One Word

Words“I can’t wait to talk to you about the One Word book,” my friend said. She had given me the book, One Word that will change your life, for my birthday and she was anxious to know what my word was. Because I was busy, I put off reading the book, but knew I needed to go through it because I was about to see my friend socially again.

The book, written by Dan Britton, Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon, challenges its readers to spend quiet time asking God to give them one word to live by for an entire year.

Without even praying about it, I thought my word was “serve.” God had already impressed upon me to be more of a servant like Jesus and I had recently told a Dallas area ministry I was willing to help them out in any way they needed behind the scenes.

However, I still prayed and asked God to let me know if “serve” was not my word.

Over the weekend, a friend of mine from California came into town because of a family emergency and wanted to attend church while she was here. There was a dynamic congregation near her hotel so I took her there.

I wonder if I’ll hear my word at the service?

I nearly fell over when the pastor said these words, “I imagine some of you are here to receive a word from God.” I wanted to jump up and shout, “Yes, just One Word!”

I was glued to the pastor’s every word waiting for my one word to be birthed.

Then he said it.

“The Bible can be summarized in two words, God gives.” Then the pastor quoted the verse many of us have memorized, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

He said, “Because God gives, we should give.” God gave the ultimate. The life of his Son for us so we might live with him forever. It occurred to me God sacrificially gave, so we should also sacrificially give, whether it is with our money, our time or our love. We need to give like God gives, not just part of us, but all of us.

So there it was, handed to me on a platter. My word is “give.” And this year my goal is to give my all to God in any way he asks me to.

The One Word book is a quick read but if you don’t have time to go out and buy it, just begin praying right now for God to give you a word for the year. Once he does, I’d love for you to post your word on the Pearls of Promise facebook page at /pearlsofpromiseministries. I’m just as curious to hear your word as I was mine. Lisa Burkhardt Worley

 

 

Seeds of Hope by Diane Bishop

Mozambique womenDiane Bishop and Pearls of PromiseToday’s guest blogger is Diane Bishop.  Diane is the founder of “Seeds of Hope,” a ministry that helps women in Mozambique, Africa make a living by creating jewelry for sale. Pearls of Promise is now partnering with Diane and will sell some of the pearl jewelry at upcoming events. Today, Diane shares her story of how she first got involved in “Seeds of Hope.”

Upon hearing of my involvement with women in Chicuque, Mozambique, most people first ask – “How in the world did you get involved in that?” About twelve years ago, two sisters from Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church, Marilyn Hurlbut and Barb Williams, went on a picture safari and chose to tack on a little mission work at the end. They returned and shared their experiences with members of our church. As I listened to them, I realized that even though I never had any desire to go to Africa, maybe God meant for me to go. They and other mission team members taught English lessons, volunteered at the hospital, and worked on construction projects. I had none of those skills, so I couldn’t imagine what I could do to be of any service. I also had children at home and a husband who traveled. While I watched team after team return to Mozambique, I got involved in making jewelry with a Christian message to be sold to raise funds for missions.

Then just as my youngest went off to college, I began to think about going to Africa, but still had no idea what I might do. The sisters approached me with the idea of working with the women. Primarily due to the improvements in village life brought about by mission teams (like water wells now providing good water within a 15 minute walk rather than a 2 hour walk); the women were beginning to lift their eyes up and think about what more they could do for their families. However, they had no skills, no education and no opportunities.

The sisters suggested I help the women make jewelry and to start with the jewelry like they had seen in South Africa. I also discovered that many of the women crocheted and so we devised jewelry using wire and crochet.

So in June of 2006, I traveled with the team to Chicuque and along with my new friend, Anne Hyde, we worked with 89 women. We found them to be capable and very eager.

The result was the beginning of an economic development project, for both members of the Church and non-members. Five groups of 15 ladies and a leader were formed, several of which include ladies with disabilities (blind, deaf, lame, mute) They named their business – Irmas Unidas de Chicuque (Chicuque Sisters Together) Today, there are six groups including about 35 women.

Upon our return to the US in 2006, we determined what would be needed to support these ladies in their endeavor until the project could operate on it’s own, primarily in three ways:

1)   organizing the business structure

2)   assisting in getting them supplies and

3) providing markets in the United States to generate larger profits to reinvest in the project. We proposed a support team comprised of people from several churches to provide help and encouragement to these women with the ultimate goal to get a sustainable business operating on it’s own with no dependency upon us.

Seeds of Hope was born as a mission project, not a business in itself.  It’s not been an easy road, but the women are slowly learning about business concepts and they really love making the jewelry. It’s a real joy to see their creativity blossom. You’ll see that the jewelry is very unique.

To help resolve various issues, I found myself returning to take more supplies, teach new skills, work with the leadership, and bring out finished product to sell. Although the ladies are excited about the project and the finished products are quite wonderful, it was still evident that much needed to be done to help them become a sustainable business. So, in 2013, my 6th trip, the goal was S.O.A.R.  – Sustainable Opportunities and Resources. I spent six weeks focused on helping them put opportunities and resources together so that they truly can soar on their own.

Seeds of Hope has lots of opportunities for anyone who might like to help. Membership in any church is not a requirement.  Since we began to get more finished product, we also offer the jewelry as a fundraiser for other causes.

God has an amazing sense of humor! If you ever meet me, you will see I am not much a jewelry person, but He has called me to work with these women and jewelry and I have merely responded “Yes, Lord”!J

Background on Chicuque, Mozambique: Chicuque is a small fishing village along the coast of Mozambique – about a seven hour drive from the capital city of Maputo.

The women there have virtually nothing in the way of material possessions. They gather firewood and water daily, cook on open fires, live in homes with dirt floors and no windows or doors,

wash their laundry in the river, grow their own food, and

care for their children – a life very different from ours – but they love their families and do whatever they can to ensure the well-being of their children.

They value education and many of them who missed schooling during the wars are going to night school. They have hope for a better future for their children and they are willing to work hard to provide that future.

They lose one of every four children before the age of 5 and even then may lose more later to malaria.

Many times their husbands leave the village to work in the city or in the mines of South Africa.

Many of them are Christians and live their faith in a daily way that we find astonishing, knowing how difficult their lives are.

 

God’s Network

global networkThere are times when we wonder if God hears our prayers for clear direction.

There are seasons when we think God has forgotten us.

There may be a stretch of our lives when we wonder if our Heavenly Father really loves us.

While we may not feel his involvement sometimes, we have to trust he’s working behind the scenes.

God is networking for us.

His contacts are limitless.

If we let him, he’ll guide us along life’s journey.

Because he will arrange divine appointments.

He gives us favor so we know his hand is in it.

He is able to put people in place for us to meet and has a perfect plan for our lives.

We should never forget “God works all things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I’ve seen that in my own life recently. After a season of questions, God is beginning to shed light on the answers. My “why” is turning into “of course.” That’s why that happened. I wish I would have trusted God with the outcome. I’m sorry I didn’t have more peace in the waiting period. Thank you, Lord,  for remembering me. 

Has this ever happened to you? Why is it so difficult to believe God is working on our behalf?

When things look bleak, we still have to trust there’s a reason for what has transpired.

It may be preparing us for the next phase of our lives.

It may be God’s way of forcing us to our knees.

It may be a turning point in our lives that requires some solitude before we make the move.

It may be best for our family.

It may be best for us individually.

God loves us and even when he’s silent, we have to trust he is at work.

And when he unveils his plan and we see the intricate weaving of his network, we are in awe and realize he cares more than we ever realized.

The Way Up is Down

 up and down arrows“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

“And the winner of the Alpha Epsilon Rho National Scholarship is Lisa Burkhardt.” When I heard my name called, I felt simultaneous shock and pride. Actor, Gordon Jump, who had been a star on the television show, WKRP in Cincinnati, presented the honorary broadcasting society award at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas. I nervously made it up the center stairs to receive the honor, but forgot that potential winners were instructed to exit stage right, if their name was called, not down the center. In my euphoria, I headed back the way I came. With the spotlight no longer on, I missed one of the center steps and landed flat on my face in front of thousands of people. Needless to say, I went from proud to embarrassed in a split second.

It wasn’t the first or the last time I would be humbled.

After repeated plates of humble pie, I am finally learning we shouldn’t be too wrapped up in what we’ve accomplished in the past or what we’re doing now. While we are called to do good works and receive occasional accolades, that is not our identity. God calls us all to be servants.

A close friend of mine, who is a truth teller, reminds me often, “Don’t forget the way up is down.” The world’s and God’s economy are polar opposites.

In Matthew 20, Jesus explains the concept. The mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus and asked a special favor. She wanted Jesus to grant that one of her sons would sit on Jesus’ right and the other on his left in his kingdom. Jesus told them this request was not for him to grant. Only his Father could do that, but it was an opportunity to teach a lesson on humility.

Jesus tells them, “Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-27)

Jesus could have spent his entire ministry bragging about his resume. After all, he is:

Son of God,

King of Kings,

Savior of the World,

Healer,

Miracle Worker,

Teacher,

Counselor,

Lord.

Instead, most of the time he let people figure out who he was and would confirm his identity if they guessed right. He gave up a choice seat at the top office, to come down and work with us interns so we might better understand God’s love for us. Jesus served and through his ultimate act of servitude, we will spend eternity getting to know him better.

I am thankful Jesus didn’t think he was too good for the job.

I recently attended a Christian business-networking meeting where the leadership asked for volunteers to serve weekly as greeters and registration table workers. They said those who serve are generally the first ones to land jobs. Already knowing the answer, the gentleman leading the meeting, asked, “I wonder why that is?”

Many of us made New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Is it too late for mine?

I want to be more of a servant. I don’t want to go into any situation where I feel compelled to spout off my resume, unless asked. I want to put others before myself. I want to be like Jesus. I want to finally learn

The way up is down.

Run Your Own Race

            tired runner cartoonI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (Timothy 4:7)

When I was in college I was required to run cross-country to get in shape for playing basketball.  I am not a runner today and I was not a runner back then, but as part of conditioning, we were also asked to participate in one cross-country race, probably equivalent to a 5K today. The only good thing about the race was the donuts we got to eat before we ran.

I remember the race like it was yesterday.  I knew I was in trouble when after the start, some of my competitors whizzed past me at hyper speed. I thought, I’d better pick up my pace if I want to catch those girls.

So I increased speed, ran as fast as I could, but also ran out of gas towards the end of the event. Yes, I fought the good fight, but finished the race, second to last. I was tuckered out after trying to run faster than God designed me to run.

Interestingly, I found out there were a whole bunch of girls who did not finish at all. I realized they were the ones flying at the start. I was told teams intentionally placed the jackrabbits in the race to set the pace too fast so they tire the field out. The ones who didn’t worry about them had much better results.

Of course! They were the ones I tried to be like, to catch up to, and they were the ones who caused me to run at a pace that was not comfortable, so I crawled across the finish line.

I wondered what would have happened if I’d run my own race? Not worried about what others were doing? If I just did the best I could, how would I have finished?

It’s the same in life. God calls us all to our own race, but so many times we glance to the left and the right to see what others are doing. We get jealous when someone achieves a higher level than us and we have a hard time being happy for them.

Why? Because we are not comfortable in our own skin. We want to wear someone else’s running shoes and we try to run faster than God designed us to run.

We are also not content with where God has us in our lives. We covet, and that’s a trust issue and a sin.

Paul mentions coveting quite a bit in his writings and uses it in Romans to explain the benefit of the law. “Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.”

God created each of us uniquely and has a specific plan for us. When we desire what someone else has, we’re coveting.

Instead, we need to be thankful for who we’ve been created to be. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

God created a unique race for each of us and it is designed to give him glory but we don’t give him glory if we are not grateful for our own design and spend our time trying to be someone else.

I recently attended an event with many other authors and media people, most of whom had more books and a busier speaking schedule than me. I could have let it be a downer, but the Lord continues to remind me, he has me right where he wants me. I need to stay in my lane and celebrate the fact that the women I met are reaching so many people for Christ. If I can, I am happy to serve them.

Do you trust God with his plan for your life or are you trying to run someone else’s race?  When we do that, it’s exhausting because we’re not letting God direct our path.

We all have different spiritual gifts.  Author and speaker Vicki Courtney says your spiritual gift is “simply the intersection of your passions and the needs around you.”

However, I think we get into more trouble with envy when someone is similarly gifted. That’s when we really have to focus on our own race and applaud the person who God may have on a faster track then you.

It’s time to be secure in our callings, especially if they further the kingdom. We women have to let go of our insecurities and help each other. We need to trust God’s plan for our life. We need to fight the good fight and let the Lord direct us to the finish line at his discretion.

After all, whose race is it?

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