Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
This past weekend I was invited into one of the most refreshing and challenging weekends of my life = IF:Gathering, Alexandria 2015. If you have no knowledge of IF:Gathering, do not fret, it is a relatively new platform God is using to reach women throughout the world (literally)--and you can still get involved (see links in the last paragraph). Essentially, Jennie Allen (the founder)had a burdened heart for the women of the world to become a generation of women who were all about living out the Gospel, for real. A generation of women who wrestle with the question, IF God is real, then how should I really be living? What should I really be believing?
Not easy questions to wrestle down. In fact, once one begins to examine what she believes concerning God's realness and how that belief can change the actions (and thoughts patterns) of her life, there are more questions to be grappled with. But rather than shoving the questions under the rug or using positions and positions as elixirs for temporally treating our dissatisfaction (formed from a heart yearning for the things of eternity, but being stuck in the muck of the temporal), the leaders of IF spoke to the calling for all of us to dig into who God has called us to believe we are in Him--for the benefit all people, down the street and around the world.
Jennie Allen, Christine Caine, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, Shelly Giglio, Rebekah Lyons, Bianca Oltoff and others used the story of Joshua to challenge us to truly believe the promises of the Bible, to live them, to write them on our hearts and to teach them to our children--through words and action. They challenged us to stop letting walls of unbelief hold us in captivity...to stop letting walls of lack of understanding and fear of others create divisions, and instead to embrace living life unified (though it may be messy at times) so that God can be glorified in us living out the full Gospel--to love ALL of our neighbors as we would love ourselves. (To summarize 16 hours of teaching into those few sentences does not do justice to all that was spoken...but you can download the full set of teachings to get the rest.)
Wow! What a challenge, indeed--almost too daunting to handle. But these truths were spoken with a love and sincerity that was vitalizing and empowering. I am still not sleeping all that well at night because the worship music lyrics and words of the speakers weigh heavy one my heart, challenging me to seek out the next right thing to do as a mother in my home and a leader in my community. And to be honest, my heart yearns...and aches...and questions...and has me restless. I don't want to be another voice trying to be right. I want to be a voice that brings love, justice, hope and peace. I don't want my hands to serve just to complete a task. I want my hands to move out of love and obedience--I want them to be Jesus' hands, shaping and molding hearts to do Kingdom work. And I don't want my life to be a calendar full of things to do--I want my life to be open to the calling of a God who chooses to use me, not because I am strong, but because I am like Rehab: blemished but focused, discerning and bold enough to believe my God can protect me no matter my location or vocation.
I believe others are pondering some of these same ideas. As a leader of the IF:Alexandria Local Gathering I had the unique privilege to have many women tell me their stories and to hear them step out in faith as they laid down stones as a witness to God's working in their lives. Here is just a little bit of what I got to witness this weekend at IF: Gathering, Alexandria:
I am no Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker, or Christy Nockels (If I could have an IF:Table with these women I would probably pass-out on the spot!), so I know my words have likely come up short in describing the awesomeness of God that we are challenged to experience daily through IF:Equip, but I pray that if you hear God press on your heart to move to action in some way that you will do so with courage. That you will reach out and bring other women with you on your journey and that together we can see God move in our time and in this place--not just so we can have some fun experiences to write about, but so that we can be vessels of God's love and healing to all we come into contact with.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: