Swept Away Retreat, Honoring God

As I stated in my previous post, I love conferences and retreats because of how they allow us to pull away from life and focus on God and fellowship with our family of believers.  If you’ve never been to one, they are often based on a theme for the general sessions.  Then, there are often breakaway sessions where you can get a little more personal in a smaller group. These sessions may be related to the theme, or offer additional topics.

I am a person who likes to take full advantage of these events, and soak in as much information as possible.  But, you can usually only sign up for a few topics and will have to pick and choose wisely.  When you are a presenter as well, then it means you have even less options.   This past weekend’s event included topics like coping with loss and sharing your faith, as well as personal testimonies.  I presented on a topic that is dear to my heart, the pursuit of knowledge.   The session I attended was about honoring God with our words.

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This couldn’t have been more perfect timing, since just last week I was reflecting on my propensity for sarcasm.   So, I’m going to start my personal recap on that session first.

Honoring God with Your Words

The first thing I wanted to point out, and I think this something we all need to hear, is that our speaker spoke from her own struggle. Too often when we have an opportunity speak on a subject, we will begin to disqualify ourselves based on our personal failures.  Yet, the best speakers do not speak on subjects that they never had trial with.  NO!  They speak on the subjects they overcame (or are in the process of).  Our speaker shared how this was an area that God had been working on in her life.  What I also appreciated is that she quantified that statement with the fact she had struggled with it for YEARS, God had been working on it in her for YEARS, and she still had more work to come.

The second thing I wanted to point out is that her presentation was almost entirely based on scripture.  She put the effort into finding the scriptures on the subject, and even shared how she went about it.  She was pointing us all toward the process of seeking God’s word on a subject, over our own opinions or how the world wanted us to view the subject.

We were given a two sided paper, each side had four columns.  On one side the columns were the ways that we use our words in a God honoring way, but on the other side were the ways we use our words in a way that does NOT honor God.  I don’t think there was a single woman in our session that didn’t feel the sting of conviction.    We began talking about the dishonoring ways.

Lies:  Proverbs 6:2, Ezekiel 13:8, John 8:44, and Proverbs 19:5

Gossip:  Proverbs 18:8, Proverbs 16:28, Romans 1:29-30a, Proverbs 20:19

Quarrels:  Psalm 64:3, Psalm 55:21, 1 Timothy 6:4, Proverbs 21:19

Long Winded Speech:  Proverbs 10:19, Ecclesiastes 5:3, Ecclesiastes 6:11, Job 11:3

I couldn’t help but recognize how conditioned we are to lying, that society has created acceptable levels of lying.  Or, how prone women are to get caught in gossip or quarreling over ridiculous subjects.  For myself, I noticed that I am prone to sarcasm in ways that do not honor God or my relationships… or an inability to know when better to stay quiet.  I also realized how threaded together each of these categories are when our speaker pointed out how women have difficulty with awkward pauses or silences.  We tend to speak when we shouldn’t, to fill the void.  The words we speak to fill up that space are often peppered with lies to be relevant, gossip to make conversation, sarcasm or inappropriate humor or harsh words about our husbands and children.

There is a reason so often in the scriptures we are warned to guard our mouths, that the tongue is referenced as a weapon, or that we need to avoid foolish quarrels….

Words cut, and they cut deep.  Words betray our heart.  We can put on a mask, an illusion of who we are… but when the words start flowing it’s really easy to begin to see the real person and their intentions.

We have a responsibility in how we use our words, our words should be pleasing to God.

After the sting of conviction, we were able to turn the page and begin to find freedom and comfort in His Word.  God tells us exactly what He wants our words to be.

Words of Praise:  Psalm 34:1, Psalm 71:23, Psalm 35:28, Deuteronomy 32:3

Words of Wisdom:  Proverbs 16:23, Proverbs 12:18, 1 Peter 4:11, Proverbs 17:28

Words of Encouragement:  2 Corinthians 13:11, Job 16:5, Acts 15:32, Job 4:4

Words of Commission:  Matthew 28:19-20a, John 4:41, 1 Peter 3:1, Philippians 2:11

When our words honor God we are blessing Him, and those around us.  Our words are beautiful, and reflect the heart of a daughter redeemed by her King.  They are uplifting, prayerful, thankful, intentional, purposeful, do no harm, sincere, put us in our place in His plan, open doors, and put Christ first.

How much greater is our testimony when we speak of love over condemnation.  How great is our witness when we are lifting others up instead of our own self?  How perfect is our love, when we choose to see the best in others and encourage them as they walk forward?  How many doors do we open when our words are welcoming instead of divisive?

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.”  —- Luke 6:45

You can view our speakers hand out here: Swept Away: Honoring God with your Words

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This weekend, I will conclude this recap with my presentation on Pursuing Knowledge in Changing Tides, from the Swept Away Women’s Retreat.

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SEMINARY? How can I justify it?

 

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Autumn comes, and your church starts making announcements regarding the upcoming Small Groups and Bible Studies.  Sign up sheets are at the information desk, emails come from the church with more information about the studies.  You find yourself looking through the menu of possible studies…

Beth Moore’s Daniel Study

Lisa Harper’s study on Malachi.

Dave Ramesy’s Financial Peace class.

Love & Respect for Married Couples.

The MOPS group is doing the “Frazzled Female” study.

A women’s expository study on the book of Acts.

and the list goes on and on.

They are all good studies, and you wish you could make room for them all, but you can only choose one!

For one second, did it ever occur to you that you shouldn’t study the bible, or what the bible has to say on certain topics?

Did you question if you could afford the book?

Did it ever cross your mind as to whether or not it would be worth it?

I mean, really, what would you do with it?

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You may think those are ridiculous thoughts, but I would like to tell you that those questions are the exact ones I heard when sitting in a workshop about women in seminary.

In the New Testament, we had women sitting at the very feet of Jesus to learn from him.

In 2015, we have women questioning… trying to justify… getting formal biblical training.

There were women in the workshop who were trying to grapple with the commitment it would require to get formal biblical education.  Do I have enough time for it?  Can my family spare the time it would take for me to study?

There were women who were trying to justify the cost of seminary, when we live in a time where information is just a few clicks away.  They were wondering if the family could afford, and if they were being good stewards with their money, by investing in seminary.

The number one question asked:  “What would I do with it?”

So, let me get out my soap box for a moment.  And, let’s talk.

Ladies….

You are teachers of God’s word, every time you give scriptural advice to a friend, teach a Sunday School class or lead bible study.

You are messengers of God, when you show up at the homeless shelter, fly into another country to install water filters, or lean into a coworker who is struggling.

You are image bearers of God, charged with being godly women, honorable wives, and shapers of your children.

If all of our thoughts, words and actions should be God centered, revealing God to the world around us…

… how better is it then, that we get to know God’s word in a deeper way?

We should NEVER have to justify digging deeper into the scriptures.

It shouldn’t need to be justified, it should be a PRIORITY.

Can we afford NOT to?

And the good news is this… if God’s calling you to formal biblical training, God is making that more and more possible every day.

You can download a bible app for your phone or device, for FREE.  We have access to commentaries from trusted sources, at our finger tips, a google search away!

We have books that we can borrow from libraries, download into our kindles, and buy off of amazon on every subject from Early Church history to Apologetics for Women In Ministry.

These are all the right steps to take to digging in deeper.

And if God is calling you to formal education, there are affordable options out there.

There are certification programs and degree programs online, which are less expensive than brick and mortal schools.  Christian Leaders Institute offers a certification on a donation based model.   You give what you can afford.

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Christian Leaders Institute, as well as some other online colleges and seminaries offer degree seeking programs.  The cost for these degree programs are a less than traditional schools, and offer you the ability to work at your own pace.  You can take one class at a time, or a full course load.  There are payment plans and scholarships available for seminary education.

For some, there will be the option of attending seminary on a campus.

The point is that there are options out there, for those who are being called. 

I can not believe that God would ever admonish any of his children for investing money, time and energy into formal biblical knowledge.  Too much of the scriptures instructs us to not just listen to The Word, or read The Word, but to CONSUME it.

If you feel God is calling you, pray that He will reveal to you how to go about it.

Even if it begins with you, a couple of friends, and an open bible.

The Gospel Coalition National Conference 2015

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78 speakers, 49 workshops, 4 days, 1 gospel.
Hands down the best conference I have ever attended.

There are still some seats left, but they will be going fast in these final days to register.

Click through for more information on how you can attend this amazing conference.

#TGC15