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Posts Tagged ‘Equipping’

~ Written by Viki Rife

Running late for an appointment, I approached the train tracks just as the crossing arms came down. With no cell phone available, all I could do was stare through the windshield. A lone snowflake landed in front of my eyes, lingering just long enough for me to enjoy the delicate design before blowing off into the wind.

A moment later another snowflake came down, very different in design. It was followed by another, and I sat entranced enjoying the art show.

Although God designs each snowflake to be unique, one snowflake doesn’t affect our lives very much. But as the minutes ticked by, those flakes added up. By the time the train had passed and I turned on my wipers, there was a nice buildup of snow—enough to make a small snowball.

What a beautiful picture of how God, in His wisdom, created each of us with a unique design! But only together can we provide to the world an illustration of what it means to be whiter than snow. We can be confident that with each of us being our unique selves, we can band together to accomplish whatever God has called His church to do.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Wonder. I’ve heard that word throughout my entire life in reference to Christmas. I remember as a child seeing commercials showing delighted kids receiving just what they wanted, or being surprised with a superbly decorated tree, and the announcer saying something like, “give them the wonder of Christmas.”

Wonder is a very good word to use in reference to Christmas. But our world has stopped far short of the real wonder of Christmas. And we can miss it, too, as we rush around to make sure everything is just as perfect as what we see on TV or Pinterest.

The true wonder of Christmas is that no matter what my circumstances, I am deeply and truly loved. It is a wonder that the God of the Universe would look at me and say, “I want much more for you than what you deserve.” It is a wonder that God is so wise that He sent His Son as a baby, someone who had to endure everything we do from the start.

Just as we fit trimming our tree and shopping for presents into our schedule, let’s carve some time this season to sit and ponder the wonder of “Christ with us.” And let’s put as much thought and energy into sharing that wonder with the children in our lives as we do in giving them the world’s image of the wonder of Christmas.

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Fourth in a series
By Sharon MacMillan

As a Bible study teacher, have you found yourself running for a notebook so you could write down some golden nugget of truth that would be just perfect for next week’s lesson? It’s a veritable feast as you talk over some new insight that had never dawned on you before with others who love to know God’s Word.

Peter experienced joy as he preached to the crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2. After he had identified who Jesus was and what He did, Peter saw 3000 people respond to the message, becoming believers in Jesus! If you had been the one giving the message instead of Peter, what would have been in your mind as you watched people from all over the inhabited world bowing their knee to Jesus at that moment? Peter may have had joy in watching new believers coming into the fold, but he did not respond with pride or self-adulation after the painful lessons he had learned from Jesus a few months before. He knew that Jesus had called him to feed God’s flock. And obeying Jesus in answer to His call was his only desire.

Jeremiah’s experience as a message-bearer of God presents a contrast to Peter’s. Sometimes there is no joy in being the messenger for God. He had been appointed and prepared to relay a message of coming judgment to disobedient Israel. Instead of a joyful embrace to God’s offer of mercy, the people came against Jeremiah with angry red faces and eventually put him in a pit to keep him quiet and away from them. God didn’t relent. When Jeremiah tried to hold back speaking the message of gloom, doom and judgment, the words would burn within him. You can read about this conflicted prophet’s testimony in Jeremiah 20. God needed Jeremiah to warn Israel to turn from their adulterous ways so they would not be destroyed. The result was not blessing for Jeremiah, but suffering.

What is common between these two men? Both had been prepared to receive God’s message so that it could be delivered effectively: Jeremiah’s mouth had been cleansed and Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit. Both knew that obeying God by giving His message was their first priority no matter what the results. Both knew their God and knew the messages were truth.

We Must Remain True to God’s Word
Beth Moore’s chapter on “Calling all Teachers” from Mercy Triumphs helps us understand the role of the teacher, which explains why not many should be teachers. The teacher must not compromise from giving God’s message of truth to God’s people, even if suffering is involved. A few chapters later in Acts we see that Peter didn’t always have an adoring audience and he ended up in prison. One thing cannot be disputed: To be effective, a teacher must teach God’s Word with no apologies and no compromise. We know that in the last days, days that are similar to ours, people will have itchy ears, wanting to hear pleasing messages, not necessarily convicting ones. But we must continue to teach the Word without watering it down or softening the message so that conviction can take place. We, like Peter and Jeremiah, must teach out of an uncompromised heart in our love for God.

We Must Teach Out of Godly Character
Referring again to Beth Moore’s, “Calling All Teachers,” her comments on James 3:1 regarding teaching are welcome words of wisdom to the one who wants to take this calling seriously and desires to be effective. She calls us not only to teach without compromise, but also to not allow ourselves to be affected by praise or criticism. Both can make you motivated or unmotivated with wrong motives.

The teacher must not be lazy – there is no substitute for the hard work of study so that God can interface with the teacher. What a waste of words if we end up teaching our own ideas! We would be taking others down Misleading Avenue or become misled ourselves. Both will incur God’s judgment instead of the blessing He wants to give. In learning new things from the Lord we are at risk for both pride and humiliation. Neither one of these should be allowed to rule over the life of a teacher. We must teach from a sincere heart (James 3:17). We should be eager to let God do His good work of disciplining and chastening so that we are in sync with Him, teaching the message as a faithful messenger.

Our Hearts Must Be Nurtured by God
Oswald Sanders, author of Spiritual Discipleship, tells us what God is after to make teachers who are able to teach His powerful Word of truth. We need a transformed life where the heart is burning with passion for God and for His people. Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love your neighbor as yourself.” How can we possibly teach the truths of God if He is not the LOVE of our hearts? He knows the process by which transformation can take place.

How does God nurture those called to teach? He reveals Who He is in His holiness so that all desire is turned towards Him as we spend time in His presence. In a most holy moment (Exodus 33:11-23), God unveiled Himself to Moses for our viewing. What was the result of revealing His glory? Moses bowed to the ground and worshipped. We will find ourselves responding to God in the same way as He reveals Himself to us. Our sin will be magnified; our need of Him will cause us to fall before Him in thankful adoration for His grace, mercy and love. The cross of our Savior will become all the more precious to us.

How could we ever impart the knowledge about the Almighty God without our own encounter in His Presence? We are to be emptied of our own speculations, our own intentions, our own resources to make room for the powerful Word of Truth and the Presence of His Holy Spirit within.

The veil used to cover Moses’ face becomes a symbol of what happens when we are face to face with God. When the people of Israel saw Moses after He had been with God, his face was so radiant he had to use a veil. Every time the people saw Moses with the veil, he was a stunning reminder that God had been with Moses. They could learn from Moses’ radiance alone that God is gloriously holy and yet approachable if we follow in full obedience. Moses was able to speak face to face with God. The words he shared with the people were not his own words but God’s.

God ‘s Teachers Must Be Tested
James teaches what God’s goal is for His teachers. He wants them to come to maturity, to be complete, lacking nothing. He wants teachers that have been taught by God Himself. How would God bring this about? He brings Father-filtered trials that develop our perseverance or endurance. He will not let up on the process until we receive the promised crown of life, which He delights to give to His beloved people. In the process we will have been transformed into His likeness. Through these trials, disciplines will be established that will be useful for effective teaching. Dependence on Him will be taught so that we will not teach from our own wells but from His. He will become more precious to us than we could ever have dreamed. And that will be a priceless thing to impart to others. What an honor to represent God and His truth to His people!

So if we are to be teachers we will be led into his Presence, we will be tested so that we can learn the truth of His Word, we will become so in love with God that nothing matters but doing and teaching what He has given to us to teach. “I will be with your mouth” is just as true for us today as it was for Moses. Believe it! And let all else go!

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Third in a series
By Sharon MacMillan

*Word

*Prayer

*Mission

*Leadership Development

*Mentoring

*Community

 

One morning, a bolt of lightening hit this teacher as she was preparing her lesson.

As I looked over our chosen study guide, I noticed that the core values of Women of Grace surfaced throughout the lesson (upper left hand corner of this page). This jolting truth has made a lasting change in my partner and I as we study our lesson. “This is significant!” we thought. “We can be intentional every week in Bible study as we ask the Lord for ways to help women develop spiritually into fully-formed disciples that can train others.”

With this intentional way of teaching, we can be on the lookout for ways to actively disciple our women. We can identify those who want to learn to teach and invite them into the teaching process. We can watch women who are ready to become spiritual leaders and provide a way for them to use their giftedness. We can teach and model what a prayer warrior does so that they desire to join us in our intercession. We can support women in their mission, allowing them to share where God has sent them to minister and we can encourage them, meeting the ones they are influencing towards the Savior. We can find mentors for those who are ready to be mentored. We can make sure these values appear in our community gatherings so that women are enriched in their discipleship process with every opportunity for fellowship. What an opportunity for Bible Study time to become a center for active discipleship!

Because these core values are in the frontal lobes of our minds as we prepare our lessons, my teaching partner and I spend time observing what God is doing in each woman. Not only is Bible study an environment for spiritual nourishment, it is also a place where women can begin to identify their God-given calling through their interest in a particular core value. It may be a basic giftedness that is needed in the local body of believers.

Work with your women’s leadership team and ask them where they see these core values operating in your women. You will be surprised to find that many of these values are already in place in the local body. Some may require more attention than we have given. In our case, mentoring needs to be cultivated. So we are praying for the Lord to guide.

James identified a fully-formed disciple as “mature, complete, lacking nothing” in James 1:3-5:
“Count it all joy, (my sisters,) when you are faced with many kinds of trials because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This is serious work in the life of every woman of God and this work gives us great value as His disciples.

Ron Boehm, a leader in the Vision Ohio, church planting movement, is finishing his dissertation about church-planting spouses. He is learning that if a church-planting wife understands her calling she is more apt to be engaged in ministry. If her calling is unclear she will approach her involvement in the ministry quite differently.

Every woman who understands her unique calling from God as His woman will be more willing to enter into a life of significance and usefulness as His disciple, depending on God to empower her and lead her into His ordained work for her (Ephesians 2:10).

As spiritual teachers, we won’t be content until we see movement in a woman’s life as she fulfills her unique calling in her spiritual development. Consider adding this dimension of using the core values in your teaching so that your study time becomes an environment for making fully-formed disciples. Be prepared for an adrenalin rush in the process of partnering with God to make disciples who can teach others also.

If you need to speak with someone about these learning methods and opportunities for spiritual discipleship for women contact Sharon MacMillan at gleskafam@mac.com or Chery Boehm at cheryboehm2@mac.com

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Second in a series
By Sharon MacMillan

Adults need to engage in 5 different ways for learning to take place because of the way our brains function, according to Malcome Knowles, a well-known educator who has studied how adults learn best. He says:
1. Adults need to understand WHY something is important to know or do.
2. Older students need the freedom to learn in their own way: visual, auditory or kinesthetic methods.
3. Adult learners need to learn experientially through role play, skits, writing, building, etc.
4. Adults need the right time to learn.
5. They need positive encouragement.
(Source: http://adulted.about.com/od/teachers/a/teachingadults.htm)

With permission from Viki Rife, speaker at “Belleza que Dura,” (Beauty that Lasts), a recent Hispanic conference for women, we observe ways the women engaged in the learning process so we can apply these methods to enrich our Bible teaching.

To see pictures and read the complete article, go to http://www.wgusa.org/learning-styles/

Teachers who have accepted their calling to teach women, know that they must take this job seriously and must plan to teach to the students’ learning style, yet depending on the Holy Spirit to teach. When Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep,” (John 21:13-17) He entrusted to us a very important task.

We who are called to teach share in the joy and contentment that God gives as He feeds us so that we can, in turn, feed His precious sheep and feed them well. His Holy Spirit partners with us so that illumination takes place in the hearts, minds, souls and strength of His women. The illumination will lead to transformation of their very lives as they become conformed to the image of God.

Pray and ask God, your good Shepherd, to show you how to best feed the women that come to your study every week. If you have chosen a study guide, use it as a tool. Do the scriptural study but think about the learning styles of your students and begin looking for creative ways to teach the truths of God’s Word that will be specific to each woman in your class. You will see the light in your women as you connect with them in how they learn.

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By Sharon MacMillan

“I get it!” is a response every teacher wants to see on the faces of their students. Teaching the Bible is no different; in fact, Bible teachers cannot take their role lightly, as James warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV, 2011).

When is the last time you took a second look at your teaching skills when it comes to women’s Bible study? Have you fallen into the trap of business as usual? Do you grieve when the women don’t come prepared because they weren’t able to work on their study with the Lord at home?

This is indeed a heartbreak for the teacher who has expectations for her students to “grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”

Could there be more we teachers can do to inspire, motivate and teach our students to make the most of their Bible study?

1. Do you pray for your students weekly? They have spiritual battles that can be conquered by the use of the Sword of the Spirit. Realize that you may be a tool of the Holy Spirit to connect the dots for the students between what they are going through and what they are learning in their study.

2. Do you value the time the women give to you? It is a very precious gift that the women entrust to us and it needs to be valued.

3. Have you prepared well? Sadly, it may be that the teacher has not fully prepared her presentation so that the women feel the importance of what they are doing as bible students. The fire we acquire from thorough preparation will ignite in them as we meet around the Word.

4. Have you considered enriching the lessons of a pre-written book? Study the content well before you teach. The women have probably chosen the material because they are interested in the subject. But our task as teachers is to connect their interest with their need to grow.

5. Can you identify the learning styles of your students? This is important as you give them a workbook based on a Bible topic or even a book of the Bible.
a. Who learns best by listening to a lecture? Some can take in information and retain it best as it goes through their ear gate.
b. Do you have students who track best by seeing what you are teaching? This is my husband’s style where he can read and comprehend anything
(Imagine my husband out in a boat with a library book, learning how to sail! Well, it happened! And we only hit bottom once! )
c. Maybe you have a group of women who love to learn by engaging their hands in activities. These are the ones who take notes or love to work on some kind of project that is associated with the lesson.

It is possible that there could be a combination of two or more styles. But the point is we don’t all engage best the same way. Now consider what you are doing by giving women a book of fill-ins. Who would gravitate to that style the best?

6. Do you believe God for your students? He wants them to grow in the Word and in their spiritual development overall. Your time together around the Word can be a catalyst for helping them in their prayer lives, encouraging them to be on mission as they share what they have learned with others. You may be equipping mentors to model their faith to others. You may be training the next Bible study leader! You are engaged in discipleship with the women.

7. Finally, do you enjoy your women? Love your women. Let them see that you take this time with them very seriously. Let them catch a glimpse of your heart’s desire for them to become confident in their relationship with the Lord. They will love that you want them to grasp the precious life-changing truths so that their walk with the Lord will become vibrant and alive! Be patient with those that aren’t quite ready to move on as quickly as you would like. We are all a work in progress.

Sharon MacMillan is a pastor’s wife and co-leads women’s Bible studies in her church. She also serves as Spiritual Life leader on the Women of Grace USA Board of Directors.

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This is the last of a three-part series responding to a concern that by taking missions out of our name, missions will disappear from who we are. This series was co-written by Viki Rife and Janet Minnix.

Recently, Grace Brethren International Missions decided it could better operate around the world by removing the word missions from its name. However, removing the word did not change the ministry’s purpose. Rather, Encompass World Partners now has freer access to places where missions would be suspect at best, and illegal at worst. In much the same way, Women’s Missionary Council felt it was strategic to change our name to give us greater access to the woman who needs more than a missionary focus – who needs to be mentored in biblical womanhood and grounded in the sure foundation of God’s Word. However, a name change did not change our purpose. A woman who internalizes God’s truth will grow in her love for Jesus and develop a heart that listens to God, hears His calling and willingly engages in His mission in the place He chooses for her, using the talents and abilities with which He has gifted her.

We believe that the best way we can help mission efforts to thrive is to equip and inspire women with God’s call for all His people to be on mission. If we invest in helping women set aside the “fluff” that distracts them from being fully committed to God, we are preparing them to hear His calling. If we equip them with solid Bible knowledge and an understanding of how to listen to Him and serve Him, they will be ready to go wherever He sends them. And a natural outcome of their increased commitment to Him will be a desire to pray for lost people and for those who are reaching them.

We believe that if we help women grow and change internally, the results will be much more effective than just giving them a list to pray through. Their prayers and investment will then be based on a heart that understands the challenges missionaries face, because they themselves will be passionately involved in reaching the lost in their own sphere of influence. We believe that strengthening women in their walk with Christ is the best way to assure that there will be future workers for the harvest.

So, why does Women of Grace USA exist? To equip women with a strong understanding of God’s truth, to encourage them in the disciplines of prayer and study of God’s Word, and to challenge them to respond to God’s call in their lives. Is it women’s ministry? Yes, because it is ministry to and for women. Will missions disappear? No, because Women of Grace USA is preparing women to be missionaries where they are, whether next door or around the world.

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I began my last post by asking: Why does Women of Grace USA exist? I didn’t answer the question, so I’ll repeat it: What is the purpose of Women of Grace USA? The purpose of our forerunner organization, Women’s Missionary Council, was to promote the cause of home and foreign missions work, and to deepen the spiritual life of women through Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others. While WMC had goals that encouraged Bible reading, prayer and personal witnessing, it was primarily a missionary organization, focusing most of its attention on the first part of its purpose statement.

We did an excellent job of learning about missionaries and their work, praying for their needs, and giving to support them and their ministries on the mission field. But less time and energy were devoted to other essentials, including making disciples for true life transformation, mentoring according to Titus 2:3-4, and developing leaders for the next generation. Perhaps in many cases we put the cart before the horse, telling women they should be praying for missions when they had never developed a true heart for God.

We have been alarmed over the years to see that the commitment to missions seems to be dying in many areas. However, it is not because we removed missionary from our name. The causes, and they are many, represent a broad range of cultural and generational factors too numerous to list.

We have women in our churches today who don’t know what biblical womanhood is, who did not grow up in church and were not raised with godly role models, who do not have a strong foundation in God’s Word, who don’t know the basic stories of the Old and New Testaments. We have women who struggle in their marriages, their jobs and relationships; who suffer from debilitating physical or mental illnesses; who are living with the result of poor choices made earlier in life. Women who are so overwhelmed with the pressures of their lives that they readily admit they don’t know how to pray, let alone how to pray for a missionary. Do we have a responsibility to these women?

Women of Grace USA believes that we do. That is why, when the name was changed, a rewording of the original purpose statement was adopted:  To encourage women to grow in their relationship with Christ and challenge them to be actively engaged in God’s mission. Spiritual growth was placed first because we believe that a strong Biblical foundation and a heart for God are essential if we want to see involvement, not just with missionaries, but in God’s mission. Our present motto, “Local Ministry, Global Impact” suggests that we must minister to the women in the local church in a way that will have worldwide results. It assumes that missions is a vital part of our organization; we have just used a different term for missions.

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It’s that time of year again. Women’s ministries are reorganizing, restructuring, and making plans and schedules for the fall. In the plan under which Women of Grace USA has functioned for many years, it’s also the time when Women of Grace groups in local churches compile their list of leaders and attenders to be added to our mailing list. But all too often we’ve received a note informing us that “we have decided to disband because we couldn’t get anyone to serve in leadership positions.”

Now, this post is not about Women of Grace groups or the lack of them. The philosophy of WGUSA is that every Grace Brethren woman is a “woman of grace”, and every church’s ministry with and for women is vital to fulfilling the church’s mission and challenging women in their spiritual growth and partnering with God in His mission. But many times the lack of new leadership in our ministries is because we’ve either lost the young women, the emerging leaders, the ones with fresh energy and new ideas, or we haven’t made the effort to get to know them, their styles of communicating, and their strong commitment making a difference in lives and the world.

The article listed below comes from Kyria’s Gifted for Leadership blog. Author Sarah Martin gives some valuable advice that we need to heed. May God help us to unleash grace into the lives of the young women in our churches, and help prepare them for Kingdom Work.

Gifted for Leadership: Rise Up, Part 1.

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