Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bible Study - What Was Your Response?

by Missy Grant

“Do you think it is written too strongly? It is lengthy, not always good for a blog.”
My reply was, “Nope, it is well written. I would have hit harder. Thanks for writing it.”

Those words were part of an email discussion I was having with one of our gifted blog contributors. Sue, wrote a few weeks ago a rather detailed listing of the reasons to attend bible study. How did her post sit with you? Were you cheering or jeering at the end of it? More importantly, did you ask the questions at the end of the post? What did the Lord say to you? Do you remember her final question? I’ll refresh your memory….

"Am I willing to pray about it? (He could say ‘No, it’s not for you this year’—there is no risk with God.)"

I don’t believe in over committing --A phrase which has become synonymous with a woman’s activities. I believe a no is a no and it is a word which should be used more often (always filled with grace!). That being said, I also see women making choices for every activity, hobby, and friendly gathering available and then claiming too full of a schedule when the Lord puts Himself in front of them. Gathering together is commanded in scripture. Hebrews 10: 24-25 says, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

I was told this phrase once…do not prioritize your schedule, but schedule your priorities. In other words, don’t take your huge list of life activities and try to jockey them against each other and adjust and push and shove to make it work. Take that which is most important and schedule it. Of the items left – consider saying no. My challenge to you is to schedule your priorities and yes I am being so bold to say time spent with other believers in His word is a priority. Which list is Ladies Bible Study on in your life?

Ask yourself this question. Are you forsaking gathering regularly with a community of believers under His word which is for the purpose of shifting our gaze from us to Him? A time when our children are cared for so we can feel the Lord’s breath on our cheek as He speaks to us. A time when women who are older and younger than we are can sit shoulder to shoulder – knee to knee—hand to hand and worship Him. A time when we can share the aches of life, the joys of victory, the depth of thought. A time when we can laugh, cry, or just sit quietly.

It is easy in any season of life to fabricate reasons to do or not do something. Ouch…it is ok….you can grumble at me for that comment. But before you do, consider this. When was the last time you bowed to the Lord and said, “…not my will Lord, but yours…”

O Mighty Lord, you are the Word of Life. I want to honor you with my activities. I want my yes to be your yes. I want my no to be a prayerfully considered no. Allow me to rest in your decision for my activities. Help me to trust your provision for my emotional, spiritual, and fellowship needs. Lord, I praise you that I live in a community where bible study is available to me. We praise your precious name. Amen.

Friday, August 29, 2008

His Timing

by Kate Hasson

This has been an emotional month for me.

At the beginning of this month our third baby was due to be born. She’s not here.

We started our adoption process over a year ago and still nothing has happened. Yes, I know this hasn’t been as long as other’s, but the waiting is still hard. And getting a baby soon, just doesn’t look hopeful at the moment.Travis and I have a burning desire for more children. Yet none seem on the horizon. I miss the infant I would’ve been holding now, and yearn for a baby who needs me as his mother.


Today Psalm 148:6 gave me a blessing. In chapter 148 the psalmist is telling everything ever created to give praise to the Lord. He is our creator and in verse 6:

He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave His orders and that’s it!” (The Message)

Basically what came to my mind was, “God set our family in place since the beginning of creation. He ordered us together, and that’s it!Praise Him!

Next I get

Psalm 34:8 (NKJV) – “O taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Psalm 36:7 (NKJV) – “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow or Your wings.”

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) – “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah.

God knew exactly what is best for my family and has ordained it to be so since the beginning of time. I can most assuredly put my trust in Him! I’m sure I will always miss my little baby whom I miscarried last December 7th, but I know He had a plan for that. I don’t need to fret about His timing in bringing our adopted baby to us. He has it under control.

Praise the Lamb who is worthy to be praised!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


by Missy Grant

I was contemplating sailing yesterday......long story as to why.
Do I date myself when I say the Christopher Cross song 'Sailing' was in my mind all day?
(I just heard you openly laugh at kids said, "who is Christopher Cross?")

Luke 8:22 says, "Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other side of the lake'."....Most seem to miss the importance of this very first command as they hurry to Jesus calming the sea. But first He tells them they are going to the other side. They panicked when the storm arose. They forgot that He already told them where they were going. Their hearts would have been full of peace in the storm had they first acknowledged He had already assured them of their destination.

Are you panicking or peaceful today? Did the Lord already tell you where you were going? (think eternity and the heavenly Jerusalem). Listen to His first words - they always bring His peace.

O mighty God, I crave your peace. I too often miss your first words because I am hurrying towards a desired answer in panic. Your peace comes from your grace. I praise you Lord that you forgive my stubborn ways. May our petitions be full of praise. Amen

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

God's Garden of Grace

by Debbi Weeks

Titus 3:5-7

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness,
but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I’m not much of a gardener. No one would say I have a green thumb. In fact, I have been told I have a brown thumb. (Why do people have to point out the obvious when it’s a deficit in my abilities – it’s like when people remind me of the fact that I can’t carry a tune?! Ah, but I digress . . . )

Still I am persevering in learning how to at least keep a few things alive. I even have a five and a half year old houseplant. It’s nothing beautiful, in fact most people would probably toss it, but I keep it simply for the fact that I have kept it alive for the past five and half years! On the outside of my home I’m doing better too. By planting in pots and utilizing a drip system, things seem to be growing and we have some color. I work hard for a little reward – but little reward is not no reward. I’m thankful for the little I do have.

While I have worked hard for some of my flowers, my two favorite flowers appeared on their own in late spring. They grew out of the cracks in our concrete stairway. Of all places it was there where they are not watered, where there is no soil and where they are totally unattended. Yet, they are thriving as much or more than the flowers I labor over.

I like to think God put them there just for me – to bring me a little bit of joy as I’ve seen these flowers spring up and thrive in the most unlikely of places. I smile each time I see them. Everyone who comes to my home and has to climb (literally) over the snapdragon comments about it. It’s like God is screaming, “I’m here! I can do as I please! I care about you – even enough to put two little flowers to bring a smile to your face!”

It’s really been a lesson on grace for me. I’m seeing God’s unmerited favor. God graced me with these two beautiful reminders. I did absolutely nothing to earn or merit their growth there in the crack of the sidewalk. No work, just undeserved enjoyment. Exactly like the grace He bestows on each of us for our salvation.

Father God, thank You that You do as You please and that it pleases You to bring delight to us, Your creatures. Thank You that You grace us with salvation and that it is all of You.
I confess that I sometimes lack appreciating You appropriately for all You have graced me with. Thank You for placing two beautiful flowers in my front yard to remind me of Your unmerited favor, Your care for me. Please allow me to walk by them and remember Your goodness and grace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Am Lonely

by Sue Donaldson

“I am lonely. My mom is lonely.” She spoke quietly, painfully.

How could this be? She’s lovely, articulate, smart, and non –judgmental – simply said, a sweet young woman. How could she be lonely?

Is she is alone in her loneliness? I doubt it. As connected as we are in this age of tech and transportation, women can feel isolated. (It’s not the same as “being alone” – as moms, we yearn for those few hours of no tugs-on-our-shirts.)

Are you lonely? Hard to admit, if so. We want to believe we have a strong group of friends. We all want the Sisterhood, if not the Ya-Ya. We long to connect. And, if we don’t quite, isn’t it just one more thing we are not good at? Do we have to feel guilty about this, too? Can’t it be someone else’s fault? Does it really come down to “I must not be worthy of developing deep friendships”? (Bummer. Now I feel worse than I did before. . .)

As a confident extrovert (and, a redhead to boot) – almost to the obnoxious level – I will tell you, I have been lonely. It’s soul starvation. It’s not meant to be. It’s a slap in the face of God’s great big family design.

What can we do when we feel lonely?

I think I had to admit it first. At that admission, I’ve cried a bit, in my pillow or in the car. I’ve read David’s heart prayers in the Psalms. But, then I made a call – several-- I like a crowd. I made a party happen (out of desperation--not because I was so good at it.)

That’s not easy to do if you feel puny. It’s not easy to do if you think no one else is lonely. Let me put that idea to rest right now--that’s not true—everyone is lonely some of the time. They need you to call even more than you need to call them! (It’s true, you can believe me, I’m old.) And, since you want to meet someone else’s need – do it for that reason alone, and you will not feel so lonely. They may need to be in your family.

“God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:6) He knows we need each other. Make that call. People just need a cup of water and a little bit of you. (See Joy Newman's blog post on August 4)

Dear Father,

I’m lonely. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe not. But I know You don’t want me to feel that way. Show me what to do about it. Help me do what you are telling me to do. Maybe my family needs to grow. And, help me look after the lonely. Amen.

Monday, August 25, 2008


by Peggy B.

Debbi Weeks recommended a book a while back entitled Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. I borrowed it on CD to listen to in the car when I drove to San Jose the other day. WOW! It caused me to look again at how I view several different things. One of them is the idea of where my Home is.

I won’t even begin to share the content here, but the focus is on the persecuted Christians of China. (I’ll say here that it is a fictional story.) Anyhow, it has caused me to focus my thinking on my Eternal Home. What I have here is brief and insubstantial. What is waiting for me in Heaven is eternally real.

As I begin to focus on the Real, then the things which seem so important, or difficult, or hurtful really begin to lose their hold on me and I can begin to see my life now in terms of what is REALLY important.

It reminded me of a chorus that I sang as a teenager: (now that I’ve written it down, it seems so old fashioned…oh well, I guess that’s what comes from getting’ on in years!)

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The Angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,

And I can’t feel at home in this world any more.

We all get so caught up in things. We have jobs and families. We have church stuff and school. The list is endless. But in light of our Eternal Home all of those things, though we are encouraged by scripture to do them to the glory of God, need to be done with a heart of accomplishing God’s goals here.

Any time I get my feelings hurt, or feel angry or judgmental or even overwhelmed by circumstances, I want that to be a signal for me that my focus has moved off of my Heavenly Home.

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Lord, my focus is so temporal. Please grow me into a woman that sees beyond the here and now and into the Eternal. My home is with you, I am just passin’ through this world. I want to have a light grasp here and a secure grip on my Real Home. When my life is shaken and jarred, let people see Heaven in my attitude! Amen

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wanderings and Listening

from the archives...

by Missy Grant

I was reviewing a bible study I had completed a few years ago recently and came across this quote, "Don't make your petition longer than your time to listen." Now that reverberates a bit. I was reading in Isaiah recently (30:18-21). I have always loved verse 21 which reads, "Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left." Both of these quotes cause me to consider my wanderings and my listening ears. In our too busy, too self indulged world that surrounds us, satan is the master of causing us to wander and not listen to the true Master's voice. Where are your wandering and listening ears today? Are your petitions longer than your time of listening? Are you hearing the Lord say, "...This is the way, walk in it." Find some time today to sit at the feet of the Master and listen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Be Prepared

by Kate Hasson

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."
1 Peter 3:15

Yesterday I had the opportunity of running into an old acquaintance/friend from high school.
He was walking and I offered him a ride to his destination so we could chat for a bit and catch up.
It turned out that since high school life had been pretty rough and at the moment he is now homeless and staying at the shelter in town. I asked him a few more questions and then proceeded to tell him a bit of what I’ve been doing. He remembered that I had gotten married quickly after high school and I told him that we now have two girls, are planning to adopt our third hopefully next month, and have just moved to our first home.

“Well, you just got the picture perfect life.” he said.

“Oh, no. My life is not picture perfect,” I told him, “but I do know Jesus. He makes life bearable.”

He smiled.

“Do you know Jesus?” I asked my friend.

We talked a bit about Him and Christianity, not as much as I would have liked, nor was I as fluent in my thoughts or speech as I would have liked, but we talked none the less, and for that I am thankful. As he was getting out of the car there was so much more I wanted to share with him but words weren’t coming quickly. I wanted to give him something to help him discover the true Jesus who does bear our burdens, and that’s when I spotted my bible. I always keep an extra bible in the car just in case I have some extra time and want to read. (I don’t know if that has ever happened unfortunately!)

I handed it quickly over to him as he was about to leave and said, “Here take this. Will you read it?” It had my maiden name printed on it so I said, “It’s got my name on it, sorry. guess that way you’ll remember me.”

He was very thankful for it, said God bless you, closed the door and I drove off.

As I thought about our meeting over and over again I thought of two things.

1. 1 Peter 3:15...Always be prepared to give an answer. ...Always be prepared. ...Always.

2. At the John Piper conference earlier this year, Pipes told us about being prepared and having a bible or pamphlet or one of these neat books he wrote in you car at all times ready to pass out at any given moment. I had loved that idea and had always meant to do that, but I put it off too long.

I was grateful I happened to have my extra bible in the car. But, I want to always be prepared. Chances to share the reason for the Hope that is in us spring up even when we’re not expecting them. Are you prepared?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why We Believe What We Believe

by Debbi Weeks

Doctrine is important. It is so very important for us to know what we believe and why we believe it! Do you know what you believe?

We are warned throughout scripture not to fall prey to false doctrine. (Check out 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus for some concentrated exhortation!) But the only way to not fall for false doctrine is by knowing the Truth from God’s Word – that is God’s doctrine; what God says about things. When we don’t know doctrine or we’re uncertain what God’s Word teaches, then we are so very vulnerable to Satan’s lies. And, they are all around us (God even warns us that they’re going to sound oh so good)!

Having not grown up in the church, there are some things I feel so clueless about. So, recently I got this “bee in my bonnet” to look up the doctrine of the Church. I started looking at catechisms. The definition of a catechism is “instruction in the principles of Christianity using set questions and answers.” Seeing as I believe myself to be reformed (in case you’re wondering what that means, look it up!), I looked at those catechisms first. I was thinking how awesome it would be to memorize a catechism. Ah, but ignorant me, I had no idea how long the catechisms are! So I settled for the Westminster Shorter Catechism – it’s only 107 questions! I think that’s still a little too long for me to memorize, but I want to know it, so maybe I will try to commit it to memory.

Here’s the web address in case you’re interested:

The fact that God saved us by His grace through faith is found in question and answer #20:

Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery? God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

But we have a responsibility to grow in faith and not be ignorant about truth. Our responsibility is to know what we believe so that we will not be “carried about by every wind of doctrine.”

Ephesians 4:13-15 says, “ . . . until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ . . . “

Father God, I praise You for your omniscience and for Your perfect plan – for us individually and corporately. I confess that I am sometimes lazy and don’t want to work or put the effort in to really know You – and to know what I believe.I thank You that You don’t give up on me and that You are faithful to reveal Yourself and Your truth to me through Your Word.Please help me to be diligent in study – that I might become mature and not be carried off by every wind of doctrine. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

P.S. I have two book recommendations for you in regards to doctrine – Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe, both by Paul E. Little. They are copyrighted in the 60’s and 70’s and are short and easy to read and understand.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bread of Life – For Eating and Sharing

by Sue Donaldson

Bread gets a lot of attention in Scripture. (I’m trying to ignore it in real life – gained too much weight this summer. It’s a tough thing for me to ignore.)

Jesus claimed to be our very bread. What did He mean?

Bread is the staff of life. He had just fed more than five thousand people with a few loaves so He knew bread was on their minds. Perhaps He also knew that when our tummies are full, it’s easier to listen to truth.

The point is this: Jesus gives life – the only true life.

“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)

I can do without a few carbos. I can’t do well without Jesus. The older I get, the more I realize how much I need Him. He said if I fed on Him, I wouldn’t go hungry. (This begs the question: When I’m discontented in my soul, where have I been feeding?)

One more thing: bread is for sharing – He did for the crowds, we can do it with a bread machine or the San Luis Sourdough Outlet.

Here’s my favorite: French Honey Bread (for your bread machine – don’t have one? Easy to find at the Goodwill or Mission Thrift – I’m on my 6th one.)

1 ¼ cup water
1 T. oil
1 T. honey
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
3 cups flour
2 ½ t. yeast

Set it on “Dough Cycle” – take it out, divide in two round loaves. Cover with cloth for 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Serve one to your family and take one to a neighbor. It goes well with a sympathy card, a birthday card, a new home card or just a post-it that says, “I’m thinking of you!”

I find the dough cycle best – makes for a nice crust and you can divide and shape it easily. Oh, once when my mom and I were talking about kids being picky eaters, she commented, “Kids seem to do just fine with bread.” Sounds Biblical, almost.

Dear Lord,
Give me this day my daily bread. Thanks for giving Your life for me and for those I love. Help me to share your bread with others (and to find a used bread machine in good condition.) Amen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Come to Jesus

by Kate Hasson

Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

This song has been ringing in my mind since Tuesday. Well, actually just verses 3 and 4. Fall on Jesus and Cry to Jesus.
Life is hard sometimes. Life doesn’t make sense sometimes. Life isn’t fair.
But when looked at through the Cross, life is so much more bearable. Everything has a purpose. Life isn’t meaningless. Life isn’t random. And thus pain isn’t meaningless. And pain isn’t random.

In every situation, in joy and in heartache, Jesus will be glorified.

Come to Jesus.
Sing to Jesus.
Fall on Jesus.
Cry to Jesus.
Dance for Jesus.
Fly to Jesus.

Beautiful! He can be sung to. He can be falled on. He can be cried to. He can be danced for.
I love being held by such an amazing Savior. Such peace and security.
Do you know this joy? Do you know such peace? Do you know His love?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Sue, Peggy, Debbi, Lisa and Kate have filled our spiritual hopper these past few months with truths of God's word. They have encouraged, probed, convicted, loved, prayed, and turned our gaze to the Lord. Show your appreciation by thanking the Lord for them today.

Enjoy the link today...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Safely Home

by Debbi Weeks

I just finished the audio book, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. It had to be an audio book for me since I just read way too slow to “waste” my time on fiction! I just love this book and I want to encourage everyone to read it (or listen to it as your preference may be! ).

Oh, how I wish I could summarize it for you so you couldn’t help but rush out and buy a copy. Perhaps this one little quote and the book’s dedication (I have to include it in its entirety) will do what I cannot:

Real gold fears no fire.” Ponder that one for a while!

And this is the dedication:

To Graham Staines, who left his home in Australia to serve lepers in India for thirty-four years.

To Philip Staines (age ten) and Timothy Staines (age six) who at half past midnight on January 23, 1999, as their father held his arms around them, were burned to death by a mob in India; murdered because of Whom they knew and served.

To Gladys Staines, who continues to minister to lepers and who said to all India, ‘I am not bitter or angry, I have one great desire; that each citizen of this country should establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who gave His life for their sins.’

To Esther Staines, Graham and Gladys’s daughter (then age thirteen), who said, ‘I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him.’

To the hundreds of men, women, and children killed for Christ each day, ignored by the world but watched by the eyes of heaven – those of whom the world is not worthy.

Whoa! Oh, that I would be found worthy to die for Christ! Oh, that I have been found worthy of even living for Christ!

Can’t you just tell from those two little snippets that it’s a book worth reading? Doesn’t that make you want to read it? And on the audio book can you believe they put the dedication as the very last thing?!

Here’s what I learned from Safely Home: we can live for ourselves and the applause of man or we can live for the eternal applause of God. When we become self-focused and self-absorbed we cannot be effective for God’s Kingdom no matter how influential we are in this world. But if we are God-focused and God honoring we can influence many (and perhaps many more than we will ever know) for eternity. What God calls each of us to is different, but the desired attitude and the goal are the same for everyone. God wants us to live for His glory, not our own.

Colossians 1:9-12 (The Message) “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”

Happy reading! (or listening)!

Father God, I praise You that You are holy. Thank You that You alone are worthy to receive glory and honor and praise.

I confess that I sometimes live for the applause of this earth instead of the applause of heaven.

I thank You for this book and the giftedness of Randy Alcorn to bring such an important story to impact lives.

Please help me to live humbly and for You alone. May You receive all the glory in my life.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

P.S. In a future blog entry I’ll tell you about the book I just finished reading – one small hint, it was non-fiction!

P.S.S. Thanks to my good friend, Marilyn, who several years ago recommended I read Safely Home.

P.P.S.S. I echo Sue’s exhortation from last week – come join us in studying God’s Word together! Pearls of Wisdom (POW) begins September 4th!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are You in a Clique or Just Friends?

by Sue Donaldson

I’ve heard the word “clique” bandied about our church recently. Did you know we had cliques? I suppose it’s true. I hate to think it is. Clique is a negative word. It sounds snobbish and judgmental. It implies exclusivity – those who aren’t in the clique feel excluded. Bummer. Sounds like Junior High. (I wasn’t in the cool clique, so I’m an expert.) It doesn’t sound like Gospel living to me.

Are these cliques?

- Those who bike and those who don’t.

- Those who knit and those who don’t.

- Those who go to women’s Bible study and those who don’t.

- Those who home school . . .

- Those who work fulltime outside the home . . .

- Those married to Christians . . .

- Those who join a Growth Group . . . and those who don’t.

Wait a minute. Everyone can bike if they want to. Anyone can join the knitting group. Is a Growth Group a clique?? Growth Groups aren’t negative. Also, I’ve been in a once-a-month lunch and prayer group for over 10 years – only 4 of us—is that something negative? Are you kidding? It’s a huge blessing and encouragement!

So what makes a clique a clique? Webster uses words like: clannish, exclusive, sticking with one’s own kind (that’s not always kind.)

A clique is when people stick with one group, exclusively. They find a commonality and stay only with those that are the same. It can be an age-group, a season-of-life group, a marital status group, a standard of living type, a where-you-live-type group, a level-of-education type group– ad infinitum. . . They become comfortable and stay put, never branching out. Years ago, a young mom said she wanted to change Bible study groups because there was no one her age in her group. (That made me feel very old!) Was she not able to see the value of us “old folks?” Or, did she just not have any other group of younger friends and this was the place she needed that closer association?

So, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t a common group a great way to be encouraged and to make friends?

There are a couple things that can be wrong: first, it’s the word only. God’s Word makes it very clear that Christ makes us all one -- one person is not better or lesser than another.

Galatians 3:26 and 28: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ. . . there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Gospel is our level playing field - but we don’t always like playing with everyone on that field, do we?

And, second, we need to do our best to help people feel like they belong. If a fellow believer is nearby, it’s our responsibility and privilege to invite them in. And, if only for a few moments of conversation, to let them know that they are welcome. “Belongingness” (not a word, I suppose, but it should be) is the great hallmark of the Christian faith!

Granted, we don’t have to be best friends with everyone. We don’t have to share our deepest thoughts with everybody. Believe me, if we added even one more gal to our once-a-month group, we’d never meet – it’s hard enough coordinating 4 schedules (and getting a word in edgewise!)

One more thing—don’t stick with just one group. Someone said he had made his friends. It struck me a little funny—does that means he isn’t open to making another friend who might need him? Not sure. Who knows who the Lord may have in mind for you to get to know, minister to, and be ministered by?

So what do we need to watch out for? We need to be aware that others might be feeling excluded. They may be feeling that way because we really are excluding them! Unintentionally or not – it hurts! We need to be drawing others in, not making them feel like they don’t belong. We need to not just talk about our common interests when the group is mixed – that can make another feel excluded, even unintentionally. And, if we are the one feeling like “everyone is in a clique,” we need to be checking our own attitude (judgmental?)-- and host a coffee. I’ll come. I’ll bring donuts.


Help me not be cliquish. I don’t think that pleases You. And keep me from judging others. I am long past Junior High and that’s a good thing! Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A True Friend

by Peggy B.

I just finished reading a book called Sisterchicks Say Ooh La La! By Robin Jones Gunn. It is what we call in our house a “bubblegum” novel. A friend at work gave it to me for light reading when I retired last year. It is lightweight, fun and encouraging.

The book is about 2 girls who become best friends in Third Grade and remain best friends through adulthood. The plot is really not the point at all though. What really caught my attention was this quote in the very first chapter:

“I look back now and realize that the gift of a true friend is that she sees
you not the way you see yourself or the way others see you. A true friend sees who you are inside and who you can become.”

The more I read it and the more I have thought about it, the more deep that idea has become. I have lots of “friends”. I have childhood friends (yes, I am still in touch with one from pre-kindergarten), I have neighbor friends, I have work friends, I have church friends. There are different levels of friendship among them. But over the years I have been blessed with a few close friends. Remember in school we used to call them “best friends”?

I am so thankful for the women God has put into my life that fall into that category. Each one of them knows me for who I am. (At least mostly…I confess I still have a few dust bunnies under the refrigerator. {Listen to Sunday’s sermon if you don’t get that}) Those are the friends that I don’t have to pretend with. They are the ones who “see who I am inside and who I can become.” They are also the ones who challenge me, usually gently, to become that woman. They are the ones who listen to me whine without thinking less of me and let me complain without being judgmental but with just the right “refocusing”. They are the ones I can share my joys with for celebration and sorrows with for hugs, tears and prayer.

For me, some of those friendships have ebbed and flowed. Sometimes distance or other change has put the friendship on a shelf for a time, but what amazes me is that when I reconnect with that friend, it’s like we have never been apart. We chatter like magpies as we catch up on all of the comings and goings of one another’s lives and share the deep things of our hearts. There is some type of bonding of the soul that takes place when you have a friendship like that. What a wonderful thing.

People are designed by God to be in relationships with one another (have you ever listened to a group of women? More importantly, have you ever tried to get a group of women to be quiet?) We love to relate to each other. Some of us love it more than others. Some women are one or two friend people, while others are multiple friend people. (Quiz: Which category does Sue Donaldson fall into?)

My challenge to you is to look at your relationships. Do you have any “true friends”? Do you have someone who will see who you can become and help you get there even when the going gets tough? Some of you may say “I am waiting for someone to come along….” Well, don’t. Even if you are the world’s shyest introvert, you can begin a search for that person. Look around…invite someone for coffee…see who you might be able to reach out to. I’ll admit it is a bit risky feeling, but you can do it! Those relationships are built over time but really can begin over a cup of coffee and small talk. (Or tea and chocolate cake!) Don’t give up, keep trying.

A true friend will also raise our gaze. The can help us look at Christ, not our problems; we will see Him in their face. They can challenge us in our walk with God. We will have the opportunity to be Jesus to them in turn and we can challenge them in their walk with God. That’s the way we are designed!!

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron,

So one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 (Young’s Literal Translation)

Iron by iron is sharpened, And a man sharpens the face of his friend.

Father, I thank you for the true friends you have given me. Thank you that they have shown me your grace and love. Thank you that they lift me up and turn my eyes to You. Help me to be a true friend to those women you’ve brought into my life! Please be my model of a true friend, so that I know how to be that friend to others. Amen

Friday, August 8, 2008


by Kate Hasson

God is still good.

God is always good.

God is good.

He is our Hope.

Psalm 25:3 – No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.

Psalm 119:147 – I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

Micah 7:7 – But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Matthew 12:21In His name the nation will put their hope.

Hebrews 10:23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.

I found this video of Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife sharing about the loss of their daughter, Maria, and their strong Hope. Let’s continue to keep them in our prayers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He Changes Not

by Debbi Weeks

I’m with Peggy (see Monday’s post) – Great is His faithfulness. I’ve had a rough week. As I was recovering from my lumpectomy, I was infected by my dear husband with some bronchial thingy. Now I’m on antibiotics and cough meds, but I am definitely out for the count! I just feel lousy.

But through it all I am at peace. That could only be supernatural. It is His great faithfulness to me. Regardless of how I am feeling . . . God is the same. He does not change. Malachi 3:6 says “I am the Lord, and I do not change . . .” (NLT)

I praise God that He is consistent even when I feel lousy, even when I am inconsistent, even when things don’t make sense (to me, I know they make sense to Him J), even when . . . Yes, Great is His faithfulness!

Father God I praise You that You are forever faithful. I praise You that You do not change. Oh, how wonderful for You to be my solid rock.

I confess that I sometimes take Your faithfulness for granted and I am faith-less.

Thank You that You have given me peace in this time.

Lord, please help me to focus on Your faithfulness instead of my feelings or circumstances.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reasons to Come to Bible Study

by Sue Donaldson

In my former working-fulltime, single life, I longed to attend Women’s Bible Study. It seemed so luxurious to take a couple of hours out during the day to meet with other women and soak in God’s Word.

Finally, I got married. Two weeks in Maui, then our first Sunday as a married couple, I heard the announcement: the new quarter of Women’s Bible Study was beginning Tuesday. I went—I needed girlfriends. This was a new town, a new church, a new life.

That was over twenty years ago. I missed one quarter because Bonnie was a noisy nurser.

To be honest, I haven’t always wanted to go. In fact, I reconsider every year – open to new ways to use my Thursday mornings. It was challenging (to say the least) to attend with babies, toddlers, kindergarten schedules, and part-time work schedules. (yada, yada, yada. . .)

There are always reasons not to go – I may even use one someday.

Here are some reasons to go, anyway:

1. To get to know women you have gone to church with for years but didn’t even know their names.

2. To share your prayer needs in a small group for 9 months.

3. To hear how God is working and has worked in others’ lives—miracles are hidden in everyone’s journey!

4. To not just read your Bible, but study deeper down through its many layers.

5. To make sure you read your Bible – accountability is a beautiful and necessary thing.

6. To pray for new and old friends.

7. To see that you are not alone in your struggles.

8. To see how God’s Word applies to your life right now in a big way.

9. To get to know older women (who don’t seem so old once you do get to know them) – they are wise and gracious, and have not just fallen off the turnip truck, as my mother would say.

10. To get to know younger women (they are smart and beautiful and can teach you much.)

11. To feel a greater part of your church family.

12. To learn what your spiritual gifts are and use them (they get better with use.)

13. To exercise the fruit of the Spirit (always helpful in a group setting.)

14. To make yourself vulnerable to the Holy Spirit’s work in your life through another person.

15. To allow others to see how God has worked in your life – you don’t just need them, they need to know you. You bring your own flavor to the table.

I know circumstances can disallow your attending. An evening study may work better in your lifestyle.

But, we can usually make something happen that we want to make happen – we’re smart and strong and motivated women, after all – and we have a big God Who listens to our heart’s desires. (We know how to “shake and make happen” as well as “shake and bake.”)

If you think I’m stepping where I shouldn’t be, at least ask yourself these questions (and you don’t need to tell me your answers):

1. Why don’t I want to go to Women’s Bible Study?

2. Does God want me to go?

3. Where else in my life am I getting regular fellowship with women who are different from myself? Older than myself? Younger than myself?

4. Do I need accountability in the Word?

5. Does someone there need my friendship? Will I take the risk, for the sake of the Kingdom?

6. Am I willing to pray about it? (He could say “No, it’s not for you this year.”-- there is no risk with God.)

I have to admit, number 3 above is my favorite – we need each other, ladies, and often we need people that we wouldn’t necessarily choose. And, they need us.

Pray about it. I’m on vacation, so you can get over being mad at me while I’m gone. I’ll be happy to pray about it with you when we get back.

Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, so one (wo)man sharpens another.”

Today’s prayer is an obvious one:

Lord, do you want me to go to Women’s Bible Study? If so, help me to want to go. If so, help me to go even if I don’t want to. If so, make it happen (You actually are the Shaker and Maker.) Can’t wait. Should be good if it’s where you’re leading me! Amen and amen.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Great is Thy Faithfulness

by Peggy B.

Did you ever have a whirlwind in your mind and heart? (Silly question, hm?) Me too, right this very minute.

I guess having your baby move into her own apartment, in Seattle no less, coming home to the house you’ve left in chaos AND bringing your (tidy) mother-in-law home for a visit will do that to you.

Given these things, this is what has been swirling around in my mind for the last few hours:

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand has provided-

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

(Hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas O. Chisholm

Written in 1923, based on Lamentations 3:22,23)

Father, thank you for your faithfulness, even when I am a mess! Thank You for loving me just as I am. Create in me a heart of joy and praise, not BECAUSE of circumstances, but because You are ABOVE circumstances. Help me to see your mercies that are new every morning. Amen

PS. Thanks for my mother-in-law, without whom I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Knowledge of the Holy

by Kate Hasson

I was given this book back in 2001 yet for some reason never read it. I just found it last week and started reading it and LOVE it! Here is what the back recap has to say:

“What is the nature of God? How can we recapture a real sense of God’s majesty and truly live in the Spirit? This beloved book, a modern classic of Christian testimony and devotion, addresses these and other vital questions, showing us how we can rejuvenate our prayer life, meditate more reverently, understand God more deeply, and experience God’s presence in our daily lives.”

“God Incomprehensible” is the title of the chapter I’m on and it has really got me thinking. The paragraph that I’ve quite enjoyed says this:

“When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, He is not, for we have constructed our image out of that which He has made and what He has made is not God. If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.”

Then he goes on to quote from a Spanish saint, “Let the Christian soul love God as He is in Himself, and not as her imagination says He is, and pictures Him.”

Tozer continues to explain that “while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself. These we call His attributes.”

The rest of the book goes through these attributes of God chapter by chapter: the Trinity, His Self-existence, His Self-sufficiency, His Eternity, Wisdom, Faithfulness, goodness, justice, mercy, grace love, holiness, sovereignty, etc.

I’m looking forward to reading more and grasping a better understanding of who my God is because I know that when I think rightly of God I will be able to more perfectly love and worship Him. If I don’t have a proper concept and view of God then I will fail to praise Him as He truly should be worshiped. I want to love Him and honor Him to the best of my ability and therefore I am excited to learn more about His greatness and His attributes to help me do so.

Tozer’s prayer at the beginning of the book puts this concept into perfect words:

“O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed?

They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”