Bloom Where You are Planted

By Grant Kaul, Senior Pastor

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

Have you realized the significance of your current situation?  One of my mentors reminded me on several occasions, “Bloom where you are planted”.  Whether the present state of the soil of your life is rough or rich, our relationship with Christ allows us to bear the fruit of His character as our hearts abide in His Spirit (John 15:4-5).

            Ponder Mordecai’s words to his adopted daughter Esther, the Jewish Queen who had been married to the Medo-Persian King in the fifth century B.C.  Mordecai exhibited a healthy faith in God’s sovereign power to preserve the captive Jewish people who were facing extermination, with or without Queen Esther appealing to the King to address this travesty.  He simply appealed to God’s providential timing when he told her, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

            Have you considered that God has you where He wants you to fulfill His purposes in this time?  Do not underestimate your significance in light of our Father’s providence.  As we begin this year, take some time to reflect on how you arrived at this present point and ask the Lord to help you understand how He would desire you to live, love and serve Him.  Praise God with thankfulness and look to Him with eagerness to help you think through and write out what His “next steps” would be for you in your relationships and responsibilities.  Remember, the Lord Jesus has prepared you and placed you, “for such a time as this”.  

We Treasure What We Truly Value

By Grant Kaul, Senior Pastor

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Luke 2:16-19

Something has taken hold of my mother.  Several years ago, my parents purchased an iPad.  Mom’s use of her new toy/tool reveals what she really treasures.  Let’s just say, that her memory, in more ways than one, is filled with scenes of her family — especially her grandkids.  She has countless hours of pictures and videos of the grandkids in action:  footballs being thrown, piano songs being performed, gymnastic routines being practiced, kids playing, newborns learning to stand, and hundreds of shots from everyday life.

What is interesting about my mother’s use of the iPad is not that she has captured all of these memories, but that they have captured her.  She simply loves watching and reliving the moments that have come to mean so much to her.  Just ask my mom, she would be happy to share!  This shouldn’t be a big surprise, for we treasure what we truly value.

This is what we find Mary doing with all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.  She was simply overcome with wonder at the incarnation of Christ.  She didn’t just pass through the events of her life; she dwelled upon them, letting their significance routinely flood her heart.  The pattern of regularly pondering the wonders of Jesus is the path of joy and maturity.

As we draw near to the day we celebrate the coming of Christ, let us make the most of this season by daily reflecting and rejoicing over the majesty and the miraculous reality of Immanuel, who is God with us (Matt.1:23).  Time reflecting leads to times of rejoicing.

Engaging in Missions

Ryan

By Ryan McCreery, Associate Pastor of Ministry Development

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Missio Nexus Mission Leaders Conference in Florida. Two mission leaders from Fellowship joined me.  Admittedly, we did not know what to expect, but attended with two simple objectives.  We wanted to ensure we were on the right track providing care for missionaries of Fellowship, and we wanted to better understand how to be more globally engaged as a church.

This three-day conference provided a full schedule of passionate speakers, lively worship services, informative breakout sessions, and numerous networking opportunities.  900 mission leaders from around the world were in attendance, giving us an unprecedented insight.  By the end of the conference, our objectives were met, and our expectations were exceeded.  We learned what it would look like to become a more globally engaged church, developing long-term partnerships with missionaries and sending organizations as well as planning strategies for effective short-term missions.

Since I could not take all of you reading this blog with me to the conference, I want to share my greatest take-away from it that has revolutionized my thinking about discipleship.  Engaging in missions is a necessity to maturing in Christ.

You see, I am passionate about coming alongside believers intentionally and relationally helping them to grow in their faith in Jesus and to reach out to others with the gospel in everyday life.  However, before this conference, I honestly could not concisely connect the process of discipleship to “missions”.  (And when I say “missions”, I mean supporting sent missionaries who cross barriers such as distance, culture, or language with the intent to share the gospel for the sake of evangelism and discipleship.)  Maturity in Christ is always the goal of discipleship, but missions seemed optional.  That is, before the conference.

Then, sitting in one of the main sessions, the speaker emphasized the phrase “of all nations” from the Great Commission.  His point was that Jesus came not only to reach you and me with the gospel, but then through us to reach the world for Christ.

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 I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

This emphasis, “of all nations”, helped me to see the Great Commission more clearly, and more distinctively as a Christian.  Not only are we to be about making and maturing disciples at Fellowship, but also to ensure that our discipleship process includes “of all nations”.  Our collective ministry efforts should result in more mature believers, reaching the lost with the gospel, and reaching the unreached around the world for Jesus Christ.

Now having returned, this clearer understanding has given me (and the mission leaders who attended the conference with me) greater insight how to integrate “missions” with all other discipleship ministries.  One step we took earlier this year was launching a Missionary Care Team.  This team has already taken big steps to defining and providing comprehensive care for our church’s missionaries.  Next year, we are excited for the ideas we have to create greater awareness about missions and opportunities to get involved at Fellowship.

How then can you engage in missions at Fellowship, going forward?

First, you can engage prayerfully.  Staying current with our church’s missionaries helps you to know what they do and how you can best pray for them on a consistent basis.

Second, you can engage financially.  Committing to financially support missions is one investment sure to have an eternal impact in God’s economy.

Third, you can engage personally.  Serving on our Missionary Care Team or joining a short-term mission trip is an excellent way to get up close and personal with what God is doing globally.

As maturing Christians, we have been called to make disciples as we follow Jesus.  This includes those in our home, our church, our neighborhoods, our city, and throughout our country.  Likewise, we are called to join the global church movement taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.  Let’s engage the world together maturing as Christ-centered believers, reaching the lost with the gospel, as well as partnering with missionaries to make disciples of all nations for the glory of God.

How to Engage Your Child in Discipleship Conversations

Stephen

By Steven Knight, Family Life Pastor

One of the most effective ways that a parent can disciple their kids is to take advantage of time that they already have together in their everyday lives – at home, in the car, etc. These environments can be a great place for engaging your child in discipleship conversations.

At home, you may have time for deeper discussions, while a car trip provides a short amount of time to talk about a specific topic. Through the course of a child’s life, a number of topics for discussion and discipleship will naturally come up as they ask questions about life and God. However, these environments are also a great place for parents to initiate conversations with their kids.

For example, if you are driving home from church, you can ask your child about what they learned today in children’s church. A common response I’ve heard from parents is that they don’t get much of an answer to this question.

What should parents do to get more engagement from their kids? I would recommend two strategies:

  1. Model it for them. Take the time to share with your kids what you learned from a sermon, small group, etc. Why is it important to know that? How are you going to apply it to your life this week? These are examples of questions that you can ask yourself as you model for your kids how to share what they’ve learned.
  2.  Ask open-ended questions. This requires your kids to think about better answers. Avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions and focus on engaging them in deeper conversations with quality questions. Over time, they’ll learn how to engage better in these conversations with you.

Consider taking small steps toward starting these discipleship conversations during the week. Think about how you can lead your family and follow the discipleship model in Deut. 6:4-9 as you seek to disciple your children throughout the week in your everyday lives.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of discipleship conversations. Instead, start small – could you initiate one of these conversations this coming week? Then, continue to look for more opportunities to start these important conversations as you disciple your kids.

Originally posted on KidminTools.com.