Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ask/Answer for discipleship

I ask a lot of questions (maybe too many?). . . for discipleship, I've discovered that asking good questions creates an atmosphere where a woman shares her life with me.
So-I ask Tell me about questions:
Tell me how you came to know the Lord?
-about your family growing up?
-about an important person in your life?
-how you met your husband? one thing you learned about him after you were married? what you love about Christ's body, the church? Tell me about your day, the high and low? about a challenge? a temptation? how you battled sin this week? how you were encouraged by Scripture?. . .and more.
And I ask How can I questions: How can I help you? Encourage you? Pray for you? basically, I'm asking, "What's on your mind?. . .What do you want to talk about today."
If asking questions seems unnatural, practice with someone else. . . sometimes John and I practice questions on our Sunday drive to church; then we're ready to talk personally with those the Lord brings our way.
Recently I was driving to an event with a young woman I'm getting to know-I was asking questions. . . .then she stopped me, "Wait, you're always asking about me, how are you doing today?" Good, I thought, now we're both sharing our lives!
So, if I'm going to be dishing out the questions, then I'd better be ready to share some answers! Don't fear discipleship because you don't have all the answers. I encourage a woman to come with her own questions about whatever- then I pray, "Lord, today when she comes to me with questions, help me to humbly answer and to know when I can't. . ."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Available for discipleship

So being affectionately desireous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thess 2:8)

Our call to disciple women is about being available-simply available; I like to imagine how it might have looked for the Apostle Paul, desireous to share himself with the dear Thessalonian believers.

And me? normally I don't ask a woman directly, "Would you like me to disciple you?" I might suggest that we meet for coffee some time, and if she's interested-well, I pull out my calendar on the spot, and make a date! then I see where it leads, wait and watch-our date may develop into regular planned meetings or occasional meetings; am I discipling this woman? whatever it's called, I try to be available.
These days, I have lots of time to pursue discipleship with few distractions-but what about women who have more time restrictions? I'm encouraged as I watch. . .a group of women from my church gather regularly for park day, including menu planning-and in the midst, they're available to one another and discipleship opportunities abound!
Remember, discipleship isn't about putting coffee dates on the calendar. . .it's not so much what we do but what we give and who we are in every encounter.
A caution regarding time restrictions and busy lives. . . I've noticed that busy-ness cuts into availabilty. I've heard, "I was going to call you, but I know you are soooo busy!" Uggh. . . do I appear soooo busy?
And perhaps I really am too busy with stuff that doesn't matter for eternity?
just so you know-if you want to meet me for coffee, I'll make the time. . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Attitudes for discipleship. . .

So, here's some thoughts from my contribution to the Titus 2 discipleship panel, Three A's of Discipleship; first, I think Attitude is essential if our ambition is to please the Lord in any discipleship endeavor. Here's four worthy attitudes, four which I'm still working on. . .
Thankful: occasionally I think of women with well defined jobs, jobs with titles recognized as worthy pursuits, and then I'm tempted to wonder, what do I really do. . .? But then I review Titus 2:3-5, and I'm immediately thankful. God is so good to put women to work, to define our work for the kingdom-this isn't a second hand life, you know! The apostle Paul was "well pleased" to impart the gospel and his life to the Thessalonian believers-and so am I.

Humble: As I share my life with younger women, I remind my heart, Clothe yourself with humility towards one another (1 Peter5:5). . . afterall, discipleship is one beggar giving another beggar bread-we're both beggars, both need the Bread of Life; my trials, struggles, sins are no different than yours'-my life circumstances may wear different clothes, but our God never changes, and matters of the heart are the same. Preparing for a meeting, I remind myself, "I am going to learn something about God from this girl today!"

Dependent: I remind myself, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. . ." (Prov 3:5-6). I think there's a bit of trembling in every heart as we anticipate a discipleship opportunity- that's good, moment by moment dependence on the Lord, for we are certainly weak women! When I ride with the bicycle group in my family, they tell me, "No Coasting Allowed!". . .indeed, and that's true for discipleship. For you see, I've known the Lord for almost 40 years- I can sound pretty good; there's always the tempation to coast. I'd best spend dedicated time in the Word, in prayer and preparation-or I may just give out garbage disguised as bread.

Loving: So, the Lord has put a wonderful girl in my life; I am eager to know her, to share the Savior, to share my life with her. But just as mothers we love our children with an undescribable affection, there are times when they provoke us to irritation, to impatience, and more. It's like that with discipleship too- so first I deal with my own sin and pray, "Lord, give me a love for this dear woman." And sometimes loving means saying the hard thing-recently a woman thanked me for meeting with her and for saying the hard thing; I didn't even realize I was saying the hard thing. . . (hmmm, maybe I'm getting better at that one!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

all about buttons

My friend Liz told her little boys, Isaiah and Josesph, that I was coming to visit; I arrived and they shouted, "Hello, Mrs. Buttons!" Newton? Buttons? what a sweet name-and I do love buttons.
During our summer road trip I was knitting on the pieces of this vest, organic cotton-lovely color (I almost chose brown. . .)
So, while in Petaluma with my family, the girls had an outting to The Knitterly, the local yarn shop-I asked my nieces Meredith and Alyssa to choose some buttons for my vest. Alyssa, who had just returned from a semester in Costa Rica, thought my vest should have red buttons, but Meredith, the artist, dessented- hmmm, not red-red, but maybe. . . .
I love the memory of my sweet nieces pouring over tubes of buttons-gracious, intent on my request.
I've completed the vest and sewn on the wonderful buttons- I find myself telling the button story-about the buttons and the girls- to anyone expressing even a pinch of interest.
Speaking of buttons. . .in August Mercy took a jar of my buttons to college and last weekend she finished her project: shoes, hot glue gun, beautiful buttons -creative girl!

Monday, November 9, 2009

everybody's older than somebody. . .

Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1Thess 2:8-9)

hmmm. . .I'm thinking about our Titus 2 fellowship last Thursday, and the panel on discipleship-Everybody's older than somebody (or don't wait til you're 40 or 50 to disciple a younger woman!)
Panel presentations included: discipleship basics, initiating discipleship, diversity in discipleship, resources for discipleship-all so good and challenging.
And me? well, I talked about practical stuff-Three 'A's of discipleship, attitude, available, ask/answer. . .(material for a future post, perhaps?) I'm just grateful for the opportunity to participate-to talk about what I love doing!

Then on Friday I drove to Lubbock to visit Mercy at Texas Tech (hmmm, sweet memories of sleeping in college beds with Rachel, Naomi, Abigail) and I met Meredith-I'd heard so much about her. . .Meredith meets Mercy for coffee on Saturday mornings- and lots more; there's no doubt that Meredith has a fond affection for Mercy, imparts not only gospel truth, but her own life- no doubt that my daughter is very dear to her-and I thank the Lord for Meredith. . .and for the reminder that everybody's older than somebody.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

fond associations

Today I'm wearing Abigail's cordoroy jacket with lovely painted buttons-the one she passed on to me last year; I'm thinking about Nathaniel and Abi in London, thinking about their Sunday at Christ Church Bromley. I'm imagining what it might be like to enjoy fellowship after evening worship with tea and toasties (grilled cheese!)

And-I'm thinking about my dear friend, Pam. . . for you see, along with Abi's jacket, today I'm wearing Pam's blue blue sweater-the one she knit, and then decided it would be a better fit for me! In July we had a flurry of visits planned in the San Francisco Bay Area; it didn't look asthough I could fit in a visit with Pam, however, my sweet husband made it work- there we were in Menlo Park, at Pam's door for lunch! Ah. . .to be thankful for just an hour or two-a surge of conversation, even sweet tears, a visit to the garden, pictures of grandchildren, knitting and ministry talk, catching up fast; then we exchanged books: I gave her The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent and she gave me Safely Home by Randy Alcorn (which John and I read aloud together during the rest of our road trip.)

hmmm. . .it's been a good day with fond associations.