Intentional growth, Loving Others, obedience, Relationships

A Great Time to be God’s Church

What’s become very clear to me during the coronavirus lockdown: The church isn’t a place but a people and exists beyond any walls or boundaries.

And now is a wonderful time to be God’s church in the world.

This is not to make light of what we’re experiencing. People are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate—and soon, if they aren’t already, these could be our friends and family. It’s scary. Our routines are upended, many have lost jobs and financial security… It’s both surreal and terribly frightening.

But it’s also an opportunity.

See, we hear all the time that the church doesn’t have walls, the church is the people—but still we think of church as a place, a building we go to every Sabbath to sit, pray, sing, hear God’s word, and experience fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing.

We are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing. Click To Tweet

We know church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. And church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or we’re gathered online. But sometimes in the busy rush of life, we get so caught up in the day-to-day normal routine that we forget this.

Church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. Church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or online. Click To Tweet

Right now, though, nothing is normal—except the things of God, which never change. The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. And for those of us who are believers, who understand Jesus is the Son of God and the One who saves, the Holy Spirit still ignites our hearts.

The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. Click To Tweet.

I believe the Holy Spirit can and does move through each of His children regardless of physical proximity. The Spirit moves through phone lines, through radio frequencies, through the internet and any other brilliant technological method we can imagine. The Spirit moves as we engage on social media, and it’s a glorious thing.

In fact, if you pay attention to faith on social media like I do, you’ve probably noticed some of these extraordinary, innovative things. Phone trees, YouTube and Facebook live worship services, video conference devotionals, and even church radio stations are helping God’s people stay connected. People at one church I know with a daily soup kitchen for the food-insecure are now offering free grab-and-go sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and other prepackaged items each weekday to anyone in need.

It’s beautiful and inspiring, and it all fills me with hope and deep admiration for the children of God who work tirelessly for His Kingdom, who strive day after day to share the Gospel and be God’s hands and feet in the world, whatever that looks like.

I’m not sure how Jesus pictured His church when He stood before His disciple, Peter, and told him, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18 NIV). But I don’t think He imagined any kind of earthly building. For we know structures, like earthly kingdoms, rise and fall. But God’s kingdom will never be overcome. For God, and God’s people, live on forever, ushering in His glory and His will on earth by whatever means possible. Even in the pandemic. Especially in the pandemic.

bethechurchFB

Jesus knew the future of the church, knew that what would start out as small gatherings would lead to bigger buildings and places, but maybe He’s calling us back to the beginning, to remember it’s more about the togetherness- hearts united and hands clasped.

However we spread the word of God, however we make God famous, however we model His ways and His love in pointing people toward heaven, is “doing church.”

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. What does that mean to you?

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. Click To Tweet.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

The church isn't a place but a people and exists beyond any walls and boundaries. And now is a wonderful time to be God's church in the world. Click To Tweet

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Faith, Identity in Christ, intentional living, obedience, obedience, Resting in Christ, Video Devotion

Building Perseverance, a Video Devotion by Wholly Loved Ministries’ Jessica Brodie

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Faith, fear, God's Will, Hardships and Trials, obedience, Uncategorized

Training for Our Heavenly Race

By Jessica Brodie

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

It was harder than I imagined. There I was on the side of the lake, face beet-red and lungs about to explode, not to mention sweat dripping off every inch of my frame. I’d convinced myself I could jog the length of the dam, only my body was far more accustomed to race-walking and circuit training than a nonstop pounding run.

“How do people do this?” I asked my sister breathlessly.

“You just have to train,” she replied. “Few people can just lace up and run a 5K out of nowhere. You have to build up, little by little.”

I followed her advice. Every day, I’d start by walking, then I’d run—first just a few minutes before shifting back to a fast walk, then increasing my run time. Soon I was doing far more running than walking. By the morning of the 5K, I’d trained enough. I completed the 3.10686 miles out of breath but victorious. I’d persevered! I’d run the race! And now I could celebrate.

In our earthly lives, we know perseverance—resolve, tenacity, determination—pays off, and not just when it comes to running. We persevere in studying hard for our final exams so we can achieve good grades. Through difficulties in our jobs so we can remain employed and advance our careers. Through troubles in our relationships, fighting for a healthy family.

And when it comes to our spiritual lives, perseverance is critical.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, #perseverance is critical. Click To Tweet

When we believe in Jesus and repent of our sins, we receive eternal salvation. But sometimes our faith is sorely tested. We face trials and temptations. We pray for health, only to receive a scary diagnosis. We hope for relief, only to experience the devastation of a hurricane. We love others well, and get rejected. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith.

Sometimes our #faith is sorely tested. Sometimes it seems easier to give up than keep the faith. That’s when we need to hold fast and press on. #holdon #jesus Click To Tweet

But Scripture tells us to hold fast and press on. In the Book of Hebrews, the author reminds us that we are to model ourselves after Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” who ran the race with perseverance. “For the joy set before Him (Jesus) endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV).

Jesus encountered much difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes on God and did God’s will. He persevered because the future goodness outweighed the present suffering. He taught and healed, and He died for us so that we, too, may be saved for eternal life.

#Jesus encountered much #difficulty during His life on earth, even more than us. He was questioned, mocked, challenged, beaten, tortured, and ultimately hung on a #cross by the very people He had hoped to save. But He kept His eyes… Click To Tweet

When we set our sights on God despite opposition, we will follow Jesus and be victorious in our trials. How do we do that? We train ourselves to pray, to focus on God’s Word the Bible, to follow Him, to put Him first, and to love others as we love ourselves.

When we set our sights on God despite #opposition, we will follow #Jesus and be #victorious in our trials. Click To Tweet

Sometimes the race gets hard. Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, when we keep our eyes on the prize (eternal life in heaven!), our perseverance will pay off.

Our course might take us uphill over rocky terrain. We might slip or want to give up. But when we cling to our #faith and push aside any stumbling blocks, our #perseverance will pay off. #nevergiveup Click To Tweet

What is holding you down? What hardship seems too big to overcome? Little by little, lace up your sneakers by turning your heart toward God and make Him a priority. Build up your muscles and lungs by reading God’s Word. With Jesus, you will persevere and run the race.

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian author, journalist, editor, and writing coach with a faith blog, Shining the Light, at JessicaBrodie.com.

Faith, obedience, Uncategorized

Do I Trust Myself More Than God?

Do I Trust Myself More than God

Sometimes I put trust in dangerous places.

One day, my husband informed me he wanted to return to the Navy. I’d talked him out of this decision before and felt certain I could again. After all, he was pursuing his college degree, and going back into the military meant saying goodbye to nearly half our income and a comfortable civilian life. Nothing about it made sense, and I told him so.

But then God captured my attention. Has God ever grabbed yours?

When I relayed the situation to our pastor’s wife, she asked if I had prayed about it. Her words—more likely God speaking through her—shook me. I hadn’t. I trusted myself and my logic more than God.

However, seemingly obvious answers aren’t always fueled by God Almighty.

His ways are higher than ours, according to Isaiah 55:8-9. Wisdom finds us seeking our Father’s counsel.

Wisdom finds us seeking our Father's counsel. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

After that divinely-led conversation, I went home and prayed. My strong-willed, rational self intentionally transferred trust to God in that moment. I asked the Lord to show me if He was behind Tony’s decision and to make His will undoubtedly clear.

God responded to that prayer within days.

The answer? Navy.

Day after day, those four letters grabbed my attention from their mount on buildings, signs, and vehicles. It was the wildest thing. Everywhere I turned, “navy” found me.

Soon after, Tony rejoined the Navy. In fact, he made a career of it, retiring in 2013. The Lord showed us much and crossed our paths with many wonderful people during those years. We wouldn’t exchange the journey for anything. God knew best after all!

Relying on ourselves, logical thinking, or statistics looks good on the outside, and trust set there often makes sense at first glance. But God’s ways are higher than ours. He woos and encourages us to rely on Him—the Maker of heaven and earth.

God's ways are higher than ours. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

Proverbs 3:5-6 challenges us to trust in the Lord versus our own understanding. The Bible prompts us to acknowledge God, knowing He—not man—will make our paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 challenges us to trust in the Lord versus our own understanding. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

When we find ourselves placing confidence in ourselves or others, why not turn to our Father instead? What situations are you facing today that’d be safer set in prayer, relying on God versus man?

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obedience

Fearless When Ill-Equipped

woman with sunset behind her and the text of Zech. 4:6

God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit. ~ Tertullian Click To Tweet

I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, I felt ready to explode. Or hide.

My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. When I most needed it to shine.

My fear—that I’d fail, and in failing that I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.

And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.

I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.

I suppose much of that came from mounting stress, and sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?

I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. My insecurities, my fear of failure, my mounting negative thinking, kept chipping away at my strength.

So what’d I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.

I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role--as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn't about me. Click To Tweet

quote pulled from post with background image of pastel colorsNor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.

This is a choice we all must make, whenever our fears and insecurities begin to turn our ears from God’s call, whatever that call may be.

Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God:

“How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made. Throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”

Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.

Is there something God has called you, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?

We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers. Click To Tweet

Join us for one of our Bold and Brave conferences to learn how to live intentionally and courageously. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And contact us HERE to have our team or one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.