Trailblazing {Devotion by Jenny Andrews}

trailblazing

I became the director of a mentoring ministry in my local church at the age of 28. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I questioned God and His calling in my life at that moment. I thought to myself, often, surely this is a mistake.  Who am I to lead in this area?  But, the Lord knew just what to do with me. He gave me the strength and courage to persevere through the unknown many times.

I didn’t grow up in the church or how to start a ministry. I started to read books and educate myself on ministry; meanwhile I was in college going to school for a degree in accounting. It then hit me one day that I could use the tools I was learning in my business school to apply them to my new ministry. I became organized and started to see the tools the Lord was giving me in the business world as blessing for His kingdom. After 6 years in the ministry I had everything down pat. The ministry grew, and I am now teaching others how to start their own ministry in mentoring. What I also came to understand was that I was a trailblazer in this type of ministry for my church.

The word trailblazer is defined as:

1.a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder.

2.a pioneer in any field of endeavor:

Isn’t that what leadership is? We are all leading in new areas of our life whether in ministry, at home, in the work place, or other areas. We are all trailblazing in leadership. I think it is amazing that there are no two people alike in this world and that the Lord has a specific call on our individual lives.

Most recently I was speaking at a Native American Women’s Conference and I met a woman who said to me, “Jenny you are pioneer for your people the Lakota.” Her statement impacted me in a positive way and made me reflect on all the Lord was doing in my life at that moment. He used her to remind me that He is the leader of my trailblaze and that He will be the one to set the path before me. I now trailblazing in a new area with a new season of calling in life, but I am embracing it thanks to that one sentence said to me.

We all get to be trailblazers. I know it comes with unchartered territory, but can I remind you that the Lord has already equipped you. I leave you with this passage in the Bible because it assures me that although this may be new area of leadership to you or me it isn’t to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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There’d Be Days Like This {Trish Jones}

 

Hope

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

in the light of His glory and grace.”

(Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Weary. Troubled. Dark. Directionless. Trapped. Tired.

Just…tired. Ever felt that way? Perhaps you feel that way now.

The news is never light and uplifting, but in the past few weeks it has been unrelentingly oppressive and even horrifying. It seems like half the United States has been on fire and the other half under water. South of us. islands have been swept into utter darkness and devastation by record winds and waves. Flooding in South Asia has killed over 1,400 with tens of thousands more left to scratch for existence in muck and mire. Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes in recent weeks have killed hundreds, including children, and cause us to step lightly on the earth beneath our feet, fearful lest it shift and swallow us whole.

Meanwhile, people are walking into schools, businesses and stores brandishing guns and knives with death and destruction as their purpose. A madman in North Korea seems intent on plunging the world into nuclear war. Multitudes are losing belongings, transportation, shelter and even their lives as they struggle through the wreckage caused by “natural” disasters, while multitudes more are attempting to determine their gender by their own choice rather than their genetic makeup.

Depressed yet?

It’s certainly easy to be. And yet, into this maelstrom of current events that seem to be ushering the world toward what Jesus referred to as “the beginning of birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8) prayers the Apostle Paul wrote for ancient believers in Rome stand true today – because the God to whom Paul prayed is faithful and immutable.

As we survey the state of the world in which we live – and struggle with very real fears and anxieties about what that world may hold in the near future for us and those whom we love, let us true believers – followers of “the Way” – be strengthened by the God Who has the whole world in His hands.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hopeMay the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 15:4-6)

These are words rich and deep with meaning – and can be so very easy to skip over without really apprehending what they mean in our lives. But I invite you – as you read this and any other portion of Scripture – to always be asking the rather blunt question: “so what?” Or, “and what exactly does this have to do with my life?”

A quick side trip: don’t ever ask when reading the Bible, “what does this mean to me?” Now, follow me here because this is going to sound a bit harsh – but it makes no difference what any passage of Scripture “means” to you – or me. We are not free to privately interpret the Word of God (2 Peter 1:20). The truest question we can ask is “what does this mean, period?” In other words, “what did God mean when He said this?”

Look again at what the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul:

  • God-breathed Scripture (see 2 Timothy 3:16) was given for our instruction
  • Scripture provides both endurance (cheerful patience, continuance, constancy) and encouragement (comfort, consolation, solace)
  • Those qualities of the written Word result in hope (confident expectation, faith)

Why do the Scriptures provide for us such needed strengths and encouragements in the midst of dark, fearful and troubling times?

Because the God Who spoke those words through His servant Paul was speaking from His own character. Note in verse six that he is “the God of endurance and encouragement.” Not just any “little g god,” but the God. God is enduring, patient, constant. God is encouragement, comfort, consolation, solace.

And what’s the result of all this? What’s the “so what” that impacts our lives daily, hourly, as we walk – frequently stumbling – through difficult times? We do so together, in harmony with other believers. We are not lone ranger Christians, but part of a faith family, part of the Body of Christ – and in that harmony, we glorify God – which is our highest purpose and greatest good.

Ah, but that’s not all. The Holy Spirit continues through Paul:

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. .

(Romans 15:13)

What is God revealing about His very essence here? He is the God of hope. Hope is part of His being, one of His character traits. The original Koine Greek of this verse is even stronger. Read this verse from an academic Greek-to-English translation:

Now the God of the hope fill you with every joy and hope in the sphere

of believing, resulting in your super-abounding in the sphere of the hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:13, Wuest)

Again: not just any “little g god,” but the God. And, not just any type of amorphous, fuzzy, wishful-thinking, “gee, I hope it happens” kind of hope – but the hope, the confident certainty of God Himself, accompanied by (it gets even better!) – joy!

Not necessarily “happiness” – our personal circumstances can sometimes result in deep emotions of sorrow, anxiety, even depression. But joy can be our constant state of being because it is God’s own joy; His calm delight, His gladness, His exceeding and eternal joy.

That’s the “so what” of Paul’s prayer here and his declaration of another part of God’s attributes. What difference does it make to us, as believers? How rich do you want to be? What difference does it make in our frequently difficult lives to be filled, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with all joy and peace (now there’s a precious commodity!) and confidence (hope) – not only in our present circumstances, no matter what they may be, but in our future?

Paul closes out this section of his letter to the church at Rome with a blessing and benediction, that is equally applicable to us today:

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

(Romans 15:33)

It will sound familiar by now: He is the God of the peace – and He is with all of His children – at all times, in all circumstances.

As the winds howled and the rains blew sideways. As roofs ripped and trees twisted and power flickered and died. As branches blew through unprotected windows and children cried in terror, while family pets shivered under beds. As our neighbors watched furniture float down rivers that used to be streets and interior walls buckle into mush from bacteria-laden floodwaters. As family and friends in the Keys and islands further south step out after horrific storms pass to find scenes of complete destruction. As they sit in stunned disbelief and wonder how they are to exist another day, let alone a lifetime. As the earth heaves and buckles and buildings collapse and children die in the rubble.

Peace? Peace? God with us? Really? Hope? Joy? Have you hurled those questions at the now-clear sky and wondered if there really was anyone or anything listening – who cared? Have your children or your neighbors come to you in anger fueled by deep grief and asked you those questions because they know you go to church occasionally?

Can you answer? Do you know why you believe what you say you believe? Have you come to grips with the “so what?” of these declarations of Paul?

Look again at these traits in these five verses:

  • Endurance (patience)
  • Encouragement (comfort, consolation)
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Holy Spirit power

As new creatures in Jesus Christ, regenerated, repentant children of Almighty God, these are ours to learn, grasp, believe, lean on and live out – regardless of our circumstances – because they are attributes of our Father Who bestows them on us through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit and through His inerrant, inspired holy Word. Be encouraged. Be joyful. Be hopeful. Be at peace. Our God reigns. Hallelujah!

The Call to Leadership – Devotion

stonewall

The Call to Leadership

By Jenny Andrews

I sat in a bible study as I heard a woman ask a question that was foundational to our Christian faith.  She had been a believer for over 10 years and I thought to myself, why doesn’t she know that answer? I was a newer believer and knew the answer to her question. In that moment my heart was burdened because it seemed to me that no one had really taken the time to teach her.  This scene played over in my mind as I went home that night to pray and ask God what could I do.

It was that day I felt weeping in my heart for women to know who Jesus is and for women to see who they are in Christ. That day challenged me.  I recalled a bible study that I had went through, at my last church with an older woman, so I pulled it out and thought to myself: this is it! I want to do this bible study with her so she will know how much Jesus wants her to know him.

I spent several weeks in prayer and then went before Pastor of Ministries to share my heart and burden for this woman. I asked him if I could do the bible study with her, and he took the study to review. A short while later I was invited into a women’s ministry team meeting and was asked to lead a discipleship ministry. God had heard my prayers (and I was not quite ready for that) but I found favor with the pastor. I took the material and begin to use the study to influence other women in my church, and I asked other women to help me in the process of building up women too.

That was over 6 years ago, and during that time I had many challenges and obstacles. Yet, through it all the Lord helped me each step of the way.  He got me through the darkest times in my life.  During that same time frame of building this ministry I lost both of my parents to illnesses, and those days seemed the hardest, but God is getting me through that as well.

I am reminded of a great leader in the Bible his name is Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a burden for God’s people and the Lord used him greatly. He wept for his people and prayed for the God of Israel to help them. (Neh 1:3-4) Nehemiah didn’t just pray though, he went into action. (Neh 2:11) He then went before the king and asked for help, and he found favor with the king (Neh 2:4-6). He was a man of influence before his people and called them to help with the building of the wall (Neh 2:18). He not only leads the people he encouraged them in the work they did even when other opposed them (Neh 2:20).

As leaders, we must remember the call to leadership and why we do what we do. We do it, because we know that is what we are called to do. We will have opposition along the way, but remember the favor we have in Christ. We don’t give up, but we persevere through trials and tests; because we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. When all is said and done, we will one day hear our Savior say,

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'” (Matt 25:23)

Mourning Las Vegas

plv

It has been a storm of tragedy recently.  Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas.  The earthquake in Mexico City.  Hurricane Irma strikes the Islands and parts of Florida.  Hurricane Maria comes along to further batter the already bruised.  We are still working through recovery efforts from these Natural Disasters, only to wake up this morning to terrible news.  Tragedy strikes Las Vegas, leaving behind 58 (as of this post) families planning funerals, and 200 plus people recovering from injuries sustained.

This morning, on my drive, I prayed for the Lord to just come.  How much more can we endure?  As mothers, we worry for our children… wherever they may go.  Terror knows no bounds, and it knows every generation.

Cary Nieuwhof authored a piece on his site today… click the picture below to read it in full.  Wise words on a wounded day.

CNart