Showing items filed under “Denise Woodliff”
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Here we are, just a week into a brand new year. The shine probably hasn’t worn off the Christmas gifts just yet and the goals and resolutions we have made are still fresh and in focus. We might be facing the winter blahs, but many of us are still full of enthusiasm at this point.

The new year is a time for taking stock of where we are and looking at how we would like to do better. We often look at our spiritual lives, our physical bodies, our finances, and our families and seek to be intentional about all of those things with renewed fervor. I think God wired us this way, to reflect and remember and then move on with purpose. We are so open to His leadership during this season. I personally love it.

As I was considering all of these things and looking ahead at what 2019 might bring, our body of believers here at FBCW has been on my mind. It occurred to me that in all of my taking stock of things, I have never really evaluated where I am in connection to our church, or where our church is with regard to our community for that matter. My goals and plans, although all very good things, are usually centered on myself, my family, my business. I suppose without even thinking about it, I must have expected our church leaders to be the ones looking at the future for our church body. I know that God places leaders over us to shepherd and guide us, but don’t I bear some responsibility to listen to His direction with regard to service, ministry, and relationships within (inreach) and outside of (outreach) the church?

If the church is the vehicle God uses to reach the world, shouldn’t I be considering how to be intentional within it in 2019? It is so easy to be lulled into spending my time and efforts within my own little bubble and not really looking outside of it. I confess that I tend to be selfish with my time and talents. I have been convicted of late that God places opportunities for connection in my life and if I am not paying attention, it is so easy to see them instead as disruptions to my well ordered plans. 

Isn’t that what Jesus does? He disrupts. My daughter Grace planted that idea in my mind and it has taken root. I see it played out in the lives of the disciples. Jesus disrupted everything about their lives when he showed up and called them to follow Him. Nothing could remain the same. Yet how often do I attempt to fit Him into my carefully planned life instead of being open to disruption? Pastor has challenged us to say “Yes, Sir!” to God. Am I really ready to do that? What if He asks me to do something outside of my comfort zone? What if I have to sacrifice something (time, energy, money, myself) to say yes? Will I? Am I willing to say “Here I am, Lord?” Or am I more like the rich young man of Matthew 19:16-22 who went away sad because he was unwilling to have his life disrupted? (that is my interpretation)

On January 7, 2019, my daughter boarded a plane for New Zealand. She is saying “Yes, sir!” to God’s call in her life to missions there. Her life has been completely disrupted by this calling. In fact, many, INCLUDING MYSELF, have wondered if it was a foolish decision. So many questions about the details, how the Lord would provide and what it would all look like. Yet she has continued with steadfast faith, a constant unwavering belief that this is the path God has called her to and therefore He will provide. Guess what? HE HAS. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating that we all start doing things based on what we feel and toss out wisdom and common sense. What I am saying is that when we seek God’s direction and follow it he will disrupt our complacent ways and use us to bring glory to Himself as His name is spread. What an amazing thing.

So where does this fit in to God’s plans for FBCW in 2019? I don’t know the answer to that. But I know the One who does. I know He is looking for stewards who are available to have the lives disrupted for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of loving others. I know He will have opportunities for all who seek them and are willing to say “Yes Sir!”. I know there are those in our family of believers who need connection. Mentors. Teachers. Friends. I know that there are those who have not yet come to believe, who need love and compassion and people who are willing to look outside their own friends, families, dare I say cliques, and reach out to them. Are we willing to be disrupted?

Here is how I am going to start. I am asking God to show me in 2019 where he wants me to say yes to Him. Is it serving in a ministry? Is it teaching? Is it opening our home for a Bible study or fellowship? Is it mentoring? Discipling? I don’t have the answers to that, yet. But I am starting the year with a willing heart and a prayer that he soften me to be more willing in areas where my flesh resists. As we study the book of Acts this year through Pastor’s sermons, I am also starting out January reading a chapter a day. There are 28 chapters, so you can easily finish the book in a month. I invite you to join me in these things. Perhaps God has been waiting for people willing to be disrupted to do great things in our community and in our church this year!

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It's that time of year around here.  Life seems to be stagnant.  We say we have the blahs or are in the doldrums.  We look forward to spring, when things will be different, but in the meantime,  it is more of the same:  cold, barren, dirty, and nothing seems to change.  We long for adventure, for variety, for diversity - anything to get us out of the stale pit we find ourselves in.  We remember other seasons longingly - the thrill of summer with it's sunny skies and BBQ, the lush green of springtime.  (Funny how we forget the complaints about pollen and excessive heat from this perspective!)

In Numbers chapter 11, God's people were in a similar season.   “They remembered the good things of Egypt and craved them; the fish, the cucumbers, the melons....verse 6  But now our appetites are gone.  All we ever see is this manna!"    Tired of the same old thing every day, they longed for something different, some variety. 

The funny thing is, we humans don't typically choose to have much diversity in our lives.  We go to the same restaurants and order the same things.  We sit in the same pew at church or the same chair in class.  We wear the same clothes over and over - even when we have a closet full of other things.  We find comfort and security in the sameness of things, I suppose.  In routine.  In not dealing with the unexpected.

In fact, we tend to do the same thing when it comes to our relationships, our interactions with other people.  For the most part, our friends are like us.  They look like us, act like us, think like us.   We hang with those who make us feel that security that comes from sameness.  We are comfortable with those whose lives mirror ours as much as possible.

That's not all bad.  The manna was a provision from God, a good thing!  The same every day, but a good thing nonetheless.  Winter is a good thing, too.  A season that has a lot going on behind the scenes in nature that is preparing for the next season of growth.   Our relationships with those who are like us are good as well, we can encourage each other and help each other as we walk through this life together.   

Too much interaction with only those mirror images is not a good thing, however.   As Beth Moore recently tweeted, "Ick.  What a lame way to live."  She's right!  God has created mankind in such enormous variety.   I believe He longs for us to grow and learn and be stretched by one another and be blessed by the diversity of His creation.  Honestly, it can be scary sometimes.  For some of us, the opportunities to come in contact with those of a different race, religion, socio-economic status, culture, educational choice, or those who sin differently than we do are pretty rare.   Some of us have had interactions with those who have points of view that aren't just different from ours but are in opposition to God's as we find in His Word.  That can be really intimidating.  In other cases, we just don't have a perspective to understand the cares and concerns of those so different from our own.

I believe that we are called to get over those fears and get to know folks that aren't like us.  Expand our circles of interaction.  Speaking of circles, the we can have so many opportunities for gospel centered "Three Circles" conversations, sharing Jesus, when we step out of our comfort zones and interact with those that are not so familiar to us.  We are missing out on a whole incredible world of humanity when we close ourselves off, and we are missing our calling to share the gospel and make disciples as well.  We were made for more than this! 

I am challenging myself, and you, to be intentional about having conversations with those who are different from us.    I am making a goal to have at least one interaction a week for the rest of 2018 with someone who is not "like me".  Yes, I will have to seek out the opportunities.  Yes, I'm kind of scared.  But what better way to escape the doldrums than to experience more of God's pinnacle of creation:  people?!?  So, I'm seeking them out, and I'm going to be prepared to listen to them first.  Really listen to their stories, to their experiences, to their hearts.   And I'm going to be ready to share Jesus.

A reminder as tweeted by Beth:

  1. We don't have to agree with people to LIKE them.
  2. We don't have to agree with people to LEARN from them.
  3. We don't have to agree on all things to agree on SOME things.

I'd like to invite you to add some variety to your own life this year.  Let's not be like the little child who never wants to eat anything but chicken nuggets.  Let's be like Phillip in Acts 8, willing to initiate a conversation with the Ethiopian.   Let's sit in a different chair, eat at a different restaurant, and celebrate the potpourri of humanity as we live this adventure!

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