In December, a dear woman in our church handed me a tin of Christmas treats she'd made for our family, and as I received them, I felt tears immediately welling up in my eyes.
She didn't know and couldn't have known, but I had been in need of encouragement--even something as simple as a tin of cookies, something that expressed I'd been thought of and that I was appreciated
I'd actually been fighting against this desire for weeks, fighting against it because I felt it had crossed a line into craving approval and validation. Craving reward. Maybe even a little self-glory. The craving was strong in its temptation; my faith felt fragile and weak.
Is it so wrong to want reward? Sometimes I just want to know from God that what I'm doing for Him matters. Sometimes I want to see the fruit of my labor and get to rejoice at how the Lord is moving in and around me. But then sometimes a desire for reward is more sinister. I feel in my bones the lure of applause, money, worldly success, comfort, ease, and self-glory. All temporary, all things that might provide immediate gratification.
So in regard to encouragement, which is it: right or wrong?
my husband. How do you navigate this journey? It is awkward and sometimes I don't know whether to reach out to the wife or just let it go. It is a lot to go through as a family when you realize people that you labored with will no longer be there. And then the congregation questions us as to where these people have gone or why they have left."
I want to address this question in a way that will be beneficial for everyone in the church, whether you are a pastor's wife or a person leaving or considering leaving your church...
"You would think that with all the communications gadgets we have at our disposal, we’d be better at, well, communicating," says Anita Bruzzese, contributing author for Quickbase.com Blog.
Then why is it that colleagues show up at the wrong time for a meeting? Or we become increasingly frustrated when an exchange of a dozen emails with a teammate leaves us more confused than ever?
Although this blog post is written for the workplace, it could easily have been written for the church. We all need a little help sometimes in getting our point across, making ourselves heard, and/or being more confident when we speak.
Do you have room for improvement in your communication style? How could using some of the pointers below improve your communication with your family? People in your church? People you work with? What other areas of your life could improving your communication affect?
Last week we were asked, "Where are you going in 2017?" In keeping with this new year's theme, we have asked Jerry Harris to help us find our way. Rev. Harris, a big proponent of setting goals, gives us sound reasons why we should set goals, and practical, reasonable action steps to get those goals accomplished. It's with pleasure we welcome Rev. Harris to Refresh.
guest post by Jerry Harris
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”
(Proverbs 12:11) NIV
This scripture tells us to “work our land.” What is our land? The writer was referring to the plowing and sowing of their land so they would have plenty to eat. They didn’t have a local grocery store to stop by and pick up some milk on the way home. They had to plant and plan so they would have food to live on. This was vital to their well-being and existence. If you didn’t plan ahead, you would be begging in harvest time.
“A sluggard does not plow in season; so, at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”
(Proverbs 20:4) NIV
If we want to get ahead and stay ahead of the game of life, we must develop a “working our land” attitude. Since we are not farmers, what is “our land?” Remember that the land was vital to the farmer’s well-being and existence. What is vital to our well-being and existence?
If these things are vital to me then how do I prepare or “work” my land? There must be an intentional attempt to make my land better. Just hoping for it to take place won’t accomplish anything but desperation. Just praying for it to take place won’t accomplish anything but frustration...God won’t answer my prayer! He doesn’t care about me!
“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
(Psalm 90:12) KJV
The “number” means to weigh out, to allot, and to prepare. How do we do this? By examining each area of our life and setting goals for the future.
1. Why must we have goals?
Because it is just as difficult to reach a destination you do not have, as it is to come back from a place to which you have never been. In other words, you can’t hit a target you don’t have. A person without a goal is a ship without a rudder. He will drift and float. He will likely end up on the beach of despair, discouragement, frustration and defeat.
A goal is a faith statement! I can’t see it but I believe it!
2. Why don’t more people have goals?
a. Most people have never been convinced they are important.
b. They don’t know how to establish them.
c. They fear they won’t reach their goals and consequently, are embarrassed.
d. They don’t take time to set them.
I would rather attempt to do something great and fall short, than attempt to do nothing and succeed.
3. What are the characteristics of a good goal?
a. Will I be able to know when I’ve reached my goal?
b. With God’s help and a lot of effort on my part, is it within reach and within the time period I’ve set?
c. When I achieve this goal what will be the benefit to me or to others?
Our problem is not the lack of time, but the lack of direction (focus). Our problem is not the lack of time, but our failure to effectively use the time we have.
We must not confuse activity with accomplishment, and we must stop counting our hours and start making our hours count. Consider how Jesus lived His life.
He knew what he had to do and he did it!
“My food (well-being and existence) said Jesus,
is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work.”
(John 4:34) NIV
He knew He only had so much time to do it, so he did it!
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me.
Night is coming, when no one can work.”
(John 9:4) NIV
You’ve got to start sometime to give direction to your life.
Use the Adjust My Daily Life, Lord worksheet. Now is the time!
Rev. Jerry Harris is Director of Church Planting for the AG Southern MO District Council, and President of Inner City Ministries of St. Louis and Reach Missouri Network. He and his wife, Lisa, have 35 years of pastoral experience, leading churches in rural, metropolitan and city environments.
For many small-group leaders, one of the more intimidating things we do is facilitating a group discussion. Very few of us feel like we'll have all the right answers, or that we can handle whatever curve balls will be thrown our way (and there will be some!). To make matters worse, it's even challenging to gauge whether we're doing a good job or not.
But here's the good news: that's not what facilitating a group discussion is really about. We don't have to have all of the right answers. We don't have to lead the perfect discussion every time. We don't even have to get through all of the material in each meeting!
When we're facilitating in our small group, our main goal is to create discussion. We want to challenge people to think about the topic at hand, and to create a safe environment for people to share their thoughts—to help everyone feel valued about the input they've offered.
That's all we've got to do. Thankfully, there are some established practices and principles that can help us accomplish those goals.
Asking Good QuestionsOne of the most important skills in small-group facilitation is not having all of the right answers, but asking the right questions. Here are a few secrets to good question-asking:
Having trouble coming up with class materials for your Sunday morning and Wednesday night kids? Can't afford to buy new? It can be a big problem.
Kent and Robin Kassinger, Pastors at Bernie First Assembly, have a very unique solution they would like to share with us.
"Kent is currently a bi-vo pastor who drives a school bus for an area school district," says Robin. "He became acquainted with a counselor at Bernie High School, who is also a children's pastor at an area church, and they got to talking about church, kids, curriculum, etc. In that conversation he found out that a few churches associated with this counselor's church all go in together and split the cost of a video-based curriculum and rotate it between them. Kent asked how it all worked, who wrote the curriculum, and if other churches could buy in. She shared with him all the information we needed and let him try an 8-week pack. We then bought into this group for an amount averaging $200 annually, and have full access to a $12-$1400-per-year curriculum. Our local high school counselor's office houses these curriculum packs for us, and each church may "switch out" their packs every 8 weeks. We are in a small town, so the school district is not opposed. You may try the library, a larger church with office hours, or maybe a business owner from your church if your school is not an option.
The curriculum that we use on Sunday morning for Children's church is Elevate Kids from Ed Young Jr. and is not Assemblies of God, but is Biblically-sound teaching of solid fundamentals of Christian living. It is high energy, video-based, (which attracts and retains the kids' attention), and is extremely easy for any teacher. We find it is extremely easy to add in our own teachings about the Holy Spirit. We use High Voltage from Rural Compassion for our Wednesday night kids’ program. They are DVD packs which we project to a wall screen using our BGMC projector (provided our 2nd year at Bernie).
We have had much feedback from our church parents created by the use of this resource for educating our kids. We have had many stories from kids talking to their parents about wanting to tithe on the money they get to playground evangelism, along with many, many questions sparked from the seeds these lessons are planting in the minds of our kids. It isn't stopping at the dismissal of class, but going into their homes and being talked about all week. That's a resource we have found to be priceless!"
Where do you go to learn about being a minister's wife?
It is our desire here at Refresh to see that each woman has a positive experience in partnership with their husband in ministry.
Bloom wants to provide guidance, support, connection, and encouragement to wives new to ministry through a connection with a seasoned and trained minister's wife using a Connect group created specifically for you. We'll use books to guide us in our conversations about the challenges, issues, benefits, and rewards of being a minister's wife.
We believe when women are strengthen, our families and churches are strengthened, and the ministry of the gospel is strengthened.
Interested in joining a Bloom Group?
Let us hear from you. Next group starting April 2018.