Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Love is …

Love is …

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13 NLT).

 

Love is … easy, love is hard. Love is … simple, love is profound. Love is … a command, love is a choice.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You must love each another, just as I have loved you” (John 13:34 CEV). Jesus means these words for me because I declare I am his disciple, a learner and one who seeks to obey him. If you are his disciple, this command is for you as well.

My choice to love was made when I chose to follow Jesus. Same for you. We chose to obey his words, his commands. And he commands us to love each other.

This love is not just human love for friends. This love is well beyond and above that love. This is the “as I have loved you” love of Jesus; God’s love.*

“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 CEB).

“As I have loved you.” Now that’s a thought we can chew on for some time.

As I move toward the final stages of writing prior to publishing the Bible Study for my book, Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life, I’ve crafted a page of etiquette for Bible study group behavior.

Sounds funny, a page on etiquette, but these reminders are needed. The points simply remind us of how we should act with one another. It dawned on me that these points of etiquette are actually ways we can love one another in a small group setting. Or anywhere, anytime.

I want to share with you some of the easy ways to love one another, excerpted from my Bible study group etiquette page:

“Value each person in your little community of the Bible study group. Give each other the respect due each one. Commit to:

  1. Show up. Someone said that 90% of any task is just showing up. Be at the group meetings (barring an emergency). And when there, be present. “Be Here Now,” attentive and engaged in the moment. This is for your own benefit as well as the benefit of the others. You never know what God may speak to you through another person, or what God may impress on another through you. Sometimes you just being there is all the encouragement someone else needs (Hebrews 10:24–25).

 

  1. Do your work. The week before you meet, do the work for the upcoming lesson in preparation for the group time. The more effort you put into the study, the more you will get out of it. Solomon said, “The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], but the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4 AMP).

 

  1. Be generous and share the discussion time. Be short-winded so others may also participate in the discussions (1 Peter 5:5–7).

 

  1. Be a better listener than a talker. Bible study discussions are not the place for giving advice or counseling. You are not meeting together to solve anyone’s problems but to learn what God has to say in his Word. “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving] (James 1:19 AMP).

 

  1. Be trustworthy as you listen. What is shared in the group discussions stays a secret with the group. These things are not to be told to anyone else. “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden” (Proverbs 11:13 AMP).

 

  1. Be a Berean Christian. When questions come up, don’t default to traditional, current, or even “common sense” ideas, but search the Scriptures like the Bereans did to find out what God has to say about the issue. He does have a word to say about it. And unlike the words of men, God’s Word “endures forever” (Acts 17:10–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:22–25).

 

These are some easy, simple, yet thoughtful ways we can love one another in any group setting, and these few guidelines will serve as our standard of etiquette for this Bible study group.”

Though the above points are designed for a small group setting, they are applicable in most life situations. I’ll let you make the leap to apply these principles, rooted in God’s Word, to your everyday life, at home, at work, at school, at church, and everywhere. I’m working on it too.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 CSB, emphasis added).

 

Daily Verses

 

How can I move from my limited, human brotherly love to Jesus’ love, to love as he has loved us? A song just reminded me of the only way– “I’ve Been Crucified with Christ,” (by Robin Mark) quoting Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 CSB, emphasis added)

Listen to the song here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoZWRfXdh4w

I want to cooperate with Christ and let him live his life through me. That’s the only way to love others as he loved us.

Love is … all of the above, and so much more. In Christ we can do this.

 

The Bible Study for Brokenness to Beauty has yet to be published; hopefully, by autumn it will be available. However, the book Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life may be purchased now at Amazon books. Click here to go to Amazon.

*Agape love: “Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html 

Scriptures are taken from https://www.biblegateway.com

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God’s Delights, Our Delights

I feel good when I’m creating something with my hands. There is an interesting phenomenon I became aware of one day several years ago while working on a project. I don’t remember what I was working on or even when or where this realization first came to me. But it was an actual physical sensation of pleasure radiating from inside me. An “inner smile” is the best way I can describe it. It comes unexpectedly when I stop to take a break from working on the item or when I finish a project. And when I sense that inner smile, it makes me smile on the outside too.

It has come at times when I’ve written a piece that has come together through struggle (as most of my writing comes). But when I found the words that were “right,” that resonated in my soul, there was that smile coming from the inside.

More often, though, I’ve sensed that inner smile of pleasure when I’ve been caught up in the creative process using my hands. It has come while creating a mosaic, adhering pieces of broken or cut glass into designs on a substrate. Or like the other day, when I was gluing a paper dust cover onto the back of an old 30″X 40″ frame I had refinished. This frame now holds a large filet crochet piece I crocheted over the course of several years, and a couple of moves across the country (from California to Georgia to West Virginia, a long time ago).

This inner smile I experience, this pleasure at doing something creative, not only causes me to smile outwardly but makes me think of the pleasure of God, that is, the pleasure God takes in his children when we are being and doing what is right and good, in love, reverence, and trust in him.

I started looking for just a few Scriptures that speak to what brings God pleasure and found these (this is not an exhaustive list, of course):

I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (1 Chronicles 29:17 ESV, emphasis added)

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB, emphasis added)

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,

nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,

11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,

    in those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 147:10-11 ESV, emphasis added)

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV, emphasis added)

At that very time (Jesus) rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” (Luke 10:21 NASB, emphasis added)

Doesn’t it make you smile inside, and out, to read some of the things that bring joy, delight, and pleasure to our God? Think of it, we don’t have to be superheroes or wildly gorgeous or do some great feat of strength or daring to please him (sounds like what the world goes after, doesn’t it?). We don’t even have to be “wise and intelligent” in this world to bring joy to our Father. Maybe a sigh of relief is more accurate as a response to what God values and seeks in his children. Because I’m sure not any of those things.

To bring joy to our heavenly Father we only need be like little children in our simplicity and humility, loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And loving and treating others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 22:37–39; 7:12). “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets,” Jesus said (Matthew 22:40). In other words, these two commands of God are the Bible in a nutshell (Romans 13:8–10).

And since God has given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:3), we can do this, we can make God smile. He’s given us his Spirit to live in us; “Christ in [us] the hope of glory.”

I’m working on cooperating with God. And learning. It’s my life goal to bring a smile to my Father’s face.

We don’t have to be rich, or good-looking, or famous, or smart, or … anything except actively loving God by “abiding in him,” which is obeying his word, and loving one another (John 14:15; 15:10, 12).

So our response to our gracious and merciful God should include these elements (again, this is not an exhaustive list):

Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Jesus, in Luke 10:20 ESV, emphasis added)

Your words were found and I ate them,

And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;

For I have been called by Your name,

O Lord God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 NASB, emphasis added)

In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (1 Chronicles 29:17 ESV, emphasis added)

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 HCSB, emphasis added)

Trust in the Lord and do what is good …

4 Take delight in the Lord,

and He will give you your heart’s desires.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in Him, and He will act,

6 making your righteousness shine like the dawn,

your justice like the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6 HCSB)

As I said, this is not an exhaustive list. You can add to it Scriptures that come to mind about what God values and delights in. Consider setting a goal for your Scripture reading in 2018 to look for these sorts of verses that clearly state what gives God joy and pleasure. And make being and doing those things your life goal. I guarantee that will give you an “inner smile” of pleasure.

May your New Year be filled with God’s delight in you!


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How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say

“How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say” is a blog post by Sarah Forgrave (www.sarahforgrave.com), an introduction to her new book Prayers for Hope and Healing. I read Sarah’s article when she guest posted on Debbie W. Wilson’s Refreshing Faith website.

What caught my attention immediately was Sarah’s reference to her long-time approach to prayer; it was very much like what I’ve written about in my book Brokenness to Beauty, the ACTS in prayer which was so beneficial to me when I discovered it.

Here’s what I wrote in Brokenness to Beauty,  Chapter 11 “Prayer: Just Do It … But How?”:

“I distinctly remember when, as a college student, I cried out … in frustration to God. My ‘prayer life’ wasn’t working. I would make my prayer list and start my prayers by asking God this and that for so-and-so, and I meant it wholeheartedly. This would last for a day or two, but time after time my fervor would dwindle into mechanical words read from a list. I knew I had to pray with my heart, but I didn’t know how to maintain the transfer from my head to my heart. I sincerely yearned to communicate with God and effect change through prayer on behalf of others in need, yet I usually ended up feeling that I was falling short. I didn’t know what to do about it, so I did the only thing I did know to do: I asked God to help me.

A few years later I was introduced to a simple way of entering into God’s presence in prayer, one that’s easy to remember and rooted in the Scriptures. It changed the way I prayed and as a result, changed my life. It is called the ACTS of prayer.[i]

The acrostic stands for:

Adoration. Approach God in humility, reverence, and awe, and worship him for who he is. We learn about him as we read and study the Bible. He is holy, and we must approach him as such (Luke 11:2).

Confession. Sin acts as a wall between us and God, effectively blocking our prayers (Isaiah 59:2). We need to be sensitive to God’s Spirit on a daily basis as he speaks conviction to us, confessing and repenting of all known sin as soon as we are aware of it. That way, communication with God remains open (1 John 1:8–9).

Thanksgiving. The greatest acceptable sacrifice we can make to God (along with laying our lives at his feet as a living sacrifice, as Paul tells us to do in Romans 12:1) is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise (Hebrews 13:15). Our prayers are to be seasoned with gratitude.

Supplication. This is the part we normally think of as prayer: asking God for something (Luke 11:9–10). Our requests must be couched in the reverence and worship due to God as we seek first his will in the matter, with our prayer purged of known sin through confession and repentance, wrapped in trust, and infused with thanksgiving.”

As I wrote, “It changed the way I prayed and as a result, changed my life.”  It became the pattern for most of my prayers. When I read Sarah’s article, it seemed she used a similar way of praying.

But I also wrote in Brokenness to Beauty, “There are, of course, times when all we can do is burst out, ‘Lord help me!'” There are times when we are so burdened and feel so deeply our need, we cry out like the psalmists did, in the agony of our heart. We still approach God in humility and reverence, but we burst into his presence in the agony of our situation.

I think this is what Sarah found as well when she experienced tremendous physical struggles coping with a chronic disease,  and she found prayer too was a struggle. Her method of approaching God felt insufficient in her time of need.

I understand fully, having lived with a chronic disease for over 50 years and having faced the trauma of breast cancer and treatment, and then the fractures of both my femurs, rods surgically implanted in them, and months of physical therapy. Life gets hard at times and what is familiar can seem inadequate for the present struggle.

That’s why I want to share Sarah’s blog post with you and introduce you to her book, Prayers for Hope and Healing. If you are struggling right now, or know someone who is, and prayer seems just as hard, the old familiar patterns inadequate, this article and Sarah’s book may be just what you need.

Prayers for Hope and Healing by Sarah Forgrave

From the back cover of Prayers for Hope and Healing:

Amid Pain and Weakness…There is HOPE

Serious or chronic medical issues bring a litany of painful and confusing feelings that only someone else who’s been in a similar situation could possibly understand. Sarah Forgrave has walked the difficult road you find yourself on. And she empathizes with the uncertain future you face.

No matter the road ahead, you don’t have to face it alone. Even in the depths of your worst emotional and physical pain, God is right there beside you, offering His comfort, love, and peace.

As you read these heartfelt prayers and devotions, let this book be your manual to help navigate the difficult set of emotions that come with health issues. Read it front to back or go directly to the devotion addressing how you feel at any given moment…when you need it the most.

Above all, know that you are never, ever alone.

Read Sarah’s blog post as she shares “How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say”:

For most of my life, I approached prayer like a checklist. It went something like this. Adore God. Confess my sins. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Ask Him for what I want.

This checklist helped fill the awkward silence, but when life got hard, so did prayer.

Suddenly my adoration wasn’t so quick to rise to the surface. Instead of confession and gratitude, I was mad at God for letting me hurt. There were plenty of things I wanted Him to do, but I frankly didn’t have much faith He would follow through on them.

Have you found yourself in the same place?

To continue to read how Sarah learned to connect with God during hard times, you can see the full article here: https://debbiewwilson.com/how-to-pray/

Bio:

Sarah Forgrave is an author and wellness coach who loves inspiring others toward their full potential. In addition to her book, Prayers for Hope and Healing (Harvest House, October 2017), her writing credits include contributions to The Gift of Friendship, Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer, and the webzine Ungrind. When she’s not writing or teaching, she loves to shop at Trader Joe’s or spend time with her husband and two children in their Midwest home. Visit Sarah at www.sarahforgrave.com, or at the following sites:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahForgrave

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/SarahForgrave

Instagram: www.instagram.com/SarahForgrave_Author

Twitter: www.twitter.com/SarahForgrave

 

 

[i] The ACTS of Prayer are explained at

http://prayercentral.net/engage-me/ways-to-pray/pray-with-acts


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How many ways to show love for our city? Let me recount some.

This past Saturday over 100 women from The Bridge Bible Church here in Bakersfield gathered and then scattered over the city in small teams to carry out the theme of our event, “Love Where You Are.” It was an outreach to downtown Bakersfield to show God’s love to the people of our city by doing good to and for the people of Bakersfield.

As we went, we looked for ways God was already at work in our city and asked ourselves how we could be a part of it. We saw God at work, heard stories of God at work in individuals’ lives, and did small acts of love to become part of what God is doing in our city.

One team of women went to the rescue mission (yes, God was already at work there) and cleaned up a patio and did crafts with the women residents. One of my friends on that team, Eurcell, literally gave the shirt off her back to a resident.

The lady working with her pulling weeds and sprucing up the patio, kept admiring Eurcell’s bright pink T-shirt with the scrolly artwork. Finally Eurcell asked her if she’d like to have the shirt, she did and they traded T-shirts! Eurcell’s generosity produced a gift of love to that woman living at the rescue mission.

Another team went to the city bus station, talked with folks, handed out coffee, snacks and free bus passes. Some of them even rode the bus and talked with passengers, prayed with some and listened to their stories. Many expressed gratitude for the kindnesses shown them.

One team of ladies washed windows and cleaned the bathrooms of local downtown businesses, pushing their cleaning cart from store to store. Then they handed out flowers to passers-by, surprising them and bringing smiles to their faces.

One of the larger teams went to the Teen Challenge womens’ residence, joined their worship time, had lunch with them and gave them all a new set of bed sheets. They spent time listening to and talking with the women in the Teen Challenge program, women ranging from teens to middle age, all passionate about living new lives free of drugs and alcohol. And all because God was already at work through the people of Teen Challenge.

Other teams of women went to the Pregnancy Center, Ronald McDonald House, delivered lunch to the local police and fire stations, and one team held a cookout and worship song-fest for the residents of a low-income apartment building downtown.

So many different ways to serve the people of our town, and by so doing say, “We love you, because God loves you.”

I was part of the Prayer Team. We made up “blessing bags” the night before in which were snacks, a Christian tract and a tiny Bible that was made up of one verse from every book of the Bible. A couple of the women on our team stayed back at our venue, dubbed “command central,” and prayed for all the teams who had gone out to serve.

The Prayer Walk Team!

The Prayer Walk Team!

Some of us prayer-walked the streets praying for our city businesses, government offices, downtown churches and their outreaches, and people we met on the sidewalks.

We approached people on the street, offering them a blessing bag and asked if we could pray for them. There were sad encounters, like the one with the young man sitting on a curb with a backpack. He had the look of someone who had been living on the street, an all too common sight here in Bakersfield.

He willingly took the blessing bag offered him by my friend, mumbling his thanks.  When asked if we could pray for him he muttered in the affirmative, nodding slightly.

My friend placed her hand on his shoulder and prayed for this young man,  asking for God’s healing of past hurts and spoke of the grace and love of God for him. He began to quietly weep, hiding his face with his hands and the blessing bag he was holding.

He told us his name is Tony[1]. We will keep on praying for Tony. God is at work here.

A block down from Tony we met Mary who was weaving a flower from a long, strappy palm frond. She showed us a finished flower, made by her ex, Tony. Yes, the same Tony sitting a block away.

Mary said she is tired of not being happy, of living on the street, of freezing at night under her blanket. She’s ready to move in a different direction to find happiness, although it was obvious she didn’t know which direction that might be.

My friend encouraged her to attend the church just around the corner. Mary looked skeptical, but we pray she will go. We know that is the right direction for her. They will receive her at that church. That’s why they are downtown, to seek out the lost and bring them to Jesus. God is at work downtown.

Our little prayer-walking team had a happy encounter too. More than one, in fact.

We gave a blessing bag to a man sitting outside a pizza place waiting for his order of pizzas for his son’s sports team. He thanked us for the bag of goodies and began to tell us how one of his sons, who had been attending a college up north, had been hit by a big F-150 pick-up truck and almost killed.

Miraculously God spared him, he recuperated, and finished his education. He later married and now has a new baby and has become ordained in the Christian ministry. His father, smiling widely, said he loves telling that story.

God was already at work in that family.

My favorite story came out of my friend’s boldness to go over to four skateboarding teenage boys. I do not easily initiate conversations with strangers so these street encounters are always a huge stretch for me. But I followed along as we walked to these boys.

The first young man, maybe fourteen years old, took the blessing bag my friend offered him, telling him “God bless you.” At those words his whole face lit up and he said emphatically “God bless you!” and gave her a big hug. Then he looked at me and repeated “God bless you!” and gave me a big hug!

He blessed each lady in our group and gave each a hug. The other boys, who were also given blessing bags and thanked the ladies, were not so outgoing and one bashfully said, “I don’t want to hug you ‘cause I’m all sweaty,” so those three boys gave us all handshakes and we all blessed one another in God’s name.

God was already at work in those boys’ lives. As we gave out blessings, we received blessings in return.

Later, when all the other work teams returned to our meeting venue we listened to some of their stories too, some happy, some sad. All these stories from these encounters are fuel for prayer, prayer for those who populate our city.

My prayer is that this day of showing love to our city will not end with the closing of our “Love Where You Are” event Saturday night, but rather will only be the beginning. A beginning of continuing–

“let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”[2]

We saw God at work in our city. We took opportunities to join him in what he is doing by small, daring acts of kindness and love. Now, as we continue to do good and pray for those we encountered, may we be reapers of the harvest. For there surely is a harvest.

Oh, and one of the stories from the team that handed out flowers is that the same skate-boarding boy who gave us all hugs, when given a flower by this team, asked if he could have some flowers, was given them, and proceeded to hand them out to passers-by on the street! Harvest begun.

[1] Names changed to protect privacy.

[2] Galatians 6:9,10, ESV. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. https://www.biblegateway.com


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Keep on Running the Race

All kinds of people run. People of all ages run. They run for all different reasons. I would think it is safe to say most people run because they enjoy it, or some aspect of the running experience. I am not a runner so I am speculating here, based on my observations and what I know of human nature. We get involved in things that we like to do or that are meaningful to us.

All kinds of runners

All kinds of runners

I was up early Saturday to be at the site of a 5K Race and 1 Mile Family Walk. You have to seriously like to run or walk to be at the venue that early! Or, in my case, serious about participating in something I believe in: the ministry of She Is Safe (www.SheIsSafe.org). They are reaching out to women and girls around the world to “prevent, rescue and restore” them from lives of slavery, oppression and abuse, in the context of lovingly telling and demonstrating the good news of Jesus Christ.

SIS 5K 2015 DSC_0971

I was at the race as a member of the newly formed Bakersfield She Is Safe Advocacy Group which sponsored the race. I assisted on the sidelines as others walked and ran, their race fees providing funds for She Is Safe to expand their work to more women and girls in the hard places of the world, bringing hope and new life to them.

Just like I had a specific motivation to be at the race to assist, the runners each had their personal motivations for being there too. And on the strength of their inner drive they accomplished their goal: crossing that finish line. Some wanted to be first. Others simply wanted to finish.

 

They all met their goals of crossing the finish line on their own two feet (or in their strollers!) because they set their minds to do it. All the runners were applauded and many got trophies or awards for placing in various categories, but the feeling of “I did it!” had to be the best prize of all.

 

Too cute not to add!SIS 5K and Family walk 5-2015 DSC_1072

 

Though I am not a runner of foot races, I am a runner in the race of life. We all are. We each have a race marked out for us and it is our responsibility to set our minds to give it our all, our best. Like Paul, we should be “bringing all (our) energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, (we) strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” [Philippians 3:13,14, TLB).[1]

“What Christ Jesus did for us” should be all the motivation we need to stick to the race course, regardless of how difficult the going may get at times. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross”[2] for us, should help us keep putting one foot in front of the other with hope burning in our hearts. He finished his race and sat down next to the Father in heaven. He won salvation for all mankind, for any and all who will put their trust in him.

May we keep our eyes on the prize God has for us at the end of our race, motivated by the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May we live “to win for the Lamb that was slain the reward of His suffering.”[3]

SIS 5K 2015 FINISH DSC_1066

For fun viewing, here’s a video of the 5K and Family walk: http://youtu.be/OtyYT3DPYGI

Photos and Video by www.proshowweb.com

[1] The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/.

[2] Hebrews 12:2

[3] The battle cry of the Moravian Church’s missionary outreach, based on Isaiah 53:10-12. http://www.globaltribesoutreach.org/articlesmoravian

 

Originally posted on the Abide Prayer Group blog, a women’s ministry of The Bridge Bible Church of Bakersfield, CA.


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Encourage One Another to …

In 1992 our family moved from southern California to Roswell, a community north of Atlanta, Georgia. Roswell was not our final destination; we were on our way to start a ministry, Mustard Seeds and Mountains, in West Virginia. Our “stopover” in Roswell turned into a three year hiatus in which we joined mission staff  at Fellowship Bible Church, started several local ministry outreaches and raised our missionary support to move to West Virginia full time.

We considered FBC our “home church” for all the years we lived in West Virginia. As missionaries with FBC we still receive their Serve (missions) Newsletter. This month featured an article by Corinne Simpson, Children’s Ministries Director at Fellowship Bible Church. I felt she had a powerful challenge for me, and for us all, so I wanted to share her article with you. Below is an introduction by FBC mission/outreach staff and then Corinne’s article.

“If you like your life just as it is and don’t really want your assumptions challenged, stay away from the fringes of downtown Atlanta and don’t get too far away from the boat if you go on a cruise.  And most certainly don’t do go to a place like Bangalore, India.  You just might see the world as God sees it.  And you might be changed in ways you didn’t expect.  It happened to one of our own at Fellowship.”

CorinneSimpson FBC

Corinne Simpson, Children’s Ministries Director at Fellowship Bible Church

 

“When I boarded the plane to visit mission partners in south Asia, I didn’t foresee how God would use this trip to change me.

Our drive from the airport to their home was our first memorable experience in their country – lanes mean nothing!    Stepping out of the familiar—new tastes and smells, poverty, kind and gentle people, the cost and joy of obedience— is hard to forget.    We worshipped, played, had sweet connections with their team, heard stories and got a glimpse of what God is doing in the nations!

Here are a few of my learnings:

*Prayer – steadfast prayer – is needed for our “heroes of the faith” as they live their calling.  Pray for the nations and for the persecuted church.  We stayed a few days in a guest house where nine of the people who stayed there in 2014 were martyred as they went back into their countries.

*Loving people includes knowing them and serving them.  I asked a lady who had been there fifteen years why she stayed … “I love the people.”  A personal conviction for me back at home translates to prayer-walking my neighborhood and reaching out and serving my neighbors – and then sharing the gospel.  Lord, help me to love people.

*The cost of discipleship and obedience is sometimes hard.  Suffering seems to be part of the deal.  Will I embrace that as normal?

Back in Atlanta, last week in church we sang “Hosanna” by Hillsong.  Worshipping together with my church family, we sang:  ‘break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for the kingdom cause’… ‘I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith’… ‘I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek, we’re on our knees’… ‘Heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen … Show me how to love like you’ve loved me.’

‘Lord, it is a privilege to glimpse what it looks like (here and there) to give our life for a worthy cause.   Keep us faithful.  Help me (us) to not be lured into less important endeavors.  Time is short.  You are worthy.’

May we press onward in step with Him and live our calling to be disciples who make disciples!”

 

Article and photo used with the permission of Fellowship Bible Church ( http://fellowshiproswell.org/ ) and Corinne Simpson. Thank you, friends!


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Kimo’s Dozen (A Peek at Mustard Seeds West)

Mustard Seeds and Mountains (http://www.mustardseeds.org/ ), founded by Randy and Jacque Wallace as a non-profit Christian Community Development organization, operating in southern West Virginia for over 20 years, now also operates in California, affectionately dubbed Mustard Seeds West. We reach out in various ways to needy neighborhoods. In Bakersfield, CA, we are partnering with Plaza Iglesia Cristiana, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) church, and Positive Change and Development Center, reaching into needy neighborhoods of Bakersfield. Randy and Jacque, members at The Bridge Bible Church, also attend Plaza Iglesia Crisitana each Sunday, helping in whatever ways needed in the borrowed facility: set up, tear down, communion preparation, preaching, teaching. The following account is fresh from this past Sunday at Plaza Iglesia.

 

You’ve heard of “The Dirty Dozen”. Or maybe not if you are under a certain age. No matter, there is among us an even greater dozen, give or take a few. No, not the Twelve Disciples, though maybe one day. This is Kimo’s Dozen.

And what a crew they are! Twelve wriggling, jabbering, jousting boys ranging in ages from three to ten. Is there anything more bursting with energy and life … and potential for good, or bad … than a dozen boys? And is it any wonder dear Miss Naomi, Sunday School teacher to all the boys and girls from five to eighteen at Plaza, could use an extra “hand” to corral the children she teaches every Sunday?

This past Sunday as I stood in church, not singing the Spanish words this time due to technical difficulties whereby the words could not be projected on the screen so that I could stumble over them, I watched as Martha’s four grandsons trouped in to sit in the front row. I got choked up looking at these live wires being raised by their grandmother. I prayed through my tears, “Oh, Lord Jesus, give us these boys. Save each one, dear God. Surround them. Keep them. Jesus. Jesus.” Even now I am in tears.

Leno, the oldest at about ten years, was baptized last Sunday. I saw him trying to make the younger boys behave …. God is at work.

Randy has stepped in a few times to substitute teach Sunday school at Plaza Iglesia Crisitana. This past Sunday he took the boys and Miss Naomi took the girls. It is hard to count moving heads, but I counted about twelve little boys. All very much alive and well!

Overheard from the Sunday school room: Randy’s voice leading in singing, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Toward the end of the preaching service I could faintly hear the song, “There’s only one way, one way to Heaven. There’s only one way, that way is Jesus ….”

“Kimo” is what Randy calls almost everyone and he has called the little boys of Plaza Iglesia, Kimo, and now they call him Kimo. And they love him. And they listen to him. Well, except for one little guy who was taking his shirt off and putting it on and sticking his elbows into his shirt and wrapping it around his head so just his eyes showed –Randy grabbed the shirt and tossed it aside, not skipping a beat. He got the boy’s attention! So Sunday school class goes.

But they will remember the songs. And they will know God loves them. And they will know Jesus loved them enough to die for them. And they know Mister Randy, aka Kimo, loves them, too.

Randy is thinking of a place he can take the boys on an outing (they’re already learning to serve by helping set up or take down the folding chairs for church service).

Sounds like Kimo’s Dozen may become an established fact. Give or take a few now and then.

Please pray for the boys and girls of Plaza Iglesia. Pray for the parents to come to know Jesus, too. And pray for Miss Naomi and the pastors, Cesar and Maria, as they reach out into the needy neighborhood of SouthEast Bakersfield.

And pray for Kimo and Kimo’s Dozen, that they will become the Dozen Disciples.