Women

The Imperishable

Today is garbage day at our house. Before garbage day comes, I clean out the refrigerator. I throw away perishable food that didn't get eaten. I throw away junk mail, old flowers, dead plants (yes, that happens a lot). Every week I am reminded of the "perishable-ness" of the things of this world. The need for grocery shopping, new clothes and shoes when the old have worn out, new light bulbs and batteries, etc... are constant reminders of the things of this world and our daily life that wear out.


This week in our Bible reading in 1 Peter we are constantly reminded about the imperishable hope that we have. Chapter 1 verse 6 tells us that we have "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, " and verse 23 says that we "have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever'. And this word is the good news that was preached to you."


What a blessing to know that we have the hope of a place where things do not wear out, our salvation is secure, and God's word, the good news "remains forever". Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the One who has secured our future. No matter what happens here on our perishable earth and the uncertainties we experience in our daily life, we are assured that our inheritance is nothing like what have now.


Hebrews 12:28

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

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Convicted

I have to be honest. Writing a blog is a very humbling thing for me. Aside from the thoughts of "Do people think I'm a terrible writer?" or "Is my grammar and spelling correct?", there is the simple fact that as a disciple of Christ, in order to practice living authentically, I have to write about how the Holy Spirit is working in me personally. That's not always my favorite thing to share...


Yesterday I read this quote:

"Be careful not to dehumanize those you disagree with. In our self-righteousness, we can become the very things we criticize in others...and not even know it."


Whoa, that was very convicting to me. During this past year, there have often been times of clear disagreement. But, let's be honest. That's not new. It has always been easy to question how someone could have this or that opinion, or how they could say or do this thing or that thing.


Often we let these things drastically affect our view of people as we begin to retreat from relationship. I know this is true of me. And yet, many of these people are part of God's family. We are all different, but when I retreat from relationship, I begin only to see people as the things I see them post on social media, the opinions I disagree with, and ultimately as objects that no longer deserve my respect or love.


Jesus died for ALL OF US! We are all loved by God and created by God. And, we are commanded to love each other. It is hard to want to pursue relationship with someone who holds drastically different views than I do. But pressing in, pursuing with the love of Christ is exactly what I am called to do, commanded to do, set apart and chosen to do.


Philippians 2:1-5

"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus."

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God IS Faithful

What we talk about when we talk about God’s faithfulness

I had a great conversation today.

A colleague and I were discussing God’s faithfulness — or, more specifically, we were talking about the language we use when we’re calling out his faithfulness. The way we point to a “win” — a financial windfall, a goal met, a quick save, an obvious blessing — and we’re quick to frame it as evidence of God’s faithfulness.

You know what I mean? It feels like the right Christian thing to say. “Wow, things went really well — I can clearly see where God was faithful this year.”

But those wins are no more evidence of God’s faithfulness than the losses. Do you ever forget that? I do. God isn’t faithful because he provides what we need. He isn’t faithful because he has a plan. He’s faithful because he is faithful. Just like he is love and he is good.

It’s essential and true but I forget it all the dang time.

And remembering this made me think of Jeremiah 29:11.

(You know the verse — and if you don’t currently own a mug or a notebook or a picture frame with Jeremiah 29:11 on it, you probably did at one time.)

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”

So comforting! So inspiring! So misunderstood and turned into a personal promise of a life on the upswing! (Wait, that last one wasn’t very catchy …)

Here’s one of many resources if you want to dive deeper, but what it comes down to is this: While Jeremiah 29:11 is not a promise specifically to each of us, it is a powerful statement about our good God. His love will not protect us from trouble. But he will give us the hope and strength to thrive as we live through those troubles.

Because God is faithful and always has been. End of sentence. No illustrations needed.


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Affirmation

Hello,


At Tuesday Night Bible study this week we talked about affirmation. There is importance behind affirming one another! As a body of Christ, we are to build one another up, but specifically, build one another up in the spirit. This means going beyond just complimenting each other but truly affirming each other's qualities and characteristics, spirit-given giftings, wisdom, and so much more. Yet, why is it hard to give affirmations and even receive them? After we are affirmed, we feel good, we feel accomplished, we feel seen and cared for! We need to encourage more of that in the church! 


We asked this question, "what is an area that you need affirmation in?". This made us all squirm a little bit. Doesn't that seem a little bit 'needy' to say aloud? But aren't we all needy? We were designed to be in relationship with God and with one another! We were never designed to be alone. We were created to be in fellowship and community. We DO need affirmation! But affirmations that are coupled with God's truths. To be affirmed that we are his HOLY, CHOSEN, and DEARLY LOVED daughters. To be affirmed into the kingdom because of what Christ did on the cross. We are affirmed in the abundant grace that we receive from God on a daily basis (or every minute basis too). We are affirmed in knowing that we have hope in eternal glory beyond all compare. Be affirmed in knowing that YOU are his inheritance, you were rescued from darkness and now bask in the kingdom of light. Be affirmed in knowing that YOU were his plan all along, that there are no "strangers and aliens" (Ephesians 2:19) in the family of God. Be affirmed in knowing that God is ALWAYS on your side, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).


You read those affirmations and realize what a mighty and good God we worship! Those affirmations bring such a sense of peace and joy. Those are the affirmations that we need to remind each other of. When the enemy whispers doubt or lies, let's SHOUT these affirmations and drown out the enemy's voice with PRAISE! This week, as you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to reach out to someone, I hope you'll listen and send a quick message of affirmation and encouragement! 


"Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing"

-1 Thessalonians 5:11


~Cindy Goding

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Come Alive

"Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!"

These are words we heard a lot last weekend as we celebrated Easter. What if we greeted each other like that on a regular basis? After all, everything we are is because of the fact that Christ loved us, died for us and rose from the dead. This is something we should be celebrating every day. I don't mean by having a big dinner with family or singing only Easter songs all of the time. I mean, let's celebrate Christ's resurrection and our life in Him by living each day for Him and by His strength. I think sometimes (often?), our daily lives may not reflect how "alive" we are. And yet, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation. You are made alive by the same power that raised Him from the dead.


At the Tuesday Night Women's Bible Study we continue to talk about the Alongsider Study. This past Tuesday, we talked about and practiced "wondering" about each other and about God's Word. We are learning about deepening relationships with others and God by asking questions, even "out of the box" questions, wondering.


"Be curious about God. Remember Jesus' provocative statement 'Come, and you will see'? [John 1:35-39] He arouses our curiosity to know more about Him. This insatiable curiosity leads to a wonder about His person. Wonder leads to worship." (Bill Mowry)


When we practice "wonder", we experience life. Wonder infuses new life into our perspective, our conversations, our relationships, and our reading of Scripture. When we live with a sense of wonder, our actions reflect this. As we live in awe of our wonderful Lord, acknowledging His greatness and His work in our lives, we cannot help but worship.


I encourage you to practice wonder. If you can't remember how, listen to the children- their little lives are filled with questions of wonder. (And here's a plug for volunteering in children's ministry!!). It's spring time-what a great time to look around outside in wonder about nature coming alive again after winter! Listen to the people in your life. Think about them, listen to what they are saying, and see the ways God is moving in their lives. When you read God's word, read it with a sense of curiosity. Ask questions you've never asked before. Come alive and worship our Lord!


2 Corinthians 5:17

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come."


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Promise in the Unseen

Hello!


"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

-2 Corinthians 4:16-18


It's so easy to be distracted by the things that are "seen". Those "momentary afflictions" can feel like mountains, heart break, or even complete despair. I remember when Sharon was sick, there were so many days where we would just look at each other and cry out "this sucks". And it's true, our momentary afflictions are never fun. They stretch us to the max, make us break down, cause uncontrollable sobbing, or even shake our fists in anger at God and question why. 


Yet, it's important to remember of all that we cannot see. We are being renewed daily, by God's grace. This grace that we don't deserve and yet he gives so freely and lovingly. As we struggle through our momentary afflictions, God is right by our side. He doesn't leave us while we are struggling, he doesn't wish us luck and walk away- he's right there step by step. He's whispering quietly, "keep going my holy, chosen, and dearly loved child, you'll see the blessings, keep going". 


Pastor Andrew encouraged us to find a promise of God this week and hold onto it. 


Here are just a few that I've found-


Isaiah 41:10 He is with us, he will strengthen us.


Deuteronomy 31:8 He will never leave nor forsake us.


John 16:33 In him, we will have peace, he has overcome the world.


Psalm 32:8 He will guide and counsel us.


Matthew 11:28 He will give us rest.


Jeremiah 29:11 He will give us hope, and a future.


Philippians 4:6-9 We don't have to worry or be anxious, He will guard our hearts.


James 1:2-3 There is a purpose behind our trials, they produce faithful perseverance.


Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for us, we only need to be still.


Romans 8:28 He is working for our good.


Isaiah 43:2 When we go through trials, he is with us.


1 John 1:9 When we confess our sins, he will forgive us.


And the list goes on...


WOW!! Look at this very small list and reflect on those amazing promises for a moment. We could probably spend days upon days coming up with the promises of God and the list would still be incomplete. That is because our God never fails, he never ends, he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow! So if you are struggling through momentary afflictions that feel like they're going to overtake you, I encourage you to lift your eyes and look to the things that are unseen. To the weight of glory that we cannot even comprehend right now. Start listing the promises of God and rest in the fact that he ALWAYS fulfills his promises.


~Cindy Goding

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Hope

Hello Meadows Women!


Did you know that the first day of Spring is this Saturday?!! I have lived in the Midwest for the last 27 years- the majority of my life (gasp!)- but every year when we get our first taste of Spring I get excited...and happier.. and hopeful. Only to be disappointed when we get weeks like this one, right after our taste of warm weather. After 27 years, you might think I'd be able to keep from being disappointed and simply be thankful for a warm reprieve between cold spells, knowing that Spring will come eventually. But every year I get another reminder to do a heart check about what I am putting my hope in. 


  "Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming." I Peter 1:13 


"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23


 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparable great power for us who believe." Ephesians 1:18-19a


Praise the Lord that our hope is not in something as fleeting as the first taste of Spring. Our hope ultimately is not in something at all, but in Someone! Jesus is faithful. He has called us. His power is incomparable and works in us- this same power that raised Christ from the dead! Let us pray as Paul did that "the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened" that we would know the hope, hold unswervingly to the hope, and set our hope fully on Christ who is our Hope!

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Still

As I was praying about what to write this week, I was led to the word "still". It seemed strange to me because this is the week the Women's Refresh Fitness group started. Why would I write about being still when we are being motivated to move? However, the more I thought about this, the more I realized what a great week it is to focus on the word "still" and how appropriately it goes along side the idea of "refresh".


When I looked up the definition of still, it was defined as "(adj.)- undisturbed by wind, sound or current; calm and tranquil; (n.)- deep silence and calm; stillness. (v.)- make or become still; quiet."


I have a few favorite verses that use the word "still" in them:


Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still."


Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."


I'm guessing these words speak to all of us in this busy world. Most of us find it easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, and if you're not busy, our culture certainly makes it feel like you should be! However, this busyness is the opposite of where God leads us. He wants to restore our souls. While being over-busy leaves us physically tired and spiritually depleted, resting beside the still waters that he leads us to restores our souls. It's hard to discern how to get out of this state. Whether you are someone who works hard in a job outside the home or in the home, trying to maintain relationships with family and friends, taking care of children, and seeking to engage in ministry and community within the church, busyness is hard to avoid!


However, the last phrase of Psalm 23:3 is helpful to me as I consider these things- "for his name's sake". What are we doing for His name's sake? The Lord is your Shepherd! Where is He leading you? I pray that we would all be keeping our eyes and ears open to be very aware of the still waters He wants to lead us to in order to restore our souls.


Isaiah 30:15-18 gives us a lesson of warning. Although it was in "repentance and rest" and "quietness and trust" that God said the Israelites would be strengthened and saved, they chose something else. However, vs 18 is a verse of hope: "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him."


I encourage you to learn what it means to be still and listen to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern how He wants to bring restoration to your soul as you follow Him "in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake." AND this will look different for each of us! For some of this may mean being physically still, but for all of us this means looking to the Lord for His refreshment- even as you move about physically!

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Fitness Fresh Start

Meadows Women’s Fitness Fresh Start!


Come one come all! Beginning March 8th, we will be starting a women’s fitness focused group that will go through the month of March. This will be an opportunity to work on our health together in a fun and intentional way! You will be provided with a month long fitness plan (modifications available), healthy recipes, and a prayer/accountability partner. We will also have opportunities to laugh, workout, pray, worship, and study scripture together. This group will be adapted to fit everyone’s needs! 


Each week will have a new workout plan provided that you can choose to use, or come up with your own ideas (walking, running, yoga, etc). The plans will be Monday-Saturdays, and Sundays will be days of rest and rejuvenation. We will follow the church’s reading plan for scripture study and intentionally spend time in prayer with each other. We will utilize the Faithlife app for communication and encouragement.


We are God’s CHOSEN, HOLY, and DEARLY LOVED ones! We are encouraged to care for our bodies because they are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit! This doesn’t mean to be perfect, this means we are desiring to grow in our spiritual health, but also work on our physical health. 


“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

-1 Corinthians 6:19-20


We have a couple opportunities to “gather” together in community to encourage and support each other. The first is Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm. We will be having a Prayer Power Hour together each week in March. This will be an hour long time to share what is on our hearts and pray for each other as a whole group. You will also be given a partner for accountability that you will connect with personally throughout the week for more intimate and intentional time through small interactions. But WAIT...there’s more… SATURDAY morning Workout Warriors! It will be each Saturday in the month of March from 7:00-8:00am in the gym at church. This will be an opportunity to gather IN PERSON (or via zoom if you prefer). I KNOW this is early, but doesn’t it sound SO good to have started your day moving your body, listening to worship, praying, and studying scripture together?? (There may or may not be a little incentive for coming each saturday!!)


“I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

-Romans 12:1-2


If interested, contact Cindy Goding,


cmgoding@gmail.com

630-437-1864



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Women Who Fear the Lord

Hello Meadows Women,

This Sunday we will gather together to worship as we do most Sundays. Even though things have looked different than other years, we have not stopped gathering on Sunday mornings to worship, whether it is via live stream or in person. Most Sundays we pray, sing together and listen to teaching from God's Word. On some Sundays, like this Sunday, we also take communion. However, it is what happens between Sundays where it is evident if our activity on Sundays really impacts our lives.


This past month, Pastor Andrew has been preaching on our shared member value of affirmation and the things that can be obstacles to that value. Some have been stirred up as we heard about things that often divide us. As we listen to God's Word being presented, we have the same choice that we have as we daily spend time in God's word throughout the week: "Am I willing to be changed by the Word of God? Am I willing to obey?" God does not ask us if we like what He says, or even if we agree. He tells us that His Word is life to us, and we demonstrate our love to Him by obeying. 


This Sunday we will gather to worship as we do most Sundays. This Sunday we get to participate in communion, a reminder of Christ's death on the cross, but also a reminder of the unity that He invites us into. In a time where we may want to cling too tightly to our own preferences, opinions, comforts and traditions, let us be willing to put those aside in order to be unified with Christ and each other.


 Let us be women who truly love God. Let us walk in obedience, not preference. Let us cling to what is good. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30) Let us be women who fear the Lord, whose daily lives bear witness to the fact that what we do on Sundays actually affects the rest of our week.  

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