and I want all my curtains open during the day to let as much light in as possible. And I love the feel of the sunshine on my face.

Light reveals where we are.

Light shows us the path in front of us.

Light gives us our directional bearings, rising in the east and setting in the west and the stars guided sailors long before directional equipment came along.

Light warms us and creates beautiful sunrises, sunsets and rainbows for our pleasure.

It even affects our health as the sunshine provides us with vitamin D and not enough light can cause depression and seasonal affect disorder.

Light is one of our greatest blessings, the first of all God created,  and he said “it was good” (Gen.1:3-4) Light is available 24/7 to some degree.

“Then God made two great lights the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” (Gen. 1:16)

We take this blessing of light for granite most of the time. It isn’t until we are in the darkness and can’t find our way that we search for the light and appreciate what a blessing it is when we find it.

Darkness is great when we sleep or in a movie theater but when functioning in our daily activities, trying to do them in the dark can be a problem. When we walk in the darkness we often lose our sense of direction and even lose our way. We try to feel our way through the darkness often stumbling over obstacles in our path. We may feel like the darkness is closing in on us or makes us feel cold.

 Responses to the light often depend on how long and how deeply one has been in the darkness. After a long time in darkness the light is harsh at first and we guard out eyes from too much all at once. Even watching those leaving a dark movie theater and into the daylight we see them shield there eyes until they adjust to the light.

Walking in spiritual darkness is the most dangerous of all. When we try to find our way through this world in the darkness we lose our way, we stumble and fall. We may try to find our way through the darkness by following our feelings but like the path in front of us in the darkness things we can’t see may change the course and our feelings change with them. Soon we feel the darkness closing in on us and don’t know which way to go.

Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before the darkness overtakes you.The man who walks in dark does not know where he is going”. (John 12:35 NIV)

When God reveals his light to those living and wandering in  darkness it can seem harsh at first as it reveals where we are in our sin. And their may be guarding and shielding against the light in the beginning. It can be, as it was with Paul, downright blinding (Acts 9:3-9). But as we walk out of the darkness toward the light we will see Jesus who is the light of the world offering us a way to never have to live in or fear of the darkness again.

Unlike light made by man, the Creator’s light is: Perfect, spoken into existence, made and perfected in two days, always reliable, purposeful, perfect in timing,   it relies on no man, it’s free and available to all mankind, it controls the climate-warmth by day and cool by night, seasons, vegetation’s growth, length of days and light and darkness, it is always there, a sure thing, and provides energy.

God not only spoke the light for the world into existence, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5)

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12 NKJ)

Are you walking in darkness, in the shadows or are you walking in the light?

If your walking in darkness ask God to shine His light and show you the path out of the darkness. He is waiting to hear from you.

If your walking in the light of Christ let that light shine for those around you who may be  walking in darkness that they may see the light of Christ and be saved through it.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Words by Sue Cameron

0e5582366_1477946107_words-have-power

Is there anything more powerful?

To heal, to hurt,

to destroy?

Words in my mind-accusing me,

dragging me down

into guilt and helplessness.

Words from outside-attacking me,

tearing at the fragile image of who I am and hope to be.

I struggle under their heavy weight

and fear I’ll suffocate.

Not all words are true, but they feel true.

Some are lies wrought in the basement of hell,

sent to defeat those who march in the army of God.

My leader warned me of such warfare,

so subtle and hard to detect.

A sudden attack strips my defenses.

Wounded, bleeding,

I am left to die.

Now my fate depends on

to whom I choose to listen.

To the liar,

or to  my leader.

His Word consoles and strengthens me,

binding my pain and wrapping me in acceptance.

He does not condemn me in my weakness,

or require me to run on broken legs.

He asks only that I listen to him

and believe what he says.

His truth banishes falsehoods

and sets me free.

Living on the battlefield isn’t kind and gentle;

it is demanding and stretching.

I must often pause and ask myself,

To whose voice do I listen?

And in whose voice do I speak?

Posted in assignment, Children, communication, enjoyment, Family

A View From The Bird House

life-experiences-quotes

I am taking a cue from Jeff Goins on this post. His challenge is to write something from a life experience and this got me thinking of all the different life experiences this Grama has had, and there have been many.

I am very much aware that people can have the same basic experience but have a very different view of what that experience holds for them, therefore reactions may differ.  As I share my experiences, I will be sharing my own “View From The Bird House”.

You see, my last name is Bird and has been since 1965 when I married the love of my life and so I have quite a collection of experiences, both good and bad, that I could write about. Some of them weren’t necessarily appreciated as much when I was younger but with age I’ve begun to see God’s wisdom and sometimes humor in bringing them and/or allowing them. Yes, for most wisdom, does come with age!

Some life experiences were amazing and some frightening; some brought dreams to reality and some turned dreams to nightmares. But I have come to realize that every experience had its time and place in my life, each one brought with it life lessons and greater wisdom. Each one had a part in making me who I am today and none of them slipped in without my heavenly Father knowing it was coming. Many of them caught me by surprise but not my Father.

Each experience brought wisdom. Wisdom for raising children, understanding relationships and what my part in those relationship were, especially my relationship with my husband. Most importantly it brought me, and still is bringing me, to a closer relationship with my God!

But enough of the deep-thinking stuff. I would rather share my favorite experiences, the ones that make me smile and even laugh out loud. Retelling those stories at family gatherings is one of our favorite things to do and when we do we laugh like it was just yesterday even though some of the stories are over fifty years old. Still, they bring on those deep-down-belly-laughing fits that bring tears to your eyes.

Love them!

Even though those experiences make us laugh hysterically now, at the time, we  seldom saw the humor in them. Yet over the years we,ve begun to see the humor in them, which by the way is another advantage to ageing.

One of the experiences that stands out in my mind the is an experience with our first-born grandson who was four at the time. His mother had recently given birth to their second child and they were all visiting at our home. Our daughter had gone to do something in another room and I was tending the kids.

Holding baby Sarah, I began a conversation that I would soon regret and never forget. I asked my grandson how he liked his little sister and reminded him this is the little baby that was in mommy’s tummy. His response blew me away and it was my first lesson as a grama about being careful what you ask a toddler.

He got very serious and looked me in the eye. With his eyes growing bigger he said; “I know and I used to be in my mommy’s tummy too!” Not knowing enough to quit while I was ahead I continued this “cute” conversation and it went like this:

Me — I know, what do you think it was like in there?

Grandson – Getting more serious and raising both arms in the air and making a big circle he said; “Grama, there was sperm everywhere and I was afraid, but they said”, as he changed his voice to a gentler tone, “Don’t worry little boy we won’t hurt you. We are going to help you get out of your egg. But then I got stuck in my mommy’s gina and they had to cut me out of her tummy, but my sister didn’t get stuck so she came out of mommy’s gina.”

I was speechless! And that doesn’t happen often.

I immediately called for my daughter and shared this revelation that her son had shared with me. Her explanation was that she and her husband had been watching a program called Nova a few days before and it was showing microscopic films of sperm traveling to the ova, or egg, and how they penetrated the egg to release the embryo. Added to that; our grandson had been asking how his sister got out of mommy’s tummy and our daughter, believing you should use correct anatomical terms, explained in simple terms her birth. When he asked if he got here the same way my daughter explained that he had gotten stuck so they had to make a cut in her tummy to get him out.

That grandson was 32 this year and that story is still being told much to his chagrin. But he is a good sport because he understands. You see he has a little boy of his own now and already has some stories of his own to tell.

Lesson Learned by This Grama: 1. Don’t underestimate the ability of a toddler to put one and one together and get two. They are much smarter than you think. 2. Don’t ask a toddler questions unless your prepared deal with the answers. They share all freely! 3. Live in the moment and the experiences and look for the lessons they bring.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Surprise Blessing At Walmart

500 Word Challenge  1/6/2017

butterfly

A Surprise Blessing From Walmart

Now, when I go to Walmart I seldom think of it as an opportunity for a blessing, some bargains maybe, but not a blessing.

But I recently went to there in search of a day timer for the new year, which I didn’t find. However, a unique journal caught my eye. I do a lot of journaling and often will pick up a journal when I see them on sale so I always have a spare.

It was bright green with a cutout of a butterfly on the front cover. The page behind the cover revealed a beautiful purple butterfly. It was the purple butterfly that actually caught my eye.  My sister, Lois, who went to be with the Lord several years ago, always loved butterflies, any kind of butterfly. We often talked about the significant of the butterfly, not just about how beautiful and unique God created each one, but more about the picture of new life they represented to us as Christians. We saw them as the story of how God had given us new life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We, like the caterpillar start out crawling along and not getting very far on our own. One day we find ourselves all wrapped up in this world much like the caterpillar when it is caught up in the cocoon. In this dark and dormant state our Creator is at work behind the scene with a plan to make us into something beautiful, both us and the butterfly.

The very cocoon we find ourselves in, the cocoon that makes us helpless to do anything for ourselves opens our eyes to see our total dependence on God.

We struggle to try to free ourselves from this helpless state. We want out of the discomfort, to be free of the struggle, we want out now, but if we come out to early we will miss out on God’s best but if we wait on God’s timing and trust Him in the struggles we will realize God can and wants to use the struggles to develop in us the strength and the faith we need. He can make us into something beautiful for our good and His glory. He wants us to soar and be a blessing to those who see His beauty in us and bring Him glory.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecc. 3:1 NKJ)

My lesson for today, blessings can be found anywhere, even in Walmart!

 

The Butterfly Story (A Bonus Attachment)

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember God needs no help. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are God can use them to prepare us for His awesome plan for us. He is preparing us to fly.

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Posted in accountability, assignment, character study, peace, Promises, Weary encouragement hope

Looking For A Leader

Hard questions

Over the last year young and old of every race and every religion have been looking for a leader. This past years election cycle will probably go down in history as the most unusual election cycle in our nation.

The election is over now but as I think about all the different opinions I see that everyone is really looking for the same thing.

We are looking for a leader who is radically different.

A leader who will:

* stand up to the establishment

* Look out for the needs of the masses as well as the individual and provide for those needs.

* Put the needs of others ahead of their own comfort

* Give all people real hope and change for a better future

* Provide a resting place where people can feel safe and secure

* Provide justice and mercy, fairness and forgiveness

We all want a someone with a proven track record in all of the above. Someone whose plans, when followed, never failed.

Sounds impossible but that leader we are looking for has been right in front of us for over 2000 years. The most radical leader of all time, who has never been equaled – not even close. It is Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”                                                                                                                                                                 John 1:1

He is not an establishment figure

His message was and still is definitely one of hope and change

He never wavers in the truth and exposes the lies

He knows our every need and has the ability to meet every need and His resources are unlimited

His desire is to reach out to and meet the needs of every person of every race, gender and nation

He is always just and fair

He has a purpose and plan for every life and there are multitudes who have followed Him and give testimony to the details and outcomes of the plans in real-time for years.

His “super pack” was twelve men who spoke truth, His truth. They served and took care of others ahead of their own needs. They defended the weak, widowed and orphans. This super pack stood firm in their faith and in the truth even where there was personal insult and injury, standing up against the establishment for what was right and what was truth.

We have a new president-elect now who will soon take over to lead our country and we should be praying for him as he leads. Things are still somewhat unsettled and probably will continue to be even into the next election. It will always be that way with men!

But no matter what our political views are, with God we can always have that hope and change we long for. Christ is the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Christ alone can bring us the peace we need in this crazy world we live in if we will follow Him.

He is the only leader I  know with the perfect resume.

Why not follow the Leader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in accountability, assignment, communication, enjoyment

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

 

writing

500 Words a Day Challenge

1/3/17

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

My intentions for over ten years has been to become a writer. I thought about it, talked about it and read about it and did a Bible study for Christian writers. I even started a blog, View From The Bird House, and wrote several blog posts. But the one thing I didn’t do was build a writing habit and think of myself as a writer. It was what I wanted to do but didn’t really believe I was good enough to do it or to call myself a writer.

Because of my age I thought it was to late to start writing. After all I was not well known except in my own family, friends and church family circles. I was a nobody and who would want to read what I wrote anyway.

As a retired nurse, wife, mom, grandma and great grandma what would I have to write about that others would be interested in. Had it not been for a writer friend I would not have even tried, I thank God for her because she opened up the joy of writing for me. And after much prayer and meditation on Scripture God confirmed in me that He was calling me to write and share a message of hope and encouragement to others.

God had given me a gift and desire for writing and he confirmed that through that close friend who is a writer, others who have commented on my blogs and most of all because I find real joy when I write.

So, now I am struggling to learn how to write and to develop a writing habit so that I can develop my blog. That is what brought me to accept this challenge to write 500 words a day for 31 days.

My long-term goal is to one day finish a book I started (barely, I think I have the dedication and intro done). A book that I hope will bring hope and encouragement to those who are struggling with regrets over choices made in the past, discouragement with the present and feel there is no hope for their future.

The book is based on a true story of one who went from favor to fear, from fear to failure, from failure to forgiveness and a fresh start. It isn’t my story, although it could be.

We all struggle at times, we all have fears and failures, and we all need a fresh start at times so I hope to take my readers down the path from regrets over fears and failures to victory and a fresh start in whatever area they are struggling.

These are my intentions, my purposes for writing. But they will never happen if I am not writing.

So, I join you fellow writers in this challenge and I welcome your encouragement and your critique because I need that to help me become the best writer I can be.

Because intentions are not enough!

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

“Education or Transformation?”

teacher-owl-clipart-1

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!!!

 

 

Posted in accountability, communication, responsibility, value

Are We Counting What Really Counts

church stats 2

For those of us that attend church on a regular basis or even those who are occasional attenders we probably all remember seeing one of the “Attendance and Offering Registers” hanging in a prominent place on the wall for everyone to see.

I often wondered just what purpose they served and have come to the conclusion that this information served two purposes depending on whether the current tally was a plus or a minus: 1. To encourage and/or  2. To motivate.

Now please don’t get all fired up and send me nasty-grams!

As one who has been a part of a church leadership team I do understand the importance and purpose of having attendance records and keeping track of finances. They both give leadership a measurable picture of where the church is headed and how to proceed. It helps to know how to plan to meet the needs of ministry in the most productive way  so that we honor God with the resources He supplies. I also understand that it’s good to have that same information available to the congregation to encourage them and to make them aware of where we are in our growth and finances, or lack of, and for financial accountability.

However what I don’t understand is why we don’t have a “Soul Register”? Isn’t our first priority to see souls come to Christ; to find salvation? And isn’t that the greatest measure of where we are spiritually and our success as the local body of believers?   Yet we don’t put up the stats for the number of souls saved as a result of ministry and sharing our faith, the Gospel.

It has been said by many in the leadership of the church that “It’s not about numbers, it’s about souls.” and I agree with that, however it is about the number of souls being saved.

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

So why are they not counted on our church’s public registers? I can’t think of anything that should motivate  us more. Maybe we need to see those numbers and just maybe it would motivate us to step out in faith and share the message of salvation more often. God will provide the opportunities in our ministries in the church and individually, it is up to us to take advantage of them, and may it begin with “me”.

What do you think your church’s “Soul Register” would look like if you had one?

There is a register in heaven of all the souls saved and the angels rejoice over each and every one that comes to Christ, shouldn’t we?

 

 

Posted in enjoyment, Family, fun, play, Uncategorized, value, Work

Phony Ponies and Brass Rings

Dennis the Menace

Have you, like Dennis, ever found yourself on one of those rides that are fun but don’t really get you anywhere. I can think of several: the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, the Tilt-A-Whirl or the pony rides at the fair where the ponies are harnessed together and just travel in a circle. Or, in these days, it may be watching reality shows, (that are anything but reality) or gaming on the TV,  the computer or a cell phone. All of these can be exciting, tickle our tummies, give us a thrill and a rush of adrenaline. And we may even get the elusive brass ring on one of those trips around on the carousel or reach level 377 on one of the games. I think my husband has about 3 million dollars in play money in his Poker Mafia account right now. If only  that were a reality!

Then the ride comes to a stop, and the show or game is over. The excitement begins to fade and we may be left feeling a little dizzy or maybe a little nauseated from the spinning. It was so much fun but soon the thrill is gone and we are off looking for the next fun ride, game or reality show. When it’s all said and done we have had a lot of fun but haven’t actually gotten anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always loved the thrill of a fun ride as much as the next person and I like a little TV entertainment and a good “Words With Friends” or “Trivia Crack” game. A trip to an amusement park is a lot of fun and I have had many of those trips to parks and fairs that have provided  many great family memories. But when we leave we are exhausted and can’t wait to get home and get some rest. Even fun can be exhausting!

The problem begins when we don’t know when to get off the phony pony or realize the brass ring is only a souvenir and not the answer to our future. At some point the park closes and the lights go out and we have to go home. The show is over, we reach the max level and/or the max number of points in the game. But in our own real world, called the game of life, nothing changes. We make no advances where life really matters, we have nothing to show that matters in the game of life which will include eternity.

The problem is when we keep going in circles and never leave the “Amusement Park”. When we  become obsessed with always looking for the next exciting ride that will offer us a big thrill or a bigger prize; the next level to be conquer,  more points  to earn. We find we are still alternating between the  merry-go-rounds and the roller coasters in life but without the brass rings, the prizes or the points.

And so what’s a person to do?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy“.  (Maria Edgeworth)

The answer? Balance and all things in moderation!

The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to enjoy life and work hard to have a productive life here and that will extend into eternity.

 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

Are you a little our of balance these days? Maybe it isn’t to much play but maybe it’s to much work?

Are you spending more time with the phony ponies and reaching for the brass rings than striving for the prizes that will last?

The little Dennis cartoon above has given me food for thought and called me to do some evaluating in this area for sure!

How about you?