Thursday, July 29, 2010
During a summer soccer camp, a friend and I were following up with a boy who came forward after praying to follow Christ. We asked him why he prayed, and then he looked at us as he paused to think. He replied, "I just love Jesus." My friend and I smiled and then looked at each other, since it was refreshing him to say that.
"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" ( 1 John 5:11).
At this session of camp, this boy was the only one in the older group that came to talk. He explained how his brother had been telling him about what he was learning about God. He said that he decided that he believed in God and wanted to follow Jesus.
"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us" (1 John 4:15-16).
I pray that we and others see how our belief in our Savior King is grounded in this great love that He has for us and our trust in that love.
"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" (1 John 4:13).
Recommended reading: 1 John, chapters 4-5
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My dear christian neighbor just celebrated her 90th Birthday this past weekend! WOW what a milestone and testimony of God's Goodness! It was a time to celebrate a life living for Jesus and on a course of finishing strong for the Lord!! As I took in this entire celebration it was a first for me because I did not have the privilege of knowing any of my grandparents...we have adopted my dear neighbor just like an adopted GRAND, we love her just like she was our own.
The Lord is so good to us to provide blessings even when it comes to who lives in our neighborhood! My dear neighbor use to serve my children as their "lunch line lady" when they were in elementary school and now we have the joy and privilege of serving her in many special simple ways!
Who can we serve in our neighborhood as we are called to build up our neighbors and love them as we love ourselves? What are some ways that we can invest in the lives of our neighbors?
Here are some simple ideas and we would love for you to share one of your favorite ways to love your neighbors:
- Share Your Garden Produce ~ Freely share the blessings from your garden, your flower garden, your fruit trees. As we hand our neighbor a basket (or grocery store plastic bag) of homegrown love we can include a special promise from God's Word that will lift our neighbor up!
- Share Your Prayers ~ Freely share your prayers in times of celebration and in times of need. Jaye Martin's "neighborhood brownie ministry" is a great place to start! As we share with our neighbors that we are praying for/with them, we can include a gift from our kitchen and we can include a special promise from God's Word that will lift our neighbor up!
- Share Your Time ~ Freely share your time helping someone in your neighborhood that would be blessed by your gift of time! As we share our time with newcomers to our neighborhood, newly married, new moms, mothers of preschoolers, mothers of teens, mothers of college kids with newly empty nests, and senior adult women that are unable to accomplish all that they use to....include a special promise from God's Word that will lift our neighbor up!
As we include the gospel in everything we do for our neighbors, God is faithful to cause the seeds of love that we are planting and watering to GROW as Neighbors Reach Neighbors for JESUS!!
Monday, July 26, 2010
“According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of faith; if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness” (Ro.12:6-8).
The gift of leadership is given by God for the purpose of leading in the local church to direct the members of the body of Christ in fulfilling the purpose of the church. It is the ability to hear God’s vision, based on the truths of His Word, and lead people to work together to accomplish God’s plan.
“And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next, miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages” (1 Cor 12:28) .
The gift of administration is given by God for the purpose of managing the entities of the church in accomplishing the plan of God. It is the ability to organize and implement the plans given to God by the leader.
Each of has, by the very fact that we are believers, the calling and the capacity to lead. Some are gifted in leadership and so that gift is obvious to all. Consider the fact that we are all called to serve, yet some have the gift of service. Many of us are called to teach, but some of us are especially gifted in teaching. We are all called to be encouragers, yet some are have the gift of exhortation.
Whether we are gifted in the gift of leadership or not, we are all called to lead. The question is, how will we lead?
(Excerpts from Women Leading Women, chapter four, B&H Academic, Martin & Stovall.)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This summer, I have gotten to join a group named Imago, made up of people who are interested in art and Christ. Some people share their personal art, and this week some people shared art based on the verse above.
In between these "art shares," the main leader asked us a question: What is "Christian art?"
One woman recalled that a number of famous painters in history have done Christian art merely because it was popular. Someone else noted how Christian art may depend on the viewer. Another noted that they thought of Christian art as something created by a believer in Christ.
One statement especially stood out to me: a woman said that art is a conversation between the artist and the viewer. Can God use art to communicate? I believe He can use it to inspire others, tell a story, and help someone see from a different point of view.
Some questions I've been asking myself: Am I "listening" to art? How can God use art to tell part of His story? Do I know someone who may need encouragement in this area? God has gifted each of us, and He can use those gifts to share His story.
An example of an art show that Imago organized to display at Houston's First Baptist Church: http://www.houstonsfirst.org/imagoartshow2009photos
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
“Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10) .
If God gave gifts to men, then we know that God had to be those things to give them. He can give leadership because he is the leader. He can give teaching ability because He is the teacher. He can give people the ability to shepherd because He is the shepherd. The list goes on. God is who He says He is and that is His character. While we could look at many aspects of His character, we will focus on that fact that God is the ultimate leader. We need to be looking to Him and His Word on just how to lead.
There has been a discussion for years whether leaders are born or bred. The answer is both are true. Some are gifted by God but as Christians, we are all called to lead. Leaders are those who see what needs to happen and then know how to make it happen. They know how to follow God and while doing so, know how to lead others. It is that balance of total submission to Him and His vision; but yet, total confidence in themselves as leaders. People follow people with vision.
Lord, help me to be faithful to serve others through the gifts you have given me.
(Excepts from Women Leading Women, chapter four, B&H Academic, Martin & Stovall.)
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Keeping with the theme of praise, I submit a song for thought that flooded Christian radio in days past. Certain expressions of praise strike a chord with the heart. Conviction is the note this song hits. When we consider the second greatest commandment we would be arrogant indeed to think we have no room for growth. As you watch this brief video, I encourage you as a lover of Jesus Christ, member of His church, and leader of His women to ask Him to make your love abound and grow in such a way that it becomes like His own.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
...Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!"
(Psalm 100:1-2, 4 ESV).
Last night, I got to be a part of a time of worship with people from my church and another. The worship leaders praised God in different ways: one girl gave her testimony in poetic form, a man led the group in repeating some of God's names in song, and a band sang songs like, "You Are Good." They all expressed love and thanks to God in different ways and showed honor to His nature and character.
How do we praise God? This morning, a couple of others and I thought about this as we read Psalm 100. When we pray, we thought of how we could spend more time just thanking Him for His name.
Today, I pray that we remember to praise His name. In places like the picture above, which is a spot along Buffalo Bayou, I can't help but be in awe of our Creator. So, I am going to try to remember to be outside every day to remind myself to thank Him for who He is. What would help you remember to praise His name?
(image from http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMVMR)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the Glory of God."! 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
"When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God."
1 Corinthians 10:31 (Contemporary English Version)
Let's share some Summer Parties that Christian's can host that have Purpose!! We would love to hear your ideas: Themes, Decorations, Opportunities of Ministry & Sharing Jesus At The Party, etc.!
Jaye Martin has compiled some Parties with Purpose that she would LOVE for you to use!!
This FREE download is available @ www.namb.net HeartCall Notebook page 36-50
Monday, July 12, 2010
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you” James 4:10 . “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12) .
“God shows us who He is through His Word, through His Son, and through the Holy Spirit. As we read through the Scriptures, we see how He revealed Himself to so many. His commandments show us the principles of how to live but they are all based on who He is. He is the One, True God that desires to have a relationship with us. He is the God of protection and provision. His laws flow out of who He is. He desire for us to know Him and to follow Him.”
“Follow-ship becomes the great challenge. We need leaders who will follow the Leader. We need leaders who, on a daily basis, will look to Him before they look to make a name for themselves. Whether leadership is given or learned is not the key issue; the key issue is that to be effective leaders, we are to be obedient on a moment by moment basis to the leading of the Holy Sprit. We must do what Micah 6:8 reminds us to do: act justly, love faithfulness, and walk humbly with our Lord. Philippians 2:1-11 on the humility of Christ should be our model as leaders. We have to take on the same attitude of Christ and serve fairly and with humility. God is the one who rewards and lifts us up. We lift Him up as we serve faithfully.”
Oh Lord, help me to be humble and to keep my eyes fixed on you. I want you to lead through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Excepts from Women Leading Women, chapter four, B&H Academic, Martin & Stovall.)
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
The text begs us to consider whether or not we make the "best use of the time?" In order to faithfully claim that we have walked in wisdom toward outsiders, we must be diligent to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, encouragement & instruction from God's Word, and so forth. Before our God, I desire to use these days entrusted to me wisely, winning souls.
A couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves lakeside with friends. It was a time of refreshment. It would have been easy to bury ourselves in a good book, in deep conversation, and not so much as glance at those souls quite possibly perishing around us. Thankfully the Lord provided us with eyes to see opportunity in our meeting Stacie. We were mindful of our Savior and what He has done for us and shared it with a new friend. I wish I was perfectly mindful, using my time in wisdom as we did that day. Although we're imperfect, my prayer is that more & more we are found using the moments we have day in and day out to direct people to Jesus and teaching others to do the very same thing.
There is no hope besides our Savior. His death and resurrection has bought us something more precious than any earthly thing & our hearts ought to greatly desire to share it. Here's to making the best use of the time, remembering that our days, even if they be 70 or 80, are few. Let us use them then for the glory of King Jesus.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
This week, my pastor asked us to kneel down to pray. He noted how great it would be, to leave the service with our knees hurting because we were talking to God. Recently, my small group also talked about how much God changed us when we were on our knees. Whether this time spent on our knees was in praise, overcoming a habit, or asking for God to lead us in a decision, we reflected on how this action made a difference in our lives.
Can you think of a time it made a difference in yours? When I'm on my knees, it helps me remember God's greatness and usually reminds me to pour out thanks. Praying on our knees may be in private, but I think prayer is a time where God can change us from the inside out. He can help us see how to live like Him, even when the world around us may not understand.
Some examples in the Bible of those who knelt in prayer to God, our great and loving King: Daniel in Daniel 6, Jesus in Luke 22:39-44, and Paul in Acts 20:36 and Ephesians 3:14.
(Image from www.nhg1health.com)
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
“What does God’s character look like in us? The result of the Spirit of God in our lives can be seen through the fruit of the Spirit. It seems like such a basic Christian principle but in fact, these traits are the very things that give leaders the most trouble. It is not the big things that get us; it is the little things. Things like not being nice to people, not controlling our anger, being impatient or agitated, forgetting that the one who is standing at our desks, interrupting our ministry, is our ministry. It is understood that most of those who are asked to leave staff ministry positions are asked to do so because of people problems. It is sad to think that this is true. We are to be so connected to God that many of our immediate reactions are tempered by the Holy Spirit working in us. When we do blow it, we should be coming back and apologizing to everyone involved. None of us is perfect and that is the main reason that we stay in tune and allow the Spirit of God to work in us and the result of Him be seen no matter what the circumstance.” (excerpt from Women Leading Women, chapter four, B&H Academic, Martin & Stovall).
Dear God, please please please work in me this day! Amen.
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12) .
Saturday, July 3, 2010
As a result of my recent acquaintance with these young women I am reminded anew of the precious first steps of the faith. 1 Peter 2:1-3, “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” When Micah was a newborn there was no suppressing his desire to nurse. No matter how you might try to distract him, play with him, or otherwise engage him, his mind would not move itself from the milk that he so desired and really actually needed to live. He would not be satisfied until he had it, not until he was full. As I look on these “newborns” in the faith if you will, I am thinking about their thirst and how to train their thirst toward Jesus. My hope is that they would mature and develop the appetite of the psalmist in Psalm 119, an insatiable hunger for that which ought to feed our lives.
Many reading ought to be past the newborn stage, mature, disciplined, ready for meat. But I wonder if you’ve lost your taste and appetite for the things that God desires us to hunger and thirst for? Maybe that’s not you at all, maybe your thirst and hunger are kicked into high gear and you’ve never desired Jesus more. To that I say good and believe me we can be filled up even more with him. We haven’t arrived yet. For the former group I encourage meditation and reflection on 1 Peter 2:1-3. For the latter, I am pointing you to a passage that came up just days ago in my Long Hollow MESH Summer Bible Study group (how I love those precious young women),
1 Timothy 4:7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
It can be altogether easy to release passion and devotion, discipline that has godliness as its aim. We are altogether prone to forget and at times tempted to satisfy our appetites with lesser things. So full up on junk of the world, that we can’t receive the nourishment our souls crave and need. Training is difficult. Discipline requires focus. You have to be bent and fixed, so to speak, on the goal. If the goal for the believer is Jesus. Then we would do well “to fix our eyes” on Him, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I hope you will let God speak to you. When his perfect light reveals sinful darkness in our souls I pray that we would repent and turn and love our Savior. There’s none more worthy of you than Him.
Eagerness overtakes me when the thought of watching these young women satisfy their thirst with God’s Word enters my mind. It’s their first steps. They are kind of like my son, MICAH, who took his very FIRST STEPS the other day toddling over to his mommy. A person’s first steps are kind of like their last steps….still putting one foot in front of the other, having done it longer though the hope is that you walk and stand firm in Jesus and don’t fall quite so much anymore (and even if you fall, God has your hand). Not made perfect yet, but not toddling either, maturity.
In ministry there can be a temptation to lose the wonder of the Gospel, the love for Christ's Word, and pure affection for His people, but nothing could be more destructive to us and our ministries. My encouragement to you today is to continue walking in step with the Holy Spirit that you may, by the Lord's grace, continue to be abundantly fruitful in all of your endeavors.
Friday, July 2, 2010
There are several things to keep in mind when dealing with excuses.
First of all, don't be intimidated. After two thousand years, no one is going to think of the question that will destroy the Christian faith. Then remember the following:
- An excuse frequently hides the real reason. Ask them questions to clarify the real issue.
- Avoid an argument. You can win a debate but lose a person to Christ.
- Exemplify Christ-like behavior at all times. Be humble!
- Present the entire gospel if at all possible. People are not converted by our answers, but by the power of the gospel.
- Trust the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember to separate your role and God's role.
- If the person rejects, try to give her something to take with her to read. She may pick it up at a later time and be open to the gospel.
- Don't get sidetracked, but always point people back to Jesus Christ.
Lord, give us all boldness and wisdom to make the most of every opportunity to share You with others.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
In the book of Joel, he speaks of pests of a different kind: locusts. Locusts behave in different ways than mesquitos, it seems: they tend to eat crops and other vegetation across their path (see book feature on Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16578226/Locusts). I bet the farmers were horrified, and as I read more I wanted to pass them a mesquito net!
Joel predicts that Judah, God's people, will be attacked by locusts. While reading, I thought it seemed this to be similar to a natural disaster, like a flood. I think he is talking about judgement of the people. The Lord is fair and just, and all of those who have turned away from Him should be punished.
Joel speaks of this news to God's chosen, since none of us are worthy of forgiveness and mercy. He calls the people to turn to the Lord and away from sin. "Even now - (this is) the Lord's declaration - turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster" (Joel 2:12-13).
Later in Joel, God promises the coming of the Holy Spirit that is noted so much in the New Testament. In response to the peoples' repentance, Joel reads in 2:18, "Then the Lord became jealous for His land and spared His people."
For the rest of Joel 2, he predicts how God will restore those who call on Him and will send His Holy Spirit. Peter explains this in Acts 2. God has sent His Son, Jesus, to die to pay for our sins and then rise from the dead to sit at the right hand of God. Then, God sent the Holy Spirit for His people.
What must we do, as impecfect people? Peter explains, "Repent...and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:2). God does much more than any mesquito net! By His grace, we are able to humbly come before Him and have a relationship with this God of both judgement and love.