The Heart of a Good Eldership

Before worship began today, Clint Stephens, an elder at Bear Valley church of Christ, made a special request.  He explained that our five elders have been reaching out to several individuals for many months, individuals who have turned away from God.  He asked that we all join hands with the elders in reaching out to these dear, wayward members.

Mark Hanstein, another elder at Bear Valley, preached from John 4 this morning.  His lesson was powerful and heartfelt as he challenged us to be, in every sense of the word, the church OF CHRIST.  He said there are some things we learn about Christ from His interaction with the woman at the well.  First, Jesus cared about souls enough to seize every opportunity to teach them, even when it called for being unconventional.  Second, Jesus stood for truth always, which is why He exposed the woman’s previous marriages and current relationship.  With these thoughts in mind, Brother Hanstein asked us several questions.  When we ask the cashier, waiter, or neighbor, “How are you?,” do we really mean it?  If we know they’re not Christians, we know how they’re doing, and we know what they need.  Do we seize that opportunity to share the gospel?  As the church OF CHRIST, will we always stand for truth no matter what?  Will we teach the truth about marriage, divorce and remarriage, or will we turn a blind eye?  Will we teach the truth about homosexuality, no matter the political climate?  Mark Hanstein challenged us to think and act like Christ.

In one morning, these two elders gave us a glimpse into their hearts.  I thank God for them.  They are good leaders, true shepherds of the flock.  Why?  Because they are compassionate, demonstrated by their tireless efforts to reach those who have strayed.  They are evangelistic, evidenced by their constant reminders for all of us to “Think Souls,” along with their personal efforts toward that end.  And they are convicted.  They stand for truth.  They’re not afraid to uphold the Word of God.  And how reassuring to know that they will continue to do so, come what may!

Kristy Woodall shared these good words recently:

“Perhaps the only ones who can truly understand the service of an elder is his family. They see the countless meetings, the hunched shoulders as the burden seems unbearable, the hours of prayer and the tears. Let’s hold up their hands, honor, respect and pray for them. All they want to do is to help us get to heaven. Thank God for your elders and show them a little love too!”

That’s great advice, and I want to do a better job of praying for and appreciating our humble, hard-working elders.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, God, for Clint Stephens, Mark Hanstein, Dave Chamberlin, Ernie Barrett, Maynard Woolley, and all elders who truly love souls and stand for Your truth.

Four of Bear Valley’s elders with Gary

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

No one came to see me.  No one called me.  No one sent me a card.  

It seems like I’m doing all the work.  No one is helping me.

I’m tired of being the one always making the first move.  Let someone else make the effort for once.

I give and give and give, but never get anything back.  I’m sick of it.

If I didn’t go out of my way to talk to people, then no one would talk to me.  From now on I’m just going to sit back and see who cares enough to come speak to me.

I realize that sometimes we make statements like these in order to vent in moments of frustration, weariness or loneliness.  But sometimes we’re just being self-absorbed.  Discontentment sets in when we think we’ve been overlooked or neglected, or when we start comparing our good efforts to the seemingly nonexistent ones of others.  What a dangerous and unattractive mindset!

When we are tempted to accuse others of neglect, we need to ask ourselves, “How many visits have I made this past week?  This past month?  How many people have I called to encourage?”  Could it be that we expect from others what we aren’t willing to do ourselves?  “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3).

When we are tempted to give up because we feel like we’re the only ones making any effort, we need to inspect our motives.  We shouldn’t serve for recognition or gratitude.  We should serve in humility because Jesus commanded it (John 13:14, 15). We shouldn’t put forth only as much effort as we see others putting forth.  We should only compare ourselves to Christ, which means we’ll keep on giving it our all (Phil. 2:5-8).  Let’s not fall into the world’s mindset of selfish entitlement.  Instead, let’s prayerfully and earnestly consider how we will answer when Jesus asks, “What have you done for Me lately?”

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9,10).

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, fight the blinding trap of selfishness.  May I always have the mindset of Your Son who was motivated by love to serve others.




A Surprise was Brewing

Two smiling friends showed up at my house on this chilly Monday.  Their arms were filled with boxes as they headed straight for the kitchen table.  I was amazed as they began arranging delightful treats of goodness, such as cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, fresh scones with cream, dipped strawberries, little quiches and fresh fruit.   The afternoon quickly warmed up as we spent a couple of sweet hours sipping Earl Grey, chatting and laughing.

This unexpected gift will warm my heart for years to come.  Lynn and Teri know that I love all things TEA.  They planned and schemed.  They baked.  They brought their own dishes.  They gave up their precious after-work hours.  Such a thoughtful surprise!  They left behind extra tea treats, a box of Earl Grey, a jar of chocolate hearts and a sweet card.  I feel so spoiled, loved, grateful, blessed.

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things” (Chaim Potok).

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for sweet companions, simple pleasures, and memories to treasure.

Spinach quiches & Bacon Quiches
Homemade cranberry scones

Not so ordinary cucumber sandwiches
Mock Devonshire cream
Egg salad sandwiches

Lynn Hite, Teri Autrey & me


Listening to Dan Winkler

PTP stands for “Polishing the Pulpit,” but could very easily stand for “Power to Persevere!”  Over 2,300 Christians spent a week together in the most spiritually uplifting environment imaginable (this year there will be at least a thousand more).  If you’ve never been to PTP, here are some highlights to interest you in making plans to attend next year:

-SPIRITUAL GROWTH- There are literally a dozen or more classes offered every hour, covering a wide variety of topics and texts.  Speakers from all over the country presented lessons that boosted our faith and reignited our desire to make a difference for Christ!

-NOURISHING FELLOWSHIP- Oh boy.  Thinking about the nature of God’s family, and the close bond we enjoy when thousands of us get together, warms my heart and strengthens my soul.  We caught up with old friends and made new ones.  Our 3 sons enjoyed hanging out with a large number of  like-minded teens.  There were many moments of giving & receiving encouragement, and many moments of refreshing laughter.

-POWER IN NUMBERS- Nearly every time we left the event center, someone in town would notice our tags and say, “Are you with that large church group?”  We had many conversations with strangers about the conference and about the Lord’s church.  It was fun, and it was easy, because there were so many of us.  It made us want to bring that same “visibility” back to our home town.  It made us more determined to create opportunities to tell others about the Lord’s church.

-A TASTE OF HEAVEN- I’ve always loved singing with the saints.  It’s special and meaningful.  Singing with thousands of saints is a downright goose bump-giver.  How beautiful were songs like “It is Well with My Soul” and “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  I heard many folks state my own feelings…”Imagine what it must be like in Heaven!”

My family is very grateful to all who put in countless hours of planning and work to make PTP happen.  Our cups our full and our hearts are thankful.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the time of concentrated study and fellowship I’ve enjoyed.  May I carry these feelings of renewal and determination “into all the world.”

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