BRN Women

Riding the Waves

For my 40th wedding anniversary my husband and I went to Kauai, HI.  It was an amazing trip and we enjoyed every minute of it! While I was there in the rest and quiet of such a beautiful place, God spoke through his creation in so many ways.waves

One place that I enjoyed was on the southern coast where the waves were strong and the surfers were out “catching a wave”.  They patiently waited until the ocean began to swell and then energetically swam with all their strength to be able to stand and ride along.  It was fun to watch and I was amazed at the strength and stamina of those from young to old who were attempting to ride the waves.  As I watched their attempts there was one thing that occurred to me.

Each and every wave was temporary.  The ocean swelled, then made it’s way to shore where it was finished.  There wasn’t one rider that was able to maintain the ride more than one wave at a time.  wave done

Wow, Lord, I thought, isn’t that we often do when it comes to discipleship?  We catch the wave of the most popular bible study teacher or church with the most attractional worship? We look for a  program that makes us feel good for the moment or will keep our kids “in the church” through entertainment.  I’ve seen people who are constantly in the highs and lows of catching temporary fads or cultural christianity.  Feeling good for a time and then being stagnant waiting for the next big thing  is the way many live a “faith” walk. Catching waves rely upon our skills and what we can offer.

Discipleship is not catching the wave. When we find ourselves often crashing into the surf, feeling like you’re drowning we are missing a very key element to being a disciple of Jesus.  There was one who had ridden the waves all night and for him it was in the midst of a storm. He was being shown how inadequate all of his skills and attempts were to rescue himself.  What helped him to find stability, strength and stamina wasn’t using his navigational skills but surrendering to reach out to the hand of Jesus.   Jesus doesn’t intend for us to ride the waves, he enables us to walk on the water!

sunset

When we hold tightly to Him and trust Jesus to guide us and empower us, we can walk in discipleship that will testify to His glory and miraculous power.  For you, it may not be as dramatic as the storm where we see Peter rescued.   Your story  may not seem “miraculous” as overcoming a storm and walking on water, but as you to walk with Jesus hand in hand He empowers you through His Spirit.   In this, you no longer ride up and down, highs and lows, waiting for the next big wave when you have crashed or just sitting there wondering when it will be “your turn”.  Your life will rise above the waves so that when they come, you’re already standing, holding on to the One who can guide you so that it can be a greater testimony of Him.  Your life of faith will then be a reflection of His glory and can draw people to Him so they too can be discipled.

Waves are temporary my friend, walking on water is Eternal!

My prayer is that we will link hands with Jesus and walk steadfastly with him.

Though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:24

 

BRN Women

Sowing Seeds this Summer

This blog by Sheila Alwine reminds us that there are a lot of great opportunites to share Jesus this summer.  Need some ideas to plant seeds?  Read on….sowing seeds in summer

Summer brings a lot of good things, whether you’re a kid or an adult. We all remember the excitement of the last day of school. It was both an ending and a beginning, and the long, hot days of summer stretched before us, just waiting to be filled with the joy of childhood play and fewer responsibilities.

One of the best things about summer is fresh garden produce, especially in the South. I never enjoyed sharing the work of gardening and harvesting, but I did enjoy the results. Those hours spent under a tree in the yard stringing and breaking beans or shelling peas or shucking corn paid dividends when suppertime came. My family ate organic before organic was cool, and I have to admit, I didn’t realize the blessing of it at the time. It was all I knew.

Summer brings bounty in the life of the church, too. Vacation Bible School, mission trips, backyard Bible clubs, tent meetings (if you’ve never been, you’re missing something special). The slower pace of summer offers us a lot of opportunities to plant the seeds of the gospel and watch God’s Word bear fruit – the organic, life-changing, spiritual nutrition of the good news about Jesus.

Listen to these words from Isaiah 55:10-12.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

 

How will you plant the seeds of the gospel this summer? What can you do right where you live, work and play, to be a gospel witness?

* Taking your kids to the pool? Make an effort to meet some new families, and get to know them. Invite them over to your house for a cook-out.
* Kids involved in travel ball or end-of-regular-season sports? Maybe there’s a single mom who needs help with travel arrangements or the cost to participate.
* Live in a neighborhood with loads of bored kids home for the summer? Team up with another family and offer a weekly time of fun and games in your yard, and include a Bible story or devotion.
* Vacation time causing extra stress to get things done at the office? Offer to help out a co-worker so they can leave on time and enjoy their vacation without worrying about the load when they return.
* Join a mission trip team and go somewhere you’ve never been, and are even fearful of.
* Sign up to help with your church VBS and work with kids who need a solid adult presence in their life.
* Reach out to a local organization and offer to tutor or help with summer school.
* Volunteer at a local camp.
* Host a neighborhood social and make sure you invite that neighbor you don’t even like (yet!).
* Hang out on your front porch instead of inside in the air conditioning, so you have opportunities to greet the people taking a walk as the evening cools off. Offer them a drink of water and get to know them.

The gospel doesn’t take the summer off. In fact, it’s one of the best times to be out and about, living, speaking and acting in a gospel-centered awareness.

How will you share the gospel this summer? Commit to planting the seeds of God’s Word, and watch them bear fruit for eternity!

Sheila will be leading one of our breakouts at the Gathering this September!

Blog

Saying No

Do you have a hard time saying no?  It is such a small word and yet we find it difficult to say don’t we?  Sometimes we “christian-eze” it as John Crist describes.

So what is it about saying no that is so difficult?  For many as a follower of Jesus there is a false idea that saying no is not in accordance with the way Jesus lived.  Geri Scazzero in her book “The Emotionally Healthy Woman” states it well.  She says “No matter what the request or need, no matter how depleted or empty I felt, I believed that a good and loving Christian would rarely say no.”  Have you ever felt this way? Are you bound by the idea that saying no is a reflection of your devotion and love for the Lord? (why we “christian-eze it)

This belief can often leave you struggling to say no despite the fact that God gives each living thing boundaries.  He does not expect us nor has he created us to be, as Geri puts it, “twenty-four-hour-seven-day-a-week machines.”  We are living in a relationship with Him.  Saying no does not reflect on our devotion or love but rather takes that in consideration as we “spend” the time we have been given according to the boundaries that help us thrive.

Sometimes it helps to “plate” your priorities.  Draw out a pie chart like this boundries pie chart.jpeg

to determine how much investment you are able to make in different areas.  Put a time limit within each area.  How is a request going to impact the time that you have for such an activity?  Be honest and list everything that takes time in your life and evaluate if you are investing your time or allowing others to steal it away randomly.

Are there “good’ things that are not able to be accomplished because of the boundary of time, energy or priority? Then say No.

Is someone asking you to invest time where they are unwilling to do so themselves?  People will and can use you by “stealing” from your plate.  This may be an opportunity to teach them about boundaries by saying no.

Is there something that would deter you from having time to be balanced on your plate? In other words, are you trying to “pile up” extra helpings that you cannot possibly ingest without the heartburn of “why do they think…” “wish I had time to … ” or “would someone see that I’m busy???”  Keep your plate limited to only those things you have prioritized.  Never follow up no, but…

You may be able to do this loosely for a year projection, or it may be a monthly exercise and for some this may be a daily activity so that you create a habit of living intentionally with boundaries making it easier to say a guilt-free, God honoring, No.

Do you have any techniques you use on ways you keep boundaries and use the No word?  Please share in comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRN Women

3 Steps to Purposeful Leadership

 

This blog was originally posted here. Kelly King of Lifeway reposted this edition and brought to mind a meeting I had with Jessie several years ago.  She is a dedicated disciple maker, extraordinary women’s leadership consultant and passionate follower of Jesus.  Please take a moment and read below to discover if you’re a purposeful leader.
 
By Jessie Seneca

A note from Kelly King: Many times we talk about purpose in ministry, but not as much about purpose in leadership. Actually, they are both important. As God has called you to lead others, be purposeful in living out your personal calling and walk with the Lord. I know you’ll be encouraged by Jessie Seneca’s article today.

Although some are born with a natural bent toward leadership, it can be learned. Regardless of where you find yourself, effective and purposeful leadership requires each of us to develop our skills and deepen our knowledge. Sometimes, as leaders, we can allow the clutter in our lives to overshadow the necessity of living close to God. Clutter can be anything from doing what’s good but not best, saying yes when no was necessary, working when rest was needed, or choosing busyness that seems productive when God wanted stillness.

As the summer months approach and a less-hectic schedule finds us, hopefully you can breathe deeply and refocus your days and desires for the call upon your life. Psalm 86:11 tells us, “Teach me Your ways, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

3 Steps to Purposeful Leadership

1. Teach Me Your Ways. It all starts with allowing God access to your heart, mind, body, and soul. You and I must yearn to live for Christ, cherish His Word, and strive to put it into practice. Once you commit to knowing the Father’s heart through the (daily) study of His Word, you will be able to apply it to yourself and your team. Whether or not your work is in ministry or a secular environment, it will dramatically impact your leadership more than any other book or resource. Ask God to open your mind to understand Scripture (Luke 24:45). The greatest leaders are the closest followers of the one true Leader.

Purposefully live out what you learn as an example to your team.

2. Walk in Your Truth. Here lies your walk: emulate Christ’s character in how you live. It is what drives your purpose. It is your true north. What you believe deep in your core will dictate how you walk. It will affect your reactions, responses, and motives. Not only do you want to walk out your calling with great purpose, but you want those you work with to walk it out as well. But you, as their leader, must show by example. Leadership is a tough road to walk at times. It is one that will require you to draw strength from One higher than yourself.

Purposefully walk with excellence and intentionality as your guide.

3. Unite My Heart to Fear Your Name. Desire to have an undivided heart that is completely devoted to the Lord, above all else. To love Him as your first and forever love. Strive to allow your heart’s desires to fall in line the the Lord’s, continually testing your motives against His will. Bear each other’s burdens and share in each other’s joys. In Romans 15:5-6, we read, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Purposefully commit to unite your heart with God’s will and pour out that same love to your team members.

May you and I not get so distracted by the work at hand, that we lose sight of the One who gave us the work to accomplish.

Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
—Proverbs 4:25-27 (NASB)


Jessie is the founder of More of Him Ministries in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has been leading women in the local community and churches for over twenty-five years. Jessie offers an annual women’s leadership conference called SHE Leads. She has also worked with LifeWay as a Living Proof Live and Priscilla Shirer Live City Coordinator and Northeast Simulcast Specialist. She is a wife and mother of two adult daughters and wonderful sons-in-law. Most days you can find her walking her two golden-doodles, Murphy and Bella.

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BRN Women

Intimate Life Source

This morning at the table my husband shared our devotional verse of John 15:5:grafted vines

 

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”

 I was contemplating how it is in spring that we see the results of things being connected to their source through hard winter months. The flowers that bloom on the trees, or from the bulbs deep in the ground have all had to endure a season that was bleak and seemingly dormant. We didn’t see much activity from the tree or plants, but there was something happening that was very important during the winter season. They stayed connected to the life source. What the appearance was on the outside wasn’t as important as the fact that on the inside the connection was there.  The showy flowers and leaves of Spring are only a reflection of the abiding the branches did over the winter months.  I came across this devotional thought penned by Kay Warren in her book, Sacred Privilege.  She quotes her daughter Amy, who battles chronic Lyme disease and is a pastor’s wife.  Amy says,

“Christianity is an inside job, which means my internal reality has the power to rise up and overwhelm my external circumstances if I choose to learn God’s ways.  As the painful circumstances heave piled up over the years, I have had to choose to go underground (so to speak) spiritually to survive.  The above-ground reality has been so painful, terrifying, and seemingly hopeless that withdrawing inward to a soul space with God has been necessary.  But there, in what one would assume would be darkness, I have found light.  I have found Jesus ready to empower and comfort me, to share his peace and give me his joy.  With more physical healing under my belt, the challenge is to stay in this place of intimacy with Jesus, to not just visit occasionally but to actually live out of this internal reality.  Abiding has become the single-minded daily pursuit of my soul.”

Being connected and remaining in the life source is imperative to the sustaining power of our relationship with Jesus.  We must see Him as our life source and know that we will perish apart from Him.  While our heads believe this for “salvation”, a way to get to heaven, we have a harder time accepting this as a need for our very existence today and true relationship with God that will bear His fruit. 

During the hard times, the still times of seemingly barrenness, and even in the fruitful times of life how am I allowing Him to “remain in me, and I in him” so that he is my “soul space” as Amy said, intimately connected to him for life source?  

Continue reading “Intimate Life Source”