Small Groups!

College was a significant time in my walk with Christ. There were times I remember actively walking in disobedience with the Lord and then times of great surrender to the Lord; but regardless of what happened in my walk with Christ, I had a group of believers who surrounded me, helping me stay true to God’s will. This group of people differed every year of college, but no matter what, people were there fighting for my walk with Christ. Each year, this group of people lived life with me literally every day and were able to see not only my strengths but the areas of sin in my life. They graciously called me out in truth and love, while simultaneously encouraging me to step out in exercising my strengths. It was through this group I found a deep love for small group ministry. Each small group was intentionally designed to be a place for community, discipleship, and service both within and outside the group.

After not only being in small group and seeing its effect on my life, I was encouraged to begin leading a small group, which was one of the best decisions of my life. I had three of the best girls on campus who were so thirsty for God’s Word. They soaked up every ounce of God’s truth, helped me with some of my class projects, and so much more. We even served in the church together at different events or made cookies for the football team. I have no doubt growth occurred on both sides of the small group.

Even now after college, I have this group of friends who I run around with who are constantly talking about what their reading in Scripture or how God is growing them. Similar to college, each person in the group isn’t afraid to call out areas for improvement in our lives or even speak a word of encouragement. I think the best thing about this little small group of friends is we are there for each other; lifting each other up on a day-to-day basis.

If you’ve never joined a small group, I would highly recommend you to find a small group. The opportunity to grow in your walk with the Lord is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and you’re doing life with these people. We were not designed to live alone and so often the world makes us feel like we are in it by ourselves. We were not designed to live a life alone. Look back at Genesis 2. God looked at all he created and then looked at man saying, “it’s not good for man to be alone,” so he created Eve to be with Adam. Likewise, we were created to do life with other believers with the intent of making more disciples.


 

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Whether you’re wanting to join a small group or begin leading a small group, Chris Surratt’s Leading Small Groups: How to Gather, Launch, Lead and Multiply Your Small Group is an easy read you won’t want to miss. Throughout the book, Surratt discusses what has worked well for him as he’s led small groups. The book ranges from the details of gathering, starting, leading, or multiplying your small group. As Surratt talks about each section, he gives dos and don’ts and even shares his personal experience.

The book itself is laced with Scripture to encourage any reader, whether a small group attender or leader, to have an understanding of why small groups should exist and how small groups should operate.

I’m confident this book will be one I continually go back to since it’s not only full of Scripture, but also provides practical tips for any leader. He includes helpful resources as well like a sample small group covenant, icebreakers, a curriculum plan, a spiritual gift list, a small group roster/attendance sheet, and so much more!

Why? For Your Good and His Glory

Why?

The question we all want answered.

We start asking the question pretty much when we learn to talk and it grows into adulthood. We want to know: why the grass is green, why I can’t walk on the street, why I have to help set the table, why do I need to be quiet, why I have to clean, why I have to do homework, why It hurts, why bad things happen, why, why, why, why, why?

I think we can all agree that when we’ve been asked these questions, our responses can vary. There are those moments when we stop and actually give a genuine, thoughtful response; yet, other times we rush and give a short answer.

I think if someone asked me why the grass is green, I would say something like “I don’t know” but I definitely accept that it’s green. I just don’t put a lot of thought into knowing the answer simply because I’m not super worried about why the grass is green. It’s always green. Now, I may look it up eventually in order to answer that question, but it’s not something I care about, so I can accept that the grass is green. The answer to that why doesn’t change anything about my present, I just accept it.

But then there are those “growth” why questions: why I can’t walk on the street, why I have to help set the table, why do I need to be quiet, why I have to clean, why I have to do homework, etc. I know I asked these questions growing up, and there would be times where my parents would say, “because I said so,” and other times they would provide a reason. If it was about walking on the street, it was for my protection. If it was being quiet (this was usually in church), I was disturbing other people. If it was cleaning, I was told I was a member of the house and needed to do my share, and it was also preparing me for my future. If it was homework, it was to learn. In each instance, there was a definite reason as to why each circumstance took place. Each thing I begrudgingly did (walking on the sidewalk, being quiet, cleaning, or homework) was for my good and for my growth. These things were not to harm me or to make me miserable, but to shape me and prepare me for the next stage of life.

Then there are those questions from a state of pain: why does it hurt or why did this terrible thing happen? We want answers so there’s an explanation for the pain whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Quite honestly, I don’t have the answers. I rarely know the answers to my own “why” questions, but WHAT IF the painful why questions are just a different growth question? We’ve learned the answers to walking on the sidewalk, cleaning, and doing homework; but could it be that the new level of WHY is really just a new level of growth that we have yet to see come to be answered? Here’s the thing, I cannot tell you WHY anything happens, but I do know that God teaches us a very clear truth:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Did you catch that?

God is working it all together for your good. You may not know your why answer, but think about the good that God has promised. Whatever circumstance you’re in the midst of, I can promise you because it’s a promise from God that he’s working it for your good.

Let’s take a moment and be real:

It hurts.

We can’t see the immediate answers to our questions which hurts. Often times the reasons we are asking why are based out of loss, grief, pain, suffering, or unexplained waiting.

I think the question becomes: what do we do when we hurt from unanswered questions?

RUN TO THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE YOU ANSWERS.

I think so often we run to things we think will provide answers like our friends and family, social media, news, ourselves, and so on. But don’t run to those because at some point they will let you down.

The only thing that promises to work for your good is God.

Run to him.

What happens if he doesn’t answer right away?

You’re in good company.

Job lost his whole family and begged God and pleaded with God for answers and it had absolutely nothing to do with Job, but rather the spiritual realm that Job couldn’t see. God blessed Job more than Job could imagine because of his faithfulness. God worked the loss for Job’s good and for God’s glory.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years before having Isaac. They took their unanswered questions into their own hands, but even with that choice, God grew their faithfulness. God demonstrated that He was faithful to fulfill His word. God worked it all for their good and His glory.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. After many other things, he goes to jail for something he didn’t do. Yet God saw the whole thing. God didn’t give immediate answers to Josephs’s questions, but later Jospeh interprets a dream and is able to save Egypt from famine. It was through the famine that God brought Joseph’s family back together. God worked it out for everyone’s good and His glory.

These are just from Scripture…. but look at this….

Rachel Clark (yes this is me) didn’t get the job she wanted in Bowling Green. The plans she had set for herself and thought God wanted for her didn’t happen. Instead she moved home, got a job and started volunteering in the church. She met some pretty amazing girls and discipled one for a long time. That girl came to know Jesus and is now going on the mission field. Likewise, Rachel is still waiting for God to fulfill His word, but in the meantime she’s gotten to travel to Ecuador and be apart of the global church, intern at a church, and almost earn a masters degree in English that she still doesn’t know why she’s getting it. But through it all, God is working it for her good and His glory.

Run to God. Find your rest in Him. It’s only through Him can you continue on when it’s harder than you could have imagined!

Why is this happening? I don’t know, but remember God is working it to be for your good and for His glory!!

365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids

One of my favorite things to do throughout the week is to sit down with a student and talk about their relationship with Jesus. Most of these students are in high school, and when we go to have our first discipleship meeting, their first question is how do you have a quiet time with God?

Great question!

I love that these students have a desire and a yearning for God’s Word. But I wonder, what if these students learned what a quiet time with God looked like earlier in their life? What would their relationship be like now?

This is a prime example of how important it is to raise up kids to be in God’s Word. We don’t just read the Bible to say we did it, but rather we read the Bible because it’s God’s Spoken Word. God speaks to His people (us) through the Bible. The Bible has some big words and some really hard-to-pronounce names, but kids CAN read and understand the Bible. We have to come to a realization at some point that church is not the primary discipler.

Discipleship starts in the home.

That’s great, but what does that look like?

There are tons of resources out there to help equip you to disciple kids. Often times, I think we limit what kids are capable of doing just because they are kids, but Jesus told us to have child-like faith. Kids can believe in Jesus, and I believe kids can have a quiet time with Jesus too.

9780718085643_3d6acIf you’re looking for a starting place, I would recommend Kathryn Slattery’s 365 Answers for Curious Kids book. FrontGate Media gave me one of these books to review about and I love it. It’s a great starting point to get your kids in God’s word daily.

This weekend, I will watch one of my best friend’s 3rd grader get baptized and I cannot wait to give him this book. He loves learning about the Lord and even as a 3rd grader wants to be a pastor! It’s awesome!

Anyway, 365 Answers for Curious Kids gives a daily devotional for kids based around a question. Some of the questions range from: “What is the greatest commandment?” to “Why do some Christians put fish-shaped symbols on their cars?”

img_5549Kathryn Slattery has thought up some great questions for kids and paired each question with a Bible story and a devotion. These devotions are short and sweet. If you have a new reader in the house, it may be a little difficult for them to read on their own; but I think there’s something sweet about a parent having a quiet time with their kids. Your higher readers will be able to read the devotions, but may need help on some pronunciations or even definitions. Remember this is a kids book, so it’s geared towards kids.

At the end of each devotion it gives a prayer for you to pray and a “Want to know more?” section, which leads you to another devotion.

img_5553-1Quite honestly, I have this picture in my head where at bedtime, parents and kids read the daily devotional together, talk about it, pray, and then tuck that adorable little one into bed. That’s a quiet time.

The book doesn’t have any fun illustrations to look at which is one down side, but it offers meaningful truths in blue and a sea foam green color. It also provides an attached red ribbon bookmark so you can easily flip to the date.

As far as appropriate grade level, I would say this is perfect for elementary age kids. Remember to your younger ones, you may have to explain more words or have their practice their sight words as they read, but the older elementary kids could read this on their own!

Since we are so close to Christmas, I would definitely get this for some kids who are definitely hunger for more information about Jesus. It opens up for you as a parent to have a spiritual conversation with your kids–and that’s just better than any toy they could get for Christmas. You’re investing in the kingdom instead of things that will fade away.

We’re doing another giveaway for this as well: Click Here to Enter

 

Indescribable

Right now, I’m working on a little series of different resources to help you grow a love for God’s Word. In the She Reads Truth Bible blog, I mentioned how it was difficult for me to grow a hunger for God’s Word. I’m not quite sure why it was so difficult for me to start and be consistent, but what I can tell you is when I surrounded myself with people who hungered for God’s Word, it stirred the same hunger in me. I wanted to be apart of those kinds of conversations and I wanted to have something to contribute. Whether the people I surrounded myself with knew it or not, they were shaping and molding my heart simply by their conversations about God’s Word.

In the same way, what would life be like, if we started having those conversations earlier in life? I’m talking like, what if we had these kinds of conversations not just with each other (great idea by the way), but with the kids in our lives?

Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we actually lived this out? You know, passed down all the wonders God has done to the next generation?

Hopefully you’re thinking, “Rachel, that would be awesome! But how can I practically live this out?”

I’m so glad you asked!

I don’t think it matters whether you have kids or not, we are all held responsible for passing God’s “glorious deeds” to the next generation. This sounds way more difficult than what it really is–it’s more about living intentionally and utilizing even the smallest, mundane moment to point kids (whether they are your own or someone else’s) back to God.

Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science

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We are so fortunate to live in America with literally a plethora of resources on helping you and others grow a love for God’s Word (something I took advantage of before going to Ecuador), but the one I want to share with you today is Louie Giglio’s Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science. 

Front Gate Media gave me this book to give an honest review, and I literally cannot wait to share this with the kids in my life.

Space, Earth, Animals, and People

img_5411The whole point of the book is for kids to grasp the concept that our God is AMAZING! Louie Giglio reaches out to kids by sparking their curiosity through things in nature. He focuses on four main categories: Space, Earth, Animals, and People. Each category has a unique color for it, separating it from the others. If you want to read about animals, you’ll want to look for the green titles and so on so forth. Don’t worry, you won’t have to hunt through the book because included is a table of contents plus in the introduction you can find the page numbers divided up into each category.

 

img_5418I think you will find that each category can spark interest in any kid. For example, I remember being little and wanted to know about all the different bones in the body, and Louie Giglio shares how God is amazing through our bones. But let’s say you have kids interested in hunting, there’s even a devotion about hunting out of these 100 devotions.

Louie Giglio isn’t afraid to talk science to kids, but he makes it engaging and on their level. He exposes them to words like fossils, weather, hair, eyes, ears, dinosaurs, galaxies, etc. And he does this all with the intent to explain how God is AMAZING.

“Be Amazed”

img_5413Here’s where these devotions can really be turned into your daily life: the “Be Amazed” section. This includes different facts, a prayer, and some hands-on activities. These are additional little tidbits from the devotion, which really help to supplement the text for kids. Things like tornadoes and even eclipses are included in the book, so kids might need help pronouncing some of these big words if you plan on reading it together.

But don’t just make this another book on your shelf. Rather live it out. Let’s actually pretend this is real life–yesterday was incredibly windy. It would be so easy to flip through Louie Giglio’s book to find something about wind. And look, he has one! Then you can read through the devotion (on your own or with a kid) and share how we can be AMAZED by God through the wind.

Living intentionally doesn’t have to mean sitting your family down in the living room for a family devotion, but rather a simple conversation to stir the hearts of kids for God.

Bible Verses

Each devotion comes with a specific Bible verse. The Bible verses use different translations, but the translations Louie Giglio uses stay true to the original text while keeping in mind what kids can comprehend.

Illustrations

img_5414The book itself is illustrated by Nicola Anderson, and it is beautiful. The pictures are animated-like appealing to elementary kids. Some real pictures are used (for example of animals or plants in nature), but otherwise, the pictures are illustrations.

Get Your Copy TODAY!

This book would be great for adults to have in order to live those intentional conversations to create a hunger for God’s Word in kids. I am so thankful there are resources out there like this one that help shed light on God’s character!

If you also are a Sunday School teacher, you could easily turn this book into Sunday School Curriculum. You could even have it around in case you have a teacher cancel last minute! It’s a great resource to have!

WIN a copy of Indescribable by Clicking Here to Enter the contest!

PURCHASE a copy by Clicking Here to Purchase

Whether you have kids or not, find a way to pour into the next generation. Tell them all the good things God has done for you and just how amazing God is. I promise you won’t regret sharing all God’s glorious wonders with them! They genuinely are precious in His sight!

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