Press for Progress

Progress comes in many different forms. Progress is made on constructions sites, in science labs, school classrooms, and usually with physical abilities. Progress can feel slow at times, but it’s exciting when we see its effect.

The house directly behind us was leveled a few weeks ago. All that remains is a hole in the ground and a pile of dirt. The excavators showed up this week, so before long I’m confident that a wonderful new house will appear. The site is a work in progress.

Truth is, we are all works in progress. As we see each other grow and make progress we are more able to believe God can use us. Your “construction stories” challenge my faith and help me grow. I’m challenged and inspired by my sisters in India, sometimes enduring intense persecution because of their faith; my sisters in Abidjan, who have dodged bullets while serving the church during civil war; my single mom sisters who faithfully maintain purity while raising children to love God; my sisters from the Middle East, who experience much less freedom as a woman than I; my sisters who move (sometimes with little ones) to developing countries to serve, my Caribbean sisters who have endured physical disasters and yet keep on serving others …and on and on. Your faith calls me higher—as God uses you to reach many women around the world with the wonderful message of hope that Jesus offers.

As I engage in conversations and share my faith with women who struggle to find meaning in their lives, overcome addictions, struggle to forgive, and learn to accept that they are indeed loved by God— I am reminded that we are all works in progress. We may  feel like a hole in the ground or a pile of dirt–thinking we have a long way to go.  But, if we let God work on us we will indeed make great progress. Never forget that God works most powerfully through our weaknesses.


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.
 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I recount many ways God has worked in and on my life…sometimes fulfilling my dreams, sometimes thwarting and changing them, sometimes telling me to “wait,” and other times saying “no.”  The victories and struggles all remind me that I am still a “work in progress.”

It’s sometimes tempting to think that God looks at us with disdain, seeing chaos in our lives instead of the love-filled vision he has for each of us. Yet, God continually goes to work on us with his construction tools, full of love and grace.

If a hole in the ground and a pile of dirt in the lot behind me can soon become a beautiful house—imagine what God can do through his spirit to “grow us” to completion as together we build the kingdom of God on this earth.  Imagine his joy as he sees us united in prayer and fasting—praying for personal spiritual progress, for spiritual progress within our churches, and within our families. Praying for progress in lighting this dark world with the message of Jesus.

Since this initiative was introduced I have sought to make progress in genuinely, deeply, and boldly sharing my faith…sharing why I believe in Jesus, what the Bible means to me, and how my faith gives me strength every day during this very difficult time of life. When we focus on areas where we want to grow, we are more prepared to make progress. I was able to share these deep things about my faith with a new friend at the gym a couple of weeks ago who it turns out is eager to learn the Bible, to grow in faith, and to make progress. She loved our first Bible study, loved the church as she visited last week, and was amazed by the love she observed. Tomorrow morning we study the Bible together for the second time.  I don’t often find myself in situations so quickly encouraging as this, but perhaps I’ve just missed a number of them from lack of focus. Either way, I am grateful God is working, helping me to make progress.

Whatever you and your local sisters have planned for March 7–let’s all pray for each other’s progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25). Plan something definitive for March 8, something that shows God and you that you intend to make progress in a particular area.

Then, please share in the comments section what God is doing in your life as you press for progress. That way we can all be encouraged.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspired or Tired?

Last year, as International Women’s Day approached I felt inspired.

So much so, I lay awake at night thinking of ways we, as a sisterhood,  might bring about spiritual change around the world.

I saw picture after picture of women across the globe striving to be bold for change in various ways. My heart ached for them, and I longed for Christian women to make a difference in this world—shining as bright lights in a dark world. Being bold for spiritual change.

We prayed and fasted around the world on March 7. Messages came in from countries large and small, from east to west, in various languages.

Some men and women who were met during our March 8 “acts of boldness” have since become Christians. Praise God!

This year, as we prepare to Press for Progress I am claiming the promise from God in Philippians 2:13.

 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

Why this verse? Because I’m tired. Honestly, lately more tired than inspired. I need desire and power from God. With a full time job and full time caregiving for my ill husband, this season in life is demanding. Perhaps you can relate. You want to be more inspired than tired, but your current situation is hard. Whatever the reason, God can still use you through your tiredness.

He can still inspire you.

God can use whatever weakness and help you make progress. In fact, our weakness is his specialty.

I get inspired by stories of old. David and Goliath. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Miriam, and Deborah. Queen Esther has recently re-inspired me. Her fellow Jews had a great need; they were about to be destroyed.

The date Haman had set for the Jews’ annihilation was March 7. (Esther 3:7 NLT. The NLT uses the calendar used at the time). Esther didn’t see this need for her help. She didn’t even know the situation. She was told of the need (from Mordecai) and she let the need move her heart. Honestly, before this she was not a particularly inspiring woman (to our knowledge). She did whatever she was told to do by her beauty assistants and was part of a king’s harem—a tough environment. Esther internalized the needs, asking others to fast with her. She gained faith, courage, and inspiration from God.

Likewise, I must be reminded of the needs around me. Reminded by taking time to listen to women’s stories. Reminded by the heartaches of the world around me. Like Esther, I need to fast and ask others to join. Because God wants to use you and me for such a time as this.

Esther allowed herself to get inspired. Because she did, a nation was saved. So, on March 7, instead of annihilation the Jews experienced great victory.

So on March 7 the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies. (Esther 9:1 NLT)

On March 8, the Jews celebrated, except for the Jews in Susa who overcame their enemies and experienced great victories on March 7 and 8. They celebrated on March 9.

This March 7 sisters around the world will fast together. We will press for spiritual progress on March 8.

God can bring the victory.

Who knows what he will do through our faith, if we believe he will use us “for such a time as this.”

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Let the needs around us, the stories of God at work throughout the Bible, and the faith we see in others around us inspire us with faith that God will use us—as together we press for progress.

 

(In your comments please share your ideas or good news of ways God is working through this effort.)

 

 

 

Press For Progress 2018

 Save the date!!!

 WHO: The Sisters of the International Churches of Christ

WHAT: PRESS FOR PROGRESS

Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. Yet one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward to Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

In honor of the International Women’s Day

March 8, 2018

WHERE:  In Every city, village, community and home where a disciple of Christ lives.

WHY: To inspire women globally to grow spiritually, connect and advance the gospel.

WHEN:   Wednesday, March 7 and Thursday, March 8, 2018

HOW: Prepare for progress.  March 7th will be our day of prayer and fasting. Asking God to direct you in his steps for the next day.

Press for progress. March 8 is our day of acting on what God’s Spirit has put on your heart.

Some ideas to consider: 

~Wednesday have a women’s midweek, you can break the fast together. Share your plans for March 8th.

~Host a girl’s night out at your home. Start with a prayer for the women’s needs through out the world. Invite neighbors to bring an item that will be given to women and children at a women’s shelter.

~Host a women’s brunch. Invite speakers/guests to share what God has done in their lives to be a confident and spiritually/emotionally healthy woman.

~ Start a bible discussion group at your school, office, or workout place.