EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT REVEALED!!!!

Hello, my friends!

Its Mandy here with you today and I couldn’t be more excited (just ask my team!!) to share with you this special announcement today!!! I’ll let my friend, Karen Ehman, take it from here…

Here are the details that go along with this exciting announcement:

Dates: September 4-October 1, 2017

Sign up will open very soon and we would be so honoured if you would join us!! We have completely revamped the way we do Online Book Study and we cannot wait to reveal to you even more surprises in the days ahead!

Comment below if you are planning to join us!

Without Rival—Week Five, Post Seven

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23: 1-3)

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

Written by: Cindy Morrone

Once upon a recent time, in a not-so-faraway land lived a woman, for her protection, we’ll call her ‘Cindy’.

If we could sit and watch her for a day we’d notice she did regular things like laundry, clean toilets, think of something for suppers and care for her children. We’d see her hug her husband when he came home from work. We’d notice that she laughs and cries, serves and gives, and loves and is loved.

Throughout the day, some peculiar things would take place. Happenings would occur but it’s her reactions to these happenings that really catches our attention.

Her precious ones would run into trouble and immediately she linked that to her own inadequacies. Her husband wouldn’t say what she thought he should say and she’d then believe intimacy was broken. She’d see the measly number of likes on her social media and count it as loss. Her quiet phone screamed lack of close relationships. And suppers? My ‘lanta she hadn’t thought of a new dish to serve for a very long time. With all these things considered she’d wrap her empty longings together and truly wonder if what she did in her very, regular day even mattered.

Quickly she would grow tired, wearisome, and defeated.

Then she’d desperately reach out to someone; anyone willing to listen. She’d try to fix her daughters problems and clean the toilet cleaner. And she just plain gave up on cooking.

But then there were times in that same day that her reactions were completely different, despite her running into the very same situations.

We can see that her longings didn’t change, she still needed to be loved, experience intimacy with her hubbie, have great friendships, well daughters, live a life of awesome purpose—no, it wasn’t her longings that differed. We are a bit perplexed by this until we remember ALL that she has done in that day.

Oh, yah! In the morning, we quietly watched her open her Bible all curled up on her couch with a coffee in one hand and her pen and journal in the other. And, Yes! she sang out loud to that worship song standing right there in her kitchen with her arms raised high. We’ve seen her kneel in earnest prayer wherever she might be and heard her cry over and over for her Jesus to help her.

That’s it! There were times Cindy dry, desperate and thirsty went to the old wells, the ancient wells that could never hydrate her desperately dehydrated soul. And then there were times that she went to the living water; her Jesus.

Much like the story of Photina, as told by Lisa in chapter 9, Cindy finds in her meetings with Jesus that her longings are validated and completely and absolutely satisfied. In His holy presence her empty vessel is filled as she hears and knows in the very depth of her soul what He calls her, “beloved and cherished, prized, precious and priceless, valued and treasured.” (page 219)

Lisa urges all of us dear ones to receive the invitation, ‘Even now I hear Jesus inviting each and every one of his daughters, “Believe me, my valued, treasured, and loved woman, your time has come…” Your time to believe is now.’ (page 219)

‘Our God is not closest to you on a mountain, in a city, or even at a church. No individual can keep you from his presence. Thankfully, no mistake can separate you from what abides within you. Jesus awaits your worship at the well of your heart.’ (page 219)

Let’s talk, ladies! Choose one of the questions from our Conversation Cafe and answer in the comment section below. Don’t be afraid to discuss answers with other participants!


Conversation Café:

  1. What are your deepest longings?
  2. What is a practice that you can start right now to bask in His presence?

 

Without Rival—Week Five, Post Six

Written by: Christianne Williams

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

As we arrive at the end of this amazing book the thought I am left with is: Wow! So many great points are housed between the covers of this book, so many treasures that I don’t want to forget. If you’re like me this has challenged your heart and mind, in good ways, and caused you to focus on your unique life being the part of a greater purpose. Purpose. Not an accidental happening, but a life created with a purpose in mind.

The Bible tells us that before we were born He knew us, that He knit us together in our mother’s womb. Why would He go to such great lengths if we didn’t matter? Again, why would He make sure that we would read His word and know that He created us with loving hands, if He didn’t care at all what happened to us? Or if He just expected us to ‘go with the flow’ instead of heading out in the direction He’s called us?

Have you ever purchased a handcrafted, one of a kind, item? Like a porcelain doll? I have. It comes with a certificate of authenticity, stating that its one of a kind, there is no other like it. The reason: it doesn’t come off an assembly line. It was created with human hands and each intricate detail put there on purpose. There are even tiny, angel-like eye lashes framing her eyes. She looks so real you can almost see this doll breathe if you watch long enough.
When I look at this inanimate object, which I’m quite fond of, it makes me wonder how much more time and care went into creating me. And you.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are “God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus…” meaning we are His masterpiece. Imagine that! We are to God what David was to Michelangelo; what the Mona Lisa was to DaVinci! He’s numbered each hair on our head and He knows us by name. He created you to be exactly who you are. Specific details have been built into your DNA, traits and characteristics that God put there so you would be able to accomplish great things for Him. When I am unhappy with how I was created I must stop and think, “How does my critique of myself reflect on my confidence in how God made me. He doesn’t make mistakes.”

When I hear my kids being overly critical of themselves, or more frequently each other, it breaks my heart. I love each one of them as they are, I may not always like the way they behave or the choices they make, but I love the child. And there is always room for them to ‘get back on track’ when they have a bad day, I don’t write them off because of a mistake. They still have a life designed with purpose and meaning in mind. We may need to come to God and ask for forgiveness and wisdom but He’s always right there willing to redirect us, to get us going in the direction He’s pointing.

You, my friend, and I, come with a certificate of authenticity, signed by God our Creator. He says we are one of a kind, created with purpose, and ordained to do great exploits for Him!

Without Rival—Week Five, Post Five

“Step Into The Deep”

Written by: Melissa McLaren

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

I’m truly inspired by those fearless women you hear about who follow the call of God on their lives and change vocation or re-educate later in life. My mother happens to be one of them. My mom was a registered nurse her whole life, but one day felt called to change her role from Nursing into helping people specifically with Dementia. This took re-educating and turning her world upside down to follow God’s call on her life. It may not sound as profound as Photina’s transformation we heard about by Lisa. Photina went from the woman at the well that Jesus reached out to, to a fanatical Christian who gave up everything. What an incredible story of heroism!! My mother may not be a martyr, but she still gave up the comfort of what she knew as “normal” and stepped into the world of the unknown to follow God’s leading.

God is constantly calling us into a deeper relationship with Him that asks us to let go of our world as we know it and step into the deep waters of the unknown. Ezekiel 47 talks about Ezekiel being led out into water ankle deep, then knee deep, then waste deep until it was over his head. Only when he reached the deepest part of the water where he was out of control, did he see the life flow that came from those waters. Verse 12 says “12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

Many of us want to be used by God. We want to see miracles and healings, but we also want to cling to what we know and what is safe. I wonder if God is calling you to let go of the “known”, and dive into the “unknown” and let God guide you into something that could be more fruitful than you’ll ever know. God intended for his daughters to be vessels that allow the flow of God’s presence and life to not only change and effect them, but to change and effect the world around them. God promises that when we remain IN HIM, we will bear fruit in and out of season! What a promise! Jeremiah 29:11-14 says: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

Let’s seek God with ALL of our hearts today and be OPEN to what He might have to say! It may lead you into the greatest harvest you’ll ever know!

Please choose one of the questions from our conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:
1. Who do you say that God is? (This will help you be able to answer #2!)
2. When was the last time you honestly (and daringly) asked God to show you His will for your life?


 

Without Rival—Week Five, Post Four

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

Written by: Margaret Connolly

I have found this book to be so chock full of insight that it is hard to choose just one thing to discuss that has impacted me!   However,  for these last two chapters, I found the following quote made me pause, as I have often followed along this same thought pattern in recent years.

I suddenly felt as though my life was an insulated, empty shell and everything I knew and had was as fragile as the bubbles my grandchildren blew.”

Is it just me or is sometimes hard to understand why we need God?  I’m being completely transparent here.  I have every material thing that I need and plenty of resources at my fingertips.  I have never been without food in my cupboard, or clothes in my closet, soap and toothpaste in my bathroom, water in my faucets.   I have a nice vehicle to chauffeur my kids in to school, to church, to their extra curricular activities.  We even have the luxury of taking more than one vacation this year.  I know many of you can relate to this type of ‘wealth’.   It would be astonishing to so many people worldwide who simply could not relate.  All of my material needs are met, I am not desperate for the things that so many others can only dream of.   

I can’t honestly say that I’ve never found myself in the pits of despair, clinging to God with all my strength.  I don’t always feel desperate for Him.  So, why do I need Him?    I know the answer to this, of course, but it makes me realize why so many people in our society don’t feel the need for God.  When we are talking about western culture, the average person doesn’t need a God to cling to, to hope in, to entrust their future to.  “Without Rival” has me thinking of on many things, but this particular section of Chapter 10 is something that has been running through my head a lot lately.  Am I willing to suffer for God?  Do I want to be stripped of my earthly comforts just so I can  understand fully what it means to depend on Him?   I’ll be honest, not really!   Would I have what it takes to stand up for my faith even amidst painful physical persecution?

I love God and I have seen Him work in my life.   I have heard His voice, I have felt His power and His presence.  I want to have eternal life and I want to stand before Him one day and hear Him say ‘well done good and faithful servant’.  My prayer is that God will show me how I can use my abundance to further His kingdom.  How can I learn to rely on Him when life has been full of His generous outpourings?   And how can He use me to impact my circle of influence when they  more often than not have no apparent need for God, they are privileged and not desperate for anything.  That is the reality of my mission field.    

Please choose one of the questions from the conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:

  1. Can you relate to the idea that Western society doesn’t want for material goods and the meeting of basic needs the way many other parts of the world does?  How do you think that impacts our ability to reach people for God?
  2. Aside from monetary assistance to those in need, how can God use our abundance to reach others for Him?
  3. What are some practical ways that we can impact our communities when a common secular trend these days is to ‘pay it forward’?  How can we show the the difference between that kind of benevolence and the Christian love with a message of eternal life in Christ?

 

Without Rival— Week Five, Post Three

Written by: Melissa Lefevers

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 of Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

Movies, television shows, novels, they all have a story. A story is filled with details and people. Lives shared and lost. Fantastic journey’s, love, comedy, suspense, adventure, drama, everyday life and things far beyond our imagination. We watch or read in anticipation to see what will happen. We get connected to our favorite characters, we laugh, cry and cheer them on. It is wonderful and exciting.

What if I told you that your life is a story? Would you dare to believe that it is just as exciting, adventurous and thrilling as your favorite story? Or would you look at your life and think someone else has a much better story than you do?

We tend to compare a lot. We look at others and see what they have and either want it or we are glad we don’t have it. We measure our success and failures through the eyes of others. We get caught up in trying to be something or someone and get lost. We lose who we are and who God created us to be.

I will dare to say we even compare ourselves to what I call “Christian Celebrities”. We think it would be wonderful to be that best selling author who is out on a speaking tour promoting her book. We see her life through social media and think that it is way better than ours. We wish we could sing, and be on tour with our favorite worship leaders. I know someone has done that before because I know that I have. Wished and wanted something that is not mine to wish and want.

You have a story. I have a story. If we are to live a life without rival we must embrace that.

Lisa Bevere states on page 230 of “Without Rival”; “You were not created for comparison…You were created for God’s Son.” She also goes on to say “No one else can live your story. It’s time your pages come alive.”

I whole heartily agree with that. We must stop comparing ourselves and start living out the life God has already written for us. Your story is unique and my story is unique. God wrote it just for you. He wrote mine just for me.

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. “ Psalm 139: 15-16

Your story is yours. Do not let comparison rob you of the joy of your story. Do not let comparison steal from you the precious moments God has ordained just for you. Let us open our eyes and see that our story is truly one of great adventure for our great God. It is Your Story it is time to let it come alive.

Please choose one of the questions from our conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:

  1. Do you have trouble comparing your life to others?
  2. What do you do to fight comparing yourselves to others?

 

Without Rival— Week Five, Post Two

We continue along with our study and discussion of chapters 9 & 10 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” —C.S. Lewis

The quote above is how Lisa Bevere starts off her concluding chapter in Without Rival. The quote really made me think….as a thirty-two year old in youth and young adult ministry, there are an increasing number of moments when I feel incredibly seasoned in my years. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? A thirty-two year old feeling old at such a young age.

The bible tells us that Noah was approximately five hundred years old when he first began building the ark. Scholars say that construction of the ark took an additional one hundred years to complete, landing noah on the ark during the flood around six hundred years old. Noah had a dream, a divine calling, and his age was no match for the purpose God burned in his heart. His trust in God’s direction has been an inspiration for hundreds of generations.

Why do we give up so easily? Why do we discount our God-given abilities and allow culture to dictate that we are getting too old to have a purpose?

I believe that it’s time that we ask God what it is He would have us do—and then with an open and willing heart answer the call. C.S. Lewis said it so well, “We are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” Dream big, sister friend! God’s power is perfected in your weaknesses, let Him work in and through you to make changes that will last for generations to come.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” —2 Corinthians 12:9

Please choose one of the questions from our conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:

  1. When is the last time you dreamed a God-inspired dream?
  2. If God has already give you a dream, will you persevere to its completion?
  3. Encourage someone who is living out their God-inspired dream today!

 

Without Rival—Week Five, Post One

We begin the conclusion of our study and discussion of Without Rival by Lisa Bevere with Chapters 9 & 10.

“Daughter without Rival”

Written by: Doretta Zinck

I’d like to begin with a question— do you consider yourself a daughter of God? If you have asked Jesus into your heart and life, then Biblically you have the right to call yourself His daughter. The thing about being someone’s daughter is, there are characteristics and behaviours that are passed on to a child that reflect their parents. Can we say we are His daughters and not invest time with Him and His Word? Our purpose as the church of Jesus Christ is to learn all we can of Him in order to reflect His character to the world.

While I was doing this study, I was watching a television show about the life of the Queen of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II. I was moved by this amazing, unwavering woman and her grace in living under, what must be, a very difficult mantel. One scene in particular made an lasting impact on me. During a conversation a newly crowned Elizabeth had with her grandmother, Queen Mary, the young queen is grappling with the existence of herself as a woman in addition to being the queen. Queen Mary reminds her that royalty is chosen by God and that the “crown must always win”. Further, for her to fulfill her responsibilities to God and her people she would have to surrender her personal goals and dreams for something bigger then herself.

When that was said, I started to think how unfair this was to her. At that moment I heard the Holy Spirit correct me. The thought was “Her calling is bigger then any other role in her life”. The minute the crown was placed on her head, her life was not her own. The “crown” or in our case the purposes of God through the message of the gospel has to be the driving force of every believers life. His crown must always go before us influencing our words and actions.

Let’s break for a moment before we carry on into the final chapters and discuss a few things. Please choose one of the questions listed and answer it in the comment section below:


  1. Do you see any of the Father in yourself?
  2. Are there things in your life that have to change in order to better reflect the characteristics of God to the people around you?
  3. Will you wear your crown knowing what it will cost you?

I know many of you are thinking, “if I made it known what God was calling me to be or do, the church may not support me”. That may happen. But, if God has truly called you, He will open doors no man can close. Personally I’ve learned if you want to serve God in a particular way, go get the training you need, find someone who will stand with you in prayer and “just do it”. You feel called to mentor people, they will be all around you, easy to find. If you want to help seniors then go to a seniors home and volunteer. Whatever it is, go about the Fathers business. If you don’t know what that is, read the Word of God and He will reveal it to you.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15 NLT

If you are waiting for permission from other people, you may be waiting a long time for what God has already approved. You are a daughter without rival and you serve a God without rival. There’s your permission!

Please choose one of the questions from our conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:

  1. What are you waiting for?
  2. Can you move forward even if those around you don’t understand?

 

Without Rival—Week Four, Post Seven

“This Isn’t Your Fairy Tale Kind of LOVE”

Written by: Cindy Morrone

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 7 & 8 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere.

The conversation started pleasant enough with the usual kind greetings shared on a first meeting. But as she yammered on and on about how many people in every circumstance of her life wronged her, I couldn’t wait for this dialogue to end. Outwardly she couldn’t tell my annoyance (at least I hope not) but inwardly my tongue tsked, my head shook and my eyes rolled.

With the acceptance of a new precious one in our home, each of my daughters at different times but on the same day asked, “Is it ok if we don’t feel close to him yet?” I replied, “Definitely, that is very normal. Thank you for being so honest with me.”

Sitting next to my husband we faced the worries of this world and I could feel fear creeping in. In defense, our fight response kicked in working against us; not for us. Would this mean another season of heart ripping disconnect for us?

As Lisa on page 156 reveals, “For whether or not we realize it, love and risk are intimately connected.

Whether it’s the ability to tolerate a conversation with a complete stranger that may only have you to confide in that day, or to open your heart and your home to an orphan despite the certain loss or to unconditionally support your husband to respond in love; to love, there is risk involved.

Fearless love is not your fairy tale kind of love.

Fairy tale kind of love only happens when the dreamy music plays, handsome boy dances with beautiful girl and sweet blue birds flutter about the scene.
As Lisa confides on page 159, “Fearless love is not based on the performance of the person but the loving faithfulness of God.

I want to love fearlessly! I want to love sacrificially! I want to love unconditionally! I want more than the fairy tale kind of love for that doesn’t last. And I can’t on my own. I can’t even give a perfect stranger the time of day, let alone come alongside my marriage or endure letting go of a loved one. And so I will turn to the One Who makes more than fairly tale kind of love possible.

“God is love. Love is fearless. God is fearless. We are God’s. We can love fearlessly. We are positioned to love fearlessly when we receive God’s fearless love for us. Those who love fearlessly…live fearlessly.” (Lisa Bevere, page 161.)

And as I turn to Him all things are possible!

17-18 “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1 John 4:18The Message (MSG)

Let’s talk, ladies! Choose one of the questions from our Conversation Cafe and answer in the comment section below. Don’t be afraid to discuss answers with other participants!


Conversation Café:

  1. If you were guaranteed there is no risk at all what would you chance to do?
  2. If fear was not a factor, at all, what would you boldly do?

 

Without Rival—Week Four, Post Five

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

We continue along in our study and discussion of chapters 7 & 8 in Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.1 John 4:18

Has the pain of your past ever made it hard for you to believe God’s promises and and plans for your future?

One of the ways fear manifests in love is through control. What we fear, we try to control. Our relationships suffer due to fear and insecurities. It can manifest through jealousy, anger, selfishness and many other ways. However when fear is removed, we can operate in the spirit of love. With God, we have the ability to love the unlovable. We can love our enemies. We can love those that do not show grace to us. We can love those people that have hurt us. When we are free from fear we can love as we are loved by the One who loves us perfectly.

Is there a part of your past that you are still hanging on to? Forgiving those who have hurt us is hard. Sometimes we are afraid to forgive because it might open us up to be hurt again. Sometimes we hang on to the shame and regret of a hurt that we have caused someone else to experience.

Although you may realize it, your hurt has likely festered into many other aspects of your life. Maybe it’s affecting your health, your marriage/relationship, your finances, your friendships, your relationship with God, etc. If you do not let go of your hurt and allow God to truly heal those wounds – you will always be grasping at temporary fills and missing out on the beauty of the extravagant love that God so abundantly desires to lavish on you. A love that literally wipes your heart clean from all that ugly shame, regret and pain.

Friend, our God is right beside you. He’s in front of you and he’s also behind you. He’s all around you right where you are, just waiting to bring healing to your heart. Will you let Him in? I love what the bible has to say in Lamentations about when life is heavy and hard to take:

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way. (Lamentations 3:28-33)

Letting go of pain is hard to do. It’s sounds silly, because truly, who wants to be miserable? So, how do we move on? What is the solution? The answer is found right in the word of God:

Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows. “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Please, sister, chose this very day to let go of your shame, regrets and pain. God is waiting right now to take them all away and fill your soul instead with His unfailing love. He wants to turn your mourning into dancing and your sadness into joy!

It is time to start moving forward.

Please choose one of the questions from our conversation cafe and answer it in the comment section below.


Conversation Cafe:

  1. Is there a hurt that is keeping you from experiencing complete fulfillment in Christ?
  2. If there is someone that you need to forgive, don’t hesitate.