Did you ever know of a person who seemed larger than life? And I mean physically and personally larger than life as if their entire character was somehow more of a hero-type than a real-life person.
My grandfather was one of those people. He had hands that were some of the largest hands of anyone I have ever met.
He was larger than life.
And the story of his life went something like this: he knew hard work. He was a farmer. He loved his family and his friends. He was a servant to people. And he loved God.
He taught Sunday School for years—including teaching most of his grandchildren. He received perfect attendance pins for over 18 years of perfect attendance—you know, the pins your Baptist church gave you for each year you didn’t miss a Sunday. He was also an RA leader—instilling missions education into the lives of young boys. Though teaching about spreading the gospel seeds extended into the lives of his grandchildren, too.
My grandfather passed away two weeks ago today. His legacy; however, will never leave me. As I’ve reflected over the values and teachings my grandfather instilled in me, it’s taught me something of the word legacy.
What does it mean to leave behind a memory or thought that points you to something else or, in my Pappaw’s case, to Someone else?
As WMU celebrates their 125th Anniversary this year, the emphasis is: The Story Lives On. For my grandfather, his legacy will continue to live on within me. And more than that, the important ideals he taught me such as praying and giving to missions, serving and loving your neighbor, and loving people deeply are values I will hopefully pass on to the next generation.
Missions education is more than just meeting once a week to discuss missionaries around the world. It’s more than hosting a prayer meeting or having Bible study. It’s about continuing the legacy that Christ set before us—to tell every nation, tribe, tongue, and generation of His saving grace. My grandfather understood this and dedicated his life to teaching others about Christ through Sunday School, RAs, and how he lived his life.
What legacy will you pass on? How will your story reflect God’s story?
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8).
Doubt: it comes to all of us at the most inconvenient of times. Doubt in ourselves, doubt in who we were created to be, doubt in our God and Who He is. It comes like a thief in the night—only to steal, kill, and destroy. It makes you question the very foundation on which you stand—the core of what you believe—the character of the One Who created you.
What do we do in times of doubt?
We’ve all heard the expression “Doubting Thomas.” But what about his story is so significant that his name would be tarnished forevermore?
Thomas was a realist— a man wanting substance, answers, direction, a plan. Remember John 14? “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ ” And then Jesus replies with what are probably the most famous words besides John 3:16 and said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The only issue with being a realist all the time is that it put you in a place of control. And that’s what Thomas wanted in himself—control of the situation, a physical knowledge, something to see and hold onto.
So why is it any surprise he didn’t believe the disciples when they said Jesus (whom he saw crucified and die) appeared to them alive? “Doubting Thomas” enters the picture (John 20:24-29). But who could blame him, right? It was something that required letting go of all of his previous knowledge of death, believing words based on someone else’s experience with Him, and choosing to think that Someone he could not see was actually present and alive and active.
This quarter, we have a short topical study called myTopics: Faith and Doubt releasing. We’ll take a look at what to do when you have doubts about God, salvation, or yourself in Christ. We’ll discuss openly and honestly the struggles we all as Christ-followers have to hold on to faith in difficult times.
We are all “Doubting Thomas” at times. However, we serve a God Who can see through our doubts to see the heart of faith that longs to believe in a God we cannot see. Let’s discuss this issue together, Church. And let’s be encouraged to have faith in what we cannot see.
myTopics: Faith and Doubt will release later this semester. Check back in to our Studies and Products section under Topical Studies.
“Two roads diverge in a wood and I took the one less traveled…and it hurt, man!” (from Kid President’s Pep Talk)
I remember the sayings from when I was younger:
You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.
Anything you dream is possible. Go on, dream.
Set your mind to something and, surely, it will happen.
Make sure you’re in the will of God.
Be what God has called you to be.
And I fell for all these.
I was called to be a missionary. Simple enough. From the time I was a young GA studying about missionaries in Africa, God instilled in me a longing to go and share His Name among all nations.
So I made my checklist:
Graduate from high school
Go to a Christian college.
Major in Religion.
Marry a Godly man who also wanted to be a missionary.
Go to seminary.
Go to Africa.
Be a missionary.
We got to about check four before it all began to change. Through a series of events, we weren’t able to go to seminary, move to Africa, and become career missionaries (at least not in the time frame I had in mind).
Yet, do I think that I am outside of the will of God? Not at all.
God is still guiding each step I take. What have I learned through these years of what I viewed at first as a detour?
God likes for us to trust Him (Romans 4:20-21). When we think we have everything figured out, He likes to insert Himself into our plan and make our plan about being His instead of about accomplishing everything on our list.
A change of plans does not surprise God (Matthew 28:18; Genesis 1:1). He knew my husband and I didn’t need to go overseas in our first years of marriage. He knew we needed time to get to know one another more, learn to love each other better, and grow in our marriage within a loving and familiar community who loves to support us. He knew I needed to get my degree in counseling instead of going to seminary for more religious training. He knew a counseling degree would make me a better minister. He knew we needed to build the relationships we have built and to restore some old relationships to remember who we are and where we’ve come from.
Our calling is to Him and not to a career or a profession. Remember that main commandment? The one Jesus said was the most important above anything else? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Our calling is to be His—to love Him, to serve Him, to follow Him.
When your plans change or you notice life isn’t exactly turning out the way you expected it to, trust that God is still sovereign over all. And His love for you is unending. And He is a God worthy of our trust and also a God Who can handle our disappointment and frustrations. Be real with Him. Confess your uncertainty to Him and allow Him to take your anxious thoughts and replace it with faith in Him.
“Cause you've been more than a friend to me—you fight off my enemies. And you've spoken the Truth over my life. And you'll never know what it means to me—just to know you've been on your knees for me. Oh, you have blessed my life more than you'll ever know” (Watermark, “More Than You’ll Ever Know”).
My community is built of women from across the country—even around the world. Geography does not play a central factor in determining with whom I interact or the depth of our relationship.
Just yesterday, I woke up full of insecurity about a certain area of my life. It was a very specific area of my life where doubt wiggled its way through my faith and planted itself. And I was overwhelmed. I even went to talk with a friend at work about it that morning and felt encouraged by her, but still had a hint of uncertainty.
Then, after lunch, I was going through the work mail that had come in and I found a letter from one of my writers (who has also grown to be a dear friend). And in her work mail, she included a simple note. The note was telling me she was praying for me—specifically for that very area where doubt had entered my mind.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
God intervenes through community.
He works out His sovereign will and orchestrates what we need at just the right time. My friend didn’t know days ago that the Lord would use her simple letter in such a marvelous way to bring me back to a place of faith and trust in His care for me. He is good to provide all we need.
Look for Him today—whether that’s at work or school or in your children or in your myMISSION group. Be obedient to write the letter if the Lord is leading you to, to text or call the friend whom God has placed in your mind, or to encourage someone in your community in a creative and thoughtful way.
You never know what that person is going through or how your simple act of obedience could change their entire day.
Soon, we will have a myTopics study on Faith and Doubt debuting in the near future. This study is designed specifically with small groups in mind. What do you do when you have doubt? How can your community step in to help you through these times? Be on the lookout for this short study.
And may your community continue to grow in beauty as God interacts with you through those who surround you.
Written by guest blog writer, Kristen Padilla:
Have you ever written your autobiography? What would you say if you were to write yours today? Perhaps you would write about when and where you were born, what your family was like then and now, if you were poor or rich, what your community was like, and where you went to church.
And perhaps you have had significant events in your life that you’d want to mention—a death, a divorce, a move, an award, or a graduation.
Tell me, after reading your autobiography, would I know you? Would I know, truly, who you are and what your purpose in life is? Would these details give me your story?
If the character Shasta in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy book in The Chronicles of Narnia series wrote his autobiography, he would say that he never knew his father and mother but instead was raised by a man whom mistreated and used him. This man was willing to sell him to a stranger one day so he escaped and was chased by lions, endured many dangers in a place called Tashbaan and had to spend the night in a cold graveyard. In fact, this is the account that Shasta gave his companion in the night when his companion asked Shasta to tell him his sorrows.
But what Shasta didn’t realize was that it was Aslan, the Great Lion, the One who had given his life on a stone only to be resurrected, who was his companion that night. It was then that Aslan told Shasta his story: how he had forced Shasta to join with Aravis, how he had comforted him among the graves, how he drove the jackals away while he slept, how he gave the horses Shasta and the others were riding new strength to reach King Lune in time, and how he “was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
Who was Shasta? He was the one whom Aslan had rescued, protected, loved, and provided for. Aslan’s story became Shasta’s story. And Shasta, after hearing Aslan’s story and seeing his face “slipped out of the saddle and fell at his feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.”
Shasta’s story is fictional, but the story it represents is real. You see, we don’t get the full picture of who we are until we find who we are in God’s story. His story tells us why we were created, why we experience heartache and emptiness (sin), how much He loves us, how we can be made whole, forgiven, and find everlasting peace, and how our lives have meaning in our community and in our world. The irony is that when we get lost in His story, we find our stories; we find who we truly are and our true purpose.
The myStory Bible study is written with the intention to help you get lost in His story. The study explores five parts of the story of the Christian: myLife (our creation), mySin (our disobedience), myResponsibility (our life after Christ), myCommunity (our part in the body of Christ), and mySavior (our final redemption).
We all have a story to tell. Our stories can be like Shasta’s was at the beginning, told from a humanistic perspective in which are lives are defined by random events and sadness; or our stories can be about what God has done in our lives and how He is being glorified in them. So tell me, what is your story?
Kristen Padilla, a graduate of Beeson Divinity School (M.Div.), is a wife, mother and writer. To learn more about her, her family, and her ministry, visit kristenrpadilla.com.
We have what Jamaicans would call a “situation.”
“It’s no problem, mon. It is a situation. If it were a problem, we could not solve it. But it is no problem, mon.”
Disconnect: Where am I going with this? What is the situation, you might ask. The situation I am referring to is “the disconnect”. “The disconnect” between us folks (living in a developed country) and the reality of the rest of the world (living in a developing country). The disconnect occurs all the time. It is blinding. It is hidden. It is secretly seeping its way into the life of the church at all times. And it is exactly where the enemy would have us: disconnected.
Now, back up with me. I’m not calling out all American believers all at once. I, too, am guilty of this disconnect.
Let me put this post into context:
This week, I watched the YouTube video “First World Problems Anthem.” If you haven’t watched it, go check it out.
Then, a few of the WMU staff went over to our neighbors at The Church at Brook Hills, who were hosting the Compassion Experience. The Compassion Experience consists of “an interactive traveling display. The sights and sounds of a poor, developing-world community will come alive as you journey with a child from hardship to hope.”
Perspective: After reviewing and remembering the lives of nearly 80% of the world’s population, I began to re-evaluate my own life in a developed country.
Complaints: RelevantMagazine.com just put out an article that states, “Complainers are more like consumers—they consume an unfortunate event or situation. But creators empathize, and then they do something.”
My complaints as a person in a first world country (i.e.: “I hate getting out of bed when it’s freezing cold and I don’t have my space heater.” “Why did Panera give me a pumpkin muffie instead of a pumpkin muffin?” “The Starbucks barista was entirely too slow this morning.” “I really wish the worship leader could sing All Sons and Daughters.”) pale in comparison to the needs of those around the world.
But I cannot simply complain about our disconnect, our situation, our apathy.
I must change.
Change: Here are a few of the questions I have started to think through:
How am I spending my money?
How am I investing my time?
Do I believe my life and the decisions I make have a global influence?
Can I make purchases through fair-trade companies to help those in poverty have a hope and a future?
Am I aware that nearly 50% of the world lives on less than $2.50/day?
How can I be active in helping those in poverty—not just physical poverty, but emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual poverty as well?
Am I complaining over useless “first world problems”?
How am I actively making a global difference?
Come on this journey with me. I won’t have all the answers to these questions. But these questions hold me accountable to my actions, my thoughts, my complaints, and my creativity to change.
These questions reveal my desire to change the situation we’re in. What are your thoughts? What are some questions we can add to this list? What are some of your answers to these questions?
In honor of World Hunger Sunday, October 14th, I invited Kristy Carr (ministry consultant at national WMU) to share her writing on hunger:
The phone rings.
My grandmother is on the other end. I’m always happy to hear from her even though I see both her and my grandfather several times a month. My mother is working at a new job following her college graduation. I’m proud of my mom, I’m saddened by my parents’ divorce, and I’m confused by the current situation in which we find ourselves.My grandmother tells me to go to the kitchen, look in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and tell her exactly what I see. I immediately do as she instructs. I tell her the contents of the refrigerator and cabinets. This task takes me less than three minutes.
I remember this situation and conversation with my grandmother as if it were yesterday. But this conversation occurred more than 30 years ago. That same day, while my mother was still working, my grandparents delivered sacks and sacks of groceries. My brothers, sister, and I were elated! We had not seen that many groceries in our house in a very long time.
The divorce, along with my father’s unemployment, found us in situational poverty. As an 11-year-old, I didn’t know what to call it nor did I really care; I just wanted a stable environment to live in.
You may think I did not grow up in a Christian home or attend church. You would be mistaken. My parents were charter members of our local Southern Baptist church, and we were all very active in all facets of our church. Now you may be wondering how this could be. Where were our church family members in all of this? They were there, but we did not share with them our needs. They really had no idea we were living in situational poverty. Why didn’t we tell them? I’ve asked myself that question many times. I don’t know the answer. As an 11-year-old, was I prideful? I don’t think so. Why didn’t my siblings say something? I don’t know. I’m thankful for my grandparents, but not everyone has assistance from grandparents.
I share this real-life experience with you to bring to the forefront the need for you to be aware and observant of what is going on inside the walls of your church as well as the outside.
You make choices each and every day. Will you choose to reach out to those who do not have adequate food to eat on any given day? What will you do locally? What will you do globally? One way you can help is by giving to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. One hundred percent of the funds helps those with hunger needs. Each year, the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund helps millions of people.
Kristy Carr serves as a ministry consultant for national WMU. She realizes that not everyone reading this has experienced hunger first hand, but everyone can help to meet the needs of those who are hungry.
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:10-13).
Have you ever had a situation in life that didn’t exactly turn out the way you envisioned it? Maybe it was a job opportunity you wish you had, maybe it was wishing you majored in something different in college, maybe it was not telling someone how you felt about them and now they’ve passed away, or maybe it was making a choice in your past that you simply wish you could undo.
If you’re anything like me, when these situations happen, I end up with a big case of the “what if’s.” What if this…what if that…maybe then this would be this way or that. And it’s a never-ending cycle of questions and unfulfilled longing for the reality of the situation at hand to be different…to change…to be something it’s not.
What I have learned through these questions of “what if” is that the Lord is not glorified through my longing for something different. He is glorified in my present reality, not in my wishful dreams. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t analyze your life or remember things from your past in order to learn from them.
However, when we continuously question our circumstances, we rob God of the joy He brings to our life in the present. And life is not meant to be lived wishing for a change or for a future something to occur. It is meant to be lived wholeheartedly right now.
I find encouragement in the words of Paul written in Philippians. The Lord seems to continuously lead me back to these verses this year. Here, Paul is thanking the church at Philippi for their encouragement of him and for wanting to provide for him although they weren’t given the opportunity.
Then, he goes on to say, “Not that I need anything even now. I have found that whatever life brings my way, I am content” (paraphrase mine). No case of the “what if’s” for him. He had learned that even when things didn’t go as planned, the Lord was still His strength and in knowing that, he could continue living.
Have you ever had a case of the “what if’s” in your life? What did the Lord reveal to you during this time?
A semester has come and gone and the new myMISSION blog writers are here. Read stories from a stay-at-home mom who strives to disciple her kids and minister to her community. Read how one young professional (a baker and a cupcake maker) seeks to honor the Lord in her work and life. Read how a girl-next-door transitions from college to the real world—looking to see God in the little things in life. Read how a college student leads her myMISSION (SHINE) group on her college campus. And get insights into how one myMISSION leader has developed her group, mentors her group, and is a mom and minister all at the same time.
These women have stories you will not want to miss. Relate to them. Interact with them. Pray for them. And let them get to know you!
The Leader: Jen—Leads a myMISSION: SHINE group in North Carolina. Mom of 2 boys. Passionate about leading young adult women in faith, community, and missions.
The Mom: Leticia—Stay-at-home mom of one girl and one boy. Seeks to minister to those in her neighborhood, community, and world. Testing the homeschool realm this year. Extreme encourager.
The Young Professional: Lindsey—Transplanted southerner currently living in Chicago with her hubs and cat. Pastry chef (yes, she makes cupcakes for a living). Shares the love of Christ with others in the professional world.
The Girl-Next-Door: Leanna—Recent college graduate. Passionate about sustainable living and urban gardening all for the glory of God. Would own a chicken in the city if her landlords would let her.
The Collegiate: Jessica—Attends Campbell University. Majoring in Education and Religion. Leads a myMISSION: Campbell SHINE group. Loves missions.
Faith: Have you ever had a time in your spiritual journey where you stopped and thought: is this whole thing real? God…creating the world, redeeming humankind through sending His Son to be born of a virgin and die on a cross and rise again?
Where does this God—the One Who created all things, sees all things, leads all things, controls all things, and redeems all people—where does He reign in my life? Do I matter to Him? Is He someone we all fashioned to make ourselves feel better about life? To blame things on when life gets tough? Have you ever had a million questions about God and yet you came to the same simple answer: my faith produces a hope in You.
Grace: His grace is too deep…too strong…too overwhelming. This grace is too incomprehensible to be made up by men or women. This God is too merciful and glorious to be thought up in the minds of creation. His character goes again human nature—against what we see as righteous, justice, and magnificent.
Humans could not design this God—we would never think of His redemption to be a proportional response to the crime we committed. We would never think to send a lowly carpenter’s child through the lineage of faithless wanderers, ignorant questioners, and continual sinners such as His. We would never think of a redemption story so beautifully crafted that it can in no way rely on the actions, words, or thoughts of the ones being redeemed.
It goes against who we are in our sin nature. We, who want to be the heroes, were created to be the rescued. And all He asks in return is a simple, “Come, follow Me.” It brings us back to His perfection. It brings us back to Him. And His story is one in which only He can get glory. Amen?
Hope: And our hope is found in Him. This God—Who seems so mysterious at times, yet so personable and intricately woven into our inner beings. This God—the One we long for, cry out to, need, want, crave, worship, and love—is a part of our story. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, which brings us back to that word—faith. If He is the Author of our faith, then He is the One Who makes our faith possible. And if He is the Perfecter of our faith, then He is the only One Who can sustain us and redeem us back to Him. Our role? Follow Him. Follow Him when times are good and when times are bad. Follow Him when we think we have nothing else to give and no reasoning in this world that would make sense to choose Him. Follow Him when life gives us uncontrollable situations that thwart our plans and our joy. Follow Him because He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. And this faith will never fail us.
To learn more about God’s character, check out the myGod: a study on the attributes of God.
After growing up a GA, Courtney discovered the importance of missions and reaching all nations with the gospel of Christ. This has remained her passion. She and her husband Jeremy currently make disciples in the Birmingham area.