Monday, March 24, 2014

Christ-Directed Friendships

By Diane H.

What do we have to offer others as women who love Jesus? Many of us are busy women, either with jobs or with families. We look at our schedules and think, “There’s just no more time!” But really, who of us doesn’t want a friend? And who doesn’t want to be an encouragement to someone who just needs an ear, or advice, or to hear about what God has taught you along the way?

Often discipleship ministry just happens. It’s one of those things that develops, and you look up one day and realize – “God actually used me as His tool! How great is that?!” At other times, we have to be more purposeful and prayerfully seek someone to befriend – whether you are the one giving or the one receiving encouragement. That’s exactly what I would like to encourage you to do today.

When God gave the directive in Titus 2:4-5 for the older women to “encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored,” He wasn’t asking us to do anything that is unnatural to us! We ladies are relational beings! We love to be with others and interact and talk and learn from one another.

When I was newly married and then expecting my first child, I developed a friendship with a precious woman in our church. Joyce was a wife and mother of teenage boys, but most of all she loved Christ, and her love for Him was contagious. I remember camping out at her house for many afternoons and sitting on the stool at her kitchen bar to visit while she got dinner started. She would tell me what she was learning, and I would ask questions about marriage, about her Christian experience, about children, or about life in general. When Aaron was born, she and her husband were like surrogate grandparents to him because our parents lived so far away. Another way to describe our relationship could be a “Christ-directed friendship.”

For those of you who hear the term “mentoring” or “discipleship” and immediately think, “Oh, I could never do that! I don’t know enough Scripture or don’t know how to answer questions very well.” I implore you to open up your life and heart to let a younger woman share time with you! You will be enriched, you will be challenged to grow in wisdom, and you will blessed by her enthusiasm and desire to learn.

For those who would love to be on the learning end of a relationship like I just described, I heartily encourage you to seek out someone you admire or someone you are naturally drawn to and ask if you can get together sometime. Look in the areas at church that you frequent. Are you in the choir? Do your kids go to Awana? How about your care group? All of those venues are great and natural contact places for a new Christ-directed friendship!

Bible studies and special events are ministries that require a great deal of planning and organization. Discipleship is a ministry that is best done without an over-emphasis on structure and organization. As the coordinator for the Discipleship Ministry, I’m available to help ladies get together, to give suggestions as to topics to discuss, and to get the ball rolling if that would be helpful. I also hope to submit more articles on the blog in the future. If you are currently meeting with someone regularly, let me know so I can pray for you. And I would ask you to pray for this ministry in our church – that we would have a greater desire to come alongside one another to encourage and to learn from each other.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Danger of Getting What We Think We Want

By Kim. M.

DISCLAIMER: I want you all to know why my journal thoughts are on the page for you to read. It is not because I am a great writer or a great teacher. It is not because I have it all together. On the contrary, it is because I have so much to learn that I write down the things the Lord is teaching me on this journey. The Women’s Ministry Board has asked some of us to share what we are learning, so that we might encourage one another and spur one another on to love and good deeds. So here it is; my heart on paper. May we journey together. Love you all my BCLR sisters.

Psalm 106:15 has been on my mind a couple of different times this week and I have been pondering the danger of getting what we want at the expense of leanness of soul. When Nancy Leigh DeMoss mentioned this same verse in her daily devotional this morning, I decided it was time to do some exploring. (I never cease to be amazed that when God is teaching me something, how often a verse comes across my path – in conversation with someone, in a sermon, or in my reading!) If you want to join me in the discovery, you can read on in my journaling journey.

I began by reading Psalm 106:13-15 in the NKJV and in NASB:

They (the Israelites) soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But craved intensely in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

What a warning - words that capture my attention. Yellow caution lights flashing! Red flags waving! DANGER AHEAD. Stop. Turn around.

First Corinthians 10, verses 6 and 11 teach that these things happened as examples for us; that they were written for our instruction; for keep us from craving the evil things, as they also craved; to warn of idolatry and grumbling.

How did the Israelites go from slavery to freedom, from miraculously crossing the Red Sea on dry land to grumbling in the journey so quickly? Four things I notice in this downward spiral:

  • They forgot - forgot God and all His mighty works
  • They forged ahead - forged ahead without waiting for God’s counsel
  • They fixed their focus on their cravings… intense cravings.
  • They foolishly requested their own desires, to their own detriment.

The result? God gave them their request, but sent leanness to their soul.

These words cause me to examine my own heart. Am I ever like the Israelites? Sadly, I think so. When I forget what great things God has done for me and the love He has lavished on me, I am acting like the Israelites. Or when I find myself thinking, “What are you gonna do for me today, God?” I am acting like the Israelites. Oh, I may not say these words out loud, but in my heart, life can easily become all about me.

When I forge ahead with my own plans without waiting for His counsel, and I refuse to wait for God’s timing, I run the risk of wandering in a desert place of my own making. When I am not content with my circumstances or with God’s plan or with His timing, I am in a dangerous place.

When I fix my focus on my cravings – what I want, when I want it, and how I want it – I become the center of my own world. I worship me. My prayers morph into self-centered essays… God hear me and give me what I want now. Oh, Lord God, keep me from my own foolishness and selfishness!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes on leanness of the soul in her Quiet Place Daily Devotional Readings:

How dangerous it is to insist that God give us our own will… contentment is a choice. True joy is not the result of having everything I want, but of gratefully receiving exactly what God has given me. The enemy has robbed many of us of our joy by getting us to live in that foolish realm of ‘if only’… The fact is, if we are not content with what we have, we will never be content with what we think we want.


Lord, teach me to be content and grateful, to remember all Your kindnesses toward me, to let Your Word be my counselor. May I never demand my own way but rather delight in Your way. Keep me from leanness of soul. Grant that I may be like the tree in Psalm 1 - firmly planted, flourishing, and fruitful – for Your glory. Protect me from the danger of getting what I think I want.