An Active Journey of Discovery
'Encounter Jesus' looks like a devotional book. Those who begin this eight-week study, however, will find that it's anything but.
Instead, it is an active journey of discovery, one that asks participants to, among other things, journal, sing, gather stones and create a timeline.
The purpose of the study and video series, say creators Carolyn Moore and Kris Key, is simple.
'To lead students into an authentic encounter with Jesus,' Moore explained. 'To help them see the difference between a' Jesus any version of Him that is convenient, comfortable or culturally correct and the' Jesus the radically loving, transforming, redeeming Messiah of the New Testament.'
'By practical activities, people can witness Jesus in their everyday lives,' Key added. 'The study is to help grow people in their faith and realize that Jesus is the only One they need no matter what they face in life.'
Moore, founding pastor of Mosaic United Methodist Church, and Key, women's minister at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church both in Augusta, Georgia had already worked together on several projects. At Key's request, Moore had even led a women's retreat that Trinity puts on annually. So when Seedbed, Asbury's publishing project, asked Moore to produce a Bible-study series, she knew Key was the perfect person to help.
'I wasn't so sure I wanted to produce the workbook to accompany the videos at least not alone. That's how Kris became involved,' Moore explained. 'She and I were already friends and colleagues, and I knew she was gifted at leading studies and even writing her own material, so I asked if she'd help with the production of the workbook. Her contribution of research and her fresh perspective gives the overall study a depth and breadth it could never have had if I'd tried to go it alone.'
Moore had already been mulling the subject matter, which came to her after she and her congregation provided meals to a low-income apartment complex in Augusta. After the meal and a worship service, they offered an invitation to receive Christ and about 10 people stood up, including a man named Leroy. Afterwards, the two spoke.
'Leroy said to me, I stood up tonight because I realized something. I realized I know a Jesus, but I don't know the Jesus. And that changes everything,' Moore said. 'Leroy's comment changed me. I began to think about the difference between a' Jesus and the' Jesus. And later that year, I preached a series of messages on that theme, using only the red letters (the words in the Bible actually spoken by Jesus) to talk about this Jesus who calls us to follow Him.'
'Encounter Jesus,' just as Jesus' call to follow Him, asks for a commitment. Key says that even students who complete only a small portion of the weekly activities will experience a deeper relationship with Jesus. Moore adds, though, that it is meant to be an active endeavor rather than a passive study.
'It's the difference between a study and an encounter,' she explained. 'A study is about the information. We can control how close we get to it, and how much we allow it to change us. We can learn about Jesus and still keep Him at arm's length. An encounter, on the other hand, requires us to interact with Jesus himself, to dialogue with Him, to learn from Him in ways that leave us changed. To skip the interactive exercises is to risk missing the encounter.'
On Line: Seedbed.com
or phone 615 442-8582
mailing address:Seedbed Resources
204 North Lexington Ave.
Wilmore, KY 40390
DVD and workbook $39.95 and $16.95
A Word for Wednesday
The Power of Grace and Forgiveness (3/30/10)
I recently read the memoirs of Gayle Haggard, the wife of former prominent pastor and leader of the National Evangelical Association Ted Haggard, entitled Why I Stayed. The Haggard family faced a painfully public downfall when it was revealed that Ted had previously engaged in a homosexual affair. This book is Gayle's personal journey through a living nightmare that involved a total loss of everything the couple knew--their ministries, friends, and even their home. But Gayle stayed by Ted's side through the entire process--she chose grace and forgiveness. There is great power in doing so--when we give our most horrific situation and place it in the hands of Jesus and allow Him to walk us through our darkest moments. At Easter especially, grace and forgiveness should especially be important to us as Christians, as Jesus obediently lays down His life to give each one of us that most blessed assurance. That we are covered by His blood through grace and we are forgiven for our sins when we humbly repent and receive this precious gift.
"I--yes, I alone--will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again." Isaiah 43:25
Read: The Power of Grace and Forgiveness
Christmas--A Season of Unshakable Faith (12/20/09)
The virgin birth of Jesus is one of the great pillars of the Christian faith. For over two thousand years, this miraculous event has separated mankind between faithfulness and skepticism. From a logical standpoing, there is every reason to doubt its authenticity. Even Mary was shocked to hear the angel Gabriel tell her she would bring forth the Savior of the World. Gabriel convinces Mary with the words, "For nothing is impossible with God.". At this moment, Mary's faith becomes unshakable. Is your faith unshakable? Has Jesus Christ taken such a hold of your heart that nothing could ever cause you to doubt His love and promises? Read here and ask yourself that important question this holiday season.
The Power of Gratitude (11/25/09)
On this day before Thanksgiving, I am filled with joy at the blessings God has provided not only for me personally, but also for the ministry of RENEW. As we approach this holiday season, I give thanks for my husband who is my constant encourager and helpmate, my four kids who are my joy and delight, my family who love me unconditionally, and my friends who give me inspiration and blessings. I am thankful for a marvelous church at Trinity on the Hill, where fruitful ministry allows me to see the best of United Methodistm. I am thankful for ministry mentors like Rev. Kris Key, who models Jesus Christ in her life,her ministry to women, and her devotion to prayer.
I am thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed on me this first year as President of the RENEW Network. For the guidance, love, wisdom, and discernment of my predecessor Faye Short. For all the wonderful women and men who make up our steering committee and consultants in ministry. For all the people I have met,worked with, and been inspired by in renewal organizations of the UMC. For all the members of the RENEW Network who support this ministry through prayer, encouragement, and giving. For all the phone calls from pastors and women who have a heart for bringing Christ-centered women's ministry to their local churches.
And I am especially thankful for Pastor Paul Mabonga, a young pastor in Uganda that found the RENEW website and has become a partner in ministry. Paul has a heart and a calling for bringing the love and truth of Jesus to the people in his area of influence. He is a humble servant who touches my heart with his stamina, his devotion to God, and his loving prayers for RENEW and heartfelt note to me (his spiritual "Mom"). It is truly amazing how God can connect us across the world through technology and we can be co-laborers for the Gospel. I pray this association will continue to honor and glorify God and will enable RENEW to participate in ministering to the women of this part of Uganda. God bless you, Paul.
May God bless you all this Thanksgiving.
Read more about the power of gratitude.The Power of Hope (11/18/09)
I think all of us at some time in our lives hit points of hopelessness. A failed marriage, the death of a loved one, a fatal illness, an abusive relationship. and on and on. Points of despair and darkness that seem insurmountable. Sometimes it may not be a major life change, but just a feeling of lonliness, depression, or lack of spiritual vitality. When these times come, it is tempting to curl up in a ball, jump under the covers, and never come out again. We cry out to God and wonder why He doesn't seem to hear our pleading. Where can we go for comfort? Where can we go for hope?
There is one great place to stand in the midst of despair--by clinging to the thousands of promises God gives us in His Holy Word. By looking at the examples of faithful believers in the Bible, we can be confident that God will come, that He will lift us up, and that He will finish what He started in our lives. Be strong and know that God will answer in ways that we may never expect. He uses ways of rescue that aren't possible by human standards or natural circumstances. Why? So that God will be glorified, our faith will be strengthened, and the world will witness His mighty power and grace.
Read more about the power of hope.The Power of God's Word (11/4/09)
I am leaving on a journey today with some pastors, theologians, and other renewal leaders in Methodism. It is a wonderful opportunity to dialogue with some of our bishops about current issues which are causing division within our denomination. While the issue of the acceptance of homosexual practice always seems to be at the forefront of this debate within our church, I have come to more fully understand that this is just the presenting issue of our division. There are far deeper and more important issues underneath that truly threaten the integrity of our Wesleyan heritage.
Issues such as the literal interpretation on God's Holy Word, the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, and the uniqueness of Jesus as the way to salvation. These are the great issues of our time, and we are in a spiritual battle to uphold the orthodox doctrines and tenets of the Christian faith. While the world around us seems lost in relativism, inclusiveness, and pluralism--we must stand firm on the foundation of God's Word. What a privilege we have to uphold His Truth, because it is powerful, it is transforming, and it is always relevant to every age. Write it on your heart, teach it to your children, nourish your body with its sustenance, and watch your life become one of power, hope, and abundance. Consider it pure joy when given the opportunity to life up God's Word.Read more about the power of God's Word.
The Power of Persistence (10/28/09)
God sent me a gift during my 30s. A very persistent realtor. My marriage was falling apart, my kids were overwhelming me, and my family life was caving in around me. I had a sweet friend that had showed me houses for almost ten years during this turbulent time in my life. As we would walk through strange people's houses, she would listen to my heart, my struggles, and my pain. Again and again, she would point me to Christ, to turn to His Word and promises, and never give up hope that God could rescue me from this pit of dispair.
I finally took her advice and enrolled in an interdenominational Bible study called Bible Study Fellowship--it was a decision that changed my life forever. Over the course of several years, God completely restored my marriage and brought Christ into the center of my life and home. If this precious sister in Christ had not been persistent in her encouragement, godly advice, and unconditional love for me--I don't know where I'd be today. When we feel like giving up and don't see the fruits of our labor as witnesses for Christ--just remember--He is there, He is faithful, and He will answer in His time. Oh,and after almost a decade, with a family binded together in the Lord--my persistent realtor finally found the perfect home for us. God's timing is always perfect.
Read more about the power of persistence.The Power of Influence (10/21/09)
When we arise in the morning, shuffle to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and slowly begin the tasks of the day--we seldom think about what powerful influence we will have on someone's life that day. The words you say, the small gestures of grace you bestow, the encouragement you give, or the acts of kindness you share--all have the potential to change a person's day,or even a person's life. Wow! Who knew we were so powerful! Well, God knew.
When He created us, He gave women an incredible capacity to influence. The key to using this incredible gift is to channel that power of influence in a way God intends. How can we do that? Well, we can ask Him! By starting every day in prayer and communion with our Father, we can ask Him to guide our path, use our tongues, and direct our actions in ways that will honor and glorify Him. I pray that today you will begin to use the awesome power of influence that the Lord has given you and watch in expectant amazement as He uses you to bless the world around you.
Read more about the power of influence.