If Jesus Needed a Nap…

At last weekend’s Take Heart conference, God showed up in amazing ways. It was an incredible privilege to be a part of what God did. We shared a much-needed laugh with speaker Liz Curtis Higgs, and we shared our burdens through prayer. Then we received encouragement and practical tools for growth from a talented group of breakout speakers.

My favorite part was the ministries expo, where I learned, among other things, about local organizations that

• help women through grief,

• counsel women with eating disorders,

• connect women to resources for special needs children or aging loved ones,

and even

• rescue women from sex trafficking.

It was exciting to learn ways that the Body of Christ is shining Light in a dark world.

It was a wonderful weekend. But the next few days….I was tired. Utterly couldn’t-keep-my-eyes-open exhausted. Which made me crazy. There were things to do—like the laundry that piled up on the busy pre-conference days. Like getting groceries so I could remind my husband what a home cooked meal looks like.

I felt like I needed to keep going, but I just couldn’t move!

As I tried to marshal energy that just isn’t there, I remembered a familiar story from Luke 8 (and also Matthew 8 and Mark 4)—the account of Jesus calming the storm.

You may remember how Jesus spoke a few words and calmed a raging storm for his freaked-out disciples. But what spoke to my heart in my weariness were the words just before the storm-calming part:

As they sailed, [Jesus] fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him… (Luke 8:23-24a)

In other words, Jesus was so tired that he fell asleep and slept right through a huge storm. Tossed and drenched, he stayed asleep until his disciples shook him firmly.

After faithfully serving His Father by teaching and healing, Jesus—the Son of God— couldn’t keep His eyes open.

Sounds a little bit like my post-conference exhaustion. Not that anything I do can be compared to Jesus’s earthly ministry. But it made me wonder.

If Jesus needed a nap, perhaps it’s ok for me—for us—to rest too.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” But perhaps, when we’re done working, we need to follow Jesus’ example and rest.

photo courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

photo courtesy of graur codrin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Perhaps we need to give ourselves into the care of our great Shepherd, the one David wrote about, saying “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a)

So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go take a nap!

Sandy MacMillan

Director, Take Heart

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A Different Kind of Peace

by Karina Whisnant

ImageIt’s hard to walk into a store these days without seeing the peace sign emblazoned on something—cups, clothes, shoes, notebooks—you get the idea!  Peace is a word that is common place to our eyes and ears, but has lost any significant meaning.  We hope for a world that is not at war and experiences “peace.”  We strive to be “at peace” with those around us. We beg for “just a minute of peace” when the chaos of life surrounds us and we can’t breathe.  But, are we really experiencing peace in our daily lives? 

Webster defines peace as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.  That definition seems to indicate that peace is the absence of something, but is that the only way someone can experience peace? Do you see that definition of peace ever being attainable in your present season of life?  I know in my life as I strive to manage a family, a part-time job and a ministry, “freedom from disturbance” does not seem to be in my future.

Even as obsessed as the world seems to be in displaying symbols of peace, I believe there is hope for peace that the world doesn’t understand and can’t help me find. 

As I turn my attention to God’s Word to learn what He tells me about peace, I am hopeful for a deeper meaning.  Are you ready for a real answer?  Are you ready to experience quiet and tranquility that is not dependent on your circumstances?  True peace, as I believe the world seeks after, can truly only be found in a person.  Without knowing God as a personal Savior, true peace is not attainable. 

Let’s follow the trail God gives us in his Word when he talks about peace. 

We have to start first with the gift he extends to us in His Son, who bore our sins on the cross so that, as Romans 15:1 tells us, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”   Accepting God’s gift to us gives us peace with Him.   He then gives us the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power through Him to experience peace. 

What great news for us to know that peace on this earth is not going to come through circumstances—having to wait for things to fall perfectly in line would seem hopeless!

As we abide in Christ, he gives us His peace that transcends a momentary quiet in our world.  God shares in Phil. 4:7 that His peace does not make sense in this world, And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your    

As we experience all that this world brings us, those things that thrill our hearts as well as those that bring sorrow, we have confidence in God’s final promise of life with Him. 

There is reason to rejoice when Jesus tells us in John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

ImageKarina Whisnant loves to “do life” alongside other women. She has been privileged to do that for many years as part of the women’s ministry at Fellowship Greenville. Karina is leading a breakout session entitled “Peace in the Chaos” at Take Heart 2014. In that session, she will encourage women to look at the “who” of the peace in their lives instead of the “what.”

For information about the Take Heart conference, or to register: www.TakeHeartTogether.com/conference.

 

Peace sign image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net

In Daddy’s Lap

By Dee Hopkins

One morning not too long ago, I was on my face before the Lord. I often begin my day that way. There is something about being on my face that closes me in with my Father. It is a way of humbling myself before Him. I almost always say to Him that I am there because I know who He is … and who I am.

ImageAs I lay there, a picture came to me of a little girl in her daddy’s lap, and I thought, “What is the difference between the servant on her face before the throne and the little girl in her Daddy’s lap?” The answer came to me quickly. “Intimacy.” The servant is humble and honors the Lord and awaits His instruction, but the daughter sits near her Father’s heart, listens to His voice, and hears Him whisper in her ear. She holds His face in her hands, and He holds hers. She looks in His eyes and He looks in hers. She sees Him smile. She feels His heartbeat.

I knew that was where I wanted to be – and I knew that was where Father God wanted me, too. I am not saying I (we) should not be on our faces before Him. There is a time and place for that. It is a necessary place – but it is not the only place. Our Father longs for intimacy with us. He wants us to want to be with Him – to enjoy His Presence. After all, “in His Presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

Have you ever thought about the many ways God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) relates to us, reveals Himself to us? He is Father, Brother, Friend, Husband, Lover, Teacher, Guide, Comforter, Counselor, Commander … the list could go on because He is everything to us; but, without intimacy in any of them, we miss the point. Without intimacy, all relationships are superficial. Without intimacy, we go through motions and run the risk of becoming like the people in Isaiah 29:13 who, God said, honored Him with their lips but their hearts were far from Him. He said their worship of Him was made up only of rules taught by men – and it grieved Him.

ImagePsalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls to deep…” I believe this speaks of intimacy – that the deepest part of God would reach to the deepest part of us … and connect. This requires being honest … and vulnerable. What better place to be honest and vulnerable than in His lap? That morning, when the picture of that little girl in her daddy’s lap came to me, I told my Father that my body was on its face on the floor … but my heart was in His lap.

I hope you’ll join me there. He has a big lap. He will make you feel as if you are the only one there. Come to Him. Get really close. Take the risk to be honest with Him – to be vulnerable. There is healing in His Presence … and joy. Be His little girl for a while. He waits for you.

ImageDee Hopkins has a heart for prayer and worship—as an active member of Taylors First Baptist Church, she also serves on the City Church Prayer Team and has spoken on the topics of worship and fasting.  Dee will be leading a breakout session entitled Broken Hearts on Bended Knees for Take Heart 2014. For more information about the conference, go to http://www.TakeHeartTogether.com/conference.

Lose the Diet: A New Perspective

by Ella Walker Henderson, M.A., LPC, NBCC

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

How many conversations each day do women have about dieting? And how much does the dreadful dieting topic increase as we leave the Holidays and Springtime approaches? My guess is that both of those numbers are quite high. Why do women have such an obsessive focus on their bodies and trying to “fix” their bodies?

What if dieting is all a lie?  What if doesn’t work?  What if dieting is actually a multi-billion dollar industry making a lot of money off of consumers that are willing to try anything to lose a few pounds? What if the hope that life will start after weight loss is the biggest dieting lie of all?

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute…. What’s so bad about dieting? Isn’t it good to want to be healthy?” Unfortunately, dieting goals and health are not always the same thing.  Dieting is about a desire to fix your body to become more desirable and often gets cloaked in the guise of health.  Dieting leads people to separate food into “good” and “bad” categories and use semi-starvation as a means of losing weight.

The problem with the good/bad food categories is that it intensifies emotional eating by leading people to think they are “good” if they eat the good foods and “bad” if they eat the bad ones. Often people decide, “Well, I’m bad now anyway so I might as well finish off the rest of these cookies.”  Or sometimes people try to eat as many of the “bad” foods as they can before the dieting starts, knowing they are about to deprive themselves.  A much better approach than swinging emotionally between the two categories is one of balance. There are certain foods your body needs more of than others, but fat is still something your body needs. God never said you can’t eat cookies (remember, Paul tells us in Romans 14:20 that all food is clean), but if you are eating cookies to the exclusion of other foods you need (like fruit) then something may be out of balance.

The other major dieting problem is calorie restriction.  Restriction of food intake can be dangerous and can even trigger the development of an eating disorder. If you are hungry from not consuming enough calories, you may start to crave the forbidden foods on your “bad” list.  And one of those foods certainly won’t be enough because you are starving! And then afterwards, because of all the guilt and shame, you start to restrict again and on goes the restricting and over-eating cycle.  This cycle can lead into binge-eating or if someone sways too far on the restriction side then patterns of anorexia nervosa can begin to develop. God gave you hunger signals for a reason – follow them! They lead you to more balanced eating.

If you have been a long-time subscriber to the diet-mentality, you may want to consider a book that can help you start to challenge the diet mentality and realize a whole other world of freedom in eating and taking care of your body is out there.  A great book to start with is Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch.

Instead of the weight loss focus of dieting, what if what God really wants is for you to take care of the body He has given you.  Our bodies are not our own but are temples, dwelling places for His Spirit (1 Cor 3:16).  Don’t let the dieting illusion fool you any longer: we are powerless when it comes to “fixing” ourselves.

As we let go of the diet mentality, we can open ourselves to the power of God at work in us: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:7).

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Ella Walker Henderson is the director of Living Bread, a ministry to those battling eating disorders. She is trained in the treatment of eating disorders, as well as in the integration of Christian faith and prayer into counseling sessions. Ella will be leading a breakout session entitled “The Dangers of Our Dieting Culture” at Take Heart 2014 (March 28-29 in Greenville, SC).  You can connect with Living Bread at www.livingbreadgreenville.org. For conference information and registration, go to www.TakeHeartTogether.com.