Adults

Seek with All Your Heart

We have been thinking a lot about time this month—managing time and investing time in relationships. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I wonder: Really? Is there really time for everything we need to do and everything God wants us to do? I don’t know about you, but for me it is a huge challenge!

OK, but if it comes from God’s Word, then we know it’s true, right? But how? Psalm 139:16 says God has our days planned. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are works prepared in advance for us to do. In Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV), God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” He continues to say that with these plans in place, “then you will call on me and come and pray to me. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Beautiful.

Maybe the amazing fact that God knows us and that He has plans for our days and our time are what can bring us to know Him more—not simply to know His plans but to know Him. Maybe we can learn how to seek not only answers for our questions but also Him.

Habitat for Humanity: Every House Is Built by Someone

“This isn’t a story about doing good,” Joyce Daugherty said of volunteering, along with husband Bob, with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). “This is really an account of our willingness to be available. It is about living by faith.”

It all started while visiting their daughter at Baylor University in Texas, where they saw a house being built on a flatbed truck. Their daughter said the students were building it in their spare time for HFH.

HFH was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller after visiting Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia. During their stay, the Fullers and Jordan developed the concept of “partnership housing,” where those needing housing would work alongside volunteers to build simple but decent housing, and in 1976, HFH was born. Since then, 6.8 million people have found stability with “safe, decent and affordable shelter.”

Breaking Down Walls and Building Relationships

A circle of friends surrounds Melissa* and lays hands on her shoulders as they pray for her healing from breast cancer. Deborah squeezes Melissa’s arm in encouragement and to remind Melissa that she’s not alone.

Melissa and her family attend Harvest Church at Anthem, which Deborah Bishop and her husband, Mike, planted in Florence, Arizona. She had not been attending the church for very long before she received the cancer diagnosis.

“Melissa has said more than once how thankful she and her family are that God brought them to our church because of the love and support they have received,” said Deborah, a North American Mission Board church planter. “They love hearing the Word of God preached each week and she says that it always speaks to her and her family.”

Recently Melissa’s cancer went into remission.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Garth and Patty Leno

On February 10, The Gathering Windsor helped some very special members of its community make lifetime memories when the church hosted Night to Shine, a prom night experience for people with special needs.

Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is centered on God’s love, which made it an ideal outreach event for The Gathering, whose mission is to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a Facebook post, Pastor Garth Leno wrote that the church was “praying that God [would] empower our planning team to create an unforgettable event that will make every participant feel like a King or a Queen for the night.”

The event held special meaning for Leno and his wife, Patty, as their 30-year-old daughter, Jamie, attended Night to Shine—her first prom. The event was a significant opportunity for the church as well, Leno said.

Obedience over Familiarity

As I write this, it is Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in my room listening to Christmas music and have just finished wrapping my last presents. This sounds quite normal, right? It is…almost.

Four years ago, I left my home and all things familiar and moved literally halfway around the world to live in a place I had never been before. I spent two years living and working in a somewhat difficult place to live for the sake of the gospel.

More recently, I have done this on a more permanent basis, for I am here to stay for the foreseeable future, Lord willing. It’s a new place and almost just as different from my previous country as it is from my home country. But this is where the Lord has sent me, and I want to be obedient. So here I am.

Many others have gone before me and have had to endure much harder circumstances than me. And, Lord willing, many others will continue to leave their homes, families, and all things familiar for the sake of Christ our Savior, the One Who left heaven—the best of everything—for our sakes.

A New Kind of Confidence

Exactly two years ago I joined a new small group—a “missional community.” I was somewhat uneasy jumping into the experience. I had just begun my first semester of graduate school while working a full-time job, and I was tired all the time. However, my boyfriend (my now husband . . . so this story ends well!) invited me to join this like-minded group of college students and young adults. I might not have walked into it with a humble heart, but I certainly ended with a wider, more urgent perspective.

One of the main ideas behind the group was to learn how to share our faith more effectively and hold one another accountable to do so. We met formally once a week, but challenged each other to pray together purposefully and spend at least two hours each week with the lost. While I was not totally new to some of the evangelistic tools or concepts, I was cut open freshly by the passion for the lost in my group’s prayers.

Overcome Fear with Prayer

scary street

My daughter’s gym is in an area where crimes occur regularly. Parents are careful not to leave valuables visible in our cars, and we are cautious about walking outside alone especially after dark. In our first months at the gym, I was often fearful if I had to park too far away from the front door.

This same area is one where Diane Smith spends many of her days. Diane is an evangelism catalyst with the North American Mission Board. Her mission is to share the love of Jesus with the people in this community, regardless of their economic, racial, or religious status.

Diane holds Bible classes for local children each week, passes out popsicles in the park during the summer, and works with the homeless. Her ministry works daily to help the hurting in this community. Diane does not let fear overcome her passion for Jesus.

After hearing Diane speak about her work, I knew I needed a change of attitude. Instead of hurrying into the gym each evening, I began to spend the first few minutes praying for the community and the people who live near the gym. The words of John 14:27 guide me: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (KJV).

Get Creative to Focus on WMU

Focus on WMU week provides an annual opportunity to remind your church of the role WMU plays in the church’s missions efforts and to recognize church leaders and WMU members who are making those efforts happen.

This year, increase awareness of WMU in your church by highlighting missions activities from the past year. Include weekly ministries as well as events and trips. Here are some easy ideas you can use to engage more age groups in Focus on WMU week.

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

What’s your biggest fear? Is it spiders? Snakes? Speaking in public? Loneliness? Rejection? We tend to think of the “easy” fears first, like animals or insects, but when we get deeper, it gets uncomfortable. I’ll just be honest. I am afraid to fail. I love to do the right thing and get it just perfect, but sometimes I don’t let myself do something because I am afraid I will totally botch it up.

I’ve shared a little bit about my 20-month-old, Brady, and the fact that I’m due any day now with my little girl, Sophie. I’d be lying if I said the fact that my children will be this close together doesn’t make me more than slightly nervous. For starters, Brady and I are BFFs. I know that a lot of moms love their babies, but I’m serious, y’all—I laugh real live adult laughs at this child. The idea that I might miss one single thing that he does terrifies me and also makes me really sad. I love watching him learn about the world and show off all of his new skills.

One Step at a Time

In one family photo, Dave is holding a 2-year-old girl. In another, a 4-year-old boy. In yet another, three children stand with Dave and his wife, Kara. Each photo represents a step in the journey Dave and Kara have been on since they became foster parents.

When Kara first mentioned foster parenting, Dave was uncertain. Could he love a child coping with unimaginable emotional or physical pain? How would he respond in love to the biological parents of these children? Would he be able to pour his heart into a child and then say goodbye?

Saying yes to God’s call on his life to become a foster dad required a huge leap of faith for Dave, but the rewards of trying something new for the sake of the Gospel have been great.

In his book Faith & Foster Care: How We Impact God's Kingdom, Dr. John DeGarmo emphasizes the need for foster parents who are willing to put feet to their faith and love the estimated 400,000 children who are in the foster care system. Who better than followers of Jesus to teach these children that God knows and loves them?

What is God calling you to do for the sake of the Gospel? What’s holding you back?  

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