All We Really Know For Sure

Last week I had the privilege of being back at my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute for a significant alumni reunion. I came to Chicago as a young and open-hearted 17 year-old and for three years was shaped significantly by the excellence and quality of musical training and biblical teaching.  

We were trained to go out into the world and do ministry all in, and our hearts burned with the excitement of all we dreamed God would call us to. We also had no idea that for many of us the cost would be so high.. What did we really know for sure being sent off into our worlds?

In today’s culture there are two parallel tracks of belief that run side by side for Christ followers.. On one track is the message of increase – bigger destiny, larger platforms, increased prosperity, and health and wealth.  On this track we believe God for what only He can do which is impossible for us but possible for God.  On the other track is the message of decrease – God’s increase and glory is His and His alone and we can expect that while we believe great things, we also can expect pain and suffering which is the hallmark of the life of the saints in Hebrew 11.

When we say Yes to God – we may believe that bigger visibility and more fruit is what we can expect because God is a God of wonder.  For so many this is a message of hope against all hope (Romans 4), in a God that does His best work when we are out of options.  This the key to perseverance in the face of adversity. If we only believe, all things will indeed, work for our good (Romans 8:38). When we believe that our outcome is to prosper, as a result, pain, suffering and adversity may be viewed as a lack of faith.  What do you believe?  Or can it be true that while we believe God has plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), He is also asking us to surrender when the journey might look like anything but that.

Steven Curtis Chapman brought his music to us on the last night of Founders Week at Moody and sang his song:

We will abandon it all for the sake of the call
No other reason at all but the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake of the call

Nobody stood and applauded them
So they knew from the start
This road would not lead to fame
All they really knew for sure
Was Jesus had called to them
He said "come follow Me" and they came
With reckless abandon, they came

All we really know for sure is that our journey may not lead to fame on this earth.

 

I am wondering if we as Daughters of the King, desiring to serve God with all we have, were expecting our lives to look a bit different when we said “Yes” to His call on our lives? Were we expecting larger platforms, more influence, better marriages, perfect children, and just a bit more prosperity in the process?  Do we experience personal shame, or criticism from others when our external circumstances are not exactly the picture of what God’s favour looks like? 

I can tell you that the latter is my journey.  I know that my “Yes” is not a guarantee of success in this world, but rather a guarantee that an eternal reward is waiting for me.  I know that my “Yes” does not guarantee a sudden increase in Instagram followers or more requests than I can handle for platform and presence.  

What I do know is that my “Yes” guarantees that I am being called to a greater adventure than I could have dreamed, and what has been irrefutably promised to me is God’s presence with me every step of the way.

And that is all any of us really know for sure.

Be encouraged, women in this nation for this time.  Don’t measure your success on quantifiable outcomes, but when you abandon your lives for the sake of His call, that it will be a ride like you have never known!. . As a movement, Gather Women is for you and championing you in your places of light, and praying for you in your places in the dark. We want you to stay the path and finish well.  We want to know you and your stories and be sisters to you so you know you are not alone on the journey, whatever challenges you are facing.

Be encouraged by the sisterhood in Canada that is growing every day and has a seat at the table just for you.  Be encouraged by these words from Steven Curtis Chapman from his song “Glorious Unfolding”: 

Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what i’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise god has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing love


And the story has only begun.

You are loved with an everlasting love from before time and until the end of time.

And that’s all, any of us, really know for sure.

 

Let us gather.

The Dance of Becoming One

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Written by Cathie Ostapchuk

For three days in January a few thousand of the church in Canada gathered in Edmonton to experience Break Forth One , despite the city’s reputation of being blistering cold at this time of year.

Gather Women was there to bring the warming voice and presence of women into the conversation of the church in Canada. We were there to dialogue, to listen, to learn, to pray and to create new bonds of not only sisterhood but partnership with our male counterparts in the church.  As we hosted a Friday pre-conference for women, See Her Rise, with an amazing collective of gifted teachers from across Canada, we knew that God was doing something in the hearts of His daughters.  We heard clearly the call to rise, take courage, and do whatever He had called us to in the days ahead.  We were thrilled to have Lisa Bevere join us on our Canadian platform and received the powerful commissioning she had for our girls for such a time as now, to rise. 

 We agree that the cultural landscape is changing.  We agree that the church is changing both in response to culture and pro-actively called to shape the change. 

If the church is a culture-shaper and women are half the church, then we want to be part of the shaping of thought, and of understanding how we can leverage our gifts to help the church flourish in order to live out the mission of representing Jesus in our nation.

What is important is that we do believe, together as women, that our gifts were given to us in order to use them in their fullness. We have to believe this completely and confidently.

 If we don’t, half the church is missing in carrying out the mission of the church.  If we don’t, we are deferring to others and diminishing our sense of inherent value as created in the image of God.  

I love the following Passion Translation of Ephesians 4:11-13:

“And he has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists (or preachers), and some with grace to be pastors (or shepherds)  and some with grace to be teachers (or wise orators) And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ.  These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness in the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become ONE with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed in the abundance of Christ.” 

These appointments of ordained roles are designed and designated for all believers with no gender qualification or disqualification.  

Our year at Gather started with a call to Recapture the Wonder of God:  His works, His love, and His presence in our lives. We are living in a day where we can and should expect His move across our hearts individually and our church collectively and we don’t want to miss a thing!

Being at Breakforth confirmed that there is a shift in the church in Canada to become all it was meant to be as the Bride of Christ with all functioning in fullness, regardless of gender.  

 The Message translation phrases this beautiful interdependence like a dance:

“…working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” (Eph 4:12-13)

Gather Women extended the invitation to leaders and speakers at Breakforth One to join us to recapture the wonder of celebration and prayer.  As we heard prayers offered up by key church and ministry leaders, there was a realization that God is calling leaders to lead the change in the church and in culture…prayerfully, strategically, thoughtfully, lovingly and humbly.  

As a movement, Gather is focused on joining this prayerful, strategic, thoughtful, loving and humble journey into 2019 and beyond. 

We have heard from many of you that what we have started is a needed voice as part of the church.

We agree with us that we need a way of connecting women from coast to coast, with a growing robust network that invite leaders, millenials and women on the fringe into belonging and into the center of relationship with Jesus.   

So we are taking our time.  We are fully committed to the dance of unity… men and women in the church rising to do our part to impact the generations with the transforming message of God’s love.  We are committed to learning the dance steps together because we believe we are better together.

You will be hearing from us in the days ahead about new ways of gathering online for greater connectivity.  You will hear about our signature national Gather Rise October 25 & 26 and other ways of connecting face to face.  We are taking our time to fully flesh out the new ways God is calling us to go deeper and wider to connect, equip and champion the women in this nation and also create spaces for conversations about flourishing, our identity and influence. 

The dance of becoming one is complex and creative and stunning when all are in step.  We are committed to this interdependence as we seek to flourish together.  Join us as we recapture the wonder of the dance of the Trinity.  We believe God will reveal to us His wonderful works as we look up and see Him already moving our steps in unison to His. 

You are invited to this beautiful dance.   You are so welcome to learn the steps with us. Will you join us on the dance floor?  

Let us gather.

 

 

A New ONE WORD for 2019!

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Written by Cathie Ostapchuk

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you brave and beautiful women of faith – spread out across this beautiful nation!  You did it – you survived another year and to those of you who ended the year strong, thriving and with a thank you on your lips – well done.

The intention to make every day of a New Year count with the best laid plans is a noble one.  If you are like the team at Gather, however, you know that sometimes ‘life happens’, and we have heard  your stories of unexpected pain, loss and sorrow, alongside the stories of hope rekindled and answered prayers.

So we wrestle with letting life play out and trusting God’s sovereignty, as well as making wise and intentional choices to set our steps on an intentional path, looking for ways to use our unique gifts as part of the church, and on mission in our spheres of influence.

Did you choose a word in 2018 to help you with that?  We have found at Gather that our ONE WORD yearly choices have helped keep us focused on the blue ocean God has called us to, and helped us see how God would bring to light all of the facets of a particular word.

This year our word for Gather, and the women of Canada is WONDER.

Don’t you love it!?
 


Psalm 40:5 

Many, Lord my God,

are the wonders you have done,

the things you planned for us.

None can compare with you;

were I to speak and tell of your deeds,

they would be too many to declare.

We want to be caught up in the mystery of the God we serve and dive deeper into knowing Him and making Him know. The wonder of His grace, His love, His provision, His promises, His protection and His purposes for us are too many to count! We are hoping you will join us on this journey of WONDER this year!

What is your word for 2019? We want to help you with reflecting on and choosing a word that will help set you on your way with focus and clarity. Here is a ONE WORD 2019 Guide to help you with that. Do it on your own. Invite some girlfriends for coffee and work through the guide together. Suggest words for each other that you sense would help bring clarity. Listen to God’s voice and ask Him to show you where He wants you to pay attention. He will do it!

Bless you, women of God in this nation in 2019. We can’t wait to set out on this journey in a New Year of WONDER together!

We’d love to hear your words! Send us an email at hello@gatherwomen.com or post your words and why you chose them on our Facebook or Instagram platforms. We can’t wait to hear the ONE WORD that will guide you in the year ahead.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD YOUR ONE WORD GUIDE FOR 2019

Cathie Ostapchuk and
The Gather Women Team