Thursday, May 19, 2016
Everyone reading this article is on a journey. Where is your journey taking you? As a Christ follower, do you know what road you are on?
Someone invited you to "Come and See" Jesus. You said yes to the invitation and the journey began. As you go, Jesus summoned you to "Follow Me", and on the expedition, through obedience and discovery, you grow to be more and more like Him.
The trip continues and accelerates as Jesus signs you up and equips you to become a worker (as Pastor Mark reminded us on Sunday) to "fish for men". You no longer sit in your Lazy Boy recliner, but you become available to be used, faithful to grow, teachable in action and attitude, responsive to align with God's vision that all should know Him.
Being infused by the Spirit of God, your growth in Christlikeness splashes onto the lives of others and you "bear fruit" - your journey multiplies, and you are transformed. You make a difference.
In a nutshell, these are the Four Chairs we recently learned about in a disciple-making class. Each of us sits in one of these chairs. Each of us is on a journey through life. When asked, "How were you impacted by the Four Chairs training?" two friends answered with the following:
Attendee #1: The story of a life that was changed after numerous years of being in church week after week - a person involved in serving, attending whenever the doors were open, and yet he did not "get it" after 30 years. This struck me in a powerful way and made me sit up and listen more carefully. The impact of the story came when an amazing transformation occurred and that life finally surrendered in childlike faith. I asked myself, "Could that be me? Am I totally surrendered? I know what to do and yet why do I seem to waste time by not doing it?" I want to be more committed to daily seek the Lord through prayer and the Word. I can even see that in a mentoring relationship I have something to offer and something to gain. I now realize that I no longer have to become better, be more informed about the Bible or even know all theological answers. I just have to be willing to be available in my normal life journey. It is God's job to change a life, and He will begin with me. My decision that day was to become a fully surrendered Christ follower, willing to go, to do whatever He asked.
Attendee #2: The most helpful take away for me was that it is not a program, not an event or even special training that will be pivotal in someone else's life to bring change. It is relationship and lifestyle that will bring about transformation. When I do life in the nitty gritty of everyday happenings, natural interactions, someone will observe. It is in the unimportant things that I may be noticed by another, as I pour into them, as I love on them, as I am intentional in looking like Jesus and developing His character in my own life; these are the things that will be "caught" and don't have to be taught for another to meet Jesus. God is constantly at work to advance His kingdom. He uses the lifestyles of His kids, and sometimes even their words, in up close and very personal relationships to win one. What the Holy Spirit revealed to me was a new way of seeing life and Christ in it. I know in a fresh way that I have something to share and it is God's job to use it to bear fruit.
Those who do not know, those who have not seen, those who do not follow are missing life's greatest journey. What road are you on? Which chair are you in? Are you willing to get out of your Lazy Boy?
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to honor our mothers and to show our appreciation for all they mean to us. I am incredibly blessed to have a close and loving relationship with my Mother. She not only chose to give me physical life, but she loved me to Jesus at a young age.
When my parents retired and considered moving to the Salem area, we discussed the idea of an inter-generational living arrangement. We knew that someday in the future one of them would most likely be left alone, so we decided to build an apartment onto our home so they would be close by. The idea was to be proactive and be available to help them when the time came. Little did Steve and I realize that we were the ones who would benefit from such a living arrangement. Our children benefited from their grandparents' love and attention, but most importantly, they observed Godly grandparents who walked the talk and lived out their faith in tangible ways. We all observed their hard work ethic and loving way they served others. In their early 90s they were still involved with Nursing Home Ministries, holding chapel services and in their words “ministering to the elderly.” Mother still lives in her apartment attached to our home, prepares her own meals and takes daily walks, spends much of her day reading her Bible and is a faithful prayer warrior. She is humble, gracious, sweet and literally lives the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
A few weeks ago my mother celebrated her 97th birthday. Family members were asked to give one word that described Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma. Attributes shared: amazing, helpful, prayer warrior, compassionate, Godly, beautiful, sweet, great sewer, so good, sharing, queen, rich heritage, heart, best mother in the world, selfless, sincere, humble, genuinely interested in others, great mother in law, nice, gracious, hospitable, loving.
As the years pass and our roles have changed, it is not only my responsibility to lovingly care for my Mother, but an honor and privilege to bestow on her the same love she has shown me. I thank God for blessing my Mother with long life and in doing so, blessing our family with her love, wisdom and faithful prayers.
Proverbs 31: “Her children will rise up and bless her, her husband also and he praises her saying,'many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ … A woman who fears the Lord shall be praised."
Friday, April 29, 2016
I am discovering in my life right now that holidays can sometimes be difficult. My circumstances are not the way I thought my life would play out. Right now I find myself in the season of being a single mom. I have grown so much in my walk with the Lord the past six years, and in many ways I wouldn’t change my life circumstances. My two kids are amazing, and God has provided for us in awesome ways!
An important part of our journey has been the family we have developed here at church. My family lives in New Mexico. I am an only child, and we do not have any family nearby. That is where our family at First Baptist and Sonshine Christian School come in. God knew what he was doing (He always does) when He planted us here. Our church family is our family away from home.
This past Easter my heart was touched by the Easter breakfast the church did. My kids and I were so blessed to enjoy breakfast here at church! It was very special to be able to enjoy a holiday meal with some of that family. We would have had a great breakfast at home, but that connection with community on the morning of a holiday touched my heart in a special way.
Thank you First Baptist for being our family away from home and for making Easter that much more special for us!
--Kimberly Bell, Second Grade Sonshine Teacher