5x5x5 Reading Plan – 2 Timothy

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Dear 5x5x5 Readers,

I have just a few words as we started reading 2 Timothy today.  You already know the relationship between Paul and the young pastor Timothy who was laboring in Ephesus.  This letter is Paul’s farewell address, his last known correspondence.  Paul is “passing on the torch” to the next generation as he knows his death is near.  As a result, Paul writes on themes of staying strong, holding fast to the truth, preaching the Word in and out of season, training others who will carry on the kingdom work, and finishing the race well.  He gives warnings regarding quarreling and the dangers of self-seeking godlessness.  Paul finished well, but he certainly felt rather alone and abandoned – he had perhaps no idea that his labor would still be bearing fruit two thousand years later.  Praise God for a life lived in surrender to Christ!

The Fishless Fisherman

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There was a group called Fishermen’s Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing.

Someone suggested they needed a philosophy of fishing. So they carefully defined and redefined fishing and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics.

Then they realized they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat and when? These are all good things to know.

So they began research studies and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to faraway places to study different kinds of fish with different habits. Some got PH.D.’s in Fishiology.

But no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered the fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all the Fellowship halls.

Still no one was fishing.

A survey was launched to find out why. Most did not answer the questionnaire but from those who did respond, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment and several to go around encouraging fishermen. What with meetings, conferences and seminars, others simply didn’t have time to fish.

Jake was a newcomer to the Fishermen’s Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, Jake went fishing. He tried a few things, got the hang of it and caught a choice fish. At the next meeting he told his story, was honored for his catch and was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

Now because of all the speaking and his election to the Board of Directors of the Fishermen’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing.

Soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. He cut the speaking, resigned from the Board and said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.” They did – just the two of them – and they caught fish.

The members of the Fishermen’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few.

Lorne Sanny, Navigator Associate (thank you Cecil Bean for posting this!)

Mindy’s Good Reads 2015

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One of my life-long goals is to read an average of one book a month… And I have my book club to thank for keeping me on track!  Here’s what I read in 2015:

These three were absolutely extraordinary:

Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter (Old Testament theology)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (Muslim intellectual encounters Jesus)

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller (marriage)

The rest of the list (alphabetical):

Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Olympic rowing team)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland, murder mystery)

Counting by 7’s by Holly Sloan (Young adult, brilliant child in foster care)

Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (women in the genealogy of Christ)

Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me to Stand by Kay Arthur (Ephesians, spiritual warfare)

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (autobiography that inspired the prison series)

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (American orphans 1800s)

Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen (analysis of the prodigal son parable)

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst (life management)

The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe (my fall teaching topic)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (England, plague in the middle ages)

Did you have a favorite book in 2015?  I’d love to hear about it!

Rejoicing in My New Job!

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I have a new job!  When I saw this diagram recently I saved a PurposeCirclescopy of it because it so neatly summed up the place God has for me at the moment.  I am sitting at the crossroads of my passion (seeing people grow in Christ and their lives transformed), my mission (to equip others for work in the Kingdom of God), my profession (teaching and being the academic resource librarian), and my vocation… as the Adult Discipleship Coordinator for Lynn Haven United Methodist Church.

It’s exciting and, as soon as I surface from sorting out the administrative challenges, I am looking forward to thinking “big thoughts” about what discipleship in the church should look like.  How do we take this mass of comfortable consumers and turn them into self-replicating disciples of Jesus?!  Honestly, that’s a work only Jesus can do, but I am very glad He’s invited me along for the challenge.

I covet your prayers!  And your input!  Love to you all, Mindy

A Discipleship Path at Last!

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For the last 6 months I have been chairing a committee at our church that was tasked with designing a discipleship path for people of all ages and levels of maturity.  I was really excited about this project because I agree with Greg Ogden who wrote,

“If making disciples is the primary mission of the church, would we not expect some public pathway to maturity in Christ in most churches?   Yet it is rare to find a church with a well-thought out, easy-to-grasp process or path onto which people can get if they want to become self-initiating, reproducing, fully-devoted followers of Christ.”  Transforming Discipleship

Two weeks ago we unveiled the plan to 50+ teachers and small group leaders, asking for their input in support in this new project.  We hope to launch it this August.  Here is the overview:

Dicipleship Path

*Classes are generally 6 weeks.  This is an adaptation of materials from Saddleback Resources.

STARTING POINT
Introduction to our church and vision, weekly church activities, church facilities; opportunity to meet pastoral staff and departmental representatives; Introduction to the Discipleship Path and help to find best fit. 1 hour, monthly

NEW BEGINNINGS  Introduction to Jesus Christ, basics of Christian faith, and walking with Christ; For new Christians or those who have recently recommitted to following Christ; Various curriculum available. Class or with mentor, 12 weeks

101 MEMBERSHIP “Know” –  Commitment to Christ and the church family  Overview of United Methodist history, doctrine (including salvation, baptism, and communion), organization, Membership vows of prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

201 MATURITY “Grow” – Commitment to habits necessary for spiritual growth Principles of spiritual growth & discipleship, habits necessary for growth, learning to read and study the Bible, developing a quiet time, prayer, tithing, fellowship and small groups, maintaining good habits, and a vision for maturity.

301 MINISTRY “Serve” – Commitment to serving God and others  Understanding how God has shaped you, spiritual gifts, discovering your gifts, heart passion, natural abilities, personality types, past experiences, developing a heart for service, serving in this church, ministry opportunities, expectations of those serving, connection with ministry leaders.

401 MISSION “Go” – Commitment to sharing the gospel with others  Discovering your mission to the world, your purpose in the kingdom of God, discipleship, developing your testimony, learning to share the gospel, building bridges to reach others, introduction to local and global missions.

There it is!  Now, we know that “Programs do not make disciples, people make disciples…” but I think this will be a fantastic tool for encouraging spiritual growth and engagement, and it should open the door for many one-to-one and small group relationships.

So now I’ll be writing curriculum and teaching notes all summer…. Ha ha.  What do you think?

The Point of Holy Week

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crossThis week is Holy Week. That means a lot to some and absolutely nothing to others, unfortunately. This is the week leading up to the holiest day in all Christendom – the day Jesus Christ defeated sin, hell and the grave through one miraculous act of resurrection, making it possible for death to work backwards in our lives.

Now, what should be clear beyond a shadow of any doubt is that Jesus didn’t come to earth on Christmas Day, die a brutal death on Good Friday and raise from the dead on Easter Sunday so we could go to church once a week to sing songs and listen to a message.

What should be equally clear is that He didn’t teach for 3 years in a teeny country in the Middle East so we could sit around and read books and do Bible studies on the things He taught.

YET you’d almost think from the way we live and approach the Word of God that Christ’s life, death and resurrection were so we could go to church and join a small group. But it’s just got to sink in that neither of those is the point. Church and Bible study are good and they can be a means to the point, but they are not the point itself.

The point really is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ life, which is meant to define our character and ministry to others. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ death, which is meant to define our expectations and sacrifice here. God is calling us to participate in Jesus’ resurrection, which defines our existence as new creations. As new creations, we are the light of this world. The ministers of Christ. The ambassadors of Christ. The witnesses of Christ. The martyrs of Christ. Our lives are not our own. They belong to the One who lived and died and rose again and told us to go into the world and make disciples of it.

So, go to church, friend. Go to Bible study. Join a small group. But if that’s mostly all you do, then I’m afraid you’ve missed the point.  

Yours, Susie Walther

Too Busy?

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“The acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls.”BestYes

True.  Very true.  Very important.

“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul… she knows there is more God made her to do.”

“We’ve said yes to so much that we missed what I call our “Best Yes” assignments, simply because we did not heed the warning of whispers within that subtle space.”

Good stuff here.  Thank you Lysa Terkeurst in The Best Yes.