The Joy of Lingering

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2019 by Connected by Grace

By G. Robin Oren

PURPOSE: To slow down our inner life as well as our outer activities to become aware of God’s presence.

REFLECTION:  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psa. 48:10

Have you ever heard someone say, “I lingered over a cup of coffee.” They meant they took time to pause and enjoy not just their coffee but the experience of consuming it. They did not rush, nor did they multi-task. They created space without an agenda. Perhaps they used this pause to reflect on something or to notice their surroundings. Perhaps they simply rested, glad for a respite from their busy lives.

We can intentionally create pockets of stillness as we train to live without hurry. These moments create space to notice God.

Stillness can also create angst. It may seem that silence has no purpose or sense of accomplishment. Learning to pause includes dying to our need to achieve. Instead we begin to rely on God’s plan and timing. Christ lived a slow-paced life intent on following the flow of his Father’s plan. He did not heal the entire world nor save everyone. His goal was obedience to God. Learning to pause helps us become aware of God’s plan instead of ours.

MEANS: Ask God to train you to live a slower-paced life by creating spaces for lingering in your day. Where and when might you linger?

Invite God to reveal spaces where you can pause. In this lingering, sit a spell with God. Listen. Did lingering produce tension or was it restful? Record your experience and your thoughts about it. Be authentic in your observations.

 

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LIVING FAITH

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2019 by Connected by Grace

By G.R. Oren

Belief and faith were words I often used interchangeably, but Dallas Willard helped me see the difference between the two.*

With belief we proclaim our acceptance of statements about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. But our belief remains a professed belief until we take action on what we hold as true.

Take for example the practice of a Sabbath Rest. Our automatic response to this spiritual discipline is often, “I can’t do that; I don’t have time”. In theory we believe it is a good idea, but in practice it seems impossible to do. Thus we often ignore it. Life is too busy to even consider trying.

Here we are partially correct. For most spiritual disciplines we practice, we practice on our own. We do the work and leave Jesus out of the picture. But if we choose to be his disciple, he is willing and wanting to train us to become like him in our attitudes and actions.

Trusting Jesus to help us accomplish what we cannot accomplish on our own we put our belief into behavior acquiring evidence that what we say is indeed true. When we choose to train with Jesus he will help us do what he commands us to do.

Let’s say you choose to practice with Jesus the Sabbath Rest this week. (It does not have to be Sunday. Any old day will do.) Later, as the rush of the week is experienced, remember the restfulness of the Sabbath. Notice if you were better prepared for the week because of the rest.

With this shift we move our thinking into our doing as we learn to apply experiential knowledge to future events. So the next time we find ourselves tired and weary we consider taking a Sabbath Rest.

Choosing to repeat a Sabbath Rest merges your true belief into a living faith. You now expect Jesus to be a part of this aspect of your life and to help you do what you cannot do on your own. You even expect there to be a positive result to your rest.

You have taken belief, added experiential knowledge and ended up with faith as you practice a Sabbath Rest. Welcome to the process of training with Jesus as he develops his Christlikeness in you. Spiritual disciplines are practices that train us to live as Jesus lived, but they also train his character in us. Trust, rest, humility, obedience are not our automatic responses, but they could be if we train with Jesus. Because of him we can live a Christlike life. Without him we can do no such thing.

*For further information see Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying and Eternal Life by Gary Black, Jr. 102-104.

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The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. As such, posts are generally not edited for content and may not represent the positions of Grace Bible Church.

 

 

Guilt-Free

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2019 by Connected by Grace

By Donna King

I recently heard someone say they were “feeling guilty,” and it struck me that guilt is not, or should not be considered, a feeling. I looked up the definition, and found that while the primary definitions of guilt involve the fact or state of having committed an offense or violated a law, Webster’s does give an alternate definition as “feelings of deserving blame, especially for imaginary offenses or from a sense of inadequacy; self-reproach” (emphasis added). I began to think about the energy I’ve wasted on feeling guilt and how contrary those feelings should be to my position as a child of God.

If I’ve committed an offense and am aware of it, I should respond by admitting the offense – to God, and if I’ve offended an individual, to that individual – and then asking forgiveness and moving forward. God tells us that, to Him, our forgiven sins are as far away as the east is from the west. And yet, this somehow seems counterintuitive. Something inside tells me that feeling guilty is a way of doing penance for my sin, that to sidestep those guilty feelings would be to get off easy. But isn’t that the miracle of the Gospel–that we ultimately can avoid the penalty of sin, which is death? The Gospel doesn’t eliminate the earthly consequences of our sin (which can potentially be huge), or prevent us from feeling conviction or remorse. But I see conviction and remorse as the “Godly sorrow” Paul describes in 2 Cor. 7:10 that brings repentance and salvation. Repentance is the goal, and once that has occurred, God doesn’t tell us to wallow in feelings of inadequacy or self-reproach, as I can be prone to do.

In a way, those guilty feelings may be an effort to earn my forgiveness. It takes genuine humility to acknowledge that we can have no part in the forgiveness of sin other than admission and acceptance. I suspect that fostering a guilty feeling is one of the prime tools in Satan’s toolbox. What could be better, from his point of view, than Christians who feel useless and despise themselves? It would certainly prevent me from being open to God’s prompting to have a positive effect on someone’s day or life. It makes me ineffective as an ambassador of Christ in the world.

My prayer is for humble acceptance of God’s forgiveness, and a thankful heart that allows Christ to do His work in me and shine His light into the world.

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The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. As such, posts are generally not edited for content and may not represent the positions of Grace Bible Church.

Sitting in the Sadness

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2019 by Connected by Grace

By Kathy Wilkinson

The Fox and the Grapes is one of Aesop’s well-known short fables. The story is about a fox that tries to eat grapes from a vine but cannot reach them. Rather than admit defeat, he states they must actually have been undesirable anyway.

The fox is not being honest with himself. He is sad that he can’t reach the grapes. But none of us like to admit our sadness, do we? Much less so when there is seemingly nothing that can be done about it.

I have never experienced what I would term extreme loss. I have never lost a child or a spouse; I have never faced cancer; I have never dealt with a parent experiencing a severe mental condition. I am humbled by anyone who has had to go through any of that.

Perhaps because my life has been so easy thus far, it has taken me a while to admit that what I was feeling was, in fact, the most sadness I have ever felt-moving from the city in which I spent the vast majority of my life, leaving the only church I have ever known, and especially losing the close friendships that had taken so long to form and develop.

Most of the sadness was anticipated, but it was minimalized. It was projected to be negligible; outweighed by the supposed benefits. After all, I wasn’t even moving halfway around the world where every single thing, including the language, was different and unknown. I was simply moving a few states over to the area known as the Pacific NorthWest.

Boy was I in for a surprise. I had no idea how much I would be affected by the weather, the rural living and the drastically different demographic. When I realized what was happening, I tried to jump right to the solution and fix the problem. Find new and exciting things to do in the area in which I now live; get involved in our new church here and help it grow to be wonderful; meet new friends and spend time delving deeper in relationship.

But, all of those things are exhausting, especially for an introvert with two small children, and even worse, you can’t rush them. You can’t force them to happen, either quickly or sometimes at all. And, they won’t actually fix the problem. They are a temporary band-aid at best. They will keep you preoccupied until you don’t have time to think about how you feel.

Why? You can’t move on until you’ve dealt with the loss. You can’t heal until you’ve admitted the grief. You have to actually feel the feeling and sit in the sadness; tell the truth. God is faithful, and He brings joy in the morning, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop you from being sad. He is with you no matter how you feel, and it is okay to be sad. It probably won’t last forever. And if it does? Well, that’s more time to sit with it, I suppose.

When have you sat in the sadness? How did you respond to God’s invitation at that point in your life?

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The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. As such, posts are generally not edited for content and may not represent the positions of Grace Bible Church.

 

In Driftwood Places

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2019 by Connected by Grace

by Kelsey

As I have come to experience more deeply that I do not control anything-even the health, safety, or wellbeing of myself or loved ones- I have also come to understand more deeply that I am, at the core, destitute. The process is a painful one. Oswald Chambers, though, says that coming to the knowledge that we are destitute is “the greatest spiritual blessing” (My Utmost for His Highest).

A friend on a similar journey gave me a word picture. A girl stands on a cruise ship in the ocean, with people all around her. From the cruise ship, she sees great beauty. One day, though, the ship sinks. She clings to a piece of driftwood. Sharks swirl around her. Waves beat over her. She is every moment on the brink of destruction, suffering and terrified. She looks up, and the sky is a black tent of stars over her. The beauty as seen from the cruise ship was wonderful. But the beauty as seen from the driftwood is glory incomprehensible.

I find that when I stand in the knowledge that I am destitute, having nothing to offer to God, I hold faster to the cross and the empty tomb as the only concrete things that provide deliverance. I cling to the truth that this real event demonstrates Gods love for me and prevents anything, even the most terrifying shark or wave, from separating me from His love.

Compassion for others is easier to come by when I accept that I am destitute, because there but for the grace of God go I. So little separates me from the person next to me.

The tendency to live peacefully in the present becomes more natural when I admit that I am destitute. This moment is not promised to me, and I feel grateful for it.

Often I want the cruise ship back. There’s no assurance against a shark attack. But, as Henri Nouwen noted, “As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God” (Bread for the Journey).

The Savior emptied Himself of all riches in love for us. Will we accept that we do not control anything? Will we accept our place among the destitute and trust that soon we will see in everything the hand of a loving God? In driftwood places, will we lift our gaze to the stars?

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The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. As such, posts are generally not edited for content and may not represent the positions of Grace
Bible Church.

Giving Thanks

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19, 2018 by Connected by Grace

by Rachel M.

As we continue the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas, it seems like the idea of gratitude is everywhere. A quick search of the Internet will reveal countless “Gratitude Challenges” in which to partake; blog posts encouraging us to take time to be grateful and cute Pinterest ideas of how to cultivate gratitude in our children.

While I love this focus, especially amidst the onslaught of commercials telling us that what we have is not enough, I have recently been convicted of the need for a specifically biblical approach to gratitude.

Oftentimes, the focus of this time of year is on a certain attitude—appreciating all the things that one has and being thankful for them. It is a matter of the heart, and certainly a helpful one. What is interesting, however, is that thankfulness doesn’t require an object. Merely being thankful doesn’t mean we are giving thanks to anyone.

For Christians, there is an additional element. We are not merely to feel grateful. We are commanded to give thanks. Psalm 107.1 commands us to “give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.” Giving thanks requires an object. It is not merely an emotion, but is an act of expressing our gratitude towards God. While gratitude and giving thanks are both biblical concepts, the act of giving thanks sets us apart as Christians as we recognize God as the source of all our blessings.

Along this vein the question arises regarding the content of our thanks. We often focus our thanks on physical blessings such as housing, food or health. We often recognize things like family, freedom or health. The reality is, though, that is not the pattern we see in Scripture. The prayers of the Apostle Paul are a prime example of this.

In Philippians 1.3-5, he tells the church “I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.” In 1 Corinthians 15.57, he proclaims “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 You see Paul’s focus is not on the physical blessings but rather upon the blessings that are far more important—salvation, spiritual growth, and the proclamation of the Gospel. While physical blessings should absolutely be part of our thanksgiving, there are much deeper and more significant blessings that we should recognize.

As we gather with family and friends in the next few days, I hope we all take time to dwell on what it would look like to give thanks rather than merely express thankfulness. I urge you to try to move beyond giving thanks for physical blessings to consider the greater spiritual blessings that we have in Christ.

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The purpose of the blog is to promote conversation among all women of Grace.  Posts are generally not edited for content, but contributions are encouraged to reflect the position of Grace Bible Church.

 

FULLY

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By Paulinda

Lynn Wilson loved the WOG blog. It became part of her ministry. She volunteered to be the facilitator in 2012 and served until her health did not allow her to continue with that responsibility.

Lynn knew “For Such a Time as This” is a way we share God working in our lives. She knew God uses the blog to communicate, encourage, instruct and is His bond of love among us.

This blog is in honor of God being active in Lynn’s life-for her dedication to Him, to the blog and to her WOG Sisters.

 

I often sit outside at dusk. It is my time to be still and listen. Often the Lord brings a friend to mind, and I pray for or text or call that person. One night in October I watched as the daylight faded and the night sky appeared. There was only a sliver of moon that night, but the darker it became around me, the brighter the sliver of moon became till it lit the entire sky. A reminder of the contrast of life here with the glory of eternity. Of course the moon is always there. But what we see are its phases as it transitions from a slice to full. A reminder that when we are seen here, we are transitioning from partial to complete.

That night I thought of Lynn and left her a VM. She responded with an email to me October 14th:

“…thank you for sharing that everything we have on earth is only partial. I look forward to the day when we will know and be known fully, and we will have the fullness of joy in God’s presence…How incredible will eternity be when time is no longer an obstacle. Our friendship is eternal….”

One month later, November 14th, fullness for Lynn-shining with Jesus’ glory-more alive now then she has ever been.

Dear Jesus, thank you for sharing Lynn with us. Thank you for loving us through her, for encouraging us through her, for teaching us through her. More importantly, thank you for your life, death and resurrection-for our victory over death!

Keep us mindful of the significance of each phase we go through here-till we too shine with your glory-fully!

To Lynn, a mentor and friend, I love you and will miss you till we share our friendship again-for eternity.

 

(Please feel free to respond to this blog with anything you want to share about your friendship with Lynn).