Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Please indulge me. :)
For the past 5.5 years that we have lived in our home, we have longed for next-door neighbors that we would have something in common with.
The first group of people that lived there were, well....hmmm...how do I say it?
Shall I say it?
Let's just say, it was complicated.
The second group of people that lived there had a pit bull who liked to crawl on top of their spa that sits right next to our shared privacy wall, and bark his head off at us. We were so scared of that stupid dog (sorry pit lovers) that we wouldn't even go into the back yard if he was out!
All I could see were his bone crushing jaws clamped around one of my kids' faces!
When we talked with animal control, the best they had for me was, "Until the dog causes bodily harm, there's nothing we can do about it."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
It was one of those moments when I realized that in the state of Arizona, animals often have more rights than people do.
They don't handle things that way in Texas, but I won't go into that here.
Ugh, I hated that dog!
The third group of people were always very nice to us, but had 3 teenage sons (also very nice to us) who always had tons of teens in the garage that were quite proficient at dropping a certain known word bomb....as LOUDLY and as OFTEN as they could find a way to fit it into a sentence.
It was so bad that we couldn't go out front when they were out there, lest our children develop their budding vocabulary skills in ways that we did not desire.
Well, I'm told by one of their teens, that the house is going up for auction today.
As of this morning, group number three has officially moved out.
So...my precious friends and prayer warriors, would you please PRAY LIKE CRAZY that a nice family moves in there?
If you're into praying specifially, here are my requests:
1. That they'll have kids, a girl 6 and a boy 8. :)
2. That they will know and love and be passionate about the Lord.
3. That they will be homeschoolers.
4. That they won't have a loud dog.
5. That they'll like us. :)
My friend Chris and I were talking yesterday and she said, "Go anoint the house with oil!"
I told her, "I'm going to climb up on the roof and pour a VAT of oil over it!"
Thanks for praying!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I was afraid I'd look like a slacker, and I think I was desperately afraid of the answers that others would share, thinking that I'd once again feel like I am lacking as a Precept leader, when compared to so many others.
But, some brave soul stepped up recently and asked the question I've been itching to ask, and when I saw it posted to the Precept Leader Yahoo Forum, I knew the Lord wasn't going to let me off the hook.
I knew I was being called to share what was pressing on my heart, so I did. I pray that it somehow encourages you to step out in faith in Christ Jesus, and lead others in inductive Bible study.
This was the question:
How many hours a week do you spend preparing for leading your Precept class, excluding the time dedicated to actually working through the lesson yourself?
(I'm paraphrasing, but this was the gist of it.)
I am not at liberty to share anyone's answer but my own...so here goes, this is what I posted...
I wanted to respond to the question about leader preparation time.
I hope my heart comes through in what I feel led to share, as it's not always easy to express one's heart through email/forum groups.
I am led to share in the hope that it will encourage some of you out there who are not now leading because you don't think you have 10+ hours a week to prepare...or, those of you who may be in the same life situation that I am.
We are a homeschooling family of 2 kids, 8 and 6. While I do not work outside the home, I do have a full time job as a teacher inside my home.
We've also had 18mo-2years of unresolved health issues here, which is time consuming too, besides the fact that my brain doesn't work like it used to (seriously!).
I've battled, often, with deep feelings of inadequacy as a leader, and have made the mistake of telling my class one too many times just how bad of a job I am doing, compared to the great and seasoned Precept leaders I've sat under. (Yes, I've had the best!) :)
Countless times, I've thought about many of you here, whom I respect so much, and in weighing myself next to you, I find I lack deeply.
I don't have the hours that I desire to have, to study commentaries, and I don't have them on hand even if I wanted to.
I don't have LOGOS or a laptop computer.
I am blessed to have Zodhiates and Vines, and I have Wuest but cannot remember how to use it.
We don't do charts in my class, even though I feel my students could benefit from them. I am trying to follow the new model that Precept has laid down for us, and use minimal visual aides...which is good because the charts intimidate me.
As much as I can right now, I rise early or stay up late to study...but it never, ever seems enough.
I have seen my classes start out with 25 people, and dwindle to 8...more often than not.
I often wonder when the Lord will send the real Precept leader to lead this class, so that I may sit under him or her and soak it up like a sponge. Yet, in 5 years, He hasn't yet chosen to do that.
I've been blessed to see others answer the call to lead, and oh what a blessing that is, yet they haven't taken over "my" class...they've multiplied, and are now leading their own separate classes, and many of them feel as inadequate as I do.
However, through it all the Lord has shown me some rich and humbling things through this journey as a leader....
1. It's His desire for people to learn to study His Word for themselves, and all He asks me is if I'll be obedient. He doesn't ask me to be spectacular, as much as I'd love to be.
(Oh, how I'd love to be!)
2. He knows my heart...that I never feel I have spent adequate time in study, yet He never fails to do the work in the hearts of those students who are willing to sit at His feet and dig in. And He has always been faithful to teach and grow me in the process. :)
3. I'm not to tell my students anymore how bad I am at this. Even in doing that, I am taking the focus off of Him and putting it on me.
4. There are not a lot of leaders that I've met, who are my age. I hope and pray for more and more leaders in my age group, and younger. In order for that to happen, I have to model for them that they really can do this...and make it work with where they are in their lives. It cannot seem an impossible task, or they may not be willing to answer the call.
5. At the onset, I started leading because I kept being asked by other people if I could show them how to study the way that I do...if I can keep that as my focus, just teaching them what I've been taught...just passing this awesome gift to them...then I believe I'll have been obedient to my Master.
I was talking with one of the ladies from our Kings & Prophets study a few months ago, a woman in leadership over me within my church, and telling her how sorry I was that I had done such a poor job...what with health issues and a weak background in the OT.
She looked me square in the eyes and said, "Precept has changed my life!"
Wow! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, thank You!
Today as I laid having an EEG, with wires and gunk all over my head, I listened to the familiar accent coming from the sweet lady who was doing the testing on me.
Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore..I had to ask...
"Are you from Romania?"
"Yes. Romania." she answered.
Oooh...(My heart's desire is to one day go to Precept's training center there, and see first hand what God has done through the faithful work of a few obedient servants.)
"I have friends from Romania." (I've met Mia and Costel once, but as far as I'm concerned, we're lifelong friends!) :)
"From Romania?" she asked.
"Yes, they have a Bible training center there."
To which she opened up and told me that she is a Christian.
"Oh, do you know Mia and Costel Oglice?" (Why I feel compelled to ask this every single time I meet someone from Romania is because Mia and Costel are my Brother Andrews....my George Muellers.)
"Yes. Yes. They trained my husband in inductive study, when Romania was still a communist country. They trained him underground. He is now a youth pastor at a Romanian church here in Phoenix."
I kid you not when I tell you that this is about the 3rd person I've met in Phoenix who is from there and was trained in Romania by Mia and Costel!
Each time the Lord orchestrates another meeting with a fellow believer like this, He reminds me again of all that He can accomplish through faithful and obedient servants.
(For blog readers who aren't familiar with them, Mia and Costel and their team have been used of the Lord to train thousands upon thousands of people in how to study the Bible for themselves. There is an Bible training center in Romania where much of their work takes place. You can see it by clicking here.)
I know it's been long, but I pray that some of you who have been holding back because you don't have hours and hours to prepare, will be encouraged just to put some people in your hip pocket and take them along with you as you dig into God's Word.
Give them what you've been given, and trust the Lord to do the work in their hearts that He wants to do.
If they outgrow you as a teacher, great...get them trained to lead! :)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
If you're reading this, and have wanted to "meet", I invite you to send me an email at the address listed in the sidebar. I'd love to know you, and know how I can be praying for you.
Shelly, a Precept leader in South Carolina whom I mentioned in this post, is one of the precious friends I'm referring to. She's become like a sister to me, and we talk weekly. I love to hear her pray, for when she does, the Word of God pours off of her lips as one who truly knows the Lord, because she has disciplined herself to study His Word, and therefore knows His heart.
Shelly is a woman who is deeply in love with the Lord. Her desire is to be the best mom she can be, yet she has a redheaded 4 year old little boy, Ben, who likes to really test her!
She also has Sam who is 6...not a redhead. :)
She called me shortly after having written the 1st prayer journal entry, which you'll see below, and was at her wit's end with Ben. Haven't we all been there!
It was during that conversation that I challenged her to the call of leading her boys through studying the Bible inductively. I shared my heart with her, which is that we as parents cannot expect our kids to learn all they need to know about the Lord, just by putting them in Sunday School and Wednesday night classes at church.
What if we were to disciple our children at home, and then trust that what they get at church would be the icing on the cake? The cake that we had been faithful to bake at home!
I fully believe that we will stand before the Throne one day and will answer to God for what we did (and did not do) with His command to us to teach the Word to our children!
That very night, Shelly answered the call, even though neither of her boys are fluent readers. She started teaching them by using one of the Discover 4 Yourself books by Precept Ministries, "Wrong Way Jonah!"
The common misconception that I hear is this...people think they can't use the D4Y books because their kids aren't readers.
Please hear me on this...each of the D4Y books is written as a story within a story. There are a few leading characters, Max and Molly, and with each of the studies, they are learning a new career... they become archaeologists, comic book writers, advice columnists, superheroes, etc, and all the while they (and your kids) are learning to observe, interpret, and apply God's Word!
So, even if the children in your life are not reading yet, you can still use these books!
You'd just need to read the story aloud, and then verbally walk them through how to use the 5Ws and an H to reason through the Scriptures listed. It's all laid out for you in the book, so it's very easy for the teacher.
You will be QUICKLY BLOWN AWAY by how much very young kids can learn about the Word of God, if you'll just take the time to go though a Discover 4 Yourself book with them. And, they'll LOVE it!
OK, back to Shelly....
She was gracious enough to share the entries from her prayer journal, chronicling her journey with her son Ben's behavior, and how being willing to seek counsel, apply some new ideas, and spend daily time teaching he and Sam how to reason through the Word of God, has helped her whole family.
Her hope is that you will be encouraged, edified, and exhorted to begin leading your own children, or those in your church, through inductive Bible study, too!
Here's what she wrote in her prayer journal...
Saturday, May 9, 2009 (the before entry)
Dear Almighty and Most Holy Lord,
My heart is so heavy today! My load and burden seems too difficult to carry.
Immediately I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that “sheep” are not burden bearing animals.
That’s what you call and refer to Your people as…one of Your sheep and You Jesus are the Great Shepherd.
I have come to lay my burden on You.
I am so glad that I can pour out my heart like water before You and You welcome it.
How wonderful! How grateful I am!
So, here goes…
I need Your help with Ben! His screaming is driving me crazy. I beg of You to make him stop!
Teach me how to teach him to control his temper and anger. Teach me how to control mine as well. You have helped me with this already but I’m not all the way there yet.
I greatly desire peace and serenity for my home. A place where order and contentment exist.
A place where mommy doesn’t have an attitude, where mommy doesn’t resent her children’s misdeeds.
I beg for You to fix me to be the mother/nurturer/trainer of these kids.
I want to go to bed each night without regret that I said or did the wrong thing!
Here's the "after" entry....
A dear friend of mine, Jesica, spoke words of wisdom to my heart today.
She challenged me to be in the Word daily with Sam and Ben. I said “really?” “daily?”
I know I should and I have the “want” to but I hesitate – anticipating their response. I feared their lack of attention and lack of excitement.
So, Heavenly Father I bring this to You. I want to want to teach them more than I want to teach adult ladies.
Give to Sam and Ben a deep desire and enthusiasm for Your Word. May they initiate our time of Bible study.
Give me the ability to teach them at 4 and 6 years of age.
I realize that I don’t take teaching them seriously enough. I am more concerned and excited and consumed with teaching others rather than my own children.
Why is that, Lord?
I ask for you to forgive me and change my heart. I am pleading with You Father to truly change my heart and attitude regarding them and turn my heart back to my first ministry.
We started Bible study last night and it was GREAT!
I read the first chapter of Jonah out loud and asked the 5 W’s and an H.
I used a small dry erase board and drew pictures of the events. I had them draw in their notebooks pictures as well.
They participated and even Sam said the best prayer that “we wouldn’t be like Jonah who when told to go to Nineveh went to Tarshish instead and disobeyed God.” (Sam is 6!)
I showed a map that showed Tarshish was in the opposite direction of Nineveh.
I asked them “Can you really run from the presence of the Lord?” and they said “NO! He sees you all the time and everywhere!”
We also discussed how Jonah’s disobedience was and is SIN and his sin affected other people (the sailors).
We discussed how we are often like Jonah and Sam gave me an example.
Ben tried but had some trouble (he’s four).
Our time together far exceeded my expectation and was so fulfilling!
Oh, my heart is so full of thankfulness to my dearest Father. He answered the cry of this mama’s heart beautifully!
Don't you just want to meet this Momma, who so transparently poured her heart out before the Lord? Doesn't her story make you want to start studying with your own children or grandchildren? What about the children in your church?
Oh that we would all cry out to God for the hearts of our children, as Shelly did!
Here she is...with Sam and Ben, in front of the library on the grounds of Billy Graham's ministry.
I love you, Shelly! Thanks for sharing your story with us, and keep up the great work!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Truly, we thank each one of you who have lifted us up before the Lord.
I want to share one of those prayers with you now. This was sent to me by my friend Melissa, (though not the Melissa I wrote about last week).
This Melissa and I met last year in a Precept class that we were both taking. She then joined us at the Precept retreat, and that's where I really got to see her heart.
She came to me at the end of the retreat, big tears filling her beautiful brown eyes, and said something along these lines... "It's time for me to get up and going. I've wanted to go to seminary for so long, and have been studying inductively for the past 10 years or so. Through this retreat God showed me that He wants me to start leading others right now. People need to know how to study the Bible for themselves, and I've been given this gift...it's time to share it with other people!"
Melissa then joined us last year for a study of "Rising to the Call of Leadership," which we used as a leadership development class. Everyone fell in love with her! She has the sweetest disposition, and such a heart for the Word and for people.
I wanted to share the prayer that she emailed to me (by permission), because it is so full of Scripture. I've bolded the parts that are directly from the Word of God. (Hope you don't mind me taking that liberty, Melissa.)
As I read it, I was reminded of how the Word of God really does implant on our hearts, and spills out our mouths (or fingers in this case) when we spend time in dedicated study on a regular basis.
Melissa, you bless my life, and I am so proud of you that I could pop! It's incredibly exciting to watch how God is using your life for His glory!
What an amazing blessing it is to call you friend, and to get to sit in your "amen" corner!
I love you, sister!
After I sent you the e-mail, I read your blog.
I'm so sorry to hear about your possible diagnosis. I am praying for you and your family!!
Hang in there, hang in there, hangeth thou in there, dear friend.
Our hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us, allthough, sometimes I feel like my heart is too small to hold both pain and His love. Yet, as the Grinch's heart grew, so does mine.
It grows by faith. It is by faith that a woman of God has a heart that bears burdens, yet hopes and prays and prays and prays for herself and for others.
You bet my hope does not disappoint. It is that hope that allows me to finish strong or smile when the the external screams the contrary.
Praise be our Savior through whom I have received the reconciliation!!
I truly glory in Him.
God bless you Jesica in all you bear as you daily walk!
I am praying on the alert with all perserverance and petition for you dear Sister!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I trust that God's timing for it's publishing is perfect, for had I posted it when I first wrote it, Shelly's story would not have been available. She is ecstatic about my sharing it.
May you be blessed, encouraged, and compelled to walk in the good works God lays before you...(your family being #1)
Even those words look odd to me.
It's not "my" ministry, it's the ministry of the Lord through me. The same can be said of you.
It's the Lord's ministry through those who obey Him.
I've been thinking a lot about ministry lately...about what God desires to do with and through my life. About what an awesome, humbling thing it is that the Almighty would even choose to use any of us in His grand plan for mankind.
Last year, the Lord tugged on my heart...whisphered to my heart, to put together a Precept retreat. In every single step of the way, He went before us. He paved the way for that retreat to happen, and He did some awesome things in the hearts of many of us who were there.
Since the time of the retreat, I've had countless conversations with people who took the challenge from the Lord, and stepped forward to lead others in inductive study. Many of these stories came from people who had never led ANY Bible studies, much less a study that teaches people to reason through God's Word for themselves.
Immediately after the retreat, I was hit with sickness like I've never dealt with before.
For months upon months, I found myself sidelined.
But you know, the Lord was in control of all of it, and through it He has taught me some invaluable lessons.
I am so passionate about people being rooted in God's Word, that I don't always see the ministry right in front of my eyes.
I forget that it's important to have healthy meals for my family, down time with my sweetheart, game time with my children.
Yesterday as I was getting ready to go to church, to lead the youth (whom I love!) in our Wednesday night class, Brennan came into my bathroom crying. She told me that her tummy was really hurting, and that she didn't feel like going to church.
She LOVES Wednesday nights, so I knew this wasn't about her trying to get out of something she didn't want to do. (Um, that was MY trick when it came to school!)
I was a bit paniced. It was 5:40pm, and we had to leave for church in 20 minutes, and I had to discern in just moments, what I was to do.
In my flesh, I wanted to make her "buck up" and tell her that she'd be fine, and that Mommy had a class to teach.
But, in my spirit, I was unsure. So I prayed, and then I called a precious woman of God from within our body, and she graciously stepped forward and taught class that night.
And I stayed home with my first ministry, and cuddled and watched a movie.
And you know, the sweet woman who took my class that night, and has raised 4 children who know and love the Lord, said to me, "Sometimes, all they need is you."
Oh, how she ministered to me through her kindness, and her heart of service!
I've been praying and asking the Lord to tender my heart toward home. I've removed different outside ministry roles from my plate so that my attentions could be focused more here.
It's not the most comfortable thing in the world for me. I like moving and shaking...I like pressing onward and upward.
I am passionate about people learning to study God's Word for themselves.
My heart aches for those who are believers in Jesus Christ, yet do not know what to do with their Bibles, or who don't realize that God's Word really will be a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path, TODAY if only they'll discipline themselves to spend time in it.
As a result of this passion for people to know God's Word, I struggle with how much I am to do. If it were only me, or if our kids were grown and Shane and I were free to teach people how to study any time we liked, I think I'd want to have a class going every day!
Shane told me the other day that it isn't Jesus who loads us to the point of breaking. It isn't the Lord who gives us so much on our plates that we get sick from it.
We do that.
His burden is light.
I think of the time that I left my own children in order to go for a week of training for ministry.
I left my children, and my husband. My husband still had to work full time, and my children were being shuffled in order for my "ministry" training.
If I had it to do over again, that would not happen. If I had it to do all over again, I'd make a different choice. I'd choose to wait upon the Lord, and to wait for training to come to my town, instead of leaving my family behind for a week.
I thank God that He knows my heart, and forgives my poor choices. That was definitely a poor one.
It grieves me that we as women have such internal battles as to what ministry is. Is it the feminist agenda at work that tells us that ministering to our families is not sufficient?
I was talking recenlty with my friend Shelly, another Precept leader, and she too has small children. She was sharing with me that they were having some huge struggles with their 4 year old.
I asked her how much time she was spending in the Word with him, and there was only silence coming from her end. Then she asked, "Really? I mean, really?! I guess I think he's too little to understand, or to get it. I mean, I teach women! Not kids!"
To which I said to her, "Oh no, sweet friend. If you have kids, you teach kids. It's that simple. If your children grow up to reject the Word, and you haven't done your job to teach it to them, you will never forgive yourself. And, it won't matter if every woman in your town is living for the LORD, if you haven't done your job with your kids."
What a joy it was to get a call from her just 2 days later, telling me that she had sat her children down and started on "Wrong Way Jonah!", and that they had LOVED it! She said they were so into it, and she was thrilled beyond words!
Oh, to raise world changers for God's glory!
I remember several years ago when we first moved to town, that I would spend hours each week taking my kids to the park. With each trip to the park, I met new people. Most were moms who were new in town, and were looking for friends, and for places to connect.
The friendships that were formed, and the opportunities to share Christ with those moms, were unmatched.
Isn't that what ministry is, at it's core?
Living as the light of Jesus Christ in a world of darkness?
Loving others as Christ loved us, and being available to share His love with them?
As we move into the summer, I realize that much of "my" ministry is going to happen right here in my home...in my neighborhood.
There are going to be children in my home, or swimming in our backyard...children who may not know how precious they are to Jesus Christ.
Will I answer THAT call?
Will I minister reconciliation over cookies and milk, and a good water gun fight?
Or, will I be grumpy and stressed with these kids, because I have to prepare to lead Bible study?
Will I show my children, through sacrificial love, that their friends and their interests are important to me, or will I crowd out their needs for those needs that I deem "important?"
A new friend of mine said these words to me a few weeks ago, and they have powerfully impacted my life...
"I have to learn to say "no" to the good, so I can say "yes" to the great."
I don't want to sacrifice my family on the altar of "doing ministry."
I just don't.
And I've finally decided that I won't.
Again, I'm reminded, as I listen to the words of my precious and amazing husband...
"It's not Jesus that loads us to the point of breaking. We do that to ourselves."