Adult Team Blog

The Ox in the Ditch

My pastor tells the story of discovering the best over the better in a former church. Fairly new in the farming community, he arrived at 6:00 for evening services. He arrived, but no one else did. The building was empty at 5:45, 6:00 and even at 6:15. Discouraged, disgruntled and puzzled, he slowly started to his car. That’s when he saw the lights. Even a mile away on the flat country plains he could tell there were car lights, many car lights. Curious, he drove toward them.

What he found amazed him and then inspired him. Mr. Heiland’s fence was torn and his cows had gotten out. Some were on the road and others were grazing on the grass along the road. My pastor looked from one car to another and there he found his church. Every person he had expected to be at church was trying to help Mr. Heiland lead his cows back into their pasture.

The Art of Suffering

Suffering—is it a topic any of us are really comfortable with? I personally don’t like to think about it.

Jesus talked a lot about suffering and in Philippians 3:10, I am reminded “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings” (ESV). Really? Participate in suffering? Yet in this verse, suffering speaks to me as an avenue to know Christ better and refine me to be more like Him.

We all experience suffering in varying degrees at one time or another. David Crosby reminds us in his book Your Pain Is Changing You that we can choose how we respond to it. 

On a personal level, my most challenging experience with pain and suffering was my diagnosis and battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It took 6 months to diagnose and a lot of physical pain was experienced. Through God’s grace, I am now in remission.  However, the spiritual battle to stay focused on Christ and relinquish my will to His during the adversity was equally challenging.

Seek Out the Best

It’s January! Have you kept up your New Year’s resolution so far? A lot of people see the new year as the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, give up an old habit, or start a new one. According to my Internet searching, 25 percent of resolutions don’t make it the first week! Anybody been there? *Raises hand while drinking that caffeinated beverage* Some of the most popular resolutions last year were to lose weight, to quit smoking, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to get organized. I love that third one—enjoy life to the fullest!

But how exactly do you know if you’re enjoying life to the absolute fullness of its vast potential? What does that look like for each of us? For a lot of Christians, we may choose things that are better than other things, but we don’t necessarily choose what’s best for ourselves or for our relationship with Christ.

Best Challenges Better

Which door should I go through? The popular television show Let’s Make a Deal serves as a reminder that none of us know for sure what is behind the curtain or beyond the door. Often in living our lives for God, we find safety in just staying where we are. That may be in church, in a position of leadership, or simply showing up and doing what we’re asked. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with where we are. It’s better than doing nothing.

But living in the realm of better can blind us to the best. So what can we do?

1) Open our eyes to the range of possibilities available.

2) Prayerfully and honestly assess the better option and the best choice.

3) Do not be afraid to step out of our comfort zones. The best will always carry a little more risk. It may demand more from us than we are currently giving.

4) Trust God to support us in carrying out the best when better seems good enough.

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Networking Works

“My nephew has threatened suicide several times since returning from Afghanistan,” she said. “He seems so close to doing it. We’re constantly worried about him.” A total stranger from another town was telling me this when we were both getting our nails done. “I just wish I knew how to get him some help.”

Thanks to a group of churches (pastors and members), along with other interested community organizations in her town, I could direct her to a local pastor who was passionate about helping soldiers coming home with PTSD and suicide ideation. All over Arkansas communities and churches are coming together to be ready when the need arises.

In our state the local VA assists in forming these groups, but realistically, they can form without VA assistance. Representatives from churches, directors of non-profits, members of law enforcement, local business owners, and other interested parties meet monthly and discuss issues affecting returning veterans. They gather resources and put together guides to those resources.

Good . . . Better . . . Best . . .

We all need new starts from time to time. For me though, I’m trusting for God’s good, God’s better, God’s best.

In other words, I’m done planning my own life.

My plans are always less than His plans. His plans are beyond my imagination.

My plans are based on what I know now. God knows the future.

My plans are really my own desires. God’s desires are pure and all encompassing.

My plans might be for my good. God’s plans are for the good of all people.

My plans are just for now. God’s plans are eternal.

I’m limited. God is limitless. His good, His better, His best.

So how will I know?

God will always show up in my time with Him in the Word. He will lead me through prayer. And He will speak to me through the counsel of godly family and friends. He will orchestrate events, open doors and close them, and allow sickness and health. He will continue to change me into His likeness. As I continue to turn to Him in every area of my life, I can trust that He is in control, do the next thing, and just live free.

The Real Needs Around Me

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 NIV).

The second I opened the door to my modest, safe sedan I knew it was gone. My purse. Not just any purse—my beautiful, brown leather tote that held, in a sense, my entire life. While I was disappointed my daily “goods” were gone—extra pens, a flash drive, and my planner—I felt vulnerable knowing all of my legal identification was gone. My license, passport, Social Security card, and even my journal were all stolen.

I was in the process of getting updated cards and forms this year, so I had all of my valuable, personal information tucked away in my favorite purse.

“You should contact your credit card companies, Social Security, and report your stolen passport,” the police said. “But nine times out of ten, the person who did this was just looking for cash. The thief has probably never seen a passport before and wouldn’t know what to do with any of that information.”

Praying and Giving

Missionaries tell us that our prayers are the most important thing we can do for them. Opening my eyes to the world around me causes me to spend more time in prayer for missionaries and Christians around the world. WMU keeps us focused on them, where they minister, and the difficulties they encounter as they serve God.

As I communicate with missionaries through social media, I find myself drawn into their world by the stories and pictures of their people groups and their ministry. I am especially drawn to my brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted because they bear the name of Christ.

My family has designated the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® as our “Christmas Gift for Jesus” and no gift we give others compares to this gift. You might want to consider putting your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in an envelope this year, tie a red ribbon around it, and mark it “To: Jesus. From:_____.”

The Love in Us

In recent years, I think a lot of us have become increasingly aware of the world around us. I believe that’s because the world has been coming to us more and more. In years past, we had to step on a plane to encounter a large majority of the cultures in this world, but now we can simply step onto the sidewalk of our own neighborhoods. It’s really a beautiful thing.

It’s not always easy to see things from someone else’s perspective, but I think that is truly how we can become more aware of the world around us. That means actually getting out and talking to people who don’t look or think or act like you! As a mother, I can definitely say that I have not gone certain places when I was uncomfortable, and I’ve used my son as my excuse for not facing those fears. (I believe I read “perfect love drives out fear,” right?!)

Christ was all about unity and love throughout his ministry on earth. First John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (NIV).

On Mission in Jerusalem

In my church we are constantly seeking ways to be involved in missions. Our Director of Missions and other church leaders work together to provide activities for each month in our schools, nursing homes, hospice, shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, Thanksgiving and Christmas outreach to needy families, and associational missions. We also reach out to the military, veterans, police officers, and firefighters.

Our pastor selects an IMB missionary and a NAMB missionary for our focus each month. We learn about the missionaries’ work and where they are serving. Some women connect with them online and maintain lasting relationships. He also brings missionaries to speak at our church and encourages us to be missional in our community as well as around the world.

IMB and NAMB appoint and commission missionaries to serve in the United States and around the world, but God has appointed every one of us to serve in our church family and community. Are you on mission in your Jerusalem?

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