It was a fabulous first event of 2011—

  • The long line of tables filled with a variety of resources from women in Christian ministry.
  • Wonderful refreshments provided by Calvary Community Church in their beautiful atrium.
  • Women in deep discussion around the tables, sharing their thoughts about what God is leading them into in 2011.
  • A thoughtful, heart-tugging “meet the team” moment as Jennifer shared her excitement to be part of the LIFT planning team.
  • Soul-stirring worship, praising the name of our Savior.
  • Dr. Alice Mathews, with her “professor” hat on, teaching about the history of Christian women’s ministries through the years, and drawing us forward into the exciting conclusion:  Yes, times are changing, and what women are looking for in Christian women’s ministries are authenticity and pathways to spiritual growth.
  • Mingling and sharing, hugs and laughter, prayer and praise.

Our 2011 theme for LIFT is TIME.  “…who knows but that you have come to this position for such a TIME as this.“  Esther 4:14.  If you were at this first 2011 LIFT meeting, I’m sure you came away blessed and encouraged.  If you missed it, don’t let the next one sneak by you.

Nothing in Life is Free by Samantha A. Wright

You’ve heard the old adage, nothing in life is free, right? I have always balked at that statement because certainly, if Chick-fil-A is giving away their tasty chicken strips, they’re free, right? Well, I guess except for the drink you bought with them to wash them down. Oh, and the gas you used to drive to their location. Not to mention the time you burned to go specifically to their store for lunch to get the free chicken. Don’t forget that lunch took twice as long because everybody and their brother came for the ‘free’ meal, too. But still, wasn’t is mostly free? I recently had the opportunity to see this phenomenon first hand in my own life. That nothing in life is free….

A few months ago my in-laws had some furniture they were looking to re-home and asked their kids if they were interested before they asked outside of the family. My favorite chair and secretary were on the list, along with a couch and love seat. I talked my husband into putting dibs in on those items…they’re free, after all, right? Later that week, we borrowed a truck from a friend and headed 90 miles east to grab our new free furniture to replace our 14 year old hand me downs. How exciting!! All said and done we spent $50 on gas and $10 for fast food, and I was still thinking our free furniture was still a pretty good deal.

Days later, a new home was found for our old furniture then I set to work bringing the new furniture into the house. When my husband asked where the new furniture was going and I told him he exclaimed, ‘oh no! This furniture is too nice to put in the great room. We need to put it where the kids can’t even sit on it.’ Okay. Plan B. Let’s put it in the family room. The furniture fit perfectly and made the room look cozy and warm with its gold and green hues. As I sat back and admired my new room I paused. Hmm. There’s a problem. But only a slight problem. The walls were painted a suede blue color to match the green down chairs I had in the room before hand. The blue didn’t look bad, but it really didn’t look great, either. My decorating instinct kicked in and I started to obsess about how much it would cost to repaint the wall. I quietly slunk out the door and disappeared to Home Depot on a mission. Horrified at the $40 a gallon price tag of the special paint from two years previously I left a bit discouraged. My free furniture was starting to cost me more than I had originally anticipated. Thankfully, days later, I was able to discover a gallon of demonstration paint in the oops section for $1 and after adding 3 cups of white paint I already had, I was able to create the perfect color for my wall. Sadly, my compulsion to make the room just right didn’t end there. I was so elated at saving so much money on paint I was compelled to go buy new decor for the room to match the style of my new furniture. Before I knew it, my new furniture had become an obsession that was growing wildly out of control, and consuming my life.

Pondering the whole situation I began to think of my relationship with Christ. Easter is upon us and churches will be emphasizing the free gift of eternal life made available through Christ’s resurrection. The gift of salvation is free, all you have to do is ask for it. Just like I asked for the furniture from my incredible in-laws. The furniture I received, though free from the giver, made a change in my life that motivated me to action. This action had a cost; namely a different paint color and new nick knacks. Conversely, the gift of salvation I received from Christ was free. The change the Holy Spirit brings to my life compels me to action as I let the Holy Spirit consume my life. My resulting actions have a cost; namely denying myself. 2 Corinthians 3:18. Scripture says a believers is a new creation in Christ and will be transformed. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:17-21. Salvation most certainly is a free gift, but living a spirit filled life has a cost. This isn’t a new idea~Jesus told his followers they needed to evaluate that cost of discipleship before they made a commitment. Luke 14:25-33; Luke9:23.

As we are sharing the gospel, whether this Easter season or 3 months from now, we need to communicate that life in Christ is a free gift and the benefits far outweigh the cost, but there is a cost. Salvation isn’t a gift you place on a shelf to gather dust, rather it’s a gift put into action, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that compels life change. As John Calvin penned, “Indeed, faith alone saves, but the faith that saves, is never alone.”

Please share how your salvation has specifically cost you.

Cleaning the Junk Out of Your Closet by Samantha A. Wright

Spring is in the air and Easter is just around the corner. Most retail stores have the intoxicating fragrance of Tulips, Hyacinth, and Easter Lily’s permeating the air. It is an abrupt reminder to me, that along with blooming bulbs, the need for spring cleaning to be done is around the corner. I mentioned to my husband that I would be starting a Honey Do List for his cleaning list, and it jogged his memory about a conversation he’d recently had with a friend about life P.C. (Pre-Christian) and the struggles and failures his friend had experienced. Why is it so easy to share our P.C. struggles and failures but we struggle opening up about those things we’ve struggled with while a Christian. The friend likened it to the church building. Church staff work diligently to keep the areas of the church that everyone sees spotless, but if you go poking around where lay people never trod, there is always that pile of junk. Similarly, we close the door on the ‘closets’ of our own life so no one can see the junk.

We hear of drug abuse, infidelity, pornography addiction, greed, jealousy, and the list goes on and on. Most church members will come forth and admit they too had a problem, but it was years earlier: P.C. Yet statistics and those willing to share their life experience conclude that many church attenders are struggling with these same issues. Why are we so afraid to share our struggles with others? Are we afraid they will judge us? Look down on us? Think they are better than we are because ‘they don’t have that problem?’ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. God is not a God of fear—He is a God of love. (I John 4:18) It has been said that when we bring our struggles into the light, the struggle loses its power because it can no longer hide and it ceases to be a thing to be feared. We need to open the door of the proverbial closet and allow our struggles to be illuminated by the ‘Light’.

I have recently been convicted of the junk I have been hiding and have started cracking the doors on some of my closets. I am tired of trying to look like the spotless church while hiding my mound of junk. And although everyone doesn’t need to know the entirety of the struggles throughout my life, Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for every season—this includes with who and what you share. I don’t flaunt the contents of my closets, but carefully consider those I can trust and extend an invitation to help me clean out my closet. I am trading the energy I have been spending hiding the junk in the closet for energy needed to clean the junk out.

I am a sinner. I have always been a sinner. Those of us who are believers are covered by the blood of the Lamb, but sometimes I do the very thing I do not want to do. (Romans 7:15) Some sins are more socially accepted than others—some have greater consequences. But we have to remember that God is working within each of us, and rather than stuffing more junk in the closet, or busying ourselves with worrying about what other people have in their closets, maybe we need to ask if it’s time to personally do a little spring cleaning in our closets.

By: Samantha A. Wright

Anne Graham Lotz Event

Anne Graham Lotz

~7 Points of Anne’s Message~

Person of the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit is not an it or dove or flame of fire, but a counselor which is ‘exactly the same as me [Jesus].” John 14:16. The Holy Spirit is present with us 24/7 whether we see him or not.

Presence of the Holy Spirit: He is available to us. Moment by moment surrender to moment by moment control.

Power of the Holy Spirit: He is available to us and is adequate for whatever God has called us to do.

Precepts of the Holy Spirit: He is available through the Scriptures. The Bible is the channel to help us gain wisdom for which we need to live a godly life.

Purity is the agenda of the Holy Spirit: Purity is available to us and should be our agenda. In our words, actions, motives…it affects what you look at, listen to, who you hang out with and what you do.

Prayer of the Holy Spirit: He prays for us when we do not know how or what to pray. Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit is emotionally caught up in our lives. (Anne used her mother Ruth as an illustration). When we do great, the Holy Spirit is excited and is our cheerleader. When I mess up, He grieves because He loves me. He knows and understands me and is therefore able to fully communicate to God my prayers and longings.

Priority of the Holy Spirit: He brings glory to God. Jesus is the priority of the Holy Spirit. The written word of God is how we get there– the Spirit of Truth is written through the word of God.

What about you? What did God  place on your heart when Anne spoke? Share your comments below.