Summer Reading That Could Change Your Life

Do you ever find yourself getting weary in ministry? You’re tired of giving out so much more than you take in. You’re weary of people and problems and you wonder if your labor could really be in vain after all.

The story of these five Christian women (Joni Tada, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliott, Mary Weaver, and Corrie ten Boom) who overcame hardship may be just what you need to read this summer. All five of these stories inspired me to keep on going when I read them. They also stuck with me. Years after I first read them, these stories still help me. They put my own life in perspective and remind me that God is there, even in the darkest days. He’s working for our good, when that truth is hard to believe. These stories changed my life, as a great biography often will.

This summer you may be looking for a book to help you pass time or rest from the daily routine. Or maybe you just love a great read. I recommend all of these highly. But watch out! They’ll probably change your life forever.

Summer Reading

As Christian workers, our busy lives sometimes don’t leave much time for reading for pleasure. When was the last time you read a Christian novel? Maybe Christian fiction seems like a waste of time when you could be doing something more profitable, but consider this:

  • Stories broaden your world and help you understand other points of view.
  • Reading builds vocabulary, writing skills, and creativity.
  • Reading slows memory loss in later life.
  • Reading helps you escape from your problems and rest.
  • Reading relieves stress (and who doesn’t need that?)
  • Reading good Christian novels fills your mind with good things.
  • You can read wherever you go, even while you are waiting.
  • Reading is fun!

This summer as you head toward the mountains, the beach, a national park, or your relatives, don’t forget to take a book or two. Load up your e-reader with quality Christian fiction and be ready for everything from  a peaceful quiet time to a long ride in a car.

Need help to get started? Check out my list of 5 fiction books and 2 nonfiction books about cross-cultural relationships and ministry.

 

New and Original Christian Children’s Song

Technology has finally caught up to what I can do with scissors and glue. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, my use of technology and my online tools have brought me to a better place. At any rate, I am now able to offer my Road Sign Song for free download. I wrote this song some years ago for our ministry in New Zealand, cutting and pasting cardboard signs to paper. Thanks to Canva (https://www.canva.com) I’m now at a point when I can offer both a print and PowerPoint option for the visualized version of this song. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

If you’ve sung the “Stop” and “Go” song in your children’s ministry, (and who hasn’t?) you’ve seen how this song brings excitement to each new generation as kids take turns holding the signs. My Road Sign Song uses eleven different road signs to present a strong Christian message. I originally used it when teaching the book of Acts, but it can be used at any time. I hope many can use it so effectively communicate Christian truth.

You can download the sheet music, a printed visual or PowerPoint version of the words here.

Allergy Friendly Communion Bread

People with allergies can be such a problem, especially if you aren’t used to cooking for them! They are, however, real people with real needs. They deal with their allergies every day of their lives. The church can be a blessing to them by finding out about their allergies and working with them. Communion time is a great time to show love and respect for sincere Christians who have to deal with allergies.

Communion bread is easy to make using my recipe. Using gluten free flour makes the bread gluten free. If you choose your gluten free flour carefully, you can also make it soy free or maize free.  My husband is pastor of our mission church and must eat gluten free. We also have people who need soy free or dairy free diets. I make all our communion bread with this recipe that can work for everyone in our church.

Just recently I’ve discovered some crackers that also work for communion. If you hunt around, you may also find some that work for you.

If you picture yourself as a Christian who, because of allergies, could never again take communion, you’ll realize what a blessing your allergy friendly communion bread can be.  With a little effort you can include every Christian in your church in your communion service.

What does God want me to do? Part 3—Choosing a Ministry

In February I talked about how to find God’s will for your life. I talked about finding God’s will through the Bible, positioning ourselves to do His will, getting godly counsel, and rattling doorknobs.  I promised to give you some personal examples of how I found God’s will in several areas of my life. In March I talked about the way the Lord has led me in writing for Christian publication. Today I’ll talk about how the Lord has led me in ministry. I hope this will help some of you who may be looking for guidance in your own ministry.

I became a Christian at age five and, as a teen, told God I would do whatever he wanted me to do. I was raised in a pastor’s home and always had a special heart for ministry. It only made sense to go to a Bible college, since Bible college training is a pre-requisite for many kinds of ministry. I thought it would be great if the Lord would lead me to become a pastor’s wife, but for several years no would-be pastors asked me out. During my junior year at Faith Baptist Bible College I felt God leading me to write for Christian publication, but that didn’t rule out other ministry at the same time.

Suddenly I became aware that Art Brammer was interested in me. After dating 2 weeks he informed me that God had called him to be a missionary to Taiwan. He asked if that was an option I would consider. It sounded a bit like a proposal, but it wasn’t. He just didn’t want to waste time and emotional energy dating if there was no future in it. Being a missionary wife sounded more daunting than being a pastor’s wife, but I told him I believed it could be an option. We continued to date, asking the Lord to lead us apart if this wasn’t his will for us. God continued to lead us together. We married in 1978 and I believed God had called me to my husband and the field of Taiwan as well.

After about fifteen years in Taiwan we came to a scary place in our ministry. We had started one ministry and helped with another. In a period of about a year it became clear that both of the ministries weren’t really going forward. We didn’t want to quit and go home if the Lord wanted us to stick it out, but we also didn’t want to stay when the Lord was leading us elsewhere. How could we know what the Lord wanted?

We prayed and ask God to lead us very specifically. We sought godly counsel from our field council, mission board, and sending church. Finally we set some goals for our ministry that would help us discern the Lord’s leading. The goals were high enough to show progress, but low enough to be reasonable. If the ministries met these goals we believed God would continue to build those ministries and we should stay with them. If the goals were not met however, we would take that as a sign that the Lord was moving us on.

Within about six months the Lord made his will very clear. Neither of the ministries came close to meeting the goals. It was time for us to move, but we had no idea about what to do next. Art had planned on missions in Taiwan since he was a teenager. It had been difficult for him to even consider any other ministry. But sensing God’s leading, we brought our two high-school-aged daughters back to the US and began the search for a new ministry.

At first we looked at Chinese ministries in the US and Canada. Some sounded promising, but when we actually visited them, we didn’t feel like they were a good fit for us. God didn’t give us peace about them. Each time we “rattled a doorknob” we found the door was locked. After a couple of months in the States our field administrator from our mission board called. “Would you consider pastoring a church in New Zealand?” he asked. On the southern tip of New Zealand was a church that had been started by a missionary who felt the Lord leading him away.  We said sure, we’d consider it. Then we got out our maps. Where in the world was New Zealand?

Within about a month Art and I flew down to Invercargill, New Zealand for ten days so we could meet the church people and he could candidate as pastor. We visited the church and toured a bit of the South Island. Soon after we returned, the church voted to extend the call to Art to be their pastor. We talked about it with our kids, prayed about it, and God gave us peace. We’ve been in that ministry for twenty years now.

Early on in our ministry here, God showed us that this new place of ministry was right for us. Our daughters both had opportunities to share in our ministry before they moved away from home.

Most ministries go through ups and downs. Sometimes God brings us through down times to times of more apparent blessing. It’s not always easy to know when to leave a ministry and when to hold on. But if we really want to know God’s will, because we want to do it, because we love him, he will show us his way. We may only be able to see the next step, but when he shows us that step, we can take it in confidence. God will help us through all the necessary changes.

Are you confused about the direction of your ministry today? Are there godly counsellors you can talk to? Have you made long range goals and short range goals to get to the long range ones? Are you flexible enough to sense when God is leading you in a different direction? Are you moving forward, rattling some doorknobs to see which ones are locked?

My prayer for you today is that God will lead you to make good decisions and you will find the place or ministry where you can best serve him. May you find joy in serving him today.