Archive for Inspirations
I hope you had a Merry Christmas, Readers! And Happy New Year!
For the past few months, I have been more or less absent from Retreat-in-a-Bag. My son and his wife, along with my 4-year-old grandson have been visiting from China for a few months. They came home to have a baby–my second grandson (born 12/9/16). That major “distraction”, in addition to our women’s retreat and regular women’s ministry activities, has kept me occupied offline…in a good way!
My daughter-in-law’s progressing pregnancy reminded me of a Christmas song (sung by Faith Hill): “A Baby Changes Everything.” How true that is! Because of baby Josiah’s arrival, our family is forever changed!
But, of course, the song is referring to a special Baby who came and whom we celebrate at Christmas–a Baby who truly changed everything. God loved…and sent His Son for the purpose making our relationship with Him possible. He made possible a life free from the bondage of sin. He changed our eternal destiny, as well as our day-to-day existence. He covers us with grace and mercy. He gives purpose and meaning to life. He changed everything in my life, that’s for sure.
Honestly, this website exists because of Him and for Him and for His glory. God has consistently used women’s ministry and the accompanying retreats and events for my growth. Size of the ministry doesn’t make a difference–we are a small church. But depth of the ministry does matter. We shouldn’t waste the few hours a week that we have with our women. Every activity should lead to a deeper understanding of our Savior and His Word, and a pursuing of prayer and fellowship with Him and others. My desire is to encourage women’s ministries as they strive to take their women deeper through every possible avenue–through regular Bible study, retreats, skits, and other creative means of making His Word real and applicable in our lives.
My prayer, as we begin this new year, is that God would use the resources offered by Retreat-in-a-Bag for His purposes, and that women’s ministries would be encouraged to follow hard after God, to faithfully minister to their women and to reach out to the hurting world around them. We know the One who changes EVERYTHING!
“It’s about how Jesus came to be born once, So that we could be born again.” (“It’s About the Cross” J.J. Statema)
In no particular order, I want to share a few verses that have been particularly encouraging or challenging to me as a women’s ministry leader:
- I Corinthians 11:1: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Have you ever really considered the boldness of this statement that Paul made to the Corinthian church? As a Christian, it encourages me, and as a leader it challenges and convicts me. How would you feel about daily wearing a button or a t-shirt with those words on it? Would you want to hide when you were having a bad day, or when tasks were overwhelming or people were annoying you?
- I Corinthians 16:15b “…they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints….” Paul describes the household of Stephanas with the words “devoted to the ministry of the saints.” Another translations uses the word “addicted.” What a picture that paints…leaders who can’t stop serving even if they wanted to–they are obsessed with serving. They are hooked, and they can’t stop!
- John 15:5c: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” This is a good reminder to all leaders all the time, because our flesh always wants to get in the way. If we are not on guard all the time, it is easy to find ourselves doing things in our flesh, using our common sense and our own abilities instead of recognizing our need for Him.
- Galatians 6:9 “Don’t get weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” This should be lodged in your memory, available at a moment’s notice, because (light-bulb moment)… ministry can be wearying. People can burn you out; needs can be overwhelming. Keep your eyes on the harvest.
- I Timothy 6:20a: “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.” We have responsibility for the souls in our care, and those souls are of great value to God.
- I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The enemy of our souls, that great “Discourager” tirelessly works to convince you that your labor in the Lord is in vain. Are you going to believe him? We walk by faith and not by sight.
- Philippians 1:27a “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” This verse reminds us of the high standards of conduct the Lord requires. Our women are watching, possibly more than you realize. They are watching how you handle problems and conflict, they are watching you handle disappointment and trials in your own life, they are watching what comes out of your mouth.
- Philippans 4:8 “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think on these things.” What we allow our minds to dwell on will sooner or later determine our actions and speech. It is a discipline leaders should take seriously, because our thoughts can be our downfall.
- Philippians 2:14-16a “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” Our world is obviously getting darker by the moment–but that is when our light shines brightest. We can be a light in a dark place as we continue to hold fast to the Word of life. Shine on!
- Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Just a reminder for all of us. We are privileged to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to serve others and give our lives for them.
One of our goals in women’s ministry is to serve and build up the women of our church body. As we plan for Bible studies and others women’s events for the coming year, we try to consider women in all stages and walks of life: younger women or older women; women who are single and those who are married; career women or stay-at-home moms; women with special needs, etc. As much as possible, we want our studies and events to be all-inclusive, open and applicable to all women. To that end, last year we added two regular Saturday morning events during the year, hoping to draw in those women who are unable to join us for events taking place during the week. Also, for that reason, the same women’s Bible study is offered both morning and evening to accommodate working women and stay-at-home moms. Our prayer is that the options available would draw in women “on the fringes.”
But at a recent leadership meeting, we were encouraged with this: “Work with what you have.” Yes, we want our women’s ministry to accommodate as many women as possible. We want to be continually drawing new women, helping them get excited about the Word of God and the fellowship and accountability of studying in a group setting with other women. We need to be inviting and encouraging women to attend. However, our focus should be on those who are coming, who have already shown their desire to grow spiritually by being there.
I think of Jesus, who ministered to all who came his way. But His efforts were centered on the 12 men the Father had given Him to disciple and prepare and raise up.
If God has given you five women who consistently attend your Bible study, work with them. Teach them. Disciple them. Encourage them. Concentrate on depth of ministry, not width. Work with what you have.
We just had our first women’s event of the new year. Some say it was scheduled a little too close to the holidays. I don’t know if that was true–we scheduled it early in the year in order to “start the new year off” with a special time of ministry. We had planned a lovely “mug and muffin brunch” with a guest speaker. But sign-ups were low. Perhaps it was too close to December and all of the busyness and traveling associated with the holidays. Maybe we missed some opportunities to promote the event, but we made up for that with personal invitations by mouth and via email. Nevertheless, attendance was less than two-thirds that of a similar event held in August.
We prayed diligently for the event and those attending, we had bulletin announcements and talked about the event with those we ran into at church. Perhaps we could have done more. As women’s ministry leaders, we will discuss what could have been done differently. But you know what? In the end, those who were meant to be there were there. After you have done all you know to do, you need to leave the results up to God. This is true in our own lives, but also true in ministry.
Our event was a huge blessing to those who attended, and God moved among us in a very special way. Numbers aren’t everything!