(Special note - this blog, like most of our posts, has many pictures. This one concludes with fun pictures from our last Restore Retreat! Since it was formatted to read on the website, it is always easiest and best to read "Monday Musings" there. If you are reading from your email reminder, just click the gray title at the top and it will take you directly to the site.)
Last week in our small group discussion questions we were asked, “Has there been a time in your life when a particular passage of Scripture strongly impacted you? What passage of Scripture? How did it impact you? Did it confront you with a sin, enable you to get through a trial, move you to obedience in an area of your life, guide you in a life decision, point you to salvation in Christ, etc?” Of course, my answer was yes! I certainly couldn't narrow it down to one passage, but as I began to to write down the list of Scriptures, I was struck at the thread of truth the Lord has been weaving in my life. How He has taken me down a road through the power of His Word that is so specific for me in my journey, in His calling on my life. I imagine it is the same for you. When we hear the Word, savor it, read and respond with a heart of love for Jesus, it transforms the way we live our lives.
I’ll share a part of my journey in the Word with you in hopes that it will encourage you to reflect on your own. There are many other Scriptures that the Lord has used powerfully in my life than the ones I list here, but these are some that came to mind first as I began to write down the path the Lord has led me through His Word. It began with me in my adult life in the Psalms. My husband Ken and I had recently accepted a music ministry position and were attending a conference on worship leading. In a class we attended a writer, Don Wyrtzen, whose work we had performed led us in a study of the Psalms. That began a significant journey for me through the Psalms. I spent a year there and return to them often for lessons that enrich and challenge my faith. There, in those powerful words of worship, I saw the heart of David, a man after God’s own heart. I saw a man who laid out his life openly, authentically before His Lord. His relationship was real and honest. He cried out for forgiveness and worshipped with abandon and I wanted that life. And Jesus wanted that life for me, for He was calling me to be a worship leader whose heart was truly His. He had given me a voice to sing His praises with beauty and skill, but there was much heart work to do.
Part of that heart work led me to a year long study of Genesis. There I wrestled with many untruths I had been taught as a child and came before a powerful, loving God who demanded all authority and ownership in my life. Most profound was Genesis 22. Of course, that would be the chapter where the Lord would grab hold of me in His truth, because there in the story of Abraham and Isaac - God describes that call to extreme sacrifice as “worship.” I needed to understand that He would have no idols in my life. I needed to lay my “Isaac’ s” down on the altar and trust that He would provide. Things like my security, my marriage, my position, my talent, my children, my home.
It was the year my father died and the Lord showed me that I had been placing my relationship with my father above my heavenly Father. It was a difficult lesson to learn. It brought me on my face before the Lord, yet I emerged with a heart devoted to the Lamb of God as my Lord and Savior. It brought me to a place of surrender to the Holy Spirit. If I was going to answer His call to live the life of a true worshiper, I needed to understand that my God had to be my “all in all” and trust in His provision in my life.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Somewhere along the way, I heard a beautiful song based on the Scripture from Zephaniah 3:17.
I have clung to this truth throughout my journey. The picture of God singing over me is one of such beauty and comfort in the difficult seasons of life. It has brought me hope and filled my anxious spirit with His peace. He has quieted me with His love and the truth of these words over and over! Yes, He takes delight in you and me!!
Then came the beautiful years of studying the gospel of John. There have been many profound truths in John that the Lord has woven into the threads of my life, but there are several chapters and stories that the Lord has used to grab hold of me in a way that has molded me into the woman He created me to be. Through them He has done a deep and beautiful cleansing work.
John 4 is one the most important chapters in all of Scripture on worship. I needed to understand it. I needed to let Jesus’ words in John 4:23-24 have their way in me.
I want to be found as one of those worshipers that the Father is seeking! That means diligent study in His words of truth. I must truly seek to know Him. I found that it was vital for me to study His character and attributes so that I was worshiping the God revealed in Scripture, not the God I fashioned Him to be, the God with whom I was simply comfortable. And He was calling me to worship Him in spirit - with all of my emotions, led by His Holy Spirit.
Once again, the Lord was calling me to worship in abandon.
"You cannot lead my people in worship to a place you have not been yourself."
I soaked in His words and let them take hold of me.
But, there in the story of the Samaritan woman I saw glimpses of myself.
When she comes at noon to draw water from the well, Jesus asks her for a drink and says to her,
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
..........“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
In so many ways, I was empty like that woman, trying to fill my life with things and people to satisfy the deep need within me that only Jesus could fill. I asked Him to show me those things and He was faithful. Painfully faithful! It became the theme of my life's journey, the title of Bible studies I would write. Jesus is the living water of my soul!
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:37-39
This Living Water.... it will flow from within you when you surrender it all to Jesus, when you surrender to the work of His Spirit in your life...... when you choose to hear, respond, and obey His words of life....when you let them do a deep work within you. It leaves you desperate for more of Him and longing to lavish your love on Jesus in return.
I continued to work my way through the gospel of John which led me to John 12, the story of Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus before He goes to the cross. We had met before in the Scriptures. This Mary was the same one who had chosen the better part, to sit and listen to the words of Jesus, while her sister Mary was so busy with all preparations. I could identify with both of these women, in different seasons of my life. But now in God’s word it was evident that Mary’s choice had led her to that most extravagant expression of love for her Savior and she was blessed for it by Jesus Himself.
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
As I meditated on this amazing story I recognized it as a beautiful display of the heart of a worshiper of our Savior and Lord. Worship calls for a life of reverence and awe, service and sacrifice. (Romans 12:1,2)
It is lavish love and it requires total abandon and adoration for the One who alone is worthy.
It brings blessing to the heart of Jesus and leaves the fragrance of His love wherever you go.
That is the kind of love and worship He is calling us to. His Word speaks it out so clearly.
The very next chapters brought me to the deep and beautiful last words of Jesus with His disciples before He goes to the cross. The work that Jesus has done in my life through John 13-15 has been rich. It led Sherry and I to write our recent Restore Retreat, “The Gift of Abiding in Christ”. These lessons and gifts found in “abiding” actually began for me long ago in 1993! You’ll have to come to the next retreat to hear that story.... but let me just say, it’s taken 22 years for me to come to a place where I felt I could teach these amazing truths. You see, you cannot teach lessons that you haven’t walked yourself. They are rich truths that will radically change your life in Him. I am still learning them.
Two weekends ago, 23 of us gathered for the Spring Restore Retreat to celebrate the last supper and hear and study Jesus’ words to His disciples. It was a beautiful weekend together. Women came from many different churches and walks of life and we joined our hearts together as the body of Christ. These women invested time, energy and gave of themselves that they might know the deep truths that Jesus has for each one of them. It was a privilege for Sherry and I to minister His Words of life, worship together and celebrate the great work He has planned for each of us.
Below are some pictures and testimonies from women who joined us in the recent Restore Retreat, “The Gift of Abiding in Christ”. We began our weekend with an authentic Passover meal as it would have been done in the time of Jesus in the upper room and dug deep into the teachings of John 13.
Found below are some testimonies from these precious women who came to soak in His presence and Word and desire to see the Lord bear fruit in their lives.
I didn't know how much I needed a retreat! I realized that I have been running on empty instead of running to the One who would refresh me. From the beautiful and delicious Passover meal we shared on Friday night to the sweet Sunday worship and communion, the distractions of life faded. What a difference three days can make! I feel refreshed and refocused, ready to truly abide in Christ. As if that was not enough, I also experienced precious time reconnecting with my dear sister and shared sweet time with some special ladies.
Thank you, Kathy and Sherry, for sharing your hearts and talents with such beauty and eloquence.
Thank you both for planning and executing the lovely Restore Retreat. The highlight for me was the authenticity of the Passover Meal and the Sunday Communion Service, both enhanced by teaching that brought Biblical, historical, and cultural meaning to the experience. I also very much enjoyed fellowship with old and new friends and the creative time.
We had a wonderful night creating "Soulcare" cards to remind us of the truths we are learning or give away to a friend who needs a word of encouragement.
I have been using my soul cards and sending encouragement to my friend who has cancer.
I get so much joy writing from my journal and binder to my friend, and she is blessed by the words.
Much more enjoyment than sending a greeting card. I plan to keep this up during her cancer treatments.
I want to tell you that learning how to “abide in Jesus”, and knowing all of the benefits of it, is one of the most amazing things that has happened to me lately. The way Kathy and Sherry put it for us to understand made me absorb the revelation of their teaching and want to abide in Him for the rest of my life. I now understand the pruning I’m facing these days and I know I can offer the pain to my Lord. I can’t wait to bear more everlasting fruit for Him. You two ladies made me remember that we have an eternal hope in knowing that we can be consumed by His love and peace, which surpasses all understanding. I can feel the unspeakable joy, peace and love He gives deep within my heart and these are His gifts and the fruit of His Spirit.
I want to thank you for your passion, dedication and love that you put into the retreat. I would not change anything for the coming ones.
“Your love and kindness are better to me than life itself. How I praise you! I will bless you as long as I live.” Psalm 63:3-4
Our April 2015 Restore Retreat ladies! We are so grateful for the privilege of ministering the truth and love of God's Word, leading you in worship and having fun together! Truly you displayed one of His gifts found when we choose to abide in Christ - "Love for one another". Our hearts are full with His complete Joy!!
There is fruit in our lives when we choose to let His Word take hold of us, remake us, and form us into the men and women He has created us to be.
Make plans now to join us for the next retreat - October 9-11, 2015!!
You'll be forever changed by the power of His Word!
Please take some time this week to write down some of the Scriptures the Lord has spoken into your life. How have His words impacted you? How has He used them for His glory? What purpose are they working within you? Will you choose to let them bear kingdom fruit in your life?
Grateful for God's Word in my life and the fruit that it bears,
Join us each Monday for Monday Musings Devotional Blog.
Have it sent straight to your email inbox by subscribing at the top right of this blog. Be sure to follow the directions to completion.
We pray that these blogs will minister to you and encourage you.
Feel free to share them on your social media or email them to a friend.
Resources: Scripture images Pinterest
Sign Up to Receive our Blog via email.
Click to set custom HTML