By Robin Walls

 

 

Dear Fear,
We have been spending too much time together. You make me think less confidently. You make me act less bold. You make me feel anxious. The time I spend focusing on you is exhausting. It makes me angry when I realize I have let you creep in. I will not let you rule me because my God is bigger than anything that can cause me to feel what you are.

 

Dear Doubt,
You swoop in just when I’m feeling good about myself or when I’m proud of how I’m handling my current challenges. You make me second guess myself. A lot. That is a waste of time and I can never get those minutes, hours, days, etc back. You make me feel like I am not deserving of all the blessings that a life in Christ brings. And that is just not true!

 

woman-journalingDear Low Self Worth,
You have failed me again and again when you tell me that I am not enough or that I’m not worthy of love or of good things. Jesus died on the cross for me because I AM ENOUGH! So stop lying to me!

 

Dear Discouragement,
You sometimes cause me to back away from what I know God is calling me to do. You make me feel apprehensive and intimidated. When you are around, you make it hard for me to have the courage to speak Jesus’ love and truth to others. That is what I’m called to do and that is what I will do.

 

Dear Disappointment,
Because of you, when things don’t turn out the way I want them to, I turn to anger or sadness instead of turning to God. He knows my path and He knows the exact timing that is best for my life. When my path does not go as I planned, I will rely on Him to get me through and not you!

 

Dear Devil,
There is no room for you in my life, my home, my heart. You are not welcome near me or my family. Try all you want to break me down but I won’t let you. Jesus lives in my heart. He has all of the power and you have none. Go away and leave us alone.

 

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for saving me! Please help me to be strong and bold in who I am in You. Please give me courage to fight off all attacks from the devil. I will not let any negative words said to me or about me be my truth. You and Your love for me are the only truth I need. Because of Your love for me, I am redeemed. Everyday I will use the tools You have given me to fight against the enemy. I will be in Your Word. I will listen to worship music that praises You. And I will kneel at Your feet in prayer. Anytime I feel the devil hovering around searching for my weaknesses, anytime I hear his conniving whispers in my ear, I will surrender all to You because I know where my help comes from!

By Kesha Webb

 

 

Often times I reflect on God’s love and I am overwhelmed. This morning I was curious about His secret sauce. What is the main ingredient of God’s love that makes Him so DELICIOUS! So I began to break down the ingredients of His love in an attempt to find God’s secret sauce. Maybe I could recreate His recipe and make my love delicious too.

 

I started with the fruit of the Spirit since its a healthy choice and a major food group. Love is the first ingredient. I love that God loves me but love has been so misused in our society that when I hear the words “I Love you” it often loses its taste. It’s used so much it begins to get stale.

 

Joy is the next ingredient but what about the days when I am feeling frustrated or super sad. Joy is a sweet seasoning but it has the tendency to lose its flavor also.

 

Peace is a strong spice that is recognized the-secret-ingredientimmediately, especially after a battle. However, with every challenge I find myself needing to add more peace to maintain the flavor.

 

Long-suffering or Forbearance is a bitter taste that is needed in the recipe to balance the flavors. However no one, not even God, could stomach Long-suffering without the other ingredients. Its similar to eating a tablespoon of nutmeg without the cinnamon and sugar. Yuck!

 

Next is kindness and goodness. They are like High-Fructose corn syrup. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you would throw out the rest of the ingredients and eat it straight from the bottle. Adversely, too much of it will make your soul obese, addicted to “sweet nothings” , and give your spirit chronic diabetes. Portion control is the key. Be kind but honest. Be good yet don’t enable.

 

Then Gentleness. Oh yes! Gentleness is like a tall cup of coffee, with a good book, on a easy breezy day. Unfortunately every day is not easy or breezy and most days you have to drink your coffee on the go.

 

Which brings us to self-control. Self-control is like salt. It is needed in practically every recipe. Salt balances and enhances the flavor. It also preserves the ingredients to last longer. Self-control preserves us to go the distance, to balance life, and maintain the fruit of the spirit in tough times. Although this is a powerful ingredient, its not the secret sauce.

 

The secret sauce of Gods love is FAITHFULNESS! Yes I was surprised too! Faithfulness is a binding ingredient. If not for His faithfulness and commitment to us His love would have no integrity. He loved us so much that He faithfully rendered His Son on the cross. Even His mercy and grace, generously given to us each day, would lose strength without the consistency of Gods divine faithfulness.

 

fruit-of-the-spiritHe is faithful to give us peace, faithful to be kind, good, and gentle. He faithful to suffer long and forbear our mistakes. Oh and when He has reached His threshold of forbearance, He is extremely faithful to control His anger. Yep, I am convinced that faithfulness is the Secret Sauce of Gods Love!

 

God, thank you for the example you give us. May we follow your lead in everything we do and receive the strength from you to remain faithful.

By Gretchen Zayas

 

 

Five years ago I joined a small group at Grace.  Since then I’ve met so many people and connected to many different communities of women.  But, It wasn’t always this way. Rewind to Fall 2011. I started attending Grace Family Church because my kids loved coming to the student ministry.

 

foundation-in-godI came from a very legalistic church background and this was a completely different experience. I loved the music but was a bit intimidated by the environment of everything else. To say I was guarded is an understatement. I knew I was missing something but I needed a push to get moving.

 

 

A friend of mine invited me to come to her Beautiful table she was hosting for the Women’s Bible study and I said yes. I wanted to meet other women but was a little nervous because I knew no one!

 

The semester started off great but I realized I was not at a table that was a good fit for me.  I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings, but I also felt a nudge to explore other classes. I found out another friend was teaching a New Believers class on Monday nights and she asked me to come listen to the lesson that week. Because I was raised in the church and even though I had a few unanswered questions, PRIDE deterred me from exploring it! I didn’t think I needed it.

 

I told myself, “I will go for emotional support.”  Little did I know what God had in store for me! I visited that class on Prayer and never made it back down to my Beautiful table!  Oh, and the friend who originally invited me was so excited that I was getting connected which made it so much easier for me to take the step I needed to.

 

I learned so much through the class during the remainder of the semester. I was able to ask questions I was always too afraid to ask. I connected with God in a way that I hadn’t ever before.  I fell in love with the curriculum and quickly got more involved.

 

Fast forward a few semesters and the class was renamed Foundations and rightfully so. Our church has so many people from different backgrounds and this class gives a platform to dispel some of the myths many of us have about the Bible and Gods truth. For people searching for answers, the Foundations class is a safe place to learn without judgement!

 

Whether you have been in church your whole life or are new to it, Foundations will benefit you and your journey. Will you become a seeker of God’s heart with us?

 

“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

*Foundations meets every Monday night on the Van Dyke Campus at 7:00 PM.

By Amy Hafner

 

 

rope_bridgeWalking in to my first Freedom Group in the spring of 2014 was slightly intimidating. I was a very new Christian, not yet baptized, who didn’t know much about the Bible, fellowship, or this word “freedom.”

 

I remember sitting down in a very large “small” group, listening to the hearts and personalities of so many different women.  Some were ready to bare their souls, be vulnerable and transparent and I simply wasn’t one of them.  Instead I sat there judging, “Her problem is so minor.  Well that’s an easy fix.  Isn’t she a Christian?”

 

I didn’t say one word that first group, which is shocking for me. I left thinking, “what did I just sign myself up for?”  I thought I had nothing in common with these ladies and I would never let my guard down with them.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, and I really had to repent of my attitude because it was so wrong.

 

Over the next nine weeks, this group transformed my life.  They became the friends and community I was in desperate need of.  They cheered me on through my struggles and my triumphs. God revealed to me how similar our paths intermingled and we were able to build each other up.  I was baptized that March and will be a co-leader for a Freedom Group this fall!

 

As we begin our semester I’m reminded of Mother Teresa’s wise words:

“If you judge people you have no time to love them.ori-57838

 

Now let’s be honest, are you going to be new best friends with everyone in your group?  Probably not.  But we can always err on the side of love and acceptance.

 

God, thank you for loving me right where I am. Help me to love others where they are. Bless our efforts to love and not judge and as we seek you, let us find you!

By Xio Rivera

FightEarly this summer I was feeling defeated, exhausted and vulnerable. I was feeling spiritually unarmed. The enemy managed to wrap me up in a tail spin of busy work where I barely had any dedicated quiet prayer and devotion time. One day led to another and before I knew it I felt confused, disorganized and irritated.

 

Thankfully, I was invited to participate in a Summer Group studying Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God.  I wrestled with, “I just don’t have time” and I am so thankful to God for knowing what I needed and when. I am grateful to my Sister in Christ for inviting me and opening her home to facilitate the study.

 

I was reminded of how I am to put on the full Armor of God so that I can stand against the devil’s schemes. That my fight starts with arming myself, my children, and family. I began making my prayer time and fellowship with like-minded people a priority.

 

Community

I completed the study feeling fully armed but God let me know he was not finished with me. I was led to a devotion and quiet prayer journey with Him and my accountability Sisters in Christ.

 

During this time, I was able to hear him so clearly as he led me to clean house from the inside out. God cleansed me of baggage that I had been carrying around for too long. He had me release anger, unforgiveness and bitterness toward myself and others.  At the time, I did not realize fully how much this was a lesson of obedience.

 

“But if you carefully obey His voice and do all I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” Exodus 23:22 

 

I have grown so much but I know God is not done with me. He is preparing me for more. He is strategically placing me in the right mindset and molding me into the prepared woman I am meant to be.  He has put me on a path to be ready.  I will not be saying, “but first let me” or “I wish I was ready.” I will be saying I am armed, I am ready and I am focused! Where do you want me God?

 

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”
Psalms 119:30

 

What are you fighting for? How is God preparing you? My prayer is that you do not find yourself in the shoes I was in earlier this summer and that you have sisters around you to hold you up and encourage you along the way.