Monday, September 1, 2014

Lessons from Women of Faith-Day #1

Women of Faith.  Wow.  Have you attended? Many of you reading this blog haven't had the opportunity to attend a Women of Faith Conference.  Well, buckle your seat belt because I'm going to give you a fast and furious overview of the lessons learned last weekend in Kansas City.  There are too many wonderful lessons that it would be selfish of me to NOT share my learning with all of you!  This post is chalk full of links to the speakers, blog posts, and even YouTube videos, so make sure to take advantage of the random bunny trails links provided.

Friday, August 22nd

Gateway Worship started the evening with praise songs.  I love watching worship groups who have a spiritual gift for music.  It goes beyond having a good voice.  You can just see God shining through each member!  If you haven't heard any of their music, check out my favorite song of theirs--"Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King."  Even though they didn't sing it this weekend, you still need to check it out!

Anita Renfroe filled the Sprint Center with laughter through her witty jokes and HILARIOUS songs!  Many people cried from laughing so hard at her tongue-in-cheek advice about leggings to all women in a song called "Those Ain't Pants."  Sadly I can't find this gem on YouTube, but I found a highlights reel.  If you need a good laugh, Anita is your go-to gal!  She once told her friend, "Laughter is the bridge that leads people to Jesus."

Scottish powerhouse Sheila Walsh started her teaching by sharing a story about picking up pieces of broken glass as a child.  Her grandma shared a lesson that we should all hear when she told Sheila, "Sometimes broken things, when they're brought together, make something beautiful."

Sheila's message was inspired by a couple of scriptures.  The first is Psalm 86:11:
Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
Psalm 86:11 NIV

The next scripture Shelia read comes from the book of Matthew.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

While I've heard that scripture many times, listening to Shelia share the it from The Message brought things to a whole new level for me.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Sheila's message was for us to participate as we ask God to give us an undivided heart.  We can't just sit back and ask God to do all of the work.  One thing she said really made me think: "Imagine all the baggage you've been carrying around inside of you suddenly became visible.  Would you like what you see?  Would you want to carry that home {to Heaven} with you?  As she unpacked some of her baggage on the stage, noted the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt tells me I've DONE something wrong; shame tells me I AM something wrong.  With the recent news of Robin Williams' death, Sheila shared that her dad committed suicide.  She couldn't figure out why Robin Williams' suicide hit her so hard until one day God brought it to light for her.  She told us, "I bought into the lie by the enemy that I was going to do what my dad did."  All these years she was walking around with what she thought was shame about her father's death, but she realized it was fear she was carrying with her--fear that she would end up like her father.  Sheila held on to God's promise of resisting the devil, which is found in the Bible.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 
James 4:7-8 NIV

Sheila pointed out that our fight with the enemy IS real and cannot be taken lightly as she noted, "This is not a playground.  We're in a battle!"  This is why it's so important to cling to the truths in the Bible and put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18). If you're struggling with storms in your life, Sheila's book "The Storm Inside" looks like a FABULOUS resource!

After Sheila's deep message, Natalie Grant took the stage.  Oh my word, talk about being blessed with a set of pipes!  She belted out familiar tunes like "Your Great Name" and her Grammy nominated song "Hurricane," and I sang along like I was blessed with Natalie Grant's amazing voice.  It's socially acceptable to sing at the top of your lungs 1)When you're in the shower 2)When you're around a group of elementary school students who don't care how you sound, or 3)When the music at a concert is so loud that it drowns out your lackluster performance.  Thanks to the crew working at Women of Faith for ensuring that no one around me heard me sing out to God!

While the songs I knew were fun to sing, it was the story behind one song that REALLY got my attention.  Natalie talked about her nephew who came to know the Lord when he was six years old.  Sadly he got addicted to drugs and turned from God.  Natalie wrote the song "Burn Bright" for this precious nephew.  As I listened to her sing, my tears flowed freely as I saw her emotions and her passion for this nephew shine.  While I don't know how it feels to be a mama yet, God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams with 9 nieces and 2 nephews.  It's not a blessing I take lightly.  These 11cuties are the closest I've ever been to becoming a mom, and many times I feel like a mom as I share in their joys and their sorrows.  Every woman--especially mamas and aunts out there--needs to listen to this song.  Warning: By the end of it, you'll be in UGLY tears.  Not only will you have the big crocodile tears, but you will also have the snot flowing uncontrollably.  Arm yourself with an arsenal of Kleenex before hitting the play button.  You can thank me later!

What a whirlwind night packed with laughter, praise and worship, and an awesome reminder of the might God we serve!  Stay tuned for my recap of Day #2 at Women of Faith!

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