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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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.

 

Advertisements

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).

In the Waiting

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By Becca

“I just don’t understand how these things can happen and nothing is done to help”is something I find myself often saying to my husband this year. We are missionaries in a third world country. A country that is so corrupted and full of injustice. This past year we have seen and been a part of situations that have put us at the feet of Jesus asking “what do we do next? Where do we go from here?” I bet we can all relate to wrestling with questions like these. Whether it’s a storm we ourselves are going through or one we hear about others going through.As I found myself discouraged by the issues we see in Haiti, I found myself feeling frustrated as I prayed for a solution, feeling that God was not near; that He wasn’t making my problem a priority.

Then one morning I read Psalm 145:18 (ESV): “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth”. I knew this verse was meant to help me with those “what do we do?” questions, but my quick application was just “OK, I need to pray when in a time of need.” It wasn’t until a few months later that it really hit me: this was my answer to my “what do we do next?” and “where do we go from here?” questions. The answer is not found in a statement but in a starting point.

We all face difficult situations where we do not know what to do. Our response to those situations is what determines our solution. This verse shows that God’s people ought to call upon the Lord through prayer, but we take it a step further. We call upon Him in truth! We call upon him armed with the truth about him we have learned in Scripture and our own experience. Truth about his character. Truth about his faithfulness to us as we’ve walked with him.

This kind of prayer requires faith that is different than formalism. It’s prayer that comes in the context of a relationship of love that we can fall back on and reflect on. It’s that relationship that allows us to move forward in those times of waiting for answers, because we know him, we know who he is, we know he is never failing and that he is never far. A.W. Tower says it better:

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine

 Knowing the truth about who God is and the truth of our relationship with Him allows us to move forward even when we don’t yet see the solution to the issue we’re wrestling with. We know God is love and loves us, we know His truth and we can call upon Him in that truth, knowing that He is faithful, and that can never fail.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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

Living an Interdependent Life

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By Rose Parker

“You matter.”

My eyes filled with tears as I absorbed the words being spoken over me. It had been a long season of pouring out to meet the needs of others, and the reminder that my needs are also important was timely.

This summer we faced a bit of a crisis with my husband’s health, and there were some dark days when I just didn’t know what to do. I knew things weren’t right, and I didn’t like the direction we were headed, but we didn’t have a diagnosis yet, just lots and lots of questions. In that muddled place of frustration, doubt and anxiety, all I could do was just keep taking care of the needs right in front of me. And there were plenty of those, enough to keep me always busy, always in motion.

While there’s a certain comfort in being able to do something, I wore myself down taking care of everyone else while keeping all the fears and hurt stuffed deep inside. At home I became withdrawn, shutting down emotionally, faking “fine” in public while feeling anything but.

Finally, I reached my breaking point, and it wasn’t pretty. It turned out that I needed care too. God graciously intervened and provided dear friends willing to listen, a skilled therapist and helpful family members who stepped in to give me a chance to rest and recuperate. It was such a relief to let others share our burdens and to have help carrying the load.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I bet for many of you it’s more than you can handle on your own. I hope you feel loved and supported, linked to the Body so integrally that you know you’ll have the help you need to face whatever challenges lie ahead. If not, I’d encourage you to consider what might be holding you back. For me it was proud self-reliance, shame at not being able to do it all on my own and fear of being judged unworthy. But I found those were just lies, traps of the enemy who hates me. Stepping out into freedom has been such a gift, one I’m still unwrapping and savoring.

I’m learning–slowly, painfully—how weak I am and how much I need to live an interdependent, not independent, life. In Christ I am part of a body with a role to fill and resources to draw on in times of need. Pride, shame and fear can keep me in bondage for only as long as I let them. I have the power in Christ to step out of isolation and into fellowship with others. What freedom! What a privilege.

We just recently got a diagnosis and a treatment plan for the health issue, but in God’s perfect timing that almost feels secondary to the healing work He’s been doing on the inside and in our relationships. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but it’s a journey that I needed and it’s turned out to include some pretty great company along the way.

Friend, in case you need to hear it—You matter. I pray that today you experience the love and support of an interdependent life lived in community.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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

 

An Intentional Life

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By G.R. Oren

I like to read. God often engages me in the words of others, and I find one book can lead to another. When an author makes reference to a book or author, I follow those leads and investigate further.

A lesson in God’s Invitation for Kingdom Living study is on living an Intentional Life. Discovering the quote below as I read another book seemed to be a God moment, an affirmation that what we do can affect who we are, and who we are can be shaped by what we do. And as we develop affirming habits we become intentional about loving others.

Writing in Context, his newsletter on religion and culture, church historian Martin E. Marty reports on a study that asked what habits improved the intimacy of married couples. “Among the variables in the habits of the couples studied, one ritual of intimacy stood out,” wrote Rev. Paul Bosch. “Did the couple embrace and kiss at the door in the morning before going their separate ways to work, or did they not?” The couples who kissed reported having happier, longer and more fulfilling marriages than those couples who did not.

Not surprising, perhaps. As Bosch added, “Whatever you do repeatedly, over and over again, has the power to shape.” But the real surprise was that it didn’t seem to matter whether or not the couples meant it!

Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek seemed to be enough-enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship.”

That’s something to mull over when your kids say they don’t want to go to church because they get nothing out of it. Or when they don’t want to hold hands when you pray grace before meals, or they try to sneak out of the house without your giving them a quick blessing. The action itself shapes us and improves the quality of our relationship.

The gestures themselves have power in them. Make the effort, and the rituals of your life will shape you, change you, elevate you. And they will shape your children as well.

From Raising Faith-Filled Kids: Ordinary Opportunities to Nurture Spirituality at Home by Tom McGrath, p. 92

I believe what we do with our body affects the core of our being in ways we usually aren’t aware of or fully understand. Affirming others through physical touch, a pat on the back, a light touch on the arm, a sideways hug, not only affects them, but us. And living an intentional life not only affects the life I live, but affects who I am becoming, an image bearer of God.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. The posts are generally not edited for content and therefore may not reflect the position of Grace Bible Church.

 

 

 

Un-Stuck

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By Barb Carl

As a sixth grade teacher at The Covenant School, my focus is teaching literature. The assigned summer reading this year was a rather quirky novel called Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  It is the story of a young girl, Winnie, who happens upon a member of the Tuck family sitting under a sheltering tree and drinking from a spring. He tells her that she must not ever drink from the spring or she will be like his family: living eternally, appearing young yet actually being very old. As his father, Angus Tuck, tells her, “It’s a wheel, Winnie. Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping…us Tucks are…stuck so’s we can’t move on. We ain’t part of the wheel no more. …Dying’s part of the wheel, right there next to being born…Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing. But it’s passing us by, us Tucks.”

As we studied this book together, we read passages from Genesis 2-3, and the parallels with Adam and Eve were shocking. (Also a fun teaching moment when students realize that the truth of God’s Word organically illuminates whatever else we are studying!) While the Tuck family accidentally drank from the eternal spring, Adam and Eve made a choice to disobey God and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Tuck family found themselves living eternally, never aging, never able to die – stuck in imperfect human existence. Adam and Eve, however, were protected from a similar fate since God “placed a cherubim…to guard the way to the tree of life” (3:24). Had God not intervened and not kept Adam and Eve from the tree of life, they would have been condemned to an eternity in their sin.  I don’t know that Natalie Babbitt was making a statement about faith, but truth always shines through. God has made a way for us to escape a hopeless existence.

I don’t know about you, but I need this hope. Yes, the news from around the world can bring feelings of being trapped, but I am also faced with the areas of my own life where I sometimes feel “stuck.” Will I ever have the discipline I desire? Will I ever fully control my tongue and quit hurting those around me? When will I achieve the maturity that being “mature” should bring? And what about the regrets that cannot be wiped away or undone?

When I step away and look again at what God’s Word tells us, I know that Jesus came to set us free. When God blocked Eden, His mercy and grace toward fallen humanity was beginning to be revealed. Adam and Eve, though now fallen from their previous state, were free to receive all that was to come in the love of the Father, the incarnation of the Son and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And as their descendant, though far removed chronologically, I can also live in this freedom. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The purpose of the blog is to encourage conversation among all women of Grace. As such, posts are generally not edited for content and therefore do not necessarily reflect the position of Grace Bible Church.

.

 

 

 

Hard is Not the Same as Bad

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2018 by Connected by Grace

By Jessi Fraccaro

In my limited spare time, I find myself perusing Instagram to see pictures of friends and their kids, to look at ideas of home decor that I will never actually do and to laugh at funny animal memes. One person I follow on Instagram is a mom of seven kids, with one on the way. EIGHT kids, you guys. This is not a joke. It’s crazy. I have two kids and spend most of my days doing laundry, because if I didn’t, WE WOULD HAVE NO CLOTHES!!

This mom of eight gives some delightful insights into life and always has an honest perspective. Like the fact that her instagram post portrays a perfect kitchen, but that just off camera is a pile of books and toys and life. One of her posts featured a phrase, “Hard is not the same as bad.” She goes on to describe how life with 7 (at the time) kids could be seen as difficult and hard, and keeping said family afloat can be easier said than done. However, the thought that hard and bad are not equal keeps her going.

This phrase has stuck with me ever since I came across her post. Hard is not the same as bad. How many times have I come upon an obstacle or difficulty that was hard and treated it negatively? As if being hard meant that everything and everybody was against me and it was just bad. The mentality of “life shouldn’t be this hard,” as if God ever promised us an easy time of it. He promised to care for us and to love us, but hard is guaranteed while we live on this earth.

Growth happens when things are hard. I’ve spent over half my life studying piano, with years and years of piano lessons under my belt. The hardest piano lessons were the ones that I really needed in order to learn valuable lessons in playing my instrument. The lessons weren’t bad. They were necessary. They were hard, yes, but they pushed me past limits that I thought were impossible. In the same way, I feel that God gives us hard in order to shape us and mold us and push us into being more like Christ. Is it hard? Is it painful? Yes and yes. But it’s not the same as bad.

Now hear me. I recognize that bad things happen to seemingly good people all the time, though by virtue of a sinful nature, none of us are “good.” Unexplained tragedies and unforeseen circumstances can plague those who are seemingly underserving of the bad, which is difficult to experience. Between our two children was another little one who I never got the chance to meet, and that was really hard. Everyone goes through some level of hurt and heartache in their lifetime.

The point that I came to as I wrestled with this phrase, “hard is not the same as bad,” is that, as believers, hard can be overcome. Hard times drive me closer to the cross so much more than good times. Hard times are learning experiences of our faith, and though in the moment when we don’t want to admit it, they’re probably good for us. Often we see later down the road that God used those hard times to shape and mold us in ways we never could have imagined if the times were always easy and fun. And our shaping and molding allows us to come alongside others with compassion and sympathy, as they are being shaped and molded in their hard times.

Hard is not the same as bad. I feel my perspective changing. How about yours?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

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 position of Grace Bible Church.