Look for the Helpers

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Hurricanes.  Earthquakes.  Fires.  Flooding.  Protests.  Terrorism.

There is a lot happening in this world, but in times of despair believers cling to Hope.

That Hope compels us to not sit back watch the world fall apart around us, but instead to bring Hope to others.

We become “the helpers”.  Believers have always been the helpers.  Historically in the early church, our women took in the abandoned children.  We tended to the sick, forming the first hospitals.  In the wake of tragedy today, we see that our Faith Based Organizations lead the way in providing relief to those who have been impacted by forces of nature and political oppression.

We need not wait for the catastrophes to land at our doorstep in order to be a helper.

We are the helpers when we pay for her groceries, when take a collection of diapers, when we feed an empty belly, and clothe those who need it.  When we pool our money and resources to provide shelter and even comfort.

Women’s Ministry Council  #WoMinCouncil

There are people in your neighborhood right now, and they are looking for the helper.  The homeless man you pass every day on your way into to the coffee shop, he is looking for a helper.  The single mom who wants to attend small group, but lacks the means for childcare… she is looking for the helper.

How can your Women’s Ministry become a helper in your local community?

  • Find an organization to support as a Ministry.  Use your Women’s Ministry monthly brunches as an opportunity take a collection of goods or money for this ministry.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities for your Women’s Ministry to participate in and build up teams of women who will serve.
  • For larger causes, work together with Women’s Ministries from other churches.
  • Watch the news, check the paper, and keep a pulse on what is happening in your community.  There may be specific people you can assist.  
  • Talk as a team about how you want your ministry to respond to community needs or local disaster relief before it is needed.  Create an action plan, work out the details, and even work through a trial run if possible.  It’s good to have the plan in place, so that when the need arises we can respond immediately and efficiently.
  • Ensure that you have a list of recommendations for services (shelter numbers, abuse hotlines, Christian counselors, etc.) available to all leaders… including your Bible Study leaders.  This means we don’t waste time hunting down information and can act promptly.

We would love to hear your suggestions too!

 

Hospitality after a Hurricane

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After a hurricane, or a crisis of any type, there are ways that we can be hospitable to our neighbors, community at large, and those on our church.

Here are some really simple suggestions to keep in mind, should you need to respond to a crisis in your area.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taught us a few things.  After a natural disaster, members of your (or neighboring) community may not have access to:

  • Power
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter

If you have POWER:

  • It may be incredibly hot, offer up an afternoon in your cool air conditioning.
  • After a few days, it is amazing how a hot shower can change your mood.
  • Offer up room in your freezer to help a family save what food they can.
  • A mom with bored kids would be happy to charge up her devices.
  • A hot meal is never unappreciated after several days of canned soup and Vienna sausages.
  • Depending on how much time has passed, even offering up your washing machine and dryer can be a blessing to those who need to return to work or school.
  • If you have a generator, and you don’t need it because your power is still working, offer up the generator to a local family to borrow.  Particularly helpful to our elderly, special needs families, and those with illnesses.
  • Even walking the neighborhood with a thermos of hot coffee to share is a welcomed treat.
  • Allowing neighbors to charge up cel phones gives them the opportunity to contact family and let them know they are safe and handle any immediate arrangements.

If you have WATER:

  • Even if they have power, without water a hot shower is still out of the question.  If you have power and water, again… a hot shower or even use of your washing machine and dryer is a gift.
  • If you have clean water, considering passing on your bottled water to those families who don’t have clean water.  Or filling up 5 gallon buckets they can use for bathing until they have water again.
  • If you have power and water, make ziplock bags full of water and freeze them.  Share with families who need ice.
  • Homes that have received damage may need to be cleaned up, a few buckets of water can start the process.
  • Ice cold water is something great to share with the neighbors who are cleaning up their yards, linemen trying to get power and phones restored, etc.

If you have FOOD:

  • Create hot meals for those who have been living off sterno warmed soup and canned goods.
  • Donated your unopened canned goods to local shelters that may be housing residents displaced from their homes.
  • Workers from other states helping restore power, phones, and water won’t have homes to return to each night.  If local restaurants are closed, they may have trouble finding meals.  One thing we have learned is that these guys and gals deserve a good meal too, and many locals have taken on the task of feeding them.
  • In a best case scenario where your area has been spared, you can donate your food to other communities or your local organizations that help the homeless.

If you have SHELTER:

  • Sometimes, after the main storm has passed there is still rain and flooding.  Friends and neighbors may need temporary shelter until the remaining weather passes and the water recede.  
  • Before, and for a short time after, local animal rescues may need home to temporarily foster dogs and cats.
  • People who are at risk due to illness or age, may need a safe place to stay during or immediately after the storm, until family members and organizations can help them.

If you are a CHURCH:  

Becoming a hot spot where people at large can stop in to cool off, get a bite, a cold drink, and get assistance if possible benefits the whole community.  Those who need to access phone numbers, emails, and fill out online fema forms will be thrilled to have wifi.  Consider not only how your church can help people prepare for the storm, or even shelter during the storm; but how can you be there for your community the days and weeks after.

Hurricane Irma Relief:

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While we were spared damage, many areas throughout Florida were not so lucky.  We will be adding to this list over time as more info comes available… but here is a great start on how you can help Floridians who have lost so much.

We have an entire apartment complex, just 30 min north of us that is being condemned after the storm.  They had 3 days to evacuate.  We have the Florida Keys, many of the islands can only be reached by boat or plane/helicopter.  Areas in Naples, Miami, etc. are under water.  Lord, hear the cries of your people and send in the helpers!

Missionary Flights International is bringing supplies into the Florida Keys, and I anticipate in the future they will also be traveling to the locations they serve internationally who need assistance.

https://www.missionaryflights.org/

Christ Fellowship is a church with several campuses throughout Florida which are serving their local and neighboring communities well.

http://gochristfellowship.com/Irma/

Samaritans Purse:

https://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/hurricane-irma/?utm_source=Bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=m_YYHI-B17V_HHSP-LP

Convoy of Hope:

https://www.convoyofhope.org/blog/features/disaster-response/hurricane-irma/

 

 

 

Worship in Women’s Ministry by Sheila Thomas

Hurricane Irma Recovery & Relief:  We are still collecting data on how and when our long distance friends can help the recovery and relief efforts.  Many areas are inaccessible until the power company can clear downed lines and ensure the area is safe.  We will update on how you can help as soon as information is available.  Please note, if you have family in The Florida Keys:  Power, landline phones, and cellular service is out throughout the keys.  However reports of those who stayed behind on the islands has so far been good.  They are ok, just unable to call family to check in.

What in the Word Series contributor: Sheila Thomas on:

WHAT IN THE WORD DOES IT SAY ABOUT WORSHIP IN WOMEN’S MINISTRY?

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Several months ago I was asked to speak about the importance of worship in women’s ministry today. I was honored and happy to do it. Why? It’s my heart. I love women’s ministry and I love worship.

So when thinking and praying about writing my article for this month, I felt led to share my thoughts again on this subject.

I feel it’s so important to ask God to show us how to worship. What does he want from us? He wants our adoration and praise. He wants us to “be in the moment” of praise and worship.

So many times it’s easy to be in a church service, but not really be there. You know what I mean? Our minds wander. We start thinking about our next day’s activities. What’s for dinner? What do I have to do tomorrow at work? Does my child have her homework done? Or worse yet, maybe you’re like me and you are easily distracted with the people surrounding you at church. “Oh, my! What was she thinking wearing THAT??!” Or “Gracious! She has a major sleep hole in her hair!”

Okay, maybe you’re not like me. I call it my crazy sense of humor. But really and truly, it could be me having a critical spirit. Lord, help me.

Years ago I found myself in a church where the musicians were less than good. Bless their hearts. They were doing their best, but for a music teacher (that’s me), I found it very hard to be able to focus on worship.

I began to talk to God about it and here’s what I heard Him say: You’re a music teacher. You are a trained musician. Your job all week long it to critique your students. It’s normal that you find yourself doing that in church. But close your eyes. Sing a little louder yourself and think of what you’re actually doing and not what they sound/look like.” I began to do that and found that I could actually worship God in spite of the less than excellent quality of the music.

Many things can distract us from worshipping God. Not even just in church, but in our everyday lives. We can find ourselves grumbling and complaining. We are sometimes just plain tired from all our necessary duties in our lives.

But God wants to be present in our everyday lives. Our days will go so much better if we will learn to praise Him instead of grumbling and complaining.

Worship is not just singing at church. Worship is done in our hearts and minds. So let’s look at what worship really is.

Worship:

The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.

Honor given to someone in recognition of their merit.

Take part in a religious ceremony.

A divine encounter with God.

You can see from these definitions that it does not necessarily mean to sing. However we have come to think of worship as music done in a church service. For the sake of time, I’m going to be focusing on that today.

As a voice Teacher, I was interested to know that there are actually health benefits to singing.

Singing helps you to live longer, produces endorphins (the “happiness hormone”), helps the body produce oxytocin, which helps reduce stress, improves your cardiac rhythm, reducing the risk of heart disease. And if you sing correctly, if helps train your stomach muscles and diaphragm. It is a great exercise for your lungs, strengthens your immunity, increasing the concentration of immunoglobulin A, helps your brain develop, and it’s the best method to get better memory. If you sing with other people, you’ll find yourself feeling more self-confident! That’s how positive singing can be!

God thinks music is very important. There are at least 63 scriptures on music in the Bible.

Psalm 104:33: “I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”

Psa. 47: 1-2: “Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the LORD Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.”

I Tim. 2:8: “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.”

One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

The Bible even speaks of winning battles through music. In II Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise him for the splendor of his Holiness as they went out at the head of the army, giving thanks to God because his love endures forever! And as they began to do this, the Lord sent ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, who were invading Judah, and they were defeated!

Battles are definitely won through our praise. When we sing and worship God together, we are creating an atmosphere for God to move. So important!

Our enemy, the devil, knows how important it is. Why do you think he messes in musicians’ lives so much? If he can cause them to be full of pride, jealousy, envy, lust, etc. , he can thwart God’s plans.

Many believe that Satan was the worship leader in heaven.

Christian and Jewish Biblical scholars draw conclusions from Ezekiel 28:12-17 and Isaiah 14:12-14, claiming that Satan was once an angelic musician; a great worship leader of Heaven. Equally studious examiners of the Word debate that these Scriptures are not referring to Satan and/or that referring to him as a worship leader is not indicated.

Whether or not Satan was a heavenly worship leader before his fall from heaven may be an ongoing debate until Jesus comes back. That he is an adversary of God is supported obviously in both New and Old Testament Scriptures (Zachariah 3:1-2;Job 2; Matthew 4:1-11; I Corinthians 10:21; Revelations 20:10).

Satan hates those who choose to praise and worship the Creator and he fights against them. He is especially concerned when believers gather together for corporate times of praise.


Focus on God creates the humble heart that attracts the favor of God. So Satan attempts to redirect the believer’s focus to anything but God. The most common way the enemy tries to interrupt the flow of corporate praise and worship is by stirring up pride and/or fear.

Whether it’s true or not that Satan was the worship leader, he definitely hates worshippers. How many times have you seen him affect the music as well as the people involved in church music?

Praise is a weapon of spiritual warfare. We must use it!

There will be music in heaven. The Bible speaks of it. Rev. 19:1-7 talks about singing, mass choirs, harps and being played.

We know that music is a gift from God and is important to Him. And not for just our pleasure, but to worship Him, to conquer the enemy, and for our own well being. I believe that our participation in worship is getting us ready to worship in Heaven.

In women’s ministry, worship is needed. Women are tired. They come to a church event needing to be refueled. Not only do we need to know the Scriptures and have fellowship and discussion time. Not only do we need to know ABOUT God. But we need to experience, worship and show our love to God. He loves our adoration and praise.

Battles are won through our worship. It takes our minds off ourselves. We put our thoughts and hearts on God. We lift our hands in praise and worship to Him.

Heaven is going to be a place full of worship. We are getting ready to participate in the BEST WORSHIP EVER!

“When we, God’s people, come into His presence with thanksgiving and praise, warfare is waged against our enemies, and our battles are won by the supernatural power of God. In the face of challenge and persecution, God’s people are to unite and praise Him. The enemy has no chance of winning against people who are consumed with praising God. There is no victory against those who rejoice in God’s great glory.” (From “Extravagant Worship” page 52 by Darlene Zschech)

II Chron. 5:4-8, 11-14 says that they were joining in unison in one voice giving praise and thanks to God. There’s something powerful about being in one accord. They were accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, and they raised their voices singing, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

Then it says that the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filed the temple of God. Who knows what would happen if we as women would get together and just praise Him together in unity.

God wants to meet with us. He wants us to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit as we worship together. It’s not just a duty or a part of the program to have a few little songs to sing. What would happen if we totally abandoned ourselves in worship and didn’t care what anyone else thought?

I realize there are programs and time constraints. We have to be considerate of those things. I don’t know about you, But I’m hungry to experience the fullness of God. To really see Him move. See permanent change in women. In our relationships. In our marriages. In our children and grandchildren. In our finances. In our health.

In order for this to happen, we have to spend some time with God. It just might be a sacrifice worth making. Granted, some are not comfortable with that. What if something weird happened? What if someone gets out of order? You know, I just think God is big enough to handle that. Are we really willing to forfeit the move of God because we fear something will get out of order or weird?

In God’s presence is where we get revelation and transformation. It’s where miracles happen. Lives are changed. People are delivered and we become more like Christ.

Let’s be willing to get out of our comfort zones. Let’s ask God to come visit our women’s ministry. Let’s not have our plans so firm that we can’t allow God to do what HE wants to do.

It’s not OUR ministry. It’s GOD’S ministry. Let’s welcome Him. Maybe more people will be changed than just in following our little ideas for ministry.

I’m tired of status quo. I’m ready for God to move. We need God. Our nation needs God. We could be the change the world needs to see! Let’s pray.

Hurricane Irma

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No matter where Hurricane Irma goes, Women’s Ministry Council is going to be affected.  We are closing down operations in preparation for the storm heading our way.  Please keep our team and community in your prayers.

As soon as the storm has passed and we have appropriate information on recovery needs in our area, and the many islands already touched by this massive storm, we will post it to this page.

When in doubt, Convoy of Hope and Samaritans Purse are great places to begin.

 

Growing in Godliness Together – Jenny Andrews

I was living in Los Angeles, California when I had met her.  I was new to the church I was attending and wasn’t sure what to expect from the mommy and me class. I just knew that I was lonely in motherhood and needed someone to say hi to me. She said hi and then invited me over to her house for burgers with the kids. My husband was getting ready to leave for war and I was so in need of support. I had been a Christian for about 1 year and was sure in need of godly women.

As we sat and chatted about who we were and how we came to be where we were now I told myself this woman is a safe person for me. I really love talking to her. That conversation was nearly 10 years ago and we have had hundreds of conversations since then.

I wasn’t always in a leadership role so when I took on a leadership role in the church after fighting with God about my skills and talents my sweet friend came with me on this journey. She lives in another state now but we talk regularly. She has heard my tears, joys, anger, and heart through many circumstances in ministry.

Leadership can be lonely, hard, and frustrating at times we all need a small handful of friends who can walk with us through some tough decisions in ministry. Leadership is not a journey that we walk on alone because God never intended us to be lone Christian rangers.  He created us to be relational. But how do you find that godly person to go to when times get tough or when you want to celebrate what the Lord is doing? Below are 3 important steps to take to finding the right person to walk through leadership with.

  1. Prayer for the Lord to send the right person to you. God cares about our relationships with others so He will gladly answer that prayer for the right person.
  2. After prayer, be intentional on educating yourself in what a good friend looks like and become one. We usually attract the type of people we want to be like. A great book called, “Safe People” by Henry Cloud is a great starting point to becoming a great friend and looking for healthy traits in other women.
  3. Look for woman who you can learn from and grow from with. Women who absolutely adore Jesus and will not compromise their relationship with the Lord for anyone. Women who will graciously call you out and hold you accountable.

My sweet sister in Christ has been through this leadership journey with me since day one; and continues to encourage me and challenge me in my walk with Jesus. She has prayed with me and for me on numerous occasions. We are growing in godliness together. We aren’t perfect but we are in love with Jesus and His word.

We are living in the last days where people will turn to their own ways and not acknowledge who God is.  But, one thing I know for sure about our Father He always leaves a remnant of people behind to stand glorify Him and His holy name. It may get harder to find those who hearts are set on God, but when you pray and seek Him He will send the people your way.

Remember you can’t do it alone friend you need others to help you lift your hands up like Moses had in Exodus 17:13 NLT:

Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So, Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So, his hands held steady until sunset.”

Those friendships are invaluable and you will not regret having them when you them the most.