Tag: God

By Sarah Callen

Have you ever been gripped by a Bible passage and unable to move on from it? It’s the one that you reread over and over again and find new meaning in every time. It’s a passage your brain tells you to move on from but your heart is unwavering, certain there’s still more gold to mine. Recently Ephesians 4 has gripped me – I’ve been stuck there for a couple of weeks and I don’t see myself moving on from it any time soon.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV)

I’ve always loved the part of verse 1 that says “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called”. What an amazing exhortation! As I’ve been reading and studying these verses over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that I’ve just been scratching the surface on what this verse actually means.

The word “calling” can mean a lot of different things to different people and I had been reading it as your vocation or your purpose or your life mission. If you are called to be a Fortune 500 CEO, start walking in a manner worthy of that calling now or if your dream is to be a stay at home mom, start loving others well now, etc. But that’s not what this verse is talking about, the calling to which we as Christians have been called is so much bigger. We’ve been called children of God and Paul is encouraging us to act like it.

The good news is that he doesn’t just leave us high and dry, but lays out a manual for us. In just a few verses he takes us through “Acting Like a Child of God 101”. Here are, according to Paul, the things people with our calling are supposed to display:

Humility

Gentleness

Patience

Bearing with one another in love

Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

That is quite the list!

Imagine for a moment what the world might look like if we did even one of those things consistently! How would my family change if I approached them with more gentleness? How would my job change if I chose to bear with others in love even if I disagree with them? How might my community change if I created opportunities to experience unity? How would the church change if we were more humble every day?

I encourage you to grab out your Bible and a journal for the next part – let’s take some time for reflection.

Ask yourself the following questions for all 5 of these words or phrases:

What does ______________ mean?

For example, to me, “bearing with one another in love” means that love needs to be the foundation of everything I do. Without love I am unable to do life with others well. Without love, bearing with one another means doing it with gritted teeth and because of obligation. Love is a necessity.

What does ______________ look like?

For example, to me, “humility” looks like knowing who you are. It means having a correct view of yourself and your station – not thinking more or less of yourself. Pride is not humility. Self-deprecation is not humility. It’s the delicate balance intricately linked with your identity.

Now the fun begins:

Which of these is the easiest for you? Why?

Which of these is the hardest for you? Why?

Recently, I’ve been thinking audacious thoughts and ideas. These seem to be a little out there, a little grandiose, but I’m at a place in my life where I’m becoming okay with voicing them.

What if we each committed to intentionally incorporating one of these characteristics in our lives? Now, this doesn’t mean that we’ll be perfect – we’re going to fail, but we can choose to pick ourselves up and continue to grow.

I wonder how the world around us could change if we were intentional to love more, be more patient, be gentler, be humble in all situations, and look for opportunities for unity in the Spirit. I think that if we open ourselves up to walking in a manner worthy of our calling as precious daughters of the King and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, the world around us could look very different in even a short period of time. I’m willing to give this a try, are you?

 

Sarah currently lives in Dallas, Texas and dreams of founding businesses, giving strategically, and sharing art with the world.
Some of her favorites include: coffee shops, rainy days, a well crafted sentence, and a beautiful work of art. 
Some dislikes include: having her photo taken and driving in traffic. 
Her life motto is: Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.
Please visit her website at sarahjcallen.com. 

 

By Dr. Deborah Waterbury

I was doing an interview recently about my book, The Lies that Bind: And the Truth that Sets You Free, when the interviewer asked me something that sort of took me by surprise. Up to that point, the interview had been going pretty much like all of the others, but then this particular interviewer asked something that quite frankly, no one has asked me before, at least not so candidly or with such heart-felt sincerity. She simply paused for a second or two and almost whispered, “Deb, how were you able to share this part of your life? I mean, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it. How could you do it?”

I generally don’t skip much of a beat during interviews. As I just stated, I like them. I enjoy the opportunity, and I’m pretty quick on my feet. However, I have to admit, I paused for a quick breath. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. Truthfully, not sharing either what has happened to me or what I have done had never occurred to me. It’s not that I’m transparent, as so many have accredited to me. It’s just that I’m so grateful. I’m so appreciativeHow could I not share what I have done if it means not sharing what God has done for me?

As a teacher and a minister, that truth takes on an entirely new level of importance. Once we take on that mantel of responsibility, we also step into a different arena when it comes to God’s accountability. He demands more of us, and He will call us to a greater reckoning. That is a sobering reality, and if it doesn’t make every leader who is reading this article quake just a little bit in her shoes, then you aren’t thinking straight. James wrote in James 3:1, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (ESV) Now just in case you might argue that you don’t teach, you simply lead or counsel, I would argue that every time you move in some sort of leadership over another, you take up the mantel of teacher, and therefore this verse applies to all who lead in the church.

So what does “transparency” or “candor” have to do with responsibility in leadership, especially when it comes to leadership of women in the church? 

Women are relational. They are sensitive, and they are wary of judgment. I would venture to guess that is exactly why the interviewer who originally asked me the question at the beginning of this article was a woman. She couldn’t imagine sharing what I’ve shared because of the judgment she feared would come.

Conversely, when a woman feels a sense of security and peace, when she feels freedom and a knowledge that she is in a place where there is no judgment, she will receive truth and love and knowledge without restriction. She will open herself in ways that otherwise she would not, but that requires at least one person in this equation to have the courage to risk the judgment that every other hurting woman is trying to avoid. That woman must be the leader.

If God has called you to lead women or to minister to women, then I guarantee you that He has called you to some level of transparency. I can also guarantee you that there are more rewards than you can count when you will allow the charred ashes of your past be the beautiful balm that soothes the wounds of women in pain.

Let me end with a few ways you can be this candid, and let me stress, if you haven’t done anything like this up to now, it won’t come easy. However, as a leader, this attribute of vulnerability isn’t negotiable, not for the women’s leader. Some level of vulnerability is completely necessary, so even if you find it difficult, please give it at least some attention.

• Pray. Ask the Lord to show you areas of your life where He has shown His grace and mercy in supernatural and beautiful ways. Those are the things that He will use as you teach and minister to other women.
• Listen. When women are talking, listen to them. Listen to their hearts, their hurts, and don’t sit in judgment as they speak. Even if their situations aren’t exactly like something that has happened to you, often a heart situation is.
• Write out your testimony. Again, as leaders, many of us have heard this before, but take the time to do it. Something almost magical happens when you write. Connections are made that are simply not made, on a physical, psychological, and yes, even a spiritual level unless we are writing things down. 
• Own your salvation. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you think about it, this is the one thing that keeps us from being transparent or candid. It’s what brings us under condemnation, either from ourselves or susceptible to receiving it from others. If we would really own in our heart of hearts that we are the bride of Jesus Christ, then sharing anything about our pasts would be very, very easy.
• Meditate on Scripture. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, ESV) 
• Share in peace. When the time comes, whether that time is in front of a crowd or with one woman, know that our Father is honored that you trust Him with your past and with your future. After all, what better way to give honor to our God than with a life that is wholly used to His glory?

 by Dr. Deb Waterbury

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said something and then heard my 25-year-old son say, “Filter, Mom!” In truth, remembering to filter what goes on in my head before it comes out of my mouth has always been a struggle for me. I tend to speak much more than I should in some situations and then not say enough in others. Often I’ve missed the blessing of hearing what others are saying in both instances.

However, besides the obvious fact that I miss things, what is the ultimate responsibility I have in my words? Are there consequences far greater than what I may or may not miss? (more…)

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:
In all things the greatest of these is love.
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

By Raena Isaacson

Dear Hurting Moms:

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” ~Ecclesiastes 4:10

We are not intended to walk this journey alone. When we’re broken, Christ uses friends to help glue our pieces back together.

I’m inclined to hide when I’m suffering. What about you? (more…)

 By Dr. Deb Waterbury

I was having lunch with a beautiful young lady the other day, and we were commiserating on our individual inabilities to remember birthdays and holidays.  She was telling me of a funny time when her mother had broken a cherished bowl.  She found a replacement at the street fair one day in late October and determined herself then that she would buy the bowl and give it to her mother for Christmas.  She forgot, decided to give it to her for Mother’s Day, forgot, and subsequently gave it to her mother for Christmas the next year.  The problem was that she had placed a note in the gift wrapped box that was dated the year before her mother actually got it!  Caught red-handed!

I do that sort of thing all of the time, as I’m sure many of you do too.  I buy things or cards and put them away with full intentions of giving them to a special someone for their birthday or a holiday, only to not just forget where I put the gift or card, but to often forget the special day altogether!  I forget dates, occasions, calls–you name it, and I’ve forgotten it.  My young friend and I laughed together as we named ourselves “Time Capsule Friends”–that is, friends who give gifts late or make calls late so that we serve as a sort of “time capsule event” for the one getting them.  We excused our lack of memory as a sort of service instead.Time capsule

Of course our conversation was all in good fun, but I came face to face with the reality of my behavior while having coffee with another dear friend shortly afterward.

Understand that I am a busy woman.  We all are!  Kids, work, the house, our spouses, our church:  Women are more often than not overworked and over-extended in most areas of their lives. Consequently, my friends and co-workers in ministry are generally very gracious with me when I don’t return calls or occasionally re-schedule or even cancel coffee dates or lunch.  Sweetly they will say, “It’s okay, Deb.  I know you’re busy.”  And I am, just as you are and they are and we all are.  However, is that always a good excuse?  Do we allow our undeniably busy lives to interfere with ministering to one another as friends and loved ones?  Is a busy life an excuse to selfishly ignore the needs of others?

As I alluded to, I had coffee shortly after my lunch with another dear friend.  We had talked for a while, and I noticed that she was stammering a little, obviously trying to figure out how to tell me what was really on her mind.  Suddenly and without warning, she began to weep right there in the coffee shop.

“I’m sorry, Deb, but I need to see you sometimes.  I need time with you, not often, but occasionally.”

I stopped short.  You see, this is not the first time I’ve heard this, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this recently.  I get so caught up in my work for the Lord that I had begun to forget the work of the Lord.  I write and minister and speak and counsel, and often I think this is the bulk of what I should be doing.  Unfortunately, I sometimes also ignore that all of those things are absolutely nothing without relationship, without love and friendship and really ministering into one another’s lives.

Jesus, the one person in all of  eternity who truly had an excuse to maybe cancel a few coffees and lunches, never did so.  Right after teaching the Sermon on the Mount, He didn’t hesitate to heal the leper or go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant or to heal Peter’s mom or hundreds of others.  He was busy.  He was about the Lord’s work, but our Savior knew that this work was accomplished in relationship and giving time to individuals.

What excuse have you given for not meeting with a friend or a woman who needs you?  Is it your children or your grandchildren or your job or even your ministry?  Sisters, please don’t do what I’ve done and think that it’s somehow a service or even adorably quaint to be a “Time Capsule Friend.”  It isn’t. God has called us to pour into one another’s lives and live in the love exemplified for us by our Savior.

Needless to say, I’ve made a few long overdue calls lately and paid a few long overdue visits.  My work can wait. After all, it’s really meaningless if in it I am not showing the love of Jesus to the people around me.

Do you need to pick up the phone?