It is always a great joy to welcome Margaret Kemp as a guest blogger for Restore Ministries Monday Musings. In the crazy world in which we live it is easy to feel off balance if we are not standing firm on what we know to be true. Margaret shares her testimony here with such beautiful life-giving words. I'm so grateful for her heart, her faith, her friendship, and her willingness to serve Restore with her gifts.
Why does God allow injustice?
What about the Hindus and the Buddhists and the other religions?
What if I’ve got it all wrong? What if everything I believe is a lie?
I sometimes find it hard to stay anchored in the truth while living in a world that’s swirling with chaos, confusion, and turmoil. I want to remain steady in my faith, but different worldviews, philosophies, and opinions attempt to rock my boat. Doubts and questions seep into my consciousness and threaten to capsize my faith.
I don’t have all the answers to the tough questions.
But, like the blind man whose story is recorded in the gospel of John chapter 9, I can say this:
“One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25 ESV
I was born into a church-going family. As a child, I believed that good people go to heaven and bad people go…well, to the other place. So I tried not to fight with my siblings or disobey my parents. Invariably, I failed. My sister’s little finger is probably still crooked because of the time I slammed it in the door. She may even have scars on her arms from a my all the times fingernails dug into her skin. (It’s a wonder my sister and I are still friends.) I still have a scar on my forehead, a result of a gash in the head I received when jumping on the bed---- after my mother explicitly told me not to.
As I got older, the sins I confessed were different, but my struggles were the same. I tried harder, but, well, you know what happened. I wasn’t perfect, but I was better than some. I hadn’t murdered or robbed a bank.
But when I was a freshman in college, Jesus came walking into my life. I didn’t see Him at first, but I heard. I heard a girl in my dorm playing guitar and singing about Jesus. I thought I knew Him from Bible stories, pictures on the Christmas cards, and statues, but I was still in the dark about so many things.
Susan, the girl with the guitar, soon began including me in activities with her friends, and one evening she invited me to a Sunday night event at the Student Union. Susan’s boyfriend Dennis was playing in the band that was performing. I sat in a metal chair in the Union’s ballroom, nervously tapping my foot to the bluegrass music. I politely laughed at the corny jokes (like a door prize that consisted of a 14-carrot—yes, carrot-- ring). I listened with skepticism to testimonies of how Jesus changed lives. I’d come to hear the band, not to alter my beliefs.
Afterwards, as I hung around waiting for Susan, a girl with a raspy voice asked if she could explain a little booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. Reading through a booklet seemed less awkward than standing around alone, so I thought, why not?
My new friend was struggling with laryngitis, but she was determined to share the gospel. As we read together through the little pages, I was hit with a Bible verse I’d never heard before.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
Suddenly light bulbs came on in my brain. Of course I could never be good enough to deserve heaven because I could never be perfect. If I could enter heaven by doing good works, that would be cause for boasting. Salvation was a gift.
I had been blind to the grace that God offered to me through Jesus. But God in His mercy orchestrated events so that I could learn the truth. His Holy Spirit illuminated that truth so I could understand.
I had been blind. Now I see.
The blind man in John Chapter 9 was thrown out of the temple because he spoke of Jesus. Later, Jesus approached him and asked if he believed in the Son of Man.
“‘Who is he, sir? The man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped him.” John 9:38
Like the blind man, I believed in Jesus., Though I still don’t have all the answers, my life has been a journey to get to know Him better. He has never let me down.
When confusing circumstances stir up doubts, when critics confront you with clever arguments, when you don’t have the answers, you can fall back on what you do know. Remind yourself of the little miracles you’ve seen, the times when you knew God was answering prayer. Think back to that time when God changed your life, and remind yourself of the one thing you do know:
I was blind, but now I see.
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There is still a lingering buzz in the air about the Winter Gathering, a smile on our face, warm feelings of love and appreciation and a few more items to place into storage. All I can think is, how good God is and how he chooses to pour His lavish love and blessings out on those who diligently seek Him. We had close to 130 women from across five states who were just looking for a place to gather with other women to find solace from the chaos, demands, and busyness of everyday life. We all chose to seek Christ as our One Thing, this past weekend and He met with us in a mighty way. Our prayer remains that you continue to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4 Amplified)
What a blessed time together as we truly feasted on the gifts and talents in a wondrous display offered before our Lord and for one another with visual art, music, dance, and teaching God’s Word. Another beautiful picture of the body of Christ, coming together to help provide an atmosphere of rest, beauty, and worship. Thank you to all who gave of yourself, your resources, and your time to help make this event special and memorable. Lives have been changed and transformed forever! That was our prayer for you from the beginning. What a precious time it was together lingering on our knees at the feet of Jesus.
YouTube Link Containing a few highlights: https://youtu.be/lRvNL7q1spE
Sometimes the Lord plants the seed of a dream in your heart and then gives you the privilege of seeing it come to life. The Restore Winter Gathering last weekend was the fulfillment of a dream for me and our ministry. We came as women from many different states, churches and backgrounds filled with desire. We chose to seek the Lord and dwell in His presence, and He met us in ways beyond what we could have ever imagined.
It was a beautiful weekend of beholding Jesus as women gathered to hear His heart for us as we studied His Word in the One Thing Scriptures. We brought our offerings of worship as we sang from the depths of our souls to the One who alone is worthy.
We beheld His glory in dance proclaiming the power of His Name. We shared communion at the King’s table in remembrance of the sacrifice the Savior made for us. We fellowshipped and feasted with old and new friends.
We saw windows of His beauty and wonder in the gallery of art and live painting by our guest artists. We entered into Scripture through drama as the characters of Mary and Martha were portrayed.
We heard words of wisdom from a panel of women as we brought our faith questions about how to make seeking Jesus as our One Thing a reality in our lives. We heard testimony from a Shepherd’s daughter about the love and grace of God that carries us through the deepest pain and struggles.
We proclaimed Jesus as the One and Only who could satisfy the deep longings of our souls above the distraction and trappings that often overwhelm us and set our hearts to press on in Jesus Name.
We ended our weekend in worship at the feet of Jesus.
Our heart is filled with gratitude for the many men and women who gave so generously of their time, talent and resources to make this weekend possible. May the seeds of this dream continue to bear fruit in the days ahead and in the generations represented at our Gathering. Like Mary, anointing the feet of Jesus, may we choose sitting at His feet as the one thing needful in our lives for He is our greatest treasure.
For those of you who were unable to attend, we are so sorry that you missed being with us. After the video is edited (this is a lengthy process-prayers appreciated) and photos received, we will make portions of them available to you on our website along with our teaching notes. Please be sure to take advantage of The One Thing 2019 fall Bible Study to further your study of the One Thing Scriptures. Visit: https://www.restore-ministries.net and go to The One Thing Home Study tab in the menu. Enter Password: 1thing!
Currently, we believe that God is laying a few new things on our heart as we minister through Restore. We covet your prayers as we faithfully seek His will. We don’t want to rush ahead of Him, drag behind Him, or divert in any direction other than where God guides. This is how you can join with us.
We are always in such awe of the sweet ways God chooses to bless us. He often does it through you! Thank you for attending, for your encouraging words, prayers, and the love you show toward us. Your radiant faces are a testament to the many ways God met with you last weekend. Don’t let it stop. Press On toward the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ. Keep seeking and spending time at His feet, trusting Him and obeying. Let Him be the ONE THING that your heart is set on. He is the grandest treasure to cherish and adore!
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”
Above all, we are eternally grateful to our Savior Jesus who poured out His extravagant love and grace on us in such abundance!
To God be the Glory,
Kathy & Sherry
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