Handing Over

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The phrase “letting go” has become a bit cliché in my opinion. We find ourselves baffled by what to hold onto and what to let go. As a parent, we know without fail that we never let go of a child. But we do need to learn and accept that we can’t fix everything for them even when they are just helpless little babies.

shutterstock_241134985.jpgWe have to let go of matters that are out of our control, which, it turns out, is most of it. Sometimes our grasp is so tight that our fingers have to be pried off, leaving behind a mark. Perhaps “letting go” sounds like something is being taken from us. Maybe we should think of it as “handing it over.” Willingly, freely, trustingly, handing over our fears to the God of eternity.

There were no outward signs after our daughter’s birth that caused any alarm from the hospital staff. Twenty-four hours after delivery we brought her home where she was welcomed by her two-year-old brother who wanted nothing more than to hold her and show her his trucks. In my mind, everything was good with the universe, as they say. I had my boy, I had my girl, and she was growing and thriving beautifully. Or was she?

shutterstock_56089942My husband accompanied me to Catherine’s ten-day wellness exam. We were planning to go straight out to dinner afterward to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. (She was nursing so we needed to tote her along.) After a few minutes into her examination, I noticed a concerned look on the face of our regularly jovial pediatrician. Then he brought one of his nurses in to confer on something. With a tinge of trepidation, they took us aside and informed us that our baby’s heart rate was very high and that we should take her to an emergency room as soon as possible.

In complete disbelief, we rushed out to the nearby hospital, where they did tests and sent us home. We walked in the front door of our home to a ringing phone. It was the hospital telling us to take our baby to the Children’s Hospital ER. Even though on the outside our daughter appeared to be thriving, she was a very sick little baby.

Green Chairs - Waiting RoomWe spent fifteen arduous hours not knowing what was wrong with our infant daughter’s racing heart. To make matters worse, the experts in the ER and the Pediatric Cardiology Unit of Children’s Hospital National Medical Center couldn’t figure out what was going on. We were devastated that this tiny little baby whom we barely knew was in so much danger. I could barely breathe.

The most difficult part for us was that we had no control over it. So we did the only thing we could. What started as panic, emerged into prayer. With friends, family and even strangers lifting us up in prayer, God enabled us to “hand her over”, not let go, but hand her over into His loving arms. Who better to deal with her than the one who created her? The one who knows all.

The next morning the long awaited cardiologist, who was the expert on infant echocardiogram’s, entered the picture. Within minutes he knew exactly what was wrong and what needed to be done. (I started to breathe.) It would involve two heart surgeries but she would be ok. Oh, the joy that brought us! We found out that if our visit to the pediatrician had been the standard two-week wellness check-up (which was standard at the time) instead of ten days, she would have turned blue and possibly died.

This week, remember that God is the one who is in control of everything. Save yourself from panic, turn to prayer and hand it over where you will find peace. Remember…when in a fix, Philippians 4:6!

 

6” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs16:9

 

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 

If you don’t think you are blessed; remember, your heart is still beating. Anonymous

P.S. As God would have it in His perfect plan, Catherine is now a nursing student doing a summer internship in Labor and Delivery in the same hospital where she was born.

Grocery Store Grief

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My daughter and I stood there dumbfounded at the drama that was ensuing at our local Whole Foods grocery store. No… there wasn’t a gunman or a roof collapse; no car had driven through the front plate glass window and no one was having a heart attack. This was a highly vocal tantrum from a clearly distraught woman who, by all appearances, could have been my twin. My ‘twin’ was publicly losing her mind in front of the entire cushy, upscale market. Why? You may wonder. The spectacle was because her order wasn’t ready. The nerve. “YOU are here to serve ME and I want it now! Don’t you know how important I am?” Clearly someone had forgotten to take their meds that day

shutterstock_208484806.jpgMaybe I watch too many movies but all around me, everything seemed to be occurring in slow motion. People whispering amongst themselves, some staring in disbelief and others just plain gawking. This was just your run of the mill side show. “Nothing to see here. Crazy woman on deck. Can’t be bothered. Don’t get involved. Let’s get out of here. ” No one came to the aide of this woman or the employee dealing with her for that matter. In that zip code, I would have thought a security guard or two would emerge. No manager, no one. I suppose no one wanted to be “put-out”. Including me.

At the time, it didn’t even occur to me to try to help. Not my problem. I was covered because I said a quickie silent prayer, “Lord, please help this woman.” (Done!) But it didn’t even cross my mind to step in, come alongside her and try to bring her comfort or calm her down. Why didn’t I recognize that I could have comforted her and/or the store employee? Was it because I started my day with the news on and didn’t even take five minutes to pray about what God had in store for me this day? Hmm…

shutterstock_283528430It took me almost 24 hours to figure out what was nagging at me. Then it hit me and I went to my daughter and said. “Oh my gosh, we should have done something for that woman.” Without flinching, my daughter said, “I know, I was thinking the same thing.”

I behaved no differently than anyone on a reality TV show and should have known that as a believer in Christ more is expected. The Christ that asks us to love one another as he did when he walked the earth and to this very day.

When we ask the Lord, “What’s the plan?” We should be prepared that the answer may require our participation.

Luke 10:27 says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

We are the plan. We are to love our neighbors. Even when it’s not a pretty scene. Think about this as you go on with your day.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give then to receive.” Acts 20:35

 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

 

“God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy or service. While you may not be gifted for a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you are needed at that moment.” Rick Warren – “We Serve God by Serving Others.”

Kimm Carr ~ Community Bible Study’s Servant Leader

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As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

As Executive Director of Community Bible Study, Texas-born Kimm Carr has a mission even larger than the organization she directs in Colorado Springs, Colorado; engaging people with the Bible literally around the world!

Ask anyone who knows Kimm and they will tell you about her beautiful, God-given sense for servant leadership. This makes her more than simply an Executive Director; it makes her more of a “Shepard-in-Chief”. After this interview, I thought, “I wonder if she thought it was weird that I was clapping and spouting an energetic, “Yes!” after so many of her responses to my questions? It wasn’t as if the Redskins were scoring touchdowns. I mean who claps over the phone? And who claps over the phone listening to a Bible teacher? I just couldn’t help myself because Kimm stirred me up by just being who she is: a completely real woman; utterly devoted to God, and wanting everyone to have the opportunity to know Him through His Word.

RWANDA 2014

Community Bible Study (also known as CBS) started 41 years ago in Bethesda, Maryland, with a small handful of dedicated Christ-following women. Starting one Bible study at a time and touching hearts one person at a time, the ministry soon grew beyond the United States. (Note: My mother was part of the first “servants team” so this mission is near and dear to my heart! It is also the reason I fell in love with the Word of God! )

It would be an understatement to say that this ministry has grown and more appropriate to say that is has spread like wildfire. Today CBS has classes in 100 countries (16 started in this past year) and lessons translated into 66 different languages.

It is interesting to note that Zambia has the largest number of participants enrolled in CBS; even more than the United States. Due to this outreach internationally, CBS has increased 121 percent this past year! Globally there are more than 400,000 class members being transformed as they study God’s Word! As Kimm says, “CBS is like a trophy of God’s grace, and what He is doing. God is alive, and He is speaking to us through His Word.”

Let’s find out why so many are taking part in this dynamic, alive Bible study. What makes it so very special?

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Q: How do you explain Community Bible Study to new people you meet who might not be a part of a Bible study?

A: We have a powerful mission statement; Making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, in our communities, through caring, in-depth Bible study, available to all. But if someone asks casually, I don’t give them the mission statement, I tell them we are a Christian organization that has been in the works for 40 plus years. We are located around the entire globe, and everything we do is geared toward welcoming anyone just as they are!

Typically, this will open the door for additional explanation. I also like to stress that CBS is not affiliated with any one church or denomination and is open to men, women and children of all ages. Equally, welcome are curious non-Christ followers. We welcome whoever wants to participate!

The most beautiful component is that anyone who walks through the door is greeted with love. Check everything else at the door. Whether you are in Kigali, Rwanda, or Austin, Texas, you are welcomed with love to comfortably study God’s Word together.

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Q: Can you tell us about the path that led you to become a member of CBS and then on to Executive Director?

A: I grew up in the church but really didn’t become a follower of Jesus until I was in college. It was there that I decided to intentionally pay attention to God’s Word.

In 2002, after moving to Athens, Georgia, our real estate agent asked me to join her Community Bible Study class. I remember being greeted with such love that I knew I wanted to be a part of whatever this was. So I started out slowly, doing more listening than actually finishing the lessons. But my core group (small group) leader never shamed me for not doing it all. I was just loved through it, and then as I started doing my lessons on purpose, I realized… THIS is how I’m going to know Jesus! I started feasting on the Word of God: I couldn’t get enough.

The following year, I was asked to lead a core group. Then, half way through that year, I was asked to start praying about becoming the teaching director for the Athens class! My professional background was clinical audiology sprinkled with a minimal amount of teaching through Auburn University and the University of Florida. This was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I felt God calling me to take on this ministry, so I prayerfully dove right in!

In 2012, I received a phone call from Community Bible Study’s Succession Task Force asking me to prayerfully consider being vetted for the position of Executive Director of CBS. This would entail a move from Athens, Georgia, to Colorado Springs, Colorado. A radical change for my family and me. After prayer, my husband, Steve, resigned after 25 years with Georgia Power, and we uprooted our 8th-grade son, Ben, and headed west!

Q: With over 400,000 class members around the globe participating in Community Bible Study, why do you think it is so popular? Is there a formula for its success?

A: There is no formula per se, but we do have Five “Essentials” of CBS that we can point to:

  • Individual study – Which is the class member…one on one with the Bible.
  • Encouraging discussion – Taking what you have learned, coming to your core (small) group and discussing the questions with them. During this time of sharing and listening, you begin to see the Holy Spirit “unpacking” truths that you may have missed doing the questions by yourself.
  • Effective Teaching – This is where the class teaching director wraps up the lesson you have just studied and discussed in core group time. They highlight a central idea from the passage, share their expertise and insight, thus tying together, even more, all that you have studied and how it applies to your life.
  • Scholarly Commentaries – After class, members go home and read scholarly commentaries that shed additional light on the Bible passage by introducing history context, backgrounds on authors, how the passage you’ve studied relates to the rest of Scripture and other insights as well.
  • Caring Community – This CBS fellowship is all wrapped up in caring that we call shepherding. Compassionate leaders pray for and encourage participants to grow spiritually and connect with each other.Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 2.08.50 PM

The “Five Essentials” give Community Bible Study strength and foundation that transcends all the different cultures. The essentials may look and feel different culturally, but they are all able to be duplicated, are cohesive and all distinct at the same time, depending on your class and community. It’s just a beautiful thing to see!!!

(Note: This all may sound time-consuming but class is generally held once a week and is about 2 hours in length. First part in your core group; second part in lecture. The rest, studying your Bible and answering questions, is done on your own time.)

Q: What are the challenges you have faced over the years as Executive Director?

A: I think what has personally challenged me is walking in faith as God leads. From the calling to serve in the Athens, Ga CBS class to leading an international non-profit, it has been a real challenge to walk step by step in faith. Yet, it is continually amazing to me how God equips those He has called!

A ministry challenge would be that there are boundless opportunities domestically and internationally! We need to make sure we stay focused on one thing: caring, in-depth Bible study. We’ve entered into a season of strategic planning, which is going very well, but it’s also a challenge.

The global movement of God and all the work that comes with unveiling that reality to everyone…wow, the lines start to blur. It’s incredibly exciting to see God moving!

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Q: How do you and your staff keep all the study books relevant to today’s believer?

A: Relevancy to today’s believer is best maintained when we focus on in-depth study of the literal Word of God first and foremost. The Bible, since it is the written revelation of God, transcends time, language, and geography. The most important focus is leading an individual participant into Scripture and just letting that Scripture speak as the Holy Spirit through the passage. Scripture is the place where the power of God is going to speak into the hearts of the CBS’ers. This is what it’s all about!

On a lighter, editorial note regarding relevancy, our writing team and other editors have had to go into course studies written 40 years ago and carefully, prayerfully update illustrations and edit out terms that may no longer make sense to anyone 30 or younger. Where we may have a brilliant commentary from 1978, it may use an outdated term such as “mimeo-graph” or “typewriter”. A what? Ha!

Q: As a long time CBS’er myself; my favorite section of the CBS commentary is the “Think About It” section. Can you tell us a little about your authors?

A: Yes, the “Think About It” section is an integral part of the format because it makes the lesson, relatable and personal. It gives you something to “chew on.” The editorial staff has seminary and pastoral experience. Commentary writers are carefully and prayerfully chosen based on their expertise as well as their writing ability.

Q: What do you tell people who say, “I don’t know anything about theology or Bible study; I can’t do something like that.”?

A: Community Bible Study is an every person’s study. Questions are intentionally designed so anyone can answer, regardless of experience! Many questions are who, what, where, when – kinds of factual questions; others are more challenging. If you don’t want to share, you can absorb what others in your group got from the passage. There is no stress to be an “A” student. Phew! You can do the “homework” at your leisure although we recommend that each participant pray about doing one section a day so they don’t have to rush. Also, you get to enjoy the blessings of your study throughout each day if you take it day by day.

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Q: What are your desires and prayers for each member of CBS?

A: Oh, yes! My prayer for the ministry as a whole and for each individual CBS-er is that each one around the globe captures the essence of an intimate relationship with the living God. I like to pray Isaiah 55 (see below) which points out the universal truth that we are all thirsty ~ and we all can come to His water. Every person is in CBS because God appointed it. May there be a total transformation for all who desire it. That’s what CBS did for me…total transformation! Not just a spiritual change but a practical change as to who I am as a wife, daughter, mother, co-worker. I hope that anyone seeking or wanting transformation would know that Community Bible study is a safe place to come.

For more information on a Community Bible Study in your area please go to:

www.communitybiblestudy.org.

ISAIAH 55

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers, the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

Testimonies from CBS participants:

“Since that first time, CBS has been the biggest blessing in my life. At that point in my life, I have to admit I was a spiritual train wreck. I was torn between my selfish apathy and my desire to regain my faith. However, CBS finally brought me around and ignited a new spark in my faith.” ~ Kalli, Austin, TX

“I met with a friend I have known since junior high (40+ years) last week who is now an empty nester; her comment was that CBS has saved her marriage! Those were her exact words! ~ Priscilla, Jacksonville, FL

“CBS has helped me learn more about Jesus. Jesus has taken me far from the darkness. I have learned about the importance of eternal life and growing in faith. If someone asks why I am a Christian, I tell them I have learned the secret to eternal life. I have learned that Jesus died for me because of my sins – He impacts lives!” ~ Jurius, a young boy who attends CBS in Burkina Faso, Africa

“My name is Anika. Earlier in my life, I was a local rowdy (gangster). I did many illegal works in our area. Due to these kinds of activities, I was arrested by police and imprisoned in jail. After my release from the prison, I went to a CBS group in my neighbor’s house. There, they taught me the Word of God. I was touched by the Word and I surrendered my life to Jesus. Now I have been baptized and regularly go to church.” ~ Anika, India

On Eggshells

 

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(Nesting series continued)

Walking on eggshells: purposely not dealing with problems or people in order to avoid stress, pain, embarrassment or torment.

I just can’t think of one person who actually benefits from walking on eggshells. Most nest dwellers have to deal with the occasional eggshell scenario. Sometimes not speaking up can become an unrecognized habit and can create a serious communication problem. If not tended to, these eggshells get crushed into tinier and tinier pieces, begin to fester, and become engrained in the flooring and walls of your nest. This can become prickly and even smelly. One might say that walking on eggshells can ruffle your feathers by causing stress, anxiety and other nasty issues.

Tools in colorNot hearing any noise in our upstairs construction site made me wonder what was happening. Apparentlywe were in a semi-dormant stage of the renovation. (Translated: the tradesmen didn’t show up today.) At this point, all of the old bathroom guts have been scraped out and hauled away. Now we wait on the inner nuts and bolts; the plumbing and electricity that are the nerve center of the working bathroom. It’s time to depend on the expertise of the plumber and electrician to do their part in creating a functioning bathroom.

If there are any structural questions; they need to be addressed now. (No room for eggshells at this stage.) If you thought a wall was going to be made smaller and it is still there in plain sight, not smaller, this is the time to make it known. If you keep it to yourself, assuming it might be a dumb question, and don’t communicate, you are in for a huge and expensive problem later in the construction. You know what they say about people who assume things…

When something is being changed and transformed from the inside out it requires some serious attention. Time of quiet and time of action. Who wants a lovely bathroom that doesn’t work? Who wants to knock a wall down after a project is finished? Talk about costly. Communication is the key here.

Egg Shells with Blue accent insideWe tend to walk on eggshells around certain people and uncomfortable circumstances in our daily lives. It’s because of them… right? Or is this mindset our own choice? If we allow God to transform us, we can expect changes that we never thought possible. We have to dig in and haul out the old and replace with the new. God can show us how to face challenges with a new outlook. From His perspective. We all want our lives to be in healthy, working order… don’t we?

Jesus came to transform our lives, not just to inform us of who He is. He wants to take away our stress, anger, impatience, and bitterness and replace it with hope, peace, love and joy. Now is the time to address what holds us back from transformation… before it gets pricklier! The good news, you never need to walk on eggshells with God because he knows you inside and out. He loves you and forgives you, no matter what. This week, go before your Heavenly Father and share your hearts desires. No eggshells.

“He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.” C.S. Lewis

“Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“Christ has been raised from the dead. He lives. He has the infinite capacity to enter your life, forgive you, and change you from the inside out.” Josh McDowell, Author ~excerpted from “The Resurrection Factor”