Monday, February 19, 2018
I happen to be a self-starter, so in a sense, I don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation where I can’t think of some sort of action to take if action is called for. However, I do spend a lot of my time believing other people into doing what they don’t believe they can do! So how does this work? How can those of us who are initiators help non-initiators to initiate?
Let’s take the word START.
S stands for SEEING. Seeing what needs doing and starting to do what you can do, not what you can’t. Jesus watched a woman doing something for Him one day and simply said, “she did what she could!” I’m so glad He didn’t expect her to do what she couldn’t!
T stands for TRYING. “Have a go” as we say in England – even if you’re not gifted in that area. Most of us won’t try at all unless we think we can do whatever it is well. Trying means we may fail or succeed but, at least, if we fail, we will have succeeded at something. We will have succeeded at trying.
A stands for ASKING. Ask God to help you. Feeling inadequate is great – it means you have to depend on God. And if we have to depend on Him, we shall surely find Him adequate even if we’re not.
R stands for REGROUPING. Don’t be afraid to evaluate what you’ve started quite early on. “If a thing ain’t broke, don’t mend it,” the saying goes! But on the other hand, if things aren’t working out, be brave enough to ask yourself some hard questions. Questions like, “If we buried this ministry would anyone come to the funeral!?”
T stands for THANKING. Thank God for His presence in your heart by His Spirit. He started lots of things from nothing, and He can give you some inside information on how to do the same if He sees you’re really serious about meeting the needs of a lost and hurting world.
So if you are an initiator yourself, make sure you are helping others who are not initiators get started. And if you are someone who knows you’re not a self-starter, why not look for someone who is and ask her to help you to get going!
In His Joy,
Just Between Us Magazine
Monday, February 12, 2018
Down through the years I have wrestled more with the fear of other Christians’ disapproval than with anything else, leading me to attempt to be all things to all people. Some people are so quick to “know it all” and tell others how they should be living the Christian life, ordering their family relationships, bringing up their children, and conducting their ministries that they forget Jesus told us not to judge – that we should cast out the plank in our own eye before we start scratching out the speck in our brother’s!
How often have I heard mature Christians waxing eloquent about clergy and missionary parents who “ruin” their children by neglect – by sending them off to boarding school or not spending any time with them. Now, I know some children of couples in full-time ministry don’t make it, but then some children of car salesmen and lawyers don’t make it either! I would want to know the dynamics of the relationship of a particular troubled family before I would even dare voice a suggestion as to what may have gone wrong.
Missionaries and ministry workers are ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances – called to do extraordinary tasks with very little help and less than adequate resources. By and large they do a wonderful job, but they would be much more effective if we who support them (and therefore think we have the inalienable right to criticize them) would pray more and try to think of practical ways to unload their boats for them once in a while! It is a very heavy burden to be told continually, “Your children will never make it – they will grow up to reject the Lord!” Sometimes I used to get the feeling that those giving us this “loving counsel” would almost be glad if that did happen to our kids – because then their opinions would be vindicated.
Even now, with our three children grown and in ministry, I have on occasion been told, “Well it was obviously the grace of God, despite what you did to them that brought them through!” Now undoubtedly there is a lot of truth in that; it was certainly by the grace of God that they turned out so well. But I have come to realize that no one does it all right – and no one does it all wrong, either. We mustn’t demand that all Christian families live according to this formula or that, but try and encourage each family to find out their formula from Him and fulfill it. The important thing is to please God first – then you’ll know what He wants you to do.
In His Joy,
Just Between Us Magazine
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
At one time or another we all experience stress. A practical formula I have used to handle stress is:
Stop – even if it causes you more stress than keeping going!
Think – through your stress-inducing ‘to do’ list. When can you take time out with God? Mark it on your calendar. Make it soon. Keep your appointment – 15 minutes will do.
Reflect – when you make it into your still point – on something peaceful, something pleasurable, something poignant, or something precious. Read Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Philippians 4:4,6,7 “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness and everything working together for good will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Empty your stress box of other people’s expectations – then – fill it with expectations of God’s company, compassion, and calm.
Sing a soul song or a calm quiet favorite hymn. Make it a prayer. A favorite of mine is:
“Drop thy still dew of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.”
Smile at God, yourself, and others (you can do this in your mind). Then smile at your stress (stress hates being smiled at) and go out in His strength to tackle the rest of the day!
Formulas can help, but only if they restore your focus. Make sure you are ‘full of the spirit,’ fixed on His Word, and focused on the Father. That will make the old stress Grinch run squealing away.
In His peace,
Just Between Us Magazine