Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I’ve experienced seasons which left me seemingly drowning in hopelessness. I knew my Savior was Jesus Christ. I knew my eternity was secure in Him. I knew the Truth of the Gospel. But despite that knowledge, I felt weighed down, pointless and distraught. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Those were not fun times. They aren’t necessarily seasons I enjoy remembering. However, I still find myself wandering back to those memories and pondering what I learned despite my less-than-desirable emotions and circumstances.

The reality was, my hopeless, and seemingly pointless, season taught me to fall to my knees. The anguish in my heart forced me to not only darken the door of the Throne Room, but to run and fall into the arms of my Heavenly Father. In those seasons of hopelessness, I needed my Creator-Savior in a way I rarely had before.

It’s because of such intimate moments with God that I’ve learned to treasure those hurtful and heartbreaking seasons. I may have lost almost everything I held dear, but I gained the sweetest intimacy of all. I gained a deeper understanding of the faithfulness of Christ. 


Read Full Post »

Thanksgiving Day is family reunion day on my mom’s side of the family. We gather in the hometown of one of the cousins (this year in Tennessee) and have the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. After the meal the men watch football (or sleep!), the women visit and the children play. We end the day by singing praise songs, sharing what we’re thankful for, and eating leftovers.

As much as we love each other and enjoy getting together on this special day, this is just a small slice of our individual families. Things look good on the surface as we catch up with one another on a fairly superficial level, but the truth is that although all of us are Jesus-followers, each family has struggled with heartbreak or a painful, messy situation of some sort. We are no different than other families.

Every family is at least a little bit dysfunctional, mine included. Usually we try to keep the messes hidden so we’ll look okay to the rest of the world. But Elisa Morgan, one of Christianity Today’s top fifty women influencing the church and culture and former CEO of MOPS International, has opened wide the closets of her life to reveal her personal story of brokenness, from her family of origin to her family today.

The Beauty of Broken is a raw, candid and heartbreaking look at the issues that Elisa’s family struggled with and that many parents face, including divorce, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, homosexuality, and more. In childhood, when her parents divorced and her mom sought refuge in alcohol, Elisa thought it was her fault that her family broke, so she tried her best to fix things, or at least to hide her family’s problems. As an adult, she was determined to make an unbroken family. So she bought into the myth that if parents implement “perfect family values,” their kids will turn out okay and they will be immune from being broken. But the problem, she acknowledges, is that she was broken. “Everybody is. So no matter what we do, we all end up making broken families…There is no such thing as a perfect family.”

Using her family of origin and her “family of creation”, she shares the hope that God offers in the form of twelve “broken family values” such as commitment, humility, reality, relinquishment and more. She reminds us that God understands that no one is perfect, but he wants us to remain in relationship with him as he picks up our broken pieces and shapes them into his design for us.

My family is broken, just like yours is. It’s true that we haven’t dealt with all the struggles that Elisa’s family faced, but my husband and I are broken people just like you. How grateful I am for a loving God who is able to take our brokenness and use it for himself.

The book ends with an Appendix of Hope and Scriptures of Hope to remind the reader of God’s love and healing grace in the midst of brokenness. But at the beginning Elisa writes, “This is my story. This is not the story of [naming her other family members]…This is my story, as I believe God wants me to tell it. And maybe – just maybe – it’s your story too.”

Read Full Post »

Third in a series
By Sharon MacMillan




*Leadership Development




One morning, a bolt of lightening hit this teacher as she was preparing her lesson.

As I looked over our chosen study guide, I noticed that the core values of Women of Grace surfaced throughout the lesson (upper left hand corner of this page). This jolting truth has made a lasting change in my partner and I as we study our lesson. “This is significant!” we thought. “We can be intentional every week in Bible study as we ask the Lord for ways to help women develop spiritually into fully-formed disciples that can train others.”

With this intentional way of teaching, we can be on the lookout for ways to actively disciple our women. We can identify those who want to learn to teach and invite them into the teaching process. We can watch women who are ready to become spiritual leaders and provide a way for them to use their giftedness. We can teach and model what a prayer warrior does so that they desire to join us in our intercession. We can support women in their mission, allowing them to share where God has sent them to minister and we can encourage them, meeting the ones they are influencing towards the Savior. We can find mentors for those who are ready to be mentored. We can make sure these values appear in our community gatherings so that women are enriched in their discipleship process with every opportunity for fellowship. What an opportunity for Bible Study time to become a center for active discipleship!

Because these core values are in the frontal lobes of our minds as we prepare our lessons, my teaching partner and I spend time observing what God is doing in each woman. Not only is Bible study an environment for spiritual nourishment, it is also a place where women can begin to identify their God-given calling through their interest in a particular core value. It may be a basic giftedness that is needed in the local body of believers.

Work with your women’s leadership team and ask them where they see these core values operating in your women. You will be surprised to find that many of these values are already in place in the local body. Some may require more attention than we have given. In our case, mentoring needs to be cultivated. So we are praying for the Lord to guide.

James identified a fully-formed disciple as “mature, complete, lacking nothing” in James 1:3-5:
“Count it all joy, (my sisters,) when you are faced with many kinds of trials because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This is serious work in the life of every woman of God and this work gives us great value as His disciples.

Ron Boehm, a leader in the Vision Ohio, church planting movement, is finishing his dissertation about church-planting spouses. He is learning that if a church-planting wife understands her calling she is more apt to be engaged in ministry. If her calling is unclear she will approach her involvement in the ministry quite differently.

Every woman who understands her unique calling from God as His woman will be more willing to enter into a life of significance and usefulness as His disciple, depending on God to empower her and lead her into His ordained work for her (Ephesians 2:10).

As spiritual teachers, we won’t be content until we see movement in a woman’s life as she fulfills her unique calling in her spiritual development. Consider adding this dimension of using the core values in your teaching so that your study time becomes an environment for making fully-formed disciples. Be prepared for an adrenalin rush in the process of partnering with God to make disciples who can teach others also.

If you need to speak with someone about these learning methods and opportunities for spiritual discipleship for women contact Sharon MacMillan at gleskafam@mac.com or Chery Boehm at cheryboehm2@mac.com

Read Full Post »

By Sharon MacMillan

“I get it!” is a response every teacher wants to see on the faces of their students. Teaching the Bible is no different; in fact, Bible teachers cannot take their role lightly, as James warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV, 2011).

When is the last time you took a second look at your teaching skills when it comes to women’s Bible study? Have you fallen into the trap of business as usual? Do you grieve when the women don’t come prepared because they weren’t able to work on their study with the Lord at home?

This is indeed a heartbreak for the teacher who has expectations for her students to “grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”

Could there be more we teachers can do to inspire, motivate and teach our students to make the most of their Bible study?

1. Do you pray for your students weekly? They have spiritual battles that can be conquered by the use of the Sword of the Spirit. Realize that you may be a tool of the Holy Spirit to connect the dots for the students between what they are going through and what they are learning in their study.

2. Do you value the time the women give to you? It is a very precious gift that the women entrust to us and it needs to be valued.

3. Have you prepared well? Sadly, it may be that the teacher has not fully prepared her presentation so that the women feel the importance of what they are doing as bible students. The fire we acquire from thorough preparation will ignite in them as we meet around the Word.

4. Have you considered enriching the lessons of a pre-written book? Study the content well before you teach. The women have probably chosen the material because they are interested in the subject. But our task as teachers is to connect their interest with their need to grow.

5. Can you identify the learning styles of your students? This is important as you give them a workbook based on a Bible topic or even a book of the Bible.
a. Who learns best by listening to a lecture? Some can take in information and retain it best as it goes through their ear gate.
b. Do you have students who track best by seeing what you are teaching? This is my husband’s style where he can read and comprehend anything
(Imagine my husband out in a boat with a library book, learning how to sail! Well, it happened! And we only hit bottom once! )
c. Maybe you have a group of women who love to learn by engaging their hands in activities. These are the ones who take notes or love to work on some kind of project that is associated with the lesson.

It is possible that there could be a combination of two or more styles. But the point is we don’t all engage best the same way. Now consider what you are doing by giving women a book of fill-ins. Who would gravitate to that style the best?

6. Do you believe God for your students? He wants them to grow in the Word and in their spiritual development overall. Your time together around the Word can be a catalyst for helping them in their prayer lives, encouraging them to be on mission as they share what they have learned with others. You may be equipping mentors to model their faith to others. You may be training the next Bible study leader! You are engaged in discipleship with the women.

7. Finally, do you enjoy your women? Love your women. Let them see that you take this time with them very seriously. Let them catch a glimpse of your heart’s desire for them to become confident in their relationship with the Lord. They will love that you want them to grasp the precious life-changing truths so that their walk with the Lord will become vibrant and alive! Be patient with those that aren’t quite ready to move on as quickly as you would like. We are all a work in progress.

Sharon MacMillan is a pastor’s wife and co-leads women’s Bible studies in her church. She also serves as Spiritual Life leader on the Women of Grace USA Board of Directors.

Read Full Post »

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

When Adam was given work to do after God’s wondrous creation, he became a man with a mission. We, too, as God’s women, have been given work that is of even greater value than that of Adam’s caring for God’s creation. We have been called to “make disciples.”

We know that Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19-20 give us directives as His ambassadors on mission: Go “make disciples”. We are to accomplish this by baptizing them and teaching them.

What does an active disciple look like? She is one who learning to “love the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength and her neighbor as herself. “

When discipleship is happening, we see her love for God’s Word and her desire to pray for every concern of her heart. We see a heart for people around her. It is a joy (understatement!) to watch. It’s like the joy that comes from watching your children raise healthy, happy, well-disciplined children.

Dede is such a disciple of Jesus. She has become an inspiration to those around her. As she learned to give God the controls of her life and family, she began to reflect God more clearly to them. Now they watch her and don’t hear her.

At work, Jesus has become an issue. His light is reflected there. Bullying has ceased because Dede wouldn’t join the office gossip and bad-mouthing. Her co-workers come and tell her how God is speaking into their lives, backing up something God had led her to share. Fruit bearing! That is a sign of a disciple of Jesus. Purpose! A woman of purpose goes to her work, on mission to be Jesus to the people around her. When we meet for lunch, we don’t talk about problems as it used to be. We share the love Jesus has for us both. And sometimes, this dear sister brings loving exhortation to me.

Knowing her is pure joy!

Read Full Post »

This is the last of a three-part series responding to a concern that by taking missions out of our name, missions will disappear from who we are. This series was co-written by Viki Rife and Janet Minnix.

Recently, Grace Brethren International Missions decided it could better operate around the world by removing the word missions from its name. However, removing the word did not change the ministry’s purpose. Rather, Encompass World Partners now has freer access to places where missions would be suspect at best, and illegal at worst. In much the same way, Women’s Missionary Council felt it was strategic to change our name to give us greater access to the woman who needs more than a missionary focus – who needs to be mentored in biblical womanhood and grounded in the sure foundation of God’s Word. However, a name change did not change our purpose. A woman who internalizes God’s truth will grow in her love for Jesus and develop a heart that listens to God, hears His calling and willingly engages in His mission in the place He chooses for her, using the talents and abilities with which He has gifted her.

We believe that the best way we can help mission efforts to thrive is to equip and inspire women with God’s call for all His people to be on mission. If we invest in helping women set aside the “fluff” that distracts them from being fully committed to God, we are preparing them to hear His calling. If we equip them with solid Bible knowledge and an understanding of how to listen to Him and serve Him, they will be ready to go wherever He sends them. And a natural outcome of their increased commitment to Him will be a desire to pray for lost people and for those who are reaching them.

We believe that if we help women grow and change internally, the results will be much more effective than just giving them a list to pray through. Their prayers and investment will then be based on a heart that understands the challenges missionaries face, because they themselves will be passionately involved in reaching the lost in their own sphere of influence. We believe that strengthening women in their walk with Christ is the best way to assure that there will be future workers for the harvest.

So, why does Women of Grace USA exist? To equip women with a strong understanding of God’s truth, to encourage them in the disciplines of prayer and study of God’s Word, and to challenge them to respond to God’s call in their lives. Is it women’s ministry? Yes, because it is ministry to and for women. Will missions disappear? No, because Women of Grace USA is preparing women to be missionaries where they are, whether next door or around the world.

Read Full Post »

I began my last post by asking: Why does Women of Grace USA exist? I didn’t answer the question, so I’ll repeat it: What is the purpose of Women of Grace USA? The purpose of our forerunner organization, Women’s Missionary Council, was to promote the cause of home and foreign missions work, and to deepen the spiritual life of women through Bible study, prayer and sharing Christ with others. While WMC had goals that encouraged Bible reading, prayer and personal witnessing, it was primarily a missionary organization, focusing most of its attention on the first part of its purpose statement.

We did an excellent job of learning about missionaries and their work, praying for their needs, and giving to support them and their ministries on the mission field. But less time and energy were devoted to other essentials, including making disciples for true life transformation, mentoring according to Titus 2:3-4, and developing leaders for the next generation. Perhaps in many cases we put the cart before the horse, telling women they should be praying for missions when they had never developed a true heart for God.

We have been alarmed over the years to see that the commitment to missions seems to be dying in many areas. However, it is not because we removed missionary from our name. The causes, and they are many, represent a broad range of cultural and generational factors too numerous to list.

We have women in our churches today who don’t know what biblical womanhood is, who did not grow up in church and were not raised with godly role models, who do not have a strong foundation in God’s Word, who don’t know the basic stories of the Old and New Testaments. We have women who struggle in their marriages, their jobs and relationships; who suffer from debilitating physical or mental illnesses; who are living with the result of poor choices made earlier in life. Women who are so overwhelmed with the pressures of their lives that they readily admit they don’t know how to pray, let alone how to pray for a missionary. Do we have a responsibility to these women?

Women of Grace USA believes that we do. That is why, when the name was changed, a rewording of the original purpose statement was adopted:  To encourage women to grow in their relationship with Christ and challenge them to be actively engaged in God’s mission. Spiritual growth was placed first because we believe that a strong Biblical foundation and a heart for God are essential if we want to see involvement, not just with missionaries, but in God’s mission. Our present motto, “Local Ministry, Global Impact” suggests that we must minister to the women in the local church in a way that will have worldwide results. It assumes that missions is a vital part of our organization; we have just used a different term for missions.

Read Full Post »

Why does Women of Grace USA exist? Recently I was challenged to re-think my response to that question after reading a comment about the fact that the word missionary is no longer in our name. A concern was expressed that missions will disappear and we will become just a women’s ministry. Are we abandoning missions for the sake of women’s ministry?

The absence of “missionary” from our name does not mean that “missions” is absent from Women of Grace USA. As one of our board members said, “Removing [missions] from our name has in no way removed it from our hearts.” For example, browse through the current issue of Women’s Spectrum and you will find articles about four Featured Missionaries, an article by a missionary/church planter (Beth Bryant), and a story about 19th-20th century missionary Amy Carmichael. Women are encouraged to contribute to special projects suggested by the Featured Missionaries. Opportunities for involvement in missions include women’s GO teams, and Honor Her Scholarships to help Grace College women go on short-term mission trips.

In the list of our Core Values, Mission is third, right behind God’s Word and Prayer. We chose Mission instead of Missions because we believe that “Women [should] be personally and cooperatively involved in fulfilling the Great Commission.” Some years ago, veteran missionary Tom Julien stated that “Missions [is] an expression of the mission of the church [the Body of Christ].” As a support and resource ministry for women in the local church, our vision is to see individual women intentionally living “on mission to share God’s love next door and around the world” – the slogan we adopted a number of years ago.

In a recent post on this blog, I referenced an article on another woman’s blog which cited several examples of women who are actively engaged in God’s mission in their own communities. While the article was about changes in women’s ministry, these women were reaching out and building relationships with spiritually needy women “next door”— in the same way that missionary women find ways to build relationships with spiritually needy women “around the world” so they can share the gospel of Christ with them. I believe both groups of women are missionaries. Is one more in need of prayer support than the other?

What do you believe is the true definition of a missionary?

Read Full Post »

It’s that time of year again. Women’s ministries are reorganizing, restructuring, and making plans and schedules for the fall. In the plan under which Women of Grace USA has functioned for many years, it’s also the time when Women of Grace groups in local churches compile their list of leaders and attenders to be added to our mailing list. But all too often we’ve received a note informing us that “we have decided to disband because we couldn’t get anyone to serve in leadership positions.”

Now, this post is not about Women of Grace groups or the lack of them. The philosophy of WGUSA is that every Grace Brethren woman is a “woman of grace”, and every church’s ministry with and for women is vital to fulfilling the church’s mission and challenging women in their spiritual growth and partnering with God in His mission. But many times the lack of new leadership in our ministries is because we’ve either lost the young women, the emerging leaders, the ones with fresh energy and new ideas, or we haven’t made the effort to get to know them, their styles of communicating, and their strong commitment making a difference in lives and the world.

The article listed below comes from Kyria’s Gifted for Leadership blog. Author Sarah Martin gives some valuable advice that we need to heed. May God help us to unleash grace into the lives of the young women in our churches, and help prepare them for Kingdom Work.

Gifted for Leadership: Rise Up, Part 1.

Read Full Post »

Written by Lois Shirk, December 26, 2011.

6“Therefore we are always confident and know that
as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
7 We live by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, I say,
and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
9 So we make it our goal to please him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NIV84

A new year is right around the corner. If the Lord does not return this week (Don’t you wish He would!) we will wake up on Sunday morning in the year 2012. What will the New Year bring? Nobody knows except God.

One year ago today Glen and I did not know that we would lose my Mother in 2011 and our oldest son would be diagnosed with fourth stage Colon Cancer and enter into the greatest adventure of his life (to quote his doctor). We didn’t know one year ago that Glen would go into chronic atrial fibrilation and have to adjust to a new normal that included daily fatigue and inability to do many of the things he has enjoyed all his life. We didn’t know that I would end the year scheduled for surgery to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from my neck. What we did know last year was the same thing we know this year. God would be good in 2011 and He will continue to be good in 2012. We had a very wonderful year experiencing the faithfulness and love of God on a daily basis. We can count on a wonderful year in 2012 because our faithful God never changes and His mercies are new every morning—Great is His faithfulness.

How can we know for sure that this year will be great? How can we be assured that we will come to the end of the year and say, “God has been good!”? We will have a great year if we face it with faith, walk daily by faith, and end the year still faithful to the One who is faithful to us.

But what exactly is “Walking by Faith”? Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject. I would love to have any of you add your own thoughts (Biblical ones of course). I would be happy to post those that are appropriate. Send them to me through the “Contact Lois” page. [See link below]

  • Walking by faith is believing that He (God) is and that He will reward me if I seek Him. “. . .anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV84). 
  • Walking by faith is not just hearing the word, but doing what it says. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV84). 
  • Walking by faith is sitting in God’s presence without having to say anything, feel anything, or do anything, and finding joy just being there! “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV84). 
  • Walking by faith is keeping on serving joyfully without a sign or feeling or other confirmation that God still cares. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV84). 
  • Walking by faith is directing my life by prayer rather than by logic, common sense, circumstances, other’s expectations, etc. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:5-8 NIV84) 
  • Walking by faith is being rooted, grounded and stable in my walk with God, not chasing after Christian fads, new seminars, or experiences.Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15 NIV84)


Read more of Lois’ thoughts at http://loisshirksbooks.com/walkingbyfaithin2012.aspx.

Lois Shirk is a Bible study teacher and author, a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. She and her husband Glen live and minister in Ripon, California.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: