Workshops For Saturday 22nd

Looking forward to this Saturday! Here is a sneak peek to our workshops this weekend. Didn’t RSVP yet? No sweat email us at WNYLifeTogether@gmail.com

WNYFirst Round of Workshops:

Run the Race Well: Life with Jesus is a Marathon not a Sprint, Preparing your Heart for that Adventure Together
What does it look like living life in pursuit of the King and with a locked gaze on him amidst our situations and changing seasons.

OR

Being a Woman at Rest and the Power of Vulnerability
Do you have difficulty connecting with other women and/or God? Do you feel like you are alone in your struggles? Come learn about vulnerability, the value of it, and how to counteract the fear that holds us back from connecting.

 

Second Round of Workshops:
Gary Chapman’s Love Languages: How to Intentionally Love People Well
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” “(John 13:34-35) Clearly learning to love each other rightly is a pretty big deal to God, come dig deeper into the intentionality of doing so.

OR

The Mystery of Identity
In the Identity workshop, we will be talking about how:
1.) the creation can’t find out what they are apart from the creator
2.) your identity is not in what you do but who’s you are
3.) self-comparison kills your individual identity in Christ
4.) why identity is important and foundational to walking a victorious Christian life
5.) how true belief in your identity in Christ will uproot self-rejection
6.) how living out our real identity brings real freedom

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Verb vs. Noun

The world is a fallen place and the people in it are flawed. Whether you’re a Christian or not, it is never a guarantee that the ones you love will cherish or care for you in the way that they should. I’m sure that you’ve noticed by now that we live in a day and age where love and commitment are no longer revered as they once were. Believing in an unfailing love can seem like an insurmountable task when the world around you blares the message that nothing lasts forever.  

For most of my adult life I fell victim to that lie, hook, line and sinker.  As a result, I never put much stock in love because I believed it was just another human emotion that could eventually flicker and fade away at the slightest provocation. What a terrible mindset to hold on to! Only uncertainty and insecurity can be born from that kind of thinking, and admittedly so, I was extremely insecure.  

But then I found hope!

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:8 that, “God is love.”  While it only took me a year or so to finally get it through my head that Jesus loves me, the meaning of the verse, “God is love” completely evaded me until recently.  

The fact that God is love means that when we’re in His presence, all our striving comes to a halt. With Him we can rest. There’s nothing we need to do to earn His love, it’s given freely and given in abundance.

Let’s make this more personal to you:

God loves YOU more deeply and passionately than any person you’ve met or any person you’ve yet to meet!  Nothing can separate you from His unconditional, unending love.  This is because He doesn’t just love you in the verbal sense of one choosing to love another person.  He inhabits love in the form of a noun. Love is what He is! 

In a world full of hurting and disappointed people, if anyone were to love you rightly and perfectly, wouldn’t it be the One who embodies love itself?

 “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:26

WNY Life Together Team Member

Kelly

The Hidden Person of the Heart

I woke up a few months back with this verse running through my head. Some versions refer to the inner self as the hidden person of the heart. Lately (meaning the last few years) I have been in somewhat of a mundane season. Go to work, go to church, clean my house, repeat. Sounds boring I know, of course there are other things added into the mix of life but in general this has been the basic routine. The mundane of life in itself is not bad but it does have a way of dulling us if we’re not careful. Subtle distractions that pull on our hearts to look somewhere other than Jesus, or perhaps just to settle and stop fighting for passion in our lives. In this season I noticed that there were things I started to pay more attention to that I hadn’t before. Things on the outside that I wanted just so when before they didn’t take such a place of importance. I slowly, subtly, but surely, somewhere within the routine of life started to make the outward things primary and the inward things secondary. I started to feel the emptiness but dismissed it most days, who has time in the business of the mundane (how’s that for an oxymoron?) to tend to such things? Until I woke up that one morning and God dropped that above verse in my mind. It didn’t bring instant change of course, I thought about it, and churned over it and then eventually weeks later I took my correction. The inner things should be primary and the outer things secondary. Neither should ever be neglected, only kept in the right order. Some live lives of pristine on the outside. You walk into their home and all their china matches, it is never messy, they always look sharp, but when they open their mouth and the majority of what comes out is negativity, criticism of everything, and endless words about nothing in particular you start to wonder if the inner things have been attended to. I myself show these symptoms when my heart has been left to itself. My husband and I decided to “deep clean” the house a few weekends back. As I was moving the couches to vacuum behind them there was one spot in particular that was a pain to reach. I thought to myself about how I could just leave it dirty and no one would even know because the couch would go right back over it. But I would know it was there, I would know our house wasn’t really “clean” even if others wouldn’t know the difference. Is it not the same with our heart? The inner man is a place only God sees, if we left certain parts of our heart unattended who else would notice? Just you and God. But you would know something wasn’t quite right… What Peter is saying to us is that we shouldn’t tend more to the outside than to the inside. Both need tending to the key is to have them in the right order. We need to take the time to sit with Jesus and adorn our inner man with faithfulness, kindness, love, patience…those are the rubies and gems which are true and not just for show. So in the business of our mundane routines may we make the time to sit with Him and adorn the hidden person of the heart with His definition of what real beauty is.

WNY Team Member
Deanna

Steppin’ with Jesus

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If you’re like me, you search for inspiration, you yearn to be in awe and challenged. Some people may turn to a great book, a good sermon, conversation with one another. But again, if you’re like me I turn to Google. I go to the image section and type in some fluffy thing like… “It will get better tomorrow” “Romans 15:13 picture” and the most relevant search, “One Step at a Time”. One Step at a Time is where I found this guy. My little duck. My waddling-I’m-gonna-get-there-and-be-happy-in-the-process guy. It’s surprising he still arises good feelings in me. You see when I found this duck via Google, I felt like life was finally turning a corner. I felt like stressors I once had I truly surrounded to the Lord, I felt like financially I was going to have a breakthrough, I felt …free.. I felt good. I placed my little guy as the background of my new work laptop. I had begged for years for this new laptop and I loved it. One week later that laptop was stolen from my work. My little duck ran out on me if you will, “One Step at a Time”.

Ugh, how annoying right? It wasn’t just that bad things happened, it was that I was expecting the complete opposite. I was expecting the big turnaround, I was expecting to be protected. I spent two days and three nights crying about it. Then… I remembered I just bounced back. Just like that, like everyone said I would, I was back on the wagon, I was working hard and enjoying it in the process. I can’t really explain what happened. I sure didn’t feel inspired that third morning when I woke up, I probably didn’t pray, I know it was any of the condolences I got, maybe its that “there’s work to do so lets get moving” mentality. But I just know I took it, dare I say, One Step at a Time.

I started using my old laptop again, recovered documents from fellow employees, and kept the background whatever it was before the new one, probably some worded out scripture about holding onto Him, because I ALWAYS need that reminder. A few months later I remembered my little guy in a conversation I was having with some friends. I showed it to them and they awed at it, knowing he looked so free and joyful. The next week I reinstated the little guy as my background. It wasn’t his fault he was taken away.

Something about this picture makes me wonder something new everyday. As lame as that may seem…. I mean where is he going? The angle of the photo makes it seem like he has a lot of ground to cover, no? I wonder if that’s how Jesus sees me wondering around with sunlight shining off me when sometimes I see myself as a horror scene. I don’t know how it triggered this thought in me yesterday but looking at this picture and truly asking Jesus… Jesus what do YOU want me to see. He spoke firmly (in my heart)… “We’re going further”. Yesterday I thought was going to be a big day for me, I mean it was a big event… from the staff stand point it was a solo event (note if a volunteer reads this you did GREAT, I mean coordinating) two young women shared testimonies and the founder of where I work just blew the crowd away. I am not saying I wasn’t moved it was a great event, I was focused too much to really allow my heart to sink in. But talking to Jesus about it (because as my friends would say it really only matters what Jesus says) So what Jesus said was, “because this isn’t it. This isn’t your highest potential. This is not the end all be all. This is just one step and girl” He says… “We got a lot of ground to cover. We’re going places. We’re doing big things.” ((smiles))

Keep on, Keepin’ on,
Kerri
WNY LIfe Together Team

Where are you on your Journey with Christ? Want to write about the season you are in? Email us at WNYLifeTogether@gmail.com

The fact is…I’m terrified.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the act of doing something regardless of the fear. Courage is taking a step. Courage is walking into that arena, knowing you’re going to get your @$$ kicked, but doing it anyway. Courage for me is having a conversation. Courage is making something and showing it to someone else. Being seen. I mean really seen.

I’ve entered into this new year with a new depth of understanding. I have an understanding that I struggle with fear. Being afraid of everything. I am afraid to connect. I am afraid to be seen. I am afraid that what I say doesn’t matter. I am afraid that I will be an insignificant blip in this shifting sand of history and humanity. Then I am even more afraid that when I get over my fear of being insignificant and create something, someone will see my nakedness and laugh at me. I am afraid of everything.

And up until recently, I have unwittingly allowed those fears to control me. Those fears were the facts in my life. Fact: I am not perfect. Fact: I make mistakes sometimes all the time. Fact: It is scary utterly-pee-your-pants-terrifying to be vulnerable… to be seen.

Those are the facts. Here is the truth. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Courage is knowing that fear exists. Courage is punching that fear square in the face and shouting, “NO! I know you are here to intimidate me, to try and keep me from ever stepping foot in that arena, from ever allowing myself to be seen. But the truth is, you have been REPLACED. You have been replaced with power (dýnamis – inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth). You have been replaced with love (agapáō – to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly – i.e. to be SEEN). You have been replaced with a sound mind (sōphronéō – to be of sound mind, to be able to think correctly – i.e. unencumbered by fear). You are replaced with an inherent ability to overcome, to love fiercely, and to see you correctly for what you are:  you are done. The fact is, fear, you are a real and present enemy. The truth is, you do. not. control. me. anymore.”

2014 is the year of gates (I will explain in a later post, I promise!). It is a year of new doors opening up. There is an enemy at the gate, whose name is fear. Because I am loved greatly, I know who I am. I know I possess a power to stand against the fear: to defeat it. 2014 is about contending at the gates, and fighting our way in.

The fact is: fear is real. The truth is: you don’t have to let it win.

“The truth does not set you free. Knowing the truth, that is what sets you free.” – Emelio Sebastian

Be unafraid, you are loved greatly.
Molly

 

A Time To Be Silent

Ecclesiastes chapter three tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silence. Although I am far from having perfected this lesson; much of what I’ve learned over the past year is how to keep silence.  Many of the Proverbs tell us that only fools enter into foolish debates or make corrections where they need not be given. When Job lost everything his friends came to him and sat silently with him (then they started to speak and the trouble started). Jesus Himself kept silence before Pilate and with a few exceptions He went silently to the cross.

As Christians we know that we possess a great truth. We have Jesus, and His word and His Spirit. We know the Truth. Sometimes we feel the need to defend that truth. But here’s the thing…God doesn’t need us to defend Him. He’s a big boy and He can handle Himself. What I’ve come to realize when my emotions kick in and I feel defensive against the cultural battles we face – it’s not God I feel the need to defend, or His Word – but myself. And those are the times I need to keep my silence. I’m not saying we lay down as door mats or we deny what the word says. But what I am saying is that when we find ourselves engaging in arguments with people, trying to put in our two cents about what’s right or wrong we often times end up looking look Solomon’s fool. God doesn’t need us to defend Him, He needs us to represent Him – and that means love and grace and truth but with gentleness.  And the best way to represent Him is to live as He would. Sometimes that means keeping our silence. 

And here’s the other thing – we don’t have to defend ourselves. Jesus is our Advocate, He is the one who makes our case and brings about justice in our lives. If we’re feeling defensive we either need to remember to put our faith in God or take a step back to see what we may be doing wrong. It can be really hard to know when to speak or when to be silent. But there is good news…since we do have the Truth living inside of us we can ask Him!  If we should speak He can gives us the words, if we should keep silence He give us the grace to do that too!

Jaclyn Davis

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2013. I ate the elephant.

Well, its a new day, apparently a new year, and as cliche as it is… I really am feeling the sense of new beginnings in 2014. I don’t say that because there is a new digit at the end of the year date today, or because I’m supposed to have some fancy new year’s resolution (life can become new at any time of any day). I say that because I am coming out of the gunk and ashes of a year that has taught me much about how messed up I am, and how desperately I need Jesus to help me!

Life’s lessons are rarely learned during times of bliss. Usually the big lessons come in the form of something that you’d rather avoid altogether. For me (Molly) student teaching was one of those times. The weeks contained in 2013′s September through December was like getting chewed up and spit out over and over again was a great learning experience. For starters, I had to give up being around the campus ministry and people involved in it almost altogether. Before I started, I was supremely overconfident in my abilities to successfully teach every kid for mastery. I was sure that I could balance student teaching, campus ministry/starting a prayer furnace, family, church obligations, (oh yeah, sleep somewhere in there). By week three, I was so exhausted/whipped/ground down/done with life that I was sure I would never recover, much less become a teacher or even complete student teaching successfully. This was going to be much harder than I thought.

They say the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This was like doing that. Only I was a flea that didn’t even have a mouth big enough to take a bite, and whenever I did manage one, got swatted off of the beast, and had to climb all the way back onto its back and try to get another bite in. I know I probably sound crazy, but that’s kind of what student teaching felt like for me. Even though I made progress, it felt like literally nothing had been done to get me any closer to finishing. In fact, progress felt like a kick in the head with the elephant’s tail of exhaustion and despair. All I could do was try my best to hold on, learn from the ride, missing my friends in ministry and barely seeing my family/sleeping when I could.

Then it hit me. I saw (past tense… because remember that there actually was a lesson learned here) the everyday and mundane work as meaningless. Therefore, everything I did at school and at home seemed meaningless. I saw ministry as only being ministry when there was a title. “I am a campus minister, I’m in charge of this and that ministry, look at me, aren’t I important to the kingdom??” Therefore, as I worked my butt off to teach kids about grammar and not hitting each other, it seemed to me like I was doing something less important than that “ministry” thing that I did before. But wait… isn’t that completely upside down?

It took me a semester of excruciatingly hard work in a classroom and a lot of missing hours of sleep to see something of paramount importance. And I didn’t see it until the last day with my students, walking one of them back from the principal’s office. I had sent this particular student there because he was being a little jerk his behavior was inappropriate all day. On the walk back, he was continuing to give me trouble. Finally, I stopped, faced him, and in my most exasperated voice I asked him what in the world his problem was! (not my finest moment) He started to cry, and explained to me that he was mad at me because I was leaving and never coming back. Wait, what?? This child, this little “trouble maker”, who had made many of my days exceedingly difficult to teach without interruptions, was crying because I was LEAVING? That stopped me in my tracks. In fact, I began to cry with him. Right there in the hallway, we let loose some of our most frustrated and heartfelt tears together. I looked him in the eyes, my own wet with regret for ever even being annoyed at his presence, and told him that I was so thankful for him. That he was important. That I gave him a hard time because I cared too much about him to let him have his way. That I knew he could succeed. That I believed in him. And he told me that he loved me and would miss me. This little second grader who had given me so much grief over the last seven weeks was now showing me the difference I was making all along.

I realize that not many teachers will have the privilege to hear the impact that all their long hours and hard work has made. But I got to hear it straight out of the mouth of my most difficult student. He is worth every long hour. Every moment I felt insignificant for missing the big campus events, the chances to speak as a “minister.”

This “little troublemaker” helped me to see that every word, every failed lesson plan, every successful lesson plan, every smile, every interaction I had with those kids and my colleagues, EVERYTHING was changing the course of their lives forever. Everything I do is important to those around me. Everything I do is ministry. Everything. Every. Little. Small. Tiny. Thing. Even if it does feel insignificant to me, it is of paramount importance to someone whose life I am touching.

Don’t get me wrong, college ministry is important and amazing and I love it. But I finally see that I don’t need to be doing something that is labeled “ministry” for it to minister to others. Cleaning toilets can change the world. So can giving a hug to a little troublemaker.

I think this sums it up quite nicely.
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Here’s to diving into every mundane thing with joy and thankfulness. Here’s to a new year full of opportunities to bless.

Love you all xo,

MollyImage

Have a goodbye 2013 post to share like Molly? Or maybe a hallelujah 2014? Send it to us at wnyLifeTogether@gmail.com