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Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics |(Part 2)

12 Nov

authentic_christianity_logo

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” –1 Peter 1:7

What does authentic Christianity mean? The following definition from Sharon Hodde Miller offers a starting point,

“First, authenticity is a discipline that requires time. It cannot be flipped on like a light switch, and it is not maintained without work…second…it can only be had in Christ.”  

Miller posits the idea that authenticity is rooted in Christ.

God opens our eyes to our sins, to the self-deception, to the things in our lives that are not of him. Then he transforms us, conforming us to the only perfect human being who ever lived. In Christ, we stop operating according to the constraints of social expectations, personal insecurities, and lies. Rather than live in ways that are subhuman, we finally live in a manner worthy of God’s vision for humanity.”

Irenaeus (an early Church apologist and theologian) noted, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Christian authenticity is expressed when the, “…divine life of God living in our soul…” (Pastor Burris) produces fundamental changes.

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality; but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether.” –C.S. Lewis

We are made new and know God when we have the nature of God indwelling that accompanies believing the truth. We desire to live in fellowship with others who share this phenomena. We seek to magnify His presence through the honing of spiritual disciplines (Bible intake, meditation, fasting, prayer, and worship). Our focus and desires change and this is exuded in a real way as we seek to glorify God and share this Good News with others.

The following excerpt outlines 5 points related to authenticity:

(1) Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.

In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. Forty days later, they come back with fruit and a report.

Ten of the men tell it like they see it: fortified cities, strong people, and a fear of being squashed like bugs. Two of the men tell it like God sees it: “Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it.”

If the spies came to our churches today, which group of men would be praised as “authentic”?

Being authentic means that God and his Word define what is real.

Last Sunday, I had an imperfect experience of corporate worship. The kids were squirmy, the sanctuary was hot, and my mind wandered. That’s the truth.

But the Scripture adds an even greater truth to my experience. God, the Creator, declares that worship is good. Therefore, by faith, I declare it good too.

Whatever we say about our experiences, our report must also reflect God’s truth.

(2) Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, Love was the memoir of a woman seeking an authentic life. Its first page bears the motto: “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.”

But for Gilbert, living authentically includes adultery, hedonism, blasphemy, and so on.

Gilbert’s type of authenticity is easy for Christians to reject. Her sins are “obvious.” But are we on guard against more subtle sins?

Recently, in “The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness,” Tullian Tchividjian cautioned a generation of Christians who say, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I’m know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.'” Pride is not authentic.

Selfishness, love of men’s praise, lack of joy can all lurk, undetected, around our authentic edges.

I have a friend who wants me to be authentic. She wants to know about my arguments with my husband, the sin of my children, and what I dislike about church. For her, authenticity seems to involve not only removing my own mask but exposing the sins of others, too. This is unkind. Everything that is done in the name of authenticity must also be done in the name of a holy Christ.

(3) Authenticity seeks the good of the Body.

In 1969, Hillary Rodham (now Clinton) gave a speech at Wellesley’s commencement. Her remarks champion authentic conversation about women’s struggles in a male-dominated world.

I have to admire her kind of authenticity, for she was promoting authenticity for the sake of a common cause. She wanted these women to be authentic so that all women could have a better life.

Christian authenticity is likewise other-focused.

We live transparently, not to unload our own burdens and thus walk more lightly alone, but to intentionally share the burdens of others and carry them to the same grace that liberated us.

(4) Authenticity honors wisdom.

Christians seeking to be authentic rightly value humility. We recognize that we are broken.

But sometimes, in our quest to avoid the appearance of pride, we question our God-given ability to shine the light of wisdom.

Singer-songwriter Christa Wells expresses this in a song: “So friends don’t take me wrong on those days when I sound too sure / Of the things I say.” Wells writes insightful meditations on the Christian life, but she is intentionally tentative.

This habit has a long root in the spirit of the postmodern age, in which all truth is elusive and dogmatism is the unforgiveable sin.

But the godly life is not merely a pooling of experiences; it is the confident application of God’s truth to individual circumstances. We have the Greater-Than-Solomon, who gives wisdom liberally to all who ask. We honor the Giver by using his valuable gift. Seeking wisdom and speaking wisdom must have a place in an authentic life.

(5) Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Every pilgrimage has a final destination. Christians who are authentic about the struggles of this life should also be authentic about the perfection of the next.

In Lewis’s The Great Divorce, travelers from hell step off a bus onto heaven’s grass. It is so razor-sharp, so real, that it cuts their tender feet: “The men were as they had always been … it was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison.” (p 21)

For Christians, our true self is found in Christ, and we are on a pilgrimage to become more like him. As 1 John 3:2 says: “We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” A greater reality awaits.

So, like Israelites singing the Psalms of Ascent, we ought to look up from our dusty feet and ahead to the even more authentic glories of Zion and her King.

That’s for real.

Excerpted from: Keeping It Real: The Truth about Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Additional links:

Real, Authentic Authenticity | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Taft Avenue Community Church / Resources / Sermons

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Pilgrimage Growth Guide): Donald S Whitney: 9781576830277: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

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“Harmless” Gossip is a Myth|How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip

5 Nov

gossip

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” –Proverbs 18:8

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Nothing could be further from the truth when one is a victim of gossip, rumors, slander, backbiting, talebearing, reviling, railing, or innuendo. Gossip can be covert or overt…true or untrue. Once out it is propelled along like an insidious virus reaching epidemic proportion. Is it any wonder so called news, YouTube videos, Facebook quotes, blog posts, and tweets that reach “trending” status are characterized as “viral.” 

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ defeats gossip…Jesus was a “trustworthy man,” someone to whom you could entrust your deepest, most shameful secrets, and know they were as safe as can be. He still is. And we can learn to be trustworthy too (Proverbs 11:13)” (Matthew C. Mitchell, Resisting Gossip).

We can follow Christ’s example. Believe the best about others. Speak positively; words of affirmation are healing and edifying. Talk to ____ not about____. Model graciousness. Exalt the Lord. Search your heart. Pray.

My name is Gossip.

I have no respect for justice.

I maim without killing.

I break hearts and ruin lives.

I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.

The more I am quoted the more I am believed.

I flourish at every level of society.

My victims are helpless.

They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.

To track me down is impossible.

The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody’s friend.

Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.

I topple governments and ruin marriages.

I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.

I spawn suspicion and generate grief.

I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses.

I AM CALLED GOSSIP –Anonymous

How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip

Kent Hughes: “Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face. Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.”

Here are some wise words from Dan Phillips for when you hear gossip from someone:

  1. Ask, “Why are you telling me this?” Often, that in itself is such a focusing question that it can bring an end to the whole unpleasant chapter. It has the added benefit that it can help a person whose intentions are as good as his/her judgment is bad.
  2. Ask, “What’s the difference between what you’re telling me and gossip?” See above; same effect, same potential benefits.
  3. Ask, “How is your telling me that thought, that complaint, that information going to help you and me love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ’s love?” Isn’t that the goal we should share, every one of us? Won’t it take the working of each individual member Eph. 4:16? Isn’t the watch-out for harmful influences an every-member ministry Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24; 13:12-15?
  4. Ask, “Now that you’ve told me about that, what are you going to do about it?” While the previous two are subjective, this is not. If neither of the previous two questions succeeded in identifying gossip/whispering/sowing-dissension for what they are, the answer to this question will do so. Tip: if the answer is “Pray,” a good response might be “Then why didn’t you do that and leave it there in the first place?”
  5. Say, “Now that you’ve told me about that, you’ve morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?” The least that this will accomplish is that you’ll fall off the list of gossips’/whisperers’ favorite venting-spots. The most is that you may head off a church split, division, harmed souls, sidelined Gospel ministry, and waylaid discipleship. Isn’t that worth it?

Ray Ortlund explains what gossip is and why it is sinfully enticing:

  • Gossip is our dark moral fervor eagerly seeking gratification.
  • Gossip makes us feel important and needed as we declare our judgments.
  • It makes us feel included to know the inside scoop.
  • It makes us feel powerful to cut someone else down to size, especially someone we are jealous of.
  • It makes us feel righteous, even responsible, to pronounce someone else guilty.
  • Gossip can feel good in multiple ways. But it is of the flesh, not of the Spirit…
  • Gossip is a sin rarely disciplined but often more socially destructive than the sensational sins.
  • Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube.
  • It erodes trust and destroys morale.
  • It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere.
  • It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation.
  • It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial.
  • It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against.
  • It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers.
  • It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness.
  • It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves.
  • It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world. Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

Excerpted from: How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip – Justin Taylor

Additional links related to gossip and how to avoid it:

Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue: Matthew C. Mitchell: 9781619580763: Amazon.com: Books

Gossip – Ray Ortlund

Pyromaniacs: How to shut down gossip and its nasty kin

Talking to People Rather Than About Them What I Left Out of the Sermon on August 6 – Desiring God

What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly|Life Is Better In Community

18 Oct

life“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” –Psalm 71:9

Young people…the elderly are now what you will eventually become. The older generations possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom most would love to share. Listen to their stories. The elderly know a lot about community and what it means to live life together. Many have enjoyed a long walk with Christ and would love to impart their experiences to the younger generations. Seek them out. Sit with them in worship. Hear their stories. Find out what their needs might be and serve them. In all these things there is much to be learned and an intergenerational community to be built.

What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly

Youth lends itself to the productive Christian life. We\’re active and healthy and have our whole lives in front of us. We are in control and independent. We need no help to make it through the day.

We are also really good at pretending the above is true.

Young people, myself included, want to appear independent. We are good at convincing others (and ourselves) that we are making do on our own. But the truth is that we\’re often lonely. In our efforts to remain independent, we have forgotten how to be dependent on a community.

The remaining article can be viewed here: What Young Christians Can Learn from the Elderly – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

TACC Missions News |Following Christ |Fruit-Bearing Discipleship

15 Oct

Thursday October 17:

2:00 PM Parking lot prayer send-off

india

 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” –John 15:8

These are  the 2013 October team members: Mark Engstrom, Terry Lichte, Felipe Lopez, and Doug Keller. Doug has been to India twice before. Felipe, Mark and Terry have never been to India.

TACC’s earlier trips have been predominately for evangelical purposes–sharing the gospel with the Adivasi through medical camps, children’s programs, and door-to-door visits. Our October team will be doing a medical camp one day, but the rest of our time will be spent in discipleship in some of the villages we have already visited for evangelism. TACC teams have visited 42 of the 79 villages we are trying to reach. Of those 42 villages, 25 now have local fellowships of believers.

Our plan for this upcoming trip is to…
…visit 2 of those existing fellowships for worship and then to do discipleship training in the afternoon
…have believers from several villages meet with us a one centrally located village for a day of discipleship
…a day of discipleship with women from nearby villages
…meet with the SAS pastor/evangelists and lay leaders from their churches for discipleship focused on leading their flocks and developing future leaders
…a ‘Big Gathering” of believers from multiple villages for a day of discipleship and fellowship
…the day of medical camp evangelism already mentioned above.

Follow the India team at the TACC Mission News Blog

 

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.

Everything Family|For All Seasons of Life

5 Sep

Everything_FamilyStarting Sunday September 8 TACC will be focusing on all things related to family life. From dating to marriage, parenting to grandparenting, each season of life has its own unique challenges and benefits. Here at TACC we want to come along side one another as the family of God to help each other in the various stages of family life and seek biblical teaching to guide us.

Join TACC Sundays for 

10:30 AM Sermon Topics

  • 9/8 Manhood
  • 9/15 Womanhood
  • 9/22 Dating
  • 9/29 Marriage
  • 10/6 Parenting
  • 10/13 Singleness
  • 10/20 Divorce
  • 10/27 Homosexuality

6:00 PM Seminars*

  • 9/8 Tips for Parenting Preschoolers
  • 9/15 Honor and Respect
  • 9/22 Safe House: How to Respond to Emergency Situations in the Home
  • 9/29 Discipline
  • 10/6 Lying, Cheating, Biting, and Stealing
  • 10/13 Siblings
  • 10/20 Parenting Teenagers

*Childcare will be provided during all seminars

+Additional seminars will be held at Children’s House 9/10, 10/1, 10/8, and 10/22 for families unable to attend Sundays

For more information click here to access TACC website

 

How Do We Hear?|By Actively Listening

26 Aug

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” –Romans 10:17

“When God speaks in your life, listen carefully, receive humbly, and  respond gratefully'” –Pastor Koetsier (TACC Sermon, Sunday, August 25)

Listen-Chinese340

Listen Carefully

“Whoever has ears, let them hear” –Matthew 11:15

The Chinese character for the verb “to listen” stresses the importance of using one’s whole body to hear. Eyes, ears, attention, and heart are presumed focused and actively engaged. Whether reading the Bible, meditating, or in prayer, listen with your whole being –quietly, patiently wait upon the Lord.

Receive Humbly

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,which can save you Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says ” –James 1:21-22

Bible scholar W. E. Vine said that the Greek word for receive means “deliberate and ready reception of what is offered.” It is an obedient and meek acceptance of what God wants and acknowledging it is good.

 Respond Gratefully

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” –1Thessalonians 5:18

Outside of public/corporate worship within the church; honor, praise, and glorify God in private worship with prayer, singing, and thanksgiving.

How Do We Hear the Voice of Jesus?

by John Piper

Do you want to hear the voice of Jesus? So do I. The Father certainly wants us to. “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35).

To which we cry, “Yes, Lord. Yes! We want to listen to him.”

Does he speak today? He does.

Every word of the Bible is the voice of Jesus.

How do we know this? By inference. And better, by experience…

View the remainder of the article here: How Do We Hear the Voice of Jesus? – Desiring God.

Revisit this previous post from TACC Connect to Women’s Ministries here: Hearing God…

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.

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You |Make it About God

9 Aug

conflict“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” –Colossians 3:13

Easier said then done sometimes right? Forgiveness is not easy especially when our sense of self preservation kicks in to guard from further hurt. We are not imbued with magnanimity it is something we have to work hard to engage. God wants us to forgive so we need to obey and reflect His mercy and grace even when we want to hold on to the slight and make it all about us. When we refuse to forgive we risk allowing the anger to turn into bitterness and resentment.

“The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him. He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven. He realizes that, by receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him”

–Jerry Bridges Transforming Grace p. 44-45.

It is not about us…

Resolving Conflict: Don’t Make It About You

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

A LifeWay Research study revealed that people claim to be prepared to resolve conflict between themselves and others. According to a survey of more than 1,000 American adults, nearly 85 percent somewhat or strongly agree they are prepared for such resolution.

But how prepared are they, really?

Ranking seven options, respondents suggested “Go to a higher authority,” “Avoid the problem and hope it goes away,” and “Attempt to fully satisfy yourself and others” less than half the time. “Give in to the other person” and “Pretend there is no conflict” were suggested more than half the time, with “Find a middle ground” mentioned nearly 75 percent of the time.

This deeper questioning reveals a truly problematic thought process of how conflict can be resolved, though. The answer mentioned most often – more than 80 percent of the time – was “Stand up for yourself.”

Experience will teach almost anyone who cares to learn that wanting our own way – selfishness – is the cause of conflict, not the solution to it. It seems people who insist on their own way will impede peace rather than pave the way for it.

The Bible addressed this centuries ago. In the New Testament book of Philippians we read, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” Phil. 2:1-4, HCSB.

Notice how the emphasis on unity in verse 2 depends on the attitudes mentioned in verses 3 and 4: humility and preferring others before ones self.

The attitudes of humility and putting others first are at direct odds with standing up for yourself as a means of resolving conflict. If humility is a means of deflecting conflict in the beginning, it is a necessary ingredient to resolving it.

As followers of Christ we must be peacemakers in our families, our small groups and our families of faith. As we pour over Gods Word together let us make sure we remain humble, treating others as we hope to be treated, and considering others before ourselves. To put it another way, echoing the words of the Apostle Paul, “Make your attitude that of Christ Jesus.” When we do, there will be more unity and less conflict.

via Resolving Conflict.

Caroline Swithinbank’s Surprising Twist | Changing Seasons…Unchanging God

12 Jul

ice creamAre you single, single again, or spiritually single? Come and join other “somehow single” women for fellowship, encouragement, and ice cream Saturday, July 20, @ 2:35 PM–Click for more information or visit the Women’s Ministry cart for more information.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” –1 Peter 5:7

If, “…thoughts of becoming the reclusive “cat lady” plague your mind, or anxieties about the future economic demands of caring for yourself on one income begin to clutch at your throat…stir up your mind and heart to recognize the ways in which you, as a redeemed woman (who happens to be unmarried),…respond, speaks volumes on behalf of the church” (CBMW.org)

The following article shows God’s plans and glory are revealed in His time…

Caroline Swithinbank’s Surprising Twist3-21-13Wedding

In my mid-sixties, the Lord increasingly impressed Jeremiah 29:11 on my heart. As a lifelong single woman, my joy was in my professions—laboring in the Mustard Seed Christian bookstores and helping families raise their children. I felt God’s blessing in both occupations. I had the benefit of sitting under great preaching, Sunday school classes, mission conferences, and small-group Bible studies. I was happy . . . but still, in the recesses of my mind, I wondered: Didn’t God have someone—just one man—for me?

But life goes on. In 1999, I returned to England to care for my mother who had cancer. In spite of a one-year prognosis, she lived many more wonderful years during which we enjoyed a tranquil life together. While in England I participated in a local struggling Baptist church teaching Sunday School, ferrying “the oldies” to services and doctor’s appointments, etc. Very fulfilling, but still . . .

Then things became more challenging. After thirteen years, my mother quickly declined and in 2011 went to be with her Savior. My one surviving brother was hours away in Wales dealing with his wife’s diagnosis of breast cancer, so I had to tie up everything myself: executing the will, preparing the house to sell, and actually selling it. I had decided years ago that after my mother’s passing I would return to Pennsylvania, so I had to determine what treasures to jettison and which to pack.

While packing one day, Bruce—with whom I had been frequently corresponding—called from America. This was a man I’d known for thirty-eight years. We’d shared many experiences in the past, and I felt a unique spiritual and interpersonal kinship with him. He loved the Lord—and apparently me, too—because during this call he proposed marriage! I did what any sixty-seven-year-old-never-been-married-woman would do. I said, “Yes, yes. I accept, but I’m much too busy right now to think about it. We’ll talk later.” Little did I know how much busier I would get.

My mother died in August. I moved from England to Pennsylvania the following March. I broke my back in April. And in May, I got only a seven-hour reprieve from the rehab unit to get married, processing down the aisle of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in a wheelchair. (Don’t even ask about the honeymoon!)

Yes, the Lord knew His plans for me, and He does indeed want us to prosper—but in His timing and for His glory, with or without a spouse. My fundamental joy, contentment, and satisfaction in life reside in doing God’s will. I thank God for my husband, but he cannot bring me the ultimate sense of transcendent wellbeing that submitting to God does. I want to say with Paul that I am content in all circumstances and trust that He always has plans to prosper us—and not to harm us—to give us a hope and a future.

No matter your particular circumstances, be prepared for God to surprise you, too!

via True Woman | Caroline Swithinbank’s Surprising Twist.

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