Monday, May 28, 2012

ANNOUNCING SUMMER SERIES: Life Lessons


I'm excited to announce our new Summer Series: "Life Lessons".

Our circle of writers is growing and I look forward to introducing these wonderful women of virtue to you. Together, we will pass along the lessons we've learned by just living life:
  • the trials and triumphs
  • the rises and falls
  • the ebb and the flow
  • the rainbows in our clouds
  • the ups and downs of attempting to live a life committed to Christ
Hindsight is 20/20, right?

So, I have asked our Woven Women to pull out their old journals and start mining for gold...those precious moments when we feel so helpless and hopeless and then...God steps in! He turns our terror into treasure. 

I have no doubt that we will be sharing some of the very situations you are dealing with, worrying and wondering and waiting for the storm to pass. Your spirit will be strengthened just knowing that one of our Woven Sisters has walked before you and they have not only made it to the other side, but they are better women because of their experience! 

As I write this, my three-year-old grandson has been pulling and tugging at me, ready to go the beach. It's going to be a wonderful day with family. I know these are moments I will treasure in my heart forever. There is no doubt that through the eyes of my two little grandbabes, God will show me something very special about life today. I'm excited to find these buried treasures in the sand.

Ooops...they left without me...Grampy called out, "See ya later, Girlie!" And Jude echoed his words, "See ya Girlie! Have fun in your house!" My heart is smiling big-time! 

Gotta Go! See ya Girlies! :D 

LIFE LESSONS...beginning Monday, June 4th, right here at Woven Women
PS: I love you!
~Cindy

Sunday, May 27, 2012

TODAY: A Day of HOLY!

PENTECOST: A DAY OF HOLY!

Parting Words...

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..."

These were the parting words of Jesus to his disciples. Moments after he said this, He was taken up in a cloud into heaven: right before their eyes! They were eyewitnesses of the ascension of our Christ. Now, I dare you to even try to imagine that!

Final Plea...

"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised...John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

These were Jesus' final words of instruction, his final plea before leaving this earth:
  • To stay in our hometown. Do not leave until we are fully prepared for ministry.
  • To wait. God moves in His perfect timing. We don't know when that is. Jesus said it would be "in a few days". For the disciples, "a few days" was 50 days! I am sure that as days became weeks, they must have been wondering, "Did it happen without us?" or "Did God forget us?
Obedient Waiting...

"They returned to Jerusalem...When they arrived, they went upstairs...They all joined together constantly in prayer."

We wait, surrender, anticipate. While we wait, we PRAY for the Holy Spirit to empower us, to sanctify us. This is a prayer God will certainly answer. He longs for us to be sanctified, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, to be holy as He is holy! Don't give up. Continue to pray and be obedient to what he asks of you in the waiting.

We Witness...

"you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth."

The power comes with a purpose; and our purpose comes with the power. We become empowered to witness and we become a living testimony of Christ. We exemplify His holiness. The change is noticeably different.

And, we worship, celebrate, anticipate His coming!

(Passages quoted from Acts Chapter 1 NIV 1984)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.

REVELATION SONG

"This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it's out in the open.
God wanted everyone, not just Jews,
to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out,
regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing.

The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you,
so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory.
It's that simple.

That is the substance of our Message.
We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message.
We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that
we can bring each person to maturity.
To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less.
That's what I'm working so hard at day after day,
year after year, doing my best
with the energy God so generously gives me
(Colossians 1:26-29MSG)."

Friday, May 25, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Happily Ever After


"Happily Ever After"
by
Debbie Paxton

 
"Are your ears awake?
Listen. Listen to the Wind Words,
the Spirit blowing through the churches.
I'm about to call each conqueror to dinner.
I'm spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit,
a supper plucked from God's orchard."
~Revelation 2:7MSG

I rose this morning to brilliant sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. I went for an early morning run. As I ran I reflected on my life and the change that Christ has made.  The THENS and the NOWS of my life...

THEN 
I ran on Chicago streets: noise, busy-ness, plenty of people. Sky scrapers to my right, high rises to my left, cars honking, the city waking – full of life and energy.  Exactly what I wanted at age 18, when I left my tiny hometown. As I ran, I took it all in – I had done it, made it, moved far from home to the big city. Knowing no one, I got a job and apartment, all on my own. And yet, somehow in my heart, something was missing... it wasn’t enough.

NOW 
I run on an old B&B railway that has been made into a trail, it winds through pastures and hills, farmland and woodlands, following a river through the trees. I run to the sound of birds singing, a cow bellowing, the wind rustling through the trees. A blue bird lands on the trail in front of me, a chipmunk scurries across. Up ahead I see a deer, but not another human soul. Yet, my heart is full of companionship and love – my Father is with me and I thank Him for His creation. It is somehow, enough.

THEN
I ran after a night on the town: symphonies and concerts, theater and restaurants. After dinner with friends, glasses of wine and espresso coffee, after deep conversations uninterrupted by the chatter of little ones. After a full night’s sleep, uninterrupted by crying, hungry infants. My life was full. I was young and free. And yet, somehow I felt empty. It just wasn’t...enough.

NOW 
I run after a late night talking with my troubled teen, nights interrupted by children with bad dreams or the flu. Conversations with my husband are snippets of words expressed over toddlers hanging on legs or children pulling on arms. There is little money for dinner out and not many options when we can afford it. There are few movies worthy of spending my money on, the language makes me cringe and sex & violence hurt my heart. Entertainment now is watching America’s Funniest Home Videos surrounded by little people, a snoring dog at my feet, a smiling husband across the room. And yet somehow, it satisfies – I look at them all, safely at home, and whisper “thank you” to my Papa in heaven…it is enough.

THEN
I ran before dressing up in a skirt and jacket, commuting by subway with brief case in hand, to a high rise in the city.  My career in full bloom, I thought I would find purpose and a sense of worth. I had money, lots of it, and lots of things to spend it on. I managed other people. I was successful. And yet, I came home at night feeling lost and adrift. The things I had gathered around me seemed pointless. It just wasn’t…. enough.

NOW 
I run before a day of dishes, laundry, teaching long division, cleaning up dog poo, mowing the lawn. I dress in cut-offs and a t-shirt. My conversations? Talking with my teen about boys, helping my preteen pick out something to wear, praising my 11 year old as she does a trick on the trampoline. My career is comprised of teaching, loving, holding, disciplining, instructing, correcting, laughing, and raising up my girls for the One who has raised me up. I help them to know Him, to recognize His voice, obey His laws, encounter His grace and receive His love. I do my "job" with second-hand furniture, a used minivan, a dining room table marred with nicks and flecks of fingernail polish that won’t come off. But I love it! My day begins and ends and my every moment is spent in communion with my Lord, abiding in Him, praying to Him. And somehow - it is more than enough...

Because NOW, I feel His joy in me. His peace and His love well up within me. His Spirit overflows my soul with goodness and grace and I delight in this ever-present oneness with Him, and it is, He is, always, always…enough.

Is He enough for you?
I pray that you will find this Oneness with Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Reflect on your THENS and NOWS as you listen to the words of this song.
Will you place your life in His hands today and totally surrender to His plans, His Spirit?
I am praying you will!



________________________________________________

It's a joy to introduce you to my close friend and personal prayer partner, Debbie Paxton. As you can tell, she has a deep love for the Lord. She is very gifted in the Spirit and a powerful intercessor. Love you Debbie!

Debbie is very happily married to Dave. She set aside her career to raise her three daughters. This past year, she re-entered her chosen field of counseling, this time with years of life experiences through which she is able to help others. She loves to work out, ride her bike on the trail, and hang out with the Lord.

Debbie is truly a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Juicing With Joyce

 Juicing With Joyce
by
Kathleen Benis
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
for the help of His presence.”
Psalm 42:5 NASB

Growing up I was blessed with a life of learning about God and how to walk in His ways. These teachings gave me boundaries and a sense of security. And yet, I felt incomplete. Something was missing in my relationship with the Lord.




Fast-forward to Spring of 1994. I was on the fast-track to success. Climbing the corporate ladder, I longed for a simpler life. God sent a neighbor to tell me about Jesus. She shared that if I asked Jesus into my heart, He would change my life. As I began to pursue Jesus, Jesus began to work out His plan. 
 
 
To my surprise, my workplace moved their headquarters to Cincinnati. I was left without a job. Exhausted. Uncertain. Not knowing what to do. God had literally plucked me out of my fast-paced lifestyle and sat me down in the middle of my living room.

 






Well...now what am I to do?
I felt demoted. Insignificant. Alone and unimportant.

With time to spare, I began to walk my neighborhood. I met some great neighbors that I never had the time for. Before I knew it, I was caring for two newborns on our street. While shaking rattles, I surfed the television channels. One morning I stopped to listen to a woman speaker named Joyce Meyer. It was captivating to hear God's word being taught. I began a morning ritual. Putting the babies in their bouncy seats. Serving them a fresh bottle of juice. Opening my Bible as Joyce taught “Life in the Word”.



Those babies must have thought Joyce came to visit each day. Their little feet would start kicking when they heard her voice. My heart would start ticking as I listened to her words. She shared our need for a counselor. She explained how God has sent The Holy Spirit, who is our Counselor, our Advocate, our Helper, a representative of Christ.
Jesus had slowed my run to a crawl. He provided this down time to teach me to listen. The Holy Spirit walked into my unhurried life. I learned to distinguish His voice apart from my own thoughts and intuition. The Holy Spirit became my perfect Counselor. His words personally and intimately transformed my heart. He gave me new purpose. He filled the void of "what was missing" in my heart: a spirit-filled relationship with God.
 
 
Those newborn babies graduate this year. Who would have guessed that as I cared for them, I was a newborn babe as well! I was being spiritually birthed and bathed in Christ, sanctified by His Holy Spirit. I have long since graduated, but will never stop growing! Life in the Spirit is an ever-widening circle of holiness.
 
 

As I reflect back on those fleeting years, my husband is listening to an old Frank Sinatra song, “My Way”. I am so grateful for how the Holy Spirit captured my heart and drew me from a life of “My Way”, to a life of "His Ways". His way is the holy way! And that's the only way I want to live.










"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6NIV1984)."
_________________________________________
Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.

Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Sometimes I Dance



Sometimes I Dance
by
Deronda Bryant

The Holy Spirit was speaking to me my entire life.  I was just too busy to listen.


As a little girl, I would read my Bible at night, then bend on my little knees beside my bed, and pray to Jesus. I did it with a loving heart, but it was merely a habit or ritual. It was late. I was tired. I just wanted to do the right thing and have it done. I didn’t take time to listen.  As a child, I wanted to be with my friends and peers. This ‘habit’ continued throughout my life.

As a wife, mother, and yes, now grandmother, I’ve learned not to take God for granted.  I truly need to start my day with Him before I do anything.  How else will I grow and mature to be the woman of God He intends me to be? How will I know His plans for me? 

I start my day with a scripture. I write in my devotional what God is saying in that particular verse. And...He shows up! Then, when I get on my knees to pray, He is so very near. I also spend time in praise and worship.  I turn up the music and sing to the Lord.  Sometimes I even dance for my King. This lifts my spirit. I am one with my Savior. 

“In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare {a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart] (Psalm 5:3AMP).”

When I decided to begin my mornings with God, I asked a woman in my church to hold me accountable.  I knew I needed to be with God first-thing, but I had a habit of watching television or getting on the computer. My friend asks me at least twice a week if I am keeping the television off and getting with God. This is what the body of Christ is about. When we walk the journey together, we experience the “oneness” that Jesus referred to in His prayer for believers:

“I pray also for those who will believe in me…that all of them may be one (John 17:20-21NIV1984).”
What used to be a chore for me is now a joy! I can’t wait to start each day with God, to experience this oneness with Him, to see where His spirit leads and what He will show me in His word. What makes it even more exciting? Having sisters in Christ to share the journey with!
Will you share this journey with us?
  • Find a friend or someone you can trust to hold you accountable. 
  • Begin your prayer time with scripture. Even if it’s just one verse, that's a start. Soon you'll want to read more. 
  • Don’t forget to take time to listen and to worship Him.  
I know you will be amazed at how much smoother your day will go, and how intimately Jesus cares.


“Lord, I pray for my sisters who have a desire to get into Your word, but feel they have no time – I pray You will show them there is always time for You. I pray they will take this first step in getting alone with you. This time with you is so precious! I know once they start, they will never stop.” Amen.   

Enjoy the beautiful message of this song today!
Turn it up loud and sing along! Maybe, just maybe...you will dance! 

Listen closely to the words, and then..."Live like you believe!"

LIVE LIKE YOU BELIEVE ~ Jenny Phillips
 ____________________________________________
I am happy to introduce  you to my new friend Deronda! She will be contributing to our summer blog series.

Deronda grew up as a pastor's daughter. She loves God with all her heart. Her desire is to teach love, compassion, and mercy to the hurting.

Deronda and hubby Rick of 35 years live in Massillon, Ohio. They have two daughters; both married and work as RN's.  They also have 3 grandsons, two of which have autism.  Deronda is in a new stage of life, excited to see where God is taking her.  She is writing a book about autism. 

She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Are You Singing?

“Are You Singing?”
by
Cheryl Simpson
 
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
~Galatians 5:25 (NIV1984) 

Have you ever met someone who seemed to have a song in their heart? Not only do they smile from ear-to-ear, they seem to have an extra bounce to their step when they walk. You may have even asked, "Why are you so happy?" It's evident they have discovered oneness with God.

It's thrilling to imagine when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. I see singing and laughter. I picture grown men acting like silly little girls. They had received the Holy Spirit and were twirling and dancing together as One body, just as Christ predicted! Peter even had to justify their behavior saying “No, we are not drunk.”

In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus speaks to the church of Ephesus. What an outstanding church this must have been. They worked in unison. They persevered and absolutely did not tolerate wickedness. However, they were lacking something. They had forgotten their first love. They had forgotten to call on the Holy Spirit; to listen to the small still voice that would speak truth to their hearts and souls. They had forgotten to take the hand of our Guide and to listen.

"But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love](Rev. 2:4AMP)."

I have been there too. Like the church of Ephesus, I forgot that life in the Spirit is a dance, but only when we allow Him to lead. At the time, I served as a public school teacher. All day long, students filed in and out of my classroom. Immediately after school, I went to a ministry position that carried a great deal of responsibility. I confess that I did not set apart quality time for quiet time with the Lord. I was out of step. I was self-sufficient. I was constantly on the run.

Sound familiar? Do you feel like the proverbial hamster in the cage, running circles on the wheel?
Jesus told the church of Ephesus to REPENT! He tells us to do the same! 

"Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord](Rev 2:5AMP)."
James McCracken , my son’s father-in-law and lead pastor of his church, shared,  “We must identify and understand that which threatens our ability to flourish.” This is profound! This takes prayer and crying out to the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us. Then, it requires obedience to follow His lead. Therein is our joy, our dance, our song!

Are you singing today? Dancing? A song written by Matt Redman, “10,000 Reasons” has recently stirred my soul. May this be your song of worship today...


Father God,
As we come before you to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, we thank you for this incredible gift. We confess that we do not call on the Spirit to be our guide as we should. We feel self-sufficient. We can live this life in our own power. Forgive us. We want to be spinning in glory of you, allowing You to lead us in this dance of life, worshipping you in Spirit and in truth. Help us, the universal Church to pursue holiness, our earthly mission. As we begin each new day, send your Spirit and help us to keep singing and pointing others to Your love song.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

_______________________________________________________


Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene. She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Monday, May 21, 2012

50 Days of Holy! We Are One

  
This is our last week of our 50 Days of Holy! series. But don't panic! We have something special planned for the summer. I will be announcing it soon. Soooo...Lets' Stay Connected. We Are Woven!

This week we will be looking at the Oneness, unity, holiness that is available through the Holy Spirit. One example of this unity is the story "Get Up and Walk", posted May 17, about my call to church planting. If we take  a second look at that sequence of events, we clearly see how God was moving through different members of His church to accomplish His will:
  • God wanted a church in Apple Valley.
  • He spoke to my District Superintendent and even placed my name on his heart.
  • My DS shared this God-thought with me, (though at the time, he added a disclaimer: "I think it's the Holy Spirit, but it could just be bad pizza.") haha
  • Little did my DS know, but five years earlier, one of my college professors said to me, "I've always thought the district should plant a Nazarene church in Apple Valley." I never forgot those words. In those five years, I reflected on them often. Mark and I had even talked it about it a few times. A few months before the DS proposed this to me, the thought that perhaps I should plant that church kept running through my mind.
     
  • Then enter the DS from Wisconsin, who had heard me preach at a revival in Green Bay. His phone call and invitation to plant a church, again affirmed that God was speaking.

  • Then my prayer partners, who knew nothing about the church planting opportunity or my prayer for healing. Yet, they became the vehicle God chose for releasing His healing gifts to me. An answer to my prayer. 

  • Through one particular prayer partner, He affirmed His plan by repetitively speaking the words: "Cindy, Apple Valley Church."
I was called, appointed, affirmed, healed, and affirmed again. Through the Holy Spirit's power and prompting, Cindy became God's instrument to plant the Apple Valley Church! God used every one of us to reveal and implement His plans. We see why it is so vital that we speak what He tells us to speak and do what He tells us to do. Jesus said,
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me (John 10:27)."
  • Are you listening?
  • Are you following?
  • Are you speaking when He tells you to speak?
  • Are you going where He tells you to go?
  • Are you doing what He asks you to do?
 
Wow! It's mind-boggling to think how the Church would grow, Christianity would spread, and lives would be changed if we were all working in obedience and in unison as the body of Christ!

I'm praying God's will over you today: that you will personally hear His voice and be obedient to His whispers on your heart.

I love you!
We Are Woven!
~Cindy
I love how God is using this blog to unite us and weave our hearts together in His love. Please share how God is working in your heart and life. Feel free to leave a comment or message me on FB or simply leave a comment below.  (Though many have had trouble leaving a comment, it really just requires a name). xoxoxo


Saturday, May 19, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Daughters of the King


"It is God's will that you should be sanctified...(I Th. 4:3)"


Pentecost is next Sunday, May 27. The Day of Pentecost is a day of celebrating the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, which took place fifty days after Jesus Christ arose from the dead. This is a very significant event in the life of the body of Christ, the Church. Holiness is a distinctive of the beliefs of The Church of the Nazarene.

God is holy. He calls us to be holy as He is holy (Lev. 19:2; I Pet. 1:15). He does not expect us to do this on our own. He sent the Holy Spirit to live within the very depth of our being, and to sanctify us.

Sanctification means we are set apart by God to be holy, and to grow more and more in the likeness and purity of Christ. Sanctification takes us beyond salvation from sin through Christ, to power over sin through the Holy Spirit. Through Christ and the promised Holy Spirit, God has made possible the IMpossible!

God calls us by name. He claims us as daughters. What an incredible honor. It is beyond belief! We are eternal Daughters of the King.
"Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father's house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord (Ps. 45:10-11NIV)."

Will you take just ten or twenty minutes to really soak in the Lord's presence as you listen to this beautiful song?
  • Try to absorb what it really means to be loved by the God who created the universe.
  • Think about how you can respond to this incomprehensible position of honor.
  • Ask Him to make you holy as He is holy; to make you totally His and fully prepared for what He has for you to do.
  • Seek to live in unity with His Spirit by listening and being obedient to His voice.

"Daughter of a King" sung by Jenny Phillips

Friday, May 18, 2012

50 DAYS OF HOLY: Just Do It!

 
 

"Do everything without arguing or complaining,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault
in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars in the universe..."
Philippians 2:14-15NIV1984

I am so busted when I read this passage! I can still remember the first time I discovered these first five words: "Do everything without arguing or complaining." As pastor, I was leading a time of prayer for our church plant, when "Wham!" Someone read this passage and I was immediately convicted. Six years ago and I still remember it. How could such a small phrase carry such a powerful punch?

I'm guessing it's power comes with the fact that we seek, ask, plead, and beg God for direction. Yet, so often when He answers, it's not what we want to hear. It's not what we want to do. It's not really the answer we were hoping for. Usually, this means the answer requires US to do something, when we were really hoping for God to "Just do it!"

We expect God to reveal the masterplan. When, all the while, the Holy Spirit is daily whispering in our spiritual ears to go here, go there. Say these words to this person, give a hug to that person. Send a note. Write a letter. Make a phone call. Tend to business. We want to do God's will? Well, the Holy Spirit is sending us on a mission every day. But we don't follow through.

How do we know it's the Holy Spirit?
If we find ourselves arguing with that internal voice of instruction, then we know it must not be our idea. If it's something that would be pleasing to God and would share His love or further His mission, then we also know it's not "the devil made me do it" either. We can be sure that if it's the devil, it will be something very tempting that we will want to do, but we know we shouldn't.

I cannot count the number of times I have wished I had followed through on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. As events transpired, I could always look back and see that God was preparing me for what was ahead. If I had just done what He had placed on my heart and on my to-do list, I could have avoided many hardships and pitfalls.

In the same way, I cannot count the number of times that I followed the Spirit's prompting and was so glad I did! God is so amazing to give us a heads-up! Let's agree to "do everything without arguing and complaining". Just think of the stories we can share!

And to think that by simply being obedient, He has made it possible for us to
  • become blameless and pure
  • children of God
  • without fault
  • shine like stars in the universe
Sounds like a great plan, doesn't it?

To live at this level of obedience, we must get alone with God every single day. Besides praying and presenting our requests to Him, it requires that we also spend time listening to His requests for us. Just like any other relationship, our conversation with God requires speaking and listening.

Ahh! I am so excited to hear what God has planned for me, for you!
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has planned for those who love him--but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit (ICor.2:9-10)."
Has God placed a God-sized dream  your heart?
We would love to hear how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you!
Leave a comment below or on our Woven Women FB page.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Get Up and Walk



In December of 2003, in a meeting with my District Superintendent (Church of the Nazarene), he spoke to me about planting a church in Apple Valley, Ohio. I was quite surprised. Though I had dreams of church planting, I had never spoken to him about it. I promised I would pray, but at the time, I was preparing for my first mission trip to South Africa. Obviously, church planting was not at the top of my prayer list!

Two months later, I recieved a call from the District Superintendent in Wisconsin. He asked that I pray about planting or restarting a church in the Milwaukee area. Yes, God was getting my attention at this point! I realized I had some serious apprehensions about this assignment. I was avoiding this God-call.

Church planting looked a lot like starting a new business. Been there. Done that. It takes a lot of energy. I had been suffering with chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia for a few years. My prayers began by telling the Lord if He wanted me to do this, He would have to give me the energy. "Renew my strength, Lord."

Then, I became very blunt: "I feel old and tired. If you want me to plant a church, then heal me! More than that, give me clear confirmation that You are calling me to do this. I want to know without a doubt this is Your will for me." Within two weeks, God powerfully answered my prayer.


My prayer partners met on a Friday evening. As we began to pray, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Get up and walk." I had no idea what this message was about, but it kept repeating in my mind. It brought a sense of peace and comfort. Before the evening was over, I was lying on the sofa with my prayer partners gathered around. As they prayed for me and praised God for results, I was healed. It felt as though a huge burden was physically lifted from my body. Even the next morning, when I awoke, I felt light as a feather, as though I had lost twenty pounds. And I was no longer in pain.


The interesting thing was that every morning, the Holy Spirit continued to whisper, "Get up and walk." Like the man on the mat that Jesus healed, I had to declare this healing by physically walking it into existence. I took that literally. I began walking every morning. It strengthened my body and my faith. Both would be necessary for planting a church.


God obviously wanted me to plant a church. But where? I had not told any of my prayer partners about the church plant or my petition to God for healing. I did, however, ask one of them to pray for a decision I needed to make. A few days later, I asked if she had prayed and if God had spoken to her. She said,
"Well, I have been praying, but what keeps coming to my mind doesn't make any sense. I don't even know if it's from God or not. I don't think it's what you were wanting to hear. Every time I close my eyes to pray for you, I hear, 'Cindy, Apple Valley Church!"
Romans 8:27-28 reminds us that if God calls us, He will equip us. Part of that equipping is the ability to communicate on a God-level through the Holy Spirit.
"the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV1984)." 
Lord God,
I pray that we would not be too timid to ask for what You have promised in Your word. You want to heal us, to send us, to come alongside us. We choose the mundane. You offer abundant living. We stumble around, weak and weary. You tell us to pick up our mat and walk. We feast on the crumbs that fall to the floor. You call us to come to Your table and eat the Bread of Life. 
Lord, give us an appetite for all that You have to offer us. Give us a thirst for "greater things than these".
In the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

50 Days of Holy! The Great Adventure


"But thanks be to God,
who always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ..."
2 Corinthians 2:14a

If you've not yet caught the meaning to our blogging madness this week, we are talking about how the Holy Spirit applies God's word to our hearts. He uses God's word to bring conviction (correction/discipline), direction (God's will), application, supplication (prayer), devotion (commitment, obedience). God's word is the road map. The Holy Spirit is our navigator, our guide.

After twenty years of depending upon the Holy Spirit to lead me on life's journey, I cannot imagine going it alone. One thing is for sure, I could never have come up with the adventures that God has unfolded before me as I have followed Him.

The year of 2001 is one such adventure. The Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart to resign from the church I was pastoring. Though I was reluctant, I was obedient. My final Sunday was Sept. 7, 2001. I left that church wondering, "What's next, Lord?" I questioned His plans for my future, with no idea that in just two days, an international event would lead to my next ministry assignment.

As I watched the news coverage of the World Trade Center disaster, I knew I had to go. I was incredibly compelled, called, to come to the aid of the hurting hearts of New York City. How would I gain access? What would I do once I was there? God answered my questions. He definitely led me.

For several months, I had been compelled to attend a Billy Graham School of Evangelism. Now I took that tugging on my heart seriously. There were so many fine details of God's leading and affirming that it is just incredible. But I am confined to the "condensed version". This was what my "triumphant procession in Christ" looked like:
  • October: My husband and I attended a BGEA School of Evangelism in Fresno, California.
    • My hubby actually took a week of vacation to go with me. Now, there's an affirmation!
    • They announced that BGEA had a 9-11 House of Prayer in NYC and an evangelistic outreach to the city of New York.
  • November 11: I arrived with a friend in NYC for two weeks of outreach through BGEA and Harvest Christian Fellowship.
    • We did street evangelism, worked with Salvation Army, Nino's Restaurant, FEMA, Red Cross, etc.
    • We listened to countless rescue workers and victims of the attack, offering them comfort and hope and prayer.
  • December: I returned to NYC to The Lamb's Manhatten Church of the Nazarene on Times Square to recruit, train, and lead volunteers to counsel victims. Hundreds were witnessed to and received Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • January-June: I continued in a capacity of outreach and pastoral ministries at The Lamb's.
I share this journey not to build myself up. For I am nothing without Christ. I share it to demonstrate that God's plans are greater than anything we can dream up for ourselves. To have been used by God in this way is still beyond what I could ask or imagine. It is difficult for me to process even now, eleven years later: that God would choose, call, send, and use me for this unimaginable task. It totally blows my mind!

"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant: not of the letter, but of the Spirit...(2Cor.3:4-6NIV1984).

  • Has the Holy Spirit been tugging at your heart?
  • Is God asking you to do the unimaginable for Him?
  • Do you feel incompetent, incapable of following through?
  • Are you waiting, wondering what your purpose is? What God's will is for your life?
He wants nothing more than to lead you on the adventure of a lifetime! The only job qualifications are willing hands and an obedient heart. When the Holy Spirit leads, you will be surprised at the confidence you have, to do what you have never done before.

Let this be your prayer today:

Lord,
I "throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles.
I run with perseverence the race you have marked out for me. 
I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith.(from Hebrews 12:1-2aNIV1984)."
Show me the plans you have for me. I want to be obedient to your every desire. I want to live in anticipation of your Holy Spirit's whispers and His tugging on my heart.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

50 Days of Holy! What Are You Thinking?


"What Are You Thinking?"
By Kathleen Benis

"We are assured and know that God, being a partner in their labor, all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”
Romans 8:28 Amplified Bible

Through my current study of Jennifer Rothchild's Me Myself and Lies, God is allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and be a “watchman at my thought closet door.”

Our family is walking out some real emotional issues as we trust God for Him to bring a baby to us through adoption. As mom, and soon to be grammy, I see my son and his wife preparing. My emotions run wild. Why doesn't she wait until the baby  is legally theirs before setting up the nursery? Will she be able to handle closing the nursery door, if this baby is not intended for her.

My daughter-in-love Michelle works hard everyday as a teacher. Nathan will be the primary caregiver of this sweet baby boy during her work day. Guess what that means? Grammy will have a big responsibility to this baby. But, I want to play with my husband, race around in his sports car with him. Have lunch with friends. Write blogs that encourage and uplift my gal pals. What if a baby cuts into all this?

The enemy steps into my “thought closet”.
"You should feel sorry for yourself."
"You deserve your freedom."
"You are all alone in these thoughts. If you share them you will only make yourself look selfish."
"You know God only made you to be a “need meter”, so put your “I make needy people” t-shirt on, and get busy."
"How bad will you feel when, after all your crying out, all your prayers, God doesn't even give you this baby?!"

Wow, I”m depressed. And, by this time, I bet even you are thinking, "Is she trying to help me feel better today? or worse!"

Feelings are powerful, but they don't always represent truth, and they are not a sin to have. It's what we do with our thoughts that make the difference. We must control what we say to our souls.

The best antidote to a mood like this is to adjust my feelings with the truth of God. I need to rehearse the truth in my mind: 
  • Jesus knows I love Him.
  • He will give me a set-right and put-together life.
  • Being a Grammy will be as God has promised in Ephesians 3:20, “More than I could ask or imagine”.
As I breath in God's promises, and watch the Holy Spirit guide me to scripture after scripture of truth, the heaviness of emotion lifts. Like a“balm”, a salve of tenderness soothes my down-cast heart. I see God equipping me. He begins to lift the burden and the fear. He allows me to see what a joy and privilege it is to have this great family. Instead of a surplus of emotion that causes me to act without wisdom, I am empowered to control my self-talk.

I choose to stand on Philippians 4:6,7:


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

~Kathleen has so generously opened her "thought closet" to us today. I wish I was sitting across the kitchen table from you this morning, hugging a cup of our fave brew, openly sharing  our thoughts and concerns. I wonder what you would tell me. I imagine ways in which I could encourage you and pray for God to alleviate your worries, your concerns, your fears. He has been so faithful to me, and yet, I still find myself going down the path of fear and negativity at times. I, too, am in need of encouragement and affirmation.
Whatever you are facing today, I can assure you of this: God is with you and He will never leave you. In the murkiest moments of my life, God was there. He proved Hiimself faithful. And, He took all the ugliness of my life and has made it beautiful!
I don't know what you are facing, but I am praying for you! If you would like to share specific requests or an unspoken request, we welcome you to leave a comment. (You don't need to fill in the "URL" section, just a name is all you need to submit it. Or post it on the Woven Women FB Page.) May you be blessed today with a clear mind and God-thoughts!
Much Love~~Cindy
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Kathleen's husband Larry has given her 31years of happiness and now a beautiful home in Newark, Ohio, near their son Nathan and daughter-in-"love" Michelle.

Kathleen loves the Lord and loves sharing insights from God's Word. She loves to help others walk through the hard times, celebrate the good times and give hope in the messy-ness of life.
She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!

Monday, May 14, 2012

50 Days of Holy! Follow the Yellow Brick Road


“Follow the Yellow Brick Road”
(a new enlightened version)
by Cheryl Simpson

"When He, the spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;
for He will not speak on His own authority,
but whatever He hears He will speak;
and He will tell you things to come.”
John 16:13

When I was five years of age, the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, was being watched by families across our country. Dorothy was looking for her way home. The only one who could help her was the Wizard who lived in the Emerald City. Along the way she met a scarecrow who longed to have a heart, a lion who wished for courage and a tin man who desired a brain, wisdom. Longing for a home, a heart of love, inner courage, and wisdom, they sought to find this wizard.

I invite you to follow the yellow brick road with me for a new (enlightened) version of the story. In this version, instead of a powerless wizard, Jesus Christ is the "the way, the truth, and the life". No one else can take us to our Father! And the Holy Spirit is our guide along the way, leading us and preparing us for our heavenly home, where the streets are paved with gold.  

Dorothy is filled with hope of HOME.
We can imagine her singing, “We’re Marching to Zion.” We can also see her clicking her ruby red slippers dreaming of heaven, whispering, “There’s no place like home.” When she sings “Some Where over the Rainbow”, she is actually singing the lyrics to “What a Day that will be!”
 
The scarecrow has a heart of love and compassion. He remembers that
“The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5)."

“All of you live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic. Love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8)."

Our dear friend, the tin man has wisdom!

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17)."

The lion is quite courageous!

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1)."

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified (Deuteronomy 31:6)."

“God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)." 
As the Holy Spirit guides you along your yellow brick road today,
* Are you like Dorothy? Are you celebrating the hope of heaven? the streets that are paved in gold, rehearsing to the tune, "When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!"

*Are you like the Scarecrow? Are you seeking God’s wisdom by listening and responding to the Holy Spirit, surrendering,“Be Thou my vision, Oh Lord of my heart...”

*Are you a Lion? Are you walking boldly and courageously in faith, singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus."

* Are you like the Tin Man, showing compassion to others along the path of your daily life? Humming, "I want to be like Jesus in my Heart”? 
Our Glorious Father,
We praise you this day for the wonderful gifts you have given us through your Son, Jesus our Lord and Savior and through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate today.
We thank you that we can walk this road with full direction as we listen to the Spirit’s voice and stay obedient to His will and His way.
We thank you Father for your word that comes to mind as we read and apply your truths to our lives. Our desire is to continue to rejoice like these characters today that are skipping as they follow the yellow brick road, singing to our Lord and Savior all the way! We are having such fun in you and there is no pretending just rejoicing.”
Amen and Amen

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Cheryl is the grateful wife of 36 years to Ken. They have two children and five granddaughters. Previously a public school teacher, she now spends much of her week doing pastoral care for her church, Newark Church of the Nazarene. She is a Woven Woman: a Woman of Virtue!