We had an “interesting” experience one year at a retreat. We were in our assigned meeting room in the hotel. A large wedding was also being hosted in another banquet room. Unfortunately, the liquor cabinet was located in our meeting room, and hotel personnel were coming in during the evening to get more liquor. Apparently, they had seriously miscalculated the amount of wine/liquor that the wedding would require. Talk about a distraction! Obviously, our enemy at work. Lesson learned: Before and during the retreat, be praying against distractions of the enemy! He can use just about anything or anyone to distract women from hearing God’s message.
Occasionally, I want to take the opportunity this blog affords me to share some inspirational and devotional thoughts that apply to ministry.
“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you” (Isaiah30:18a)
A.W. Pink comments on this verse in his book Elijah: “So often (God) allows things to get worse before there is any improvement. He “waits to be gracious.” Why? To bring us to the end of ourselves and of our resources, till all seems lost and we are in despair: that we may more clearly discern His delivering hand.”
I was just wondering how often God “waits to be gracious” to us because we are so busy exhausting our own resources, instead of looking for His deliverance?
Early in the retreat planning process, we create an “organizational” chart. Key retreat functions are assigned to the oversight of a leader. For instance, we have a person who oversees decorations at the retreat, a person who oversees worship, a person who oversees registration. For our upcoming retreat, these tasks are divided between the eight women on our women’s ministry team. In past years when we were smaller, the tasks may have been divided between only two or three main leaders. This division of responsibilities serves many purposes. First, it takes the overwhelming burden off of one person. It helps the leaders to stay on task, not wasting time on issues being covered by another leader. Early on in the retreat planning process, I know what my responsibilities are and I can begin to determine what kind of helpers I will need to accomplish the tasks I have been assigned. Also, if an issue or problem comes up, the women’s ministry leader (our pastor’s wife) knows who to go to for answers. Some of the responsibilities divided between the women’s leaders are: preliminary planning (speaker, theme, retreat site), registration, retreat planning meeting, booklet and name tags, worship, sound/recording, rooming list, greeters at retreat, skit, quiet time, book reviews/book table, prayer team, remembrance gift, transportation, retreat site contact, guest speaker contact and communion. We will be talking about the various needs of each of these areas in the coming weeks.
Psalm 128:3 speaks of a wife as being a fruitful vine in the very heart of her house. What a wonderful prayer goal for us–because our ministry begins in our home. How wonderful if, at the very heart of our home–the part that is not on display to the world–the fruit of the Spirit would be flourishing. Maybe a fruit bowl full of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control is the “much treasure” that Proverbs 15:6a says is found in the house of the righteous.
At every retreat, we schedule an hour of “quiet time” for our ladies. We ask that the ladies make this a sacred and quiet time alone with the Lord–no other entertainment or fellowship allowed. Often, we schedule it after lunch. In order to give them some direction, we give the ladies a Bible study that is related to the theme. The Bible study is written with the understanding that perhaps there will be women who have never really done a Bible study on their own, as well as those who are experienced students of the Bible. The point of this time is to guide the women in reading the Word and to ask questions that will cause them to reflect on how God is speaking to them. It would be tragic if a woman attended a retreat and was so busy interacting with others that she spent no time seeking the Lord on her own.