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The Joys of Meeting With My Church Small Group

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I have been meeting with a group of people from church for two years in my home on Sunday evenings. The group has changed some over time as people have moved out of Wichita Falls and some have moved in. We have consistently studied Scripture together and talked about our daily walk with Jesus. The longer we have been together the more open we have become in sharing our failures as well as our successes in our relationship with Christ. We have challenged one another when necessary and rejoiced with each other in victories. The New Testament is filled with “one another” passages about how we relate to one another. My small group has grown in these areas as we care for one another, love one another and encourage one another. We have wept with those in our group who have wept and rejoiced with those who have rejoiced. We spend time eating together each week after our time of Bible study and we spend time praying for one another as well during our weekly time together. We believe Experiencing God Together with a small group is a crucial part of being a maturing disciple of Jesus and this group has helped all of us grow in our relationship with Christ and others.

I have watched many people who have attended church but never made the effort to be involved with a small group for deeper discipleship and to know and be known by others. Many times those people slowly drift away from the church with nobody to follow up with them and hold them accountable. Or when things in life get tough, they simply drop their nominal involvement in the church. My small group is committed to meeting together regularly as the Scriptures instruct (Hebrews 10:24-25). If someone misses, we know why they are not there and what is happening in their life. We are able to minister to them in their times of hurt and chaos. We speak life from God’s Word to each other in the various situations that life throws at us.

I have said for the four years of being back on staff at Faith that I do not know how people can go through difficult times apart from Christ and not only that but apart from a small group of believers in the local church to walk with through life. Being a follower of Jesus is joyful but it is not always easy. Difficulties will come in this life and having a group of people who will encourage, challenge and walk with us through those difficulties while pointing us to Jesus is necessary.

As I learned during the Life Action Thirst Revival Conference, questions are a great way to see where we are in our spiritual walk:

  1. Are you involved in a small group or Sunday School group at Faith Baptist?
    1. If so, are you actively engaged in Experiencing God Together with others in that group or merely an attender?
    2. If not, what step will you take to become an active participant in a small group?
  2. Who can you invite to Experience God Together through your small group?

 

 Jeff White
Associate Pastor of Families/Missions
Posted by Jeff White with

How Do I Persevere Despite My Circumstances?

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I love to garden. Basically I love to see things grow, especially pretty plants. I’ve never really grown vegetables, but recently we discovered that we are expecting…wait for it…one tiny tomato! Now if we can keep the squirrels and birds away from it, we just might have one fresh tomato to enjoy this year. Ah, the simple pleasures. I began my love for gardening back in South Texas where many plants will live all year round. Through the years, I have experienced some interesting things in my world of gardening.

There is an old saying, “bloom where you are planted.” But have you ever heard the saying, “Grow, even when you are pulled up” or “Grow even if it hurts”? A few years back, Linda’s dad and mom helped us do some remodeling of a bathroom. Since we had to tap into the water line, we had to take out a flower bed that was filled with blooming Kalanchoes (I usually pronounce it “Kah-Lahn-chos”, but the real pronunciation is “Ka-lan-ko-es”. I know you are impressed!)  I planted the plants in a temporary spot just to keep them alive. To my surprise, the plants began to grow and bloom even better than before; so, naturally, I left them there.

Much later (like 2-3 months) I noticed that I had left one of the plants in a bucket in the garage. The plant was kind of dry (understatement), but it had actually sprouted a little green bud at the top.  This plant was growing in spite of a lack of water and dirt.  

Not long after that, I decided to cut back the cactus next to my kitchen window.  It is a very interesting cactus, and as you might expect, in South Texas it was becoming like a tree!  I had to keep pruning it back, so that it wouldn’t fall over in the wind.

I knew that, if I put the prickly little pieces in my compost pile, I would have a very interesting time spreading my compost…ouch!  It hurts just to think about it!  So I put my cuttings in a garbage can in the garage, thinking that when they dried up I would put them out with the trash.  After about six weeks, I went back to the trash can and looked inside.  And to my amazement each of the cuttings had sprouted and, yes, they were continuing to grow.  I knew cacti were resilient, but that is amazing.

Can you see a correlation here?  Now I don’t recommend that you try this, but I do believe that there is a lesson to be learned here.  When times get tough (and they will) if our roots are firmly planted in Jesus Christ, then we can survive and grow in Him.  As a matter of fact, many times our growth is more prolific when we have gone through trials, similar to the way the Kalanchoes thrived in their new location.

"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope." (Romans 5:1-4 CSB)

How encouraging is that!   Our trials produce endurance or perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. Hang in there!  Keep growing and you just might see some little sprouts of green in spite of your circumstances! 

"…so do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a little while,

'He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.'

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV)

So when this world throws something at you that causes you to feel cut off and discouraged, don’t shrink back (or shrivel up); keep trusting in God.  You may even find that your greatest growth took place when you were feeling “thrown away.”

To God Be the Glory!

Doug Burton
Minister of Music and Senior Adults
Posted by Doug Burton with

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