WMU Blog

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).

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We say that, don’t we? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We sing it, too. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store.” What do we mean when we use this phrase? Are we referring to the décor and music and characters that fill our mantles, living rooms, and malls, and TVs during this time of the year? “We put up our tree, it sure is beginning to look like Christmas around here?” “We took the kids to the mall to see Santa. It sure is starting to feel like Christmas.”

Is it December snow that causes it to feel like Christmas? What if the only snow you get in your part of the world is the kind you sing about? If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, what did the first Christmas look like? How do we know it’s really beginning to look like Christmas? Because the days of the calendar are slipping by one by one until we reach the end of December? Certainly the first Christmas wasn’t filled with shopping malls and reindeer and mad scurrying with long lists of gifts to purchase and groceries to buy.

Over the Hills and Everywhere

With much anticipation—for the whole month of December—you have been preparing for Christmas day. You have trimmed trees, strung colorful lights, and hung stockings with care. You have baked delicious treats, mailed Christmas cards, wrestled crowded shopping malls to find the perfect presents, and attended multiple Christmas parties with coworkers, friends, and family. Perhaps you’ve even had some quiet moments to watch a favorite Christmas movie, wrapped up in front of a crackling fire and sipping a cup of hot cocoa!

Hopefully, you’ve had other opportunities as well to inwardly prepare for the real reason of the season—the coming of the Christ child into the world. Perhaps you have spent time reading Scripture, participating in Advent devotions, or turning to our Father in prayer.

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?

See a Need, Meet a Need

One size fits all. Not really. I have never been a “one size fits all” woman. We are all unique. Some are tall, some are small, some are thin, and some are not at all. So if “one size fits all” doesn’t work with our clothes, why do we think it would work with our missions efforts?

There are a lot of approaches to missions growth. But I don’t think that there is one magic approach that fits everyone. Here are a few that have worked in New Mexico.

Look for a need, and then find a solution for that need. We had a small Children in Action group that we wanted to grow. We noticed that many of the elementary students had to wait for older siblings to get out of sports practice to go home. So we changed the time of our CA group to that hour. Now years later, we have more than tripled the size of our original group.

Non-Food Treats

non-food treats

Christmas parties, goodie bags, and gift exchanges. This time of year gives us opportunities to give little treats to our preschoolers we teach in Mission Friends. What do you do if you have a preschooler with allergies? This can make all the difference in what we give and serve to preschoolers.

This year I have a preschooler who has severe allergies to food items, and we have to be very careful about what we offer to our Mission Friends. We do not want to single him out, so we serve all the preschoolers in our class the same snacks that he can have. The nature of his allergies is so severe that we always get prior approval from his mom for anything we serve.

So for Christmas when we want to give our preschoolers a special treat, what can we give? I started searching and making a list of non-food items for preschool teachers to give as treats. What other items can you add to the list?

  • Nativity ornament

  • stampers

  • fun drinking straws

  • small packages of play dough

  • silly sunglasses

  • finger puppets

  • shoelace charms

My Own Little World

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost walked into someone or tripped on a sidewalk because I was looking down at my phone. In fact, there have been multiple days where I’ve walked across campus to get to class in a crowd of people, but I didn’t see any of them because I was so fixated on my phone or lost in my own thoughts.

Even though my eyes were open, I failed to see others.

Between texting friends and scrolling through Instagram, I get so caught up in my own little world and become oblivious to the one around me. With my head down, I let my world consist of my schedule, my friends, and my interests, with very little time for anything else.

But how can I live on mission for Christ when I can’t even see the ones He’s called me to serve? How can God open my eyes to the needs of the world if I refuse to look up from my own?

The Unsuspecting Father

The Christmas season is full of amazing stories. Each year, we roll out the old favorites to tell and retell in growing anticipation of the Big Day. But of these Christmas favorites there is one story which always seems to leave me scratching my head in wonder year after year.

Through the Gospel of Matthew, we receive a unique recollection of the Christmas story through the eyes of an unsuspecting father. Joseph was a regular guy. Part of a family tree with roots firmly planted in his native soil, he had his own feet firmly planted on the ground. Joseph must have brought in a dependable income from his talents as a craftsman given his status as an expectant groom. Sturdy, stable, dependable, grounded. These are a few words I would use to describe the man about to take Mary as his bride.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Seeing the World Around Us

When my husband first became a pastor, we attended a language ministries conference. I was overwhelmed with the love I witnessed
among the people in that meeting. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV). God had sent the world to our doorstep, and to every nation He had given special people to love them and minister to them here in the United States.

Today we are automatically positioned to see the world around us—at grocery stores, medical offices, restaurants, the post office, theaters, and schools. Do you see them—those new to the country, struggling with the language, trying to fit into a foreign culture? They say loneliness is one of their biggest problems. They are waiting and watching for a friendly face that cares about them as a person.

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