Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Disciples

I've been going through Jesus' command for us in Matthew 28 and shared both the promise as we obey and that it starts when we go and engage others. Today, I'll look at the next chunk:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Making disciples has been key to me. When I go and reach out to share Jesus, I also stay. By that I mean, I go to them and intend to stay in their lives. Jesus taught many, but poured into 12 men. He shared His teachings, but also brought them into His daily life of weddings, ministry to others, travel,  and even asked them to pray during His darkest hour. He explained God's ways on a deeper level with them and invited them into His daily life.


I've received it first-hand. When I was a teen, a family poured their lives into me. I visited them for a few hours after school each day and spent many weekends with them. I witnessed daily life in their home. My friend Stephanie and her brother, David taught me how to live honoring God as a high schooler. I watched Ma'm (what I called her mom) take jobs that allowed her to be home after school every day for her kids, make her husband home-made bread and biscuits to show him love and I adored how they called each other by their pet name for each other. I learned that when we love someone, we obey by watching Steph's little sister, Sarah, practice the piano out of obedience to her parents when I knew she'd rather play video games. I saw family fights. They invited me to spend nights with them, sit at church with them, go on skiing trips, and to amusement parks with them. I heard encouragement and advice given when anyone sought it. 


And I felt safe and loved as I poured out my fears, anger, and questions. Again and again, Ma'am would stop what she was doing and sit at the table with me. She'd listen and then encourage or scold me (masked subtly by her sweet southern voice). Sometimes even Sir would counsel me from the Word (usually affirming the things Ma'am said before but I ignored). They always stocked Sprite and Cheez-its (my favorites) in the kitchen, which reminded me that I was a welcome addition to their daily lives. And it didn't end when I moved and they moved. They continue to love and support our family today. Sir even counseled Andy and I when we were clueless whether or not he should go back to school for audio engineering. That conversation and prayer time was the first step towards our role now as full time missionaries. They continue to pour Christ into me through their lives.


Enjoying Downtown Disney together last summer!


This is exactly what I pray for His strength to do for others. Pour Christ into others by pouring His truths and my life into them consistently over time. When I get to know someone at the playground, I want to invite them over for dinner or meet them for coffee and see where God may lead it. When someone asks for prayer, I want to pray right then. And then keep praying. And let them know over time that I remember and I care because God cares and He is near. For some, as God calls, I want to meet weekly to listen to them, care for them, pray with them, and point them to Him. In my home, I want to intentionally pour His Word, truth, love, and grace into my children daily as we experience life together. It varies in different seasons and with different people, but I've learned that true discipleship is not official meetings, it's inviting them to experience Christ by coming into my life and me engaging in theirs over time.


Here's something else I've learned. It isn't easy. Sometimes pouring into others means giving up down time because the phone rings or someone sends a deep question or fear in my facebook private message. Sometimes it's watching their kids so they can go have a good cry or spending hours crying with them as they hurt and grieve. Often it's messy. Life is messy, so when we invite others in and get in their lives, messy comes with it. Really engaging over time with people will involve many fun times. But also loving them through sin, hard trials, serious hurts, and sometimes scary or tragic situations. It's hard. But Jesus promises that we can do it in His power, through Him, and He gives us strength to endure, wisdom to be a good friend, and such joy in the process. 


This is discipleship: pouring the love of Christ I've received into others through teaching them His truths and inviting them to see Christ at work in our lives over time. It's an incredible (and sometimes scary) responsibility and honor given by Christ to pour His love into others. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Go!

I shared how God gave me a fresh glimpse of His nearness through Matthew 28. In that post, I gave a brief sentence about God guiding us through the Great Commission in tangible ways to give us vision and goals to reach our neighbors and the world. Some of you asked me to share what I've gleaned from this passage. So I'll share in this series a few gems God taught me through Matthew 28:18-20. Today I'll just share one phrase: Go!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


It seems pretty straightforward, but God spurs me on daily with this word: Go. He gave us His authority. He's with us. I don't go alone or in my own power. What is He with us as we go to do? To make disciples, baptize, and teach. But how? By going. At times the "go" in my life has been a call to go to foreign countries and share Him with people who had never even heard His name, sometimes it's been to go to parts of my city that I had avoided and bring socks for homeless sleeping on church steps. In our job, we prepare Jesus' words from the book of Luke in film form in every known language to send with others who are going to every nation, tribe, tongue, and language. Other times it's as simple as praying for someone in a parking lot, sending a message on facebook, or getting on the floor while my children play and engaging their hearts when I could sit on the couch with a book instead.


God's way for us to pour into others is by first going where they are. This has been huge for me as I pray that I'll live a life that points to Him. There is a place for inviting, but first, we go to them. I've met many hurting people longing for friends and in need of THE friend by paying attention when I take my kids to the playground. Moms bring their kids there and God gives me the strength to go over and start talking (why is that so hard?). Sometimes it begins a casual friendship and sometimes it's just a one-time chance to encourage them. And sometimes, God flourishes it into a full friendship where I get to pour Christ into them in our daily lives and watch God work in them. It's incredible. 


Maybe for you it's the dog park, work, grocery store, school, or your neighborhood. Maybe it's the inner city, the abortion clinic, a nursing home, or a third world country. Or maybe it's just getting down on the floor and engaging your child to see where his/her heart is and pour in the love of Christ you've received. Wherever He's calling, I'm praying we'll GO!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daddy dates

I loved this post from the resurgence on Daddy-dates and think every Dad I know should read it!

What a sweet idea. I remember Monday night Chinese dinners with my dad when my mom was on a board and at her meetings. He could have just ordered something in and sat in front of the tv, but instead, he took my sister and I out each week and spent time with us. Those memories are cherished and my relationship with my Dad is still real and precious. I think that regular time with him affirmed His love for me and I'm so glad he took time to show me in action.

My kids have an incredible father who regularly takes them fishing, makes special pancake breakfasts, buys matching pjs, and has lots of tickling and wrestling time set aside for them. It takes time together to pour into your kids. I'm thankful Andy does the hard work and gets to enjoy the fun of it.
typical Daddy tickle/wrestle floor time in our home...
But back to the link. Here's one of my favorite parts of the Daddy date post:
"Charisse is three and a half years old right now and it is just now getting to where it isn’t really weird. Seriously dads, it is awkward to sit with a one year old at Chick-Fil-A and watch them eat. You have no idea what to talk about, you have no idea what is going on in their minds, you can’t discuss current events with them. It’s weird. But it's really worth pushing through it because one day, when they are able to have conversations, you won’t be a stranger because you’ve always been there."


I encourage you to read the article. pass it on to Daddy friends. Encourage them to pour their time into their kids and speak love to them in that special way. It shows the love of Christ in such a real and tangible way. And it builds memories that they can keep forever- even once their kids are grown. They won't regret it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Amazing Conference

I haven't been to a conference in years (mainly because they are expensive), but last September I signed up for the Gospel Coalition Women's Conference coming up in Orlando June 22-24, 2012. Why did I sign up so early? Because I want to grow and be equipped to know Jesus more and share Him daily. Because I want fellowship with other ladies and a little time away from my kids for a weekend to be refreshed and replenished to go back in and lay down my life daily for them again.

And- I've never seen a line-up of so many heavy hitter speakers all to equip women to fall more in love with Jesus and go be salt and light. John and Noel Piper, Nancy Guthrie, Tim Keller, Susan Hunt, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Don Carson, Nancy leigh DeMoss, Carolyn Mahaney, etc. Seriously- the list floors me. And I LOVE the session topics. I can go hear about ways to pour into women, my children, or intentionality in the workforce. It's rare to see those all available. I'm so thankful. I can't wait! Check out the link and think about coming too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good Gift

I've been thinking a lot about God's gifts lately. We've been praying for a friend battling cancer. We've been asking God for healing, asking (at her request) that He help her to see this season as beautiful in it's time, and asking that in her living and preparing for death (whenever that may be) that He will be glorified. God spoke to me through this passage:

"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”-Luke 11:11-13 
We've been asking Him for gifts for our friend. And He reminded me that He is giving her (and us) THE gift. Himself. He doesn't just just give healing, but The Healer. Not just finances, but The Provider. Not just wisdom, but The Spirit, who is wisdom, to live in us and walk through the trial for us. God is so amazingly personal. He doesn't just give the gift, He gives Himself lavishly to all who call on Him. Sweet truth to cling to, isn't it?!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How I Want to Live and Die

‎"Let's live and speak so that men and women might know that Jesus Christ is a great Savior, the Son of the Most High, and the never ending King of Kings" -John Piper (on Luke 1:30-35)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

He is With Me

Have you ever read a really familiar passage of Scripture and been hit by one chunk of it all fresh and new? This happened this week and it's been an amazing experience of Him. Hopefully reading this with my highlight will show you:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
There it is! "Behold, I am with you. Always!" I have loved this chuck of Scripture for so long. I've heard many sermons, read much commentary, and even posted this on my wall for a long season. It has spurred me on and guided me in how to tangibly share Christ in my home, neighborhood, and the world.  It's been a constant vision and goal as we prayerfully stepped out to "go, disciple, baptize, and teach" to remind me of our call in Him. But this time, God spoke so sweetly to me and said, "Ginny, I don't just want you to live the command. I want you to live the promise, too." He was reminding me as I seek to live this out that that He is with me. Always.

He's with me as teach my oldest in school each day. He's with me when I read Biscuit the dog books again and again (and again) to my middle child. He's with me when it feels fruitless as I correct my children when they disobey. He's with me at the 4am infant feed. And again at 6 or 7, when I'm up for the day. He's with me when I step out (fearfully) to get to know a new mom at the playground. He's with me as I pray for my friend/mentor battling cancer and my other friend grieving the sudden loss of her brother. He's with me when I'm sitting on my couch reading facebook and blogs. And when my boys and I dance and sing and put on puppet shows. He's with me when we take family walks, as Andy and I get "alone time" to share our thoughts and dreams, and each night as we read His Word together as a family before bed. He's with me in the easy and the hard. In the funny daily moments and the hard life trials. He is with me. Always.

What an incredible promise. Maybe you need that reminder today, too. I don't know your daily life or trials, but I know this: If you are His, He is with you, too. Always.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The day my Grandpa Died

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”- Ephesians 5:15-17


Today I'm remembering one of the first men in my life- my grandpa- Stan Fink. We lived a town apart, just across a bridge from each other. I saw him several times a week for most of my life. He was known by most as former editor of the Atlantic City Press. But to me, he's the guy who wrote amazingly personal and wise letters to all who he loved, made up silly games for my sister and I to play, had the cookies stashed in tins under the sink counter, and watched the stock market close every day. He babysat us regularly (long after my grandma passed away), bought us nice things or wrote checks with generous amounts as gifts, picked us up from school, signed me out of school and took me to get my cast removed in 5th grade,  came to all my concerts, soccer/t-ball/cheerleading/softball games, made us ice cream sundaes, took us to the beach, took me on dates to go eat mazzo ball soup, let me pick several horses to "bet on" before he left for the racetrack, and even let all of us in my family live with him in different seasons.  He was not even close to a perfect man, but he was a WONDERFUL grandpa.  He loved us and made my sister and I feel incredibly special. 


My last conversation with him was my freshmen year of college. It was pledge week and he wanted to be sure I was choosing a national sorority (I did). We planned for me to meet him in Florida over spring break. Two days later I received a phone call from his lady friend saying he had a stroke (my parents were on a cruise) and the next day he died. It was groundhog day. Phil saw his shadow. It was also bid day- I really didn't care that I'd been accepted to the sorority that had seemed so important to me the day before.


Today is the anniversary of my grandpa's death. It's always a hard day because he died still seemingly far from God. The day he had a stroke I wrote in my journal a prayer to God asking for a chance to talk to Grandpa about Him. And then I wrote: "Will I even share with him if I have the chance? I really don't know." 


I loved him so very dearly and it grieves me and terrifies me to think he could be in hell. I cling to hope that God says He has mercy on whom He has mercy. Maybe He had mercy on Grandpa? I just don't know. And I'd be lying if I said I have a deep peace for his salvation. But I have a full trust in God that He is good and that Him saving any of us is evidence of His incredible grace and love. 


This day each year is a day of grieving for me, but also a day that spurs me on. Why? Because I never want another day like it. I don't want to wonder at funerals of people I love and wish I had shared more bodly, clearly, or even at all about Jesus who saves us from our sin and death. I pray that I really will make the most of each blog, each facebook post, my daily conversations, etc. If this is my only opportunity or last, may it be filled with awe of Christ and the love I've received from Him. I'm praying others- from my kids, parents, friends, and neighbors, to the people passing through my blog or reading a facebook post will see Him in me and long for Him as I know Him- as THE great Savior and loving God.