Whose Words Do You Believe? by Aimee Nelson

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Part of our ongoing contribution series:  Leading Ladies: Devotions for Leaders

Sitting at my kitchen table a few days ago, I hear my five year-old yell from the patio, “I am strong, I am big”. Hearing those words I stopped what I was doing and decided to listen in on the conversation he was having with his friend. I hear him say again “I am strong”, “I am big”, “I can do it”, “I can do anything”! This time I hear his voice quiver. As I continue to listen I no longer hear their voices but the stomping of little feet. Suddenly this five-year old ball of anger comes running in and stands in front of me. Arms folded, lips pursed and his eyes filling with tears. He says to me “mommy I’m not strong”.

I kneel down, scoop him up in my arms and give him a huge hug. He then proceeds to tell me how his little playmate was telling him he wasn’t strong, he wasn’t big and that he couldn’t do what they were doing. I immediately sense a teaching moment and it’s one that I don’t want to let slip by. I pull him closer and begin to tell him that he is big, he is strong and there is nothing that he can’t do. I tell him that he’s all of these things because God says he is. I let him know that he can accomplish anything because God’s word says that he can (Philip 4:13). He looks at me and smiles, sticks his chest out and walks away with a swagger that would make you think he just conquered the world.

As I was thanking the Lord for the opportunity to impart truth into my son, it was then that I felt the Lord ask me “what about you Aimee, who’s words are you believing”? I took a moment to reflect on the question. And in the honesty of the moment, I had to admit I too have not always believed God’s word. You see I have often fallen victim to the same words that tormented my five-year old. Many times I have stepped out to do something for the Lord but back tracked or failed to launch out because I believed the words of others.

Whether those words came from a well-meaning friend or have spewed from a heart of hurt I listened to them, I believed them. I believed their words over the words of my heavenly Father who commanded me to be bold, strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6). His word also says that “I am more than a conqueror” (Rom. 8:28). I have made a choice to start believing what He says about me.

Are there some negative words you have believed? Will you believe what God’s word says about you? Join me today as I choose to believe His word.

~Aimee

Stand Up For Others – Isaiah 1:17

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As we reflect back on Charlottesville, and events like it, we are often lost in a sea of wondering “what can we do?” and “how should we respond?”.

Lord, give us the hearts to do good and a stirring to seek justice.  Let us not just speak against oppression but actively correct it, being the change we want to see in this world.  Let us stand for justice, stand for others, use whatever we have to raise up and protect others.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Some practical things you can do:

  • Donate to victim funds to cover medical and other expenses.  Donate to counter-protestor legal funds to cover legal expenses incurred.  Please use wisdom and discernment here.
  • Support anti-racism organizations through financial support or volunteer/activism.
  • Be willing to put your name to petitions and letter writing campaigns to local politicians that fight racism or call for policy change.
  • Coordinate, participate, or volunteer at local community forums to address racism in your community.
  • Use your voice to stand in the gap, advocating for those who are oppressed.  Not just with letter writing campaigns but in the grocery stores and doctors offices.  Places where we encounter every day racism, bigotry, and discrimination.
  • Hold people from political offices to your immediate family accountable for the words and behaviors they exhibit, including yourself.
  • Set a better example for the next generation by intentionally expanding your group of friends to include people from other countries and cultures.  Take time to learn about other cultures, attend festivals in your area, etc.
  • Read, read, and read.  Have a willingness to read and gain perspective from those on the other side of oppression.  Take what you read and ask your friends to share their take and experiences.

 

In the Beginning

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Mankind, made in the image of God.  Not some, but the first man… and all that have come after him.  Image bearers.  

Not made in image of one another.  Not made in lesser quality duplicates down the line.  Each precious to the potter who formed us in the womb, knitting us together, numbering our hairs, calling us by name before we were even a thought.

These image bearers made to rule over creation, not each other.  Oh sin, how you slithered your way into garden… setting up a wave of destruction that would fall upon generations to come.  

Woman made in His image, she the helpmeet and partner… not less than.

Blessed, commissioned to multiply.  Not some, but all.  There was no limit set on who could multiply, it was a blessing to His image bearers.  Oh sin, how you tainted that union and how to try to diminish His children.

Great Protector,

There has been a war on your creation since the beginning.  The moment the apple was bitten, there was enmity in the world.  Lord, we ask for your protection from all the forces that divide.  The lies that tell us that our worth, value, identity is found in anything other than you.  The lies that try and convince us that some have greater value, worth, or purpose than others.  For Your word assures us that in Christ there is neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female… but all are one.  Each given gifts, callings, and blessings appointed to them by the Holy Spirit to use in your service.  None greater, all yours.  Protect us, Lord.  From those who seek to harm us.  Protect us, from the schemes of the Devil.  Surround us on all sides, going before us and coming behind us; as we walk in your justice, grace, and righteousness.

We stand in victory, and pray these things in Your precious name.

Amen.

Has Much Really Changed?

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Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun.  So true.  Hate, prejudice, bigotry, racism… it is not new.  Sin is not new.  Ecclesiastes also tells us that was has been done, will be done again.  We should bear not surprise that these sins still run rampant.

This picture, was taken in 1992.  Twenty five years ago.  I look at it and I see Charlottesville 2017.  Things really haven’t changed that much, not in the heart.  But the boldness, perhaps has displayed itself in unprecedented ways.  The hoods, cloaks, and shadows are withdrawn, sin is exposed.

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For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. ~Luke 8:17 

Sin is out in the open, and with it has come a reckoning.   Parents and friends are seeing faces splashed across the news, their children and loved ones displaying their hate for the world to see.  Those secret things hidden in hearts are being confirmed as sin stares us in the face, desiring to make us meek and hide in response.  But let us not be meek, but BOLD as we stand up for what it good, honorable, holy, and righteous.

Creator God,

We pray that these wearisome things, that weigh us down… that seem too big or frightening to tackle down, let us see them diminished in to the shadow of your greatness.  Your word is true, that which has will be again.  We cling to that as a promise that Jesus will come again and overcome sin and death, destruction and division; standing victorious over his foe.  Lord, we ask for you to protect the eyes, ears, and hearts of the little children so that they may not be turned by the words of hate that others teach them.  Let them find joy, peace, love, and goodness in You.  May they have eyes to see, the way you see.  May they look upon all of your people, regardless of the color of their skin as sister and brother, created in the imagine of our Precious Father.  Bind the serpent that hisses in their ears, for he will be crushed once again.  Sin was here before my time, our time… but our future remains.  For you know the plans you have made for us, that is the future we await… waiting and yet praying LORD JESUS COME!

In this darkness, let us be light.  In a sea of hate, let us be love.  In a crowd of fists, let us be an embrace.  Let our churches and homes become a city on a hill, refuge for those who need safety, a fortress against oppressors, and a battle ground of prayer.

In Christ’s holy name we pray,

Amen.

 

Perfectly United

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Heavenly Father, 

In light of this weekend, where division cast brother versus sister, neighbor versus neighbor… we pray for unity among the family of believers.  As brothers and sisters, adopted into your family, we are called to bear witness to the love of our Father.  We are called to walk in your statutes, we are called to love as you have loved.  Every word in the scriptures falls under your heart to reconcile your people to you, united as one body, serving as one body.  Let us not fall into the temptations and schemes of the Devil, who seeks to divide and destroy.  Instead let us link arms, draw close to one another, bear each other’s burdens, and carry one another forward as we press on.  Send your angel armies to surround us on all sides, for what God has brought together let no man separate.  Let peace be on our hearts, let kindness be on our tongues.  Help us to not repay evil for evil.  Help us to love and forgive, even when it feels impossible.  As we put on the armor of God, we shall not be weary but find our strength in you, to stand up to the darkness and shed light.  Let our light shine brighter, let the lost find their way to you for comfort and healing in your embrace.  Give courage to those who will stand up and call out the sin that is racism, protect them and their families from farm, and build up the courage for others to stand with them on the front lines.  Let there be no division among us, but perfectly united under your authority… of one mind, thought, and purpose.

In His name we pray,

Amen.

Pause to Pray

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As a ministry, our core mission is rooted in unity among leaders… churches… community.  We take unity, a value, incredibly seriously.  It is threaded into every decision we make, direction we step.

As a ministry, we stand against any form of racism and hatred.  As one can not be united when racism divides, when hatred divides.

As a ministry, we do not support any movement or organization that would cause division among people or results in a threat to life, welfare, or wellbeing of those whom God loves.  His Word tells us, in John 3:16 that God so loved the WORLD.  Not part of the world.  Not some people in the world.  But the world, in its entirety.  All nations, tribes, and tongues.

As a ministry, we are on bended knee praying for the Lord’s protection and provision over those who find themselves in the wake of hatred, bigotry, and racism.  For our women who are affected by these images, know that we are praying for you and your family as you come to terms with the events of this weekend.

We will not stand for this.  We will use our voice in any way we can to help you, defend you, love on you.  Tell us how we can be FOR you and stand AGAINST this atrocious sin.

Fishers of [Wo]men

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This weekend, I attended a workshop on the topic of branding.  As the leader of a ministry, and knowing the direction we are taking in the coming years it is important that I am learning about all aspects of ministry building.  The speaker, Faith James, said something that caught my attention.  She was giving an illustration related to fishing, and pointing out that to have a successful fishing trip you must know “what you are fishing for”. 

Do you know who your ministry is fishing for?

As a ministry leader, you may be tempted to give the most obvious answers…

Everyone.  Women.  The Lost.  The Unchurched.

I am going to challenge you to take that a bit deeper.

As Faith James continued her illustration she said, “You can’t boil the ocean”.  Her point rested in that we have to have a more focused vision of who we are trying to reach because everyone is a concept that is as big as the ocean.  This doesn’t mean that there is not an ocean of people who need help, but rather it is going to be impossible for us to help everyone with our resources and time.  We need to have focus.

Putting this in terms of Women’s Ministry, let’s explore the following questions.

If every Women’s Ministry started a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, that meets during the week… who is serving our single mothers, or teen mothers?

If every Women’s Ministry was focused on serving homeless women and children… who is serving our women who have suffered the loss of miscarriage?

If every Women’s Ministry chose to stand with their local Crisis Pregnancy Center… who is supporting the women who chose life, or supporting the local foster/adoption agency to care for these children who were given this chance to thrive?

If your Women’s Ministry is spread thin trying to serve too many different organizations at once, are you really making an significant impact vs. making the choice to choose one and serve it at full capacity?

What if instead of each Women’s Ministry focusing on a broad scope of issues, we each chose one that we were going to give our full attention to?  We come together as leaders and identify the needs of the community of women we serve (in and outside of the church walls), then each Women’s Ministry leader picks one that will become their ministry focus?

Imagine a wheel with spokes.  The center of the wheel is the Cross, that is where we are trying to bring women… to Jesus.  The outer ring of the wheel is all of the women in our community.  The spokes are the individual Women’s Ministries.

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Quite simply, there are just too many needs in our communities (and within our church walls) for one ministry tackle it all.  However, if we work together and decide which needs each of our ministries will focus on… then we are working together to meet all the needs more effectively.

How do we do this?

  1. Collectively identify the needs in the community we serve.
  2. Check with other WM Leaders to determine which needs are already being served, need more help, or have not been addressed by the local church.
  3. Meet with your Pastor to determine if the church already has a focused need, that you can bring the WM under to address the women of that “need group”.
  4. If there isn’t a specific “need group” that your church is currently focused on, meet with your WM Team.  Pray that the Lord would help your team identify which need will become the WM focus.
  5. Connect to local ministries and organizations serving these need groups to determine how you can come along side their work.  Research online if there are national organizations already working in this area that you can partner with and introduce to your area.  Or, research online the ways you can begin to serve this need through your ministry directly.