Friday, August 31, 2007

If We Are the Body

by Kathy Lay

Verse of the Week: Romans 12:10--"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)

I remember meeting Dustin that hot August morning on the first day of class. A whole new crop of excited college freshman were sitting in the classroom waiting for their new English class to begin. As the instructor, I always wanted to establish a relaxed, familiar environment on those first few days because I remembered how overwhelming college can be at first. One way I did this was to allow students to submit anonymously on a note card any question that they wanted to ask. Inevitably, through questions like “How do you spend your free time?” or “What are your hobbies?” the opportunity arose for me to share that I’m a Christian.

Dustin’s class was no different. I remember him coming up to me that day and saying how cool it was that I’m a Christian because he was too. As the semester progressed, we shared many God-conversations. But the one I remember most was when I asked him what church he attended. His response was, “Oh, I don’t do church. My relationship with God is between me and him and it’s no one else’s business.” I had no ready response for that and quite honestly, at his age I had felt about the same way. My Christianity had really been Kathianity at that point, as in “God, what will you do for me today?” if I even bothered to throw out that little prayer. I’d been saved, so that took care of it, right?

But I know better now.

Our community is currently grieving the loss of a young boy. When something tragic like this happens, we begin to ask questions... “Why, God?...How do we make sense of this?...How can we help the family?” I was talking with my friend, Missy, and she told me that as she prayed about the situation, she felt God saying, “Stand. Just stand.” We considered what all that might encompass...Stand in the gap for them praying. Gather and stand around them, like a hedge of protection. Stand back and watch what I, the Lord your God, will do.

And as Missy and I ended our conversation, it clicked for me...that is why we participate in the church body. To disregard that aspect of being a Christian is to miss the point of being a Christian, apart from being saved. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love, first the Lord, and then your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-39). And in 1 Peter, all Christians are reminded to “be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (NLT)

And that, my friends, is why we “do church.” Even though the couple who lost their little boy attends a different church than I do, we belong to the same Body—that of Christ. That means being his hands raised in intercession for this family, being his feet running to their aid to meet physical needs, being his heart loving them so much that they feel peace and comfort in the midst of chaos and heartbreak, and being his head helping them iron out details and maybe even over time, begin to make some sort of sense of things.

I continued to see Dustin on campus from time to time after our semester together ended. He even bought our praise band’s CD. But I’d love to see him just one more time and ask him again which church he attends. This time I’d have a story to share.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that you use your church body to minister. What a privilege to be a part of that! Show us how to use our individual gifts and talents to reach out and be You to those who are hurting and in need. By the power in your name, Jesus, Amen.

Application: What are you really good at that you enjoy doing? Offer those talents to the church body in an effort to build others up.

Power Verses:
*Deuteronomy 27:7 (NIV)—Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the LORD your God.
*I John 1:7 (NLT)—But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
*Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)—Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Friday, August 24, 2007


by Kathy Lay

Verse of the Week: Isaiah 61:3--"...the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness..."

I had a conversation with a dear friend that went something like this:
Me: And how are you today, Love?
Her: Oh I don’t know. I just feel like I’m in a funk. I can’t get excited about anything and I just feel apathetic.
Me: I’ve been going through a little something like that too. It’s like I’m just going through the motions…

I had another conversation with another dear friend that went something like this:
Me: How’s it going, Babe?
Her: Oh, I just feel funky lately, kind of numb, but like the littlest thing could set me off into tears.
Me: That’s strange. It seems there are several of us going through the same funk.

A third conversation that was strikingly similar confirmed it—does that qualify as an epidemic? Present in each of these conversations was the word “funk.” Definitions of this term (yes, I really looked) include “a depressed state of mind,” “to shrink back from undertaking or facing something,” and a sense of “dread.” Actually, I could check off each of those definitions as a symptom I’m experiencing, and it sounds like a lot of others could too. Girls, we’re being robbed! Our joy has been stolen! How can we get it back?

Praise the Lord that he thinks of everything, even restoring our joy--even when we settle into our funk so deeply that we’re not sure we can or even want to come out. His remedy is simple. Not necessarily easy, mind you, but simple: praise him. Isaiah 61:3 describes God’s promise “To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,” and “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” (NKJV). We just have to choose to be obedient and put it on.

David wrote in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” The man after God’s own heart didn’t only praise when things were rosy, he continually praised. Even in a funk. We know God doesn’t need us to put on the garment of praise for him, so it must be for our own good. Become undignified before your Lord (2 Samuel 6:22) and let him fill you with his joy. Let your praise be your "disinfunktant."

Father God, we lay our funk at your feet. We want to be effective for you and we need your power to sustain us in that. Accept our praise as a fragrant offering that pleases you and unleashes your oil of joy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Application: Be alone with God and put on your garment of praise. Pick out a praise song you love and belt it out at the top of your lungs.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 1:9—“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (NIV)
Psalm 9:2—“I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. (NLT)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Be Sure and Stay Tuned

The Women's Ministry at First Christian Church in Marshall, IL is so pleased to be able to bring you this blog! We have some exciting God-sized goals for the women of this church, for women who belong to other churches, and for the unchurched, as well. We want to reach out to you no matter where you are in your spiritual walk. Maybe you're on a mountain-top or in a valley. Maybe you haven't even left the starting gate. But there's one important equalizer: we have a Savior who loves us all very much. And Girl, do we love to celebrate that!

We'll use this blog to promote events, so please be sure to check with us from time to time. We also hope you'll be encouraged by what you read here and we'd love to receive your comments.

Lord, we pray over this blog and lift it up for your glory. Work through it to bless your daughters--every single one of whom you call by name, know the number of hairs on her head, and love more than we can imagine. In Jesus' Precious Name. Amen.