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What Women’s Ministry Can Be

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There’s a Cake Baking for You

There’s a Cake Baking for You
Steve Warman

Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.
– Henry Ward Beecher

Somewhere beyond Beersheba, bunkered beneath the branches of a broom-like bush called a juniper tree, we find the prophet Elijah curled up and asking God to let him die.

As we look at this pitiful scene, the first thought that comes to mind is, “How could a man of God end up in a place like this? How can a prophet of this stature stoop so low as to want to end his life when God is not yet finished with him?”

To answer the question we only have to take a quick trip back in time.

Looking into the recent past of Elijah we see him as a man who had only known the thrill of living in victory and had experienced all the “highs” of human emotions. He had enjoyed the success of being a prophet who could speak boldly the Word of God and then watch as God performed what He promised.

Elijah had seen the hand of the Almighty at work and had been the benefactor of His blessing. It is obvious this prophet had the satisfaction of tremendous success.

 

Fed By Ravens

Think about his story. Elijah appeared on the scene almost out of nowhere. Then he opened his mouth at God’s command and declared, “It is not going to rain until I say so.”

And for approximately three years he did not say so-and no rain fell! (1 Kings 17:1).

While the land suffered through a terrible drought. Elijah was kept by the miraculous power of God. You see, he had gone to the brook called Cherith which provided for his thirst. It was there the Almighty sent the ravens with meat and bread every morning and night.

There he is, living it up! Drinking from the babbling brook and having meals on wings-room service every day!

But then, the brook dried up, as they are apt to do in times of devastating drought. It was of little concern for Elijah, however, because he had just received his next set of life sustaining instructions” “Arise, get thee to Zarephath” (v.9).

 

“One Last Meal”

At the gates of the city, Elijah meets a widow who was gathering sticks and, with a boldness that is almost unimaginable, calls out to her, “Go get me some water. And while you are at it, I’ll take some bread too.”

The woman responds to this request with an explanation that would have made anyone else stop in their tracks-and certainly the average person would have not asked again.

The widow replied, “Sir, I do not even have a cake. All I possess is a meager portion of meal in the bottom of my barrel and a little oil in my jar. I am just out here picking up these pieces of wood so I can make one last meal for me and my boy to eat before we starve to death.”

Elijah acted as if he had not even heard her words. The prophet said, “Make a cake for me and then make one for yourself and your son, because if you will scrape the bottom of the barrel and prepare a meal, you will never see the bottom of that barrel again!”

What faith! What absolute confidence!

 

Fire from Heaven

Follow Elijah to a day, some three years later, on Mount Carmel.

See the faith of this man of God as he challenges 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to call on their gods to answer by fire (1 Kings 18:19-24).

Look at him mock these hapless men as they spend most of the day yelling, dancing, crying out, and even cutting themselves with knives. Witness the air of assurance as Elijah strolls up to the altar which has been water-soaked, and without screaming, jumping up and down, weeping or drawing blood, he prayed and God sent the fire which consumed the sacrifice.

What an unbelievable miracle!

See the boldness Elijah possessed when he told Ahab it is going to rain when all he had seen was one small cloud the size of a man’s hand way off in the horizon.

Watch him run with a burst of energy and speed that is uncommon to any natural man as he out-runs the chariots of Ahab to Jezreel (vv.45-46).

 

Was God Finished?

Then Elijah receives news that brings his world crashing down around him. Jezebel has sent a message which lets him know unequivocally she intends to kill him. And in that moment, when he receives this threatening word, Elijah loses his composure and takes off running like a scared rabbit.

It seems that after all he had been through; this man of God should have known Jezebel could not take his life-and the Lord was not finished with him. If he had only taken a moment to pause and reflect, he would have realized that everything was going to be alright. But he didn’t. As we say today, he “freaked out,” lost his perspective and fled.

 

Running From Himself

With every footstep toward the wilderness, Elijah is moving farther and farther away from the prophet he had been.

Every time his sandals pounded the cobblestones or the desert sand, he was distancing himself from the person who could proclaim the Word of the Lord with boldness, believing
God to back him up:

– He fled from the man of faith who drank from the brook at Cherith and ate what the ravens brought.

– He ran from the man, who was so confident in God as to tell the widow of Zarephath,

“Give me water,” when it was being measured out by the fraction of an inch. And “Make me a cake,” when she did not even have enough for herself. But he knew God would take care of her.

– He ran from the prophet who could, in one moment of “fire calling” on Mount Carmel, destroy the lives of the prophets of Baal as well as the credibility of their religion.

– He ran from the man who could see rain in his future.

– He ran from his faith, from his confidence and from his boldness.

Elijah wasn’t really fleeing from Jezebel’s threat, he was running from himself!

 

A Miserable Place

Elijah fled past Beersheba, past the well of water, all the way to the wilderness-and on his arrival, found a juniper tree to lie under and await his death.

According to historians, juniper trees were abundant in this territory. So when Elijah was frightened, trying to find a place to end it all, there were plenty of choices. That’s just the way the devil plans things. When we lose hope and are tempted to give up, he always makes sure there are many places available for us to surrender-even if they are miserable.

The juniper tree was not really much of a tree at all; it was more like a bush-and a scrawny one at that! These trees are described as broom-like with twiggy, nearly leafless, branches, which offer very little protection from the sun and oppressive heat. However, I think most people would agree that when we are fragile and want to give up, human nature causes us to look for the most miserable location possible.

It really is true: “misery loves company.” I know that when I am down in the dumps I want people to commiserate with me!

Elijah found such a wretched place to end his life.

 

“Touched by an Angel”

It’s hard to fathom, but there he was, God’s man of faith and power, laying down, defeated.

Yet the Almighty would not let Elijah die. He sent an angel to touch him.

A few years ago, Hollywood provided us with the hit television series, “Touched by an Angel,” but this was something Elijah personally experienced thousands of years before.

It is thrilling to know that even during the prophet’s fear and frustration, the Lord still cared enough to send an angel to provide heavenly sustenance for him.

You see Elijah had said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; fort am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).

However, God had a different agenda and declared, “It’s not enough.” Remember, it’s never over until the never over until the Almighty says so!

 

The Creator Understands You

Scripture tells us, “He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14). The Hebrew word for frame is “yetser,” which means mind or imagination. So this is telling us God knows our thoughts and discerns our imagination.

I’m so glad I have a God. who understands all of me. He realizes there are times my mind may plays tricks and cause me to think in ways I shouldn’t. And the Lord sees that sometimes my imagination can run wild and conjure up all sorts of weird thoughts which could result in my defeat instead of the victory He has intended.

So, even when I run or attempt to quit, He doesn’t forget or give up on me. The Creator made me-and remembers I came from dust. He understands just how weak I am, so instead of letting me die, He graciously touches my life one more time.

 

More than “Comfort Food”

Elijah turned his head to see the angel who told him, “Arise and eat” (I Kings 19:5).

When the prophet looked up there was a jar of water by his head and a cake baking on the coals. I had read this scripture many times and thought, “Well, isn’t that wonderful. God knew Elijah was discouraged so He made him a cake”-comfort food.

I know from personal experience how a slice of homemade cake always makes me feel better! Psychologists tell us we often eat based on our emotions with some people tending to over-eat when they are upset or under a great deal of stress, while others eat when they are happy. Me? Whether I am in a good mood or sad, carefree or stressed-it doesn’t matter. I eat!

 

The Root of your Despair

Then I wondered, “If a cake was baking on the coals, where did the coals come from?”

I know God can do anything and He certainly could create coals in the wilderness. Nevertheless, in my study of these scriptures I learned that the roots of the juniper tree were used in the making of charcoal.

Amazing! The cake which gave Elijah strength to walk forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb was baked on the coals provided from the root of the juniper tree.

Not only was Elijah watched over and protected in his lowest moment, he was also given strength for the days ahead.

This is good news! Your Heavenly Father is able to take the very root of your despair-the source of your problem-and give you exactly what you need.

If you have lost all hope and thought, “There’s no reason to continue on,” realize that God has greater days ahead for you.

 

Below Rock Bottom

At the very spot which represents the deepest valley in your life He will provide the strength you need for a glorious future.

Moses declared, “The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

The Hebrew word for underneath is “tachath,” which means bottom. Moses is saying that God is not only residing above to reward those who are on top of the world, but He is also underneath, to catch those who have hit their lowest point.

You’ve probably heard someone say, “When you are at rock bottom, look up and you will see the hand of the Lord extended to you.”

Let me change that slightly: “When you reach the bottom, look down, because underneath you are God’s everlasting arms waiting to catch you.”

Yes, you may fall but God is there to make sure you don’t descend too far. Your help is not only over you, He is under you!

 

Something Good in the Oven!

I don’t pretend to know how everything operates in God’s celestial city, but if heaven has a kitchen I can just imagine the sounds and aromas emerging from that room. Pots and pans clanging together, cabinet doors opening and shutting-eggshells on the counter, flower and sugar spilled over into the sink.

And I smell something mouth-watering, cooking in the oven. Go ahead and look. You will find heaven has a cake with your name on it-one God has prepared just for you!

 

The article “There’s a Cake Baking for You” written by Steve Warman was excerpted from The Second Try: Your Best is Yet to Come, 2006.

Posted in AIS File Library, IN - Inspirational Stories and Illustrations, INGE - General0 Comments

Building Hardihood in Today’s Christian Man

Building Hardihood in Today’s Christian Man
By Bryan Van Slyke

It is not the man standing at the pew staring off into oblivion that displays the hardihood characteristics; instead it is the man on his knees at the front of the church. His presence there requires courage, boldness and confidence.
It is these traits that he will take with him from that moment. It is these traits that God will use to make him strong. And not just for that day, but the many days to come.
Hardihood noun bold, daring, courageous, strength, vigor.
When was the last time you heard this word? Have you ever heard of this word?
The characteristics of hardihood describe a man who is willing to be bold and take daring steps. But even more, it describes a man who is able to stand up when he falls or is resistant when facing failures or challenges.
In other words he is not afraid to face a challenge and he is ready to pick himself up off the floor if he fails. Can you say this about yourself?
Common Places Christian Men Struggle With Hardihood
First of all, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty. Guilty as charged. I can’t count the times that I’ve said the phrases like the following:
o This will be the last time I do that (insert sin)
o Today is a fresh start
o Only one more time
o I’ll do that tomorrow
o I’ll ask for forgiveness later
I have fallen victim to these lies in the past and I will fall to these lies in the future. I’m human and I make mistakes. The first problem with these phrases is that they represent a weak and passive man. The man who says these words over and over again has created a lie in himself. Although he knows they are lies, he proceeds to do the “sin” and ask for forgiveness later. This does not display the characteristics of hardihood. In fact, these phrases say the complete opposite.
A Man of God displaying the true hardihood characteristics might get to a point where he says one of the lines above, but the big difference will be that he sticks to it! You must say the line you choose everyday and be honest with the actions and results. Not matter how hard it may seem.

The Challenge of Hardihood
The real challenge doesn’t lie in starting something, it lies in committing to something.(TWEET THAT)Over two years ago now I started writing this Blog. I needed a way out of saying the common phrases mentioned above. I needed something beyond the Sunday morning sermon. I needed more of God. This is the challenge of hardihood. To start something and stick with it no matter what.
Persistent courage. Resilient attitude. Active learning and listening. The hardihood lifestyle requires each man to continue down the path he started the day he said, “Today’s a fresh start.” But won’t there be hard times? Won’t there be moments when I am tempted to masturbate? Won’t there be moments when I want to lust after women again? Won’t there be moments when I want another drink? Won’t there be moments where I don’t want to go to Church or seek out God? Yes! Yes! Yes!
These times separate the men from the boys. When these moments arise and challenge us, we must stand firm to the promise we made to ourselves and to God. Fresh start. Fresh start. Not at this moment, but still the moment in the past when you said it. This is the true challenge of hardihood.
So Why Are Men Failing And What Can You Do?
I believe men are afraid to go to that next level. It’s much safer to follow a football team through the good and the bad. It’s much safer to ask for forgiveness later and, when you’re living from day today, it just seems easier. The hard fact is that it’s not easier, in fact its harder. Tomorrow will face the same struggles as today because you are not willing to take the necessary long-term steps. So what can you do to change?
Encourage Each Other
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ” Encourage one another and build each other up.” On the day that you decide to say on of the phrases above or decide to make a bold change in your life, tell someone. Tell a fellow brother or close family member and have them keep you accountable. Honesty and openness is a must. Express, your fresh start and allow someone to help you keep it fresh!
God Is Faithful
2 Thessalonians 3:3 ” The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” God knows your heart and he knows when you really mean you want a fresh start. It’s critical to remember that God will give you the strength to move to the next level. Personally, I have continued to fight some hard times, but God protects, strengthens and has always been faithful to me. Ask for his strength daily!
Consider Jesus
Hebrews 12:3 ” Consider him who endured the cross and such opposition from sinful men, so that you will no grow weary and lose heart.” When I think of the word hardihood, I honestly think of Jesus. He was faced with numerous kinds of risky feats and ventures, yet he continued to walk his path. With more charisma and more character than any of us could ever hope for, Jesus endured it all for us. The next time you say something closely related to the phrases above, think about the life and death of Jesus.
He followed through on his word, now we need to follow through on ours.
Be the man on his knees in the front, not the man standing in the pew waiting for something to happen. Be the man who sticks to his word no matter what. Be a strong man of God carrying the heavy characteristics of hardihood.
Faced with opposition or hard decisions, how were you able to tough it out and get through it? Were you able to display some hardihood characteristics? Share in the comments below.
From: www.manturity.com web site. April 2014.
The above article, “Building Hardihood in Today’s Christian Man,” was written by Bryan Van Slyke. The article was excerpted from www.maturity.com. The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in AIS File Library, MM - Men's Ministry0 Comments

Everything I Need To Know About Ministry I Learned Coaching Little League

By R. Scott Reavely

Check out these five lessons from coaching little league as you lead your congregation in the game of life.

My name is Michael and I know what I’ve got
(’cause we’re the best).
Our team is hotter than hot
(’cause we’re the best).
Batman and Superman
(’cause we’re the best)
Can’t do what our team can
(’cause we’re the best).

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times during our 18-game season in which we won two games. I know–if we were the best, you’d expect a few more wins.

Not only did we not win, but my son had a hard season. On the second throw of the preseason, he flinched, the ball glanced off his glove, and it hit him in the lip. He was nervous the rest of the
season. Actually, it ended up being harder on Dad than on him.

In addition to losing almost all of our games and my son having a hard season, other dads were less than helpful. One dad asked me not to coach his son. (Silly me, I thought that was the idea). Another yelled profanities at the boys. One of the coaches paced the dugout and told stories of the ’50s when he was a boy.

And to add insult to injury, they misprinted our jerseys. We were sponsored by the local paper, the Tidings. But we played the season as the “Tiddings.”

Perhaps I’m writing this article as therapy. Regardless, I learned quite a bit this season. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that everything I need to know about ministry I learned while coaching
Little League.

LESSON ONE: ENCOURAGEMENT

Find something to cheer about. Most of the season, we desperately looked for something positive to say. “You have your shoes tied! Good job.” “You remembered your hat today–wonderful.” When you’re losing, finding something positive is more important than ever.

Take the small victories. Sometimes striking out swinging instead of watching was a victory. Other times a foul ball was something to cheer about. Still other times, not flailing at balls in the dirt or
seven feet high constituted a good at-bat. After a progression of small victories, I found larger victories came a little more frequently.

But encouragement can also be distracting. The boys had little cheers for everything. “H-O-M-E R-U-N. Home run, Jeff, Home run.” When Jeff struck out six times straight, he didn’t need the home run cheer–again.

Losing is contagious, and so is encouragement. Losing teams require completely different leadership styles than winning teams. When the boys begin to think of themselves as losers, and the external evidence is on their side, encouragement must be sincere and consistent. An arm around the shoulder, a correction for next time, and a raucous celebration over something they accidentally did right prove much more effective than simply parroting, “It’s okay, you’ll get it next time.”

LESSON TWO: COACHING

Help people focus. Almost every boy on the team chased butterflies in the outfield, smiled at the girls, or lost himself in the joy of spitting sunflower seeds. The coach’s job was often nothing more than saying, “Pay attention, Mark!” Sometimes it was part of the game that distracted them. “What’s the score? If we get six more runs this inning, we can tie the game. If they change pitchers, and field a team of second graders. . . ”

“Hello. Snap back to reality kid,” I thought, though I calmly replied, “Pay attention. Don’t worry about the score. Concentrate on what’s important.”

You can’t run a team by yourself–the coaching staff is only as good as the parents who help. Someone else must run part of the drills. Someone else must coach first base. And you can’t win without pitching. You need someone on the field who’s competent. Someone in the game must have a level of skill.

Sometimes there’s nothing a coach can do. The coach can’t hit, field, or throw. Sometimes, all you can do is relax and enjoy the sunshine. It’s even possible to over-coach. In an attempt to be
helpful, we’re not. One player made an out at home, and I quickly pointed out that it would’ve been easier to throw to first. It didn’t make any difference. Let it go. Smile and encourage.

LESSON THREE: RALLIES

Rallies are hard to sustain unless everyone hits. Every person is important–even the weakest batters play an important role in a big inning. When innings end almost as frequently–because of the five-run rule–as three outs, rallies become important. Anything a coach can do to sustain momentum will serve the team in the greatest way.

Nothing’s more glorious than a two-out rally, because you never want to count your team out. Granted, some teams seem to invent new ways to lose. But the comeback is a beautiful thing. If a coach can encourage and prepare her team to recover when it’s down, she’s arrived at the pinnacle of coaching. Anyone can take a group of all-stars and win ball games. But to bring a struggling group back when the game and the season are almost in the tank–that’s good coaching.

LESSON FOUR: PRACTICE

Strategy is important, but execution is everything. The best-laid plans of mice and coaches often come to nothing. Granted, a good plan is important, but without the skills, focus, and timing of good execution, a strategy isn’t worth the space it takes up in the dugout.

Lasting changes come only with practice. Execution comes from practice, not from pep talks at the game. The boys who threw the ball to their moms or dads two or three times a week had a great advantage over the boys who just showed up to practice. What children practice at home prepares them to play in public. The corollary to this rule is that you play like you practice.

Practice doesn’t make perfect–perfect practice makes perfect. It’s possible for the kids to practice wrong and develop bad habits. That’s worse than no practice at all. So any coach knows that you
demand technique and execution in practice. Then aim for repetition of that good technique. Then and only then will it happen in the game.

LESSON FIVE: LOVE

Sometimes the game is slow. Nothing’s longer than four consecutive innings when your pitcher walks all the batters, unless it’s when your substitute pitcher does the same thing. Some games just
don’t go your way. Even successful teams have bad days. Coaches need to deal with it and move on. (Do I sound like I have?)

Sometimes kids will be kids. I put in a request for only bright, attentive boys who always knew where to throw the ball, but somehow it didn’t get processed correctly. Kids make mistakes. They throw to the wrong base. They say mean and hurtful things. They throw the bat and get called out. But they’re still on your team, and you have to coach them tomorrow. Next week they’re still the ones you have to trust to get it right. Coaches not only need thick skin, they need to be able to forgive.

You do it for love of your son, not for the love of baseball. Baseball seasons will come and go, but sons remain. I won’t always be his coach, but I’ll always be his dad. How he does in baseball is
temporary; how he does in life is my main job. I thought my dad threw balls to me because we shared a common love for baseball. It wasn’t until I had a son of my own that I realized that I play catch and coach because I love my son, not because I love baseball. If I get those two mixed up, everything falls apart.

So basically, everything I know about ministry has had some sort of parallel in my coaching experience: Encourage like crazy. Cultivate leaders on and off the field. Sustain momentum. Work hard on the fundamentals in practice. And do it out of love for God and people–not out of love for the ministry.

R. Scott Reavely is senior pastor at West Linn Baptist church in West Linn, Oregon. (RevReav@aol.com)

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISEHD BY REV. MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2000, PAGES 90, 92,93. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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