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.

 

By Misty Umholtz

 

Interrupted BookI recently read Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted: When God wrecks your comfortable Christianity.  I have to confess, I was interrupted. This book fascinated me, opened my eyes and made me uncomfortable. If you have a relationship with Jesus but feel like there is a missing component in your life, if you feel like there is a void in your Christianity or if you are in ministry and feel burned out or just depleted all the time, this book might just offer you the answer to what you are looking for.

 

This is the story of how God led Jen and her husband Brandon to start a new kind of church called the Barefooted Church. Where it is not focused on bringing people into a building but it is about being the church by getting out in the community and serving others. They are literally the hands and feet of Jesus attending to the poor, the lonely, the abandoned, the sick, the widow, the orphan, the elderly, the needy, the veteran and the forgotten.

 

One of their core beliefs in the Bible they base their church upon is Matthew 25 when Jesus says, “When you have served the least of these, you have served me. When you have not served the least of these, you have not served me.” They believe that our lives are most effected and changed when we get out of our comfort zones and serve others less fortunate than us.

 

InterruptedJen shares how Jesus modeled evangelism through relationship and hanging out with sinners not hiding out from them. As a result, she and her family build bridges and befriend neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else in their life all for the purpose of bringing the gospel to them right where they are.  They are choosing to be interrupted.

 

Honestly, I tend to be an extremist. When I read a book like this, I want to sell all I have and move into a homeless shelter. That is why God gave me a practical husband to help me out. So I ask myself,  “What is it I can actually do to apply the information I just absorbed?”

 

My first step is to intentionally serve our neighbors and build relationships with them. Next, our family is going to participate in Second Saturday through our church. Third, my husband and I are going to pray for a specific ministry outside of the church building that God would call us both to do together. I have also asked seven or eight friends from church to read this book and form a small group, to take this journey with me and wrestle through some hard issues together.

 

My hope is that our family will become more consumed in serving others for His Kingdom purposes than in consuming stuff for our earthly pleasure. My prayer is that we would lose some of our pride and selfishness along the way and we would find great fulfillment and satisfaction in focusing on what really matters for eternity, and that is people’s souls.

 

How is God asking you to get out of your comfort zone?

 

 

 

 

By Ashley Kuczynski

 

 

Anyone who knows me, even if merely as an acquaintance, knows that I can be obnoxiously health conscious. I eat clean most days,  do my cardio – sometimes shopping counts, and I lift A LOT of weights. But, today I’m not writing about the resistance given by a barbell or a dumbbell or even the kind of strength that is required to lift it… Today I am talking about the great W-A-I-T.

 

Waiting

WAITING. I admit that I am the absolute WORST “waiter”. Or, at least, I WAS. I sincerely and whole heartedly believe that up until this year if God Himself had to name who among His children was His “worst waiter” that He would have chosen me.

 

 

As I reflect back on seasons throughout my life when I was waiting on something… college acceptance letters, career opportunities, relational outcomes, what I remember is that I did not wait well. My faith would turn to fear and my dependence to doubt. The magnitude of the situation would determine how much I gave my time, thanks, praise, honor, and reverence to the Lord. My relationship with Him during these times resembled more of an interrogation session than anything else.

 

Time and time again I resisted what the Lord had for me within these experiences and instead I wiggled, squirmed, and attempted to hurry and worry along the passage of time. These times were abundant in turmoil and anxiety and completely absent of peace. Yet, at the conclusion of EVERY wait, God was FAITHFUL and GOOD to provide the very best outcome. It was in the moments that followed His answer, that I came to the realization that while I was grateful for the blessing and conclusion I was missing out on the middle.

 

I was missing out on what the Lord had for me in the experience and on the journey because I was hyper-focused on the “get me out now!”. Did things always turn out the way that I wanted them to? No. Did I always receive the answer to my prayers that I wanted? Absolutely not. But, I cannot reiterate enough that EVERY single time God delivered the absolute best outcome for me and my life. Because of HIS continued faithfulness came a desire within me to wait better.

 

In the fall of 2015 I was thrust into the throes of a new season of waiting. It persisted for about six months with entrances and exits into wait after wait after wait after wait with little to no rest in between. It was unexpected and unforeseen but this time I was different. Something inside of me had shifted. Instead of disputing and resenting the season and doing everything in my human power to escape, I invited the Lord into it.

 

Early in the morning I began each day by spending time in God’s word and giving each day to Him. I would say, “Lord, whatever it is that you have for me in this day, I want it because it’s yours, it belongs to you and I don’t want to miss anything that you have for me”.  When I did this, I discovered that He had something for me in EACH and EVERY day. I began to see His hand at work at 10,000 feet and ground zero. I began to watch and anticipate how I would see Him involved and where He would show up.

 

I had flare ups of worry and doubt sometimes and I still do as I have not been cured of my humanness. But, in those moments, prayer and breathing out my anxiety and breathing in His peace re-direct my focus back to Him.

 

Throughout these months Romans 15:13 made a recurring appearance, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. That scripture begins with the word “may”… And that “may” isn’t a “maybe” or “he might” on His part but is contingent on whether or not I allow Him.

 

If I trust in Him HE WILL fill me with all joy and peace and I will overflow with hope. God’s word is not a book that’s simply towing the company line… it’s REAL. If I choose to have an intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father in spite of my circumstances these things ACTUALLY HAPPEN. He eliminates my unbelief and I get to experience the remarkable, miraculous, and supernatural realities that He has for me.

 

 

By Robin Walls

 

I heard something recently that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. At church, we were in the middle of the series about relationships called Picture Perfect. Pastor Matt said that the tongue can either build someone up or break them down.

 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

It made me think about which one I would be remembered for- building up or breaking down. I’d like to think that it would be the first one. Why wouldn’t it be, right? I have always been told that if you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all and I have tried to live by that.

 

Women laughing together on boat

 

I’m happy. I try to be nice. I like to have fun. I make jokes. I love to make     people smile. I love big. But even if I want to be, I’m not always positive. More than I would like to admit, I have been guilty of speaking without thinking, of spitting out a harsh word when I may have had a bad day or my patience has been low, or of opening my mouth and letting words come out with no thought of how my words will affect the other person.

 

I am a mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend so when I think of who I may have hurt with my words, I could provide a list of people… people I love so much and who love me. They are the last people I would ever want to hurt in the world. But it’s ok. They know me. They know I am a big personality. They know I have a crazy life. (Can anyone relate?) I am human and I make mistakes. They know that no matter what I say, I really don’t mean any harm. Right? Wrong! I have no excuse or justification for saying words that cause someone pain. As a lover and follower of Jesus, I am called to do the opposite.

 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

 

Psalm 141:3

Someone who breaks people down? That is not who I want to be. I want to be someone who builds people up, an encourager. I want people to see Jesus when they see me or hear me talk or watch me parent or watch me be a friend. I want them to feel the love from me that I feel from Him.

 

So I do what I always do. I go to the One I know loves me unconditionally through my victories and my failures and I pray. I am so thankful for His mercy and that each day He makes all things new!