‘I am the disciple Jesus loves’

It’s an incredibly bold claim that Elizabeth Fitch made at the women’s retreat last weekend. The disciple whom Jesus loves? That’s the phrase used in John’s gospel, probably to describe John himself. But when Elizabeth made that claim about herself, she wasn’t bragging or being arrogant. She was simply describing the transformation that God has brought about her as she has sought to answer what she calls “the ‘who am I?’ question.”

After years of trying to answer that question as a wife, an attorney, a mother, and any of a host of other identities, Elizabeth says God has brought her to a place where she can say, “I am God’s beloved child, and I am the disciple Jesus loves.” As someone who spends far more of my energy than is good for me managing people’s perceptions of me (or, more rightly, managing my perceptions of people’s perceptions of me), I found Elizabeth’s description of herself to be a compelling invitation to a beautiful kind of life. A beautiful, abundant life.

Some more gems from Elizabeth that I’m still pondering:

  • “I’m a lot less sophisticated than I used to be.” I love this description of being free to live as the person God made us to be, not who we think we should be.
  • “Can you dare to believe that God might just be an abyss of compassion?” What a powerful image. Often it seems too good to be true — and yet, as Elizabeth said, this is what we were made for.
  • Psalm 103:4 says that God crowns you with love and compassion. “Have you crowned yourself with love and compassion today? If not, why would you do less for yourself than God does for you?”

Interest piqued? Want to hear more? Talk to one of the 82 women who were on the retreat! And you ladies who were there: Share in the comments what you heard from God over the weekend!

(Photographs by Mary Ann Calhoun)

A Gift of the Heart

A post from Louise Brooks:

Forgiveness is a tricky thing.  It’s one of those things that we as the forgiven need to offer to others we need to forgive.  Sometimes it’s a quick thing this forgiveness of others.  And sometimes it can take years.

You know those quick things that are easy to forgive – someone showing up a few minutes late for a meeting; someone getting ahead of you in line at Starbucks when technically you were there first; someone bumping into you on the Metro.  No big deal!  I can forgive that!  Right?

And then, there are those other things.  Those things that wound us deeply or that pick at the scab of those deep wounds we thought were healed.  Ouch.  And, so, it becomes a process, a little thing we can do a little bit each day.  You pray, “Today, Lord, help me forgive this little part.”  And it’s a thing that happens; a thing that God does in us little by little so that one day it’s done.  And you have that conversation with the one you need to forgive because of the power of the One who has forgiven you.  A conversation that you’ve always wanted to have, but never thought you could.  A conversation that resolves those things that you thought you could never be resolved.  And you’re right.  You can’t.  But He can.  And does.

So, this forgiveness we give is a gift of the heart.  A gift of God’s work in and through us.   A gift of grace.

How has God’s power healed those hurt places in you, allowing you to extended forgiveness to others?

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.  (Zechariah 4:6)

What do you think, “worshiply” speaking?

A post from Matt Hoppe:

Below are a few quotes concerning worship from people you may or may not recognize.  I’m curious about your responses to some of their quotes and was wondering if you had some perspectives or thoughts of your own.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

“Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.” – Woodrow Wilson

“I come from the performance world, but the idea of a worship song is different. It’s useful music.” – John Tesh

“I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“I’ve explored the worship side, the pop side, and the film scoring side of me.” – Michael W. Smith

“Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than find as quickly as possible someone to worship.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” – Billy Graham

Does any of this resonate?  Does any of it make you shudder?  Tell us about it.

The Incongruity of the Kingdom

A post from Liz Gray:

On Monday Simon and I were in Nicaragua. Many people use horses and carts to get around — and as we were strolling down a side street we came across such a vehicle, with its patient but weary looking pony and a brand new fridge loaded on the cart. The incongruity made me smile … but it also made me think about how many incongruities there are in our lives. We worship the carpenter Savior, the foot-washing King, the Creator turned shepherd.

Somehow God is constantly suggesting that we take a second look at things and see them ‘for real.’

  • So we live in a world where success is seen to be all, but we know that the meek will inherit the earth.
  • We see disasters and we know that God can heal and bring wholeness
  • We see sin and we know God can redeem and forgive
  • We see death and we know there is life

I want to see more of the upside-downness of God’s viewpoint. Where have you seen it recently?

Socks

I’ve just learned how to knit socks. Lest you be misled, socks aren’t easy to knit. It took me nearly five years of dedicated knitting just to get my stitches even enough to attempt my own socks. But when Grandma was visiting for Christmas, I asked her to teach me, preferring the guidance of a seasoned knitter when venturing into this new, complicated skill set. She patiently showed me the technique used for the heel flap, to make it strong enough to resist wearing, and encouraged me as I learned to turn the heel.

After working diligently for several hours, I had produced my first sock. It’s far from economically savvy to go about footwear this way, but when I wear a pair of socks Grandma knit just for me, I feel warm and loved, knowing now, firsthand, how long she labored over something so seemingly insignificant.

In Psalm 139, the psalmist praises God for knitting him together in his mother’s womb. While I know this to be poetry, not necessarily descriptive of God’s creative process, I also know that it is incredibly powerful for me to think about creation in this way. God could have just poofed me into existence. But this psalm makes me think that He didn’t. Rather, He labored carefully, knitting together all of the bits that make me who I am, meticulously working up each of my parts.

In a world where I often feel insignificant, when I often think that God has much bigger things to be concerned about, it’s immensely comforting to think of God knitting each of my cells, my fingernails, my freckles. It brings me to praise Him, along with the psalmist, that I am, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Be Not Afraid

A post from Louise Brooks:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27 ESV)

The power went out at our house the other night. ZAP! A blink and we were done. Add to that limb after limb crashing down in our yard and on our roof. CRACK! THUD! My first response was fear. Yup. Me. A grown woman. Fear. I wandered around the house gathering candles and matches and dim flashlights, all the while singing a preschool Bible memory verse song to myself – “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Your prayer has been heard. Your prayer has been heard. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Luke 1:13. Luke 1:13.” (Sing it to the tune of “Frere Jacques.”) It gave me peace and comfort to sing that silly song. I knew that even though there was darkness all around me, I was still plugged in to the One who keeps me safe. Jesus. The One who brings me peace. The One who “give[s] light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78) The One who rescues. Are you plugged in?

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