Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A burning question for believers

About fifteen of us sat together for almost three hours as we wrestled with the question: how do we make a radical difference in the spiritual growth of the next generation? The group included children’s workers, youth leaders and pastors, and senior pastors from various churches. We all agreed that we need to invest in the young people God entrusts to our churches. Everyone felt that mentoring and discipleship was the key. There was also a clear, rather desperate, consensus that the youth and children’s leaders and pastors cannot accomplish this by themselves. So the stumper question of the day ended up being: How do we help others in the church see the need, commit their time and experience, and help them know how to go about it? How do we involve others in the discipleship process?

We did not leave with a clear-cut solution. We left with more questions than answers. But we left convinced that somehow we need to find the answer.

What do you think? Please post your comments—the difference this discussion makes could be radical!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

God sees

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time in the book of Ruth. One thing that strikes me is how obvious it is that God saw and rewarded her daily choices to do the right thing—often the hard thing. She went far beyond in her commitment to her mother-in-law, not only vowing to stick with her until death, but following through by providing for her with the hard work of gleaning. Although Boaz first noticed her because of the commitment she had made (2:11), her faithfulness caused him to observe that everyone knew that she was a woman of noble character (3:10-11). Her daily choices paid off.

We all know that God sees our sins and failures, but are we really convinced that He also sees and rewards our hard daily choices to obey Him? How can we communicate this concept to the girls we disciple? We can encourage them that God sees them and rewards faithfulness. And we must always remember that our girls see us and notice the integrity of our daily choices.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What about balance?

It's a wonderful, exciting time of year--this season we call Christmas. It's also exhausting. We find ourselves falling wearily into bed at the end of a day of adding party planning and shopping to our already full lives; then, just as we're falling asleep, we remember yet another thing we really need to do this season. "How much am I expected to do?" we ask ourselves. "Where's the balance?"

The timing was perfect for me to read the latest issue of Fulfill magazine. I won't spoil the surprise--check it out for yourself at:

And have a Christ-filled Christmas!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Faith of a Child

It’s been a hard week as we’ve watched a very dear couple welcome a baby into their family only to lose her five days later. One of many concerns was how our four-and-a-half-year-old grandson would handle the news of his little cousin’s death. He has prayed fervently for Olivia since her health concerns first surfaced months before she was born, and has been persistent in reminding other family members if they fail to include her in their mealtime prayer. How would this affect his belief in the power of prayer? So this morning his mother, weary from a long night’s vigil, braced herself as she broke the news to him. “Last night Olivia went to heaven to be with Jesus,” she told him.

A huge smile took over his face. “Really? She's with Jesus?" he exclaimed. It was obvious that he was convinced that his prayers have been answered. And they have been! Although the separation is painful, where better for our loved ones to be than in the arms of Jesus?

His perspective, unclouded by human expectations and assumptions about what’s best, gives us a glimpse of God’s point of view. It brings to mind Jesus’ statement, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Gift

The sight made me laugh. The street was lined with houses sporting red bows, green garlands, and cheery lights—all except one. That one, as if in protest, boldly wore three huge wreaths with cornucopias.

What is it that makes Christmas so much easier to celebrate than Thanksgiving? Could it be because it’s much easier to give physical gifts to humans than to give heartfelt thanks to God?

Granted, part of the problem is that our society just leaves God out of the picture altogether, so a day set aside to give thanks is pointless. But we believers have to admit that being thankful is something we have to work at. That’s why it’s the sacrifice of praise that we bring to God.

If I really have the spirit of giving, and want to give God something this holiday season, whether November 26 or December 25 (or any time close to those dates), why not give Him the sacrifice of praise?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Looking for Monicas

Throughout my life I’ve been challenged by reading about Monica, the mother of one of the great church fathers, Augustine. It’s so moving to hear of her desperate prayers for her wayward son and her heartbreak at his deception in sailing for his new job in Italy without her. Learning that his voyage brought him to the place where he would find Christ has inspired me many times in my own prayers.

Recently, however, I’ve been challenged in a new way by reading the book Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith by Robert Kellemen and Susan Ellis, recently published by BMH Books. Chapter Two points out how Monica, in her dying days, directed the conversation to God and His eternal hope.

But it’s the questions at the end of the chapter that are keeping me awake at night. On question is, “What would it be like to have a mother like Monica who uses spiritual conversations to provide authentic spiritual friendship and spiritual direction?” Can you picture it? Can you see a girl you work with becoming that kind of a spiritual mother?

Then, the final question that gets to the heart of what matters to us as disciplers: “What can the church today do to equip more Monicas?”

Any suggestions? Please post them so we can learn from each other.