It's Leader Day for the women's ministry at my church. It's a time for the bible study leaders and other leaders in the women's ministry at both campuses to come together and build one another up so that we can go back to the ladies and shine the light back to them.
July 12, 2021
The Lodge at Cathedral Pines Black Forest, CO
I love this day. I didn't totally know what it was the first time I came; but it was so blessed- I knew I was in the right place. It's like a spiritual spa day! 🙂
It's been like that the past few years as we have come back to church and drawn close to God. He has given me multiple opportunities, not of my own doing, that have pointed the way to gifts and talents He gave to me for His good works. Primarily in teaching and prayers. But also in opening the home He gave us to a small group.
So this year, at Leader Day, we are focusing on growing up in the Lord. And the book used is James. A book that has been following me around lately. Always a hint that I should tune in closely.
Summer, one of the leaders, started us out with strong imagery of soldiers standing locked and loaded for battle. And a clip from John Piper in which he states that many Christians say they know there is a battle raging around us; but have a peacetime, casual posture. Summer went on to explain that, when she was serving in the military, when her troops got into real battle formation, it made them very angry when anyone was out of place because it could mean lives were in danger. Then she quoted a statistic that only an average of 20% of a congregation is growing and active... that's a lot of peacetime posture.
We need to act like that as mature Christians and support others in the same way. Growing in spiritual disciplines. We need to be skilled with the weapons provided:
- Scripture memorization
- Gratitude and Thanksgiving
As the bible study leaders we have to remember that people are using us as examples. If our stained glass windows of Christ or dirty, people are seeing Christ that way.
The gravity of that calling as a leader, in the form of a teacher, really hits home in James 3:1
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement.James 1:3
This book keeps reappearing in my life. And it's one of those books that so practical, so clear that it's tough to wax poetic or to be much of a theologian. James is for the doer. Or tho one God's going to develop into a does by the conviction of the Spirit reading through this tough little book.
Here's some highlights from today:
- It is intended for the 12 tribes scattered abroad.
- Let patience have its perfect work.
- You who lacks wisdom, ask God. He gives liberally and without reproach if you ask without doubting.
- Blessed is the man who endures temptation...
- Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father lights from above
- Swift to hear; slow to anger;slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteous of God.
- Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
See what I mean?!? That's just Chapter one selected highlights. So convicting; but such a great roadmap for what battle ready really looks like.
- Fulfill the Royal law according to scripture
- If you show partiality, you commit sin
- Judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.
- Do you see that faith was working together with Abraham's works, and by works faith was made perfect (justified)
That last bullet in the selected chapter 2 topics really hits home. I think many evangelical protestants, including me, get touchy with anything that seems like we're saying faith isn't enough. And I think that is true for salvation. Anything added to Jesus is like lighting a candle next to a nuclear blast and expecting it to count. However, this isn't talking about salvation but justification and being made perfect. God made that a process that happens over time and does require input from the person.
I've been a Christian for decades; but there were long stretches of time when I was absent from the church and many of the spiritual disciplines. Intellectually, my faith stayed the same; but there was very little spiritual growth.
And I think about my husband and I returning to the church in full force in 2016. If we had just continued with a weekly church service, maybe two services some weeks; but no volunteering and none of the spiritual disciplines we've been adding...would our faith be the same? Again, maybe an intellectual knowledge of our salvation; but not the faith we have now. And although we still have a long way to go, it's so easy to see why it's better His way. It does take works, not for salvation; but for growth.
- I've already touched on the gravity of being a teacher.
- And then the very convicting passage about the tongue.
- No man can tame the tongue
- It's the small member that rudders our ship
- It shouldn't be that both blessings and curses come from the same mouth
- If you're wise it will show in meekness.
- And if you're found boasting, or envious...your true wisdom is in question.
- This kind of wisdom is earthly and demonic.
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.James 3: 16-17
- Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
- God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
- Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will life you up.
- Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
This is a command that tells us what to do while we are patiently waiting. We have a job to do. Salvation wasn't the end of the journey; but just the start.
And the how does he end this letter? Maybe the real sign off was lost to time; but the words we have in closing are:
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.James 5: 19-20
It was truly an excellent day. I drove back singing along to Christian music at the top of my lungs and came home so energized I actual cleaned the house for a couple of hours. Which is totally unheard of for me at the end of a conference day. I was completely lifted up by the Holy Spirit and encouraged in a way I can't explain. I physically felt better than I have in months and months.
I pray I can stay in the spiritual disciples that God has given for our small part of the formula. And I pray this translates to more effective use of my gifts and talents at home, work, and with my discipleship ladies and bible studies.
I really needed this and am so grateful to God for this beautiful, but challenging spiritual spa day.