Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Karen Mains, in her book Open Heart, Open Home, points out that “in Webster’s dictionary, the definition for hospitable is wedged between the word ‘hospice’ which is a shelter, and the word ‘hospital which is a place of healing. Ultimately, this is what we offer when we open our home in the true spirit of hospitality. We offer shelter; we offer healing.”
The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenos, which is a combination of two words that mean “love” and stranger.” If we put this together with “evangelism” (meaning the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ,), then “hospitality evangelism” is sharing the good news of the gospel through hospitality and deeds of love so that our friends and relatives will see their need for a relationship with Jesus.
Hospitality is a wonderful tool through which we can minister. However, hospitality is also a command. Hospitality defined in a practical way is cheerfully opening our homes and lives to friends or strangers. It is not trying to impress people , but rather making people feel welcome. It encourages us to develop the attitude of a servant and is a way of ministering to lonely people. Nothing leaves a better impression on someone than a friendly invitation into a Christian home.
Beougher and Dorsett, Women and Evangelism, Billy Graham Institute of Evangelism, 1994. (By the way, the picture is of my son, Jon, and sweet daughter-in-law Ashley talking with their mentors)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
One of my favorite pictures of the church is in Acts. Acts 4:32 (NIV) reads, "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." The group in Acts seems to be a family that is ever-present and happy to help.
How can we help others see how to live out of God's love at home and in our church family?
[A special thanks to Dr. Jones and Dr. Stinson for their inspiring thoughts. To read about this, I suggest Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 4, and Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views by Timothy Paul Jones (Editor) (released this October).]
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
(the cross pictured above was handmade in The Holy Land and reminds me that Jesus is Alive to help me be the witness that He has called me to be!)
Jesus is the greatest most faithful witness that we could ever model our lives after! As a follower of Jesus, He promises to teach and equip us as His disciple ( Background of Disciple The term “disciple” comes to us in English from a Latin root. Its basic meaning is “learner” or “pupil.” taken from Holman Dictionary from LifeWay's Online Bible Library @ http://www.bible.lifeway.com/)
Mt 4:19-20 The First Disciples “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people! Immediately they left their nets and followed Him." HCSB
If you and I were on trial for being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict us? I encourage you to make a list of the evidence that is in your life and the evidence that you would like for there to be in your life as God promises in Philippians 1:6 "I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." HCSB
I often think about witnessing as if I am on trial because as a first-generation Christian I have had so many "trials" in this old world!! Witnesses in courtrooms are sworn to tell the truth. No speculation. No opinions. No hearsay. What "evidence" would people who know us give to support our claim that we are true and faithful reflections of Jesus? Jesus, who is called "the faithful witness" paid the ultimate price on trial for you and me...what more can we do than to testify and share with others the ways that He has ultimately, radically, and miraculously changed our lives from unfaithful to faithful until He returns...let's take as many others with us as we fill the courtroom of our lives and TESTIFY for HIM!! May all who come behind us find us faithful to "The Faithful One"! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s392HyzQ79M
Saturday, August 22, 2009
"As a young adult, God called me out of the interior design world and into the ministry of sharing Christ with others. I was still doing interior design, but God gave me new interiors to work with that had eternal significance. I closed my business and began to follow Him by going to seminary and preparing for ministry. I was the over-excited housewife that no one knew what to do with."
Except from Chapter 5 in Women Leading Women, Jaye Martin & Terri Stovall, B&H Academic, 2008. http://www.amazon.com/Women-Leading-Biblical-Model-Church/dp/0805447601/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250997622&sr=1-1
"It was in Junior High that I finally understood that anyone could lead. It was the first week and since everyone was at a new school, the playing ground seemed to be equal. I didn’t understand why I was a leader at the first grade school that I went to and at my next one I wasn’t, but I was determined to figure it out. That first week in homeroom, I learned a valuable lesson: we must vote for ourselves. Our teacher announced that we would have elections for student council. A boy pointed to another boy to nominate and a girl pointed to me. She wrote our two names on the board and had everyone vote. The boys voted for him and the girls voted for me. I voted for him. There were 21 in the room, ten boys and eleven girls. What was I thinking? From as early as I can remember, I was told to put others first. Where did it get me? Student Council Alternate. To this very day, I have relived that decision many times. Where is the line between being a strong leader who believes in herself and being supportive and putting others first? It is a daily challenge to learn to lead women while we still follow Him."
"Even though there are general leadership principles for every leader, there are a few that are unique to women. In order for women to be Godly leaders, it is essential that these skills be developed. In chapter five of Women Leading Women, we look at the parts of leadership that women seem to have the most trouble with. These are the leadership characteristics that every Godly woman leader needs to know."
Women Leading Women: The Biblical Model for the Church, Jaye Martin and Terri Stovall, B&H Academic, 2008.
On September 18-19, Southern Seminary's Women's Ministry Institute will host a Weekend Leadership Retreat called, Following God's Lead. I will be leadng and we will talk about how to follow God' lead, how women can be Godly leaders, and how to serve with men. You are invited to come. Only $49. firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-626-5525 x4085 for more info.
Friday, August 21, 2009
"...if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Josh. 24:15)
This is a picture of my daughter, Kristi. (I could not figure out how to get pictures on this computer from when any one of them were little :).) Family evangelism must begin with parents who are believers. Joshua nailed it when he basically said "evangelism begins with 'me.'" So....HOW can we share Christ with our children and other children?
- Be an example in the home on a daily basis (this does not mean be perfect, but ask for their forgiveness when you don't handle things well)
- Treat each child as an individual.
- Help the child see Christ as a living person and not a rigid theology.
- Look for opportunities to plan seeds about the Gospel. Some advice on this is:
*Have consistent family devotions (as you can - DON'T BE LEGALISTIC WITH THIS)
*Spend some time with them before they go to bed. This is when they are often most receptive.
*Model how Scriptures can help day-to-day situations
*Tell your children how Christ has changed your life and how He affects it daily.
*Show your child how you handle failure.
*Look for opportunities to ask probing questions that will help you discuss the message of the Gospel.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This makes me question, "What is my focal point, in spirit? Do I act out of habit - out of pleasure - out of love?"
1 John 4:16 (New Living Translation) explains,
"We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them."
I think what John is saying in that verse is that if we trust God to lead us, He will help us live out of love. As followers of Jesus, I hope that we seek to grow in our understanding of Him and in our love for the world. My prayer is that God gives us the courage to look at the state of our current inner guidance system, and I pray that we choose Him as our focal point.
Photo from http://www.masonryofdistinction.com/
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This past weekend I was traveling. As I prepared to board my flight, the airline announcer came on: “The tow bar that brings in the plane from the runway accidently hit the front of the plane. Our flight is cancelled.” I am annoyed but counting on a quick rebook. Not so! I have to take a taxi to Cincinnati to catch the only other flight that will work. I was not thrilled about ninety minutes in a taxi! As I climbed in, the driver immediately began talking. I found out he was from West Africa and shared that I was recently there. Throughout our conversation, he shared that his country is 100% Muslim. This opened the door to talk about Jesus Christ. As we neared the airport, I was sharing about Jesus as Savior, and not merely prophet, when my phone rang. It was the airline. My upcoming flight was just cancelled and I would have go back to Louisville where they would rebook me. Seriously?! I wanted to be angry that my plans were upset. Yet, I knew that there was only One who was creative enough to allow me yet another hour with this man. I had to laugh. Over two hours in a taxi going “nowhere”! This man did not receive Christ as Savior that day. But our Lord orchestrated his life so that he might hear the name of Jesus for two solid hours. Be encouraged today that even when you don’t see the fruit of your ministry, God is working in ways to accomplish things beyond what we could ask or imagine.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The mercies of God are seen in our lives in so many ways. Just this week those blogging with me have been presented themselves by sacrificing their lives for God's will and seen the mercies of God in action. Two of Sharon Beougher's daughters sacificied by going on a mission trip when the youngest came down with Typhoid Fever - yet by their examples many saw the Lord in action both on the field and in the hospital, Regina Gibson had a baby after months of pregnancy and 24 hours of labor (welcome baby Micah!), Tracy Jones watched the results of lostness in her family of origin and then rushed to Colorado for her dad's emergency surgery, and we moved Kelli to Louisville and watch God work as she gives up her life to follow the Lord in His call to ministry. And these are just the tidbits because one paragraph doesn't even begin to tell you.
As we give up our lives, we watch God move but it doesn't mean it is easy. There are trials along the way. Saved people along the way are not perfect and lost people still act like lost people. We should expect no less.
Our lives are no different than yours. No, we don't have time to live sacrificially because we are so busy being living sacrifices. Romans 12:1-2 urges us to live our lives by being holy and pleasing to God. This is something that God must do through us. He has to make us into the women that He calls us to be. We are not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The only way this can happen is that we must make sure we have time to present ourselves. God gives us hope. He gives us the discernment in life when we come before Him on a daily basis.
So I urge you, give up your life and live for Him. Life isn't perfect but God says that we can know His good, pleasing, and perfect will...and that's enough for me.
Friday, August 14, 2009
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-8)
As leaders in our churches, we need to constantly put before the young moms the commission they have to share Christ with their children. As a mom of four, I know that it is easy to feel that your whole day is filled with wiping up spills, changing diapers [my husband and I bought diapers for ten years straight], cleaning up the same mess over and over, and washing and folding clothes all day. It feels sometimes that it is like walking on a treadmill every day without ever getting anywhere.
BUT we need to remind them that we are to use every opportunity to teach them about Christ. When the person and work of Jesus is clearly and logically presented, children are instinctively drawn to Him. Evangelizing our own children should be of paramount importance to all Christian parents. Christian leadership and nurture should begin in the home. This is a privilege and a HUGE calling. Let us pray for the moms in our churches, encourage them to rise to the challenge, and help them catch the vision of the impact we can have on the world through our children’s walk with God and their obedience to the Great Commission!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I thought, as a follower of Christ, what kind of message am I sending to others?
In Genesis 1:27, we see that God made us in His image. The New International Version reads, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them."
Although we are not perfect creatures, God created us to be like Him. How do we reflect His image, though?
Some insight came as I read Colossians 3:10 from the New Living Translation Bible, which states, "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him."
I pray that as we seek to know more about our Creator, God, He will reflect His love and character in everything we do.
Photo from http://appalachiancenter.org/
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come."!
2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB
NEW things have come~old things are gone! God is so wonderful to take away the old things in our lives and make us brand NEW! What He begins in our lives He keeps working on until He returns! What are some old things that He is working on in our lives? Am I allowing Him to make me NEW, it is a choice I make everyday! I have found that one thing that people that need the Lord are looking for is something NEW! Until I learned that it was JESUS that I needed, I would fill up the voids of my life with the new things that the world offer, even though these things did not satisfy; new clothes, new shoes, new places, new people, new gadgets, new neighborhood, new job, new ________...I will NEVER forget the day that JESUS filled the void in my heart, took away my old self and made me brand NEW in Him...He makes ALL things NEW...He puts people in the path of our lives that need to be made NEW...who do we know that we can share Jesus-the Only One That Can Make Us Brand New?
Butterflies remind me of the promise God gives us in 2 Cor. 5:17, especially right now during the summer season because Butterflies are everywhere. From caterpillar to butterfly through many changes in the metamorphosis process...when I think about this God reminds me of the incredible life-changing ways He has changed my life for His Glory! He also reminds me to NEVER forget what it was like when I didn't know Him as my Lord and Savior, what it was like to be in the cocoon of lostness/darkness! When I think about all that God has rescued me from He reminds me to be sensitive to people that are still in their cocoon of lostness/darkness without God...my heart is burdened for our world, our nation, our state, my city, my neighborhood as the Lord whispers to my heart "Tracy, they need Jesus-they need to be made NEW"!
As a caterpillar must "struggle" in the process of emerging as a butterfly, as a believer, God reminds me that He will use every struggle to make me more like Him so that I can share more of Him with others!
Praise You God for the ways You keep working in our lives so that we will continue to have a sensitivity for people that need the Lord! AMEN!!
"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."! Philippians 1:6 HCSB
Monday, August 10, 2009
Take my parents for example, both have had full lives and now have retired in Florida. They still are active helping and serving in their community. They have time to enjoy the scenery as well as take off from the daily routine when they want to. My aunts both find themselves in still another season with grown kids and spouses who are no longer around. They travel (or don't) as they can and can golf or sit and read knowing that it is their choice. My sisters and I are both in the sandwich generation of Boomers with aging parents and children who still need us (and trust me, we want to be needed). We are both insanely busy with ministry and family and seldom have a second to spare. Our husbands are crazy busy at professional jobs and concerned about retirement and what we are all going to live on. My daughter and nieces are finishing those college years and in the crazy 20's where all the major decisions of life are made.
Serving the Lord in our season is very important. Even as we share Christ and take on new challenges at church, we need to remember what season we are in. As a college student, I was free to travel on mission trips and stay up late working with youth ministries. As a young married, I had to devote some of my time to my husband so my time at church had to be adjusted. Talking all night on the phone to the girls just wasn't going to cut it. When I became a mom, I still volunteered at church, but I did things that Kelli could do with me or that I could do when she was at Mother's day out. The older she got, the more things changed. Kelli being in college brought more changes to our home as she moved in and out. Now as she heads to Southern Seminary in Louisville, the huge truck outside the house is a reminder that we are about to enter still another season of life for us all.
So what the point of all this reflection? The point is: Remember your season and serve in it. Don't try to rush things. Enjoy the babies, be patient with that teenager, and keep serving the Lord no matter what. Adapt to your season and rejoice in it. Look for ways to share Christ that fit you and your lifestyle. As YOU go, share the good news of Jesus Christ.
"He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set" (HCSB, Psalm 104:19).
Sunday, August 9, 2009
So the end of my pregnancy is nearing. I'm a week and a half away from my due date. The excitement is incredible as is the tiredness. Shew! Who knew the last few weeks of pregnancy could be so exhausting. To think just a couple of months ago I was on the beach and feeling great!
The other day I got the notion to get a pedicure, a well overdue pedicure I might add. My toe nails hadn't seen the slightest touch of polish all summer long. I work in ministry full time so I always long for opportunities to get around the world in general with the hope of sharing the Gospel. So I walked in hoping that the girl working on my toes would also be open to hearing about Jesus Christ! And as God would have it...she was! It was an easy door to open. Tam is her name if you'd like to offer up a prayer for her. She's from Vietnam and as far as I could tell hadn't been raised with much exposure to any sort of religion much less had she understood the life saving message of the Gospel and having a relationship with Christ. As always, God had prepared the ground before me as another customer had provided Tam with a Bible engraved with her name. I love how believers work together whether they know one another or not. We are one body! As we chatted about life and the Bible Tam had received I got to tell her the central message of Scripture...all about Jesus! I offered an invitation for Tam to come to church to visit with Chris and me an invitation she's very open to. So Lord willing IF little Micah holds off :) Tam will join us next Sunday at our church home...maybe she can even go with a friend of mine if I have the little one. At any rate this experience was another perfect example of opportunities God lays before us, we just have to look for them!
Who has God placed in your path as of late? Whether getting a pedicure, taking a walk, or going on a simple trip to the local grocery store the person is there whom God intentionally crossed your path with! I'm so thankful that the Lord provided this tired pregnant girl an opportunity to share about His salvation!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
As my friend from college and I were catching up at Starbucks yesterday, he explained that he had come into town to celebrate with his family. "Wait," I asked, "It isn't your birthday... is it?" My stomach prepared to flip if the answer was yes. He chuckled and said no. This was the 13th year him and his family had been in the United States.
His dad had brought them to find a better education. My friend said that his dad had not thought it would last that long.
I took a sip of my tea, and then asked, "What do you mean?"
At first, he explained, coming to the states was a culture shock. Now, he feels like it is second nature for him and his family to be here.
I hope that when people come into church, they feel like it is home.
Romans 12:4-5 reads,"Just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function,
so in Christ we who are many form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others."
As a church family, I pray that we take opportunities to use our gifts and share Jesus' love, so that we can grow more unified every day.
More ideas: Romans, Ch. 12; 1 John 3:16-24
Or, I would love to read your ideas.
Charles Schulz's photo: search.barnesandnoble.com
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
My husband, Marshall & I, are about to have a "first" take place in our home/family...the "first" time our nest will be empty as our children are either out on their own or all at college...my prayer is that my children's faith in Christ will be even more REAL & ALIVE as they are launched for The Lord and that their faith will continue "from generation to generation" as they are "in the Lord" (Eph.6:1). Our children are the first complete generation of Christians on my side of our family! (yikes, as a momma I am having to learn how to let go, & let God in a deeper way!)