Thursday, May 31, 2007
by Manda Gibson
Father's Day gets men's attention because the focus is on them already. We're celebrating them as dads, or they're celebrating their dads."
Tom Crick, director of men's ministry at Saddleback Church ________________________________
Glen Sarris has spent his life working hard so his wife could have more time for ministry. As a result of her ministry involvement at Saddleback Church, she enjoyed close friendships with other godly women – and Sarris began to wish that he had similar strong friendships with men.
"I noticed that she had many godly women friends who helped her to grow spiritually," Sarris said. "I knew I wanted that because I had no godly friends, only acquaintances."
So he asked his wife: "How do you get these friends?"
As his wife began looking for opportunities for him to build strong friendships, she learned about Saddleback's men's ministry and encouraged her husband to attend.
So one day Sarris walked quietly into a men's small group, unsure of what he would find. As it turned out, he found the strong relationships he had been looking for.
"I attended on a regular basis to develop relationships with these men," he said. "In the course of a year, to my surprise, I finally found some godly Christian men that I could get close to and talk about anything."
A small group is the only place to find that kind of friendship, he said.
"You can talk deeply about anything. You share things with them; they share things with you," he said. "You can't find that in the regular world."
Sarris is typical of many men, says Tom Crick, director of men's ministry at Saddleback. They become isolated and end up living life virtually on their own, without the support of other men.
It's essential that churches help men to come out of their isolation, and Father's Day is a prime opportunity to do that, Crick said.
Why men need small groups
Saddleback calls its men's ministry, The Herd. When lions hunt zebras, they look for the ones who are isolated from the herd – often the sick or young ones. As soon as the lion sees a zebra that's become isolated, it attacks.
It's the same way with men, Crick said. "Men are particularly prone to isolating themselves and trying to do things on their own," he said. "That allows Satan to work in their lives."
In small groups, men realize that they are not alone and don't need to try to live life on their own; they find a place to share their struggles without judgment and to learn from each other.
"We're all men; we all have the same struggles in our life," Crick said. "Those that have gone before us have wisdom to speak into our lives about directions we could take."
Small groups also offer opportunities for fellowship.
"We try to make the man whole in that area," Crick said. "Once a man is around other Christian men, the influences are different than in the secular work world."
Father's Day sermon collection
Looking for help for your Father's Day sermon? Check out some of Rick Warren's messages on the topic.
More information >>
Looking for help for your Father's Day sermon? Check out some of Rick Warren's messages on the topic.
More information >>
Just being around other Christian men and talking about what they're doing, what they're reading, and who they're learning from can help men to learn how to live with integrity 24 hours a day.
"We're stronger together," Crick said. "When you get isolated and doing your own thing, you're prone to temptation and all the things that could lead you down the wrong path."
Getting connected on Father's Day
Churches can use Father's Day to get men – whether or not they're fathers – connected to small groups and other growth opportunities.
"Father's Day gets men's attention because the focus is on them already," Crick said. "We're celebrating them as dads, or they're celebrating their dads."
On Father's Day, churches can use announcements from the pulpit and in the bulletin, along with a special table set up in a prominent location, to let men know about these opportunities.
"It creates a big stir when we have a table," Crick said. "It's a great way to minister to men in that moment and talk to them about why it's important to connect."
Often a man who hasn't been connected to any sort of a church group will be most comfortable going to a men's group on campus. In on-campus men's groups, men deal with their felt needs, like temptation, financial trouble, and relational trouble. These are usually set up as eight-week Bible studies that function as small groups. At the end of one study, a man can register for another.
Saddleback also offers a large-group Bible study that attracts more than 300 men every Thursday morning. Once a man has taken the step to attend the large group Bible study, he learns about small groups.
No matter where a man starts – in a large group Bible study or a men's small group – he needs to know that he's on an intentional spiritual development pathway.
"It's bigger than just coming to a group. As a men's ministry we owe men a clear vision of why they're here," Crick said.
Saddleback depicts a man's developmental process like a baseball diamond:
First base: Be a brother by getting personally healthy around other believers.
Second base: Be God's man by growing to become more like Christ.
Third base: Be a servant by giving back.
Home plate: Be a messenger by sharing your story with other people.
Pitcher's mound: Be loyal by simultaneously being a brother, being God's man, being a servant, and being a messenger who honors God.
As men make it around the baseball diamond and onto the pitcher's mound, they begin reaching out into the community and world.
"When you get your identity in Christ, then you can get to that point where you can serve in the fullness of Christ," Crick said. "You're here to worship God ultimately – to make God happy by having a relationship with him. There's no better way to do that than by connecting with other guys. It pleases God when you're in full relationship with the people around you."
by Shaun Blakeney
Details are crucial to ensure there is no room for questions or opportunities for confusers to infuse their artistry into your plan."
Shaun Blakeney, co-author of Energy Zappers
Let me tell you about a young woman I call "Connie Confuser." If I explained to Connie that everyone in the group was to study the same material, which had already been prepared, she would happily say, "I understand." Then she would write her own curriculum.
If I gave Connie a detailed instruction on how class time was to be formatted, she'd cheerily say, "Got it!" But I'd be left to sort things out when she devised her own format.
If I wanted a class, Connie would convert it into a huggy cluster. If our plan called for small group, highly interpersonal time, Connie would switch to a lecture format that bored almost everyone.
Connie threatened to put our whole organization into the critical care unit. Connie's group had no more connection with our mission and purpose than a honeybee with a helicopter. The result was that I was drained, the volunteers began to lose their focus, and we wondered what had happened to our joint goals and plans.
"I am sorry," Connie would say every time we met. "Now I know exactly what you're talking about." But there was no hint in her actions that her confusion bug had been zapped.
Confusers, like Connie, lack clarity about mission, method, motive, and other factors essential to a team's success, and they infect everybody with their blurred vision. While confusers can be "muddled" and mean no harm, "malicious" and out to defeat you, "mischievous" and creatively manipulating, or "modifiers" who always try to improve rather than implement, the bottom line is always the same: confusion. So, when dealing with confusers, there are some simple steps to follow to turn their drain into gain.
First, be clear on who you are. Your appreciation for who you are may lag on gray days, but never lose the sense of who you are. When you know your identity, others know it as well. It's hard for the confusers to mislead you and your followers when your identity is established clearly and consistently. The converse of this is that, if you allow yourself to be wishy-washy or lose sight of your true self, you in turn become a confuser yourself.
Also, be clear on your mission and its moment. When you clearly define the mission with a tangible timeline, it leaves little room for the confusers to get a foothold. This is not the time to be concise, to the point, "just the facts." Details are crucial to ensure there is no room for questions or opportunities for confusers to infuse their artistry into your plan. And, as we have all heard, "timing is everything." It is imperative that you and those you lead are fully aware of the timeline, deadlines, and moments of inertia that will halt production and moments of synergy that will multiply your efforts.
Third, be clear on the confusers and their agendas. Identifying confusers in your midst is critical to neutralizing their destructive capabilities. This seems rather intuitive, but it is important to stress this point. Identifying the confusers allows you to anticipate their moves and thereby thwart their efforts. It also empowers you to proactively confront them and try to realign their agendas to match yours. Do not allow them to "pull the wool over your eyes" and smooth things over. Make no mistake, confusers have an agenda, and they are masters of vernacular. They can put their "spin" on everything and make it sound great. Do not be deceived. They are not in your corner. Identifying the confusers will allow you to see through their words to the heart of the matter.
And finally, stay your course. As the leader of your team, it is paramount that you exhibit your commitment to the mission. You cannot expect others to boldly follow you if you don't know where you are going or how to get there. Make your plan, follow it, and see it through to completion. Leaders who know themselves and their mission cannot be diverted form its course and accomplishment. Instead, they clarify the confusers through their commitment and determination.
This article has been adapted from Shaun Blakeney and Wallace Henley's new book, Energy Zappers (Baker, 2007).
If you learn how to deal with difficult people early on, then you'll
be able to pour more energy into ministry rather than needless
When asked what he considered the most valuable skill in employees,
John D. Rockefeller once replied, "The ability to get along with
One of the most important skills needed to succeed in ministry is
knowing how to handle troublemakers. If you learn how to deal with
difficult people early on, then you'll be able to pour more energy
into ministry rather than needless conflicts.
Troublemakers come in all shapes:
THE SHERMAN TANK - will run over you if you let him.
THE MEGAPHONE - will talk your ear off.
THE BUBBLE BUSTER - deflates everyone's enthusiasm.
THE VOLCANO - has a temper like Mt. St. Helens.
THE CRY BABY - is a chronic complainer.
THE NIT PICKER - is the unpleasable perfectionist.
THE SPACE CADET - is on a different wavelength.
Leadership Development Skills
Looking for the leadership skills needed to succeed in ministry? Check
out these leadership messages first delivered by Rick Warren to the
leadership at Saddleback Church. Learn about spiritual warfare,
earning the right to lead, time management and more. Learn more >>
What should you do with these types?
Jesus had to deal with a lot of difficult people. Here are FOUR
methods he modeled through his life:
1. Realize you can't please everybody (John 5:30). Even God can't do
that! One wants rain while the other demands sunshine.
2. Refuse to play their game (Matt. 22:18). Learn to say no to
unrealistic expectations. Confront them by "telling the truth in
3. Never retaliate (Matt. 5:38-39). It only lowers you to their level.
4. Pray for them (Matt. 5:44). It will help both of you. Let God handle them.
Make this Bible verse your goal this week, "If it is possible, as far
as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom. 12:18 NIV)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Help emergent readers find Bible verses by placing bookmarks in a Bible before the session begins. Emergent readers can find the bookmarks, and you can read the verses.
You can complete many activities by using keywords that are printed on strips of paper or on cards. You may need to go over the words several times, pointing to them each time and letting the children repeat them. You may even want to use a different color for each word. When appropriate, you can also add pictures to the keywords. As you lead the activity, the children can supply the key words.
Audiocassettes or digital recorders can be used in a variety of ways. These activities can be done by individuals or in groups. If they make the recordings, the children will enjoy listening to their own voices and stories. They will often want to hear their stories or responses again and again.
- Record a Bible story or present-day application story. The children can listen to the story as a way to do research or as an extra activity.
- Record a story and leave out the name of a key person. Let the children supply the name each time.
- Record the beginning of a verse or story, and guide the children to complete the ending orally.
- Record instructions for an activity.
- Help children make their own recordings to tell a Bible story in their own words, to create a journal or diary, or to record answers to questions.
Be a Personal Resource
- You can read instructions for the children
- You can serve as a scribe printing their stories, words, or responses as they dictate.
- Allow the children to spell words as they hear words, but when a child asks how to spell a word you can print the word on a separate piece of paper. The girls and boys can copy the spelling.
Emergent readers can sometimes draw pictures to show answers more easily than they can form sentences and print words. Children can also use pictures from magazines or other picture collections to find images that show what they want to show or write. The girls and boys can cut out and glue pictures to accomplish many activities. As the children draw or search for images, guide the conversation. Ask the kids to tell you what they are drawing or why they chose certain pictures.
Use Colors or Symbols to Simplify Matching Activities
- Use colors for a fill-in-the-blank activity. Place a colored dot in each blank. Place a matching dot next to the correct answer printed in a word box or on an answer card. You can also use numbers or symbols such as stars, circles, or triangles.
- Use the same technique to help children play memory games in which they must match words.
- Place a word of a memory verse on a separate card. At the end of the first word, print a symbol like a star. On the card with the second word, place a star before the word and a square after the word. On the card with the third word draw a square before the word and a pair of dots after the word. Continue in this fashion until all the cards are marked to match cards before and after. Even a complete non-reader can place the cards with the words in correct order by matching the symbols. Colored dots also work well for this technique.
- Use the same technique to help emergent readers connect the first and last halves of sentences.
A variety of activities are suggested in the curriculum materials. Whenever possible, choose the activities and procedures that allow the children to touch, listen, taste, see, and smell.
Nonreaders (as well as almost all children) will memorize facts and Bible verses more easily if the information is delivered in the form of rhyme or music. Sing memory verses to familiar tunes or make-up your own simple tunes. Use familiar tunes to create songs that tell facts and stories.
James Hargrave serves on the Family Life Committee and teaches first grade Sunday School at First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
The same factors that may cause Sunday School attendance to slump during the summer can help you stretch your involvement with preschoolers and their families.
Try some of these ideas.
- As summer begins, mail a newsletter to the family of each prospect and each enrolled preschooler. Tell about Vacation Bible School and other summer events your church has planned. Add helpful information, such as tips for summer safety, summer snack ideas, a recipe for bubble solution, outdoor activities, and close-to-home excursions that are "preschooler friendly." Encourage families to keep Sunday School attendance in their summer plans. Invite them to bring summer snapshots of their preschoolers for a display.
- Decorate a bulletin board or wall in the hall near the door to your preschool department. Display photographs of the preschoolers involved in summer activities. Also provide tips for traveling with preschoolers and brochures of nearby places with "preschool appeal."
- Prepare travel bags for the girls and boys. From outdated leader packs, select books, pictures, puzzles, or other items a preschooler might enjoy while traveling. Sing several preschool Bible songs and tell a few preschool Bible stories on a cassette tape. Make several copies of the tape. Place a tape and several leader pack items in zip-lock bags. Put the bags in a basket near your department room door. Invite parents to take one for their child to use while traveling.
- If you go on a summer trip, mail a postcard to each of your preschoolers.
- Contact every absentee each week, even if you know in advance that the child will be gone. Send a card, make a phone call, or mail the Early Bible Steps weekly take-home page for the missed Sunday. Tell the child and his family that you missed him. Especially during summer, one missed Sunday can often lead to two and can then begin a pattern of absenteeism.
- Make home visits. Call ahead to arrange a time. Take the preschooler for a walk. Enjoy nature with her. Share a simple outdoor activity such as blowing bubbles or playing with a ball.
- Pray for the preschoolers and their families.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
How can a pastor and church reach out to Christian mothers and help them rear their children to be Christ-followers?
1. Identify the needs. Talk to the mothers in your congregation. Find out how they specifically need help. Then bring together church staff and concerned adults, and organize programs to help meet those needs.
2. Provide biblically-based Sunday school classes. Choose spiritually mature and dedicated Sunday school teachers to teach your church's children. Train and equip them, and provide them with needed materials. Involve the parents in children's Sunday school programs by inviting them into the classrooms and organizing special events for parents and children to attend together. Put great emphasis on children and youth programs and keep them Christ-centered. A mom from Ohio writes: "I want my children to receive a strong Christian foundation at church. Mothers want theologically qualified Sunday school and Bible study teachers for their children." They want Christian teachers who are well-versed in Scripture and serious about Bible study, who love children and love teaching children, who have God-given spiritual gifts that enable and equip them to work with children, and who are both male and female. (This is especially true for the child who has no male authority/father figure in his or her everyday life.)
3. Preach family values from the pulpit. Teach moms and dads – in a practical, workable way – how to incorporate Sunday's sermon (as well as other Bible teaching materials) into the entire week so they may theologically train their children on a daily basis. "The Old Testament commands us not only to impress God's words on our hearts and souls," writes Chuck Colson in Answers to Your Kids Questions . "We're also told, 'Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.' In modern lingo, that might include when you are taking them to soccer practice, watching a video, or sharing a pizza together."
4. Be sensitive to single mothers. Make sure the single mom and her children feel included and welcomed to attend church-sponsored family activities. A mother often feels hesitant to join in activities organized for families when she is single or when her husband won't attend.
5. Teach men to be better dads. Hold church-sponsored classes and seminars to teach fathers how to provide spiritual leadership in their homes. Moms crave church-sponsored parenting classes that teach parents to become more astute Bible teachers to their children. Encourage fathers to spend time with their children. An Iowa mother writes: "We wish our husbands would be home more, and be more emotionally present – in actions and words, not just in body – to us and the children. What else is more important than a man's wife and kids?"
6. Sponsor spiritual retreats for your church's women. Women are relational beings. Provide them church-sponsored opportunities for fellowship. When moms get together, they learn from each other. They also pray together and encourage one another in the difficult job of child-rearing.
7. Reach out to non-participating fathers in the church. Author David Murrow writes in his book Why Men Hate Going to Church that "at least one-fifth of married women regularly worship without their husbands." Women with non-believing husbands pray that someone in the church will visit him, present the Gospel, lead him to Christ, and mentor him in the faith. Women with non-participating Christian husbands pray that the pastor or church member will encourage him to become spiritually-active in the church and in his family.
A woman writes: "They call us 'church widows.' We are the women who come to church every week without husbands, and, because of a husband's interference, often without our children. Many of us, in our commonality, feel alone in our struggles. We are often prevented, or discouraged, from teaching God's Word to our children. What should we do? Disregard our husband's desires not to teach them? Or teach the children behind his back? How can we keep from sharing our Christian beliefs with those we most love? How can we teach our children about morality, or integrity, or justice, or self-image without talking about God?"
8. Pray for and encourage mothers who must become the spiritual leaders in their homes. I received a long letter from Amanda*, a Christian mother married to Ralph*, an un-believing husband. Amanda admitted that she must single-handedly take all responsibility for her children's spiritual education and church involvement. "Not only does Ralph refuse to attend church," she writes, "but he openly (and loudly) balks at my church attendance. He also insists that I not 'indoctrinate' our children with my 'fairy tales' religion. He tells our sons that 'church is for wimps'! Pastor, I need your help!"
9. Encourage home Scripture study. Encourage church families to pray together during the week. If possible, provide them with theologically sound and "user-friendly" Bible studies they can do together at home.
10. Know that it takes a church to raise a child! The pastor can lead the entire church body to help Christian parents raise godly children by:
- Praying regularly for the families.
- Showing love and concern for the children.
- Understanding, tolerating, forgiving, and accepting some normal "childish behavior" in worship services.
- Inviting young children into adult Sunday morning/evening worship services. (Many mothers feel that their children are often too quickly escorted out of the worship services and placed in child care during that important teaching time. They ask: "How will my children learn to function well in church if they don't have that worship opportunity at a young age?")
- Making worship services and sermons more "child-friendly" and welcoming to children. (Parents want their children to feel comfortable in the church, to look forward to worship and church activities, and to enjoy learning about God. "It is very important for young women and mothers to know that their children are being cared for, being taught the Word of God creatively, and are happy while at church," a Mississippi mother writes.
- Reaching out to mothers in practical ways. Church members can provide hands-on ministry to unwed teen moms or first time, new mothers. They can organize food delivery to mothers who are ill, handicapped, or recovering from surgery, and visit/befriend those mothers who are newly divorced, abandoned by a spouse, or widowed. They can also offer to drive mothers and children to doctors' appointments if needed, teach new moms parenting skills, baby-sit children in a crisis time, or specifically help an aging grandmother who must raise her grandchildren full time. Enlist women in your church who have sensitive and compassionate hearts to reach out to your congregation's mothers and children. Mothers beg for Christian women – in "whatever role they can serve" (mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor, church member, or teacher) to help them.
Christian mothers are begging for help with their fragile families. They want to know that their children's eternal souls will one day stand in Christ's presence for eternity. In these days of fragile families, high divorce rates, and dysfunctional homes, moms look to the pastor and church for help with the spiritual education of their children. A Florida mother writes: "I see validating and encouraging mothers on child raising as a wide open mission field."
With so many definitions, variations, and styles of worship how can we know that we worship acceptably? In seeking an answer to this question, we must be careful not to be wise in our own eyes or develop complicated personal or corporate philosophies of worship. If not, we will find as A. W. Tozer admonishes. "God discovers Himself to 'babes' and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent." In the quest for true worship, Tozer offers good advice. "We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials and they will be found to be blessedly few." [broke] What are the essentials of worship? I believe Scripture gives evidence for four critical elements.
Knowing and Understanding God
Jesus makes the centrality of knowing God clear. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3). God is a personal God who desires relationship with individual believers. A. W. Tozer states it this way:
God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.[broke]
External religion does not fulfill the requirement of coming to know God or Christ. Getting caught up in the externals and the "do's and don'ts" move a person away from communion and drives an unholy wedge between God and the soul, interrupting intercourse.
Knowledge of God ??? His person, nature, and character ??? is gained over time; adding depth and intensity to worship, and increasing its meaningfulness and relevancy.
Twice each week forty-five-year-old Jan visits her mother who lives in a nursing home. Before each visit Jan spends a considerable amount of time preparing herself for the encounter. Jan's mother, Mrs. Stonewall, suffers from dementia and memory loss as a result of Alzheimer's disease. Mrs. Stonewall, having lost a considerable amount of weight and interest in the world around her, is now only a shadow of her former self. Jan states the most difficult thing to come to terms with is the lack of recognition and confusion on her mother's face when she greets her. Each visit she searches for a hint of recollection in her mother's eyes ??? the dear woman who bore her, nurtured her, and loved her for forty years. Each visit Jan is sorely disappointed because her mother does not recognize her.
Jesus taught that many who call themselves Christians will meet with a similar disappointment when they approach the Lord. "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:23). These people served and ministered in the name of the Lord (Matthew 7:21-22). They thought they would go to heaven, but in fact did not. These people were evil, but called their acts Godly.
Their acts of worship were unacceptable. The people depicted in this verse assumed they had a relationship with God that they did not. In all their prophesying, casting out demons, and performance of miracles, they omitted, overlooked, and discounted another important facet of worship ??? being known by God.
Another important facet of true religion many often fail to understand and live constantly is love. Love for God and love for others sum up the entire law (Romans 13:1-18). Love spurs individuals to obedience (1 John 5:3; John 14:23-24). Knowing Jesus is the bridge to loving God (John 8:42).
Many worshipers lack devotion. Religious zeal void of devotion is shallow and hollow. Affection for God, the things of God, and the ways of God must be cultivated and maintained. Love is the element that unites spirit and truth. Without it we will surely come to find that the loftiest aspirations, and the greatest works and activities in the name of Christ are all vanity and exercised in vain.
The depth at which we know God, experience intimacy with God, and the quality of our love depend on the condition of the heart. Acceptable worship flows from a pure heart. Purity does not occur just by wishing it to happen. Neither does it develop through superficial, external religion. Authentic, lasting transformation requires inner work. Inner work is difficult, and many times distasteful. Without it we fail to be imitators of Christ.
A praise and worship leader expresses insecurity about her position. One day motivated by jealous anger she walks by a person she perceives as a threat and intentionally pushes the woman in the back. A few minutes later the praise and worship leader takes her position on the platform and asks the congregations to stand and worship God with her.
"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me'" (Matthew 15:8-9). A heart warped with envy, jealousy, selfish ambition, impure motives, and deceit delivers malice, not compassion; extends hatred, not love; practices greed, not charity.
God can only be known by the pure of heart (Matthew 5:8). A corrupt heart either denies or distorts God until He is reduced, minimized, and stripped of His awesome power and incomparable majesty.
The key to authentic worship is simplicity. The Swiss theologian, Karl Barth summarized the crux of his enormous books on theology by quoting from a Sunday school song: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." [broke] He did not allow his towering intellect to obscure the simple nature of religion. Often much is added to worship, making it more difficult than it needs to be. We try to impress. We try to display our holiness and our spiritual elitism. And we squabble over whose gift is the best or most important.
Worship is simple. Pursue the Presence of God, knowledge of God, and understanding of God displaying a heart of love and humility. Acute desire and a pure love are all that's needed to engage in meaningful interchange with God.
Veronica Jones-Brown writes on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, and Personal Development. She enjoys teaching Sunday school, mentoring, and speaking and training in churches and at conferences. Veronica loves meeting people who desire more of God, saying that interacting with them rejuvenates, inspires, and encourages her. She lives in the East Texas area with her husband James, a wonderful man and Veronica's greatest supporter. They have two children, Olivia and Aaron. Visit her at www.veronicajonesbrown.com, or email her at email@example.com.
Of all the rights of women,
the greatest is to be a mother.
- Lin Yutang
"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs...
since the payment is pure love."
-- Mildred B. Vermont
"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." -- Tenneva Jordan
A mother understands what a child does not say.
Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. ~T. DeWitt Talmage
The Virtuous Mother: Prov. 31
v17 She puts on strength like a belt and goes to work with energy
v:27 She gives attention to the ways of her family
v28 Her children get up & give her honour, & her husband gives her praise
Thoughts for Mothers
"The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant –and let the air out of the tires." -Dorothy P.
"Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women's opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering."-- Elaine Heffner
"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
WHAT I OWE MY MOTHER
My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside.
I just finished cleaning."
My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
My mother taught me LOGIC.
"Because I said so, that's why."
My mother taught me IRONY.
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."
My mother taught me about GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."
My Mother taught me about SHARING.
"Play nicely with that or I'll just take it away from both of you."
My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You are going to get it when you get home!"
My mother taught me JUSTICE.
"One day you'll have kids and I hope they turn out just like you!"
But most of all, my mother taught me LOVE.
"You know that whatever you do or whatever happens,
I'll stand behind you because I love you."
by Mary Southerland
So much of who we are as men and women is rooted in the parent/child relationship. I believe that my role as a mother will greatly affect the kind of woman my daughter will become. I also believe that moms are the primary teachers in a child's life.
In last week's article, we shared three steps we can take to be the moms God wants us to be:
1. Be a mom who loves God.
2. Be a mom who prays continually.
3. Be a mom who gives time.
4. Be a mom who encourages!
"So encourage each other and give each other strength." (1 Thess. 5:11 NCV)
When we encourage our children, we are depositing strength in them. We need to be careful to keep their emotional deposits in balance. Many kids are in emotional bankruptcy because constant withdrawals of criticism are made with few deposits of encouragement. Our job is to study our kids and discover their strengths and weaknesses. We need to understand that many times, their greatest weaknesses may very well become their greatest strengths.
As a child, I was very stubborn! That stubbornness often got me into trouble, but it also made me the survivor of some very hard times. We need to look for the good things in our children and draw them into the spotlight. In other words, become their "encourager" and their "cheerleader." Everyone needs a cheerleader.
When our son, Jered, was in second grade, a boy in his class was obnoxious and irritating. No one liked him. One Monday morning, he came to school with both arms in a cast from wrist to shoulder. The teacher explained that he would need a friend for the next six weeks, someone who could help him with homework, eat his lunch ... go to the restroom ... get the idea? The classroom fell silent, no one meeting the teacher's eyes. Finally, Jered said, "I'll do it." At the end of four weeks, Jered said one day, "You know, mom. He's not that bad." At the end of six weeks, the other children were beginning to include this boy and even volunteered to help him. But the most amazing transformation was in the boy himself. He had become sweet and kind. He just needed a cheerleader. Maybe that is all your child needs. Be a cheerleader for your children.
5. Be a mom who laughs!
"A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength." (Prov. 17:22 NCV)
Moms, we need to lighten up, or as my daughter says, "Chill, Mom!" Kids are fun! Find ways to bring joy and laughter into your home. Jered is a big hunk of a football player, but occasionally, I have to remind him of the fact that I can still take him. He will make some irritating comment, tease me, or poke me in the ribs. I warn him and then I see the gleam in his eye as he takes one more shot. I then begin chasing him around the house. Jered inevitably starts laughing so hard that, when I catch him, he is totally helpless. It is quite a sight to see! Moms are the thermostats of the home and need to keep the emotional setting on joy. Children get most of their first impressions of God from their parents. I want my kids to know that God is a God of joy and laughter. Kids need a mom who laughs!
"One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them." (Luke 18:15 NLT)
Our children need moms who touch them and demonstrate to them healthy physical affection. Children need and crave physical affection. It is a God-given need that is meant to be met in God-given ways. There is healing in a mother's touch. Start early and never stop. It is a terrible shock for kids to have the hugging stop just at the age when they need it the most.
One day, I grabbed our daughter, Danna, in a hug and kissed her cheek. As I walked away, I looked back to see her wiping off that kiss. She caught my hurt look and said, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm just rubbing it in!" I know. She's good ... and has become an affectionate young woman. Be a mom who hugs her kids!
7. Be a mom who disciplines!
"The correction of discipline is the way to life." (Prov. 6:23 NLT)
Kids want and need discipline. Discipline is a hedge of protection in the life of a child. Part of our job as a parent is to tend that hedge, to keep it strong and in place. If we are not careful, every day can dissolve into a never-ending battle for control. As parents, we need to let go of what we can and hold our ground on what we can't.
1. Be consistent.
2. Discipline from love ... not anger.
3. Pick your battles.
4. Don't expect children to act like adults.
5. Teach them that there are consequences to choices.
6. Realize that every child is different.
7. Don't discipline until you have control of your emotions.
This last point is major! We are the adults who should be able to control emotions. If we don't, neither will our children.
"Foolish people lose their tempers, but wise people control theirs." (Prov. 29:11 NCV)
Pick your battles of discipline and wage them with emotions under control. Whatever you do, don't put the light out in their eyes. Kids need a mom who disciplines!
8. Be a mom who forgives!
"Get along with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:13 NCV)
We teach children how to forgive others by how we forgive them. Forgiveness is part of every healthy relationship so when we practice forgiveness, we are modeling healthy relationships for them. We also teach our children about God's forgiveness by how we forgive. Be quick to forgive your child but be quicker to ask your child's forgiveness. My children are very used to hearing me say, "I am so sorry! I blew it. Please forgive me."
One morning, I had to apologize to my daughter before she even got to school. I got up tired and grouchy to find that Danna was not moving fast enough for me. I didn't like the clothes she picked out to wear. I didn't like what she was saying or doing or how she was saying and doing it. I didn't like the fact that she kept her cool while I lost mine. Therefore, I did what any mature parent would do. I threw a tantrum and grounded her for it! Yes, I have provided many opportunities for my children to practice forgiveness. I pray that it has made them more forgiving of themselves and of others. Be a mom who is quick to forgive.
"Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NLT)
Being a mom is the hardest job on earth. It brings out the best and the worst in you. I know that motherhood requires great sacrifice and limitless energy. But to invest your time and best efforts into a child, to watch that child grow and develop, is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself. Today, commit with me to seek God's power and plan to be a mom who really matters.
Before I was a mom
- I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
- I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
- I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a mom
- I had never been puked on.
- Pooped on.
- Chewed on.
- Peed on.
- I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts and I slept all night.
Before I was a mom
- I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests or give shots.
- I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
- I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
- I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a mom
- I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down.
- I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
- I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
- I never knew that I could love someone so much.
- I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a mom
- I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
- I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
- I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
- I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.
Before I was a mom
- I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
- I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a mom.
- I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom.
|by Gregory P. Smith || |
Many people go through life satisfied with status quo, stomping ants, handling the routine, not reaching their God-given potential. Others make hippos fly, reaching their potential, accomplishing something major. Which type of person do you want to be?
The two major components of time management are practice and purpose. The practice component refers to what you do with the minutes of your day. The purpose component refers to finding and knowing your purpose in life. When you manage your time, the minutes of your life, and it falls in alignment with the purpose of your life, you have a fantastic chain reaction. This alignment can enable you to accomplish your tasks more effectively, to reach your goals more quickly, and to give you a greater sense of peace.
God gave each of us a brain and a soul, but many of us don't make time to exercise it. I begin each day with a cup of coffee on my front porch. I watch the sun rise, pray, and ask God for direction for the day. I think about my goals and projects, and I listen for new ideas. I then head off to my office to begin work. Every person must make time to think. Schedule an appointment with yourself, close yourself off, and don't allow interruptions. You will be amazed how clear your life's purpose as well as the quality of your life will become.
Set a large goal
The best way to accomplish a major goal is to break it down into smaller pieces. The old saying goes: "How do you eat an elephant? ... One bite at a time." The same is true with major goals. For example, when I wrote my first book, I broke the writing down into smaller pieces. I got up an hour early each day and wrote approximately 250 words. At the end of the week, I had completed a chapter. At the end of the month, I had completed four chapters. I continued on until I completed the book. This process can be applied to almost any major undertaking. Focusing on the smaller parts makes any task much easier and keeps motivation high. When you reach goals, reward yourself.
Greg's ten tips
1. Prioritize. Feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do? Stop and think – which item must be completed today? This does not include items you'd like to get done today, but only the item(s) that must be completed today. A friend woke up at three in the morning feeling overwhelmed by the many tasks for the coming week and was worried that she could not get it all done. In desperation, she asked herself, what has to be done by Monday afternoon? Tuesday afternoon? The result was she discovered she could indeed accomplish all of her deadlines for the week on schedule when she prioritized.
2. Be realistic. One way to set yourself up for a panic situation is to plan an unrealistic amount of work for one day or one week. Use your common sense to recognize when you have over-scheduled yourself. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but it doesn't add more hours to the day.
3. Delegate. A person who refuses to delegate will very likely be a very busy and frustrated person. For anyone to personally handle every item is unnecessary and unwise. One very successful regional manager readily attributed part of his success to the fact that he trusted his administrative assistant to handle routine items that did not require his personal decision. This left him free to concentrate on working with sales personnel outside the office.
4. Work efficiently. For example, make sure your electronic calendar does not cost you time. People who love electronics will shake their heads no at this idea. But sometimes it can take longer to enter and maintain information in a gadget than to jot it down with a pencil in an old-fashioned paper planner.
5. Organize meetings wisely. According to a Wall Street Journal survey, meetings account for the greatest amount of unproductive time – topping telephone calls, paperwork, and travel. With a little preparation, meetings can be transformed into productive assemblies helping you and your group steam toward, instead of away from, their goals. The key ingredient for a good meeting is preparation. Ask yourself, is this meeting really necessary? Can the information be presented best another way? If there is still a need for a meeting, plan it well.
6. Learn to say no! Many people have a tough time saying no. They allow themselves to become members of every committee, even ones that are outside their particular talent or spiritual gift. I once knew a man in my church that dedicated his life to youth. He was the pastor's dream come true. He organized youth trips and retreats. He was always at the church. He taught Sunday school for the youth and they were being led to the Lord. We were all shocked when we learned his wife asked for a separation. She was upset because he spent all his time with the youth and very little with his family. People, who can't say no, quickly discover their life is out of balance; it is being pulled in the opposite direction. No matter how important the obligation might be, do not allow your family priorities to suffer.
7. Destroy the paper monster. The best guideline for paperwork is to either file it or toss it. We never use 80% of the paperwork we keep. Paper, magazines, and other forms create clutter and confusion, which could turn into stress.
Another principle for paperwork is handle it now. Spend 20 seconds filing that important paper now rather than 30 minutes searching for it later. Take a moment to jot down that phone number on your permanent list instead of spending ten minutes tracking it down again later. A third rule for paperwork is to organize it. Use colored folders to prioritize your work. Colors allow you to see at a glance, which jobs need your immediate attention. Sub-divide files for greater efficiency. An administrative assistant, tired of rifling through the thick folders left by the previous employee, took time to sub-divide each large file into smaller, separate files. The time saved was worth the time invested in the task and the compliments from the boss who recognized the ease of use of the reorganized files was an unexpected bonus.
8. Manage mail. Answer E-mail immediately. Don't read it and then let it pile up in your in-box; keep your in-box clutter free. Create a "keeper" folder and transfer the mail you want to retain. Create another folder for "actions pending." Respect other people's time and avoid forwarding all those stories people love to send you. Delete junk E-mail without reading it and use your filters to eliminate spam. Sort regular mail next to a trashcan. Handle it once. Open it or throw it away. Don't stop doing the important things in your life to sort mail.
9. Make lists. Making a list can be a legitimate time manager. Keep a pad handy to jot down projects as they arise, items that come to mind to do later, and even phone calls you need to make. At the end of the day or week, whichever is best for you, mark off the items handled. Then, make a fresh list and prioritize the remaining items. This shouldn't take but a few minutes each day or a little longer if done once a week. Using this process can help you avoid that familiar sinking feeling when you realize you forgot something important and also help you feel on top of things on a daily basis while freeing your mind to concentrate on the job at hand.
10. Allow time for fun and surprises. Don't carry time management to the point where everything in your life is plotted, calculated, and placed on a calendar. Allow some spontaneity and fun in your life. I know a manager who decided to invite everyone over to her office for ice cream floats. This was a lot of fun and created a very positive work environment. I know another company that provides their employees 22 tons of M&M's to eat each year. Every now and then do something nice for someone totally unexpected. Call someone up and tell him or her how much you appreciate them.
Matthew Henry, the early 18th century English preacher and author of the renowned commentary that bears his name, begins his examination of Proverbs 31 with the following words:
When children are under the mother's eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children.
This seems appropriate in light of this upcoming Mother's day and therefore I want to "call to mind the good teaching I received as a child" and pay tribute to my mother who has been an instrument of God's saving grace in my life.
Ours was a family torn apart by divorce when I was only 6-years-old. I know too well the destructive effects that the dissolution of the family brings. That which God intended is broken, and everyone involved suffers. Things are not as they should be and what is desperately needed is God's restorative grace and mercy upon all involved. My mother was the instrument of this grace in my life and that of our family as a whole.
When I was 12, my mother, now remarried, was brought to faith in Christ while attending a Billy Graham Crusade and this was the visible beginning of God's redemptive work in our family and my life personally.
I remember my mother taking me to church and constantly sharing with me the story of Jesus and what he had done for her and how his saving work on the cross was available to me. However, my adolescent years were marked by severe rebellion and generally self-destructive behavior. I, like so many children of divorce, was angry, driven by a sense of rejection and an unsatisfied longing for love and acceptance. Of course, I would qualify this by saying that my sinful anger arose out of my own unmet sense of entitlement, believing that I was first, either deserving of or somehow merited unconditional love and acceptance and second, that such love and acceptance could ultimately be satisfied by others. This misguided perception of ourselves coupled with the misplaced expectation upon others, has only produced heartbreak, disappointment, and misery.
Suffice it to say that I was not responding to my mother's entreaties to turn from my rebellious sin and call upon His mercy. I was stiff-necked and hard-hearted. In biblical terms, I was a fool! Nonetheless, my mother never relented. She never shrank from speaking the truth and she prayed for me constantly. Ironically, even when I was at my most rebellious, I knew my mother loved me and that she would never forsake me. The fact that she persisted in pressing the Gospel when I was so resistant to it confirmed this in a way that I did not fully understand. I knew this represented a "risk" on her part. She risked losing me and yet she persisted because she knew this was the only Truth that could ever save me. She was willing to risk everything for my sake. For those mothers who are discouraged by the spiritual state of their children, take heart; I bear witness to the fact that the Lord can and does respond to the prayers of a grieving mother!
When the Lord, in His mercy, brought me to repentance and saving faith at the age of 21, my mother was the first person I called. I can still remember exactly where I was and the sense of joy at letting her know that I had been listening all those years. The Lord had heard her prayers and thankfully blessed her faithfulness. These twenty-five years later, my mother remains a spiritual mentor, wonderful friend, and precious blessing in my life who I can always count on to speak the truth in love.
My mother was the spring through which the Lord poured out His grace and mercy to me, my step-father, two sisters, two step-brothers, a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, and at least eight grandchildren. The Lord has indeed restored "what the locusts had eaten" and what sin tried to destroy. Today, ours is a family of faith in which relationships have been renewed and true healing experienced. This "family of faith" will be my mother's greatest legacy, and I pray this is so for generations to come. She has fought, and continues to fight the "good fight." Her children and her children's children arise and call her blessed!
King Lemuel concludes his well-known description of the "virtuous woman" taught to him by his mother and recorded in Proverbs 31 with these words:
Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Mom, I am the fruit of your hands and I praise you in these "gates," this public place where all may know of your steadfast faith and devotion. I love you and wish you the happiest of Mother's Days!
© 2007 by S. Michael Craven
Dr. Charles R. Phelps
Many pastors struggle with stress and the lack of ministerial fulfillment. I would like to suggest that making one decision can provide the cure for both of these diseases. You must decide to delegate.
D.L. Moody said, "It's better to get ten men to do the work than to do the work of ten men!" Moody's sage advice is filled with scriptural wisdom. Myron Rush makes this point: "A person may be in a leadership position, but if he isn't willing to delegate, he isn't a leader at all — he is a hired hand"*
The Bible is filled with detailed descriptions of delegation. Solomon mastered the fine art of managing through men, and the kingdom was enlarged. The fourth chapter of I Kings introduces us to those responsible for Solomon's armies, meals, and taxes. Our Savior was certainly willing to delegate. The first eighteen verses of Luke 10 record the sending out of seventy itinerant preachers. After the Lord gave them detailed instructions, He sent them to preach. Though these messengers were inexperienced and far less capable than the Master, their ministry was blessed by God. Eventually these messengers would "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).
Solomon and the Savior both knew something that we in ministry often forget. They knew that disciples are made through delegation. They knew that delegation is godly and that the failure to delegate is ungodly. They knew that when God created Adam He placed Him in Eden "to dress it and to keep it" (Genesis 2:15). God brought "every beast of the field" and "the fowl of the air" before Adam "to see what he would call them" (Genesis 2:19, 20). The Psalmist explicitly reveals God's intent to delegate in Psalm 8:4–6, saying: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."
Many in ministry need to hear the wise counsel of Jethro, who told his very capable son-in-law Moses to "divide and conquer" or else be conquered by frustration (Exodus 18:18–23). Moses listened to his father-in-law and followed his advice. Soon seventy men were recruited, trained, and commissioned. Moses discovered that "it is better to get seventy men to do the job than to do the job of seventy men."
Why do we not delegate?
1. We fail to plan.
Delegation requires foresight. Recruiting someone at the last minute is called "dumping," not delegating. Successful delegation will require successful communication, and such communication will require time. In order to delegate, you will need to think ahead.
2. We are proud.
We think that no one else can do the job as well as we can. Our education, experience, and aptitude can form walls between us and those whom God has called us to mentor. We tend to think that since the person in the pew has never been a student in seminary, he is unfit or unprepared. Have we forgotten that God was more able to name the animals than Adam and that Christ was a far more powerful preacher than the seventy? In order to delegate you must be humble.
3. We lack vision for growth.
Ministries are built by men who understand that pyramids are made tall by widening their foundations. In order to widen the foundation of our ministries, we must decide to delegate. Spectators become critics, but participants become partners. In order to delegate, we must maintain a vision for growth.
What are the benefits of delegation?
1. We avoid burnout.
When Barnabas was overwhelmed with the growing needs of the ministry in Antioch, he recruited a man of questionable qualifications by the name of Paul (Acts 11:19–25). The decision Barnabas made spared both the minister and the ministry, bringing blessings instead of blisters (Acts 11:26).
2. We develop leaders.
The best way to protect a church from the plague of inexperience is to solicit involvement and thereby develop leaders. The Bible teaches us that every member needs to be a minister (I Corinthians 12). Pastors are specifically commissioned to take the treasures entrusted to them and pass them along to another generation (II Timothy 2:2). Pastors who provide people with the tools and the opportunity to minister will soon find themselves sending forth disciples into the ministry. Where disciples are being developed and deployed, the Spirit will always replenish the ministry with ready recruits.
3. We obey God.
Since everyone will appear individually "before the judgment seat of Christ" (II Corinthians 5:10), it is important for each one to be involved in the work of Christ. People who never run will never hear "Well done!" It is our Savior's desire that "every man have praise of God" (I Corinthians 4:5). Making sure that men and women involve themselves in carrying cups of cold water in the name of the Lord is the duty of the disciple-making minister.
4. We encourage members to pray and study.
When church members become servants and teachers, their knees bend and their Bibles are opened. It is natural that involvement in ministry will prompt people to pray and to study God's Word.
5. We encourage creativity.
It is amazing to discover that involving two workers in a task will result in four different ways to do it. Such creativity can be channeled to come up with one best solution and will teach people to agree and work together (Amos 3:3).
Delegation should be an ongoing process. Make a list of the tasks that you need to delegate. Write the name of someone who needs to be recruited. Write out a job description and make an appointment with the person whom the Spirit placed upon your heart. Each time you do this, you will be developing a disciple in God's work. Follow this prescription continually and you will feel the stress dissipate and find fulfillment in the ministry.
*Myron Rush, Management: A Biblical Approach (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2002) p. 132.
Pastor Phelps has been the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Concord, New Hampshire, since 1989. He is the vice president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship.
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It takes time to be a mom, to know and train your children."
So much of who we are as men and women is rooted in the parent/child relationship. I believe that my role as a mother will greatly affect the kind of woman my daughter will become. I also believe that moms are the primary teachers in a child's life. Here are a few familiar truths taught by mothers:
Cleanliness: "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside - I just finished cleaning!"
Religion: "You had better pray that will come out of the carpet."
Logic: "Because I said so, that's why."
Planning: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
The circle of life: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
We live in a world that many times denies the importance of being a mom. I do not come to you as an expert. I simply want to be a successful mom! Well, actually, my credentials are impressive! I am the mother of two beautiful, brilliant children! I want to be the mom they need and deserve. The good news is that more than I want to be a successful mom, God wants me to be a successful mom. Being a parent is a holy calling from God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:24, we find a great promise, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (NIV) God never calls us to do a job without providing the power and the plan to do that job successfully. How can we be the moms that really matter?
1. Be a mom who loves God!
"We love, because God first loved us." (1 John 4:19 NCV)
We are incapable of loving our children like they were meant to be loved until we first love God! Motherhood at its best demands a thriving partnership with God! We cannot give unconditional love until we have experienced unconditional love! And God is the only source of that kind of love! We can do everything else right as a parent, but if we don't begin with loving God - we will fail!
2. Be a mom who prays continually.
First Thessalonians 5:17 should every mother's commitment to her children: "Never stop praying." (ICB)
It is never too late to start praying, and it is always too early to stop!• Pray for God's plan – not yours – when praying for your children.
• Pray that you will see your child like God sees your child.
• Pray specifically for your child:
"Lord, I pray that Jered would trust in you with all his heart and will lean not unto his own understanding. I pray that in all his ways Jered will acknowledge you and that you will direct his paths." (Prov. 3:5-6)
"Lord, I pray that Danna would cast all her care upon you, because you care for her." (1 Pet. 5:7)
Prayer is an eternal gift we can give to our children, teaching them the importance of prayer and teaching them how to pray. I recently heard the story of a mother who had invited several people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?" "I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," she answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
We began early to pray with our kids at bedtime. One night, out of the blue, our son, Jered, began to pray that his grandfather and his uncle would stop smoking. Since both had smoked for many years and neither was trying to quit, I didn't expect much. But our son did. Within the next year, both men suddenly quit smoking. I was totally amazed, but Jered acted like it was no big deal. When I questioned his response, he simply said, "Mom, you told me God answers prayer." I am convinced that if we pray for our children and with our children, it will change their lives and ours and give us insight that we can gain no other way.
3. Be a mom who gives time!
"Train children how to live right, and when they are old, they will not change." (Prov. 22:6 NCV)
It takes time to be a mom, to know and train your children. Every child God gives us comes with a set of characteristics already established by God. Our job is to identify those characteristics and then steer the child toward them. The original root word for "train" is the term for "the palate, the roof of the mouth, the gums." In the days of Solomon, a midwife would deliver the baby, dip her finger into the juice of crushed dates, reach into the mouth of the baby and massage the gums and palate to create a sense of taste and thirst. She would then give the child to the mother so the baby could nurse. Our job as mothers is to develop a thirst in our children for the right things. And that takes time.
Being a mom is the hardest job on earth. It brings out the best and the worst in you."
There is a popular philosophy today that it doesn't matter the quantity of time that we spend with our kids as long as it is quality time. It does matter! Can a woman have it all – a home, a family, and a career? I think she can. I'm just not sure she can have them all at the same time. There are seasons of life to which we must yield in order to be the mother God wants us to be. Time spent with children is never wasted! Every minute invested in your child is an eternal investment! Give your children the best of your time – not the leftovers.
• Make weekly dates with your kids.
• Pull them out of school occasionally for a fun day.
• Have a meal together every day.
• Be involved in the things they enjoy.
In other words, be available! And just your physical presence is not enough! Our normal bedtime routine was to spend a few minutes with each child, talking about the day, praying together, and then I would tuck them in. When our daughter, Danna, was six-years-old, Dan was out of town and I was behind in studying for an upcoming retreat. I went in to Jered's room, completed the routine and he was asleep in minutes. But when I went into Danna's room, trying to speed things up, Danna refused to talk. When I asked her why, she cried out, "Mama, you're not here!" Confused and a little irritated, I responded, "Yes, I am! I am right here!" Her big brown eyes filled with tears as she drove the truth home, "But you're not really here on the inside." Be a mom who gives your children time.
Being a mom is the hardest job on earth. It brings out the best and the worst in you. I know that it requires great sacrifice and limitless energy. But to invest your time and best efforts into a child, to watch that child grow and develop, is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself.
By Rebekah Montgomery
"Everything's going wrong!" wailed the women's conference leader. "You won't believe all the bad things that are happening to the members of the committee!"
Actually, I would. Two forces are at work:
- Satan does not want women to be encouraged, healed, saved, and/or blessed. Therefore, he will cause chaos.
- God does not want just anyone to be in His service. He wants a few good women who are so passionate about telling others about Him that they willingly stand toe-to-toe against Satan to do so.
Service to the Lord is not something to be entered haphazardly. Just as a woman cannot wake up one day and say, "I'd like to be a brain surgeon," so too she cannot suddenly decide to be a writer, speaker, conference leader, Bible study teacher, or ministry director without preparation.
Preparation Requires Study
Even if you have a compelling personal story to tell, study the Scriptures constantly and thoroughly. Rewrite the texts into your own words. Apply them to your life. Study the Scriptures on your knees. Pray through every line asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate it to your soul. Memorize them. Get commentaries and read them. There is an appalling lack of Biblical literary - even among God's people. Yet the Bible is the only authoritative Word of God. Its truth must be the central theme of everything you teach, plan, or do.
Preparation Requires Training
Network with other Godly women who are doing what you believe God has called you to do. If it is writing, find some other writers and apprentice yourself to them as their disciple. Let them mentor, correct, and teach you. This is the Titus 2 pattern for training leadership.
Find good books, chat groups, websites, classes, and conferences that will challenge your mind and broaden your horizons.
Preparation Requires Sacrifice
I'm taking a risk here. I could deceive you and only emphasize the joy of seeing women delivered and/or being born again because sacrifice is downright unpopular. But when God calls someone, He tells her to count the cost.
For example, when Saul/Paul was called, God plainly said, "I will show him how much he must suffer for My name."(Acts 9:16) The truth is this: Nearly every woman I have ever known who answered God's call has been tried by fire. Satan tries to discourage her but God uses the fire to purify her.
God is looking for a few good women to be in His service. Are you one?
If you've lost your job, received a devastating diagnosis from your doctor, or seen your spouse walk out of your marriage, you know well what it's like to suffer and wonder why this is happening to you. No matter what challenge you're facing, it can be hard to carry on in the midst of suffering.
But God is holding out hope for you to grab onto, even when you don't know why He has allowed you to suffer. Here's what you can do when you wonder "Why?":
* Seek wisdom instead of answers. Acknowledge that, sometimes, God doesn't reveal His specific reasons for allowing suffering into your life, and there are no immediate or obvious answers to your questions. Understand that, while much of the spirit world is beyond your comprehension this side of eternity, you can trust God's promise that He will use any suffering He allows to accomplish good purposes for you. Rather than seeking answers to why something is happening to you, ask God what He wants you to learn from it. Count on God to give you all the wisdom you need to grow from tough experiences.
* Remember that God is with you. Know that God is present with you in the midst of every situation, no matter how difficult, and that He cares about what you're going through. Ask Him to make you aware of His presence with you whenever you need encouragement. Trust God's promise that He is ultimate control of what happens to you. Understand that, when you can't understand what's going on, God is still at work behind the scenes, with your best interests at heart.
* Don't be surprised by troubles. Recognize that, in this fallen world, suffering comes into everyone's lives. Expect to encounter challenges, but also expect God to help you through whatever comes your way. Know that God isn't punishing you when you suffer, but simply allowing you to experience something He knows will help you grow in good ways. Realize that God won't change your circumstances until the circumstances that He has allowed in your life change you.
* Avoid negative responses. Make a conscious choice to refrain from resentment, bitterness, envy, and worry as you deal with challenges, because all of those negative responses will poison your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and help you focus on all that's positive and helpful.
* Fight the battle of emotions. Don't allow your emotions to control you. Instead, overcome troubling emotions like discouragement, fear, loneliness, anger, depression, anxiety, and disappointment expressing them honestly to God in prayer and asking Him to give you the peace that only He can give. Cope with your emotions one day at a time, staying connected to God through prayer and relying on His unlimited strength.
* Expect God to fulfill good purposes through bad situations. Rest assured that God has a purpose for every challenge you face, and a good plan for your future. Don't fear the unknown; instead, hand your situation over to God and invite Him to create something beautiful out of the broken pieces of it. Understand that there aren't any shortcuts to suffering; you must go through it to receive the benefits of transformation. Ask God to develop patience, perseverance, and endurance in you. Keep on loving God and others as you deal with your challenges, and expect to see God at work in your life as you do.
* Pray often. Every day, pray about what's on your mind, listen to what God says to you through His Spirit and His Word, and embrace the encouragement and hope He offers you. Ask other people to intercede for you in specific ways. Pray with others (such as a prayer partner or members of a Bible study group) whenever you can. Make your prayers personal, being honest with God and building intimacy with Him. Thank God for what He has done and is currently doing in your life. Approach God with an attitude of repentance. Make specific requests. Express your confidence and trust in God's ultimate control of your life – including your suffering.
* Embrace comfort. Don't try to tackle too much at once or let anxiety about the future consume you; go easy on yourself and just take one day at a time. Look for signs of God's grace around you every day, such as through the hugs of friends and family members and the inspirational messages of songs. Read your Bible often for encouragement. Let people who care about you know how they can help you, and accept their help with gratitude. Reach out to God for comfort whenever you need it.
* Reach out beyond yourself to others. Know that every challenge you face helps prepare you to help others. Use the lessons you've learned in your own suffering to positively impact other people's lives. Ask God to turn your tragedy into a platform to share His hope and love. Pray for Him to open your eyes to notice the many people around you who are struggling. Remember that no matter what you're going through, there is always someone else who is experiencing even greater suffering. Show compassion on others by praying for them, financially supporting charities, doing volunteer work, and in any other ways God leads you to serve. Discover your passions for ministry and follow them. Ask God to shine His light through you into suffering people's darkness. Share the story of how God has worked in your life whenever you have an opportunity to encourage someone else. Point other people toward Jesus and the hope and love that He offers them.
* Recognize gifts in disguise. Understand that your challenges can actually be gifts disguised as burdens. Be thankful whenever your challenges cause you to grow closer to God, focus on what matters most in life, or help you mature into the person God intends you to become.
Adapted from Why?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life by Vernon Brewer, copyright 2006 by World Help. Published by World Help, Inc., Forest, Va., www.worldhelp.net.
Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of World Help, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization that is uniquely qualified and strategically positioned to meet the spiritual and physical needs of hurting people around the world. World Help exists to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through partnering, training, helping and serving, especially in the unreached areas of the world. Vernon is also the author of The Forgotten Children: Hungry. Hopeless. Running for Their Lives.
Your challenge as a women's leader is to create an environment where each woman can discover her unique place in God's mission to reach the world. Regardless of how busy a Christian woman is or how limited she feels, she can practice her passion for reaching the lost.
Here are some practical ways to plug your ladies into missions, taken from the essential women's ministry leadership resource, Women Reaching Women:
1. Invite a peer-age, female missionary to be the special guest at a prayer time, Bible study or topical conference. Don't promote the special guest as a missionary, but allow women to discover she is a missionary. In this way, women see the special guest first as one of them, helping them connect to someone who understands the Great Commission as a personal commitment.
2. Invite a woman to observe while you work on your next missions project.
3. Take a group of women to a nearby ministry center sponsored by your association or area churches, and survey their needs - such as food, craft items, window curtains, clothes and so forth. Lead women to see how their gifts and talents could help meet those needs. They may need your leadership to organize their efforts.
4. Model ways to pray for missionaries on their birthdays.
For the woman who has limited time, provide opportunities for mini-projects, and allow flexibility :
5. Provide a package of note cards and a specific missionary's name and address. Suggest she write a note once a month.
6. Suggest she save pocket change for a designated missions offering. Challenge her to fill a jar or bowl by a certain time.
7. Inform her of items your group is collecting for a missions project and volunteer to pick up her donation.
8. Allow her to complete a simple portion of an ongoing craft missions project that she can work on at home for short periods of time. Affirm her help and contribution.
For the woman who has limited mobility, help her to feel valued and needed in responsibilities :
9. Provide your ministry project schedule and ask her to pray during the times you or your group are directly involved.
10. Help her establish a savings/giving plan and to understand how important her gifts are to the cause of missions - regardless of the size of the gift.
Want all 26 ideas for plugging women into missions, as well as Bible study planning tips, administrative helps, and more? For the full list of tips on these topics and more, purchase Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women's Enrichment Ministry, Revised today.