Developing a Ministry

May 5 was our last meeting for the school year.  Out topic was how to develop a ministry.  We started by asking the question, “What is ministry?”  It is simply serving the Lord by serving others!

“Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping; praying for others when you need to be prayed for, feeding others when your own soul is hungry, living truth before people even when you can’t see results, hurting with other people even when your own hurt cannot be spoken, keeping your word even when it is not convenient.  It is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.” —Author Unknown

IMG_8718We talked about four areas of ministry every believer should focus on:

1. Prayer

Praying for others needs and the Lord’s work.

Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. ” (Col. 4:12, NKJV)

Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:17, NKJV)

“Prayer isn’t preparation for the work, it is the work. Prayer isn’t preparation for the battle, it is the battle.” —Oswald Chambers

2. Evangelism/Witnessing

Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world.

…and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NKJV)

3. Discipleship

Helping others grow in their walk with the Lord.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matt. 28:19-20, NKJV)

4. Good works

Can open doors to share the gospel with unbelievers; is a blessing to believers.

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Titus 3:8, NKJV)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16, NKJV)

We also had a handout of practical ministry ideas that we can start with.

IMG_8721

The point really isn’t about “developing a ministry,” rather it’s about having an eternal focus.  If we focus on earthly things rather than the eternal, we will be sorry one day; we are missing the big picture (Matthew 6:19-21, 33).  There are many people God brings into our path each day who desperately need the gospel, teaching, and encouragement.  It is important for us to develop a ministry mindset or we will not be ready for the opportunities that God puts in our way.

So many Christians have the wrong focus and live their whole lives without doing anything to serve the Lord.  God does not want lukewarm Christians; He desires Christians who take up their cross and live lives totally dedicated to Him.
Our goal should be not just be to serve the Lord some, but to give Him our entire lives!  Our goal is not only to bear fruit, but to bear much fruit that our Father may be glorified (John 15:8).  Life on earth is only a vapor—it passes quickly.  Are we living our lives in such a way that count for eternity? Or will we be ashamed of the life we wasted?IMG_8719

For our activity time, we had a fun Bright Lights Quiz!  We divided into six teams.  Two teams competed against each other at a time.  We had three questions per lesson that we had this year.  We would read the question and the teams had 20 seconds to come up with their answer.  Whichever team rang the bell first, got to answer the question.  Each team had two rounds, then we had a tie-breaking round.  The winning team got to be first in live for ice cream sundaes!  It was a fun way to review what we learned this year.

IMG_8735

Each girl brought a topping to share and we had a lot of fun building our ice cream sundaes, and then eating together one last time.  It’s been a wonderful year of studying God’s word, growing in Him, and building relationships with other sisters-in-Christ.

IMG_8783

We also managed to get a group picture!

IMG_8725

May each one of you girls continue seek the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to grow in Him!

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Colossians 1: 10-12, NKJV)


Thank you, Havala, for taking pictures! :)

Bright Lights Retreat Day

On November 1, we held a special “Bright Lights Retreat Day” for the older girls in our group.  Since we have such a wide age range in our Bemidji BL group, we wanted to spend some time encouraging the older girls in their walk with the Lord.  There were nine of us who spent a very full day in learning from the Word, study, fellowship, and prayer.

P1090646
Our “tools” for the day – God’s Word and our BL Retreat Journal

The retreat began at 9:00am and we began with some Bible charades as we waited for everyone to arrive.  We then had some announcements, handed out journals to the girls, Deborah served us all some tea, and we began our first session.

Session One was called “Being a Bright Light”.  It was a DVD from the BL Leader’s Training taught by Sarah Mally.  In this session, we were challenged to be leaders (rather than followers), to keep the Lord as first place in our lives, and to have a good testimony to others.  Sarah reminded us that our goal should be to follow Christ so closely, that whoever is following us is really following Him.

P1090632
Watching a DVD session taught by Sarah Mally.

Session Two was called “The Power of Your Testimony”.  We talked about holiness and how this makes us different from the world.  We also took a look at Daniel 1:8-13 and noticed how he set an example for his friends in honoring the Lord.  In verse 8, it says that Daniel “requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (notice the singular).  In verse 12, now he is saying, “please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink” (notice the plural).  Now Daniel’s three friends are now standing with him.  In chapter 3, we have the well know story of Daniel’s same three friends now standing up to King Nebuchadnezzar in the face of death.  Daniel is not mentioned at all in this chapter – his friends are no longer waiting for someone to set an example for them.  And because of their testimony and deliverance, King Nebuchadnezzar has a change of heart and praises the One True God.  It all started with Daniel’s testimony in a simple matter. 

P1090633
It was cold downstairs and we couldn’t get it to warm up – thus the blankets.

In the same way, when we are willing to stake a stand for what is right, our example to others becomes a powerful testimony.  God has placed each one of us in the right place to influence others for Him.  Just like Daniel, if we can influence just one other person to shine for Christ, and that person influences someone else, we have the potential to influence millions for Christ.  We were challenged to live for what counts and lasts for eternity!

Session Three was called “Developing a Ministry” and was another DVD taught by Sarah Mally.  Sarah shared that the point really isn’t about develop a ministry, rather it’s about having an eternal focus.  She talked about areas of ministry to focus on and insights for prepared for ministry, as well as obstacles and enemies to ministry.  We need to be zealous to press on, be aware of the attack of the enemy and our complete dependence on the Lord, and to be asking the Lord “What is your calling for me right now, right here?”

P1090634
Such sunny smiles for an early morning! :)

Session Four was called “The Importance of Biblical Disciplines”.  We talked about how spending time with the Lord means that we develop a closer relationship with Him.  If we are close to the Lord, we will want to do the things that please Him.  The most obvious way to give the Lord first place in our lives is by spending time with Him in His Word and prayer.  That’s why Satan will do whatever Be can to keep us from the Word of God.  Jesus Christ is the Word (John 1:14), and so reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture keeps our focus on our Savior.

P1090639
After we were finished using the TV for the DVD sessions, we moved upstairs by the warm wood stove.

In this last session, we focused quite a bit on how to study the Bible, since studying Scripture ourselves helps us to fall in love with Author Himself.  This was an exciting session since there was a lot of practical ideas for being in the Word, memorizing/mediating on Scripture, and prayer.

P1090650
Psalm 119 is full of insights about God’s Word. The girls were given a section of Psalm 119 to study at home.

We ended our retreat by spending an hour in prayer together.  This was such a refreshing time as we got to pour out our praise, thanksgiving, and requests to the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings, our Heavenly Father!  This was defiantly a highlight of the retreat for several of us.

P1090638
Spending time before our Creator, the King of kings – what an amazing privilege!

Between sessions, we had personal study times and group discussions as well as lunch and fellowship.  We had a couple things planned into the day that we weren’t able to get to because of time, but it was still a very rich time that the Lord greatly blessed.  It was an amazing day and we were so encouraged by every girl who made an effort to be there – committing a whole day to being in the Word!

P1090635
Bright Lights Retreat Day smiles

A huge thank you to everyone of you who came and to the mothers that willingly brought you.  Also, thank you to my wonderful Mom for serving us a delicious lunch.  We so appreciate all of you who contributed to this retreat in various ways.  Praise the Lord for richly blessing our day in so many little details!  May each one of us continue to seek the Lord and continually give Him first place in our lives.

Preparing to Be a Wife and Mother

IMG_5441On February 13 we had a wonderful meeting of learning and fellowship together as we studied the topic of “Preparing to be a Wife and Mother”.   God’s design for women is different than His calling for men. Yet we live in a world in which Satan is trying to mix up and confuse the roles of men and women.  We will only find our greatest joy and fulfillment in life as we understand God’s design for us as ladies and as we delight in obeying God’s calling for us.

We began our lesson by digging into Scripture to see what we could find regarding God’s role for women:

  • Genesis 2:18 and 1 Corinthians 11:9 – God created woman to be man’s helper and companion.
  • Genesis 3:4-6 and 3:16 – the woman was deceived God appointed the man as head of the woman
  • Titus 2:4-5 – God wants women to love their husbands, love their children, be discreet, chaste (pure), homemakers, good, and obedient to their husbands
  • Ephesians 5:21-33 – God calls wives to submit to husbands as a picture of our relationship with Christ

In every generation, God is raising up men and women to use for His purposes.  We are called to represent Christ, to shine our light, to proclaim His power, and to change our world.  God’s calling for women is just as significant, wonderful, and world-changing as His calling for men.  God has used and is using women in many ways to advance His kingdom.  God wants to use godly women and radiant young ladies to shine His light in this dark world.

IMG_5450This is an important topic to think about when we are young because we make decisions every day based on our future goals.  Many young ladies have the attitude of seeking to be independent, and even at the age of ten are already looking forward to being “on their own”, trying to be independent, and working towards a career.  They can’t wait to leave their family, get a job, go to college, and get away from their parents’ authority.  So many young ladies waste these precious years of singleness when they could be so very fruitful for the Lord, simply because they are doing what everyone else in our culture does.  As bright lights, we want to pursue God’s goals for our life – not our own ideas and dreams.

A common lie of the enemy is “You need get out into the real world.  Do you want to sit around at home all the time?”  But who says that girls at home should be just sitting around?  That is not God’s plan for any of us.  Rather, He calls us to adorn ourselves with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  Hannah, a 26-year-old daughter at home, shared with us how she has been cultivating many different homemaking skills and how the Lord has given her many, many opportunities to use those skills and talents to serve her family, church, and friends.  Staying at home has given her the freedom and time to focus on ministry and preparing for caring for her own home and family one day (Lord willing).

IMG_5455It’s important to talk with our parents about what God’s calling is for our life and then seek Him regarding how He wants to prepare us.  We need to be willing to stay home if that is His training place for us, and we need to be willing to go to college if that is where He sends us.  Above all, we need to be committed to following the Lord’s will for our life and submitting to our parents’ direction.  Becoming a wife and mother is not our ultimate goal in life; rather, it is to glorify Jesus Christ in all that we do.  We need to purpose to pursue God’s goals for our life and seek His will for our future.

We did our activity time immediately following the lesson.  We divided into four groups and each group made a round of scones… most the girl had done some baking before, although only a few of them had made scones before.  It was a fun project to do together and a good reminder of how cooking is an important homemaking skill that we should practice as young ladies.  Not only will we use it our future homes one day, but we can use this skill right now to bless our families.

IMG_5461

IMG_5467While the scones were baking, we had our small group discussions.  Each group read through Proverbs 31:10-31 and came up with a list of homemaking skills and character traits that we found the Proverbs 31 woman practicing in her life.  The Proverbs 31 woman is wonderful example to follow as we seek to be godly women.

During our snack time, we enjoyed treats from Lily and Autumn, as well as our fresh baked Cranberry White Chip and Chocolate Chip Raspberry scones with Mock Devonshire Cream.  We had so much fun baking together and enjoying the fruit of our labor we just might have to do that again sometime! :)

And since we all had our aprons on, we thought it would be fun to take a group picture…

IMG_5480
Our meetings are always very serious – no smiling allowed (just kidding)
IMG_5476
Perhaps everyone had a little too much sugar?!! (or maybe this is normal)

Okay, all silliness and seriousness aside, we actually managed to get a very nice group picture.  Thank you, Deborah, for taking the pictures for us!

IMG_5470
Beautiful smiles of the Bemidji Bright Lights group

What a blessing to have each one of these young ladies as a special part of our group… and praise the Lord for the desire that He has given them to seek after Him and be bright lights serving the Him in their youth.

Little Sister Night

March 14 was a very special meeting… we had nine little sisters join us!  We knew that there were some younger ones who had been wanting to come but weren’t old enough yet, so we invited them to this special meeting.  The Lord really blessed our time together as we learned about how we can be serving the Lord in the years of our youth.

bllsn 004

For our lesson, we talked about the importance of using the years of our youth to serve the Lord.  Here in America, adults often expect youth to enjoy themselves and not do much of anything important.  So when a young person is wise and mature and serving the Lord rather than wasting time, it gets people’s attention and is an opportunity to shine the light of Christ.  Our goal should be to use these years for the Lord and not waste them.

The enemy doesn’t want us to be fruitful and productive during our youth, because he knows how much potential we have for the work of the Lord.  He tries everything that he can to get us to waste these years with foolishness…. we need to watch out for his traps!

Many young people think that we have to wait until we’re “grown-up” to serve the Lord.  But when we study God’s word, we see that this is not true!  There are many biblical examples of young people serving the Lord: Joseph, Miriam, Naaman’s servant girl, David, Jeremiah, Daniel & his friends – just to name a few. We took a look at Jeremiah 1:6-8:

“Then said I [Jeremiah], ‘Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’ But the Lord said unto me,’ Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.'”

God wants to use young people to do His work, but most young people (even Christians) are too busy chasing after the things of the world.  Let’s not waste this special opportunity to use these years to serve the King of kings!

We made a list of practical ways that we can be serving the Lord right now:

  • Serve your family
  • Write a note or color a picture for a shut-in, widow, missionary, sick, etc.
  • Giving (money, time, and talents)
  • Sing/visit at the nursing home
  • Prayer ministry
  • Answering the phone politely
  • Witnessing

bllsn 012

In closing, we turned the lights off and lit 5 candles and talked about the contrast between the light from the candles and the dark.
In the same way, when we are strong for the Lord and seek to serve Him in these years of our youth, the world will see that we are different and we will be shining brightly for Jesus (Matthew 5:16).  Our light should be so bright that we are leading others in the way of the Lord.  Even though we are young, God can use us if we are faithful to obey and serve Him.  We ended by singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

Following our lesson, we put our lesson into practice right away by making encouragement cards for someone we knew.  All the girls were so creative.  May the Lord use your thoughtful notes to bless and encourage those who receive them.

bllsn-collage

Next, we played a couple of rounds of  the “Bright Lights Balloon Challenge” game.  There were 40 balloons with character traits written on them.  20 had character traits of a bright light (meekness, contentment, etc.) and 20 had character traits of the world (rebellion, pride, etc.).

bllsn 035

The girls were divided into two teams on two different sides of the room.  They had to keep the good character traits and throw the bad character traits to the other team’s side.

bllsn 033

Then we calculated the score by subtracting the bad balloons from the good balloons.  There were lots of smiles and laughter, especially on our last round when they got to pop the bad balloons!

bllsn 026

We ended the night with snacks, tea, and fellowship.  We enjoyed strawberry jello dessert from Addison, chocolate chip cookies from Louisa and Olivia, and double chocolate & PB cookies from Mrs. F.  It was such a blessing to have the younger sisters join us for the evening.  It is our prayer that God will put a desire in their hearts to know Him and serve Him at an early age.

bllsn 038

We’re looking forward to seeing all of you older girls again on March 28.

Christmas Caroling

IMG_1107On December 13 our Bright Lights group went Christmas caroling at a nearby trailer park.  We started our evening at the church while some of the girls made up cookie plates (with treats that each girl contributed) and some of the girls decorated Christmas card tracts to go with the cookies.

Making cookie plates
Making cookie plates
IMG_1125
Decorating Christmas card tracts

Then we loaded up in two 15-passenger vans and headed to the trailer park where we caroled house-to-house for about an hour.  It was interesting to see peoples’ reactions… some were delighted, while others didn’t know how to react.  It was a profitable time.

Caroling, caroling through the snow...
Caroling, caroling through the snow…

When we got back to the church, we had tea and fellowship time by candlelight.  We also had a short Christmas activity to see who was good at following directions… almost everyone failed. :)  It was a good reminder how we need to carefully follow God’s directions for life.

We enjoyed our tea and snacks by candlelight
We enjoyed our tea and snacks by candlelight

Thank you to all of you who joined us for this special ministry outreach.  Continue to pray for those whom we visited – that the gospel message presented in the tract would cause them to think about eternity.  See you all at our next meeting on January 3, 2013.