Be the Bridge Panel – August 30

 

A discussionon Racial reconciliation in the church

If you have been to IF: Gathering before, you have heard about Be the Bridge, a group that seeks to create space and conversations for believers to to tear down barriers that have divided people. Many women in our church have expressed interest in this, but just haven’t been sure where to begin.  On Wednesday, August 30 at 6:30pm at the Northstar Tupelo Campus, Women’s Collective will feature a panel of women discussing racial reconciliation and be given the opportunity to sign up to join a Be the Bridge group that will be meeting at Northstar Church. We will have childcare available upon requests to erin@ns.church.

Join us in praying that God would begin to show us what it means to be a bridge builder, that He would help Northstar be a credible witness for the glory of God, and that people will be pointed to Jesus through the unity of His Church.

In a time such as this, more communities like Be the Bridge are necessary. As a church witness and as a family, especially white Christians like myself, need to be more cognizant and in continual repentance of our internalized fears, prejudices, and cultural preferences. We need to center and continue to center our black and brown brothers’ and sisters’ voices and experiences. We need to submit to, long for, and invest in minority leadership. And as the words in Isaiah 1 lay so plainly, we need to…learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

 Be the Bridge Groups at Ole Miss  

 

What I’d do for Juicy Fruit

By Marla Ledbetter

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“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother (or sister).”  

Proverbs 18:24 NLT

I remember my very first friend.  I was about 5 or 6—back in the day when it was safe for a five-year old to roam around the neighborhood.  Jo was making mud pies and invited me to join her.  That’s all it took.  We became inseparable.  She spent summers and school day afternoons at my house while her mother worked.  I thought Jo was the smartest person I knew.  She taught me things.  We had fun.  But one hot summer Friday, my Mamaw and Papaw were coming up for a few days.  I couldn’t wait for Mamaw to get there.  She always had chewing gum and $2 in her big black purse.

Now Jo had never met my Mamaw.  I wasn’t so sure of how this would go.  I came up with a plan.  Just as I heard them pulling up in the driveway, I lured Jo into a storage room behind the carport to play.  I ran out and locked her by putting a stick in the latch.  I then scurried off to hug my Mamaw and Papaw while Jo was yelling “Marla, don’t leave me in here!  It’s dark and hot!  There’s bugs in here!!  Somebody let me out!!!!”

A few hours later (yes hours), Mamaw  went to get something out of the freezer  to help my mom start supper—the freezer in the storage room—and there she met Jo.  Burning slap up, mad as a hornet, feelings hurt, scared as a rabbit, Jo.  For some reason, Jo made a really big deal about being locked in the storage room and I got in a boatload of trouble.  Of course the question everyone (especially Jo’s momma) was asking—“Marla, why in this world would you do that???”  And even though I felt really bad in the end, I just shrugged and said “I don’t know.”   But as you probably have already analyzed, I did know.  I wouldn’t admit it to anyone for years and years.  But here’s the thing.  I was scared and insecure.  What if Mamaw Ellie liked Jo more than she liked me?  What if Mamaw gave Jo my $2 and my juicy fruit chewing gum?  What if Mamaw thought Jo was cuter?  What if Mamaw thought Jo was better at being a little girl than I was?  How ironic that I didn’t really think about what if Mamaw thought I was mean and selfish by locking my best friend in the storage room!

You know something?  I haven’t changed much over the years.  I have some truly wonderful friends that put up with me, love me, teach me things, but many times because of my unfounded, self-imposed insecurities and fears, I lock you away and won’t let you in.  I’m afraid that someone will think you’re prettier, smarter, wiser, braver, _____________.  (you can fill in the blank)  Why do I do that?  We need each other. I need you.   As Ecclesiastes 4:10 reminds me, I will indeed fall—it’s inevitable.   I need you there to lift me up.  I need a good return for my labor and that’s only possible if you’re there.  And I know you want to be there for me.  But I have to let you be there.  I have to trust you.  I have to unlock the storage room I’ve put you in.  Jo forgave me.  We laughed about it years down the road.  Now I hope you will too.  Come on out.  Let’s play.

Mother’s Day

By Katie Gann

Mother’s Day – I used to never be “bothered” by this day – it always seemed like a routine holiday for me in that I would open my Mother’s Day card from my 6 year old son, call my mom and tell her that I loved her and then maybe take her out to lunch. Mother’s Day had always been a “happy” day – until last year.

During the summer of 2015, we found out we were expecting our 2nd child. A few months later, I walked into an ultrasound room excited to see the baby – when all of a sudden life changed. No heartbeat. Over the course of the next few days I was no longer pregnant and just like that it was over. I suddenly found myself in this deep, dark, and lonely place. I was a Christ-follower, now depressed and anxious and slowly drifting away from the promises of God that I had been brought up to believe. I avoided pregnant women as much as I could. I was jealous, bitter, angry, sad and hurting. I began to reach out to other women who shared their stories of loss with me and it helped to talk about it but still did not take the pain away.

A few months after the miscarriage, I was reminded of the story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat during the storm. The storm was so great that the boat was being crashed by the waves and where was Jesus? He was asleep. The disciples cried out for the Lord to save them and He asked them “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” He got up, calmed the seas and left the disciples amazed that even the wind and the waves obeyed Him. I related to that story so much because I felt like the disciples – I’m screaming at Jesus in a panic state of mind to just “do something” to fix this hurt, to take this pain away, to calm this storm and it felt like Jesus was “asleep”.

We struggled to get pregnant again for many months and began to discuss infertility treatments. The more I tried to control my life and answer my own prayers of wanting another child, the more things seemed to spin out of control. I sat in my closet floor one night and cried like never before. There is beauty in the breakdown. There is beauty in embracing our brokenness and finally giving up in surrender to the One who can heal our hearts and completely restore our JOY.

During the breakdown, I finally realized what Jesus was doing thru this storm – He was changing my heart before giving me what I longed for…he was mending broken pieces of my heart and molding my heart to truly know and understand how WIDE, how HIGH, and how DEEP HIS love is for me. He was working on My stubborn, restless, anxious, depressed heart – and making my heart prepared to love the world more like HIM.

He broke my heart to mend it back together for His purpose. He used a tiny little life to rescue me. Even though I never got to hold that tiny life, I am thankful, so thankful for what that tiny little baby did for my heart and one day I will hold him and tell him that.

Looking back over the years somewhere along the way I realized that I had neglected how precious our Heavenly Father is – But I’ve found it now and let me tell you that the preciousness of Christ is indescribable. He is a good, good Father. Even when it hurts, He is good. On the darkest day in moments of heartbroken despair, He is still good. I finally found my life, my peace, and my joy when I stopped trying to figure it all out and just let God break me, change me, and restore my love for HIM.

Perhaps on this Mother’s Day you are heartbroken, hurting from a loss of a child, or hurting from waiting on a child that you long to have. What I would like to say to you is to fix your eyes on Jesus. While your heart breaks and the storms rage and it seems that waves will sink your boat – lock eyes with Jesus. Have faith – the wind and the waves obey Him. He hears every prayer, sees every tear and knows the desires of your heart.

So whether you are still waiting and longing for a child or hurting from the loss of a child this mother’s day, your waiting and your heartbreak is not meaningless….it is producing an eternal glory…..

“For this momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen, for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

He is working on things you cannot see. Trust Him – Even when it hurts. He is in the waiting. He is in the stillness. He is with you in the season of sadness. He will never leave nor forsake you. Trust the unseen.

On April 2nd, 2017, God answered my prayer and blessed us with a beautiful baby girl. I look at her and am reminded of his promises. I am reminded of His constant, endless pursuit of me – underserving me. In the middle of the storm, his presence was real. I pray that all of you in the season of sadness or the season of waiting will feel his presence this Mother’s Day. May you find comfort in knowing that He is in constant pursuit of your heart and will one day turn your sorrow into Joy.

Just Be still – and know.

 

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Listen

shameka

By Shameka Hill

I’m Shameka and I work in the nursery here at Northstar. If you haven’t been in the kids’ area you are missing out on a great time. We love the children. God has moved me to serve in the nursery because He knows I love babies. Being able to serve is a true blessing that I enjoy doing every Sunday.
Andrew asked me to share this Sunday about what God is doing in my life right now.  After I told him that I would speak, I started to have doubts.  So I decided to open my Bible app to get some words of encouragement. The verse of the day was from Ephesians 6:10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

You see lately God has been telling me to LISTEN. Not just to listen to others, but also to listen to Him and be obedient. If any of you attended the IF Gathering then you may remember my face. I stood up in front of what seemed like thousands of people, and spoke.

Not because I wanted to but because my FATHER told me to.

Part of being obedient is being courageous. God has also given me the courage to attend gatherings that I normally wouldn’t have thought of going to. Or I should say talked myself out of attending.  When I listen to what He is saying and go where He leads me to go I know He is right there beside me even when I’m nervous about doing it.

There’s a fullness you have when Christ is with you and guiding you through daily struggles.  You know He has complete control and the power to solve all of the problems you are going through.

I believe each day is a blessing from God to share His love that he has for me and for you.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is whenever you have fear or doubt in your heart just trust in God because he’ll never steer you wrong.

All The Way Home

jill briscoeBy Jill Briscoe

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me!”
Matthew 16:24

One day in India after a traumatic and wrenching ministry visit, Jesus asked me a hard question. It happened like this:

Shaken, drained, discouraged, sickly
Tired and troubled and depressed,
Glad the time of serving over,
Now I’ll go home and rest.

Hot and humid was the weather
Sad and needy was the crowd,
Feeling I had done my duty,
Earned the time of rest allowed.

Soon I could return to family
“Yes,” tomorrow I’d be gone,
Sitting in the last hot meeting,
I tuned in to what went on.

Listened to my husband preaching,
My, it was a great last talk,
All about the call of Jesus,
All about our life’s “faith walk.”

Stuart opened up the Scriptures
Talked of Jesus’ pain and loss,
How He who was our great sin bearer,
Bore our guilt upon His cross.

What a great word for the students!
Hoped “they’d” listened, yield their hearts,
They were young, their lives before them,
Now their turn to do their part.

Time for prayers of dedication,
I was tired, so late at night,
Shut my eyes and wished it over,
When a picture sprang to sight!

Saw a cross alone, discarded
Lain at rest against a wall,
Who’d lain down such holy symbol?
Who’d abandoned life’s “faith call”?

Then a voice so dear – familiar,
Asked a question – pierced me through,
Who is it that you’re expecting
Carrying it home for you?

How could I lay down that crossbeam?
How to think that no one saw?
Who did I expect to lift it,
Carry it to heaven’s door?

“Jesus, Jesus, please forgive me,
Carried Thou your cross for me,
All the way to hell to save us,
Help me carry mine for Thee!”

“I’m no hero – special woman
Just a lady, old and gray,
But my cross, Lord, I will carry,
Home, Lord, home, Lord – ALL THE WAY!”

Spoke His voice so quiet – but clearly then:
“All the way home, Jill; all the way, all the way home!”

Jill Briscoe © 2012

Where did you put down your faith?
Did you forget where you put it?
Why not take time to talk to God about this?

Read more from Jill Briscoe at tellingthetruth.org.