Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Consecration 3X3 A Disciple Making Sequence: Profession of Faith, Confirmation, and Commissioning By Chris B. Hughes

Note: The Look Inside Feature doesn't work in this photo.

Rev. Dr. Chris B. Hughes is a pastor in the United Methodist Church, who has worked with youth and young adults all of his professional life. He has been an invaluable resource in the making of disciples for the church. But he has noticed that which the entire church has noticed: the United Methodist Church in the United States has steadily been losing membership. The young disciples who are being baptized into the church at puberty are leaving as college students and not returning.

Consecration 3X3 is an attempt to remedy this problem through the purposeful contemplation of the process by which the church makes disciples in the first place. Throughout the text, Chris advocates for a more purposeful, meaningful, dedicated, longer process whereby both young students, along with their parents, enter into more meaningful, directed study into the reasons, meaning, calling and resulting ministry of disciples.

Hughes wrote this book in workbook form with thought-provoking questions to consider in chapters one thru seven. Beginning with chapter 7, he introduces an alternative plan from the prevailing “status quo” of making disciples of the young people in a church.  

This three-part plan begins with youth in the 7th grade and ends with graduating seniors. But, the ending is not really an ending but a commissioning for the Seniors to begin their ministry into the world. Hughes labels these different steps or cycles as “Get Ready”, “Get Set” and “Go”. Each cycle is a 12-week study for the youth, parents, and other adult volunteers in the process. The first week begins with a retreat for the participants. 

For those unwilling to extend the program out to six years, he offers several alternative plans. All of these plans utilize the Credo confirmation books, which are available from Cokesbury.

This appears to be a very well written book detailing the problems with the current system of confirmation in the United Methodist Church. A six-year plan may be more difficult for the smaller churches who have only one or two pastors, who may be moved frequently because of the itinerant system in the United Methodist Church. But that is the only problem that I see, and certainly this can be overcome by using the shorter systems. 

I recommend this book for Youth Directors, Pastors and students in Seminary to challenge our system of “we have always done it this way.”

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #33

One of the most obvious ways to avoid unnecessary stress is to select an environment (work, home, leisure) which is in line with your personal needs and desires. If you hate desk jobs, don't accept a job which requires that you sit at a desk all day. If you hate to talk politics, don't associate with people who love to talk politics, etc. 


Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for:

96. Laughter
97. Working the yard with my son.
98. Studying the bible with my group of friends who call themselves "the buzzards"

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #32

Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving. (However, if the friend is the problem, refer to stress relief suggestion #28:)))

Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare:
 Today, I am thankful for:

93. A great afternoon with my son and the group from church at the Jumpoline park.
94. The ability to keep a friendship even in the face of confused communication.
95. Rose bushes, and cedar trees on sale.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Lion's Den

I worked at a somewhat dead-end retail job in Alabama. The small town in which I lived just didn’t have many opportunities for employment and I didn’t see much of a future for my family. My mom had moved to Texas the year before and I had been toying with the idea of following her. I had prayed about it and did not receive any clear direction from God. This was a bit frustrating because I had made rash decisions in the past without even consulting God, unless it was foolishly to delegate tasks to him. Those prayers went something like this: “Ok God, let me tell you what I am going to do. I am going to go to school at this school. My applications are in, my application fee is paid and my transcripts are in. I need you to make sure I get accepted and do well. And, I need this, this, and this. I’ve done my part and if you would do yours, we can ace this thing. Thanks for listening. Amen.”

I cringe when I think about doing this! I can’t believe I actually prayed like that at one time. But I guess that is just a symptom of being a baby Christian. I probably shouldn’t beat myself up over it too badly. Needless to say, things sometimes went well for me in spite of these prayers and there were times when things did not. Those times were when I was operating solo: not considering or consulting God at all. As a matter of fact, there were times that I made decisions that I know were contrary to his will for my life. 

So, this time, I didn’t want to blow it. I wanted to do what God wanted for me and the family. When we walk contrary to his ways, when times of trouble hit, we want to go to him for help. Sometimes, I can imagine him sitting up there, the Universal parent looking at me with the same look that my parents had when I was contrary to their rules and got into trouble. 

 I never got a clear answer. I finally decided no answer was not really a no, so I decided to take the leap. A few days before we left, I was sharing this story with the wife of a Pastor that I knew. She told me that I would not know whether or not it was right until I got here and had been here for a little while. She told me that after I arrived, I would know. 

I brought my boys out to Texas with nothing but their bicycles and a few clothes. The same day that we left, a mission group from our church was going west too. They were on their way to Guatemala to deliver wheelchairs in a ministry. As I drove on I-10, coming west, I thought of them on their long trip. I also thought of our last Sunday School lesson at church. It was about Daniel, and how he was a stranger in a foreign land. I felt like I would be a stranger in Texas. Although it was not a foreign land, it would be new to me. Daniel held to his customs although he was in a different land. He refused to follow the customs of the new land. And the King respected him for that.

I don’t know why, but I just kept thinking about this story as we traveled. 

We first arrived in Laredo to visit my brother, who I had not seen in years. We were at his house one afternoon, where I had lay down to take a nap. I remember hearing that he had a man coming to his house to hang a new painting of something or the other that he had bought. I didn’t know much about it. I was sure that it wouldn’t interfere with my nap. Few things do.

When I awoke, I started down the stairs when I saw the new painting: it was a beautiful painting of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. 

Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare:
Today, I am thankful for:

90. A nice evening with a friend
91. The way that ice cream tends to make things better for kids.
92. The nice gentleman who put air in my tire yesterday.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

John11: 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha , the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

The above scripture is from the Book of John, in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. It is an excerpt from the familiar story of the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. 

My pastor at Buda United Methodist preached on this scripture once before. He made the point that in verse 21 Martha’s words show that she understands; she really gets it about Jesus. If he had been there, her brother would not have died. He would still be alive because of the healing, creative power of Emmanuel.

But then, skip down to verse 39, where Jesus commands that the stone be removed. Just 18 verses later, Martha explains to Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days and he ‘stinketh’. Whoa! Don’t roll away the stone. I am heartbroken for my brother, but, uh, as much as I loved him, I am not prepared for the smell! Let’s just not go there, Jesus! 

Where was the faith of verses 21-22? What happened? That same faith, which is surely more than a mustard seed seems to have vanished.

Surely, if Jesus can heal, he can make stench disappear. What happened was Martha’s humanness. Martha went from the life-saving, creative faith to the knowledge of the world without considering what happens with God.

I have suffered from this same malady. I will call it the “Martha syndrome.” Sometimes, I enter into lay-ministry and perform acts that are based on faith and belief that defy the natural. Through the grace of God, I get it right. I know in my spirit that I have gotten it right, similar to Martha in verses 21-22. 

Then, something happens. Like Martha, usually within the hour, I revert to the ways of the world without realizing what I am doing. And I do something that once I am aware of what I have done, I just want to kick myself. I realize just how unworthy I am on my own. I am like a child who has been cooped up inside with adults all day, minding my manners, who is let outside with my peers and the good manners drop by the wayside.

I get really frustrated with this aspect of my faith journey. One day, I was counseling a member of a board that I chair in a particular ministry. He was frustrated and had expressed anger at a particular situation and then wanted to resign from the board because of the situation in which he found himself.

I explained to him that I believe in my ‘heart of hearts’ that if, when engaged in ministry, we don’t pour ourselves almost to the point of exhaustion, get frustrated, get stretched, reach and get chased out of our comfort zone, beyond the shadow of a doubt, we are not doing it right. Ministry from a lay person’s point of view is not a bed of roses. I have never operated in the role of a pastor, but I believe that it probably is not a bed of roses either. I think that this board member reached understanding and reconciliation with the event, and decided that he didn’t need to resign after all.
I was pleased that the Holy Spirit had given me the right words, and that I had yielded to the Spirit to have the right words for the moment. I was feeling really good about this.

An hour later, I had to drive into the city to cash a check at a bank. I am a country girl, and Austin, Texas has been said to have the most congested traffic in the nation, second only to New York City, New York. Country girls don’t like traffic congestion. We like wide open spaces. I grew frustrated on many levels, and before I arrived back home, I had lost my temper.

Like Martha, I had gone from verses 21-22 all the way down to verse 39. I went from yielding to the spirit to succumbing to temptation. I think that God allowed this to happen to keep me humble, and to show me that without him, I am helpless, and unworthy. Any worthiness that I have is only through Christ. Without him, I am nothing.

About 2 weeks later, I had the opportunity to visit a patient in the hospital to minister until my pastor could arrive at the end of a day-long meeting. I prayed before I entered the hospital, asking the Lord to lead, guide and direct me and to help me to yield to the spirit and simply be his vessel. The visit went well. Again, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was operating like Martha in verses 21-22. But, I knew from experience, God was about to show me something. He would show me where I needed to improve. And he did. Now I have come to expect for him to show me something. I hope it is not too harsh of a lesson. And usually, the gentleness of the lesson is in direct proportion to the amount of gentleness that I employ in the ‘teaching moment’. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

So I pray that I will become humble within myself, yet bold in Christ.


Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for :

87. Fog, for that is what the Lord has given us, so with fog, I will be happy.
88. Seeing water in Onion Creek for the first time I can remember
89. Hugs from my sons just when I need it the most.
90. The beautiful souls in my prayer group who make my life more rich.

Linking up today with Laura Boggess:

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #31

When the stress of having to get a job done gets in the way of getting the job done, diversion (a voluntary change in activity and/or environment) may be just what you need.


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am thankful for :

84. Full moon of last week with cool winds.
85. A soaking rain over 3 or 4 days that I have only experienced just once since I have lived in Texas.
86. Small quaint churches.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cry Out to God

I am poor. When I have time, I have no money. When I have money, which is usually when I am working, I have no  time. I never seem to have both at the same time. 

There have been times when I have worked, and therefore had very little free-time, and still made so low of a wage, that I also have very little money. 

That was the case one time, when I was living in Alabama, trying to raise three children alone, and had a flat tire; no spare; no money. I wouldn’t get paid until tomorrow and could buy a tire then. But, in the meantime, I had to be at work at eight in the morning with no way to get there. It was really too far to walk. So, what would I do? 

I had to get the after school babysitter to bring my kids home because I had no way to get there that afternoon. She cheerfully obliged. What would I have done without her? 

I called a friend and asked her for a ride the next morning. I could tell that she didn’t want to do it. She said, “Well I have to be at work much earlier than you do.” I thought,  ’You could take me early and I could just wait until my shift is supposed to start. That way, I would at least be there.’ Since I could tell that she didn’t want to do it, I told her never mind. I was so frustrated. 

So, I cried out to God. I prayed and told him what I needed. I asked him for a miracle of sorts. I asked him to put it on the heart of one of his people  that I needed a ride. For this to work, it had to be the right person. God calls many, but not everyone answers.

It is my theory that of those he calls, some are too busy to hear his voice and they do not even hear. He may call ten. Five of them do not even hear. Of the five that do, not all recognize the voice that they hear. Maybe only three recognize the voice as being from God. Of that three that hear and recognize the voice, I am guessing that only one responds and obeys. So, out of ten people, one responds. That is just my theory based on experience and observation. But I know of no particular scripture that this is based on. You can call this Kathy theology.

Whenever I cry out to God for help, I ask him to go to the person who will hear his voice, recognize his voice and respond. For me, with the flat tire, that person was Lisa. About nine o’clock that night, she called me and asked me if I needed a ride to work the next morning. I smiled and said, “Yes”. 

Then she asked me, “Why didn’t you call somebody and tell me?!” 

I said, “I did. I called God and asked him to tell one of his people. And he told you.”

She continued to fuss at me about how she couldn’t be a mind reader and how was she supposed to know if I didn’t call her. I just laughed.

Another friend of mine told me that she was upset that she was low on my list of people to call. But really, it is hard to know who will respond and who will come up with an excuse as to why they can’t respond.

Lisa drove me to work the next morning, and after I got paid, I got a new tire. The Lord provides and he does it using his saints, like Lisa.



Linking up with Jennifer Lee Dukes at:
copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #30

Inoculate yourself against a feared event. For example, before speaking in public, take time to go over every part of the experience in your mind. Imagine what you'll wear what the audience will look like, how you will present your talk, what the questions will be and how you will answer them, etc. Visualize the experience the way you would have it be. You'll likely find that when the time comes to make the actual presentation, it will be "old hat" and much of your anxiety will have fled. 

Pray for help from the living God.

Thankfulness Challenge and Joy Dare:

Today, I am thankful for : 

77. God's promise to be by my side as I negotiate a new experience.
78. Looking out the window at the rose bush and being surprised with the beautiful yellow roses that have suddenly grown upon the bush.
79. Prayers that change hearts.
80. Being available for friends who are in need.
81. The deserts of life that enable us to depend fully on God.
82. A wonderful bookstore worker who offered to ship something for free.
83. God's presence in his scripture and prayers.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A God-incident

You have heard of a co-incidence? What about a God-incident? A friend of mine recently explained to me that a God-incident is what some would label a coincidence, except that God is at the center of the event. It is not a coincidence at all. For God has purposefully made it happen. Is it from divine providence? Not necessarily. More often, it is through a cluster of people living in relationship with him and being obedient to his voice. 

I have found that the more I pay attention, the more of the God-incidences I have. The one that I had this week involves several friends who do not even know one another, and a stranger I encountered in a book. 

Earlier in the year, Rev. Kimberly Burke wrote a series of four guest posts for this blog about her experiences in Uganda, Africa, while on a mission trip. It was a wonderful, enlightening series. Later, she told me about a book entitled Kisses from Katie: a Story of Relentless Love, about a high school girl who visited Uganda on a mission trip, fell in love with the people there, saw the incredible need and decided to return after high school to teach and continue ministering to help to meet needs. She ultimately began a non-profit organization called Amazima, to help children in Uganda with basic school necessities and sponsorship.

I bought the book, and as I was reading it, I noticed that both Katie and Rev. Burke described Uganda with almost the exact same words. Both talked about the beauty of the lush land being host to some of the most intense poverty in the world. They both also talked about the spirit of the people who know how to truly depend on God for their needs and to be thankful for the smallest, simplest items in life. They experience this thankfulness in a way that we in the United States frequently do not, because of our abundance.

About two weeks after I finished reading this book, I walked into a grocery store owned by a friend and noticed that she had some new newspaper articles on display. They were about her oldest daughter. I walked over to the display to read these new articles and saw the name of the charity started by Katie Davis: Amazima. I was amazed. Here I had one friend who had done mission work in the same country under a different umbrella organization. She had written for this blog and told me about the book.

I read the book and touch bases with another friend who does not know the first and find out that her daughter was doing volunteer work for the organization in the book. I talked to this friend and she explained to me that her daughter had participated in a study on the book Kisses from Katie. She said that she had been so touched, that she decided to go on a mission trip for the Amazima organization. I was so touched, that I took my copy of the book to the store to be added to the display.

I shared the background with my new friend and she couldn’t wait to share the story with her daughter. Now, I am hearing that Rev. Burke will be returning to Uganda in about six months. God is definitely at work there. 

Is this a coincidence? Can’t be! This is my God-incidence for the week. What is yours?

Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

74. My oldest son's birthday.
75. All of my sons.
76. God-incidents-How he works through his saints, piercing one heart at a time.

Linking up with my pal Jennifer today at:

             and with Ann at:
holy experience
copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins