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Bring the Good News

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" Isaiah 52:7


This past Sunday, we were able to hear about the work that God is doing in the middle East and how God is using people to be His hands and feet to minister to people who need to know His love. Today I received a prayer letter from another of our global partners in Indonesia about what God is doing there in and around them. Both of these people are following Christ in carrying the good news of salvation to people on the other side of the world.

I always feel blessed and, honestly, somewhat emotional when I get to be around one of these amazing people who are brave and yet, so humble, as they are such examples of taking up their cross and following Christ. I am constantly reminded of that verse from Isaiah that speaks of the beauty of the feet of those that bring the good news.


However, they would never want me to be in awe of them (and I'm guessing would definitely not want me to talk about the beauty of their feet!). Their desire is for Christ to be the focus, for His will to be done. They are simply obediently following God's call on their lives, a call that often seems much more difficult than what He has called me to. If anything, I believe that they would want each of us to listen more closely and submit to God's voice, to pay attention to what and who He has called us to bring the good news to, to proclaim in our houses, our churches, our schools, our workplaces, and our town that our God reigns and that He has made a way for all people to know Him!


I pray that all of us would heed their examples, as we are each called to bring the message of Christ to the people we are around. I would also invite you all to faithfully pray for our missionaries. Engaging in prayer for our missionaries is another way that we partner with them in God's work around the world. They need our prayers!


Romans 15:30, "I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf..."


If you don't have a list of our missionaries, you can email me (eryn@meadowsfamily.org) and I will send you one.

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In God's Presence

How many times do you get together with close friends with a specific agenda in mind? I'm guessing, unless there has been an issue in the relationship or you are planning something together, "agenda" is not a word you use when you meet with a close friend. We usually just appreciate the time together to fellowship, to catch up, to see where the conversation goes. It is another opportunity to knit relationship together, simply spending time.


I was reminded this week about how God delights in His people (Zephaniah 3:17), and He simply wants us to pour out our hearts to Him (Psalm 62:8), to spend time with Him (I Chronicles 16:8-12), but so many times, if I really think about it, I have an agenda when I meet with God. I usually have a list of prayer requests, or I want to learn a new truth or experience a certain emotion in order to be able to say that my time with God has been good. I want to learn to sit in God's presence, with my focus on Him (Hebrews 12:1-2), with my mind set on Who He is (Isaiah 26:3-4) just for the purpose of being in His presence and connecting.


Practically doing this is hard. We struggle to be still. We struggle to set our minds on the Lord without asking Him for something and without our own expectations. I want to encourage all of us to come into God's presence, to be still, and to focus on what the Bible says about Him. Let us not come expecting anything other than the promise of His presence (His presence with us is real, whether or not we feel something specific!). Let's pour out our hearts to Him and tell Him about our days. May Psalm27:4 be our prayer:


"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."

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Sufficient

II Corinthians 12:9

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."


All I have to do is hear the alarm go off to be aware of my weakness. Some days I don't think about it and just go about my day, but more often than not, I wake up well aware of my own insufficiency. How often I wish I had more of my own strength- more physical strength, stronger will power, stronger self-control, strength of character, etc...


I'm so glad that God knows far better than me what I actually need! He created us! He knows that, more than our own strength, we need Him. I think we need our weakness to make us aware of our need for Him. And not just once in awhile. The line from the well known hymn runs through my mind, "I need Thee every hour. Every hour I need Thee."


I think it's easy for me to focus on the end of 1 Corinthians 12:9 and to interpret it simply that He will empower me in my weakness as I recognize my need for Him. "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you...'" His strength is made perfect in my weakness, but He said His grace is sufficient for me! The definition of "sufficient" is "meeting the need of ; legally satisfactory." Praise the Lord that His grace is sufficient! His grace has pardoned my sin and bought my life, and His grace meets all of my needs. All. My. Needs.

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Invitation to Beauty

This past week we returned from our vacation out West. We saw so much beauty it was almost overwhelming. I could post so many beautiful pictures, but this is the one I chose. And here's why...

When I think about the diverse aspects God's creation that I was blessed to see- from mountains to canyons, from ocean to desert, amazing sunsets and stars- I am reminded of Psalm 8:3-4, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?"

God, the all-wise Creator, the One who has created the massive mountains, the details of the tiny humming bird, and all of the beauty we see around us, cares for the details of our lives. More than this He invites us in to the beauty of His presence.

I don't know if you noticed the sign in the picture between the camera and the beautiful beach in the background. It says, "Private. Keep Out." As sinners, we deserve to be kept out of God's presence. Although that sign should be for us, we have been invited in to fellowship with Him because of Christ's work on the cross and resurrection from the dead. We get to enjoy the beauty and refreshment of reconciliation and relationship with the Lord, and He makes us His people, a part of His family . How amazing is that?! This is our life and hope!

It's easy to keep our head down and not notice the beauty around us when we are back to our everyday lives. I realize that Rolling Meadows just isn't comparable to the Badlands, Yellowstone, PCH, or the Grand Canyon, but there are still beautiful things everywhere if we open our eyes. Let's never stop being amazed by the beauty of being in God's presence and worshipping with His people. Let's fight the temptation to live distracted by what is around us instead of focusing on our life in Christ.

I pray Paul's prayer from Ephesians for me and for you.

Ephesians 1:18-21

"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 incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."

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Reckless

"I have one desire now- to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it"

-Elisabeth Elliot


Can you imagine? What would that look like? The definition of reckless:  without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. What if we lived for Jesus without caring about the consequences? How would we change, how would we affect others? 


I think about the word reckless and my children come to mind. When they tend to be reckless is when they are usually filled with complete and utmost JOY that they forget the world around them. And I must admit, it's contagious! I find myself smiling or laughing along with them.


The sermon on Sunday was such a reminder of the GREATNESS of God's word. But not necessarily the physical Bible, that's just a book, but when it's planted in deep and fertile soil, it becomes transformative. WOW! Are you feeling like you are good soil? Or are you feeling like you're stuck in the thorns or stuck on a path where the birds are coming at you? God's word is living water, it refreshes, it rejuvenates, it pushes you back to where you need to be. So dig back in! 


"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart"

-Hebrews 4:12


So it's not the nice leather bound book sitting on the coffee table, it's the words that are within and what you do with them. Can we allow God's word to seep into our souls, to flourish and produce GREAT fruit? I have a feeling that if we truly become intentional about growing in God's word, we will find we start to live recklessly for Christ. Imagine what that would look like, the freedom we would feel.....


~Cindy Goding








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More and More

Today's Bible reading was as usual, a very convicting passage. (PS if anyone else would like to write about how they have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and get it posted for all the church to see, I'd totally welcome being out of the hot seat!)

I could just rewrite the whole passage which is just full of convicting words, but you can read that yourself- I Thessalonians 4:1-12. For the purpose of this blog, I'd like to just focus on verses 9 and 10.


"Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more..."


First of all, lets just note the point about being taught by God to love one another. We have all been taught by God to love each other. John 15:13 tells us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jesus taught us by example how we are to love each other. We certainly can't use the excuse that we didn't know how or to what extent we are supposed to love each other.


Second, Paul pointed out that not only were the Thessalonians loving as they'd been taught by God, but they were loving the brothers throughout Macedonia (you can click here to see a map of Thessalonica and Macedonia). And let's remember that Paul was writing a letter from over 500 miles away (at a time when there weren't cell phones), which means that the Thessalonians had a reputation of loving their brothers that had spread throughout the region. Wow! That is the reputation I want for to have myself and our church!


Third, Paul wasn't just congratulating the Thessalonians on their good reputation. He was also urging them "to do this more and more" . Hmm. I get the idea that there isn't supposed to be a limit to our love for each other, that we don't get to take a break from loving on another. Instead, our love for each other needs to be consistent, so that we have a reputation for that love in our congregation and community, and yet constantly growing.


Sisters, we have the Spirit of God inside of us! We have been given the power and the command to love one another. I have loved the many ways I see (and experience) the women in our church loving each other well and supporting each other in so many ways. Let's pray for each other that we will do this "more and more" !

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Lay Aside the Weight

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. — Hebrews 12:1


I’ve been coming back to this verse a lot lately — and the idea of throwing off extra weight to more effectively run the race ahead. When I’ve read this in the past, I often conflated the idea of “every weight” with “sin.” But that’s not what the verse says! There are so many positive things that can hold us back.


For me, the weights are there when I go too broad. When I take on too many disparate tasks and priorities, leaving little time and energy to focus on moving forward. When I feel obligated to yes. And since this post is for a group of women, I know many of you can relate.


You know who can talk about this more brilliantly than I can? The inimitable Beth Moore, right here [LINK TO https://lifewaywomen.com/2014/05/20/beth-moore-article-draft/].


I encourage you to click over and read the full thing  — because a weight I’m personally throwing off is the instinct to rewrite something someone else has already written well 😉. But at least let me encourage you with these words from her as you consider the weights in your own life:


Be careful not to conclude that every minute of free time or recreation is automatically a hindrance to your spiritual fruitfulness. God commanded rest, and many of us are dying for lack of it. If we’re not sure whether something in our lives qualifies as a hindrance, let’s ask Him! Let’s listen over the next few weeks as He speaks through His Word and through our circumstances. Let’s also be sensitive to a churning in our souls or a growing unrest or discomfort toward that particular thing. We’ll know. And when we do, let’s ask God for the strength to pitch it. One way we’ll know it was His will is that, even while we miss it, we’ll feel relieved.


Praying you all get the rest God calls you to this week — so you can do the work He has for you with joy!


Julie Smith

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Not Alone

1 Peter 5:8

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."


How many times have you felt like you were the only one who struggled with something? How many times have you experienced temptation, failure, depression, anxiety, you name it, and felt like you were alone? Alone is exactly where our adversary the devil wants us to be. And Scripture tells us to "resist him, firm in our faith." But how do we do that?

The words that follow remind us that we are not alone, "the same kinds of suffering that you are suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." Not only are we told that we are not alone in our suffering and temptation, but Scripture tells us that Jesus also suffered temptation.


"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18


And


"Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help." Hebrews 4:15-16


Jesus understands our weaknesses and treats us with undeserved kindness! What an important truth to remember when we are tempted to isolate ourselves in our suffering or shame! We will find help and mercy when we approach the throne of grace.

And if we are promised to receive this from God, how then should we treat each other? Scripture tells in numerous places that we are to treat others as Christ has treated us, bearing with each other, forgiving each other, loving each other, not judging each other, growing in grace and accepting one another- knowing that we are all sinners in need of the grace of God.

We are not alone. God has given us His Spirit. And He has given us each other. When you are tempted to isolate, reach out to your sister in Christ instead. Ask for prayer. Ask for support. Confess your sins, one to another. We are sinners in need of grace. We are sinners who need each other to resist our adversary who seeks to devour us. We are sinners who have been redeemed and adopted into the family of God. We need each other to remind us who we are in Christ. We need each other to remind us of this truth: We are not alone.


"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." I Peter 5:10-11

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Ministry to Women Update

In spite of all that has happened this past year in the world, I am so blessed as I think about the women of our community here at MCF. We have an amazing group of women of all ages, careers, skills and backgrounds who are bound together by a love for the Lord.

Two years ago, we began doing Women's Story Nights. These have been so encouraging as women have authentically shared their stories of how God has worked in their lives. We were able to continue to do these story nights throughout this past year- even during lockdown via zoom. I believe these have been an important piece to helping our women connect and realize that, though we are all unique, when we share our stories, we see how we are connected.

Additionally, the Tuesday night Bible study has continued throughout this past year. We went through The Ways of the Alongsider and have learned more about discipleship as we have practiced it with each other. We are growing in experiencing how vulnerability and accountability enable us to become more like Christ as we invite others into our lives.

This year we have also partnered with a local ministry to refugee women, Re:new. It has been a joy to see how our women have generously given time and goods to bless these women. We look forward to continued connection with this ministry.

This month, Cindy Goding is doing another Women's Fitness Refresh group, which we hope will bear fruit over the summer with other women joining in and maybe even leading some workouts. These times have been a blessing with women of all ages encouraging each other in taking strengthening our bodies as well as our spirits as we work out, pray and look at Scripture together.

Although we take a break from the Tuesday Bible Study, summer is a great time to gather together and build relationships in a more casual setting. We will also be doing book discussions again this summer, so stay tuned for the announcements of dates and books!

I am grateful for the other women on the Ministry to Women team- Cindy Goding and Julie Smith. I have appreciated their creativity and commitment as well as their convicting and thought-provoking words through their blogs for women (and if you haven't read them, you should check them out via the links in the newsletter!).

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She is Clothed in Strength

Hello!


"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith"

~Hebrews 12:1


While we may not be physically running races each day, or training for marathons, we are all in the race of life. However, our end goal is JESUS, eternal glory that is beyond all that we can compare. 


This doesn't mean that we should forget to "train" our bodies to be ready for that day. Mother's Day just passed and it is such a special day for so many different reasons. Often though, as women (not just moms) we tend to put others first, to serve others lovingly, to make sure everyone else is taken care of around us. In our caring for others, we can neglect our own needs. Our physical, spiritual, and emotional health can be put on the back burner and that takes a toll!


Let's start taking care of ourselves so that we can fully be present to come alongside others! Our Women's Refresh Fitness group is starting up again this Saturday, May 15th from 7-8am. We gathered together on the 8th and completed a 5k and it was so much fun! This Saturday, we will be gathering together in the gym to workout, study scripture, and pray together! We will be meeting May 15th, 22nd, 29th, and June 5th from 7-8am. Again, I know that sounds early, but it is so nice to wake up, move your body and be in God's word!


We will be walking through some of the Psalms this month, so please join in the community! Let's commit to working on our physical and spiritual health together! All abilities are welcomed and encouraged! Modifications for exercises are provided. It's a time of fun, laughter, and fellowship. Workout plans will be provided that are flexible and easy to fit into any schedule and any space!


Come Saturday and check it out! 7-8am in the gym at church.


"She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs at things to come"

~Psalm 31:25


If you have any questions, email Cindy Goding (cmgoding@gmail.com)


See you on Saturday!

~Cindy

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