WMU Blog

His Schedule

Reading the church newsletter, Brenda sighed. In addition to the usual activities, a baby shower, a workday, a preview of the upcoming Easter music, and a new ladies’ Bible study were scheduled.

“Lord, with work and family responsibilities, how can I do all this?” she moaned. Gently, she sensed the Lord saying, “Let me, not the church calendar, plan your schedule.”

Brenda had been considering a local service project that could use her skills and provide interaction with unbelievers. Realizing God was leading her to revamp her schedule, she decided to bow out of choir, skip the workday, and forgo the Bible study.

When she received some critical remarks for lessening her church involvement, she lovingly explained her actions. With freed-up time, she began kingdom-building relationships in her community.

By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

 

Making the Most of Your Students' Time

In some parts of the country we are finally beginning to see the first light of spring. Winter hasn’t been easy for many folks as record-breaking snow falls have blanketed the country. In the last few days I’ve had friends posting pictures on Facebook of their bare feet walking in the sand and of daffodils that have finally popped up above the ground. It’s nice to know warmer days are on their way.

With the coming of warmer days spring break is already on the minds of many—teachers and students alike. It’s the first real break since Christmas. And sometimes by the time it arrives we are limping along in desperate need of some down time.

For some folks, spring break is a time for family vacations to tropical places or maybe the last effort to enjoy the winter weather by going snow skiing. However, for most, it’s a few days to sleep late, read a book, hang out with friends, etc.

As leaders in student ministry and missions, how can you help your students make the most of the time they have on spring break?

God Speaks to Us in the Quiet

Have you ever noticed that you hear a lot of sounds at night that you don’t usually hear during the day? Maybe it’s a dog barking, a quiet clock ticking, or even the wood in your home making clicks and pops as it settles. The Bible tells us that when Samuel was a young boy, God spoke to him one night as he was lying in bed. Samuel did not know it was God at first, but once he figured it out, he responded, “Speak. I’m listening.” Then God gave him a message. For the rest of Samuel’s life, God continued to speak to him in this way.

God speaks to us, too, but we often have to settle down and listen so that we can understand His message. This is one reason it is so important to make time to spend in prayer with God. When nothing else can distract us and we can listen carefully, God can speak to us the best. Samuel knew this well.

Do you want to find out what God has in store for you? Just start listening!

Have children practice these exercises with a friend to see just how much they can hear when they are focused. Give these instructions:

Impressions from Guatemala

Joye with kids

The people and place of Guatemala have a special place in my heart after going to Guatemala on a missions trip several years ago. I served with Orphan’s Heart at the Child Malnutrition Center in central Guatemala. Orphan’s Heart is a ministry of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. Our missions team was made up of WMU members from across Florida, and I was so blessed to join this team for an incredible week of giving care to about 100 preschoolers under the age of 5 years. We served alongside their caregivers in playing, singing, feeding, bathing, and dressing the preschoolers throughout the day. During the week, I spent most of my days with the preschoolers who were just learning to walk. I spent part of a day with the infants, and another part day with the 3–4 year olds.

Ukuleles, Gratitude, and the Presence of God

There are certainly typical Thanksgiving week activities—traveling to visit family members, making pies ahead of time and putting them in the freezer, cleaning the house in preparation for company, and making gratitude trees, jars, leaves, banners, and so on—as a way to visibly express our thankfulness. And then there are the not-so-typical Thanksgiving-week activities. Like the ukulele concert I attended last night, for instance.

A friend of mine plays the ukulele and has taken group lessons the past couple of years. Each November the group has offered a concert. Several of us have gone to support our ukulele-playing friend, and to enjoy the concert of a group of 10–12 ukulele players. Not only do they play in concert, but they play fun, popular songs, including some oldies. Audience members are given lyrics sheets and invited to sing along. And to my surprise, the audience has enthusiastically participated in these concert experiences.

Be Real!

Genuine, bona fide, true. . . all key ingredients to relationships that matter. Being real with people can help us earn the opportunity to share the Gospel. So, how do we cultivate authenticity with those around us?

*Start with honesty. Find common ground without pretending to be something you’re not. Share strengths and struggles with humility, at appropriate times.

*Accept others. Refrain from judging people when they share things happening in their lives. Even if it’s not something you’ve encountered, try to acknowledge their feelings. When you need to share a differing opinion, respect their right to make their own decisions.

*Be trustworthy. Do what you say you’ll do. Make every effort to align your words with your actions. Keep confidences! Let others know if they confide in you, you will not share the information with others without permission (even disguised as a well-meaning prayer request.)

Don’t Follow Your Heart

“So, where are you going to college?”

“What’s your major?”

“What kind of job are you looking for?”

“Graduate school on your mind?”

“Are you going to marry him?”

“Where will you live?”

“So, do you have a five-year plan yet?”

I’ve been asked all of these questions—some more than a few times—over the course of the last eight years. Maybe they sound eerily familiar to you. Maybe you remember the panicky feeling clouding those questions more than the people who asked them. Maybe you’re desperate to answer a few of them right now.

I teach high school students who are just on the cusp of the top of that question list. They tend to answer questions with feelings, a follow-your-heart approach.

“I just felt at home on that college tour.”

“We have been going out for a year. I just feel like he’s the one.”

“I don’t feel important. I feel like I should be doing something different.”

Self-Editing and the Struggle for Authenticity

I’m a peer writing tutor at my university. Students will come to the writing center for feedback about papers, essays, and even the occasional creative writing piece. I love this job . . . every day at work is a new one with new challenges and individuals. I love people, I love words, and I love being able to help.

Sometimes, however, this impulse to edit creeps its way into the rest of my life. I am often tempted to look at others and their actions, and, in the same way that I would correct their grammar, I highlight their poor choices and suggest what changes they should make. This “life editing” is not new and not something that is unique to me. It is a daily struggle of which I am acutely aware.

Being Authentic—OK, but How?

Being authentic has become somewhat trendy. What do we mean by authentic? What is it about that word that draws our attention? In our world of impersonal social media and fake news, perhaps we sense the need for something we can trust—something deeper in our relationships.

In an article for Christianity Today called “Keeping it Real: The Truth about Authenticity,” author Megan Hill shares that authenticity is transparency, truth-telling about all areas of life. She offers five principles for being an authentic Christian:

• Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.
• Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.
• Authenticity seeks the good of the body of Christ.
• Authenticity honors wisdom.
• Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Her thoughts resonate with me, especially about pointing ahead to a perfected future. In the past, I feel like I have really tried being authentic with mixed results. It seems that the more I try to be authentic with people, the more confusing it can become.

Questions about Develop Online Training

Joye Smith

The part I like best about our online Develop training courses is that I get to interact with you, the Mission Friends® leaders. I so enjoy the correspondence back and forth with each leader who has taken one of the preschool Develop courses. Most of the leaders I have never met in person, but I feel like I know them as they go through the courses. Even though the training is online, that does not mean that it is impersonal. This has been the most pleasant surprise for me as we developed the online courses to include contact between the course participant and Mission Friends consultant.

In thinking about the preschool Develop courses, I thought I would answer a few questions that I am asked about the online training.

  • What is included in the preschool Develop courses? Each of the preschool courses include several short instructional videos, handouts, and interactive assignments.

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