Thursday, July 26, 2012

Good Reason to be Depressed?

If you are involved in ministry within the United Methodist Church, you may have good reason to be depressed. It seems that everywhere we turn, there is someone waiting to remind us about the dwindling numbers in our denomination. It is true. Statistics show that membership in our churches is declining, and there are various initiatives being explored to help us reverse that trend.
But I don't think Jesus read statistics. Jesus read hearts and minds. Jesus may have attracted the crowds, and filled the fields to capacity, but His focus was always on the individual. Friends...there is power in focusing on the individual. Ask Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night, and undoubtedly returned to witness to the Sanhedrin. Ask the woman at the well, who was so moved after her encounter with Jesus that she told her entire village about Him. Ask Zacchaeus, whose transformed life after having spent time with Jesus was a far more powerful witness in his community than any words could ever have been.
So if you are ministering in a small church; if you are the teacher to that one lone child; if you serve in your church nursery with that one single baby on your lap...take heart! We who are called United Methodists still seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world...and this usually begins with the transformation of one.
Yes, there is work to be done in our denomination, but far better to significantly impact the heart and mind of one, than to attract one hundred who do not hear the message. The individual was important to Jesus. And if that was good enough for Him, then it's good enough for me.
Read this interesting article from Jim Winkler, on 'Lies & Statistics'

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Five Little Words...

It was the summer of 1970. I was 11 years old. The bell clanged for the final time and two minutes later, the doors flew open. Laughing, shouting children poured out onto the playground. It was our last day in that little red brick building. In September, we would all be attending High school. My friends and I cheered, and hugged. We cried, and said our goodbyes. But before I ran to catch the bus, a teacher was standing, waiting for me.
Glenys, she said, Don't ever stop writing. 
I do not remember how I replied. I do not remember that teacher's name. I do not really remember what she looked like. But I do remember her words....just five little words, planted like seeds in my heart, that over the years, God would cause to grow.
There are no qualifications needed to be an encourager. We do not need to attend classes. We do not need to study. We do not need to learn how to do it. We just need to speak.
You and I have the enormous privilege, and the enormous power to encourage the children in our lives, to sow seeds in their hearts, which God will cause to grow. And all it takes is our words.
Encourage one another, and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Galilean Sunrise

One early morning In the spring of 2013, I may just be standing on the shores of Lake Galilee with my husband, watching the sun as it rises over Israel. I am so looking forward to being able to stand in this holy place, and as I do, I know that I'm going to be remembering some wonderful scenes and stories from the Bible... Jesus calling His first followers from their nets; Jesus calming those stormy waters with just two small words; Jesus, the risen Christ, preparing breakfast on the beach for His disciples. 
Lake Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and even though more than 2000 years have passed since James and John mended their nets on its shore, this lake is still a favorite fishing spot, full of life, sustained and fed by the Jordon River that flows through it from north to south. In complete contrast, the Dead Sea is a body of water in which no life can survive. Only bacteria can thrive in this salty place. The Dead Sea takes freshwater in from the Jordan River, but nothing flows out. 
You and I are meant to be vessels, through which God's Holy Spirit can flow. As we minister to children and families, we are to take Jesus in, and give Jesus out. 
Open yourself fully to the energy and flow of the Holy Spirit... let Him sustain and feed you, let Him fill you with life and love, so that you can feed others as you fulfill your call.
Dead Sea, or Sea of Galilee; dormant or dynamic; lifeless or lively...I know which one I want to be.
I have come that you might have life...and have it to the full. John 10:10

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who's In Control?

A large pit bull terrier came bounding around the corner, straining at the end of its leash. I lifted my eyes to look at the owner and could not believe what I saw. This young lady, struggling to keep hold of the leash, was literally covered in mud, from head to toe. Shocked, I just could not help but stare. She saw me looking and explained breathlessly, 'He dragged me into the mud.' It was obvious who was in control here. 
I sometimes find myself being dragged into places that I don't want to go...not by a pit bull, but by pride, or discouragement, or fear, or negativity. And if I'm not careful, they can drag me into a place where I am questioning my calling, my effectiveness, and my ministry to children. But I cannot let them be in control. God is the One who called me. He is my encourager, my sustainer, my equipper, and my cheerleader. And far from dragging me anywhere, His preference is to gently lead. In fact, the only thing he makes me do is lie down in green pastures. Why would I not want control like that?
God is the One who called you too...let Him encourage, sustain, equip, and gently lead you as you answer His call. Like me, I'm sure you would choose green pastures over mud any day of the week.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters...
he guides me in paths of righteousness. Psalm 23: 2-3