Hear, Trust, Obey

There is an amazing prayer resource and journal that I have used for the past couple of years called the Pray! Prayer Journal.  Each month has a different focus.  Recently I was looking back in my journal, and I was struck by the past three months’ focus themes.

 

August: Hearing His Voice

September: Trusting His Way

October: Obeying His Word

 

Hearing His Voice: I need to be still and silent long enough to hear from God.  While reading the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst I came across this quote on pg.111 “I am trying to weave more silence into the rhythm of my life, so I can whisper, “God, what might you want to say to me right now, I’m listening.”  We live in a very noisy world.  We have access to more information and images than we could ever possibly handle right in our hands, most of us on our phones.  We have to choose to silence the noise.  We have to be intentional about being still and quiet, long enough for the chatter in our minds to quiet, and then to hear from our Heavenly Father.  How are you doing at Hearing His Voice?

       

Lord, when I consider how well I listen, I know I need You to teach me how to do it better. Let me be like Mary who chose sitting at Your feet, listening to what You had to say. Help me pay attention and not be distracted. Give me ears to hear what Your Spirit is saying and a heart that stays tender in response. Guide me with Your voice as I walk through my day (Luke 8:18, 10:38-42; Revelation 3:22, Hebrews 4:7, Isaiah 30:21).*

 

Trusting His Way: God always has the perfect plan for us.  His Way is always the best way.  Trusting His Way involves surrender.  Being willing to say, I am not in control, and I do not know what is best.  And I will choose to trust you Lord, even when I do not fully understand. Our God is trustworthy.  How are you doing at Trusting His Way?

 

Your ways aren’t my ways, Father, but they are perfect. Show me Your ways and teach me Your paths - I will trust You with all my heart even when I don’t understand. Your love is unfailing - let me sense that each morning as I put my trust in You.  Help me stay committed to Your way as I trust because there’s no God for me but You (Isaiah 55:8; Psalm 18:30, 25:4; Proverbs 3:5; Psalms 143:8, 37:5, 31:14).*

 

Obeying His Word: To obey God’s Word, we have to be reading God’s Word and meditating on what it says and applying it to our lives.  It is not enough to just hear it on a Sunday morning from a sermon.  We need to have a regular time to read it and memorize it and hide it in our hearts.  Then we can do what our Lord Jesus asked us to do… walk in love. (2 John 1:6)  How is it going for you loving those nearest you?  Loving those who are nothing like you? Loving those who irritate or annoy you?  We are called to love one another; it is a matter of obedience. How are you doing at Obeying His Word?

Lord, You have said that to obey is better than sacrifice. You delight in our obedience. Give me understanding so that I will obey Your Word with all my heart. Help me remember what I’ve received and heard from You. I’m responding to Your wake-up call so that I maintain an obedient and repentant heart. Help me work wholeheartedly at obedience to Your commands so that I display and walk in love (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 119:34; Revelation 3:2,3; 2 Chronicles 31:21; 2 John 1:6).*

 
 

May each one of us grow in Hearing His Voice, Trusting His Way and Obeying His Word.  

 

*The prayers and scripture references in italics are taken from the Pray! Journal by Dean Ridings

 

A Joyful Sabbatical

As I hope you’ve heard, our church’s milestone (goal) for the next year is to “experience a significant increase in contagious joy, because we will be able to identify 100 people who are re-examining missional living as they practice and experiment with what it means for them to live missionally.” If you have questions about this, please feel free to talk with me or another staff member. I’m excited about this goal because it highlights that God designed us to experience great joy in our lives. We’re made in God’s image. We are sacred, beloved, free to love others because of Christ’s sacrificial, unconditional love. How could we not have joy-filled lives?!

 

Well, we all know there’s plenty in our world (and in ourselves) that can set obstacles in the way of joy. Every day, I struggle with my thoughts and reactions -- worries, a short temper, unkind words, holding on to resentment, etc. -- that too often strip joy out of my life. I recognize that some thoughts and reactions are easier to control than others, and that some of us may even experience physiological obstacles to the ability to choose how we respond in certain situations, and I don’t want to minimize that. However, I also know that God has equipped each of us with the capacity to choose joy.

 
It’s understandable that when we’re faced with changes to the status quo (how we’re used to things being/going), we may face difficulties and have trouble choosing joy.  One such change at the Church is that this month Pastor Jeff and Amy Meyer are beginning a six-month sabbatical (November 2016 - April 2017). My hope and prayer for Pastor Jeff and Amy is that they experience great joy during this time, and my hope for each of us individually and corporately as a church is that we will choose joy, that we will live in joyful relationships with our family, friends, coworkers, and other neighbors, reflecting Jesus’ love. I further pray that when we struggle in this capacity, we will share our struggle with a trusted friend, and with Jesus, whose love is perfect and heals perfectly. I love you, church, and am thankful that so many of my life’s joyful moments are with you!  
 

The Lord your God will change your heart so that you will love him with all your heart and so you may live! Deuteronomy 30:6

 

If you’d like a copy of the documents detailing the sabbatical, please email me or stop by my office.  Here are some key pieces of structure / contact information:

  • Leadership: Youth Director Emily Powers is serving as Interim Executive Leader; Head Movement Elder Brian Hayman is serving as co-leader with Emily (epowers@livelifetogether.com; hayman@ameritech.net).

  • Worship / Preaching: Pastor Matt Wipperman and several guest preachers are leading worship services during the sabbatical (mwipperman@livelifetogether.com).

  • Congregation: Please direct questions and concerns to staff and board members as needed (Staff Coordinator Elsa Gumm - egumm@livelifetogether.com; Board President Peter Huebner - peterhue@centurytel.net), seek pastoral care from Pastor Matt Wipperman and Pastor Mike Peters (mwipperman@livelifetogether.com; streetchaplain@gmail.com), and consider prayerfully how you may serve and lead in the church.

  • Learning: Two Connections classes offered during this time period are an opportunity for new and existing members to learn about the identity and structure of the Church. Click here for more info on Connections.

 

 

Bhutanese Ministry Update

Outreach to Bhutanese refugees resettling in Madison began in April of 2009 when a Life Group committed to a 90-day sponsorship of the first Bhutanese family to arrive in Madison. Since then, our congregation has been blessed to witness many Bhutanese come to faith in Jesus through baptism, attend weekly Saturday evening Bible study and fellowship, and serve in our congregation and elsewhere.

 

UPDATES

Pastor Amos Shakya from Chicago continues to develop leaders in our ministry, visiting Madison every other weekend. He also provides wise counsel as the community encounters both celebrations and challenges that are often culturally unique. Mentored during the week, Bhutanese leaders teach the Bible study and lead worship every Saturday evening. One of our leaders, Ran Limbu, is in the midst of a 3-year basic theological training program with Pastor Amos as his mentor.

 

The AWANA club continues to draw youth and children from the larger Madison Bhutanese community. They quickly outgrew the limited basement space they were using in one of the apartment buildings and found consistent Saturday morning meeting space within walking distance at Good Shepherd Lutheran on Raymond Road. They have received a warm welcome from the faith community there and are now using the same space for Saturday evening fellowship and Bible study as well.

The summer months brought several celebrations. Two community picnics at area parks offered great food, fellowship, music and games. The AWANA club had a special celebration and program for their one-year anniversary in June. We provided support and comfort for several life transitions, rejoiced at the return of some faces we hadn’t seen for awhile and welcomed new babies into the kingdom of God through baptism.

Most recently we welcomed a brand new family to Madison. Our congregation generously donated home items to help get them settled and the Bhutanese community surrounded them for support. We anticipate another new family to arrive in the coming months.

PRAYERS

Please continue to pray for this ministry. His continued protection and guidance is needed as we further His Kingdom work here in Madison. Pray for Pastor Amos in his leadership and Ran Limbu in his continued development and training. Pray for those who have reconnected with our ministry after time away, that they may be energized in their faith. Pray that our ongoing discipleship would bear fruit and grow and that all the resources necessary are available to allow this ministry to continue to develop and mature.

Thank you for your continued support, encouragement and prayers!

 

Pass it On – Part 3: Live It

Pass it On – Part 3: Live It

It’s been a few months since Part II: Learn It was printed.  What was more difficult for you, recognizing something in another person’s life you want to learn, or asking them to show you? 

♫ Practice makes perfect.

Practice makes perfect.

I guess if I practice then better I’ll be. ♫

An annoying song (to me), but oh so true.

So here we are, Pass it on – Part 3: Live It

What in your life is worth following?  (You could ask someone close to you, maybe someone in lifeGroup, what they see in you that is worth following)

If it’s worth following, or if you want it to be worth following, making it a pattern will help.

  1. Identify your intentional habit (maybe the thing you asked someone to teach you)
  2. Experiment with it and refine it (step 3 from Learn It, just do it, is pretty important).
  3. Write down how you see God working through that habit in your life.
  4. Share your excitement with friends about how God is showing up.

Live it is really simple, actually live with the habit as part of your life.  Know what you’re doing, do it so you get better at it and so you can experience results, record and review what you appreciate about it, and share your excitement.

Good habits are rarely, if ever accidental.  They don’t become habits, and don’t become your habit, just the way you like it, instantly.  If you don’t record what happens as a result you run the risk of forgetting, or not even seeing it.  And if you’re excited about something, why would you hide it?

If you try something and aren’t excited about it, or don’t like it, tweak it, change it to a way that works for you.  Make it something you love to live out.  And please, share it with in the comments or via email: mwipperman@lifelivetogether.com

 

Six Motivators for Listening to Your Family

All people need to know they are of value and listened to. This is especially true of our spouse and children. That is why listening should first be practiced in your home.

Many of us spend our days and often nights with people, listening, building relationships, developing partnerships, attending community events and a myriad of other activities. Often, the life-building skills we learn and practice with those we work with are not consistently practiced in our homes with those we hold most dear.

I, for one, struggle with this. My wife often gets the leftovers of my listening skills at the end of a busy relational day. Same with my kids when they were at home. Sometimes the people we cherish most, we take for granted.

I’m not alone. I hear this a lot from busy people. Perhaps you can relate.

All of us can learn from our mistakes, and we improve our listening skills each time we do. Here are six motivators for giving our families our best listening-self, even at the end of a day when you don’t think you can listen to another word.

Six Motivators to Listen to Your Family

  1. Listening to your family members will empower them to fulfill their potential as God’s image-bearers. Listen to discover their strengths and encourage them to make their unique contribution to your family’s and community’s well-being.
  2. Listening to your family affirms their dignity. Giving them your time and attention affirms their worth.
  3. Listening to your children increases their self-awareness as they discover for themselves their unique contribution to their family, church, neighborhood, and the Kingdom.
  4. Listening to your children teaches them to be problem solvers as they discover that the best solutions are found in the attributes they already possess.
  5. Listening to your family will foster deeper, more intimate relationships with them. The key is to pause your agenda and hear deeply the strengths and felt needs of your spouse and children.
  6. Listening to your family will improve your character as a disciple. The Jesus-life is strengthened by consistent behavior in all your relationships. The care and concern you show to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and others should be shown to your family most especially. By doing so, you increase credibility with your family and other people important to you. When listening permeates every aspect of your life, it’s the thread that sews your relationships together into a garment of integrity.

There is so much happening this time of year: Children are back in school, fall sports are in full swing, school clubs and extracurricular activities seem to increase exponentially, the coming holidays require planning, preparing, traveling or receiving travelers.

Above all else, let’s make this a season of listening in our homes. May that be true for us all and may we listen well in Jesus’ name.