James 1:13-18 {Week 3}

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:13-18)

With every trial comes temptation.  When we don’t “consider it all joy when we face trials of various kinds”, we will fall into temptation.  A temptation to follow our own desires, rather than trust God and follow Him.

Watch the video below to discover:

  1. The cycle of temptation
  2. The deception of temptation
  3. The remedy for temptation


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/202113663″>Women’s Equipping Week 3</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

James 1:2-12 {Week 2}

Why does God allow suffering?

That big theological question we’ve all wrestled with.  This week in our study of James, we’ll begin to build a theology of suffering.  We’ll see James tell us in our suffering we’re not to run from our trials, we’re not to try and get out of trials, we’re to “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2)

Douglas Moo says, “The difficulties that inevitably afflict believers have the purpose of deepening commitment to God in Christ.”

Suffering has a different purpose for the Christian.  Suffering produces perseverance and perseverance is the path to spiritual maturity.

Watch this week’s message here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/201237637″>Women's Equipping Week 2</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

James: Intro {Week 1}

This semester for our Women’s Equipping Class at The Well we will be studying the book of James.  For 10 weeks, we will study this book verse-by-verse and gather for a teaching time followed by small group discussion.  You can download the workbook here (written by Jen Wilkin) or join the class by signing up here.  Each week, we’ll post the live teaching from women of The Well on my blog.

Before we start studying this book, let’s get to know James just a little bit.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:  Greetings. (James 1:1)

Watch the intro video below to understand a bit of the background of this letter and answer these 5 questions:

  1. Who wrote the book of James?
  2. When was it written?
  3. To whom was it written?
  4. In what style was it written?
  5. What are the central themes of the letter?


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/200405551″>Women's Equipping Week 1 – 1/20/17</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

One Word: 2017

joy

For the past month, I’ve been up early nearly every morning, quietly reflecting, praying, thinking, reading about this past year and sitting in anticipation for what’s next. I’ve been looking back to remember God’s faithfulness and His closeness through this year. A few of us have made a practice of choosing one word for the year.

My word for 2016 was: with.

I wanted to focus on being with Jesus. I started this year with so much margin, needing time to rest and catch my breath after 2 years of intense ministry and seminary, and my soul craved slow, quiet, time with Jesus.

Immanuel, God with us.

I ended the year after a season of studying, writing, and teaching through Philippians in the midst of infertility treatments, hormone swings, the ups and downs of grief and failed treatments, and this time my soul needed Immanuel, God with us . . . with me.

I made it my aim to keep the main thing, the main thing: being with Jesus.

As the year ends, I’m thinking about what’s next. What will 2017 be about? I have dreams and goals, ideas and plans, of course. But how will I live on purpose this next year? How do I, as Jess Connolly said, “work from rest, instead of rest from work”? I want to stay living close to Jesus, with Him in work and rest, with Him through joy and suffering, with His yoke that is easy, His burden that is light. I want to know His unforced rhythms of grace.

I kept thinking about that word surrender. I want to live surrendered. Seems like after this last season of life, I have nothing left to do but surrender. I started to lean toward that word, making it my aim in 2017 until I realized, I wanted more. I wanted to live surrendered, but I also wanted to live beyond surrender. I wanted the life and life abundant, and I want it now! I know, I’m a greedy little taker.

Because the God I know promises us freedom is found in surrender, yes, but He also promises us abundance, hope, and JOY. We will not be free from suffering this side of heaven, so I wanted to learn how to live with JOY in the midst of suffering.

I studied Philippians for a good portion of 2016, and I found JOY in the midst of suffering. The apostle Paul and Jesus, two men who experienced more suffering on earth than most, and both had JOY. JOY didn’t come after the trial, it didn’t come when circumstances changed or the suffering lifted. It came right there in the midst of suffering. . . because true JOY is found in the presence of Christ.

JOY is found in surrender, in abiding, in delighting, in being with Christ.

I want that. More than anything I want a closeness and a fellowship with Jesus like never before. I want to sit with the Holy Spirit and be comforted and empowered to walk in His strength. I want to know the love of the Father in the deepest way.

I want JOY! And I know where to find it.

As I’ve moved on from Philippians, a study we titled “Joy in All Things”, and moved right into James, guess what I found?

Joy . . . and . . . suffering.

Right there, from the very beginning, another author telling us how to find joy—to consider it all joy, when we’re in trials.

There’s a mingling of suffering and joy, side by side, they dance together. So if we surrender to knowing we won’t escape suffering, than we can also surrender to knowing we’ll find JOY, right there in the midst. Joy in the presence of Jesus.

That’s what I want 2017 to be about.

 

 

 

Surrender & Trust through Infertility

james

We declared 2016 to be the year of the baby. With all of our hopes, prayers, and efforts, we were determined that this would be the year we celebrate an addition to our family. After a two-year break from meds and appointments, we decided it was time to go back to the fertility doctor. We had more tests done, surgery, three rounds of intense hormone treatments, three IUI’s, more waiting, and last week we found out our final treatment of the year failed.

2016 went by and we have no baby.

We were stunned, shocked, confused, sad, frustrated, and stuck. We’re stuck with what’s next for us. Where do we go from here? More doctors? Foster/adopt? IVF? Nothing? Move to a far away land and hide from everything? We aren’t sure. We don’t know what the LORD has for us, for our family, for our lives. The only thing I can come back to is . . .

Surrender

There is really not much more we can do right now than surrender. We have been married over 10 years, actively trying to conceive for 6-7 (I don’t know, I lost count), 3 surgeries, multiple rounds of treatments, lots of waiting, checking the calendar, hoping, dreaming, and nothing. While it’s easy for others to suggest how to “fix” our circumstance by just doing IVF or adopting, there is an entire aspect of grief that we need to work through to get there.

Infertility is complicated. It’s not just that “easy”. Grief through this journey complicates it all. We don’t know what God is doing and what He wants for our lives. We’re not ready to move forward with other decisions to simply get out of this trial or change our circumstance.

And so, we wait.
We’ll wait, we’ll seek, we’ll pray, we’ll hope, we’ll listen, and we’ll trust.

Trusting through this process is so much more than trusting God to give us a baby. We’re trusting that whatever happens, baby or no baby, adopting or not, He is still a Good Good Father. There is much we can’t see this side of heaven and we don’t want to miss what He has planned for our lives by forcing our will and our desires over His.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

This fall was one of the hardest seasons of my life. Leading and teaching through Philippians, having to stand up the morning after a failed treatment to preach the Gospel and proclaim Christ is enough, looking out to hundreds of women’s faces like a mirror to my own and declaring: Jesus is all we need.

Weeks later, to stand up after another failed treatment and teach on contentment. How nothing on this earth, no circumstance, no gift, no relationship, no remodeled kitchen, no Botox treatment, no perfect body, no bank account large enough will bring lasting joy and contentment. Only Jesus.

As hard as that place of obedience and surrender was this past fall, I meant every word.

Only Jesus.
He is all we need.
In Him, we are content.

There is no way to endure suffering, pain, disappointment, confusion, and grief apart from Him.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11

As we close this year, with no baby, an empty womb and an emptiness in our arms, I can honestly say I have learned to be content. I’m closing this year with an incredible closeness to the Father. Nearly every morning during advent, He has woken me up early in the morning, long before an alarm just to be with Him.

My word for 2016 was . . . with. All I wanted this year was to be with Jesus. And although we have no baby, the Lord has given me exactly what I asked for, what I longed for, what I wanted and needed most this year:

Immanuel . . . God with us.

How to Find a Mentor

Philippians 3:8

Philippians 3:8

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. –Philippians 3:17

If you are joining us for the Philippians Study: Joy in All Things, this week we’ll talk about mentoring, discipleship, and imitating those who are examples to us.

Many of us desire a mentoring relationship but don’t know how to find one, we’re not sure where to start or how to ask.  Most mentoring relationships that click seem to start with the mentee.  Often it takes you, the one who desires a mentor, to make the first move. The mentor/mentee relationships that start out with a little bit of connection or relationship seem to stick more so than those that are connected as a blind date.  So here are some steps to help you succeed in connecting with a mentor.

Step 1: Ask yourself these questions before you approach a potential mentor.

  1.  Is there someone you want to get more time with?  Is there someone you see as an example?
  2. How are you hoping to grow as a Christ follower over this next year?  Does someone come to mind as you think of growing in those areas?
  3. Have you prayed about finding a mentor?
  4. If there aren’t any women that come to mind, have you considered joining us for Women’s Equipping?  Or joining a life group or team at our church?  This is often how most mentoring relationships are born, by connecting in smaller pockets within the church.

Step 2: ASK!
Pop the question . . . ask that person that comes to mind.  Share with them your desire for a mentor, how often you’d like to meet, and give them time to pray and respond.

Step 3:  Have Appropriate Expectations
Finding the perfect mentor is like trying to find a unicorn.  A mentor may not be your perfect match in all areas of life, they may have different interests than you, but they can help you grow to be more like Christ.  A mentor is not a counselor, a doctor, or a life coach. They are a friend who is just a few steps ahead of you in their walk with Christ and is striving to grow in their faith too.

Once you’ve asked, it’s helpful to:

  1.  Share how you’d like to grow or what you’re hoping for in your time together.  I have had a season where someone mentored me in prayer.  I wanted to grow in my prayer life and so every time we got together, we prayed for an extended period of time.  Not only did my prayer life grow, my faith grew because I watched God move!  I’ve also asked a women in ministry to mentor me specifically in leading and teaching.  With another mentor, I gave her complete permission to call out sin/wrong thinking, and rebuke me!  When you ask, be specific with what you’re desiring in the relationship.
  2. Set a time limit/expectations.  Will you meet once a month?  Talk weekly?  It’s best to set expectations up front so you both know how often you’ll meet or connect.
  3. Find something to do together or a way to serve together.  I love going on walks, so often I invite women over for a walk.  I’ve also found it’s really hard to connect with women I’m not serving/serving with.  So for those that I’m mentoring, I’ve asked them to be a part of Women’s Equipping so that I see them weekly and know that we’re studying the same thing during the week.  It seems to be a natural way to invite them into a huge part of my daily/weekly life.
  4. Write out questions ahead of time.  Don’t leave it up to your mentor to do all of the work.  Are there things you’re confused about in Scripture?  Questions you have?  Struggles your facing? Write them out and let that guide your time together.
  5. Meet her where she’s at.  If you’re being mentored by a young mom, offer to come over during nap time and fold laundry with her.  Come over during dinner time and help prep, or jump in the car on the way to Target.  If you’re being mentored by a working woman, meet her at work for lunch.  Meet before work early in the morning. Be mindful of each other’s seasons, and be willing to try something creative to get time together.

These are just suggestions and hopefully helpful tips as you pursue a mentor.  As always, The Well Community Church exists to help connect people to God and each other, so let us know how we can connect you.

 

Resources for Mentors:

5 Mentoring Lessons by Heather Davis Nelson.

1. Gospel mentoring flows out of weakness, not strength.
2. Offer what you have.
3. Mentoring begins with prayer.
4. Mentoring at its simplest is being intentional to care for another.
5. Gentle challenge embedded in love is an essential part of mentoring.

5 Reasons for Women’s Mentoring

AOD Study Guide

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt

 

 

Philippians Intro: Week 1 {What is the Gospel}

Philippians is one of the shortest books in the Bible, but one of the most Gospel centered, full of encouragement and hope in Christ!  In fact, this book mentions Jesus Christ proportionally more than any of Paul’s other letters, with the Gospel repeated throughout.  This week, before we open up Philippians, we’ll look at why we’re studying this book and the importance of understanding what the Gospel truly is and its implication on our lives.

 

If you’re following us online, you can download the Philippians study here:

Philippians: Joy in All Things