A Day of Tears and Joy

The cry of every woman’s heart is to know and be known.  To share our joy and tears with people who understand us.  Who weep with us, and laugh with us, and love us all the while.

That deep need for connection was answered in every part of LIFT’s latest event this past Friday.  With generous vulnerability our speakers shared their own hurts with us, and taught us how to do the same.  To see past the surface of the women around us, and to care enough to go deeper.

It starts with the heart of Jesus, and His admonition to heal the wounds of the broken.  It is carried forward in the hearts of His women, who look with eyes of compassion to see where they can serve.

Jill Rhodes pointed us first to Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Jesus referred to this scripture in the first sermon of His ministry, and it characterized His time on earth.  Our speakers taught us by their example how to carry this intention into our own ministries.

What did you learn from this LIFT event that you can apply to your ministry and your life?  Who needs you to offer the comfort and compassion of Christ?  Did you catch a new idea to help you go past the surface and see the hidden needs?

I pray that you were blessed by our time together on Friday.  If you missed it I hope you plan now to be with us for our next meeting on November 7.  We want to connect with YOU!

Blessings,

Deborah Barber

 

Stepping Away From Comfortable

As leaders in Christian ministry I think it’s a safe guess to assume all of us want to make a difference in the world in general, and in the lives of women in particular.  And it’s probably also true that we sometimes fall short of our own expectations.

Why is that?  What keeps us from accomplishing the good we want to do?  Here’s a big one for me:  it’s easier to be comfortable.  It’s safer to stay in my familiar routine and not get out there too far where I may attract disapproval or judgment or even (gasp) rejection!

Here’s something posted this week by Ann Voskamp that jumped out at me and poked me right in my good intentions:

Photo: Hey Soul? The world really needs you right now--not someone else, *you* -- because *the world desperately needs world changers right now.*  The world needs people done with with comfort zones, because they might just be death traps.The world needs people who fear the ease of comfort zones --- because frogs have died that way. The world needs people who are tired enough of comfort zones — that they start living in the *dangerously alive zone.* And you can't be a world changer until you *serve.* And you can't serve until you *break free* of your comfort zone. Break free of your comfort zone and do something, touch someone, give something, help someone, pray for someone, serve someone, #betheGIFT for someone. This weekend, the world needs people to open their front door and love big right where they are, however they can  --- and we're on it.   [Start here: "What No One Tells You About Fear & Comfort Zones & How. To. Change. The. World." http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/08/what-no-one-tells-you-about-fear-comfort-zones-how-to-change-the-world/ ]I wish there was a way to make a difference from right here in my comfort zone.  But that doesn’t seem to be the way God works.

So many stories in the Bible are about people who are called to step away from comfortable.

Moses wanted to stay safely out of the public eye, comfortably tending his sheep.  Instead he got to confront the king with an ultimatum.

Gideon was called out of “unknown” to become a war hero.

Peter was more comfortable as a rough fisherman.  And he found himself speaking in front of the religious leaders of the day.

Esther had to get very uncomfortable–risking her life by presenting herself uninvited before the king.

What do you think?  Is God asking you to step away from comfortable in order to accomplish something for Him?  If He is, there’s a good opportunity right around the corner to get some help with that.

Join us for our next LIFT event on September 12, where Jill Rhodes will be sharing important information about how we can address some of the issues facing women today.  Whatever God asks us to do next might still be uncomfortable, but at least we’ll have some tools and insight to apply, as well as the support of the LIFT network.

See you there?

Blessings,

Deborah

What Encourages You?

I was thinking today about the spiritual gift of encouragement, trying to nail down exactly what it looks like.  And, of course, my thoughts turned to LIFT.  One of our core purposes here at LIFT is to encourage leaders in Christian women’s ministry.  So how do we do that?  What does it mean to encourage someone?

Webster’s New College Dictionary defines the word encourage as “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to hearten.”  (I love that word “hearten.”  It fits with our LIFT logo, don’t you think?)

And the word courage is described as “the quality or state of mind or spirit enabling one to face danger or hardship with confidence and resolution.”

In God’s charge to Joshua, as Joshua was entrusted with responsibility for leading the Israelite people after the death of Moses, God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous.  Three times in three verses God repeated the directive.

The third time, in Joshua 1:9, God said, “This is my command–be strong and courageous!”  (The New Living Translation even includes the exclamation point!)  So this was not something God wanted Joshua to take lightly.

Isn’t it interesting that God was giving Joshua this particular command just as he was taking over the leadership of a ministry?  God knew Joshua would need strength and courage to accomplish the work that was being assigned to him.

As leaders in ministry we’ve been in Joshua’s shoes before, right?  No, we’re probably not leading a group as large as the Israelite nation, but any size ministry can be overwhelming at times.  It takes strength and courage (and humility, wisdom, patience, grace, and more) to be an effective leader.

So where does the courage, the encouragement, come from?  Fortunately, God did not leave Joshua to figure that part out on his own.  God was very clear about Joshua’s source for courage and strength.

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command–be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Hopefully as leaders we regularly reflect on this amazing truth–that the LORD our God is with us right here, right now, and wherever He might take us in the course of our days.  The promise is meant to give us the encouragement we need to accomplish the work before us.

If you’re like me it’s sometimes too easy to let courage and confidence wane in the face of challenges.  We look around us at the difficulty rather than recognizing God’s presence and power.  That’s when we need to encourage and support, remind and refresh each other, maybe even with God’s own words:  ”Be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Where do you find your encouragement for ministry?  Leave a comment and share with us.  We would love to hear about what LIFTs you up.

Many Blessings,

Deborah

Pushing The Elephant

It was an evening of blessing and inspiration, beauty and tears, with God’s touch all over it . . .

Thank you, Rose Mapendo, for sharing your deeply moving story with LIFT at our first meeting of 2014.  You touched the hearts of women in life-changing ways, and God was honored by your words and music.

Here are several comments that were shared by women who were in attendance.

From days after the event . . . “I am still soaking in Rose’s story and how God was and still is being glorified through her life. Wow! As I drove home I felt speechless, tearful and so deeply moved. I was trying to think of a way to describe the evening, and I couldn’t.  The only thing that came to mind was that it was more than a meeting…it was an experience.”

“Rose is a beautiful picture of what forgiveness and humility can look like when a person is completely yielded to Him – did you notice that even in the midst, she has the joy of the Lord? Amazing and Awesome! I will not ever be the same . . .”

“Rose’s reliance on the spirit of God was so evident. . . . I know I am changed because of the night.”

“It was really great to hear all The Lord has done in Rose’ life! Truly amazing! So great to hear how her faith in The Lord got her through such hard times. The Lord is good!”

“Rose’s story . . .  Her wrestling with God was so honest, clearly showing the power of prayer.  Her willingness to forgive her captors in such a terrible place was inspiring.  How can I not forgive the “pinpricks” I receive from others?   It was a beautiful experience. ”

If you were at the event I’m sure you were blessed as well.  If you missed it, you can read a synopsis of her story on the Rose Mapendo Foundation website.  It’s a harrowing story of imprisonment and loss during a period of ethnic violence in the Congo.  But it doesn’t end there.  By God’s grace Rose lived out her faith and experienced God’s hand of protection upon her.  You can also see a clip of her documentary, Pushing the Elephant.

Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness, and for showing us Your faithfulness to Your children–even in the worst possible circumstances.  And thank You for blessing LIFT with an incredible first event for 2014.