Thursday, April 21, 2011

Antioch Women's Retreat 

Holden Beach, North Carolina 

Sweet young ladies learning and playing. 
Who, by the way are SO smart I can't even believe it. 
The maturity in just these two young ladies alone was refreshing. 
It's amazing the fruit of God's Holy Word in a families life. 

The food was, of course, was scrumptious. 

Racheal taught us how to make lovely headbands

The houses were very nice. 
Our house mothers, Tricia in my house ... did an awesome job. They thought of everything and were such sweet servants to everyone. 

We had happy fellowship

This picture is a treasure. 

After the retreat, on the way home ...  not wanting our fun to end ...
We went to Paradise Cafe.
We enjoyed the sun and the conversation. 

Except .. where are Mary and Deborah?  
Those free spirits ran across the road to the beach for one last time. 

How is it that little ones bring so much joy? 

We had a wonderful time. The fellowship, the food and most importantly our time with the Lord through worship and learning.  We used the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges as our foundation for the teaching.

Bridges begins the book with an excellent chapter on defining sainthood in light of the messed-up Corinthians being considered “saints” (see 2 Cor. 1:1). We are called to live as the “saints” we have been declared in Christ. The second chapter — “The Disappearance of Sin” — paints a strong argument that the Church is having a hard time defining and seeing her own sins. The third chapter – “The Malignancy of Sin” – sets out to reveal that sin is not merely what we do but who we are. Our sinful actions spring from our sinful heart. Sin is a “principle or moral force in our heart, our inner being” (p. 24). Bridges then gets into the Gospel as our hope. We can face and overcome sin because of the Cross and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.
Bridges has dressed the reader for warfare.

The “Respectable Sins”
So what sins are “respectable sins”? Bridges’ chapters include the following topics:
  • general ungodliness defined as a sinful attitude towards God
  • anxieties and frustrations
  • discontentment
  • unthankfulness
  • pridefulness revealed specifically in self-righteousness, even in a pursuit of theological accuracy, in prideful motives behind our achievements and revealed in a spirit of independence
  • selfishness with our interests, time, money and inconsiderableness
  • lack of self-control in eating, drinking and temperament, finances, entertainment and shopping
  • impatience and irritability
  • anger, even anger towards God, and the underlying roots of anger in resentment, bitterness, enmity, hostility and holding grudges
  • judgmentalism and a critical spirit over differing convictions and doctrinal disagreements
  • envy, jealousy, competitiveness and being controlling
  • the sins of the tongue like gossip, slander, lying, harsh words, sarcasm, insults and ridicule
  • worldliness shown financially, by our idolatry and in “vicarious immorality,” that is, the enjoyment of watching or reading the sinfulness of others.
And Bridges says his list was whittled down for print!
 Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress: 2007) may be the best yet in giving churches an easy-to-read book that has great potential in small group settings as believers help one another identify — and then mortify — the “respectable” sins of the heart.

We had a lot of response from the truth shared at the retreat. I think all of us came away from that aware that we are caught in "respectable sins" but through the weekend the Lord encouraged us to recognize His awesome power in our lives and that with Him we can over come these sins. 
Personally, I am only working on two in particular. The list in the book is quite long and I can find myself guilty of all of them in one way or another. So, He put a couple up front on the list and we are working on those. In fact, God is faithful. He has been working steadily, like a artist chisels his stone, so God chisels my heart. Cleaning out the sin and hardness. BUT - I have to tell you. Our Lord our God is such a gentleman. He never forces me to change. He works, we talk, we process - I consent to further chiseling. Further progress.
 He never demands, instead He gives opportunity for growth and shaping and I either accept His hand to work in my life or I refuse and stay in that particular condition. 

God worked in our hearts and minds, the teachers were AWESOME. 

2 Corinthians 5:18 -19
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,e so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Some responses from the ladies ... 

What a wonderful weekend with you! I came home to a quiet house and went straight to the bed for a much needed nap :),  I hope the ladies who went are are safely at home and enjoying your families...and the ladies that weren't able to come, I hope you know how much you were missed.  You were especially in my prayers because of the conflict that was going on in my heart before I came.  The retreat is an awesome treasure that I look forward to each year.  However, this year was different in the sense that I still had the knowledge of wanting to go, but I also had oppressive feelings that were trying to overpower that joy and keep me from attending.  I was looking for an excuse, any excuse to just stay home.  But, the Spirit was more powerful and kept telling me not to give in...that if something was trying to keep me from going, that I must really need to be there.  The teachings were wonderful...all of the testimonies were a blessing, the fellowship with the ladies (and babies!) were sweet and Mint's coming to a saving faith was priceless!  I am SO glad I came.  God is good.

Part of the 'excuses' I was coming up with was that I get rundown easily, especially when I miss out on sleep...which I had had such an unusually busy schedule the past few weeks, that I was already past exhaustion.  Knowing that I would likely lose out on sleep at the retreat was daunting, to say the least.

The Lord was gracious to allow for me to come and other than a few headaches (which were massaged away by several wonderful ladies!) I felt good and not as tired as I expected, though I did miss out on the sleep, as expected.  I don't like missing out on the time with you all. ;)  ...

I am very grateful for your prayers and will try to ask more often.  Pride in asking for prayer for "little ole me" has dwelt in me long enough.  I love that so many of the ladies ask for prayer through the women's loop and love the opportunity to pray for you.  Thank you for allowing me to do so. I love you all.


Then another ... 

I want to give a SHOUT OUT to Crystal S., our housemother! =)  From the minute I arrived, she was helping unpack and greeting us cheerfully.  The entire weekend I don't think that lady ran out of steam, and I never once witnessed her lose her patience or endurance for serving others.  Watching her was a blessing!

I want to, with a whole heart, thank Jean P. for being such a caring roomie for me!  She came and checked on me regularly, and Saturday even woke me up in time for dinner (my fever had returned and I was in a coma!).  She was extra patient with me~ as I'm sure I wasn't much excitement for her =)  God is good, and he knew exactly what I would need this weekend.  

I especially want to recognize everyone who cooked, and prepared food ahead of time~  I testified that we have some of the FINEST cooks around all concentrated in Antioch church!  He got a wistful expression, and perhaps a passing coveting thought~ =) I reminded him that he DID make a life long commitment to a gal who "sings" for her supper.=)

Thank you to Cindy, for all your Administration and attention to detail.  I'm so thankful that you were at the helm; the Lord blessed our weekend through your hard work, and your sweet spirit.  

All the younger ladies;  your sweet serving spirits is not only a witness to you mother's testimony, but also that you've taken that seriously for yourselves!  It was a blessing to watch you at work;  serving each other, and happy to do for others as you were needed.  It was a blessing to be around you!

For those of you that did not come; we missed you!!  Each one of you have something invested in you by the Lord, and that thing, which makes you YOU, is valuable and unique.  I'm thankful to have gotten to know you all better; it makes me love you all the more!

This morning, my heart is continuing to rejoice in the Lord's Good Work in Mint!  Praise the Lord for His Salvation!

Blessings and Peace,

 Another sister wrote .. 

On the way home yesterday, Hannah told me that her small group is going to keep in touch with each other through email, so they can keep praying and encouraging one another in their application of the teaching. This is such a great idea! If you other small group leaders want to do this, please go ahead and put that into motion!

Here's a song from Sara Groves. I put the lyrics to 2 of her songs in your booklets because I thought they went with our study. I hope it blesses your heart today!

Another sweet sister said ... 

I say this not to boast Chrissy's ego, but I believe we all need words of encouragement :-) I say this "publicly" because we should all know that we're being watched at all times not only by God, but by others. Our actions often speak louder than words.

My soul was truly blessed and rejoicing this weekend as I saw Chrissy Hahn interact with the babies, mothers and others. Chrissy, you are so wonderful to other people's children! That is a gift from God, not many people have that ability. Then I saw that whenever a mother needed help, you were right there to help with whatever was needed - diapers, running babies upstairs, whatever it was - you did it with such grace. You're attentiveness to other people's needs is incredible. If a person was coughing, you were right there with water. I was blessed to "observe" all that this weekend ;-) We all have gifts from the Lord and this is one that stuck out to me this weekend that I needed to speak up about.

This was Mints facebook message from the weekend, thought you would enjoy:

Came back from women's retreat at holden beach and Opened my heart to THE LORD.I'm very thankful for everything and everyone pray for me.Grateful for this trip so much. ;)

More testimony 

Dear Sisters,
My heart is full after our weekend together.  I'll share just a few of the things that stand out to me.

First, Diane & Phyllis did an outstanding job with the meals!  It was a blessing to see their flexibility and willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done while being gracious to all involved.  Thank you!  I saw so many of you this weekend serving and loving in such a selfless manner, becoming of a saint.  Many who were not feeling well, still serving with love.   It was a blessing to see and receive!  There was a sweet spirit among all the ladies that brought unity, thank you!

I was particularly blessed with Diane's testimony and her eagerness to obey the Lord in submitting to Jim although he is not a Christian, seeing this will speak God's work in her life to him.  I'm thankful we are able to hold her up in prayer in walking out Christ's love and honor for her husband.

I loved watching the young ladies working together and enjoying each others company.  Thank you, Rachael for the afternoon project!

It was sweet to see Julie's tenderness toward Mint when she asked to talk and the harvest brought in from her months of being taught in the Heafner's home.   It was exciting for me to see this direct answer to prayer from many of our ladies!   God is awesome!!

One (of my many) areas of sin for me to deal with is irritability with the children, I am thankful to have an encourager in this from the weekend.  Please include me in that prayer as I need a guard on my tongue when correcting, particularly my older ones.  Feel free to join in talking little this week (we decided one day is not enough :o)  and only using writing in areas of communication that are normally harsh for us, if this is also a struggle for you.

Our weekend was blessed by the ministry of prayer by many.  Thank you to all who committed to praying for this time together.  There were many who took a specific area of prayer and many (some of you ladies who couldn't be with us) who lifted us up and it was evidenced in the work God did and will continue in our hearts and fellowship.  As a part of several conversations, I heard a common desire among us . . . that God would continue the work that He has begun in us and not let us walk away and forget.  I loved Deborah's suggestion to say "here I am" and Cindy's encouragement to speak Mary's words, "let it be to me according to Your word."
 "it is not a hopeless end with God, but rather an endless hope."

Each of our teachers shared in love and much grace.  THANK YOU!!!  As I've come home and talked the teachings over .. (I have much to confess and forsake after each retreat, praise God!) and process things, it seems a common theme has come of all of it for me.  When we start with ourselves and each follow willingly, asking God to show us our heart we can more fully love and be who He has called us to be.  When our eyes are singly focused on Him, not just putting aside but destroying these sins, we are free to accept one another and allow the body to function as it should.  As we put into practice a denial of self and instead seek the glory to be God's, we will be eager to rejoice in our sister's gifts to the body and lift one another up in times of spiritual need.  God's love will be evidenced to all who see our fellowship.  God has been good to us.  I am thankful for you sisters!

You are good to read this far, I will stop there.  There is much to ponder in my heart, God's work will continue, and He is good!

Our one hope is our Dear Lord. He is our Father that is faithful every single day. We will go to Him to receive our strength, power and love. 

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome, Mary! Thank you so much for all the pictures and testimonies. What a wonderful reminder of all God did in our lives. Thanks for investing your time to do this!