By Kaitlyn Baker
The Baptist Paper
John Herring, CEO of Iron Stream Media, says discerning God’s will really comes down to discerning His “next best thing,” and God has provided tools for that.
In a conversation with Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of national Woman’s Missionary Union and host of its podcast “On the Journey Conversations,” Herring laid out four simple steps to determine God’s will in any situation:
“It begins with love,” he noted.
“That was Christ’s ultimate way of expressing Himself. He expressed love first.”
Likewise, love should be His followers’ first response in any situation. Rather than thinking, “Oh, I wish he hadn’t said that” or “I wish she had not done that,” believers should think first about showing love to those who have wronged them.
Value of listening
The second step is to listen. Herring suggested believers listen to two voices: 1. the person present and 2. the Holy Spirit. When we are with someone, we have to listen in order to see how we can show them love, Herring asserted.
“I want to hear their story,” he explained. “I want to hear what they really feel and what they think.”
Believers also should listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying, which often is a reminder of truths learned from Scripture in the past.
After listening and understanding comes discernment.
“If I didn’t love them first, if I didn’t listen — how could I discern what the next best position would be for me in helping that person?” Herring asked.
It’s only after believers have loved and listened that they’re in a right position to discern how to move forward, and, finally, to respond — the last of the four steps.
“So many times I’m guilty of loving last,” Herring admitted. “I want to hear you out before I decide whether I’m going to love you or not. I want to wait until I can trust you. But I think Christ trusted first … and if that’s the model, then I’m going to trust you first.”
Herring concluded by reminding listeners of the story of Zacchaeus: When Jesus walked by, looked up and saw him sitting in a tree, His first thought wasn’t, “Oh, there’s that tax collector.”
Rather, Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down — and we’re having dinner at your house, by the way. I want to hear about you. I want to spend time with you.”
Jesus saw through what everyone else saw and loved Zacchaeus first.
Find “On the Journey Conversations” at wmu.com/podcast or wherever podcasts are available.
Letters to the editor
Thank you, Shawn Hendricks, for your article in the Jan. 6 issue, “Ministering to widows when it matters most.”
I have been on both sides of this ministry and understand the difference it makes.
When my husband of almost 52 years was a deacon (and when he was not), this ministry was close to both of us. On Jan. 23, 2021, my husband went to be with Jesus. My children do not live close enough to be there for me every time I need help. Sometimes it is difficult to seek help because I do not want to bother others.
James 1:27 instructs us to take care of widows, thus putting His word into practice. Thank you again for sharing how this ministry has made a difference in the lives of widows and widowers.
Yes! Thank you for encouraging [the TV show “Squid Game”] as a jumping off point rather than avoiding it. We’ve got to not run from culture if we are going to impact it. Plus, we can’t really isolate ourselves like we think.
Therefore, how we can use those things as a pivot to the gospel is key. I’m not suggesting we watch everything, but … you’ll be attracted to entertainment I’m not and vice versa.
Either way, by faith those entertainment pieces can be used by God with the people He puts in our path to share the gospel.
Our mission: sharing eternal hope
By Paul Chitwood
International Mission Board
Hope. Merely reading the word can stir our emotions, inspire positive thoughts and lift our spirit.
Hope is what keeps us going, causes us to press forward even in the face of hardship or despair and prevents us from giving up on ourselves or others regardless of past disappointments or current circumstances.
Hope is life-giving and life-sustaining. Human flourishing requires hope, and even more so, eternal hope is the greatest need of every human being. The absence of hope in this life is both sad and concerning; the absence of eternal hope is tragic and defeating.
While many have managed to cling to a temporal life void of hope, no soul survives without eternal hope. As the psalmist recognized in Psalm 71, it’s one thing to have hope but incomparably more to “always have hope.”
Words like “always” and “ever” are not void of eternal meaning in Scripture. Eternal hope comes to us at great cost, not to us, but to the One the Scriptures refer to as “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Jesus secured eternal hope for us on the cross and as He took that first step from the tomb.
For those who have trusted in Jesus, His death and resurrection kill hopelessness. But every day, 155,473 people around the world die without this hope.
As we move into this new year, might we do so with all the optimism and joy that eternal hope brings. And might we embrace the mission to which God has called us by sharing the eternal hope of the gospel with those who remain hopeless apart from Christ.
(Excerpt from an article that first appeared on imb.org.)
“Before you can have the peace of God, you need peace with God.”
Pastor Alex Himaya
Battlecreek Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Stocks finished their worst week since April 2020 for the week ending Jan. 21. The tech-heavy NASDAQ index lost 7.6%, and the broader S&P 500 index ended down 5.7%. Still, the best option for retirement plan investors is to focus on their long-term objectives and not react to such dips even though investment allocations may now be lopsided. Any changes in allocations must be strategic. “This is all part of the wisdom of regular, consistent contributions to a retirement plan,” said Brandon Pizzurro, director of public investments at GuideStone Financial Resources.
“As a church, we decided to embrace whoever God had put in our general locale and opened our arms and doors to the homeless community,” said David Schorejs, pastor of First Baptist Church Apopka, Florida. “We invite anyone in our community in need of a free, hot meal to stay and enjoy the company of new friends.”
“Faith has always driven me. You can’t do these jobs if you don’t have priorities, faith and friends,” said Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch.
“God favored our efforts when we intentionally decided to go to the community. Going is part of the Great Commission. When we go, good things happen in the church and in our lives,” said Jake Roudkovski, interim pastor of First Baptist Church Zachary, Louisiana, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor.
“We are open for that one person who is needing something. From facilitating a haircut, providing food, to fixing a car, we at Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana try to help people in so many ways, even after hours,” said Pastor Jamie Masso.
“So many people write a book once they have a happy ending. … I wrote the book in the middle of a loss, I’m still walking through another loss and I will continue to grow in my understanding of trials,” said Marina Shelton, author of “Transforming Trials: A Study Through James.”
“God is reaching the young generation and also the old generation of Muslims in Iran through these house churches. … These are bold people, courageous, sharing the gospel with their friends and families, and these churches are growing,” said Nathan Rostampour of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Rap is in the Bible — rap stands for rhyming poetry. … Psalms … Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Job, Ecclesiastes — all are poetic books,” said Dewayne Rembert, pastor of Flatline Church at Chisholm in Montgomery, Alabama.
“You are the light of the world.” —Matthew 5:14
From the Twitterverse
Imagine if we all made these our New Year’s resolutions for 2022.
(cf. Galatians 5:22–23)
Obsessing on what others are doing is a waste of time. Focus on what you can do, and do it with excellence!
I fear there are many Christians who are content to look upon the cross, with Christ dying on it for their sins, who have little heart for fellowship with the Crucified One.
—Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ
It’s crucial for us to get into God’s Word & have His Word get into us.
When instruction from His Word is what we heed, we’re more able to discern His direction for what we need. And being saturated in God’s Word today prepares us to walk securely in His faithfulness tomorrow.
Don’t just listen to words that are spoken, but weigh them. God’s word should carry the most weight. Scripture should be the most helpful, influential and liberating words in our lives. Listen to Him more than any other voice you hear.
Christianity is not a spectator sport. Commit to a church.
Joy is often manifest as a settled confidence in Christ in the midst of trials.
God will never condone, celebrate or affirm what the Bible doesn’t.