Serve Like Jesus

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  – 1 Peter 4:10-11.

Some of you remember those World War II posters of a stern Uncle Sam pointing out at you and saying, “Uncle Sam wants you!” or “Your country needs you!” Many folks responded to that challenge, going to work or to fight for their country even though they knew it would mean personal sacrifice and change of priorities. They responded because they believed in the cause they were fighting for.

As Christians, we are challenged to discover that same kind of commitment to step up and serve God and the church.  Doing so contributes to a Home Run Life. I don’t want anybody to think I am not grateful and humbled by the hundreds of people (just like you) who have stepped up to share their time and talents on one of our incredible teams. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.

But, at least once a week somebody who attends Northstar tells me that I am doing a good job. While I appreciate the feedback and the support, I am concerned that many people believe it is permissible, even expected, to leave the work of the church to the pastor or church leaders. It is their job after all. That is what they are paid to do. And yes, things are going pretty well at Northstar as it is, so why change anything. Success sometimes can breed complacency. The wonderful things that God is doing at Northstar has made many people comfortable, but I wonder if some of us have been too comfortable for too long.

Here is my point. The mission of our church is too important to leave to everyone else. The moment you begin to believe that our church can be healthy while you sit on the sidelines, you have forgotten that God has a plan for you. And to accomplish His plan, God made you to be exactly who you are, and His Spirit has empowered you with unique spiritual abilities, or “gifts.” God placed you in your unique situation because He wants you to minister to and with the other Christians He has placed around you. Paul’s vision for the church included every Christian: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15–16)

The goal of the church is to grow up in every way into the likeness of Christ. But the church will never reach this goal unless “each part is working properly.” This doesn’t mean that we will all function in exactly the same way, but it does mean that we all have a responsibility. Together, we function as one body. Until every person in our church is actively ministering to the people around us, people in our area won’t experience what the church was created to be.

Now I understand that we have plenty of people who serve outside the walls during the week. This is not an indictment against those who are serving somewhere, rather an encouragement to those who aren’t serving anywhere. If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else meet the volunteer needs of the church, I ask that you pray about where you too can be used.

If you’re not serving, it’s never too late to start. Look at the things that you have a natural talent for. What are your skills? Are you an organized person? Are you great with numbers? Do you have an ear for sound? Your gifts and skill sets – whether they’re hobbies or vocational – can be used to serve Northstar. What is your passion? Do you love kids? Love talking to people? Love one-on-one discipleship? The things that make your heart beat a little faster can be used for ministry. Pray about filling an area of need? We have a number of need areas: Babies that need to be rocked. Cars that need to be parked. Coffee that needs to be served.

I encourage you to jump in and see how life change happens through the simple act of serving others. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your fears and inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you attend Northstar, talk to your Campus Pastor today (or shoot him an email) and tell them you are ready to get started. The whoosh you hear will be him leaping on the opportunity.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to serve God? Is it a position, a role, or a mindset?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to serve people that are in need?
  3. Read what Jesus had to say about being a servant in this context in Luke 17:7-10. How does this show us how Christ wants His followers to serve? How does that compare with how we view service?
  4. How do Christ’s beatitudes about Christian service, particularly in Matthew 5:40-41, reveal the type of service Christ is looking for? Why do you think most Christians find it hard to serve in this way?
  5. Pray and ask God to direct you in where to serve in the church.

I'm Going To Live So God Can Use Me

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

“You can be anything you want to be.” Most parents have said those words to their wide-eyed child taking them in and responding, “can I really be anything I want to be?” Anything is so open ended that you wonder how you would ever narrow the limitless options to choose from. At the risk of getting in trouble with parents, I believe you can’t be anything you want to be because you weren’t designed to be everything. You were designed with a specific purpose in mind. And we all know, intuitively, that you have more power behind our efforts in life when you know the direction you are headed, and are focused on the vision and goal for your life. And that includes our spiritual life. God has a purpose for us. We are on mission for Him. We serve His purpose and not our own. We are called and chosen by Christ and it is in that authority that we can boldly step forward as His representative, His ambassador to our neighbors and to the farthest regions of the world.

Trying to figure out how to best serve His purpose seems as open ended as deciding what you want to pursue amongst unlimited options. But is it? In truth, it is not that complicated. Remembering our larger purpose keeps us hopeful when our day-to-day purpose seems less sure. We simply need to surrender our day to Him, and do what our hands find to do. I believe we walk in step with the spirit and that our steps are ordered by God as Proverbs 16:9 says. This doesn’t have to be laborious. Live each day with intention, having a plan, even a “to-do” list, but always understanding, when you give your day to God, your will yields to His will. Rick Warren explains it by saying: “You were planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to become like Christ, shaped for service, and made for a mission.”

Focusing less on ourselves and more on our Savior is undoubtedly essential to being used by God. In so doing, you can take the day as it comes and at the end of it you may find out you were able to cross many things off your list and in the mean time you were able to pray with a friend for peace in his life, or spending a few moments telling your waitress about church, or giving the boy who mows your lawn a few extra dollars because of the heat. It might be a teachable moment with your child or word of encouragement right when your spouse needed to hear it. It may not seem like a big deal, but it could be very well be God using you as His representative.

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California wrote an article entitled, The Person God Uses. He focuses on seven principles that apply to a person God uses. They are:

  • God uses people who realize they are weak.
  • God uses people who are faithful.
  • God uses people who study and live by His Word.
  • God uses the person who is patient and waits on His timing.
  • God uses the person who cares about lost souls.
  • God uses the person who sets himself or herself apart.
  • God uses the person who knows how to work with others.

The bottom line is God can use you.  Notice it does not say you need a seminary degree, or that you need to be able to translate scriptures from the original Greek. Or that you need to be intelligent or uber successful. Or charismatic. No you just need to be available and as you seek to live a Home Run Life,  God can use you no matter what base you are on at the time.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Consider a time where God has used you as His representative, or ambassador? What was the situation?
  2. What kind of fears or obstacles do you need to overcome in order to be used by God?
  3. How do we maintain the proper balance between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility? Are there checks to warn us if we are out of balance in either direction?
  4. Do you consider yourself part of the greater mission of Jesus Christ?
  5. Pray and ask God for opportunities to be used by Him on a daily basis.

 

No One Left Behind

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:35-38.

With smart phones and global positioning systems you have to wonder how anybody could get lost anymore. But we all know full well that it can and does happen. After all, you could simply be out of cell phone range or your battery runs low? And since we are so dependent on technology we have no plan B. So we are lost, and from experience, it is no fun being lost on the back roads of Florida.

But being lost physically is nothing compared to being eternally and spiritually lost. But people far from the heart of God don’t view being spiritually lost as a big thing. They are perfectly content with their house, car, dealing with their kids, and their upward mobility at work. How are you going to convince them you are not a religious nut or that spiritual issues count more than making money? How are you going to rescue them?

I asked some tough questions on Sunday such as: How concerned are you about people perishing outside of Christ?  I also asked whether those far from the heart of God are a high enough priority for us? Are you concerned enough to invite them to church? Are you concerned enough to pray for them?

God is asking us the same question that He asks every generation. He’s asking us if we have His heart. Do we value what He values, or do we value the temporary and the trivial? Do we love and have compassion for who God has love and compassion for? God desires all men to be saved.  2 Timothy 2:4 says: “…who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”  (Ezekiel 18:23). God’s heart is one of compassion for everyone, not just Christians.

The Home Run Life should not include indifference for those far from the heart of God. We need to ask God to break our hearts over the things that break His heart. That means we should love our community, neighbors, friends and relatives so much that we want to take the life changing gospel message to them. At Northstar everybody is welcome regardless of the season of their life or their past. People won’t be judged because we are imperfect too. And we will continue to add new campuses as long as we are able to reach people we ordinarily would not reach. If we have to add more services, we will, because it means we can share with more people the love of God.

I am praying that the Lord will give us a burden for those who need the Lord. If we are going to reach the lost we must intentionally get involved in their lives. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” I hope that we will seek out those who need the Lord. It will take time and energy to build a relationship with them. But any sacrifice we might make will be well worth it to see them respond to the gospel.

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you think it is possible to stay neutral on this topic?
  2. “…who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:4 What does that mean to you in your life?
  3. Embracing God’s mission will help you embrace your mission. You will not fully become all you were destined to be until you discover God’s heart for the lost, discover God’s mission to disciple the lost, and finally discover your role in God’s mission. What does that mean for your life?
  4. Is there an unsaved group, locally, or globally, that you can be praying for regularly?
  5. Pray and ask God to move your heart for the lost.

Your Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.” – 2 Peter 3:10-15

C.S. Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” Heaven should always be in our line of sight because this world is not our home. Our true citizenship is in Heaven. Focusing on Heaven should free us to give to and serve others far more than when we are focused on the things of this world.

Some Christians are content simply to know they are eternally secure. Sure, they want to experience the glories above but see no immediate connection between their daily lives and their future destination. Therefore, they feel no desire to learn more about it. But the Bible points out the hope of your calling: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18) If someone rang your doorbell and said that you are entitled to a large inheritance, it would be an understatement to say we would be very interested in very detail. Yet, many Christians make no effort to discover and anticipate what God has prepared for them in eternity.

The concept of heavenly citizenship was expressed by the Apostle Paul when he wrote to Christians in Philippi. Philippians 3:20 tells us, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” If we see ourselves as here now, but headed to a far better place, what happens here won’t define us or our long-term futures. C.S. Lewis said accurately in Mere Christianity that many of the saints who have made the greatest difference in this world are the ones who have their hope set on the next.

At a practical level, having our hope fixed on Heaven should free us to do more good here. Paul had this view when he wrote to the Philippians: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  (Philippians 3:7-8).

Heaven is our future home. That’s where our citizenship is; we’re only travelers on earth. A lifetime here will seem like a mere breath compared to the time we spend in eternity. Whenever you read a Bible passage that describes some heavenly scene or activity, put yourself in the picture, because that is going to be your reality if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. The pearly gates and the streets of gold are not just a fairy tale. You will one day walk through those gates, step on that street, and come face to face with Jesus.

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you spend time reflecting on what lies in store for you after this life? Do you understand and more importantly own your heavenly citizenship?
  2. Reread 2 Peter 3:10-15: What is going to happen to the earth and everything that goes on here? How should this knowledge shape our lives now?
  3. How should we view people knowing we will be citizens of Heaven?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you live the Home Run Life while our eyes remain focused on Heaven.

The Well-Lived Life

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” – Colossians 3:23

If I asked a group of people to describe their life – right now – in one word, I would expect some of the following answers: Growing. Frustrated. Disappointing. Fulfilled. Forgiven. Stuck. Struggling. Joyful. Defeated. Exciting. Empty. Discouraged.  Great. Mediocre. Painful. Dynamic. If I asked the same group if they desired more in life, my guess is everyone would answer yes.

The Home Run Life series was for those who desire more in life. There are Christians who assume that the only thing they need to do to please God and live the Home Run Life is to be saved. That if you are a Christian, God is pleased with you. But there is a difference between pleasing God because we accepted Jesus as Lord over our lives and living a Home Run Life. We must remember that a relationship with Jesus, a transformed life, is not a to-do list that can be checked off along the way.

God’s acceptance is not based on our ability to do the right things. As we study the bible, we quickly see that even on our best day, when we seem to be doing everything right, we are still a sinner. We never keep God’s commands perfectly. That’s why we needed God’s grace in the first place.

We need to understand that God is pleased with us, not because of what we do but because of who we are—his children. Through his grace, I am  “…now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3). That means when God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sin, he sees the perfection of His Son.

I am bringing this up because of the fear of failure in living a life pleasing to God, a Home Ruin Life. Then I thought of all the work the Christian life seemed to demand. How could I ever make a passing grade?  I’m finding a freedom I didn’t know before. Understanding that I don’t have to work for God’s approval hasn’t made me stop reading my Bible or memorizing Scripture. It’s actually given me a passion for it. I’m also finding that the more I learn about His love for me, the more motivated I am to love others.

What I hope you take away from the Home Run Life is that living a life pleasing to God, our heart must match the heart of God. And that means changing and transforming lives.

The ministry of Northstar is all about changing hearts. We want to change the hearts of the lost so that they might be willing to be found. We want to see their hearts changed in order that they too might experience the love and joy of a life-transforming relationship with Christ. But, our efforts won’t mean much unless our own hearts have not undergone full and complete renovation.

I am praying for the hearts of the people in our church. I am praying that our hearts will be softened. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will penetrate our hearts so radically that our hearts will be broken for those that are lost and as a result, we will do whatever it takes to see them found.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why should we care about the lost? Why should we be concerned? Why should we worry about the other person? Am I responsible for their situation?
  2. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” What does this mean in your life?
  3. What things are you more concerned about than reaching the lost with the Gospel?
  4. What is the one thing you will work on as a result of the Home Run Life series?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you live your life according to His patterns.

What We Do With Our Garbage

by Angela Martin

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9.

While I am no expert, I find technology to be very useful in every facet of life. One of the things that is very useful is the key on the computer keyboard that is spelled D-E-L. That’s right. The delete key. When working on some files, I accidentally press the delete button, only to watch all my hard work vanish into thin air. Fortunately, the computer gives me the “are you sure you want to delete these files” prompt which enables me to confirm the delete or bring the work back from the limbo it goes in.

I wish the delete key was so easy to press in real life. I wish it was that easy to remove the dealings with others that causes pain and hurt in our lives. We’d love to see the pain and bitterness gone, a non-issue, done away with the press of a button. But the problem is, we know that just pushing a button won’t make all the feelings disappear. It won’t totally undo the damage or put everything back like it was. It won’t turn back the clock. So why go to all the emotional trouble of truly forgiving others if it won’t repair the gaping hole in our hearts, at least not for a good long time?

In many ways, what happens when we trash a computer document is a vivid picture of what takes place when we truly forgive someone for an offense they’ve thrust upon us. We eliminate it. We clear the record. We treat it as if the offense never occurred in the first place. Believers, of all people, should appreciate the joy of forgiveness . . . because of knowing what a treasure it is to be purely and perfectly forgiven.

If we truly wish to forgive, we must make a conscious promise to forget as Christ forgets (Hebrews 10:17). Our promise to others is never to bring up that sin against that person again—not to God, not to the person who committed it, not to anyone else. It is a deliberate decision to deal with another’s sin by doing away with it, pressing the delete button, wiping it off our slate, or as I said on Sunday putting it into the trash.

Sometimes a woman will come up to me and say, “I’ve forgiven my husband” or “I’ve forgiven so-and-so”—and then she’ll begin listing all the hurtful things that person has done to her. While I can applaud her for recognizing what she needs to do, her own words reveal that she hasn’t truly, fully forgiven—because forgiveness is a promise. She hasn’t hit the delete button so the hurt is still there.

Not only is forgiveness our promise to others, but it’s also a promise God has made to us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12). Yes, what we did to Him was real. What we continue to do against Him is real. But by the atoning blood of His Son, God has chosen not to remember our offenses.

This matter of forgiveness is truly at the core—the very heart—of the gospel. Even our excuses for not forgiving keep bringing us back to the cross, back to where forgiveness was perfectly applied, not to a group of people who’d gone through all the right steps to become forgivable, but to us—to people who didn’t deserve it.

By continuing to monitor our lives and dealing with any trash that comes our way, we can keep clutter to a minimum and any relapses will be temporary. Then we begin to see our emotional trash for what it is, garbage. Today is garbage day. Take it out and then leave it there!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there any trash in your life that you are holding onto? What would you need to do to delete it?
  2. How do I know if I have forgiven?
  3. How could extending forgiveness heal a relationship? How might it heal the other person? How might it heal you?
  4. When you refuse to forgive, you are giving the person who hurt you the opportunity to hurt you again in your memory.  Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  5. Share an example from your own experience when refusing to forgive hurt you.
  6. Pray and ask Jesus, the ultimate forgiver, to empower you, remembering that He has forgiven you.

What We Do With Our Forgiveness

by Angela Martin

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

Pastor’s wives are often placed on a pedestal high enough to trigger altitude sickness. People can assume that Genesis 17:1, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless” was written for Pastors and their wives. Actually, Acts 10:26 is probably more befitting: “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”

The truth is that Marty, my two children and I are not perfect. I face challenges and temptations. I fight with my husband, get frustrated with my children, and struggle to forgive some people. I am not super-human. I have feelings and insecurities. I make mistakes. But I care. I want to be approachable to you. I cannot live up to perfection or balance on a pedestal. God is working in my life in the areas of influence, and as I mentioned on Sunday, in the area of forgiveness. Rather than cover what I talked about on Sunday, I would like to summarize a powerful story of forgiveness.

It is the story of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. She was imprisoned for her actions. She was speaking in a church in Munich in 1947 when she saw him. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. This man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where Corrie and her sister, Betsie, had been sent.

There he stood in front of her, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fräulein. How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” Corrie was not sure how she recognized him, but she remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt.

He admitted he was a guard at Ravensbruck. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulen, –  again the hand came out—will you forgive me?”

Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply by asking? She stood there with a coldness clutching her heart. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. And so mechanically, she thrust her hand into his. As she did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in her shoulder, raced down her arm, sprang into their joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood her whole being, bringing tears to her eyes. “I forgive you, brother!” she cried. “With all my heart!” Corrie later said that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover the prisoner was you.”

For some people, like Corrie ten Boom, the changes in their lives are drastic. For others, they start out with small changes like forgiving slights, or actions in the past that have been blown out of proportion. But, start somewhere and start now. Things will not work well, when your mind is filled with vivid pictures of times when it hasn’t. If you’re wondering how to heal the past and get some forward momentum going, the answer is without a doubt, forgiveness.

How about you? No doubt there are countless people who have injured you; they have said false things about you; they have wounded you with their actions and reactions. Maybe the hardship came from a supervisor at work, or a neighbor across the street, or a teacher in school, but regardless of where it came from, the fallout from unforgiveness is more harmful, to you.

My prayer is that you learn to forgive.

Discussion Question:

  1. What if I cannot forgive myself?
  2. How do I know if I have forgiven?
  3. How quickly should I forgive? (Matthew 5:25)
  4. Women often ask, “What if the offense was a grave one and I am still hurting? Shouldn’t I wait to forgive until I can be honest about it? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to do otherwise?”
  5. What does the cross have to do with our ability to forgive?
  6. Pray and ask God for the courage and strength to forgive those who have wronged you.

What We Do With Our Fear

by Angela Martin

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” – 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

Fear happens to every woman at some time in her life. You may wake up late because your alarm didn’t go off. Instantaneous panic as you wonder if you will be late to work and what will the boss say. Or you get every mom’s worst nightmare in the form of a phone call from someone close to you who says, “I’ve got some bad news”. Worry comes flooding in. Or a medical prognosis seems to take away your dreams and future at the same time. Or your kids are starting to go in the wrong direction and you can’t seem to reach them. These can be times that sap our influence and our walk with God.

Being afraid can become standard operating procedure if we let it. But I don’t want my life to be controlled by fear. When faced with critical moments fueled by fear I look at biblical examples of people dealing with their own fears. Like Joshua who was given the opportunity to lead the entire nation of Israel after Moses passed away. He already had a history of seeing past the present obstacles and fears that could have blinded him to something greater beyond. In these few sentences we find the flip side of fear: “Be strong and very courageous. …Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

When fear fills our hearts and minds, there’s essentially no room for anything else. If we let it rule us, it can become a way of life. It’s like standing within reach of a light switch, but choosing to leave the room dark. Fear is the opposite of trust. And we have a God who is completely trustworthy. His record is clear. He keeps every promise. Faith can conquer your fears.

Think of the things that cause you fear and stress. Is there anything you’ve come up with that’s too big for God to handle? Anything that’s too tough for Him? A health issue? He created your body. Financial stresses? He owns everything. A schedule out of control? He holds time in His hands. Family members or friends in trouble? He knows them inside out. Whatever the challenge, the Father loves you and He desires to shoulder the burden for you. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

There are times where fear grips us and as a result we feel like we are stumbling through life. We try to do our best for God, but still often feeling like there is a long way to go before we are a godly woman. Living focused on Jesus is something I always want to be better at. To become a more godly woman with Him at the center of everything I do.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a child, what was one of your greatest fears? What helped you to cope?
  2. How do you deal with fear in your life?
  3. In what ways does your fear imprison you? Describe what your life could be like without your fear.
  4. How can we help those who are struggling with fear?
  5. Pray and meditate on facing the fears that God is asking you to face.

What We Do With Our Wisdom

by Angela Martin

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” – Proverbs 19:20

Tyler Perry said: “What I’ve found about it is that there are some folks you can talk to until you’re blue in the face–they’re never going to get it and they’re never going to change. But every once in a while, you’ll run into someone who is eager to listen, eager to learn, and willing to try new things. Those are the people we need to reach. We have a responsibility as parents, older people, teachers, people in the neighborhood to recognize that.”

I believe the same is true of the church. And older, more mature women, have the responsibility to use their wisdom, experiences and influence to mentor and speak into the lives of younger women. A mentor is a godly, older friend who is willing to invest her time and talents into sharing her life, her struggles, and her wisdom with younger women.  Younger women are the 20-somethings with two small children, husband, and a demanding job living hundreds of miles from her parents. She often has few friends, no network of fellowship with like-minded women, yet she has to try and make sense of all that is happening around her. She needs someone who can shape, encourage, and inspire her in her journey as a woman, a wife, and a mother.

Titus 2 talks about how to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living. “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

For every woman who attends Northstar, there are some older and some younger. To those older, you are to look and see if they are an example of Christ—if they are, ask them to show you what they have learned and how they do it. For those who are younger, try and assist them to help them bring every area of their lives to Jesus. This can occur in informal settings, such as one on one, or in Northstar Groups. We need to remember that many of the young woman who attend our church were not raised in the church.

Having a mentor in your life means you’re going to have some learning to do, because your life as it is now, may be challenged. While that may be a good thing, it isn’t always an easy thing.

My prayer is that every woman in our church will have other women placed into their lives as an example, encouragement, and role model.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you view mentoring as ministry?
  2. Do you know someone who you believe you could help? What is stopping you from connecting with that person?
  3. A heart for God, experience in life, a love for people and availability. If you have these characteristics, you can mentor someone else. Agree or disagree?
  4. God placed the first two priorities in the Titus 2 list for women: to love their husbands and love their children. What is keeping us from fulfilling those two responsibilities?
  5. Pray and ask God to put a mentor in your life, or to mentor to someone, who can benefit from your wisdom and experiences?

What We Do With Our Influence

by Angela Martin

“What if you don’t say anything at this time? Then help for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your family will die. Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.” Esther 4:14

Influence is the ability or power to change or affect someone or something: the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.

Women have the ability to influence, either good or bad. In the Bible we see some examples: Deborah was a warrior and judge (Judges 4 & 5), Esther saved her people (Book of Esther), Eve was the first woman (Genesis 1-3), and Mary was Jesus’ mother (Luke 2:1-7). Whether positively or negatively, all of these women were influential.

And so it remains today. As women, we have the power to influence our husbands, our children, our families, our co-workers, our churches, and our communities. Our goal should be to draw closer to Jesus and allow Him to transform us into godly women whose influence brings others toward salvation through Jesus Christ.

Where there are dedicated women, rooted in the things of God and in His Word, I believe there will be healthy families, strong men, confident children and thriving churches. Our mission as a woman is to be all we can be through Christ Jesus.

We desire and pursue growth in spiritual maturity so that we can take God’s love outside of the four walls of the church and into our workplace, schools, the grocery store, and our neighborhoods.

A woman’s attitude can affect the whole atmosphere of her home. I believe that to be true in the church. We can help one another in ways we never thought possible. 1 Corinthians 12:21, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” Every part of the body is indispensable. The relationships we build and the connecting of each person’s gifts make us indispensable.

Lately, I have been thinking about the power of influence. Who has had influence in your life? Today I am thankful for the influence of godly women. A godly woman leaves a mark on your life. She inspires us. She encourages us. She changes us for the better.

Are we a godly influence like that? Are we inspiring people to fall in love with Jesus? Are we leaving a legacy of influence for Him? Those are questions we should ponder. Let’s ask God to help us today to choose to be a godly influence in the lives of all those around us.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you feel you have influence? Do you focus your influence in specific areas?
  2. What is the difference between trying to change a person (husband, child, co-worker, friend. neighbor) and trying to influence them?
  3. What is an area where your attitude may be influencing someone in a negative way? What is one thing you can do to help change that?
  4. It’s easy to look at other people’s stories and believe that God is writing a greater story. It’s harder to believe that God is doing the same in our own lives—that He wants to join His story to our stories. Do we want God to use us? Can we truly have influence?