Friday, August 29, 2014

The Whole Passage by @EmilyLaney

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Phil 4:4-8

Did any of you do AWANA, Bible Drill, or other Bible memorization activities at church? I was AWANA’s all the way in Elementary school, I looked forward to our meetings every Wednesday. I’m so grateful for the foundation of scripture memorization that those activities encouraged in me and my friends. I have dozens of verses of scripture memorized and am able to remember the promises of God when I need encouragement.
The passage above from Philippians is one in which I’ve memorized each verse separately throughout my life. However, the other day in Bible Study I paused to reflect on these verses as a whole. What a powerful passage!

It’s one thing to say “Rejoice in the Lord always” and to “Be gentle” and to “not be anxious for anything”. Those verses are used by themselves a whole lot, usually to remind ourselves or a friend of things that God wants us to do. But have you ever been quoted verse four and felt that in your current circumstances that rejoicing was a lot easier said than done? I know I have.

These verses together, along with the rest of chapter four, paint a beautiful picture of grace and God’s supernatural ability to sustain us. Paul talks of contentment and the ability for us to do all things through Christ. I read through chapter four and just felt encouraged. The power of God’s word is so incredible and these verses together reminded me that focusing my mind on Christ, on things that are good, can help with contentment, can reduce anxiety, and can empower me to confidently do all things that Christ puts before me. It was what I needed to hear for the season, and it reminded me that when those favorite scripture verses pop in my head that maybe I should open God’s word and read the verses before and after it too. 

What favorite passage of scripture do you think of often? 

When was the last time that you read that chapter in its entirety? 

Emily Laney is a social worker, educator, and justice seeker.  She has worked with vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad and loves to help startup nonprofits reach their goals.  She is a Passion City Church door holder and leads a team of abolitionists at Not for Sale Georgia.   She loves her husband Brent and their rescue pup Biscuit. Sunsets and Sushi make her happy.

You can connect with Emily on twitter @emilylaney or on her blog

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Am I Blind To My Own Struggles? by Cheryl Laurenza

Photo by Amelia Grace Photography

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal 6:8-18 ESV

I have been pondering something the pastor said this morning at our church, (Granite United in Salem, NH) well a couple of things. In talking about using our gifts and talents in the body to build it up as well as to glorify God, I was struck with the thought that it has been far easier for me to minister outside the body over the last couple years. I began to look at the "whys" and how that might have come to be. This is what I was thinking with the above title. I believe I became "weary of doing good" and I also felt I had been hurt and used by the church as far as burn out and a lack of consideration. This was not true of all leaders I was involved with, but sadly some leaders do bring this about because of their own brokenness and bent towards legalism and works, it was however  enough to cause me to pull way back and even attend a different church after resigning from the one that I had worked at for about 8 years.

Now here's where the rubber hits the road for me regarding Gal 6. It's ok for a time to be refreshed, restored etc, but I need to return to the place of allowing God to use what He himself  has given me or I become like the guy who buried his talent in the ground in Matthew 25.  Again, I'm all about healing and grace, yet I recognize the design of how the body works and I am excited about being back using my talent(s) for Him. I can say that I have been focused on "others" outside the family meaning my own, as well as clients that come to me. This is great, but again, being part of the body is what I was designed for and if I am blinded by my own pain, hurt,  selfishness, or indifference, I lose as do those I would have served. God can raise up anyone and I am not indispensable, but needed as are you.

I hope I have encouraged those that have been weary today. Please get help, seek out restoration and as God directs, be open to hearing that still small voice and be led by His spirit, not guilt or coercion. We need to be operating under the power of the Holy Spirit to do what we were created . We need you and your talents, gifts and abilities and have been waiting for you...not in anger or disappointment, but with excitement!

See you on the front lines!!

Cheryl Laurenza, LPC, LCMHC
For more information on aloneness in marriage or otherwise, check out Center For Relational Care out of Austin, TX or contact me via email.