Hearers, Believers, and Doers


In this week’s video lesson we discuss being hearers, believers, and doers and the difference between each. How do Paul and James intersect on this subject and what does Reformer Martin Luther have to do with it all?

What passive work of Christ and what active work of Faith can be found in hearing, believing, and doing?

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vainOn the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 1 Corinthians 15:10-11

This weekend, share ways you hear, believe, and do by the Grace of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. Tag #ilovemyshepherd so we can see, share, and be encouraged together!

 

Notes:

The shock of generosity

Our youth have been known to do wild and crazy things. Zany really, not dangerous or concerning, more out of the box and unexpected.

One year, we were robbed of our Christmas caroling plans by a massive snow storm. We were bummed, but we found solace in hot cocoa, popcorn, and Christmas movies. Fast forward to Easter. We’re still bummed. Enter one of my finest ideas ever – Easter caroling! Not just any Easter caroling… Easter caroling at fast food restaurants to cashiers with Easter baskets of encouragement. Ta-da!

We were so jazzed. We practiced our Easter ditty, “Up, Up, Up, He Arose” four Sundays in a row, gathered our Easter goodies to share, and invited all our outgoing friends. We organized restaurant stops progressive dinner style and brought dollar bills to take full advantage of the value menus. McDonald’s was our first stop for side salads. We walked up to the cashier to order, asked if we could sing her a carol (no need to freak anyone out), sang her our tune, and offered up an Easter basket of Gospel and chocolate fun, sharing our thanks for her willingness to just be herself and taking our order.

The look on that woman’s face I will never forget. There were actual tears in her eyes. It was like Bob Barker and Drew Carey had called her down for the showcase showdown.

“For me?” she asked.

“Yes, for you.”

“Why?”

“Because, God loves you and we just wanted you to know.”

“But, there’s lots of stuff in here. Should I share it?”

“That’s up to you. But this basket’s for you. We wanted you to know that Jesus died and rose for you. Happy Easter!”

We are not freakishly generous people. We aren’t special messengers from God. We entered a McDonald’s and gave a gift. We did the same a Wendy’s and Taco Bell, and DQ and got many of the same responses.

People are surprised by even remote generosity. I think the idea of generosity almost makes us nervous in our current cultural context. What do people want from me in return? What will they expect from me? It brings up all our “I’m not worthy” instincts.

But we have a generous Father. He loved us first, He loves us more.

Generosity is a huge part of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And what this generosity does may surprise us. Look at James 1:17 again and underline each instance of the word “every” in your Bible.

“Every good and every perfect gift…

Not some, not a few, but so many gifts…”every” says something. It says that God is generous of Himself. You’ll hear James talk again and again, throughout the book, about how we respond to this in the Spirit.

“Every” wells up in us and pours out to the world who could do with some “every”, because they’re so used to scarcely.

Now read on to James 1:19-27. My choice of this passage in illustrating generosity may surprise you, but bear with me.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

God generously shows us who we are in the mirror. He shows us both our sinfulness and our salvation. He shows us our beauty as His creation and the mark of the cross eternally etched in our forehead.

God’s generosity isn’t limited to love. He also gives honesty, sincerity, steadfastness, hope, joy, courage, and more…generously.

He generously gives us purpose, rather than a void. We hear the Word and then He generously gives us work to complete, vocations to fulfill, grace to be shared.

What kind of generosity is God pouring in you today? How might that reach out to others around you for His Kingdom?

Maybe it’s generosity of affection, generosity or discernment, generosity of care or kindness, or generosity of time. Let Him work in you. The implanted Word has saved you. Now let it reach out to every single person you meet, whether it’s your family and friends, or a cashier at the store.

They just might be the person who needs to see His generosity the most today.

Discussion:

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see that tells you what a generous God we have? (This may be a physical feature, something special about yourself, or a theological truth that serves as a good reminder.)

What kind of generosity are you most aware of God giving you in this season of your life?

Who is someone you feel called to share a touch more generosity with today?

Create your own post-it note truth of God’s generosity to place somewhere you can see today and/share the message of the meme below on social media or anywhere.

 

 

Easter Scavenger Hunt


Easter egg hunts were one of my favorite church memories as a child. Plastic eggs filled with chocolate and other treasures dotted the church lawn like they came down with the rain overnight. Hard boiled eggs were dyed by someone’s loving hands and then hid near bushes and trees. Let’s be honest, though, these were the slightly less desirable bounty, left by the big kids for wide eyed preschoolers and toddlers slowed down by wonderment.

Easter egg hunts meant our parents didn’t have to drag us out of bed bleary eyed for Sunrise service. All they had to say was “Happy Easter!” followed by that blessed phrase, “He is Risen!”

We knew what that meant- grace, joy, Easter Breakfast, and you’ve got it- the Egg Hunt.

Stuff like this matters for kids at church.

While the message may not be as overt as the Sunday School lesson or the Children’s Sermon, it does share grace with them in a way that I don’t think our adult brains can comprehend. Eggs-schmeggs, sure, but to a child’s heart this speaks something different –

“I matter in this place.”

“I am seen in the Body of Christ.”

“My presence is not just tolerated, but welcomed and invited here.”

“These people speak my language, and I want to be a part of it.”

This layer of care for our church kids guides hearts to be open. Those little ears (and big ears) hear the message of Christ from your lips and then see the love of the Savior in action. They connect the dots between real life, real truth, real action, real faith and His real Word.

Once I was involved in children’s ministry, as an adult, and then bringing my own kids to church on Easter morning, I found the Great Egg Hunt fun, but lacking. It was special, great for photos and joy-filled church memories, but not quite what I was going for as a teaching moment. There had to be, not a better way, but something different to help direct the kids to the Word in a fun way, with treats, because, you know, Easter. 😉

So, I googled and pinterested the topic to death. I found lots of great ideas and alternatives. Praises to the Lord for creating many ideas, minds, and a zealous Spirit!

I would reference blog posts and idea makers here, but I really scanned about 47 different ideas and decided to create my own.For my own children’s ministry I decided to write my own Easter Scavenger Hunt. I do encourage you to look through Pinterest and search engines for similar blogs and ideas, however, since the origin of the idea for an Easter Scavenger Hunt isn’t mine.

This is an easy and fun alternative to help kids and families connect the treats they receive from your church or family gathering on Easter morning to the Word of Life. Each item in the Hunt is chosen for a specific reason that is linked to a Bible verse, for instance…

Betrayed with a kiss – Hershey kisses
Judas’s payment- silver coins
Romans 5:8 – chocolate cross

And more!

You hide the items for the Hunt around the church or lawn, your house, a park, anywhere, and give families the list of verses to read with the corresponding items.

 

I have attached the PDF of my own Easter Scavenger Hunt to make it easy for you- just print and duplicate!

Easter Scavenger Hunt PDF

If parents are still eating Easter breakfast, ask for volunteers or members of your youth group to help little hands find their treats. I wouldn’t necessarily disclude the youth from this hunt, though. I guarantee those bigger hands are going to want to get in on these treats, and they are an often forgotten age group who like fun and creative ways to learn the Scriptures as well. You could make them work harder to figure out the items by only giving them the verse list. This is especially fun if you’re feeling ornery. You could also give the kids an extra bag of the goodies and tell them to give it to a friend who didn’t get to go to church on Easter morning. You can trim your own hunt to make it smaller, or you could add to it.

Now I want to show up at all your churches and family events to see how you all used the hunt! Please share pictures or stories in the comments section so we can all share in the fun!

Easter joy to you all!

It is by His grace-filled death and resurrection that we are Saved, Redeemed, Set Free, Restored, and Made New. Let’s go share that message with big and little ones everywhere!

Confess Hope

 

It’s that time of year again, the time when New Year’s resolutions begin to creep out your back door when you weren’t looking.

There’s grace for that.

I’m not a resolution keeper, but I’m not really a resolution maker either. I’m one of the breed of people who choose one word for the year. However, I egregiously fail at keeping rules of any kind, particularly when they encourage keeping words to a minimum. I’m like a window shopper who has restraint in buying but absolutely no restraint in trying things on- I’ll try this one, and this one, and this one, maybe this one, two of those…

My one word is almost always two, or three, maybe four, if any of you remember from last year’s Fearlessly Wrong post. This year I was able to keep it to two words. Clean and simple. If I were honest, though, it’s not really my doing. My words were chosen in that way the Holy Spirit has when you read or hear a text of Scripture and a few specific words reach into your body and grab ahold with an unmistakable fierceness that cannot be ignored.

As I led a retreat this fall, Hebrews 10:23 resonated in my ears, and for many days after the retreat ended:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hope is a beautiful thing. Without it we fade and we wither. I have visibly watched this happen, when life crashes in and hope drains from a face…a mother who loses a child, a friendship abandoned, a marriage left out to dry.

Most of you reading this as Christians know the Truth that our hope does not fade and it never disappoints. Our verse in Hebrews tells us that it’s stable and sturdy, because it depends on the Maker, who is ever and always faithful. But let me tell you another story. A story of people that do not know Hope as we know Hope. Sometimes life rolls in and covers us like a flood, the earth shakes beneath our feet with family drama, long held back pain rises to the surface, and people do not know where to turn. Who helps when hope seems lost? Can you even imagine, my friend? A world with no hope, with shifting hope, with forgotten or disappointing hope?

Our Savior offers us something different.

He offers us an anchor of Hope (Hebrews 6:19)

A Hope unshaken (2 Corinthians 1:7)

A Living Hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4)

A Hope of Joy (Proverbs 10:28)

A Hope for Trouble (Jeremiah 14:8)

A Hope that does not shame (Philippians 1:20)

But they will not know if we do not confess it. God can work any way that He wants, but He chooses to work through our words very often. He puts Hope in us undaunted and pouring out. He helps us to reach across the table at the coffee shop and say,

“Let me tell you my story of Hope.”

How has God worked Hope in your life? What has He brought you through? What adventures has He taken you on? What rock has He set your feet upon in troubled times and in times of victory? What path have you journeyed on and discovered more of Him and less of wantonness?

This is confessing hope. God weaves His Word into our hearts and when we tell the ways in which He has helped us find hope or see hope more clearly, we help someone else see hope in the darkness and in the light.

Confess Hope

Will you confess it with me this year? Share with us how you confess hope each day in the comments below. Spur us on to confess our Hope boldly in the Lord. You can print the Confess Hope wall art below. Tack it up somewhere to be seen and remembered. Put it in a pretty frame and give it to a friend who could use an extra dose of hope this winter. Save it as your phone wallpaper. Share it at your family table. Print small copies and hand them out like little pieces of hope candy, from your purse or your backpack. Leave them in surprising places. Whatever you do…

Confess Hope

May the words roll off our tongue in the comfortable and the uncomfortable places, to share Christ Jesus, to share Hope.

“My Hope comes from the Lord…Maker of heaven and earth. Let me tell you a little bit about it…”

 

Click on the image to download the pdf file. Thank you to Jennifer Tinkey for creating this reminder for us!

Why we sell stuff: Products with a message

 

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Here’s the deal. We buy stuff all the time.

It’s a semi-well known fact that I am an Aldi aficionado, a TJ Maxx fananista, a regular at the local Goodwill, and I definitely get my Prime memberships worth in packages on my front doorstep, and this is with a modest income. My son tripped over an incoming package by the back door last week and my daughter kindly, yet snarkily, pointed out, “How can you trip over those? We get them, like, every day?”

It’s true. We all buy stuff daily. We buy stuff to eat. We buy stuff to live. We buy stuff to enjoy. We buy stuff because God has given us good gifts in this life and we were meant to steward them and certainly to enjoy them, especially with one another. We buy stuff to have guest in our home and to make it warm and inviting. We buy stuff for mission projects. We buy stuff for team sports and hobbies to share with others. We give gifts and love through gifts.

A while back, I had a post about a t-shirt my husband had with a very bold Christian statement across the front. This t-shirt not only attracted attention, it attracted conversation. This was my kind of shirt. It brought up the Gospel without me trying to hem and haw to get there. It removed awkward and let the Spirit do His thing.

I want more of this in my life and I want to help people find more of this in their life.

In talking with my friend, Melissa, I discovered I wasn’t alone. There had to be a way to deliver the message, gentle and bold at the same time, fresh and clear, reaching into the hungry souls around us.

Because the world is hungry.

They need to know. And honestly, on any given day I need to know. I need reminders, every where. Not just when I open my Bible, but when I sit at my table, and walk along the way, and walk down the road, and open my front door, while I sit on my couch, and lay my children down to sleep. I need to be surrounded by Jesus.

And so the Surround Me line was born.

All with the intent of getting the Word out there. We spend money on stuff we need and stuff we sort of need, and stuff we don’t even need.

What if we spent money on stuff with a message?

I invite you to check it out. Here are some samples…

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I invite you to share it with friends. Let’s get the message out there, intentionally.

You can see the Surround Me line on the Products with a Message page. Here’s an easy link to it:

Products with a message

When you purchase our products you also help us do ministry- to take the time to create blogs and Bible studies, to speak up on things that matter, to visit and encourage others, to provide opportunities for counseling, and teach who Christ is and why He matters most.

Let’s share the message. Let’s start the conversation. Let’s surround our hearts, our minds, our families, our homes, and our lives with reminders of all He is for us and in us.

Products with a message…stuff with a purpose.
#surroundme #starttheconversation #productswithamessage