WMU Blog

Unconditional

 One big slip.

That’s what I was always waiting for—that one moment when I would slip up and it would be too major for a recovery.

God would look down on me in disdain and walk out the door. 

Deep places within my heart have believed this for years. I always wondered if my tenacious heart would eventually exhaust God and He would call it quits.

I built cadences of work and production into my spirituality in order to prove to God my loyalty and hopefully earn His love.

I knew the gospel. I had heard it my entire life, but it took being transplanted to the Middle East to learn unconditional love.

I had lived my life under the “A student” mentality. Hard work eventually pays off and everything should or at least could receive a grade. 

Rules set before me from a young age became my benchmark for affection. I believed in the pit of my soul that love is only earned.

Until God took me to the end of my effort, to a distant land where I no longer knew the measures of success. He took me out of the realms of a grade to tell me He loved me. 

Unconditionally.

Keep Knocking

It’s easy to pray for wisdom during a test, courage for a job interview, or safety while traveling home. We’re confident that God can answer those prayers. More than that, the answer to the prayer (or the result of the situation) is coming soon. You pass the test, don’t get the job, or arrive safely at home.

However, praying for people can be different, especially people you don’t like or agree with. I’m ashamed to admit that I have thought, “Is it really worth praying for them? They’re never going to change.” Even though I may not feel like praying for someone, I have to realize that I don’t act upon my feelings. I act in obedience to God’s Word.

In Luke 11:5–8, Jesus tells a story about a man whose friend showed up at his house at midnight. The man had no food to offer the traveler, so he ran to another friend, banged on the door, and asked for three loaves of bread. The supposed “friend” answered, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything” (Luke 11:7 NIV).

Loving Her

Most think that just because we are missionaries we must all get along. Somehow when we go under that occupation label, all of our humanness leaves us. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's simply not true.

We simply wouldn't have been real life friends, our personalities didn't mix well; these were actually things we talked about, joked over, and had a few laughs in between. We knew that a deep friendship would have never happened in normal circumstances. However, we found ourselves thousands of miles from our home culture and in a place where few foreigners lived. We were about to spend lots of time together.

Weekly (and hourly if I knew we were about to see each other), I'd pray for common ground. I'd pray for His love to overpower any petty things I felt when spending time with her. I wanted to love her and I wanted her to love me. Slowly, the Lord built a friendship based on Him. He was our common ground. He had given us both a love for this place that we now called home. He had created our personalities, which means He knew how different we were. He knew that we'd be together thousands of miles away from our friends and family. He knew we'd struggle.

Let’s Get Together

Does your myMISSION group ever get together with the other women’s missions groups in your church? How do you feel about younger and older women doing missions projects together and celebrating missions milestones? Is there value to being with women of all ages? Here’s how one young woman feels about this:

“I love intergenerational groups. I think there needs to be understanding on both sides for them to be successful. Younger women have so much to learn from other generations. I know that when I raise children the world around me will be totally different than it was for my parents when they raised my sister and me in the 80s and 90s. However, it was totally different for them than it was for their parents when they were being raised in the 50s and 60s.

“The world around us changes, principles don't. I will still need advice and wisdom on how to pray for my children, teach my children biblical discipline, and how to be a good wife and mom. I want to surround myself with women who I see that have done that well (which, for me, luckily includes my mom).

Praying for Those We Don’t Want to Pray For

Not long ago, my son came home from school and told me that a little girl in his class called him a cuss word at lunch. We talked about how to show her kindness even when she said mean things. I also told him to tell me if it happened again and I would talk to his teacher. What really amazed him, however, was when I prayed for the little girl. We later found out that she has a parent in prison and has been going through a difficult time.

Prayer is important, even when it is for someone we don’t get along with or agree with. It asks God to intervene in the person’s life or in a situation and often changes our attitude toward the person.

Who in your life do you need to pray for today? A boss who is hard to work for? A neighbor who stirs up trouble? A co-worker who doesn’t do his or her fair share of the work? A friend who has gossiped about you? A politician whose political views you do not agree with?

Start praying today and see how God changes lives, situations, and your heart. By the way, the little girl hasn’t called my son a bad name again!

Passport Not Needed

The International Mission Study is always an eye-opener as to what is actually going on and where God is at work around the world. Through this focused study, our church members can travel around the world without having a passport or getting those painful and expensive shots!

In past years, our church held a special event where the study was taught and a covered-dish meal, with foods from the country being studied, was served. Other years, we used the study as our mission study during the November monthly Women on Mission®meetings. In both cases, we decorated the room and tables to carry through the theme of the study.

One year, we decided on a different approach. As associational WMU director, I invited the director of missions to team-teach the mission study with me. Special invitations were mailed to pastors of churches in the association telling them the theme of the study and the time frame needed for presenting the study.

Praying for the Difficult

“I failed the parallel parking,” my daughter sobbed.

She had practiced on those poles day after day.

But what’s done is done. We rescheduled her test.

Walking out, I noticed that the parallel parking poles had been moved. No wonder she failed. I flagged the instructor down and explained the problem. She displayed no sympathy.

I began to dislike her very much. After hearing her explanation, I said, “That’s a shame.”

When hurt creeps in,

walk through prayer. I prayed for the instructor and the situation, mostly asking that I wouldn’t have to face her again when my daughter retested.
watch out for pride. I realized the instructor was right. My daughter should have been able to parallel park regardless of where the poles were positioned.
wait for peace. The day of retesting, the instructor saw me. “How are you?” she asked sympathetically with a smile, as though I were her best friend. “Much better,” I said. We talked and laughed together. I thanked God for enabling me to walk away with peace.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Brew a Cup of Real Love

Woman holds a cup of coffee

Have you ever tried to make coffee without coffee?

Probably not. The idea is clearly impossible, but I have often wished that I could do such a thing. Take a Monday morning, when you roll out of bed and stumble towards the coffee maker, only to realize that your precious bag of dark-roast coffee is empty. You want to make coffee. You have the equipment to make coffee. But you can’t actually produce a cup of coffee without the coffee itself.

In the same way, we can’t produce unconditional love for others on our own; we have to start with the unconditional love of Christ. First John 4:7–21 is filled with insights about loving God and loving others. Verse 7 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” (NIV). Love doesn’t come from our desire to please others or even to do the right thing. It comes from God.

Secondly, verse 10 shows us that God’s love is unconditional. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (NIV). We were sinners, completely undeserving of God’s love and mercy, but God loved us anyway.

Creating Connections in Denver

Ben and Lynley Mandrell have worked tirelessly to plant Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Since Storyline’s launch in February 2015, the church has baptized nearly 40 people. Mr. Mandrell says that the church has averaged 450 people in attendance on Sunday mornings. Of those 450 people, about 125 are children. The church has already had to move from its first location to a local high school. Mr. Mandrell shares, “We are praying for God to give us opportunities to bless teachers and staff at the high school in order to build community and relationships with those at the school.”

Pray for the Mandrells to receive opportunities in their community to create relationships and connections with those who need to hear the gospel.

The Mandrells enjoy building relationships with the people of their community. They enjoy inviting people into their home for dinner. They enjoy learning about others’ life stories. They enjoy exposing their children to diverse cultures. As they develop relationships and build the trust of people in their community, they remain open to opportunities to tell people why they have placed their hope and trust in Jesus.

Fully Nourished

Global Hunger Relief Badge

During the month of October, Southern Baptists focused on Global Hunger Relief and ways to respond to food insecurities of millions of people all around the world. One hundred percent of all gifts made to Global Hunger Relief go directly to help meet some of these hunger needs. As physical needs are met through hunger relief ministries, something even greater happens: spiritual needs are also met as thousands come to know the love of Jesus.

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