Fear Not! Finding Faith in the Stress of Christmas Tuesday Week 1

Answer Your Call

I have a confession to make. If my phone rings & I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer. I listen to the message right away if one is left & I return calls quickly. And I do answer the phone if I know the person calling. I don’t feel compelled to answer the phone when I don’t know the caller.

Let me tell you though. If caller ID told me God was calling, I would answer right away! Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you be curious to know why God was calling, what He wanted? Wouldn’t you answer right away?

Now I know how silly this sounds! God doesn’t use cell phones to call us. I just want you to consider for a moment how quickly you would respond if there was a chance,even a slim one, that God might use a cell phone to contact you. I think most people would quickly answer even just to satisfy their curiosity.

Yet many of us hit “Decline” button when God calls us. And believe me, He does call each & every one of us that believes!

The quote on the graphic above is taken from the story of Samuel being called by God. Samuel lived with Eli, the high priest. Samuel’s mother, Hannah gave her son to Eli to be trained in service to the Lord. Hannah had promised her son to the Lord if the Lord would only bless the childless woman with a son. When the Lord blessed her with a son, Hannah kept her end of the bargain, taking Samuel to Eli to stay once Samuel was old enough.

Eli had 2 sons that were also priests. Scripture tells us the sons were “scoundrels.” The Lord was not willing to let scoundrels take over the ministry of Eli. Plus, the Lord was very upset with Eli because he did not correct his sons. So, the Lord called Samuel.

One night, Samuel heard a voice call his name. Naturally, he assumed Eli was calling him. Yet when he went to Eli, the old man said he had not called. This happened a few more times. Finally, Eli told Samuel it must be the Lord calling his name. When it happens again,say, “Here I am,Lord!” And that’s just what Samuel did! What a difference that made in the life of Samuel! And in the lives of Eli & his sons!

How do you respond when God calls you? I know,you’re looking at the screen & telling me, “God never called or calls me! Why would He call ME?”

If you go to the passage in 1 Samuel, you’ll notice Samuel did not stand in Eli’s room arguing aboutwhether or to the Lord would call HIM! He simply accepted what Eli said & went back to his room to await the Lord’s next call. Samuel didn’t even doubt the fact the Lord would contact him again. What faith!

We all need to be open to God’s call on our lives. As Jesus said, the harvest is great & the labo

Goals, Not Resolutions

I really don’t like resolutions. Well, it’s not that I don’t LIKE them. I just don’t think they work. They remind me of my college days. As soon as I told myself that I needed to pull an all-nighter, I became incredibly tired & needed to go to bed. I found those words worked wonders those few times I couldn’t sleep! Anyway, there’s something about resolutions that make them almost impossible to keep. Perhaps it has to do with they open timeframe. A resolution implies an ongoing process with absolutely NO END! It just stretches on forever & ever! Sigh!

Rather than making a resolution, I like to set goals. Goals usually have a specific destination built in. So, rather than creating a resolution to eat healthier, I would rather set a goal to give up soda for a week. Or set a goal to include more fruits & vegetables in my diet, naming a specific number for each day. Goals seem more user friendly.

Throughout January, I plan to take about setting goal for the new year. However, this week, I want to talk to you about making a few resolutions. I know, I just went on & on about my dislike resolutions & now I want you to make a few. Hmmm. Ok, let me explain.

Sometime there are goals we set that are ongoing & somewhat vague. The 3 resolutions I am suggesting this week are not necessarily vague but they are questions you need to consider over time. These questions are:

  1. Am I called by God;
  2. How can I serve God;
  3. Am I called to by God to lead.

Let’s set these resolutions & then we c

Give Teach Train: 3 Steps to Help Women Grow

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Step 2: Teach

Give a woman a fish, you feed her for a day. Teach her to fish & you feed her for a lifetime. In the first post of this series, I explained why we must sometimes give women fish, sometimes for many days, before we are able to teach them to fish for themselves. Some women are so unsure of themselves, so beaten up emotionally, mentally, spiritually that they lack the strength & confidence to “fish” for themselves. If we try to force them to do it themselves before they are ready, we may do more damage, weakening their already fragile self esteem in the process. Sometimes, it only takes a bit of time to help a woman see her worth, her abilities before you are able to teach her ways to grow even more. Unfortunately with some women, it may take time to help her grow strong enough to move on to the next step. Patience is always the key.

Given time, though, a woman will become strong enough for you to teach her how to fish. Let me give you an example: over the years, I have taught many Bible studies for women that were either new to the Church or had simply never read the Bible. In the beginning, I know I must go slowly, explaining everything to them so they don’t become lost or confused. I never want anyone in a class struggling to understand what was being said in verse 5 while we are now discussing verse 8! When we begin, I often need to explain how the Bible is laid out, Old Testament/New Testament & what the difference is between the two. I talk about the Gospels & their message. We spend time on basics with them asking questions. If you are an experienced student of Scripture, you might be stunned that a person wouldn’t know these things. However, I would never expect a first year math student to open a calculus book the first day & begin discussing equations! I would never hand a person a book in a different language & expect them to understand what it says! I have found I must give them the fish each time, strengthening them until they are able to study on their own.

My goal is to help them develop a hunger for Scripture so they begin studying it on their own. They may still have basic questions, may still need help but we all need to continue our learning in any area if we are to continue to grow.

We can’t simply teach a woman to fish & then walk away, regardless the area of study. We must continue to help her with the learning process, ready to answer questions when necessary. And helping her to stretch herself so she continues to grow.

As women, we need to support & challenge one another. We need to see who needs to be fed & who needs to be taught. And we need to be ready to step in to help when help is needed. When we work to do this, we are ready to move on to Step #3 & that is when things get very exciting!

 

Give Teach Train: 3 Steps to Help Women Grow

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Step 1: Give

They say if you give a woman a fish, you feed her for a day. If you teach her to fish, you feed her for a lifetime. At Simple Joy, we go a step farther. If you train to teach others how to fish, you feed the world. However, you must often give her a fish before you proceed.

I agree. Feeding a woman day after day does nothing to help her grow in the long run. Unfortunately, some women (myself included at times in my life) are in such a weakened condition that we must be fed first. We must regain our strength before we are in any shape to be taught anything.

Scripture tells us that we must feed new believers mother’s milk before they can move on to solid food. Like babies, they must begin with simple food, then move on to something more substantial. Babies need to grow, they need to become stronger & what they are fed helps move this process along.

The Scripture verse is telling us that we need to begin slowly with someone who is just beginning the process. We need to feed them simple information, rather than overwhelming them right off. We also must see to their immediate needs before we begin teaching them anything.

Soup kitchens & other organizations that feed the homeless & hungry often share a faith-based message with those that come to eat. I think it’s interesting that they wait to begin preaching until people have eaten. They know people can’t focus on your message when they are hungry. So many women are starving today. Many feel overwhelmed. They feel hopeless. They think they have no value. Too many are literally starving. Before we can teach them to fish, we must understand what emotional, physical or spiritual hunger is starving them & see to those needs first. Once we have moved them from “mother’s milk” to “solid food” once we have strengthened them enough, THEN we can begin teaching them to fish. However, as long as they are hungry, we are simply wasting everyone’s time & possibly doing even more damage.

Our first step must be helping women regain their strength emotionally & spiritually. We must help them recognize their worth, build their confidence, boost their self esteem. We must strengthen them deep within their core so there is a solid foundation on which to build. Only then can we move on to teaching them ways to sustain themselves for life!

Offer women the food they need & watch them grow in ways you never thought possible!

Called to Lead Series: Delegation Part 2

In the last post, I wanted you to understand why you shouldn’t do it yourself. You CAN help out but as the leader, your job it to oversee the work being done, offering encouragement & guidance. In this post, I’m going to tell you something you may not believe & then appear to thoroughly contradict myself!

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NEVER ASK for Volunteers

This doesn’t mean you won’t NEED volunteers. However, the least effective way of recruiting help for your group or event is by making a public plea for volunteers.

We’ve all seen it. Sitting in church on Sunday morning when some poor shlub has to stand in front of the congregation to ask for help. Sometimes, they are almost on the knees pleading for someone, anyone to volunteer. Why doesn’t this work?

First, EVERYBODY is busy. They are all sitting there listing the things they have to do that prevent them from helping out.

Second, everybody assumes someone else will do it.

Finally, people like to be asked! The big fundraiser at my church is an event I had led for the last 4 years. When the new women’s ministry was created, I turned the event over to them. I began hearing there were problems within the group & it looked like the fundraiser would be cancelled. You might wonder why I didn’t volunteer to help out. Simple! No one asked me. Now, this isn’t a matter of hurt feelings or being a mean. When no one asked, I assumed they had a different way they wanted to do things. A new group was in charge. I stepped back & let them run it the way they saw fit.

People like to be asked! It shows them you specifically want them to help do a certain task. It shows you feel they have the qualifications to handle the job. It also allows you to overcome any objections they may have. “Yes, everyone is very busy. That’s why we are dividing the event up into smaller parts so no one is overwhelmed by a large time commitment!” Ask them face to face & your level of success increases greatly!

A final note: Henrietta Mears, late director of Christian Education at Hollywood Presbyterian Church & founder of Gospel Light Publishing always advised against a pulpit call for volunteers. She noted this seemed to be the most popular way to recruit Sunday School teachers. Even back when she was running a very large Sunday School that had multiple classrooms for each grade, she never did a pulpit request for teachers. She felt this often attracted the wrong people to the job. Not that you would get terrible people, just people with their own agendas. Often, individuals volunteer to oversee something in an organization because they  believe THEY can run it better. “I know how this should be done & this is my chance to show them how they SHOULD be doing it!” This brings on more headaches than it cures. You may also have situations where people volunteer to help because the volunteering is what gives them the warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, they have no aptitude when it comes to follow through. Determine what needs to be done, the skills needed to do, then ask people qualified to do the job. Putting in time at the beginning saves you time, & pain, later!

How do YOU ask people to help with an event? What problems have you had when you call for volunteers?

Called to Lead Series: Delegation Part 1

Congratulations! You have been asked to lead your organization. Or you volunteered to chair your group’s fundraiser or special event. Whatever it might be, you find yourself in a leadership position, perhaps for the first time. You want everything to go great. After all, you ARE in charge!

True but in order to have a great year at the head of an organization or a successful event, you must rely on other people, particularly volunteers. And this is where many first time (or even long time) leaders run into trouble! Not a problem! Jean Ann is here to help you avoid a few of the pitfalls that have sabotaged many a leader! And the easiest way to do this is by showing you 6 things you should NEVER, EVER do! I’m breaking this down into 6 parts so you can comment or ask questions specific to each No No! Ready? Let’s Begin!

 

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NEVER Do It Yourself

 

This does not mean you shouldn’t do any of the work yourself. However, it has been my experience that new leaders often have problems recruiting help so they end up doing much of the work themselves. This is a very, very bad idea!

I recently attended a planning meeting for a large fundraiser being held at my church. One of the chairwomen from the women’s ministry was chairing the meeting. As the discussion went on, I realized she wasn’t chairing the meeting as the head of the women’s group. She was chairing it as the person in charge of the event. I finally asked her outright who was chairing the event. “I am,” she told me. Seems no one else would volunteer to do it.

This is a problem. The chair of an organization must be able to focus on multiple elements of the organization. If she must also chair one of the major activities of the group, it diverts her focus from the whole. The best way I can put it is this: when the first chair in the brass section of the orchestra calls in sick, the conductor never takes their place. The conductor’s job is to oversee the whole. Taking an active role in a part of that whole weakens their ability to smoothly orchestrate the group. The same is true when you are chairing an event. You must be able to focus on the whole by not getting caught up in a part.

One word of warning: One of the greatest pitfalls of doing it yourself is finding volunteers to do other tasks. Once members see you are willing to take over anything left undone, you may find yourself doing it ALL!

Social Media & Small Groups Part 1

Sharing Your Small Group with Social Media

Congratulations! You’ve decided to to create a small group. You invite a few friends to join you but you want more. Or perhaps over time, you feel it’s time to shake things up with some new people. Or perhaps your group simply wants to share your group activities with other small groups in your area or other groups in the Gathering Hearts network. How do you accomplish your goals? Social Media of course!

Unfortunately, social media can be very broad & very confusing. Which site do you use for all the different activities you want to share? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Instagram? Do you really need all of them? Won’t one or two work for all your needs? Yes! I believe it’s better to begin simply on one or two sites, posting regularly on both of them than to jump into four of them & only post sporadically because you feel overwhelmed. Starting small also helps you build you audience & learn how to effectively use them before adding one or two more sites.

In this series, I’m going to discuss the four sites I mentioned above: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest. I’m not a social media expert. I’m just like you. Over the years, I have used each of these sites to share information about my ministry. I’ve made plenty of mistakes & I am still learning ways to effectively use each site. I plan to share my thoughts, ideas & tips on social media. It would be great to have you share your tips with one another too!

In my next post, I am sharing tips & ideas on Twitter. If you only use one social media site to share your group, Twitter is the one!