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Mutuality

Vicki Judd is an ordained minister who served on staff at Bethel Church in Chehalis, WA for 22 years. She currently resides in Longview, WA, is working on a degree from AGTS and watching for every God appointed opportunity to serve.

For the last several months, I’ve been thinking about the verse in 1 Peter chapter 3 that describes the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:3-4) What brought it to mind was a discussion about the wedding vows my husband and I wrote and recited to each other 38 years ago. Our youngest son is got married in December, and he and his bride honored us by asking if they could adapt our vows and make them their own – which prompted this response from my husband,

“Oh no! They are impossible to keep!”

You see – among other things, I said, “I promise to have a gentle and quiet spirit.” And he said, “I promise to love you as Christ loved the Church; sacrificially and unselfishly, even when you are unresponsive, irritable, critical or sick.” And I said, “I will accept your love and never take it for granted. I will strive to love you in an unselfish way, never demanding, touchy or possessive, but patient, kind and never-failing.”

Yikes! See what he meant? Impossible for me. Impossible for him. Mutually impossible.

And that my friends is the key to mutuality – that recognition that we will fail but that we must keep working together for the sake of our unity. I can’t make my husband love me sacrificially and unselfishly any more than he can make me have a gentle and quiet spirit. We can only do our part. Pastor Tim Keller said, “Sacrificial love awakens sacrificial love.” I think it might also be true that gentleness awakens gentleness.

Mutuality is defined:

  1. Felt by each: done, felt, or expressed by each toward or with regard to the other.
  2. With same feelings: having or involving the same feelings toward each other
  3. Shared by people: shared by or common to two or more people or groups

Recently the word mutuality has risen to prominence to describe the kind of male/female relationships desired in church leadership. It’s a better word in my opinion than egalitarian which connotes democracy and freedom – something we might have to fight and struggle to attain. Mutuality is a warmer, kinder word. I like it. Synonyms for mutuality include, sympathy, empathy, support, and affinity. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

We’ve been pretty busy in recent years beating the drum of egalitarianism. For some of us, it has become our soapbox, our identity and our goal. We’ve been clamoring up to the stained glass ceiling and pushing with all our might to break thru. Sadly, we have at times damaged our own reputation in doing so. We’ve been labeled; feminist, liberal, strident and unbiblical.

What if we stopped? What if we just stopped all the ladder climbing and clamoring for rights and attention and affirmation? What if we just stopped worrying about who said we could, and just used the gifts God gave us wherever we found an opportunity? I’ve had to change my rubric, but I’m discovering that opportunities are everywhere! What if we simply refused to become offended? What if we started acting in the spirit of mutuality instead of demanding it?

We have a long way to go to attain mutuality – a true sharing and respect in the area of male/female leadership in the church. Yet I have hope. I have hope because I know many women who are simply choosing to put their hand to the task and work regardless of who gets the credit. In large ways and small, they are speaking up with confidence and grace. Who knows? Maybe someday by God’s grace mutually impossible will become mutually possible.

For further reading:

Philippians 2:1-16 The Message

1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

12-13 What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent

and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

by Vicki Judd

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Love Story of an Ogre

Kara Knight is a 27-year-old licensed minister.  She works at Sox Place, a drop-in center for homeless and at-risk youth and young adults in Denver, CO.  Sox Place exists to bring the Father’s heart to the fatherless.  Kara and her husband of five years, Brian, also are helping with a church plant in Boulder County, CO.  In her spare time, Kara enjoys getting in shape to climb her next 14er, cooking, reading, and watching Doctor Who.

“You ready?” I asked Ogre.

“Yup,” she replied with a smile on her dirty face.  “I only let myself have one drink this morning so I would be sober while I speak.”  I could tell she was proud of herself.

“Great!  Let’s go!”

We were driving over an hour to introduce some ladies to Sox Place.  Ogre had been coming to Sox Place off-and-on for ten years.  She is a train rider – a traveler – if this was 100 years ago, she’d be called a hobo – a train hopper.  If you’venever experienced train riders, then, well, let’s just say they are dirty.  They usually have mud and soot on their skin to the point that you don’t know if they are tan or just dirty.  They smell like a mixture of a boy’s high school locker room after football practice and the bottom of a bar’s dumpster after an especially wild Friday night.  And they never wash their clothes because, according to them, the dirt is what is preventing the fabric from completely falling apart. 

Ogre was no different, and she knew it.

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In addition to being a traveler, Ogre proclaims to be a Christian, and I have no reason to doubt her.  Sure, she has a problem with alcohol and she swears more than a poorly made R-rated action movie.  However, she is constantly trying to live in a way that pleases God, even though she knows she fails in many ways.

So, here we were, on an hour-plus car ride.  Train riders may not be pretty to look at, but they have some of the best stories.  One in particular stood out to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:

Being a good Southern girl, one Sunday Ogre decided she wanted to step into a church to hear “the Word.”  She sat in the back, with her Bible, ready to be fed.  But before the sermon even began, a deacon, in all his suit-and-tie glory, came up to Ogre and asked her to leave because she was “too dirty.”

I’ve heard many-a sermon on accepting people in the church and many-a story about how people aren’t, but to hear such a blatant story of unacceptance blew my mind.  I was angry.  How dare this man – who represented a church, who was supposed to represent Christianity, and, in that way, me, and ultimately represented Christ – show such the opposite of a Christ-like love?  I could begin to feel a hatred for this man, whom I had never met.

As that day – and the days after – wore on, Ogre’s story stayed with me.  I soon realized (with a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) that I had no right to hold a grudge against this man.  We all, including me, have Ogres in our lives – those people we’d rather not have in our church.  We may not verbally tell them to leave, but we wish they would.  And we don’t do anything that would make them think otherwise.  Even the disciples had their Ogres.

Think of the Samaritan woman from John 4.  She, also, was a dirty woman.  She was a Samaritan (think Mudblood), a woman (gasp!), and an adulterer (dirty sinner!).  Three strikes of dirtiness.  The disciples knew it and wondered why Jesus was even talking to such a woman (v 27).  But we all know the end of the story.  Because Jesus displayed such compassion toward this woman, the whole town came to him (v 28-30).

Who are the Ogres and Women at the Well in your life? 

Who are the ones that deserve to be shown Christ-like love even though it is the last thing you want to do?

The young adult with too many body modifications?

The homosexual couple that holds hands on the back pew?

The parents whose children need some discipline?

The teen who wears too-short skirts?

The middle-aged man who wears a three piece suit and thinks everyone else should too?

The little old lady who always complains about the music?

My Ogre is the guy who tells people to leave because they are too dirty.  I want to say, “If you don’t show Christ’s love to others, then you don’t deserve to feel Christ’s love through me.”

But, of course, that’s not true.  Everyone deserves Christ’s compassionate love.  As with the woman at the well, such love may result in remarkable things for the Kingdom!

by Kara Knight

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Laundry Days…

Bri Blakney is a licensed minister in the Assemblies of God. She lived in Louisiana her whole life until recently when she and her husband moved from being Chi Alpha missionaries at the University of Louisiana Lafayette to Highlands Ranch, Colorado to help plant a church. She enjoys staying at home with their 3 children (ages 4 and under) and is loving being a part of Connection Church! You can check out her personal blogsite at briblakney.blogspot.com

Tide coupon

I don’t know about you, but laundry can seem to be overwhelming to me. I can clean my house and leave…and then when I come back I have a clean house…but laundry piles up so quickly!!

And it doesn’t matter if it is just you or five in your family…laundry can be a daunting task!! And it can be expensive too!!

So, here are a few things I’ve learned about laundry…and a good bit of this info came from my ebay book Absolutely Organized: A Mom’s Guide to a No-Stress Schedule and Clutter-Free Home by Debbie Lillard. (And I got this book in hopes of being clutter-free, which I’m working on still! J)

Here is the key…Pick a routine that works for you.

Here are the options:

1. Wash all of your clothes one day of the week and fold that night while you watch TV…or listen to a podcast…or music…whatever…just some of that multi-tasking.

2. Wash one family members clothes per day of the week… kids on Monday, mine on Tuesday, towels on Wednesday…

3. Wash one load and put it away before taking the next load out of the dryer.

I’m sure that there are more options…but the 3rd one was the charm for me!!!

Like I said, I bought the book because I deal with clutter…and I want to get rid of it! So to have a pile of laundry to fold was daunting to me! And I often got interrupted during my folding time – either by a kid or my desire not to fold clothes. And then there would be a mound of clothes to put away…

It really was too much for me.

So, I started doing the one load at a time and putting it away method.

I feel so accomplished!! And if a load sits in the dryer for a couple of days, at least it’s not on my floor haunting me!!

I did have to experiment with the different methods until I found the one that would work for me.

And now laundry detergent is a whole different thing…I love love love the smell of Tide. I just love it!! It makes me happy happy happy! So I budget it in…use coupons and stock up when it’s on sale. That’s how much I love it.

But I have a friend who would rather budget her money somewhere else, so she found a recipe to make her own on pinterest…and it’s working great for their family and saving them a ton of money! Because she had the rest of the ingredients and only had to buy one item, it cost her 97 cents to make a 5 gallon bucket of concentrated detergent! That’s a lot cheaper than my precious Tide!! If you want the recipe, I can find it out for you and email it to you!

What do you do to make the laundry load a little easier?

by Bri Blakney

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Tragedy

After hearing about the unfathomable school shooting in Connecticut, I hugged my little boy tighter than ever.

“Mom, you’re hugging me too tight!” exclaimed my three-year-old. It made me wonder if I hug him enough. I worry I’m too harsh on him. Events like those of this week remind me that every moment we get with our children is a gift from the Lord.

Inevitably, he and my five-year-old daughter will hear the news of the shooting on the radio, from friends or from adults in passing.  My husband and I decided it’s important to talk to them before they hear it from anyone else. Especially with young children, it’s a delicate matter.

How can we, as Christian parents, address tragedy with our children? Here is what has helped us.

1)    Use age appropriate words. For young children, be sure to use terms that are accurate and understandable, but that won’t unduly frighten them.  For example, we explained: “A very bad man hurt a lot of children in a school this morning. Many of them died. Their families need our prayers.”

2)    Know the right time for discussion. Find a time for discussion when your kids will be most attentive so 1) they can understand the seriousness of the topic and 2) you can have the time necessary to discuss how to view such news as Christians. Family devotional time is ideal, if you have one. Allow enough time for prayer as well. When you pray, keep the focus on God’s love for those who are hurting rather than on the evil of what happened (John 14:16).

3)    Reiterate we can trust in Jesus. We might live in a world where evil happens, but we can trust in Jesus for our hope and our salvation (1 Peter 1:3).

4)    Don’t offer false hope. Saying things like “this will never happen to you” only offers false hope and an inaccurate view of the world. As painful as it is, we can only protect our children so much. We must entrust them to the care of the Lord. What we can say is this: God is always and will always be with them.

5)    Read them a narrative story from the Bible showing God’s sovereignty. One story I am finding most appropriate during this season is Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1-19). Jesus was born in very dark times, but He is the light and the hope for the world.

6)    Point them to Jesus. We often assume that because we are Christians and go to church, our children have a relationship with the Lord as well. They need to grow and cultivate their own relationship with Him, however. We can use difficult times like this to talk to our kids about the importance of having Jesus in their heart no matter what circumstances surround them.

I have found that the tighter I try to hold on to my children, the more I lose them. I am still responsible for their care, but in those times when things are out of my control, I must place my trust in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 10:26 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” This verse brings me comfort because “everything” includes my children.

We mourn with those who mourn, but we do not mourn without hope. We trust and believe that God will work through this senseless situation because He is sovereign, and because He is good.

How have you addressed this tragedy with your kids?


Smoking Hot Women of the Assemblies of God

 

“The Word of God is like a fire shut up in my bones.” Jeremiah 20:9.

This is the reason behind our group – because we have the fire of God in our lives!  These journal entries are from young women who are on the frontline of ministry in diverse venues.  Some of them come from different backgrounds, but we all adhere to our belief in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives.