Introduction to First Steps 201: Experiencing Heart Realities

This topic contains 20 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard Margaret Hoggard 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 21 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #29944
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Heart Realities” Questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    In the lesson on “Experiencing Heart Realities,” I was struck by the Virklers’ emphasis on being led by the Spirit, or knowledge of the heart, rather than by the rationale mind. This indicates to me that I need to surrender my heart and mind to God at a deeper level, a process that requires faith and obedience. As the Virklers point out, “It is not the striving of the intellect, but the resting of the heart that makes one wise” (p. 4). As they also note, resting in God and relying on realities of the heart goes against the teachings of our culture, sadly even against the ways in which Christian seminaries and churches often approach theology as a study of academics and reason. I found this text served as a reminder to trust in my relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by “renewing my inner mind, the mind of the heart, that transforms one’s world and one’s life” (p. 5).

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    As I am studying the work of the Holy Spirit in effecting the Fruit of the Spirit in believers, keeping the importance of “heart realities” in mind will remind me of the value of experience over intellect in the Christian walk. The symbolism of God as the tree and the Christian as a branch has always been meaningful to me, and Virklers’ message reinforces the importance of bearing fruit in the Christian life. This may necessitate letting go of our egos and individualism, again contrary to what popular culture today often teaches us to value. The blessing to be shared within a community is that we blossom by “resting” in God and allowing the flow of His goodness to nourish, enrich, and bring forth our harvest.

    Maggie Hoggard

    #29945
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Fellowship with The Holy Spirit” questions:

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    Certainly, my prior education in theology has included questions and doubts about whether or not God is still speaking. I recall on online course I took in which some of my classmates who warned those who claimed to hear the voice of God against demonology. I therefore found the Virklers” perspective in “Experiencing Fellowship with The Holy Spirit” a welcome and reassuring addition to my faith studies.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    One passage I found very meaningful in the Virklers’ text was: “…Jesus spoke the words of life. And the Comforter will do likewise. Therefore, listen not to the voice of the accuser, for he is not God. But listen instead unto the comfort of His Holy Spirit” (p. 8). I hadn’t considered before that the Comforter (Holy Spirit) and the accuser are presented as opposites, and I believe that reflecting on this point will lead me to a more respectful, compassionate, and accepting approach to Christian study and teaching. If I can truly experience the goodness that the Comforter brings to my life, then I would naturally want other people to share in this blessing. It points me to a community practice that shines a light on the loving kindness of God for His people and strives to model it every day.

    Maggie Hoggard

    #29958
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Spiritual Worship”

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    In Chapter 3, “Experiencing Spiritual Worship,” the Virklers provide the following description of what it means to be engaged spiritually: “When I worship in Spirit, I become very conscious of the inner world, the world of the heart, and of the Holy Spirit within my heart, and the moving of God’s Spirit within my heart” (p. 13). One of the challenges for me is to quiet my mind so I can surrender my heart and mind and fully open myself to the presence of God. Nevertheless, I know the importance of worshiping in Spirit because when I engage on this level, I am not only praising God, but I am transformed by the light and power of the Holy Spirit. While in gratitude to Him, I am also spiritually uplifted and better able to feel and share His love.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    This chapter reinforces the importance of spirituality in worship as vital practice for Christians. As part of a community of believers, and as a result of my other studies in theology, I believe that I have a solid understanding of the purpose of the order of service that leads to the opening of Spirit during worship. I have even been able to explain these practices to others in Christian education settings and, I believe, helped them appreciate the reason for the symbols, rituals, songs, and so on. It is my hope that by continuing to deepen my knowledge of how the Holy Spirit enters into our corporate and individual worship practices, I can lead others to a richer spirituality and relationship with God.

    #29959
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing the Anointing” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    I hadn’t considered that spiritual anointing was something that I could ask to have granted in quite the way that the Virklers describe before. Praying for direction and for guidance in going where God leads me is something I do, but I had thought of receiving the call itself as one that required calmness, passivity and acceptance. I will certainly reflect upon the idea of the anointing by Spirit as a more dynamic process where I can actively participate in asking God for more. I appreciate the scripture-based practices that the Virklers recommend for making this request: obedience, humility, association and transference, spiritual worship, recognition and remembrance of the power of the Holy Spirit, and biblical meditation and prayer (p.p. 18-19). These are practices that I strive to follow but that I will now do with more discipline, awareness, and intention.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    I am in the early stages of doing research on the Fruit of the Spirit and the effectiveness of biblical studies on this passage of Galatians 5. I believe the concept of spiritual anointing described by the Virklers can raise some important benchmarks in looking at how we can better approach living by the Spirit in our walk with Christ.

    #29960
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Both Large and Small Group Ministry” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?
    I am in agreement with the Virklers that a large group meeting that offers “a celebration service, the operation of mature gift ministries, motivational teaching and preaching, and corporate direction” (p. 23) can be beneficial in the life of the Christian. The danger is that we can become too fixated on church as a physical structure and lose sight of ourselves as part of the larger body of Christ by defining our faith by the building we inhabit rather than by our spiritual connection with the whole community of believers. I have recently read the philosophies of Neil Cole in his book Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, and found his perspective that church should be organic rather than material, happening where any group of believers happen to meet for the purpose of worshiping God and growing in faith. The Virklers counsel weekly small group meetings should offer “openness, trust, and intimacy, accountability relationships, a place for developing ministries to operate, and specialized areas of growth and ministry (p. 23) to round out our Christian growth opportunities. From their description, these meetings are more fluid, developing different needs at different times, and they caution the importance of becoming so involved with church activities that one neglects family and community responsibilities.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    I have recently read the philosophies of Neil Cole in his book Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, and found his perspective that church should be organic rather than material, happening where any group of believers happen to meet for the purpose of worshiping God and growing in faith. Personally, I believe in covenantal Christianity, that our faith is meant to be experienced in community, and a large meeting each week can reinforce that experience as long as supporting the “bricks and mortar” doesn’t become the end in itself. (After all, we are taught to pray “our Father,” not “my Father,” and “give us this day our daily bread,” not “give me my daily bread,” and “forgive us our trespasses,” not “forgive me my trespasses.”) I think there is a danger in becoming too rigid in our definition of worship community, however, and that fellowship can be experienced in a house church of 10 people just as effectively as in a mega-church of 3000. In our present reality, many people find it difficult to attend because of work, physical, or other constraints, and I believe it is possible for quality broadcasts and internet resources to take the place of physical location, when we are guided by the Holy Spirit. (For instance, I have felt more spiritually uplifted by Communion and Bible Fellowship meetings than I have in many face to face Christian groups.) To support the growth of the seeds of faith in others, I plan to develop an online resource that would support a group of believers and to continue to support faith in community through events and activities under the spiritual covering of UNTCI.

    #29964
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Spiritual Counseling” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    As a teenager, I was part of a bible study and prayer group that saw dramatic results of emotional and physical healing, some even miraculous, as a result of our prayers. Proof of the power of prayer has been a constant in my life, and neither I nor my husband would still be alive today if it wasn’t for the intercession of God. As a participant in prayer ministries and circles myself, I know that our situation is not unique as I have witnessed the effects of healing prayers many, many times. In the chapter “Experiencing Spiritual Counseling,” the Virklers provide several strategies for providing emotional healing through prayer as part of spiritual counseling. Having worked as a counselor, I appreciate the structure that they provided in this chapter to facilitate emotional healing.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    While I haven’t thought of using prayer as an approach to counseling in quite this way, I appreciated the biblically supported and logical methods the Virklers described: deliverance, breaking generational patterns of sin, healing bitter root expectations, healing deep hurts, hearing the voice of God, journaling, accountability relationships, and completing “homework” (p.p. 25-28). These would be useful strategies for individuals seeking spirit-based healing as well as for counselors looking for spiritual solutions for their clients. I believe that I could use the Virklers’ ideas as a blessing to others by combining these strategies with intercessory prayer, using prayer both with and for individuals experiencing distressing situations and hardships.

    #29965
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Family Ministry” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    For me the Virkers’ chapter on “Experiencing Family Ministry” was a reminder that Israel’s witnessing mandate had a clear purpose: it was the means by which Gentile adults and Jewish children would come to and grow in faith as understood in ancient Israel. The witness task proclaimed the wonderful deeds of God through teaching, but also involved a witness to subsequent generations with a pedagogical function. In Deuteronomy 6, for example, God calls for parents to instruct children, and for leaders to instruct adults in the community, as well as sojourners and Gentiles of all nations.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    Communicating God’s blessing is central to the witnessing task, and the means of witness included many forms of instruction. The environment was infused with visual and verbal reminders, such as altars (and, later, temples), signs on doorposts and symbols in houses or worn as part of attire, songs, praises, psalms constructed in acrostic fashion, storytelling and parables, and so on (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). These modes of communication to bring to fruition the covenantal relationship with God: “So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” (Deuteronomy 6:2, NIV). The Virklers reinforce the importance of developing spirituality at home and in social situations as well as in formal church settings, modeling the love of God in parental behavior towards one another, and making the experience of learning about God and worshipping Him a joyful one. I believe that the degree to which our faith is reflected in all aspects of our lives determines our ability to experience and share the fruit of the Holy Spirit in family ministry. The importance of family-centered, inter-generational witness is an area I plan to reinforce within my faith community.

    #29991
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Individual Giftedness” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?
    Perhaps one of the most useful lessons emphasized in “Experiencing Individual Giftedness” concerns the importance of recognizing the gifts God has given to us as uniquely fitting us to fulfill His purpose. The Virklers stress that “Christianity encourages each one’s individual uniqueness, gifts, talents, and call” (p. 33). As Paul noted II Corinthians 10:12: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (New International Version). The Virklers explain the meaning of this passages as follows: “We are to compare ourselves to the gifts and callings which God has placed upon our lives” and to avoid judging ourselves and others by our own measurement (p. 33).

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    In my experience, I have seen people’s gifts (including my own) within a congregation undervalued while they were pressured to take on tasks that distract them from their personal sense of call and even led to complete burnout. While recognizing that a body of believers within a church has a variety of needs and responsibilities to be met, sometimes careful consideration of priorities and resources can ensure that God-given gifts are used effectively and individuals are supported well in their Christian work as individuals. I see managing the time and energy talents of members as a part of the church’s stewardship that is even more important than the management of money and material goods. The church as a whole can support individuals in their faith walk by having a clear mission and vision statement and testing its activities against it to ensure they all work together to glorify God by fulfilling the work of Christ on earth.

    The highest score I received on the Spiritual Gifts Survey was in the Faith category (87 percent). I also scored high in Giving, Hospitality, and Mercy (tied at 84 percent), and in Teaching and Evangelism (tied at 81 percent). My dissertation will study faith and spirituality in the life of individual Christian women as they respond to God’s call. Using my skills as a writer and teacher, I hope that this will lead me to make a meaningful contribution that will bless others too.

    #29992
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Spirit Born Creativity” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?
    In “Experiencing Spirit Born Creativity,” I was particularly impacted by the Virklers’ vision of the Church as the creative center where “heart faith” can come to fruition: “God is the one who places dreams within His children’s hearts. God is the one who grant the power and guidance through His Holy Spirit and His Church to bring these dreams into reality. Therefore, the Church is the place where people’s dreams are built and released” (p. 37). This strikes me as an extraordinary vision for the Church, and while I have seen glimmers of it in some congregations, I have never encountered anything as cohesive as what the Virklers describe. I have, however, know many individuals who draw on “God’s power and guidance” in everything they do, and I strive to do the same in my life as a creative Christian. (I even taught a workshop for beginning writers called “Dreams Into Realities” at a God Uses Ink Writers Conference.) The idea of having a church committed to providing the nurturing environment the Virklers describe makes my heart leap with joy.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    I feel challenged to provide a supportive environment for believers where the creativity inspired by God can be seeded, nurtured, and brought to fruition. I am particularly passionate about the Practical Application for this chapter: “I purpose to be constantly aware by God’s grace in the ongoing creative flow within my spirit, and to cultivate Holy Spirit creativity day by day as I walk through life. I will also seek to assist others in cultivating the same” (p. 40). I have a sense of divine guidance as I reflect on this chapter, as it is giving me a more clearly defined purpose to consider as I consider what contributions I can make with God’s help that will bless and enrich others.

    #29994
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Team Leadership” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    Like the Virklers, I have attended churches with different styles of leadership (democratic, dictatorial, bureaucratic, hierarchy) (p. 41), although some of them have had a combination of styles. For example, while one denomination might have had a church hierarchy under a bishop at conference level, it also had boards that provided bureaucratic direction at the local level and congregational votes for key decisions. The church I attended from the time I was a preschooler until I was married operated largely as a dictatorial one under the founding minister, and later, his son, who ran the church for decades with the assistance of the elders that they appointed. Despite their differences, the leaders in each church would have maintained that they were practicing a biblically based style of leadership. The Virklers advocate the style laid out in Ephesians 4:11-13, which sets out a hierarchy of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers “until we all attain to the unity of faith and of knowledge of the Son of God” as mature Christians (English Standard Version). What I find most impactful is the Virklers’ contemporary application of the five-fold style, which stresses the importance of “one body and one Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4), “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (4:5), and “one God and Father of all” (4:6). In my experience, while different biblical interpretations of leadership have been at work, what made churches effective was if leaders were able to guide members in their obedience to and witness of God the Father, the Sons, and the Holy Spirit.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    From the Virklers’ chapter on “Experiencing Team Leadership,” I believe I fit within the description of teachers, who “have a heart for the truth [and] are apt to teach. They rely on the inner Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and instruct saints on the ways of the Lord” (p. 43). Much of what I have done in my life has involved teaching, and even when I worked in secular roles as a writer, editor, and teacher, I worked from a foundation of Christian values and principles. My efforts in Christian writing and education have been directed towards clarifying biblical messages to support people in their efforts to apply them today. At this stage in my life, I feel I am being called to deepen my witness for Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a way that will bless others in their daily walk.

    #29995
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Covenant Blessings” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?
    A passage that I found particularly striking in “Experiencing Covenant Blessings” presents blessings in conjunction with joy and gratitude. The Virklers write, “God has moved me from negativity to positivity through a proper understanding of covenant blessings and through regular journaling. We, as a church, are committed to rejoicing in all things and ‘in everything, giving thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus serving you’ (I Thess. 5:18)” (p. 49). There are several considerations stated or implied here, notably that understanding and reflection lead to positivity, and rejoicing and thankfulness to God are integral to our service as Christians. These are reassuring messages for Christians, and, as the Virklers maintain, they will prepare us to transcend the sufferings that satan may bring into our lives. The work of studying Scripture gives us knowledge to understand God’s will and blessings as his obedient servants. I believe this points to the right attitude to develop in our quest to know God, study the Bible, and live Christian lives filled with gratitude, praise and joy.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    The Virklers caution that it is not the scripture passage that we choose that will lead us to experience covenant blessings; rather, it is the passage that is chosen for us when we open ourselves to divine guidance through the power of the Holy Spirit (p. 48). As well, a key way to show our obedience to God is through tithing (p. 49). These are practices that I can encourage others to follow in their ongoing relationship with Christ, as well as follow them myself. Study, reflection, praise and thanksgiving, generosity and tithes, and a joyful spirit are all elements that need renewal in our Christian walk. I move forward in living out my vocation, these elements can provide an valuable foundation for further work that will support believers and glorify God.

    #29996
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Power Evangelism” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    As I noted in earlier posts, I have been part of intercessory prayer groups and have seen their miraculous healing effects throughout my life, so the Virklers’ focus on healing in “Experiencing Power Evangelism” resonated with me. They describe the role of the Holy Spirit in power evangelism by noting that while there is a place for study of Scripture, “the activation of spiritual power is not found in books. It is found in contacting and releasing the One who lives within your heart” (p. 51). The healing possible through the Holy Spirit is not just an intellectual concept but a physical reality that heals mind, body, and spirit. As well, it is a powerful form of witness that, as the Virklers point out, has the potential to cause wide-spread evangelism (p.p. 51-52). Incorporating time of intercessory prayer, healing testimonies, requests for deliverance from suffering, and spiritual anointing and laying of hands not only serves as a witness of God’s power to those within and without the faith. It is also a tangible sign of God’s grace and love through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, our Healer and Comforter.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    This chapter is an affirmation of healing prayers as a blessing to those who benefit from them and as a tangible way of witnessing to others. While I hadn’t considered intercessory prayer as power evangelism before, I fully agree with the Virklers that we should “meditate on, preach, and study the Scriptures concerning healing and…seek to see an increase of the anointing in each and every service we participate in” (p. 52). With the blessing of power evangelism in mind, I will approach intercessory prayer more mindfully and look for opportunities to be involved in prayer groups, perhaps facilitating one where there is a need.

    #29997
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing the Earth as the Lord’s” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    In reference to their ministry, the Virklers issue a call to action in “Experiencing the Earth as the Lord’s”: “We as a church have made our choice. We have chosen to go forward with the power and the presence of the Almighty God and disciple the earth, by walking across it in the power of God, lighting every area we touch, lighting every occupation God has called us into, and leaving a blaze of glory behind us” (p. 54). As a college writing instructor in a public school, the secular and the religious were mandated by law, I nevertheless carried my Christian values with me and stated them openly whenever the opportunity arose. Although I wasn’t allowed to “teach” Christianity, I could certainly model it in my behavior and values. For instance, I gave assignments that promoted examination of social concerns, and I allowed students to write about and discuss their faith when exploring topics. As well, some students approached me outside of class for spiritual discussions, counseling, and prayer. Even though I was working in the “secular” world, I considered my career in teaching a God-given vocation. Within the church itself, however, I often found the split between secular and sacred somewhat problematic, with members compelled to do so much busywork within the building that their ability to be effective in their work or family is compromised. The Virklers make a compelling argument: the church that doesn’t divide the sacred and the secular will see the importance of upbuilding members to strengthen them in the work God has called them to do in all aspects of life and will be cautious about pulling them away from His vocation for them.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    The Virklers’ perspective that we need to recognize every Christian as a full time minister is most welcome: “We will not ask you to leave your occupation to become full time ministers. We recognize that every Christian is a full time minister in the occupation God has placed them in. So we will strengthen you in God in the occupation God has placed you in rather than ask you to change” (p. 54). This promise speaks to an underlying respect for fellow Christians and their individual sense of call, ultimately looking at the importance of their relationship with God and their need to serve Him first and foremost in the vocation He has ordained for Him. The Virklers go on to say, “We recognize that we are to multiply giftedness…so we will assist you in becoming skilled in one area after another. We are the church that will never quit growing” (p. 54). I believe that my skills as a writer and teacher have encouraged others to discover their own gifts and sense of vocation in every sphere of influence they have. As I move forward, I believe that I can bless others by encouraging stronger support of individuals through a Christian life that encompasses all of God’s world.

    #29998
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing Restorative Love” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    When I was a young woman, I supervised a staff of 25 in a residential facility for adults with severe developmental disabilities. The annual review process involved both the supervisor and the counselor preparing strengths and needs lists and then sitting down together to compare them and then to establish goals and plans for the employee’s growth. I learned a couple of lessons through this process. The first was that people may carry old labels around with them even though their behavior has changed. For instance, as a child, a person may have been told that he or she is disorganized and will still identify with that label even though over time, the person has developed strong organizational skills. A second observation is that sometimes our weaknesses are our strengths taken to extreme. For example, I have a critical mind, something that has definitely been a strength in my work as a writer, editor, and educator. It doesn’t work quite as well in a marriage partnership or when I exercise self-judgment, however, and it can interfere with my ability to forgive myself as well as others. When I can model God’s restorative love, I free myself and others old attitudes and outgrown behaviors and instead seek ways to empower us to transform into the servants that God would have us be.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    The passages that the Virklers’ cite in “Experiencing Restorative Love” hold special meaning for me. Peter was strong, determined, and proud, qualities which led him to be arrogant, making his betrayal of Christ even more devastating to the apostle (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62). Nevertheless, out of this weakness, Peter was transformed into a person who was more empathetic, flexible, and humble. As well, if he hadn’t denied Christ at the critical time, he too would have been arrested and perhaps crucified, placing the future of the Christian church at stake: even at his weakest moment, he was fulfilling Christ’s plan. What solidified Peter’s transformation into the rock upon which the Christian church was founded, however, was the forgiveness and trust he received from Christ when He came to the disciples after His resurrection (John 21:15-16). The blessing God’s restorative love is especially impactful because as humans, we do have faults and we will sin, but when we can see that He forgives us, and we can also forgive ourselves, we can receive His love and guidance in doing His work on earth. These are important messages to remember and to share as I move forward in my service to Christ.

    #29999
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Response to “Experiencing the Vision as Yours” questions

    How did this section of teaching impact you personally?

    The course First Steps 201 and the text The Supernatural Church led me to reflect many topics that have been on my mind as I consider How I can best serve Christ at this stage of my life. These include the power of the Holy Spirit, the biblically ordained meaning and structure of church, the concept of power evangelism, the importance of Spirit-born creativity and individual giftedness, receiving blessings and giving tithes, and God’s restorative love. I feel much better prepared to move forward with my dissertation on Galatians 5 and its application as I develop an organic ministry that will serve Christ.

    What will you be taking away from this section of text that will help you bless others and engage with your Ministry Association?

    What I have particularly discovered through this course is a sense of the blessings of God that relate to the core of my studies on the fruit of the Spirit. As I considered ways that I can bless others, I discovered my strongest gift, faith, can serve as a cornerstone as I reach out to others, including through intercessory prayer and practicing restorative love. My other gifts of giving, hospitality, and mercy provide me with a sense of direction for shaping my ministry, while the ones teaching and evangelism point to skills that I have that will allow me to reach others. I feel grateful to UNTCI for providing this resource, and I have no question that I led to this place at this point in my Christian journey by God.

    #30000
    Profile photo of Joseph Fifer, D.Div.
    Joseph Fifer
    Moderator

    A very well stated observation with Peter’s “change” and comparison to his “before” and “after”. Thank you.

    #30002
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Thank you for your feedback, Dr. Fifer. I appreciate it.

    #30413
    Profile photo of Carol Weaver
    Carol Weaver
    Participant

    Such a nice post.. So much to ponder. One thing especially stood out and came to my mind while reading and would just like to share a bit, even though the postings here will be some late.

    It is true how labels given us can stick and we move through life thinking it is ‘always’ true forever more. Whether ever true in the first place, we never can be sure, either.

    We are a new creation in Christ once we accept Him and are baptized into His family, the family of God. We learn to remember we are His child and he loves us no matter what label we have been given, my man. We are beautiful in His eyes. He does not use man made labels.

    I know of a young man who had a hard time in school during the early elemental school years, and then all at once he picked up after moving to another school and they changed the way of ‘how’ he was taught. After that he was getting A’s and B’s all through school. Finally he graduated.

    After that young man graduated and actually during his 11th and 12th grade he was excited about attending college and it was on his mind and he did all to get ready t for the next step, and looked forward to it.

    He was accepted and even passed the exams, but somehow through all of this, they stated someplace and he found it written how he ‘had’ a learning disability in the beginning, of school and it stuck in his records.

    It upset him badly, he must have felt ashamed, to even read it, and because he did not even realize he had it hard at first it never bothered him until he had graduated and done very well, but finding out about it even then upset him enough to stop him from going on. He was young and once he moved and did well that was ‘behind him’, *until he was’ reminded of his past! ‘*

    That young man ended up doing well in his life though and found a wonderful position and earned good money , and even more found just what he liked to do! But he gave up dreams of his future plans, and did not go to college, as it broke his self esteem!

    This is what can happen when the destroyer comes along and “reminds us” of our past ,of what we did or did not do or what our labels were . That is if we allow it.

    Thank God our Lord looks at today and our life at present and once forgiven we know it is left behind us forever!

    It reminds me of a saying and my great- aunt was the first person I ever heard recite it and cannot remember exactly how it was written but will do my best from memory of it.

    LOOK TO THIS DAY

    Look to today ,for today is life , the very life of life,

    For Yesterday is but a dream

    Tomorrow is as a vision

    But Today well lived,

    Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

    Every tomorrow a vision of hope

    *So always look well to today*

    I think it was a Sanskirt poem? But it never left my mind.
    ————————————————————————————-
    We can only take one day at a time and the day we are in right now, is where our Lord sees us and loves us and forgives and understand us best of all.

    Only yesterday can be in a memory of who we were and not who we are, now. Labels should not stick and we should not allow Satan to use the yesterdays against us.

    Memories of yesterday can be so good sometimes though and we learn from them, good or bad. But we must move into the life our Lord has for us ‘now.’ They will be the yesterday, very soon.

    Blessings

    #30414
    Profile photo of Margaret Hoggard
    Margaret Hoggard
    Participant

    Carol, thank you for your post in response to my First Steps 201 assignment. I enjoyed your story about the young man who struggled to overcome the label of “learning disabled,” and I am happy that he is doing well. As a teacher, I found that students who struggled the hardest often developed a stronger work ethic and made a deeper effort to learn and practice the course material. Consequently, their depth of knowledge and progress at the end of the course surpassed that of the students who scored highest in the preassessments I gave at the beginning of the semester. It is probably also true that when some people truly struggle to overcome obstacles to their faith but work hard to learn and practice it may reach a deeper level of relationship with Christ than believers who (seemingly) have no doubts. If so, then the confused, searching, and/or questioning souls have reason to hope rather than despair because having to work harder to know God and to walk the Christian path can lead to great spiritual rewards. The struggle may lead us to as great a blessing as “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

    Have a blessed day!
    Maggie
    Begin to weave, and God will give you the thread.
    (German proverb)

    #30415
    Profile photo of Rev Isaac Bridges
    ibridgesjr
    Participant

    Greetings Sister Hoggard,

    “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7)

    “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

    “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45)

    As we can see from the scriptures above, the heart, mind, and mouth are intricately dependent on each other. Lamentations 3:40 says “Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord.” If we were honest and sincere in looking inwards, what do you think you would find? What is it that we tell ourselves about ourselves? According to the scripture, it is time for us to focus on self, so that we can be better used by God. Our heart is the soil that will grow whatever is put into it. This is why it is so necessary to store up good treasures in your heart. We need a posture of total surrender and trust in Him so that our ways will be established. This can be very difficult because many times His Ways through our rational mind, do not make sense. That is why they call it “Faith”. And if it was easy, anybody could do it. We are constantly in a battle with our rational mind and the Holy Spirit. And sometimes we fall, but Praise God that Grace is there for us as we repent, learn, and move forward.

    Great post.

    Just my 2 cents worth
    Be Blessed

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 21 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.