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Holy Week: Love Unveiled

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete,  but then I will know everything completely,  just as God now knows me completely." ~1 Corinthians 13:12NLT It makes me laugh to read the first line of this verse. I'm picturing that first-thing-in-the-morning glance in the mirror. More puzzling than pretty! That must be why I tend to avoid the mirror until I've had a cup of tea and time with Jesus. Then I'm up for the challenge of a new day in this not-so-new body.   I love this image of the bride's mirrored reflection through her veil. It vividly illustrates the veil imagery in scripture. Moses wore a veil after meeting with God on Mount Sinai, because the glory of God radiated from his face. He covered it so that the Israelites would remain faithful even though the radiance faded away.   In the temple there was a veil, or curtain that set apart a section called The Holy of Holies, where only the priests were allowed to enter. They were the only ones who could come before the Almighty God on behalf of the people.   And, on this memorable day in history which we call Good Friday, the veil is significant [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:37+00:00 April 18th, 2014|, , |4 Comments

Holy Week: Love Perfected

"But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish things behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:10-11 NIV   "Why do we suffer?"   As a pastor, church leader, minister, I have been asked that question many times. My gut reaction? "Why wouldn't we?" When I try to imagine the suffering of Jesus, I wonder how we could ever think that He should intensely suffer, and we would lead perfect painless lives. It seems I have that perfectly logical thought one minute, and the next minute I am the one suffering and asking God that same "childish" question, "Why must I suffer so? Why is my life marked with such pain?"   Today is Maundy Thursday, which seems the perfect day to ask that question. Today we remember events leading to the crucifixion of Christ: The Passover/Last Supper Jesus shared with His disciples, His arrest, suffering, and trial (Read Matthew). Serving the meal to the disciples, Jesus spoke these words, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God (Luke [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:39+00:00 April 17th, 2014|, |0 Comments

Holy Week: The Lunacy of Love

Joan of Arc's Death, by Herman Stilke "If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing."  ~~I Corinthians 13:3NLT Giving. Sacrificing. Dying. For the sake of love. At face value, it may seem absurd to think that you would do these three things for any other reason. But, think again! This "sacrifice of the body" is translated in other versions as being burned at the stake. It brings to mind the early martyrs of the church. It also paints a picture, like the one shown here, of the young heroine of the Hundred Years' War in France in the early 1400's. Joan of Arc had divine visions at the age of twelve, calling her to lead her homeland to freedom. By sixteen, this peasant girl moved in her perceived call of God. Weaving her way through hostile territory, she gained entrance to the French Royal Court and landed a private conference with Charles VII. Charles was inspired by her testimony and her determination to carry it forth. Yet, it was Joan's motivation that became frontline in this battle. Was she a saint or a sorceress? The future of their country was at stake. The [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:41+00:00 April 16th, 2014||0 Comments

Holy Week: The Law of Love

  "If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing." ~I Corinthians 13:2  As we enter Holy Week, our thoughts are drawn to the plight of Jesus. He was and is The One, the long-awaited Messiah. He was the fulfillment of prophecy and He was prophetic. He understood all of God's secret plans. In fact, He was God's secret plan. He possessed all knowledge. He had faith that could move mountains. He had all of these gifts and abilities. But it was His love that changed lives. It was His love that got Him in trouble. It was His love that led Him to the cross. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see hecklers in every crowd: the Pharisees. It was their religious position, or disposition, to protect and enforce the law of the Jews. They were religious to a fault. They were legalistic to a fault. They imposed so many rules and regulations that the people became slaves of the law. They tried to impose their laws upon The One who came to fulfill the law. Jesus refuted the [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:43+00:00 April 15th, 2014|, , |2 Comments

FREEDOM! Woven Weekend REcap

Beautiful. Transforming. Powerful. All apply to our Woven Weekend 2014: FREEDOM! It was truly a work of the Holy Spirit. The journey toward this event was rugged and ever changing. God was definitely putting His thumbprint on the outcome. The first "oops" was an "error" in location, which resulted in Transformation Round One. Witnessing the body of Christ coming together to prepare our Newark Naz REAL LIFE location for this event and for the future of this congregation was beautiful. The transformation was amazing! It was the perfect space for our event...a God "oops"! Another "oops"... our Worship Leader Melissa Anderson was quarantined until Saturday morning. What are the odds of that? We put to death our plans and sought God's plan. Recording Artist Heather Evans stepped right in and blessed us with her vocal and acoustic giftedness Friday night. What a powerful strummer and vocalist! Transformation Round Two: No more "oops"!  The beauty of our Friday night service was to the tune of "White Flags". The sight of every woman in the place waving a white flag of surrender was a visible welcoming of the Holy Spirit. To make the vision complete, two of our women marched the aisles with huge white flags and placed them near the [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:45+00:00 April 14th, 2014|, |2 Comments

LENT: What is Prayer?

 by Nancy Stiverson   “Devote yourselves to prayer….” Colossians 4:2a       PRAYER IS... a confession a praise a petition an act of communion with God a reverent petition to God But my favorite definition... Prayer is the ability TO SEE! Just think of that: Prayer is the ability to see--- the ability TO SEE GOD! What a wonderful reality! When we pray, it is the breathing of the Spirit in us.  A woman is never more powerful as when she is on her knees before the Lord in prayer. We’re waiting and trusting in Him. I read a touching story about an elderly woman who lived in the 1800s, during the early days of the Western Movement.  This woman, who had never seen paper money, came to her minister saying she was in desperate need.  She explained that her son had traveled farther west to seek his fortune.  Although the son sent many letters, she explained that he never sent anything to help her financially.  “All he sends me are letters and pretty pictures,” she said. “May I see one of the pictures?” asked the minister.  “Yes, I have all of them here in my Bible,” she answered. Between the leaves of her worn Bible, [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:38:50+00:00 March 27th, 2014|, |0 Comments

FREEDOM: Grit & Grace

The Grit & Grace of Freedom. That's what God is placing on my heart for our upcoming Woven Women's Weekend in April. Our Woven Weekends have proven to be a spiritual landmark along the road of life for those who attend. Awakening. Challenging. Transforming. Reviving. Renewing. New friendships are formed. Old friendships are deepened, strengthened. God carves His name on our hearts. He whispers His call as our spiritual ears are perked and alert to hear His voice. It all begins with the hospitality of our Dream Team. We love to love on women and, of course, that includes hugs and food. Our hearts are ready to worship. Melissa Anderson and her band will take us once again to the throne of grace. She's experienced the grit. That's what makes her such a powerful voice for grace. Grit & Grace: it's truly the message of freedom. My daughter and I will be sharing our journey of grit that led us to unfathomable grace. This subject is not limited to any one life circumstance. This is an all-inclusive topic. No matter what life throws at you...God is walking on water, tossing you a lifeboat of grace. It's your opportunity to embrace FREEDOM. Freedom [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:39:00+00:00 March 11th, 2014|, |0 Comments

TRUE BEAUTY

by Woven Leader Kathleen Benis   "Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."  Proverbs 31:30(NLT)   How can it be? Beauty does not last?   Each day I look in the mirror, I see one more wrinkle. One more line. My spanks cami is no longer lifting and smoothing. How these models charm you into believing if you do this and wear that, your beauty will last. I thought beauty and charm made women come alive! I was deceived. Then I met Jesus. He introduced me to the issue of my heart. Just as I love to be pursued so does He. God longs for you to love and pursue Him. He says,  “Seek me with all of your heart”(Jeremiah 29:13).   As I seek Him, He unveils my beauty. He fuels my search for meaning, for wholeness. I begin to see the essential life-impacting role He has for me. My priorities shift.   Jesus opens my eyes to see myself and others through the heart. An internal beauty that captivates. This beauty brings life to others. It encourages. It inspires. As we allow Jesus to unveil our [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:39:03+00:00 March 8th, 2014|, |2 Comments

Crushed into Dust

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;    ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,    and see that they get justice.   ~Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT In all my years spent in Proverbs 31, I don't recall ever noticing these verses which precede the poem of The Virtuous Woman. This advice to the king, written by his mother, reveal the heart of Christ long before Christ was born. Her words imitate the words of Jesus, as he stood in the temple and pronounced his call to ministry, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19NLT) Discovering these verses has given me a fresh appreciation for this mother whose words were included in the book of Proverbs. She challenges us to take a deeper look at our motives, our actions, at the advice we give to others. How many of us seriously share this mother's concerns? She causes us to ask ourselves, "What type of legacy am I leaving for my children, my grandchildren? Am I making an [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:39:05+00:00 March 4th, 2014||0 Comments

Breaking News: Woven In JAPAN!

Three of us dressed in Yukata (like a Summer Kimono) with a Japanese Kindergarten teacher we work with. Yes, Woven has traveled to the other side of the earth and landed in: JAPAN!! What a blessing to meet their leader TASH HORNER via email. (Tash is the blonde in the picture.) I will let Tash share a bit of history about this group of Woven Women... We are all part of a Christian English Program called "Wakakusa" in Tamura City (about 4 hours north of Tokyo). The founder of the program is a Japanese man who became a Christian and took over his mother's Kindergarten. At first he hired just one English teacher who would live with him and his wife and work at the kindergarten. Now it's grown to 12 men and women who live separately from the founder and work in the local public schools. In Japan, relationship is very important so we are committed  to teach English for two years and be part of the community. As a team we meet together for a weekly dinner and meeting, and bible study. Despite spending time together frequently, we sometimes miss meeting each others' spiritual needs due to the pressure [...]

By | 2016-12-15T15:39:07+00:00 February 27th, 2014|, |1 Comment