~ Written by Sharon MacMillan
The toxicity of our modern western culture has spilled over into the Church like an out-of-control oil slick, seeping through the nooks and crannies of our women’s ministries. The devastation has spurred Chris Adams, women’s specialist for Christian women leaders, to list trends in women’s ministries. The list is a wake-up call to take inventory of how we are giving women the knowledge of how to know Him and walk with Him.
Adams lists 29 sobering ungodly traits. One that stands out is that, despite years of Bible study, women cannot tell you where God is at work in their lives. If women are attending Bible studies but cannot identify God’s work in their lives, are our women’s ministries changing lives?
We need to ask ourselves, “How can we help women hear and obey His truth so they reflect the light of His life?” Jude 20-23 gives us some pointers:
- We must prepare ourselves in our own biblical beliefs by being built up into the most holy faith.
- We must engage in spiritual warfare, standing with others, praying for deliverance with passion and authority.
- We must form loving personal relationships, offering support to others in their situations.
- We must walk with others as they learn to obey His truth, forming their own relationship with God.
- We connect them to other sisters in the Lord, allowing them to become connected to His body so that they learn to build up others.
This is a slow process. But we must obey God’s leading, trusting Him to bring down walls of doubt, insecurity and fears. Out of the gooey mess of sin, a woman of faith, honor and beauty will have emerged to the glory of God, influencing others who need to be rescued from the toxic waste.
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~ Written by Cassie Harris
It’s commonly used as a warm and fuzzy sentiment about God’s faithfulness — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding…” Everyone smiles at that verse. Upon hearing it, most people at least start a pensive, slow affirmative nod. We like that verse. Trusting Jesus is nice.
Rarely do we take the time to determine what the phrase “… all your heart…” actually requires of a Christian within the Body of Christ. For anyone who has experienced being let down by another human being, we tend to be a little gun shy about trusting anyone else. But, we trust God, so that’s good enough, right? We don’t need to trust anyone else. Right?
Colossians 1 refers to Christ as the “… head of the Body…” which makes God and the Body one unit. It’s impossible to love and trust God and not take the risk of trusting the individuals within the Body of Christ as well. However, humans fail, so why should we step up and trust someone we know won’t come through 100% of the time?
When the Word of God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” that includes trusting Him to stand in the gap between our hearts and the failures of the others within the Body of Christ. This is the same God who uses imperfect people to execute His perfect plan. He can heal, use and bless whatever pains come with taking the risk to trust another imperfect being who shares the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
You cannot experience Christ fully without the Body of Christ. Trust can hurt, but trusting God with every emotional, spiritual and mental risk can make operating within the Body — within relationship — absolutely breathtaking.
Posted in Anxiety, Body of Christ, Core Values, Discipleship, Editing, family, Gifted for Leadership, Heaven, Math, Ministry, Prayer, Trust, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Cassie Harris
When the 15th of every month comes around, I’m reminded why the government calls me ‘middle class.’ I start weighing the pros and cons of using my spending money on coffee, rather than bread. It’s during these last days where I no longer argue when someone offers to treat me to a meal.
For the rest of the month, I’m reminded money leaves much faster than it arrives.
A part of me struggles with resenting God’s version of “providing for my every need.” Would it really hurt God’s grander plan to secure me away with an extra $1,000 every month? Is it possible I don’t need the cushion of the extra money, I just want the comfort?
Earlier this week, God surprised me by reminding me of a financial blessing I had forgotten about. I went through the rest of the morning overwhelmed with God’s goodness, provision and security.
It was then it hit me. Often times, God is not delaying His provision and extra blessings because He’s an evil tyrannical king who gets a guilty pleasure out of making us need Him. He delays those moments until we’re at a point where we can enjoy the surprise of His gifts, rather than feeling entitled to them.
It’s simply a subtle reminder. He is the God who enjoys giving gifts to us not to manipulate or control us. He blesses us often at the last moment because He knows true relationship with us goes much deeper than convenience.
Posted in Anxiety, Body of Christ, Discipleship, family, middle class, Ministry, Prayer, Provision, Spiritual Formation, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | 1 Comment »
~ Written by Cathy Simms
My husband and I recently took a road trip to visit our son who lives with his wife two hours away. To get there, we had to travel on some major highways. I was busy reading for awhile, but soon realized every time I looked up, we were in the right lane. My husband wasn’t passing anybody, which was very unusual for him! I was quite concerned that maybe he wasn’t feeling well so I questioned him. He said he was only driving in the right lane that week.
Somewhat confused, my curiosity continued. He proceeded to tell me he was challenged in his small group that week to slow down and not let the busyness of life take over. This involved driving in the right lane, picking the longest line at the grocery store to have an intentional conversation with those in line waiting with you, holding the door for people, and simply not being in a hurry. The reason was to enjoy the moment and allow God to work.
The idea really challenged me. How many times do I make my “to do” list and miss opportunities to encourage others? When do I fail to take notice of those around me because I’m so busy crossing things off my list? God never intended us to hurry through lives or live with tunnel vision. He created us to love Him and love others but we have to do that with eyes wide open — live with an open calendar, so to speak — so we can allow Him to use us.
I love Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still means different things for different people but I do know it is an action. “Being still” is something we have to do. Sometimes, through life’s experiences like being on bed rest for pre-term labor, healing from surgery, dealing with a terminal illness, moving to a new location, or a change in occupation, we are forced to be still. I also know that when we are still, we are promised that we can know God is God and He has a plan for our lives.
Was it fun driving in the right lane? No, it was rather frustrating, but it did allow us to relax and not be in a hurry. We were able to notice God’s beauty around us on the journey. By the way, we arrived at our destination in the same amount of time as our previous trips.
Why not choose the right lane this week?
Posted in Anxiety, Body of Christ, Core Values, driving, family, Heaven, Prayer, Scripture, Women of Grace USA, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written By Cindy Bushen
It is finished…finally.
What was meant to be a beautiful memento of my daughter’s wedding became a pile of signed fabric squares sitting on a shelf in my craft cupboard. Originally, I envisioned creating this wedding quilt masterpiece as soon as the wedding leftovers were put away. I was even hoping to present the happy couple with it when they returned from their honeymoon. But the fabric pen hadn’t worked right, names were smuggled and notes ran off the edge of the fabric. Every time I looked at this project, I was discouraged.
How could a beautiful memory quilt come from these imperfect blocks of fabric? This became a project that loomed over me for years. From time to time I would pull it all out and attempt to start sewing, only to stuff it back up on the shelf. With the passing of time, I determined in my mind that my daughter probably wasn’t all that interested in a wedding quilt and the quilt had been more about showcasing my creative sewing skills.
However, more recently my daughter began to ask about the quilt and expressed a desire to have it completed…after all, her 10th anniversary was approaching. I again pulled out the pieces and examined the signatures. Memories of the people that had come to make her wedding day special came flooding in. There were names of people who had now passed on, as well as children who were now young adults and people who have continued to encourage my daughter in her marriage.
Now the signatures were precious and my heart thrilled with the thought of piecing them together. Getting the quilt done didn’t necessarily come easily. There was still pattern planning, measuring, cutting, pinning and hours of sewing to do, but now my heart was in it. The time was right. This was no longer just a project but rather a labor of love that only I could complete for my daughter.
As I finished my “masterpiece,” I thought about a friend who is battling an addiction. I desperately want to rush in and treat her as if she is another project of mine to complete. I want to quickly put all the pieces together and have her life working again. But I have come to see that she is God’s masterpiece, not mine. I am thankful to be part of the thread that is helping stitch her life back together, but only in God’s timing will her life be complete.
People are God’s masterpiece. I look forward to someday saying, “It is finished…perfectly.”
Posted in Addiction, Anxiety, Body of Christ, Core Values, Disappointment, Events, family, Gifted for Leadership, Marriage, Ministry, Prayer, Sewing, Spiritual Formation, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written By Viki Rife
It happened again today. I sat down to read a book on the calling of God in a woman’s life, and soon felt my heart sinking. The book outlined a woman’s calling: marry a good Christian husband, support him in his ministry, fill some position in the ministries of your church, and pour yourself into your children so that, as adults, they’ll listen to you.
Done. That’s it.
My heart sank even more when I read the last part, in which the author describes each of her three children and how well the formula worked. I found myself wondering what percentage of women will pick up this book with great hopes, only to find they don’t qualify. They don’t have a husband. Or they have a husband who isn’t godly, or who wants nothing to do with God.
Maybe they don’t have children. Maybe their children have rebelled against everything they taught them. Or maybe, as their children were growing up, these women didn’t know God themselves well enough to influence their children for Him, and now they feel hopeless to win them back. How many women feel that if a model family is their calling, they’ve missed it?
Personally, I’m tired of these A + B=C formulas: marry right + raise your children right = happy ending. It does seem to happen for some people. I’m happy for them. But never, ever fall for the lie that the proof that you have obeyed God’s calling on your life is a happy ending. Just read Hebrews 11 to see what really happens when we follow God’s calling.
Wife and mother are high callings for women, but God’s call to us can never be reduced to a formula.
Posted in Body of Christ, Book, Discipleship, family, Gifted for Leadership, Marriage, Math, Mentoring, Ministry, Prayer, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Cassie Harris
I’ve been a tomboy almost all my life. I vaguely remember big bows, fake heels and flowery dresses, but that stage didn’t last very long. I’m a woman who would define herself as more comfortable with the salty dogs rather than tea-sipping women.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized femininity addresses a much broader spectrum than those two extremes. You can enjoy hunting and still like make-up. You can be tough and still need a shoulder to cry on. You can be a woman and still stand on your own. You don’t have to sacrifice being a woman in order to be somebody worth respecting.
To some, it is ridiculous to point out such a concept. Of course all those things can encompass being a woman. However, needing each other, learning it’s okay to need one-on-one time with a girlfriend, can still blow our minds. If you’re anything like me, you try to hide the fact that coffee with a girlfriend is feeding your soul almost more than alone time in the woods ever could.
If that’s you, I have a challenge for you. Accept that “girl time” as a gift from your loving Father who knows your soul’s needs more than you do. Be okay with needing a knowing glance when you admit to a struggle with your spouse or your self-worth. Don’t deny God the privilege of answering your heart’s needs through another woman.
Sometimes, it’s the otherwise unnecessary gifts like time with a girlfriend that remind us God sees our smallest needs. If He can answer the small things our hearts desire, we have proof that He can answer the big desires as well.
Posted in Body of Christ, Discipleship, family, Girls' discipleship, Heaven, Marriage, Mentoring, Prayer, Spiritual hunger, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »