Posts tagged Discipleship
Leading by Paul’s Example {DWITW 365}
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I am a small group facilitator at my church. While it sounds like it just means I lead the group through the lessons, it really takes on a much deeper meaning. My co-facilitators are a couple from my church, and we spend a great deal of time in discussion & prayer for our group. We want to ensure that we are speaking God’s truth over their lives, that we are listening to His guidance and inspiring proper behaviors.

The small group consists of a wide variety of backgrounds, personalities, and faith levels. Some have church backgrounds that did not lead to a relationship with Christ, some came to church and went away, and some have been walking with God for years and are quite solid. As Paul states in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 this group exhibits the sentiment that “the love [they] all have for one another is increasing” - this group has referred to themselves as a family since day one.

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his poweR
-2 tHESSALONIANS 1:11

We often find ourselves discussing the various aspects of the lives of the people among our group. As facilitators, we attempt to guide the group into Christ-centered behaviors. We encourage seeking God amid the storms they face. This reminds me of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. He encourages them to stay the course in 1 Thess. ch. 1 by reminding them of their previous examples in the faith (Paul, Silas & Timothy). Paul states that he and his ministry colleagues continually thank God for them, for their faithfulness. In 1 Thessalonians ch. 3, Timothy brought the good report back to Paul regarding the church at Thessalonica’s faithful love. Each of these is a precious example of the church loving on one another. Why? So that they may be brought to a place of security and trust in each other and in Christ.

We, too, have opportunities to encourage or breakdown one another through a newer avenue - social media. Following Paul’s example, rather than hiding behind the anonymity of the screens, we should find the beauty within others. We should be available to others in their times of need and be guiding them back to the Word of God for hope and instruction. As in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, we need to pray constantly for those within our influence, whether that be children, siblings, friends, or small groups we are leading.  The Word of God does not return void, seeking the truth from God changes us. We begin to lose the sense of despair that hovers over us like a storm cloud. Instead we see the light of God, bringing hope to what may otherwise be a dark situation. We must remember that God uses all our experiences for His good, allows us to see these moments as just that, a moment in time. We can encourage our believing family to trust that God’s plans always prevail. As people see this time and time again throughout their lives, their mindset can begin to shift from reacting with desperation to responding with “God’s got this, He and only He will carry me through this and every day.” This begins to radiate out from us. Our authenticity to God’s faithfulness to us begins to make others around us question how we can possibly maintain such a spirit of courage during trials and tribulations. When we are able to proclaim “God is good” in any given scenario, those words place a seed of hope amongst anyone in earshot or readership.

I find my role as a facilitator both rewarding and challenging. As someone who has walked my share of fires, without always seeking the Word of God before I bury my face under the covers for a few weeks, I try to encourage the group to spend time in God’s Word, worship, praise and pray as their knee-jerk responses. I know first hand how these habits are truly the best path that God has given us to walk through any fire. However, as the precious people in my life continue through their lives, both beautiful and difficult, many are overwhelmed and easily resort to the comfortable habitual ways of coping. I find myself battling their logic and reasons for not seeking Christ, for not having time, energy, or motivation. While I was once that girl, I now want to jump up on top of my chair and shout “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!! THIS WORKS!! GOD IS THE ANSWER!!” As their teacher, I want to see revelation and change in their lives. I don’t want to see the enemy continue to defeat what God is trying so hard to reveal to them.

The Word of God does not return void, seeking the truth from God changes us

But I’ve learned that beating people over the head with my Bible is not the answer to changing their habits. This only causes them to feel judgment and conditional acceptance. Instead, we issue challenges to worship, to spend time in prayer, to spend time in the Word. We check in on them throughout the week, we post encouraging Scriptures and love to them in the private Facebook group. We hold them in prayer every day, praying for God’s mighty love to break the shackles of their past. We pray for their hearts to develop a desire to seek Him that is so strong, they run for their prayer closets every free minute of their days. And I listen. I listen intently to the words God gives me to share with them each week. I thank God for trusting me with their precious lives and their journeys to find a deeper relationship with Him when not so long ago, I was the girl hiding under the covers with excuses oozing out of me for why God didn’t love me or had abandoned me. I find it such an honor to be given the blessing of pouring into their lives.

I was so greatly encouraged by my reading of Paul’s letters. I was reminded that the love of God showing through us, as His heart on earth, is so powerful. I was reminded that human nature has been the same as far back as Adam and Eve. We are profoundly in need of encouragement and grace to move beyond the mistakes and the broken places within us that we believe keep God far from us. Yet in reality, those mistakes and broken places are what should drive our hearts to seek Him with a fervor - so much so that we  jump up on top of those chairs shouting for all to hear: “GOD IS THE ANSWER!!”

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Sonya Gentry wants to live in a world where being kind and loving means that when we encounter a need or brokenness, we say yes first and think about it second. This would be a world where walking with Jesus means trying to act like Jesus through loving, relevant acts of service; where Christians put their hands and feet in the dirty situations of the world in order to show people God’s love and grace; where we understand that comfort zones are meant to be broken because people need us to show up and be be the best portrayal of God’s love we can be. When she's not working, you can find her being silly with friends and family, playing games with her nephews, volunteering for various organizations and events with her church, or relaxing with a movie.

DiscipleHer Reflections
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 I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
— Matthew 28:19-20, ESV

Can you believe it has been almost a month already since the DiscipleHer conference? We have heard so many stories of how God used the time together to grow the DWITW community in the realm of discipleship! We know He is continuing to write this story for you post-conference, and so we wanted to share some of these "God stories" from three of our sisters. We dare you not to cry!

I learned I needed something more intentional, regular, a time where we could get out our Bibles and really delve into it.
— Jessi Dunn

Jessi Dunn writes, "Before the conference, I felt the need to be discipled by someone. I have a select few women who speak into my life and teach me how to be like Jesus, but through the conference, I learned I needed something more intentional, regular, and a time when we get out our Bibles and really delve into it. Before the conference, I was wondering who I should ask. And then, someone during that weekend said, 'Choose someone who has qualities that you admire and want to have yourself.' And immediately I knew who that was. But I knew also it would be hard to ask this person because I know she is seen as a mentor to a lot of women at our church and has a lot going on....

Fast forward to almost a week later, at our women's Bible study we have at FCF Dayton every other week, we were discussing the conference, what we learned, etc. Karen, the lady who I wanted to be mentored by, is the "leader" of this bible study. After that Bible study, God was tugging at me again to ask her on my drive home. To get over the lie that she would have no time for me, and I shouldn't even bother asking. By the time I got home, I had decided I would just ask her if there'd be a time, maybe a few times a month, where we could just get out our Bibles and read them together, and see where it would go from there. Well... God did His thing again, and when I got home, I realized I had a missed call from Karen. I called her back. She LITERALLY called me to ask the same thing I wanted to ask her!!!!! She talked about how we were already kind of doing it, but wanted to be more intentional, and that she saw my desire to be discipled. She also knows I have a hard time doing face to face with people, and being transparent, which I've talked to her about before, and knows this will be good for both of us. I couldn't believe it, but then I could because I know God is so good and this is ordained by Him! So now we're studying Esther, and meeting every other Monday evening. I'm so excited about what God is going to do through this!"

I heard the message, ‘Look to Jesus’ on repeat. If we don’t look to Jesus and seek Him first before our other relationships, we will never be fulfilled.
— Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller shared, "I believe God was perfectly orchestrating this conference for this season in my life.  2017 brought with it the darkest days of my life to this point.  My family was in turmoil, and I was lost.  I knew that God was the only hope that I had.  A friend suggested I listen to the DWITW podcast for Christian encouragement.  I saw on social media that I could win tickets to this conference by just sharing the event on my Facebook page.  I had this overwhelming feeling that I knew I would win a ticket.  I listened to my first DWITW podcast and discovered that I had indeed won a ticket.  I knew that I needed to be at this conference. 

I have actively dodged discipleship relationships for a number of years after being in others that seemed to fail me.  I held resentment against women in my life who didn't seek me out to ask me how I was. It was as if I felt it was their responsibility to find me in my sin and help.  I never ask for help. So I have lived a lonely walk and I found myself so far and deep in mud I was stuck.  This conference helped me see these things in my life. I heard the message 'look to Jesus' on repeat during the weekend.  If we don't look to Jesus and seek him first before other relationships, we will never be fulfilled.  Through the encouragement of the DiscipleHer conference, I am first looking to Jesus, not to a person. I walked away with a fresh view on my own heart and sin and the hope to carry on. 

We appreciate the many calls throughout the conference to READ the Bible, to reach out to others, to make sure we’re pointing one another to Him!
— Carol Benoy

One of the conference keynote speakers, Carol Benoy, sent us this encouragement: "The whole experience--preparation, participation, and post-conference fruit--has been enriching for Robyn and me. Each of the parts accomplished good things for us personally and as friends in a discipleship relationship. On our ride home from the Saturday conference, we determined to call each other at a designated time each week to catch up on our personal lives and then pray about them. This is already a blessing!

We appreciate the many calls throughout the conference to READ the Bible, to reach out to others, to make sure we're pointing one another to Him! We were both energized by the weekend and it has propelled us to the next step in our relationship! From that flows more--always more! God gives and we share--and I think our eyes are more open to opportunities and our ears to hearing God speak!"