Women and Church
 
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What if I told you that women today are finding it increasingly tough to fit in in their local church?

Maybe you’re one of these women, and you’re like, “Yes! That’s me.”

One reason is that for many women, what they do in the home or workplace (running a business, setting broken bones, annually accumulating ridiculous air miles, or managing a household and Lord knows all that entails) calls for them to reach into the deepest parts of who they are, and by the power of God in them, do the thing!

It demands that we live out the Scriptures real time:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
— Colossians 3:23,24

If you’re like me, I take that verse, and a heap of other passages like it, very seriously.

These places and experiences beyond “church” buildings afford women opportunities to spread our wings and do our thing. They call us to dig deep. To build. To lead. To be creative and work with other like-minded people to get the best out of us.

I wonder - do a large number of women today feel like racehorses in the marketplace, who are then confined in the church to a small, fenced-in yard? “Walk around here, little filly.”

This should not be!

Dear women, look at your gifts, your skills and expertise.  As soon as you’re able, go to someone in leadership at your local church and offer who you are to the service of God.  I know it can be frustrating, but do it anyway.

The blood, sweat and tears we pour into other areas of our lives, God is reclaiming for His Church to build His kingdom!

 

In Christ, 

Nancy

I’m real because God is so real.

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Ask God to make a way for you to use all that you are in your church. Maybe you’ve tried. I know. Try again. First, offer your heart and all to God. Then with a humble, tender, but strong posture, make known what you hold for use in His Church.


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Letting Kids Really Go
 
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David’s almost home!  After two-and-half years of living in Shanghai, China, our guy’s coming back!

When David, our first-born son, sat down with us over three years ago to express his thoughts on heading to China, Cam and I were surprised.

“Tell us more, honey.”

He did.

God has much in store for your life. Go! As long as you’re moving towards something and not away from it, David.”

Next thing you know, he’s cracking the Mandarin language and buying a one-way ticket to China.

Many people have asked me how I could be ok with this. “Don’t you find it hard? Don’t you miss him? I could never do that,” they say. Of course it’s hard. But since when does, “it’s hard” mean you shouldn’t do it?

So here are a few thoughts I have for those of you who are preparing as your child heads off to their next milestone, be it college, study-abroad, marriage, missions, or first grade:

1. Your job and honor is to discover who they are and call them out. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

This verse is all about discovery. You get to discover your unique child’s way. It’s not cookie-cutter.

2. Get out of God’s way. God has called your son or daughter. They’re on a journey with Him regardless of whether you know it, see it or like the way it’s shaping up.

3. Resist fear. Look that kid in the eye and tell them, “With God, all things are possible. Go with God.” Don’t let your fear hold them back.

4. Don’t control them. That’s about your fear. Love them. Cheer them on. Speak words of life and truth over them. Side coach. Bless, and don’t control.

5. Pray. Pray. Pray some more.

Are you going to cry? Maybe.

Will it hurt to say “good-bye?” Of course. But, do it anyway.

And in most cases, it’s not like they’re moving to China!

Much love in Christ,

Nancy

I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Prepare your words of en-courage-ment to that son or daughter. You have the opportunity to be a part of what God’s doing in their life.


 
Nancy HicksRelationships
Disappointment
 
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Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:6-7

I remember watching a movie several years ago where the nastiest trick was played on a girl turning sixteen.

A bunch of “popular” teenage girls said they’d come to her party. The single mom - with little resources but all the love and anticipation of celebrating her daughter’s sweet sixteen - had gone all out. She’d arranged the guest list and invites. She decorated their little, unimpressive house, made all the food, and like a giddy teen herself, pranced around nervously, awaiting party time!

7:00 came and went. 7:15 - still no partiers. 7:30. 8:00. No one showed.

Heartbreaking. 

No friends. No gifts. No “Happy Birthdays,” no “thanks for the great party.”

Nothing. Nothing but the realization that people can be so cruel, and life is full of disappointments.

Maybe you relate.

  • Maybe you’ve made a plan this summer that didn’t quite pan out.
  • Maybe you hoped to take time with family, but couldn’t get the schedules pulled together. 

  • Maybe an unexpected expense crashed in.   

  • Maybe it rained

  • Maybe the hotel you booked didn’t look at all like the website.

  • Maybe something broke, like an arm or a relationship.

It wasn’t as you’d expected.

And expectations can be demands.

So make the plan. Hold it lightly. Watch it happen - now or later, or not as you thought it was to be. Then when you’re disappointed, because of course you will be, communicate with grace and love.

IN CHRIST,

-Nancy


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Tell God about your disappointments. If it’s a “someone,” go gently and prayerfully to the one who has disappointed you. Share your heart, but make no demands.


 
3 Most Important Things in Growing in God
 
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You’ve heard it over and over, I’m sure: when you buy a house, the three most important things are:

  1. Location
  2. Location
  3. Location

OK. Seems pretty important.

The same is true for growing in God. The three most important things are:

  1. Relationship
  2. Relationship
  3. Relationship

There’s no getting around it.

You may say, “Wait a minute, Nancy! What about love? What about Scripture? What about prayer and church?”

Oh, no, I’m not forgetting. All of these serve to nurture the relationship that God called us into when He dreamed of us. Crafted us. Breathed His life-giving breath into us.

“Look at you. Just look at you. Let me love you and lead your life, dear child,” He tenderly says to each of us.

Relationship is central to God. He’s not interested in your rules and religion. He’s not impressed or warmed by them. He also knows how twisted and screwed up you’ve been. How wayward and nasty you can be.

None of that scares Him away.

He’s interested in you turning to Him and letting Him love you to wholeness. How incredibly kind of Him.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Think about the healthiest human relationship you have. What’s it like? Now apply the good things you’ve learned about that to God.

  • Talk and listen
  • Laugh
  • Tell Him everything
  • Go for a hike together

You get the picture.


 
Forgive Your Kid
 
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Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
— Psalm 25:7

Have you ever thought about forgiving your kids? If you don’t have kids, think about other kids in your world who haven’t made life easy at times for you or the people you love.

I was driving along yesterday, noodling and praying about speaking on bitterness and its antidote - forgiveness - when all of a sudden, the Lord took me back to some things with my own children. Wait! I don’t think I’d forgiven them.

Of course, when my boys said they were sorry for something they’d done, I said, “I forgive you,” to them, but I don’t think I’d ever really forgiven them for all the other things we adults bear. There is pain that’s caused and comes on a regular basis that doesn’t necessarily get confronted. We adults (especially parents) carry a lot for these sinful, rebellious kids.

There’s a reason the Psalmist wrote, “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.”

When it comes to my own junk, I can easily look back and cringe at the sins and rebellion of my youth. “Oh, God thank you for forgiving me of my jealousy, envy, judgmentalism, haughtiness, anger, lying, disrespect, sexual impurity…” The list goes on.

Then I think about what it was like raising my two sons, David and Aaron. The sons I love with all my heart. The ones I poured my sweat, blood, and whole life into. Those guys.

For some of you, this is obvious: Raising your son or daughter is no picnic. You’ve spent many a day and night forgiving them.

For others, what could this forgiveness look like?

Perhaps:

A) God, first of all, I remember the sins of my own youth (be specific) and ask your forgiveness. If you’ve already done this, then just be reminded: Wow! He forgave me ALL those and every other last one in Christ Jesus. Thank you, God. Then,

B) God, I now think about my children. I pray this verse over their lives.

It’s akin to Jesus on the cross praying for those who spit, mocked and nailed Him there in the first place: 

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.
— Luke 23:34

If you’re looking for a graduation gift, an additional one that’s not in an envelope or a Bed, Bath and Beyond box, go to God and invest in some time with Him on forgiving your (or somebody else’s) kid.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Don’t go to the son or daughter, but do work this verse through with God. Kids will be home this summer. Kids will be graduating and moving on.

Invest in your souls and relationship this way.


 
Stacey Wei
I Remember Mom
 
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I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.
— Philippians 1:3

Dear Mom,

For eighty years, you lived, and countless times you’d say, “Do you remember when we….?”. Then we’d tell stories and belly laugh ‘til we cried (or vice versa), I just want you to know: yes, I still remember.

  • Yes, I remember your great big smile.
  • Yes, I remember you being my biggest cheerleader.
  • Yes, I remember you playing baseball and jump rope with us kids.
  • Yes, I remember the story of you standing in the cold Canadian winter waiting for dad to pick us up after Dumbo and he never showed up.
  • Yes, I remember you selling the contents of our farm (saddles, horses), and then the farm itself, to make ends meet when Dad left us that day.
  • Yes, I remember how much you loved game shows, and later, cooking shows.
  • Yes, I remember you working full-time.
  • Yes, I remember every bit of time outside work being dedicated to your three girls.
  • Yes, I remember the clicking sound of your high-heels.
  • Yes, I remember standing at the bus stop in Toronto on Sunday mornings to get to church before we even owned a car. (I remember you making me wear pants with my nice dresses to stay warm. NOT my favorite memory.)
  • Yes, I remember us not being able to go to McDonald’s when all the other kids got to go because you were saving the money to take us to nicer restaurants where you could teach us etiquette.
  • Yes, I remember you pouring over your Bible and commentaries to keep learning about God.
  • Yes, I remember you teaching us to always, always bring our gifts - money included - to the Lord and that He would be faithful and multiply them all.
  • Yes, I remember you telling me: “Nancy, soften your voice. No red lipstick.” (Sorry these never took.)

So many memories, Mom!

I’m glad I got to be your daughter. I’m glad you’re joyfully in His presence.

But I miss your voice and your face.

Love,

~ Nan

I'm real because God is so real


 

Your Calling For Today

If your mom’s still living, book a date (one-on-one) with her. Play, “remember when….” And tell the good stories. Or pick up your phone, sit with cups of your favorite things and do it long-distance.


 
Stacey Wei
If You Had Been Here
 
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Living for God can be tough, especially when you know He has the power to do all things. He knows all things and is over all things and then … hard stuff like death happens. I have a friend who died just a couple of days ago, so allow me.

I was meditating on the death of Lazarus in the scriptures and this jumped out at me:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. John 11:20
— John 11:20

I paused as I read this. Why? Why did Mary stay back? The scriptures don’t say.

But the next verse, reads:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Vs. 21

I believe this gives a strong indication of what the conversation might have looked like between Mary and Martha after they sent word of Lazarus' illness to Jesus:

“Now that Jesus knows, He’ll get here and do something.”

“He heals people he doesn’t even know. Of course he’ll heal Lazarus. We’re his close friends!”

“I hope he gets here soon. Time’s running out.”

“He’ll get here. It’s Jesus. He loves us.”

But he didn’t. And Lazarus died. (Not the end of the story.)

A few verses later, Mary finally goes out to meet Jesus and says the same thing her sister said, “Lord, if you had been here…” Vs. 32

Mary - sensitive, trusting, and deeply in love with Jesus - must have felt so hurt by his lack of action on their behalf. Sensitive, trusting people are like that.

Dear friend, if you have an open, trusting heart, and you know God - what He’s able to do, what He’s done for others – if you’re struggling to express disappointment and hurt over God’s seeming inaction, (“Lord, if you had been here…”), believe and know this:

He is here. And He has been here in every sense of its meaning.

What you see is never the whole story.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real


 
 

Your Calling For Today

When have you wondered or openly expressed, “Lord, if you had been here…”?

For many of us, we wouldn’t necessarily utter the words, but we can begin to stand back like Mary did, withholding our hurt hearts from Jesus. He wants to hear and heal you where it hurts, dear one. Don’t pull away.


 
Stacey Wei
Room For All
 
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Have you ever had the experience of walking into a place where you didn't feel like you belonged? Whether you belonged or not, it felt like you didn't.

Wrong room. Wrong place or time? Why are you here? Wrong! Move on.

(True confession: I'm feeling this way now as I head to Dallas for a conference this week.)

Once when I was on faculty of a national conference, I had to walk into a cafeteria of four hundred people attending the conference. I wasn't new to this week-long event - people knew me. And we were already halfway through the week. But that morning, I was feeling a little shaky and alone.

Here's what happened:

I walked into the cafeteria for breakfast balancing my eight-month-old, David, our tray of food, and the emotions that rose up in me (and are rising up in me now, even as I write this today):

Where do I sit? Swallow. Find an open place and put down your stuff. Find a place!

Feeling the nerves and insecurity, I moved toward a table and did just that. I put down the tray, hauled over a high chair and proceeded to set up.

Along came a woman who said, "Oh, someone's sitting in our seat."

Now, there was no trace of someone setting up before me in that particular seat.

"Your seat?" I questioned with a bit of punch.

"Well, we've been sitting here all week. It's our table." (No, we were not assigned tables.)

"Well," I said, "by all means, have your table."

I picked up my tray, moved my baby and his high chair, feeling really annoyed. OK, angry. And hurt. I felt I didn't belong. And actually, she made it clear that I didn't.

Couple thoughts:

  1. When this happens, acknowledge the feeling and turn to God. "Ugh. God, I feel like an outsider. I feel alone and small."
  2. Know what is true: There's always room for you at God's table. He accepts you. In fact, you get to humbly know Him better in this place.
  3. When you've found your place - because most do at some point - look around and now, you welcome in. Make Christ-like room for others.
They love the places of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called, ‘Rabbi’ by others …”
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves.
— Matthew 23:6-8, 11,12

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you're the kind of person who needs to "own" something like a seat, a pew, a friendship group, a position, whatever, practice moving beyond it. Mix it up. Change seats. Invite others to join you. We're not in grade school anymore!


 
Stacey Wei
The Gospel, Culture, and Women
 

I love lofty ideas. I’m a visionary and not particularly practical. I like to think broader and bigger, then surround myself with people who know more than I do and have strengths I don’t have to make it happen.

When I say I want to spend the rest of my days, “raising up women around the globe”, I mean it. And by God’s grace we will. (Doesn’t that sound terrific?)

Then you begin.

You head out and into different cultures, and you discover through people’s words and works that women are low on the totem pole. I’m talking about people who say they’re Christians. The new pattern (the gospel) is laid over an old pattern (the culture).

You face the reality of cultural norms, moorings and strongholds that fly in the face of the gospel.

What do you do with that?

First of all, if the Good News – that God loves us and wants to be in a life-giving relationship with us, so sent Jesus to remove all barriers to that relationship - is true, it’s true everywhere. It’s true for all. It supersedes culture.

For example, when I hear of believers beating or belittling their wives and I have the opportunity to speak into that, I’m not telling them to stop just because it goes against my American cultural norms or laws or democratic justice system. It goes against JESUS. It goes against the gospel!

But oh, it’s tough.

What do you do when beating your wife or hating your enemy is so entrenched in a culture?

The gospel must transform culture.

The apostle Paul was up against this in the first century: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2.

But how?

Cultural transformation begins with personal transformation. You, dear one, must be transformed. Especially if you’re a leader. Especially if you’re a male leader. Those who study organization and cultural change state that nations don’t transform. People do.

 

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Read one of the gospels. Take as much time as you need. Then take note of every encounter Jesus has with women. What do you notice?


 
Stacey Wei
Dei Volente
 
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God willing. I remember my mom saying this so often, “We’re going to Florida this summer ... God willing.” Or, “If the Lord wills, we’ll be there!”

Sounds so uber-spiritual, doesn’t it? Especially if you say it in the Latin - Dei volente - ‘cause it just sounds so elevated, classical and spiritual.

Well, Latin may be out of date, but Dei volente is not. It’s needed now, maybe more than ever.

We’ve officially come to a time in our lives when we’re “like” God. Thanks to phenomenal advancements in technology and science, we’re:

  • Omnipresent - I can be visually connected with my son, David who lives in Shanghai in a New York minute.
  • Omnipotent (all powerful) - We can nuke people or at least shut them off or down with the flick of a switch.
  • Omniscient (all knowing) - A friend of mine and ministry leader, Pamela Snyder, once said, “One little girl was asked in her Sunday school class, ‘Where do we go to find anything we need in this life?’ Her answer? “Google.”

Yeah, we got it all goin’ on. We have the world by the tail. Everything’s at our fingertips.

Then I remember:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow...

Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’
— (James 4:13-15)

Does this mean you should say, “Lord willing” every time you turn around? No. Though it doesn’t hurt now and again. But with the assertion of every plan you make - Thanksgiving gatherings, travel, moving, job change - your attitude must reflect that you’re really not in charge. And this takes practice. Your plan needs to be in submission to God’s plan.

Spend a day, just practicing at every turn, “Dei volente.” See where that may lead you.

IN CHRIST,

NancySig200x200.png


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

The next time you're moving quickly, connecting yourself and finding answers at the tap of a button, reflect on James 4:13-15 and ask God to help you practice "Dei volente."


 
Stacey Wei
Waiting
 
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Are you in a state of waiting?

What exactly are you waiting for? For those of us who celebrate the resurrection, waiting is the name of the game. After all, this was only Jesus’ first coming.

Mark 16:1-7 tells of the women who, in their desperation and grief, wait for “the Sabbath to pass.” They then head out early on the third day with spices to anoint Jesus in the tomb.

Huddled together, other disciples would have been waiting to experience the fallout of the crucifixion.

“What’s to become of us?” “Where do we go from here?” “What was that?”

They’d have known it was only a matter of time before those who knew they’d followed Christ came plowing down their doors.

Waiting.

Sure, today we have to wait for the big day too. But we can head to Costco in preparation or go to the movies. Oh, sure we’re waiting for the family to arrive and the meat to marinate, but doesn’t quite compare, does it? All our waiting is on this side of the resurrection.

But waiting can also, like for the first century church, be brutal. We’re all waiting for something.

  • The phone to ring.
  • The text to come.
  • The “yes” to come.
  • The weather to change.
  • The spouse to arrive.

So, like the women who followed Jesus all the way to the cross, then to the tomb, remember this:

In their waiting, they moved out.

Actively wait. In prayer. In hope. In expectation. In Christ.

IN CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

While you wait for what you wait for, lean into Christ. Love Him. Trust Him. Worship and watch for Him.

And move.


 
Stacey Wei
The Woman
 
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Holy Week - the most beautiful week in all of history. It’s a week where scheming, self-serving, power-hungry souls serve to highlight stunning love.

We catch this contrast in a scene from Mark. During Holy Week (Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread) two thousand years ago, along came … a woman.

She entered the home where Jesus was reclining at a table. She brought with her an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

That’s it. That’s what she did.

The exchange between Jesus and the woman is a striking contrast to the dark backdrop of the powerful religious leaders who were plotting to kill Him, and the “who’s who” reclining at the table who were indignant at the women's behavior.

Jesus defends her multiple times, saying:

  • “Leave her alone.”
  • “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
  • “She did what she could.”

And the centerpiece:

Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.
— Mark 14:9

Who is this woman? What’s her name?

We don’t know.

Is she wealthy? Poor? Did that year’s wage-worth of fine fragrance use up all she had, or did it come out of her family fortune?

We don’t know.

But we do know her loving act was in response to having been so loved. Apparently, that was identity enough.

I pray it is for you, too.

IN CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus as the forgiver of your sins and the leader of your life, if you don’t know Him as the One who outrageously loves you, tell Him you receive all He offers you today. I’d love to hear from you, dear one.


 
Stacey Wei
Me Too: Remembering Tamar
 
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Sometimes watching the news makes me crazy! Lately, between the Trump/Stormy Daniels scandal, and the airing interview of OJ Simpson’s “confession,” my mind can’t help but go to all the women who’ve been objectified. Abused. Killed.

Don’t dismiss or blame women today for saying “enough is enough.” If righteousness and justice matter to you, even though it’s never the whole story, support and appreciate women who are stepping out with a collective not-on-my-watch push-back.

And remember: Not every woman confidently joins the collective voice. Not every woman has the support to do so.

Take Tamar for example.

2 Samuel 13 describes the terrible dysfunction of King David’s family. In particular the rape of his daughter, Tamar:

“’No, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don’t force me! Don’t do this wicked thing…What about me?’…But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her." Vs. 12-14.

That’s right. Rape right there in the Bible. (Don’t say the Word of God is not relevant for today.) What makes matters worse is the abuser is family - Tamar’s half-brother, Amnon. And he’s coached in shrewdness by his cousin, Jonadab. Sound familiar?

Right now, as you read the text I’ve shared, are you quietly whispering, “Me too”? Do you join the millions of women who have been overpowered, disgraced and violated?

Tamar was royalty, the daughter of King David. But after her attack, “she put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping…then lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” Vs. 18-20

Tamar lived at a time when she had little recourse. She lived at a time when she, the survivor of abuse, could only take off her royal robe and put on the shame of the abuser.

  • If only she had a King to come to her aid.
  • If only her father had defended her.
  • If only her misery had been exchanged for healing.
  • If only her shame had been heaped on another.

Today’s devotional is for every #METOO woman who, like Tamar, covered her body, her beauty, her pain in ash-stained sackcloth.

DEAR WOMAN, there is One who has fulfilled the King’s duty. One who took on the shame of violence against you. There is One who defends, provides, drapes you in royalty and calls you out!

King Jesus is His name.

IN CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, if you openly or silently echo, “Me Too,” turn to God. Turn to the King who has done, is doing and will one day do something about it.

Prayer: “Oh, God, I come to you with my body that was violated. I bring to you my hurt. My memory. My hiddenness, anger and fear. Exchange my ashes for the beauty that was always mine because of You. In Jesus’ name.”


 
Stacey Wei
Be Who You Are
 
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I love my church! Our congregation has some of the best people I’ve met anywhere. It’s a teaching-type church that has an emphasis on the Scriptures and the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. They love beautifully.

AND we don’t hold the same theology about women. (Yes, based on the very same biblical texts.)

“Nancy Hicks, what are YOU doing in a church like that?” several people have asked.

Please hear me: The men and women of this congregation care deeply about honoring God by remaining true to Scripture, and yet, disagree on this non-essential matter. (Essential matters would include, who is Jesus and what did he accomplish? And Are the Scriptures reliable, hold authority and inspired by God?)

My Story:

A few years ago this topic surfaced for a larger discussion. As a leader, I was asked to sift through documents and have many meetings to try and come to some point where, while we may not ever change from being a complementarian church (women may not hold certain positions in the church) to an egalitarian church (women may hold any position in the church), we could at least have a better understanding of where we mis-stepped on the issue. (“No pastoring” morphs over time into “no” to lots of things. Yikes!)

After I said all I wanted to say, I remember stepping out of a meeting and hearing the Lord so clearly:

“Nancy, don’t worry about this. I’m the one who moved you out of leadership in worship. I’m the one who moved you into Women’s Ministry. You really think anyone is going to thwart my plan for your life?”

I stood there eyes wide, listening and marveling again at our great God. Then (and this is my biggest point for you, dear one):

"You step into who I’ve called and created you to be right in front of them. Don’t be a brat. Don’t be divisive or smug or difficult. Just step into who you are. Do it now.”

And I did.

And so must you.

In CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Has this ever been an issue for you?

These are the things that can create such division. Or you can use it to blame others for why you’re not on fire for God and actively involved in His work.

Ask Him about this or anything else that you may be using to hold you back.


 
Stacey Wei
Celebrating Women
 
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March 8th is International Women’s Day! The more I thought about it, the more a day just wasn’t enough. So hope you don’t mind, but for the month of March my focus on all platforms - Instagram, Facebook, and these email Notes - is going to be celebrating women!

(If my focus in this ministry weren’t women, I’d likewise pick a month and celebrate men!)

When I started this ministry, I didn’t want the often-present fears and tensions around female leadership in the church/inappropriate relationships/inequality/etc. to shape who God had called me to serve. I love people. I want to see both men and women come alive in Christ Jesus.

But, the more we as a team drilled down and prayed, the more it became clear that a major part of our work would be - raising up women around the globe.

As I’ve served in various countries, and now in preparation for East Asia (can’t say where), I’ve found so many amazing women who are such workhorses in the church. Yet, much of the biblical and leadership training still generally goes to men.

I get it. I just want to be a part of making sure everyone is equipped to serve in their God-given callings.

So hang with me over the next month as we celebrate beautiful, fascinating, powerful women. Because as the late General Evangeline Booth recognized:

If a woman loves, she worships. If she champions a cause, she’ll fight for it. If she gives, she gives all. If she lives for, she dies for.

All glory to God! in whose image he created them - male and female.
— Genesis 1:27

In CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Think of one woman you hold in high esteem. Why do you feel this way about her? If she’s still living, tell her!


 
Stacey Wei
Color Blind
 
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During Black History month, I want to share a thought about colorblindness.

Decades ago there was a surge of “colorblindness” that emerged to deal with racism. What a lousy idea that was! Who wants to be colorblind?

This is a behavioral approach to a deep-seated issue. Moral management. Like putting a bandage on a gaping wound or trying to dust off a stronghold.

I get the intention: Let’s not judge, oppress, continue in our unconscious biases, or engage in racial profiling. If color’s causing these issues, let’s try and erase color. So the fix is: “I don’t see black or white.” (Or “I don’t see male or female” is another one on a separate, but related issue.)

No! We want to see the differences! Difference is exactly what God designed, ordained, and loves!

So how do we address this long, painful history of racism? I mean, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Right. So let’s begin to catch a vision for God in the differences. When you see an African or Caribbean American person, for instance, you begin to get a fuller picture of God and what thrills His heart. And, at the very least, value it.

Catch this:

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb…
— (Revelation 7:9,10)

 

If this doesn’t thrill you, at least appreciate that this is God’s culmination of His magnificent, colorful Kingdom!

In CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Notice your reactions to people of color. In honor of Black History month, specifically notice your thoughts, reactions (or absence of them) toward African/Caribbean American brothers and sisters.

The first step is awareness. The next step is to tell God: “I notice this in my life. I’m pretty sure it’s not ok with you. Help me see the beauty in your diverse Kingdom, oh, God!”


 
Stacey Wei
The Acid Test
 
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"Love is the acid test of Christian Spirituality. If Christian conversion is authentic, we are in a process of becoming more loving. If you are not becoming more loving, something is seriously wrong."

Dr. David Benner wrote that. I love it when things are put out there like that with no wiggle room. Jesus did that a lot. In fact here’s how Jesus said the above:

They’ll know you’re mine by your love.
— John 13:35

"But," you say, "wait a minute. Not all that seems like love is love. Some things get misinterpreted as 'love,' but in fact are not."

True. So how can we check the validity of our acid test? And what if we're using the wrong chemicals? Wrong test?

Ask yourself these as starters:

  • Do I cover up my wrong-doings in some way? Blame shift/lie/shout, "So what? Deal with it!"
  • Do I suck up all the oxygen in the room with me, me, me?
  • Do I get angry quickly when things don’t go my way? (Lash out or go silent.)
  • Do I avoid people who hold different views/opinions on matters that matter to me? (Or do I pounce on them?)
  • Do I find my heart expanding (and darn, it hurts) to include those I didn’t give a rip about in the past?

Check yourself, dear one. Don't let yourself rationalize, explain or wiggle out. Don't do it.

The litmus test of our authentic Christian experience is love. Not sappy, sugary "nice" (which has crept in to becoming a high value for many western Christians as a love substitute), but the impossible-but-for-the-life-of-Christ-in-us kind of love. The kind of love that, like Jesus, gets down and washes grubby feet, (even His enemy's feet, like Judas), then expands to include walking a long, lonely road to some kind of death.

That kind of love.

In CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Really look at the short list above. Be brutally honest with yourself and God. Are you growing in love or not? If not, ask God to fill you with Himself. He IS love.


 
Stacey Wei
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
 
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Will you find it disrespectful for me to explain that I really do love and want God more than I do my “honey, sweety, schnooky” valentine?

Let me be clear: I LOVE my guy. Love my Cam! But, to you my single friend and you who struggle in a marriage: you’re in good company. Even great marriages don’t satisfy.

Frankly, that’s not a bad thing.

We long for a love that will not budge. Will not give way. Will not let go.

Recently a friend told me he’d been soaking in the lyrics for the gorgeous hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” by George Matheson (1842-1906).

Matheson’s fiancée broke off their engagement after he went blind.

Ouch.

Out of that came these words within minutes:

O Love, that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.

When Cam and I were dating, I had an all night “comin’ to Jesus” about the proper position of Cam in my life. At around 3:45a.m., after much wrestling and many tears with God, the matter was settled in the roots of my being, then verbally sealed:

“I want you more than I want Cam Hicks. I want you God. I want you more.”

God’s reminded me of that vow time and again over the 27 years of my marriage to Cam.

There is no substitute for God. No love like His.

In CHRIST,

 
NancySig200x200.png
 


I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Read the words of this hymn again and again. Let them sink in.


 
Stacey Wei
Three Tips to Sabbath Rest
 
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In my last three years as a QVC spokesperson, my category was the Home. I sold a lot of bed linens. “We spend a third of our lives in bed” was a common phrase. But the truth is, we’re not exactly getting our sleep. Sleep aids abound. People are tired.

Here in North America we generally struggle to rest. We’re overriding the natural patterns of rest (which I wrote about in my last devotional). We’re on high speed so much in the day, that even hours designated “night’s sleep” are compromised.

Let’s go back to Sabbath rest. It’s essential.

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

Here are three tips to Sabbath rest:

1. Pick a Sabbath day. It may be Sunday, or some other day, but pick one. On that day, each week refrain from your work. Examples: Housework, paid work, emails if they remind you of work or are work, etc.). Step over things. I know it’s hard. Do it anyway.

2. Slow down. On that day, slow down your speech. Slow down your movement, your driving, your eating. If you’re a brisk walker, go for a stroll instead. Slow it down on Sabbath.

3. Don't make it a rule. Jesus spoke against rigidity. (link to last devo.) Instead, honor God for giving you much needed rest. Honor Him with more space to enjoy Him, but don’t make it a rule that binds you. Be kind to yourself if you simply MUST do something on Sabbath. Just notice if it becomes a habit.

We need the rest.

We…need…the…rest.

In CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Have you tried one of the above before? What works for you? Where do you trip up?


 
Stacey Wei
To Sabbath or Not to Sabbath?
 
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“I’m not bound to the law.”

That’s something you hear often as a defense for not keeping Sabbath.

Here’s another one:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for The Sabbath.” Mark 2:27. True again. Ooooh, now we’re quoting Jesus. We’re not going to dispute Jesus.

Both statements are technically true. But you can be right and wrong at the same time. When you look at the context of Jesus’ statement, (which supports “I’m not bound to the law,” as well) you see why he says what he says. The religious people were coming down on Him for not holding tightly to every little law. Across chapter 2 of Mark, they were nipping at his heels for forgiving sins (vs. 6), eating with “sinners,” (vs. 16), and breaking fast, (vs. 18).

Then comes the Sabbath debate.

What Jesus was communicating wasn’t “don’t Sabbath” but instead, “The tail doesn’t wag the dog here, guys.”

Let’s bring it to today. Where I stand, we have loads of Christians doing one of two things: holding tightly to Sabbath with a lot of rules, or defending our freedom from Sabbath rest, and they are exhausted.

We need Sabbath. Sabbath was built into creation: work six days, rest one, the cycle of seasons, and body cycles (we must sleep or we crash and burn). It was also built into the Ten original laws, or commandments.

We don’t need a rule, but we do need rest.

In CHRIST,

 
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I'm real because God is so real

 
 

 
 

Your Calling For Today

Think about it: Do you tend to fall on the “I’m free (and exhausted”) side of the leger, or “tightly keeping Sabbath” side? If it’s not readily apparent, ask God to show you. Then adjust. If you generally live in the healthy rest-without-rigidity place, thank God for helping you understand and strike the balance.

Next week, some tips to grow in this area!


 
Stacey Wei