RelateHER: Soul Cleaning

Written By: Marieke Jacobi

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The other day I voluntarily cleaned someone else’s refrigerator. Yes, it was someone that I like and I was truly happy to help her clean before her move to a new home. The interesting thing was that as I cleaned, I became wrapped up in the imagery of Jesus’ love for us.  As I scrubbed, I stopped to pray over this home, the new neighbours who would be moving in soon and the family who was moving out. It was both a satisfying and inspiring experience. How often can you say that about cleaning?

When I opened the fridge, it didn’t look too bad; some crumbs, some small caked-on spills and a few leaves from forgotten vegetables. Removing all of the contents, throwing out anything that had been neglected or gone bad over time, I started to clean.  As I did, I noticed more spaces that needed cleaning; the back walls, edges, hard-to-reach corners and underneath the glass shelves. Some of the drawers of the fridge and the attached freezer could be taken out and the filth removed under the pressure of the sink or the bathtub.  Some of it was very stuck and required extra force to remove. It took about 2 hours and a whole lot of elbow grease to make this fridge sparkle and shine. It’s amazing what a difference a good scrub made!

Isn’t this just like us? Slowly sin creeps in to the edges and corners of our lives, and when we take a look inside nothing seems out of sorts. No need to clean up, right? Just close the door again. But if we open up the door of our souls and let him, God does a good spring clean.

What happens when I hold that door open and dig deep? Remove all distractions, throw out the rotten influences and take a look at the empty, dirty shelves? Are they ready for new and healthy habits like mercy, humility, justice, compassion and grace? Not really.

Jesus scolds the Pharisees in Matt. 23: 25,26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

So, what does spiritual elbow grease look like? Cleaning out my spiritual cup, my heart, my soul, my eyes, my mind and my body requires a deep trust in the Holy Spirit. His cleansing fire will burn out the impurities and leave me clean, ready for a renewed spirit. I know I could definitely use that good spring clean to remove my rotten pride, my wilting faith, my past-due doubt and my moldy selfish heart. He’ll trash my pride and humble me. Scrub my faith and make it new, replacing my doubt. Polish my heart to make it shine for Him ridding it of the stains of unforgiveness and jealousy.  “[She] who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up her soul to an idol…will receive blessing from the Lord.” Ps.24:4,5

“Oh [woman], put your hope in God alone for with the Lord is unfailing love and in Him is full redemption. He himself will redeem [you] from all [your] sins.” Ps. 130:7,8. The Lord lovingly redeems us every day, if we let him.

A good soul cleaning is painful and unpleasant but necessary. It requires humility, repentance, accountability and sacrifice but He promises that it will be good. “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:27, 28

And so, like the dirty fridge let’s trust God as the fire and water of the Holy Spirit restores us and renews us.


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Royal Weddings, Fundraisers and Fairytales

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk 

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Last week two momentous events took place, neither of which will be forgotten.

On May 19, 2018, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made lifelong commitments to to love, honour and respect each other as long as they both lived.  The watching world was caught up in the breathtaking magic of the wedding at Windsor Castle and special moments that included the classic elegance of the dress, the magnificent train of the veil, and traditional and modern music, including a gospel choir.  Scripturally-based spoken words of equipping for the marriage journey were eloquently delivered by English and American bishops.  Love was in the air and could be felt by those watching on screens thousands of miles away.  That day signified a coming together of royal bloodlines with the once common:  elevating mixed race bloodlines, diversity, and celebrating the voice and influence of a strong woman. It was the ultimate fairy tale.   Most of us were not on the guest list to witness the wedding nuptials in person, but the wedding somehow managed to find its’ way into our hearts and homes.  We feel the passion and imagine the future and influence this ‘it’ couple will have as they share their commitment for great causes that relieve suffering around the world.

On Tuesday, May 15, there was another gathering that left an indelible mark on those that were present.  Gather Women hosted its’ first-ever fundraising evening and as women gathered, the skies dismissed the rain and opened gloriously to a sun-filled, warm and glorious evening in Oakville, Ontario.

All of you were invited and we are so grateful to those of you who made the effort to join us for charcuterie, chocolate, conversation and friendship.  We enjoyed great music.  We were reminded of the passion and vision behind the continued forward movement of Gather Women.  We heard the impact of Gather Circles on a woman and her neighbourhood.  Our board chair, Elizabeth Pierce, expressed a moving call for us all to invest in the lives of women who are in this nation for this time in history - both those desiring to serve and those needing to receive.  

I want to say a personal thank you to those that came to our gathering last week and being with us in sisterhood, as well as a thank you to those who prayed and sent your support through heartfelt encouragement.   Thank you to all on behalf of our board for sharing your time and your financial resources so we can say with gratitude that the evening was a success and we are encouraged by your response and investment in this work.

We are just on the threshold of what we believe Gather was launched to accomplish.  We have been focused on gathering face to face and have used the resources invested by our partners Compassion, IJM, the Gideons in Canada, and other partners and donors, to create gatherings across Canada.  

We know that there is a need for gathering and equipping pieces

Ø  for curriculum development,

Ø  for online and regular video teaching and equipping through social media platforms

Ø  for creating content, connectivity and community for all of the Gather Circles across Canada. 

We also know there is a need to address and bring into the light restorative and solution based conversations and calls to action for our displaced and marginalized women - First Nations communities, immigrant and refugee women, and all others who seek a place to belong in this nation and who God has brought to us to create community with.

Gather Women continues to believe that we are better together and that this movement is vital to our nation’s spiritual and social health.

There are women across the nation who still believe the lie that they have not been invited to the party, or into the family of God.  The enemy comes to steal and destroy the promise that there is an invitation for all to come and join the celebration.  He replaces the invitation with a false expectation that life is a fairy tale, that there is a Prince Charming for all of us, or the perfect job, career, dress size or loyal friends. 

If you have ever been betrayed, do not have your Prince Charming anywhere in sight, or are struggling with self worth, a fulfilling career or ministry, or have family struggles, be reminded that Jesus said himself, “In this world, you will have trouble”.  He never promised our lives would be fairy tales, and few of us experience that reality.  Rather, Jesus Christ has offered a personal invitation to all that would receive Him, “I have come that they all might have life and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10)

While we wait for the ultimate Royal wedding feast (Rev 19:9  “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”), there are abundant opportunities to invite others to the celebration, available to us in waiting rooms, in our workplaces, in our challenging family situations, in the grocery checkout lines.  How many are waiting for us to go to them while we are waiting for them to come to us?  People are waiting for us everywhere. Your invitation could be life-changing.

Gather Women is not a fairy tale.  It is a God-sized dream. 

The fairy tale is that we think it should be easy and the strategic priorities should be accomplished overnight.  The reality is that it is hard work, sometimes messy, painful, exhausting, and at times downright disappointing.  I am grateful to those who stand with us in prayer and financial support.  and remind us that we should never give up, that we must keep raising the funds to gather women, to go into darkness with light, to endure the spiritual warfare associated with a ministry movement, to endure the disappointment of people leaving the work, and to stay focused on the one, the few and the many.

May God richly bless all of you in every way for the way that you have invested in the women that make of the body of “Gather” across the nation.  May we continue to link arms and move forward together as we realize that our sphere of influence is the space between our own two feet and as we all step forward we take more ground in confidence.  Free women free women and our message is that freedom is found in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ and there is No Other Name.

We look forward to welcoming you and your friends (ALL of your friends!) to Gather Rise on October 27, 2018 at The Meeting House in Oakville, where this gospel will be proclaimed and Hope declared for every woman present in Jesus’s name!

Please encourage us by registering as soon as possible - taking advantage of the early bird discount until June 1, the seniors and student rates, and also the discounts for groups of 10 or more.  Pass this invitation on to your networks, your churches and your friends to join us for a memorable day together.  All of the downloadable and printable posters and flyers and resources are found on the gatherwomen.com website.

We are so grateful for your support.  This is bigger than a fairy tale.  This celebration is for everyone and you and I are on the guest list!  Every time we gather we have an opportunity to celebrate our adoption into the Royal family as Daughters of the King.  Let us gather.

RelateHER: "Yet Not As I Will..."

Written By: Shauna Cowden

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Have you ever struggled between praying for the things you want, and praying for God’s will?

We all know the verse that says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (psalm 37:4). This verse isn’t telling us that if we delight in God he will give us all we want. Rather it speaks of delighting ourselves in the Lord and He will birth new desires in our hearts that line up with His will.

This sounds beautiful, but how do we know when we get there?

How do we know if our heart desires are God-given or just selfish?

And more importantly, how do we pray through this?

In Matthew 26:36-46, before Jesus was arrested and handed over to be crucified, there was Gethsemane. Jesus brought the disciples to this place and before he went away to pray, he turned to Peter and said “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. Jesus knew what was coming and he was beginning to feel the weight of what was before him. Jesus knew he had a divine mission to accomplish, he knew the will of the Father, but he was also struggling with his human desire to live.

As he went away, he fell to the ground and began to pray “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” There is so much we can learn from how Jesus prayed in these moment that we can implement in our own prayer lives.

1. JESUS WAS HONEST

Jesus was honest with God about how he was feeling and what he wanted, even if that desire was a selfish desire (“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”). Everything Jesus was feeling within him, he placed before the throne of God.

When we pray, we must be honest. We can bring our hurt, pain, and selfishness to Jesus. We must be willing to ask him for help and to do so, we need to get comfortable speaking openly and honestly with Him. We know that God can heal us, provide for us, rescue us, and therefore if we are willing to be honest, we are inviting him in to intervene on our behalf.

2. JESUS WENT BACK TO PRAY THREE TIMES

In Gethsemane, Jesus would leave the disciples to pray alone on three separate occasions. Knowing what was before him, he did not give up on his mission, but rather was splitting time between his followers and being alone with God.

Jesus teaches us that we must get in the habit of continual prayer. There may be prayers that God answers immediately, but then there are things that you need to have a continual conversation with God about.

3. JESUS TRUSTED HIS FATHER

The most beautiful part of Jesus' prayer was "Yet, not as I will, but as you will." Jesus did not just ask God to remove this cup of suffering from him, he restated his trust in his Father at the end of each prayer. Jesus did not discount his own wants and needs, he made sure to honestly voice them, but he ended his prayers with the very foundation of our faith, trusting in the One who has the bigger plan in the palm of his hands.

We can be honest, we can pray continually, but at the end of it all, we must be willing to let God be God. There is a chance that God is not delivering the very thing you are praying for because He has a better plan in mind. Can you imagine if God “took the cup of suffering” from Jesus as he was asking?

We wouldn’t’ have the cross.

What are some circumstances, desires, or dreams you need to be honest with God about in your life?

What are some things you need to be in continual conversation with God about?

What are you praying or hoping in God for?

Do you trust Him regardless of the outcome?

I pray together we are able to get into the posture of honest, continued prayer that says to God “yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

- Shauna


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