Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

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What Are Women Really Craving?

20160116_161848824_iOS I don’t have a word of the year.  Even though I’ve thought and prayed about it, I continue to wonder  what my  2016 word should be.  Nothing.

Well, that’s not my word but nothing has risen above the rest.   In the past some of my words have been Reach and Define, and I’ve read other’s strong words like Still and Bold.  This year though, there have personally been some words that catch my attention I’ve been seeing quite frequently -  pray, empower and equip. Those words often seem to appear when I read news feeds, blog posts, and hear messages lately.  Those are action words - words that provide us with what we need in order to do something. 

Maybe they keep showing up because those are words and actions God is impressing on my heart and mind for a reason.  God wants His people – including you and me – to feel empowered and equipped to spread the love and Truth of God in what is becoming a Godless culture.

This past weekend, over 150 women came together at SMC at the Empowered To Be event.  After enjoying a delicious brunch and good conversations, all together we entered into the holy space where we invited the Holy Spirit to meet us there.

With no doubt, He was there.  He was worshipped as women shared the gifts of music, acting, writing, storytelling, painting, speaking and praying to glorify God.  The women were reminded how necessary it is for us as Christ-followers to be prayerful, available and responsive to the callings God gives each one of us.  We learned how Naomi, Rahab and Priscilla, strong women of faith in Scripture, did it.  Along with them, Jesus gave us the example when he walked on this earth: prayer was his #1 priority, he always made himself available to help and hear others’ stories and then responded to the opportunity he had to glorify God in each situation that faced him.

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It was a powerful morning as the Holy Spirit empowered us to be prayerful, available and responsive.

I think God is trying to get his point across these days.  In less than three weeks, there will be another opportunity to join together with women to become more equipped to live like Jesus.  IF:Gathering 2016 is the moment where genuine life change happens, where we’ll see God for who He is and respond to be more like Him. 

Last February, several women from SMC gathered with women from other local churches in Alamance County to fellowship, worship and become unleashed to be bold and courageous as we live out our callings.  This February 5-6, again we are invited and encouraged to gather as we become more equipped to love like Jesus loved, serve like Jesus served, pray like Jesus prayed, and pursue holiness like Jesus pursued it.

The other day I heard a friend who attended IF:Gathering last year, telling her friend, “After having gone to IF:Gathering last year, I know IF:2016 is going to rock your world!  It rocked mine last year.”

I have to agree with her!  There were so many genuine life changes that took place and I anticipate the same will happen again.

Women are craving something.  Do you feel it too?

Women are craving to discover and know their purpose in God’s Story.

Women are craving to do something that brings joy, hope and impacts the lives of others to further God’s kingdom.

Women see the need for Jesus in this community (and this world) - now more than ever in our lifetime.

People are craving Jesus whether they know it or not.

I’m reminded of Paul writing to encourage the people in Thessalonica. He was amazed and humbled how this group of new believers were tirelessly and devotionally sharing the Good News of Jesus' salvation to their people in their community.

“What you experienced in the good news we brought you was more than words channeling down your ears; it came to you as a life-empowering, Spirit-infused message that offers complete hope and assurance! We lived transparently before you so that you would know what sort of people we truly are. We did it for your sake."  1 Thes 1:5  (Voice)

Are we willing to live transparently so that others will know the women we truly are – imperfect people in the arms of our perfect, grace-filled God, who created us with purpose in His Story?  We are the daughters of the King; He is the lover of our souls and wants us to help Him tell and show others that they truly matter to Him, too.

Now is the time.  And God has been and will continue to press on our hearts this responsibility he’s given us.  He seems to be equipping us, especially at the start of 2016, for a reason.  He’s providing through the local church many opportunities like Empowered to Be, IF:Gathering, Abundance, Bible studies, and teachings to prepare us for what he’s called each one of us to do for His glory.

So let’s be praying!  Because when we pray, God equips and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to live like Jesus.

You can go here to learn more about these great opportunities for you to be part of.

 

Beth

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This I Pray

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Let me tell you about an evening I experienced a little over a week ago. If you weren’t there, I would encourage you to seek out the next opportunity. If you were there, I hope you share some of this perspective, and I welcome your commentary.  IF:Pray - a gathering of women whose purpose is “to ask God to move in our generation…to advance the good news of Jesus, that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” This evening was fitting in its timing because I’ve found myself struggling with offering up time to pray. I mean, I find that I pray throughout the day with great frequency, but those are often short bursts of prayer sprinkled here and there. What I needed to be reminded of, and give myself space and time for, is the kind of prayer we engaged in at IF:Pray.

For a Monday night, the parking lot was already crowded when I got there and the Student Center was cozier than I’ve ever seen it. But what was most striking to me was the sheer number of women in that room and their exuberance for the meeting about to take place. Sitting to my left: someone I shared the IF:Gathering with back in February and who I dearly admire. Sitting to my right: someone I didn't know but found great encouragement from (and likely without her even realizing it). When we entered, we were excited and intrigued. When we left, we were connected - not just to each other because of the proximity of our seats but because there was a palpable, tangible sensation that swept over the room.  The connection was something I sensed across space in those moments. Women were gathered all over the world to pray.  It was electric. Not a shocking volt, but a far-reaching wire.

The scripture most referenced during this meeting, this time of prayerful worship, was John 17. Jesus speaks to God for this entire chapter. I won’t copy it all here, but I encourage you to look it up.  First, we are called to prayer to offer gratitude, and what a great reminder that when I pray, I should start with what is most important: thankfulness. My prayer was heartfelt and quiet and internal. It was movement between my beating heart and my constantly-rapid-firing brain and the God who loves me bending down to be in that space. I could feel the prayers in the room being lifted. It was beautiful.

Jesus says, “I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours” (John 17: 9 CEB). This struck me particularly because of all the recent media coverage of the refugees fleeing the Middle East, and how God’s people – Christians all over the world – are being targeted. Jesus is praying for His Father’s people in verse 9. If He is openly and boldly doing that, shouldn’t I? And not just folks in far-flung locales - I should be on my knees praying for the people in my church with just as much urgency as the ones fleeing ISIS.

Jesus continues “I  gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one” (John 17: 14-15 CEB). If we aren’t bold for God now, will we ever be? Jesus wasn’t ashamed of me when He willingly and knowingly went to the cross (and truth be told, he probably should have been). So, it’s my turn to love Him openly. I may not ever get to any of those far-flung places where our sisters (and brothers) are boldly worshipping our God and suffering for it, but I can pray them here and now. I can share the message of the cross here and now with those I do come into contact with. And I can pray some more.

Jesus doesn’t leave out the rest of the folks walking around on this planet in His prayer to God. “I’m not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me” (John 17: 20 CEVD). I do pray for our world, but honestly out of selfishness sometimes, because I have two precious boys who are growing up in it. Jesus gives me more to pray for here: Pray for those who don’t believe, or don’t know Him, and that they might encounter believers who show them by word and deed what it means to follow Him. Jarm Turner, Student Ministry pastor’s sermon this summer on “What Would Jesus Say” addressed this as well. Watching the video of the children—kids the same age as mine— are being taught to hate, taught to kill and destroy.  I need to pray for them that somewhere at some point they will meet Jesus in such a way that they can’t help but fall in love with Him. I need to pray for the people in my own community who don’t have any idea what Jesus is all about, and I need to be more cognizant of the message I send in my everyday life so what they see might be Him in me.

We closed IF:Pray with a time to pray for unity and love. The notes on our journal reminded us that Father and the Son are “in perfect unity” and we can, then, believe that unity is attainable. We can and should see other people through God’s eyes (remind you of something Bob said this past Sunday?), and that people around the world might know God by our love. “If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13: 35 CEVD).

So, what did God stir in me on that Monday night? I can (and should) be more focused on pouring out my heart to Him (Psalm 62:8) and directly lift up the people around me and those farther afield. If I truly want to get intentional about it, my focus can be less about me and what I need, and more about what He needs from all of us here and now. Will I still pray direct prayers over my children or family or friends? Yes. But I can expand my prayer horizons a bit more and do more good by remembering everyone else, too. Friends, “I pray that the Lord will bless you and protect you” (Numbers 6:24 CEVD).

Jessica

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Let's Touch The Sky As Our Knees Hit The Ground

sept It was one year ago.

Twenty women in the community from different churches sat on picnic tables under a candle-lit shelter at a baseball field. It was on a cool, drizzly September evening, but it didn’t stop hands from joining, heads from bowing, words silent, whispered and called out loud to our God.  They were prayers that brought glory and praise to the Creator of all things.  Prayers that cried out to our Redeemer for help.  Prayers that asked our Protector for protection.  Prayers to the Prince of Peace for unity in our community and around the world.

John 17 was prayed.

And it wasn’t just those 20 women praying that night – it was thousands all over the world. That night IF:Pray took place. 

IF:Gathering is a ministry whose purpose is to gather, equip, and unleash women in the next generation to live out their purpose through Christ. Some of you at SMC attended the two day IF:Gathering at Elon University this past February and experienced an holy time with the presence of the Holy Spirit and communion with other women in Alamance county.

A few other ways to equip women is to be solely in the Word through IF:Equip, host IF:Tables (more to come!) and once a year invite women from around the world in one night to be in prayer together crying out to our God.

He listens.

He’ll be listening again as we gather to pray at SMC on September 14, 2015 from 7pm-9pm.  Women in our community are invited to join with us this holy evening.  Again, we’ll be praying John 17, for God’s people, the world, and for unity and love as the Body of Christ.  We’ll be on our knees in confession and we’ll be worshiping.

Not only will we pray with gratitude to our Maker, but there will be hard prayers to pray, too. God doesn’t want us to sweep reality under the rug and ignore what’s happening around us.  We need to be desperately asking God’s Spirit to move in the hearts of His people and for us to have the courage and boldness to hold up the Light of the world in our daily lives.

This time of the year is busy for most, but we need everyone to make the time to beg our Savior for delivery and unity, especially because of the conditions of the world these days.

We’d love for you to come.  Begging you to.

You can register at www.exporesmc.com and you’re encouraged to invite friends, co-workers, neighbors and family to come with you!

At last year’s IF:Pray, authors and bloggers, Jennie Allen, Ann Voskamp, Rebekah Lyons and Bianca Oltoff, to name a few, wrote prayers for the occasion.  Jen Hatmaker was also one who prayed that night, and I want to pray this prayer again. Will you join me in prayer?

"God, our world is crumbling and warring, murdering and destroying each other. There is injustice everywhere and sometimes we wonder if You see us down here struggling and aching for hope.
We need You!
We live in this broken down, terrified world and sometimes hate and fear threaten to ruin us all.  We pray for peace.
Please, God.  Deliver peace.
We beg for peace between nations and neighbors, races and relationships.  Give us eyes of love to look upon each other as brothers and sister.  Raise us up not just as peacekeepers but peacemakers.  Show us how to make peace beginning in our own fearful hearts.  Teach us not to fear ‘different,’ but to learn and listen instead.
Give us hands to reach out with hope and community.  Give us feet to travel to new neighborhoods, new people, new places, new spaces where we may not understand but we are willing to learn.  Give us courage God, courage to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Courage to lay down our weapons and pick up the mantle of peace.  Courage to admit our errors and listen with humility.
We pray for peace in this troubled world. The peace only You can give.
We believe You for it, God.”

Let us touch the sky as our knees hit the ground.