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How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have | Reach Out in Love

22 Feb

sisters_opt

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” John 15:12

We are designed to live in community within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) ; as daughters of the King (2 Corinthians 6:18), bonded together by our common belief and faith in Christ we are drawn to others made new in Him.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow” – William Shakespeare

As relational beings we need other women who encourage, comfort, guide, and listen in times of contentment and distress. Many of us have long established a circle of friends creating sisters of the heart, surrounded by deep love, intimacy, transparency.  This coterie may function so well it may inhibit inclusion others when instead of reaching out we dig in. Invite others in who may appear confident in their solitude, learn their story, see Christ in them, love them where they are.

How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have by Laurie Wallin

C. S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, said friendship begins when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”

Problem is, for that to happen,

We have to be around people—to allow space in our busy lives for real conversation and interaction with friends.

We have to be around people—to stay in the moment, instead of letting 1001 other thoughts boss our brains around and distract us from the person we’re with.

How can we be a good friend, and invite friendship in return?

Read on to find out: How To Be The Friend You’d Want To Have.

Related content:

A Friend in Need

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

Disposable Friends

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Happy New Year!|Resolution or a Real Solution

1 Jan

tide“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:31.

According to Time magazine nearly 2/3 of Americans will make a New Years resolution. The top ten of these include 8 that emphasize some sort of a personal change designed to effect a transformation of sorts. The other 2 popular choices involve helping others and spending more time with family. Out of the myriad people making one of these commitments on January 1 2013, nearly 50% stopped pursuing their goal after the first month and only 8% successfully achieved their goal at the end of the year. This lack of accomplishment may emanate from a false hope. Pinning one’s expectation of success on the new year and unassisted effort will prove pointless.

“Believing that things will get better apart from Christ is a cruel deception. It truly is an exercise in futility. Even if bank accounts grow or fortunes appear to improve, the relief this provides is short-lived” (Jay Younts, Celebrating Insanity).

 Resolutions can be a good thing. Approach change with prayer (Philippians 4:6), wisdom (James 1:5), persistence (Galatians 6:9), and patience (Psalm 37:7a).

Lifeway Women offers the following 3 tips for a realistic approach:

Approach your goals with a healthy dose of reality. If you’re serious about making a true change, those goals have to be practical and reasonable.

Behavior modification won’t last. Only Jesus can bring true and lasting transformation…

Your own strength will ultimately fail you. …true success comes when you press hard into Jesus—through constant prayer—for a strength that only He can provide.

Whether you choose one word that encompasses a focused character change, ten thousand little moments of grace, or the typical dramatic pledge remember;

“…change takes place through faith…where our hearts lead, our emotions and behaviour will follow…look to God, to find hope and help and satisfaction in him” (Tim Chester, You Can Change).

Wait upon the Lord! Trust in His perfect timing. Do not attempt things in your own strength.

Additional Resources:

Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses in 2014 – Desiring God

On To The Next One… – Tullian Tchividjian

Hoping for the New Year | CBMW | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

 

Save the Date!|Upcoming Women’s Ministries Events

26 Oct

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Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

  • Friday, November 15, 7-9pm

Oasis Worship Night

  • Saturday, December 7, 1-4pm 

“It’s About the Presence” Christmas Event

Stop by the women’s ministries cart in the courtyard for more information.

What Is Marriage, Then?|Marriage Defined

2 Oct

married2

“In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but sacrificed everything to bring us into union with him. And this takes us beyond the philosophical to the personal and the practical. If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind.”–Tim Keller

MARRIAGE DEFINED

It is no secret that marriages are under attack in our world.  This is not surprising since marriage is a visible picture of Christ and His Church, what better place for the forces of hell to aim their fiery darts.  In response to this our church tries to have at least 2 marriage conferences per year (with hopes of having more).  As such I have been tasked with using several resources and putting together a curriculum for the conference.

Our very first session is What is Marriage?  In this session we attempt to come together on a theology of marriage.  We begin by defining marriage.  As far as I am aware this definition is original with me.  I would like to share it and then expound on it a bit—hopefully for your benefit.

Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God.

If I pick this definition apart I can come up with seven individual statements (and these are used as teaching points for the first session).

A Binding Covenant.  Covenant’s are a big deal to God.  Breaking covenants is a big deal to God.  To see how big of a deal covenants are consider Genesis 15.  The Lord walks through a host of animals that are ripped asunder and essentially says, “If I break my covenant let what is done to these animals be done to me”.  Covenants are a big deal.

Created by God.  If humans created marriage then we could make the rules.  But marriage is a binding covenant that is created by God, as such He makes the rules.  God created your marriage, so away with this silly talk of having “married the wrong person”.

Between one man and one woman.  The two shall become one.  This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.  This also goes against any arguments for homosexuality rightly being called marriage.

For our holiness.  Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us.  God is not satisfied with us merely having a “good” marriage. God wants to use our marriage to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. God has a rescue plan for your marriage. His goal is not simply to rescue your marriage. His goal is to use your marriage to rescue you.

For our joy.  Our joy increases when we, in holiness, fight for the joy of another.  Marriage can be extremely joyful.  Just read Song of Solomon.  Furthermore, if marriage increases holiness it will also increase our joy in God.

As a picture of the gospel.  Your marriage reflects Christ and His church.  It was created by God to be a visible picture for everyone to see the love between Christ and His Bride.

To spread the glory of God.  The purpose of God for humanity is to enjoy His grace and extend His glory.  Marriage is no different.  He uses marriages to rip out of our heart sin and unbelief. He uses marriage to further our joy. But he also uses marriage to create children, and to raise and nurture children in godly homes.

Your marriage has purpose.  It has meaning.  Don’t give up on your marriage. Don’t stop fighting for your marriage.  Know that God is fighting for your marriage as well.  Have hope in him and keep holding on.

Enjoy your marriage.  God is using it to display His greatness.  Rejoice that the Lord is using the union of two sinners to display His incomparable greatness and Trinitarian love.  Marriage is sweet.  Savor it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Excerpted from:Marriage Defined – Borrowed Light and What is Marriage, Then?|The Gospel Coalition

 

Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel|Find Your True Beauty in Christ

27 Sep

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” –2 Corinthians 5:17

According to Womenshealth, more than 60% of American women are overweight. The publication further estimates as many as 10 million women nationwide suffer from some type of eating disorder. A positive body image can be difficult to cultivate when the prevailing world view, particularly in the United States and other Western cultures, emphasizes an impossible to achieve ideal. Photo shop, air brushing, celebrity weight gain and loss and of course the ridiculous measurements of Barbie all perpetuate a love hate obsession with food. Never mind that Barbie, were she a flesh and blood female,  “…would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33” hips and a size 3 shoe; she’d weigh about 110 pounds with a BMI of 16.24 which is considered underweight/anorexic (CBS). Many women have developed a love/hate relationship with food accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame. To compensate they attempt to gain mastery over their sustenance, exercise, and ultimately physicality itself by becoming more regimented. This continued struggle impedes the ability to die to self occluding the reflection of Christ. Adjusting focus from what is seen in the mirror or the number on a scale and fixing eyes on Jesus is the first step towards a Biblical body image rooted in the joy of the cross. 

Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel

Two months into my freshmen year of college, I was forced to admit something had gone terribly wrong with the way I related to food. I’d gained 30 pounds in that short time, double the stereotypical “Freshman 15” some students gain over the course of an entire school year. Deep down I knew my weight gain wasn’t only the result of unhealthy cafeteria food or insufficient exercise. I was eating constantly and compulsively for reasons I didn’t understand—and I couldn’t stop. I felt completely condemned and paralyzed with embarrassment, which I knew wasn’t helpful or biblical, but I had no idea how to think otherwise. I was stuck.

Read on: Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

Super Woman Is Not God’s Goal for You |How The Pursuit of Omni-competence Obscures God’s Grace

25 Sep

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“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge our own weakness? God’s grace is so powerfully magnified when our strength is diminished. Feigning perfection obscures God’s grace; the grace we need to fully die to ourselves and live for Him. From “The Pressure to Pretend” in Christianity Today Courtney Reissig writes, “…we have to be okay with not getting to everything our to-do lists because Christians know that only God has a perfect record when it comes to “having it all” and “doing it all. As Christian women, let us remember that our strength to have anything of value comes not from our own capacity, but from the strength that only God can supply.” That is such an important concept for us to hold onto especially when our attentions wander and we narrowly focus on trying to live up to some perceived ideal or try to become more like a fictional woman in the media, Martha Stewart, or someone we know who seems to have achieved that mythical super hero woman status. We have to learn to carry the load that we are able and recognize that everyone possesses different strengths and we have to have to willing to acknowledge that it is impossible to be perfect. Turn to Him for strength and do all things for His glory.

Super Woman Is Not God’s Goal for You

by Hannah Lannigan.

Do you find yourself striving to be perfect? A June Cleaver, your favorite Christian speaker, and Martha Stewart all rolled into one? Maybe you’re OCD (or, in alphabetical order, CDO). Or maybe you simply desire to be a “well-rounded person.”

But have you paused to ask yourself Why? Why are you OCD? Why are you a perfectionist? Why do you want to be a well-rounded person?

Personally, I wanted to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect woman because I wanted everyone to like me and no one to be able to find fault with me.

But I discovered…

  • that perfect woman doesn’t exist!
  • that’s not God”s goal for me. His goal is not that I become this self-made perfect woman in whom no one can find fault and has no need for grace. His goal is that I become like Jesus—and not everyone thought well of Jesus . . .

Ultimately, I was trying to create glory for myself by:

  • having a perfectly clean house (ha!)
  • raising a perfectly behaved son (No temper tantrums in the grocery store for my son. Yeah, right.)
  • being “Super Woman” (I thought I would prove myself on par or superior to my peers by making dinner from scratch every night, discipling students from my church, and creating my own “Martha Stewart” projects.)

But what is worse is that I was trying to steal God’s place and erase His picture of grace in my life. Because with the perfect image of self as my god, there was no room for grace. My definition of failure equaled “not perfect.” So literally, the mantra of failure, failure, failure rather than grace, grace, grace washed over my heart daily.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, I encourage you to join me at the cross and make this prayer your own:

Father, thank You that You are a God of grace. I’m sorry for stealing Your glory and trying to erase my need for Your grace. I repent. I want to walk with You and become like Jesus—even if that means not everyone approves of me or understands me. Please help me accept Your grace with worship and gratitude. And help me accurately display Your glorious grace each moment of the day to those around me. Help me to hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection.

From:True Woman | Super Woman Is Not God’s Goal for You.

 

Give Me a Quiet Mind and A Gentle Spirit

19 Sep

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” –1 Peter 3:3-4

“Some people mistakenly think that a gentle and quiet spirit is displayed when a woman never speaks. This has concerned some of the outgoing personalities because they don’t know how to be a silent lump. This is merely looking at externals. Certainly sometimes a quiet spirit will be exhibited by silence, but not always. And a quiet person can be all worked up on the inside. This is missing the point. A heart that is resting in the faithfulness of God is gentle and quiet; it is not stirred up with worry and anxiety. This gentle and quiet spirit is a calm, peaceful spirit. It is a tame spirit, a gentled spirit. I have often compared this kind of spirit to a glassy lake, not turbulent or troubled, but hardly showing a ripple. In contrast, the anxious spirit is like a stormy sea with whitecaps whipping along the shore. This of course brings to mind our Lord calming the troubled Sea of Galilee. Likewise, He can calm our troubled spirits when we look to Him.” –Nancy Wilson

Spend time in the Word and get to know and love the Lord. Trust in Him and let the inner beauty of your heart shine.

GIVE ME A QUIET MIND

When winds are blowing, waves are rising, falling
And all the air is full of dust and spray;
When voices, like to sea birds’ plaintive calling,
Confuse my day;

Then, then I know Thee, Lord of highest heaven
In newborn need discover Thee, and find
Nought can discomfort him to whom is given
A quiet mind.

When hopes have failed, and heavy sadness crusheth,
And doubt and fear would weave their deadly spell,
Then thought of Thee my troubled spirit husheth;
And all is well.

In midnight hours when weariness ignoreth
Heaven’s starry host, and battle wounds are mine,
Then Thy right hand uplifteth and outpoureth
Love’s oil and wine.

O Blessed Lord, beyond the moment’s sorrow
I see above, beaneath, before, behind–
Eternal Love. Give me today, tomorrow,
A quiet mind.

(From the collected poems of Amy Carmichael)

Adapted From: Give Me a Quiet Mind : Girls Gone Wise.

The Ultimate Meaning of True Womanhood| Do Not Shy Away from Theology

17 Sep

dusty-bible-600x345“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” –Matthew 7: 24-27

“Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them” –Psalm 111:2

Immerse yourself in His Word that you may know Him and build not upon the shifting unpredictable sand but on the rock solid granite foundation of truth. The more you learn about Him the more you will love Him and know why you believe what you believe. The more you learn the more solid your theology becomes and standing unshakably in His truth takes on a new meaning. The more you discover about His character the more you understand why He allows trials, suffering, discouragement, and temptation. The more you read the more you grasp His sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. The more you grasp the better you understand how to glorify God. Sit at the feet of your redeemer Jesus Christ; dive into the meat of the Bible and glean sustenance, joy, meaning, understanding, gratitude, and a love so deep it is immeasurable. 

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women.

I don’t like wimpy women. I didn’t marry one. With Noel, I’m trying to raise Talitha, who turns 13 on Saturday, not to be one. The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, controlling, sassy, uppity, arrogant Amazon.

Marie Durant

The opposite of a wimpy woman is 14-year-old Marie Durant when in the 17th century in France was arrested for being a Protestant, put in prison, and told, “You may get out for one phrase: I abjure.” She wrote on the wall of her cell, “I resist,” and stayed there 38 years until she was dead doing just that (Karl Olsson, Passion, [New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1963], 116-117). That’s the opposite of a wimpy woman.

Gladys and Esther Staines

Another opposite of a wimpy woman is Gladys Staines. In 1999, remember the story? After serving for three decades with her husband Graham in India, to the lepers, heard one day that her husband Graham and little Phillip (10) and Timothy (6) had been set on fire, burned alive in the back of their car. She said to the newspapers, “I have only one message for the people of India. I am not bitter, neither am I angry. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ’s love.”

The opposite of a wimpy woman is her daughter, well named, Esther. When asked by the reporters, “How do you feel about your father’s murder?” She said (she was 13), “I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him.”

Krista and Vicki

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Krista and Vicki who together, in my church, have had 65 surgeries for so-called birth defects from Apert Syndrome and Hypertelorism. They write, “I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know them right well (Psalm 139:14).” Krista says, “Even though my life has been difficult, I know that God loves me and created me just the way I am. He has taught me to persevere and trust Him more than anything.”

Joni Eareckson Tada

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Joni Eareckson Tada, who would give her right arm to be with you. After forty-one years in the wheelchair she prays, “Oh thank You, thank You for this wheelchair. By tasting Hell in this life, I have been driven to think seriously about what faces me in the next. This paralysis is my greatest mercy.” (Christianity Today, January, 2004, 50)..

Suzie

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Suzie. Four years ago her husband (59) was taken, then a month later she found she had breast cancer, and then her mom died, and then a miracle happened. She wrote to me, “Now I see that I have been crying for the wrong kind of help. I now see that my worse suffering is my sin-my sin of self-centeredness and self-pity. I know that with His grace, His lovingkindness, and His merciful help, my thoughts can be reformed and my life conformed to be more like His Son.”

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. That’s my assumption as I begin this message.

Wimpy theology does not give a woman a god big enough, strong enough, wise enough, good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that enables her to magnify Him and His Son all the time. He’s not big enough.

Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness, or as we usually call it, man-centeredness.

Wimpy theology doesn’t have a granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath. It doesn’t have the steel structure of a great God-centered purpose for all of human existence, including the worst of it.

Excerpted from: True Woman | Pastor John Piper.

Secret Sisters

11 Sep

secretSecret Sisters Kickoff Sunday September 22, 2:30 PM at Laura Brislawn’s house.

Secret Sisters offers the opportunity for women to come alongside each other; supporting and encouraging one another through prayer and with small gifts, notes, and cards. Becoming a secret prayer partner and silent encourager enables you to learn more about your Sister and her needs while at the same time, someone is praying for, encouraging, and learning more about you.

Lots of fun social events provide fellowship and the chance to get to know women in your church family.

Questions?? Contact Laura Brislawn or Cindy Bobo or stop by the women’s ministries cart on Sunday for more information.

LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

23 Aug

life“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” –Matthew 18:20

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:8-10

10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are

By Mary Margaret Collingsworth

We’re constantly trying to find new ways to reach women where they are, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. As culture shifts, so do the needs of women. No matter what your age may be, women are still women and we are always going to need other women in our lives. Here are 10 ways to meet women where they are:

  1. Don’t assume anything. We often look at women and assume that they already have enough friends or they don’t have enough time. Looks can be deceiving! Maybe she has a lot of acquaintances, but is longing for a real friend. It could be you!
  2. Ask. Ask her to go places with you and be in your life. The worst thing they can do is say, “No.”
  3. Keep asking. Unless someone tells you to stop asking, keep extending the ask. Sometimes it just takes a few attempts and the right thing to grab her attention. Don’t just quit asking because she turned you down the first time.
  4. Do life together. One of the sweetest parts of friendship is knowing the day-to-day happenings of the other women in your life. The mundane can be, well, mundane, and it  can be so much more rich in community. This also happens in the good, the bad, and the ugly times. Life is messy, and we all need other women in our lives who just know us to walk with us through it all.
  5. Be real. Last week, I heard Pete Wilson (pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville) say, “Authenticity is the cry of all, but the game of few.” While we often claim authenticity, we still try to prove ourselves and often end up being someone we’re not. Just be you, and she’ll love you for it.
  6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Some of my dearest friends are ones that I initially thought I had nothing in common with, but was so wrong. When my friend Christie and I met while I was in college, she was a newlywed and I learned that she had majored in Math in college. I was single and lets just face it… I still hate math. I literally thought we had nothing in common except for Jesus, but boy, was I wrong! Nine years later, I’m in the airport waiting to board a plane to visit her and her family (5 kids!) and couldn’t love her more, even though our everyday lives look so different.
  7. Pray for her. Don’t just ask how you can pray for her… actually pray for her and pray with her if the Holy Spirit leads you to. Be willing to go to battle with her through prayer, whether she ever knows it or not.
  8. Speak truth. The truth can hurt, but find ways to speak it in love. Be honest, but be kind in how you approach challenging conversations and situations. It can feel risky, but seek the Lord before you speak. Make sure you’re not speaking out of your flesh, but you’re listening to the Holy Spirit. My closest friends are the ones who are willing to speak truth into my life.
  9. Love her right where she is. It’s not our job to fix anyone or change her, but we are called to love her. Be the kind of woman who is steadfast in her life, whether she has a relationship with Jesus or not. Walk with her, pray for her, and just love on her.
  10. Be Jesus to her. Take her a meal. Watch her kids. Listen to her. Cry with her. Laugh with her. Show up. Just be there. When you can, put your needs aside and just be Jesus to her. You don’t have to provide answers or a solution, but point her to the One who can.

At the end of the day, we are called to meet other women at the point of their need. Philippians 2:1-8 paints a beautiful picture of how to treat the people in our lives. If we truly are putting the needs of others above our own, it will show through our actions. Our role is to step in, stand in the gap, and offer them a cold cup of water in the name of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:42). We often over-complicate things that are really simple, and sometimes it just takes one step in the right direction on our part. It might be hard, but it’s absolutely worth it.

via LifeWay Women All Access — 10 Ways to Meet Women Where They Are.

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