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If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m always looking for a challenge. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good thing or not. Born with a competitiveness that runs deep in my veins, I’ve always been one to bite off more than I can chew to prove something about myself to someone. (Yeah, maybe not a good thing.) Take, for example, my decision to graduate from college early by maxing out my schedule each semester, getting married the day after graduation, immediately moving to a new city, and starting a new job a month after moving.

When I would enthusiastically tell people that this was my plan, I expected a “Woohoo! Good for you! Change is fun, isn’t it? Here’s to the future!” and then we high five all around. But instead, I’d receive this consoling look, as if he or she were about to say, “You poor girl. Why would you willingly enter into so much change at once?”

So, the time came, and I threw on a cap and gown, then popped on a wedding dress, then donned a name badge around my neck, all within a month.

I’m not going to lie to you: all of this change only sometimes felt high-five worthy. And as good as it all was at times, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn about adjusting to this much newness.

No matter what type of transition you might be going through, it’s undeniable that change is hard. With graduation season here and wedding season coming (not to mention many of us moving cities, growing our families, and facing a thousand other kinds of transitions), all types of changes seem to happen during these summer months. I want to offer some encouragement to you if you’re in the middle of a season of transition or if you know someone who is:

TO THE GRADUATE
  1. Don’t let being “new” hurt your confidence, whether it be that you’re new to your city, new to your community, or new to your job. Allow yourself to fail and learn again. Spoiler alert: learning doesn’t stop in college. Extend to yourself endless grace as you begin again, and be confident that if the Lord places you somewhere, He will certainly equip you to see that season through (2 Corinthians 9:8).
  2. Your job (or lack thereof) does not define you. You aren’t your job title, sister. You are what Scripture says that God calls you: daughter (Romans 8:16), dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), given a purpose (Psalm 57:2). Sometimes believing that, though, is a lot easier said than done. Surround yourself with what’s true by putting Post-it® Notes scribbled with Scripture in your car to see on the way to interviews or stick them to your desk to dwell on at work. You are not your failures or your successes.
  3. Be bold in creating community. Don’t sit back and wait for it to come to you. This is going to feel awkward sometimes since you’re the new girl entering an established community. But you might just be surprised how glad others are to welcome you (especially at a local church). First though, you can make the move to introduce yourself, invite them to coffee, or ask them how to get involved.
TO THE NEWLYWED

Disclaimer: I’m still a newlywed too, but here’s some helpful advice I was given that’s already proved to be true in our marriage:

  1. Intentionally love your spouse. It’s going to get easier and easier to let days pass where you hardly see each other. Make each other a priority, and decide that time with him is a worthy reason to tell other things no when it needs to be. Know his love language and love him in that way (which takes extra intentionality if it’s not your love language). Take note of when you’re being selfish, and find areas where you can be intentionally selfless. The more intentionally you love beyond the emotional love you have for him, the more roots you’ll grow to weather difficult seasons in the future.
  2. Don’t become so consumed with your spouse that you both become an island. This is the other side of the coin. Your spouse should certainly be a top priority. However, it can sometimes feel easy to want to spend so much time with your new husband that you look up a year or two later and realize that you’ve yet to form true community with other couples, within your church, and with your family. Having each other is a pretty miraculous blessing, but you will find even more blessing in partnering together to foster friendships and pour into the people around you. Don’t seclude yourselves from that gift.
  3. Find another couple to mentor you. This might take time, especially if you’re moving to a new place after getting married. But as you create community with other young couples, ask who they look up to, what older couples they know whose marriage is a model to them. As you get involved in your church, notice the marriages that stand out to you, and ask those couples to dinner. Wherever you find these standout couples, create a relationship with them, and let them teach you. As you grow closer, go to them with questions, worries, and victories in your marriage knowing they will grieve and celebrate right alongside you.

P.S. If you’re a ministry leader, LifeWay just launched Woo Marriage, a great new resource to help you prepare engaged couples and equip marriages. I can attest to the fact that a good foundation in your marriage makes all the difference, and Woo Marriage helps couples to create just that.

TO ALL THOSE TRANSITIONING
  1. Change isn’t bad unless you decide it is. As hard as it can be, shift your perspective. Change in and of itself isn’t “bad.” Don’t be afraid of it! Simply be ready and willing to let go of some things and take hold of others, knowing that the Lord always gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
  2. Lean into your church or small group. Whether your transition goes as expected or in no way that you planned, these people have been placed in your life to be the hands and feet of your Anchor. Talk to your pastor or small group leader about the difficulties of your transition, and let them celebrate with you in your victories. Text friends in your small group when you need support. And if you don’t have these people in your life yet, be proactive in planting yourself in a local church and making connections.
  3. Cling to Jesus. Run to His Word in fear, in loneliness, in insecurity. Tell Him when your heart aches over the change and loss and when you’re celebrating over the blessing of new life. You can be certain that when everything else is changing, He is not (Hebrews 13:8).
TO THOSE WHO AREN’T IN TRANSITION
  1. Look for places to mentor. If there are graduates, new wives, or new moms in your life, chances are they are hungering for someone older to come into their lives and take them under their wing, to show them the ropes of their new season. Be that person. Boldly seek them out without being asked.
  2. If you know other people in a similar season, help them get connected. Introduce new ladies in your church to other women that they might click with. Take them to a small group. Be a guide in helping them find community, assuring them that they are not alone in the nerve-wracking nature of trying to create new friendships (and that they’ve already made one friend in you).
  3. Prayerfully consider how you can make those in shifting seasons around you feel loved and seen. What are the practical ways that you can invest in those in the midst of change? Consider your resources and how they can be used in these peoples’ lives. Maybe you love hospitality and inviting friends over, you love to cook, or you love to travel—use it! Help them to know that you notice them in this new space and that they are welcomed by you.

All of us have been through a transition in some capacity, and while it can come with infinite blessing, we’d all admit that change can also be unbelievably hard. Take a deep breath, sister, and know that you’re not alone in this new season. God Himself controls the seasons and holds you in the palm of His hand.

Emma Wilson is the Digital & Social Media Strategist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Garrett, have served in YoungLife together ever since they met as leaders in college. Emma is an Alabama native with a city girl’s heart and loves exploring her home in Nashville, TN. A perfect day looks like coffee shop hopping, perusing local bookstores, cooking something from scratch, and sharing it all with friends. You can follow her on Instagram @emma.c.wilson and online at emmacaitlyn.com.

The post To Those in Transition appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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The weather is warming up and the kids are getting out of school, which means a new season is upon us—summer! And with all of the travel and inconsistent schedules of this time of year, we need a Bible study that we can take anywhere more than ever. Want to join us? Starting on Tuesday, June 18, we’ll be studying No Other Gods by Kelly Minter for eight weeks.

In this study, we’ll learn to identify the functional gods we unknowingly serving and the lies they tell. And as we dethrone our modern-day idols, we’ll be set free for the deeper, more abundant life Jesus came to give—discovering that Jesus can do what no other god can.

To learn more about this study, watch the video below or click here.

No Other Gods (Revised) Bible Study by Kelly Minter - YouTube

So how will this work?

We’ll study together on our new online Bible study website: onlinestudy.smallgroup.com. And don’t worry—LifeWay Women will still be hosting, answering your questions, and studying alongside you.

Here is the main difference with our new site: you’ll need to log in.* We know passwords are not fun, but we have good reasons! Because you’ll be logging in, you’ll have the ability to track your personal progress as you study and see which sessions you’ve watched! And, you’ll be the first one to know about future online Bible studies. 

*If you’ve ever purchased something on LifeWay.com, you should have created a LifeWay Account. That is the email and password you’ll want to use to log in. If you no longer use the email you originally set up as your LifeWay Account, feel free to click “Register” to create a new account. This email is where you’ll also receive email notifications to remind you that the newest session is now available to watch, so be sure you select one where you’d like to be receiving emails!

The rest of the details you’ll need to participate in this study: 
  • No Other Gods is 8 weeks long, starting June 18 and ending August 6. You’ll get to watch the full video teaching for free for a limited time!**
  • You’ll need to grab a copy of the No Other Gods study book. (Friends outside the U.S., check out this list of online retailers around the world.)
  • We’ll post a new video session on onlinestudy.smallgroup.com on Tuesdays at 5 a.m. CT (barring any technical difficulties). Once you log in, you will see the available sessions.
  • For the first week, you’ll watch the video on June 18 first and then complete the Session 2 material in the study book before we meet again!
  • Go to your email and add “churchresources@email1.lifeway.com” to your contacts. This way, our emails are less likely to go to your spam folder.
  • The first video session is about 10 minutes long, but you can plan for the rest of the videos to be 25-35 minutes long.
Ready to join us? Click here to sign up!

Our hope for the online Bible studies is not that they’ll replace community in real life. Grab a friend or two or ten and do this study together. If you’re studying solo, that’s great too! We are so glad you’re here and hope you find friends and fellowship as we learn together.

Have more questions? Check out our Online Bible Study FAQs.

**A note about the videos: For No Other Gods, we will be offering the entire Bible study videos online for free for a limited time. Videos will remain up until August 31, 2019, allowing some breathing room for those who join in late or miss a couple of weeks. After that time you can rent or purchase the video sessions here.

The post Announcing the No Other Gods Online Bible Study | Sign Up! appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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LifeWay Women | Woman's Bible Study .. by Jessica @ Lifeway, Lifeway Women - 2d ago

Today we’re talking about a handful of women who God has used in a powerful way. Catherine Parks’ new book Empowered tells their stories in a way that will engage the hearts and minds of young girls, so we’re excited to get to talk to her. You’ll love her charm and humor as we talk about some incredible women today!

About Catherine:

Catherine Parks is an author and Bible teacher who loves to see people build friendships around Scripture and prayer. She’s the author of “Real: The Surprising Secret to Deeper Relationships,” a co-author of “A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day,” and she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two children, and a cute dog named Ollie.

Links:

Catherine’s website

Catherine’s books

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women’s Lives (And Can Shape Yours Too)

Strong: How God Eqiupped 11 Ordinary Men With Extraordinary Power (releases June 25, 2019)

Quote Us:
“The same God who empowered Corrie Ten Boom to forgive really difficult people can empower you right where you are to forgive.” @CathParks #MARKEDpodcast
“I want my daughter to know that she has value and that she can do so many things that I didn’t necessarily think to do as a kid.” @CathParks #MARKEDpodcast
“We need to help girls see that faithful living means living in harmony with the people in your home, putting someone before yourself at school, and loving your neighbor. It starts with being faithful in the little things.” @CathParks #MARKEDpodcast

The post MARKED Catherine Parks appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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Today we’re sharing a preview of FLOURISH: A Mentoring Journey. Order your copy or see a free sample at LifeWay.com/FLOURISH. We’ve also included some fun, free downloads at the end of this post to celebrate these new resources!

In my early 20s, I nervously called the women’s minister at my local church and asked her to help me find a mentor. I felt a bit directionless, and I wasn’t sure of my next steps. I figured, What could it hurt to have an older, wiser woman speak into my life? In every area, spiritually, relationally, I was ready for the process.

I had been told the women’s minister was “the connector,” someone who knew nearly every woman in our church and took the time to intentionally pair women together. She asked me a few questions and then gave my information to an older woman who graciously reached out to me. Then my new mentor even more graciously shared her time and wisdom with me.

But, what about those churches that don’t have the benefit of a “connector” to make such gospel-grace pairings? Or, what about women who find themselves in a mentoring relationship but aren’t quite sure how to move past casual chitchat?

You’re not alone.  

In fact, we’ve heard many of the same concerns from women all over the country, just like you, who desire close-knit community and deeper spiritual intimacy. That’s why we’ve partnered with Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, to bring you FLOURISH: A Mentoring Journey.

In this pair of gorgeous resources (one for the mentor and one for the mentee), you’ll find a yearlong mentoring journey based on Scripture, covering six topics: The Word, Identity, Prayer, Calling, Gratitude, and Kinship. Below is a sample from the mentee journal for you to flip through!

For those of you who are familiar with our LifeWay Women Bible studies, this resource brings a fresh twist. It provides a year (yes, you read that right) of a very manageable 5 days of weekly study through Scripture. We plan for these prompts to take you about 10 to 15 minutes a day. In the journal, you’ll also find prompts and suggestions on how to share what God is teaching you with your mentor or mentee.

Speaking of sharing life with your mentor or mentee, much of this mentoring journey is adaptable for your particular ministry environment. We like to think of it as a choose-your-own mentoring journey (remember those old choose-your-own-adventure books?). The resource is easily adapted to meeting in pairs one-on-one or in groups. Likewise, you can meet as often or as little as works best for you, though we do recommend you meet at least once a month.

We’ve provided leader helps in the Mentor Journal, including session questions and goals to help your study of each topic. These will come in handy when you meet with your mentee, and you might even want to consider walking through the goals with your mentee before you begin each section’s topic. In addition to session goals and questions, the Mentor Journal is chock full of guidance for the mentor, everything from the “why” behind biblical mentoring to a sample schedule for your meeting times with your mentee.

Churches, we’ve not forgotten about you. This mentoring journey is designed with you in mind as well and would easily translate to a launch with the whole of your women’s ministry. We are more than ready to equip you and walk alongside you in the process. We’ve created a website, LifeWay.com/FLOURISHMentor, to help you lay the foundation for your church’s mentoring journey. There you’ll find everything from mentor interview questions to administrative suggestions and troubleshooting tips. We’ve got you covered.

God created us to be in community with other believers because He knew we couldn’t do life alone. We pray these journals will help establish strong relationships between both mentors and mentees as they dig into understanding God’s truth and love through His Word together. Let’s journey together in deeper love for God and one another.

Sarah Doss is a Content & Production Editor with LifeWay. She loves a quirky sitcom, baking as therapy, and travel (international or otherwise). As a recovering Lisa Frank enthusiast, she maintains a healthy affinity for school supplies and all things letterpress. Keep up with her on Twitter (she loves Twitter friends) at @sarahdossy.

Want to learn more about these new resources? Watch the short video below or learn more at LifeWay.com/FLOURISH.

FLOURISH: A Mentoring Journey - YouTube

And here are some fun wallpapers for your computer and phone! Click the images or links below to download.

Desktop 1920 x 1080  | 1280 x 1024

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The post FLOURISH | An Inside Look at These New Resources! appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Ben Stuart’s new study, Life + Love: Navigating Singleness, Dating, Engagement, and Marriage. Order your copy or see a free sample today at LifeWay.com/LifeAndLove.

Though seasons of singleness vary in length, God has purposed that every human being on the planet experience this stage of life. So it’s fair to ask the question: Why? If we say the purpose of singleness is simply to find someone to marry, then we’re saying Jesus and the apostle Paul failed at singleness. I don’t know anyone who wants to say that. So let’s ask the fair question: What does God want our single season to be about?

We’re at our best when we function as we were designed. Freedom isn’t the absence of boundaries. It’s the ability to fulfill our created intent. Because of the freedom single people experience, they have more time to focus. However, most people use this season to focus on one of two interests:

  1. CAREER. They’re working to get ahead or climb the ladder.
  2. THEMSELVES. They say things like “I’m taking this time to focus on me.”

Neither of these pursuits is wrong, and yet neither focus will ultimately satisfy our hearts. We have to get our relationship with God right before we can ever hope to get a relationship with a guy or a girl right.

In Greek, the word devotion is made up of two words: good and beside, meaning we need to become good at being beside God, attentive to His Word and involved in His work.

Paul gives us an example of how to live a life of biblical singleness. We can evaluate our lives to learn how to implement some of his practices.

Your Devotion

The point of life, no matter what season you’re in, is to know Jesus and make Him known. Even if you feel that you’re early in your journey of knowing God, you can still find ways to help others along the way… Paul devoted his life to proclaiming the gospel and to training others to proclaim the gospel.

  • How could you help those people on their journeys of knowing Jesus more and making Him known?
  • Do you have a mentor in your life who’s helping you know Jesus better? If not, how could you position yourself to get one?
  • What would it look like for you to invest your time and energy in helping others know Jesus?
Your Friends

Even in his final hours, Paul had a close friend beside him. In our season of singleness, we need deep friendships—the kind who can stand the test of time and endure difficulties, people who know us, love us, and hold us accountable for stewarding the ministry and relationships God has entrusted to us. These friendships aren’t easy to come by, but they’re worth the effort to find and nurture.

  • To whom have you given permission to speak truth into your life? What are their names?
  • Do you truly trust these people in the deepest recesses of your heart? When was the last time you actively demonstrated that you trust them at that level? How did they respond?
  • If you don’t have that kind of friendship, what steps could you take in this season to begin developing one?
A Lifelong Learner

In 2 Timothy 4:13 we look at Paul’s example of being a lifelong learner. Even in his last days, Paul was committed to knowing God better. Singleness provides a unique opportunity to invest deeply in our relationship with God.

  • What’s your plan to learn and grow in this season?

Try this activity this week: Spend thirty minutes a day reading, in addition to the time you spend reading the Scriptures. Select a book or a Bible study that will help you grow spiritually. If you’re not sure where to start, consult a pastor or a godly friend. Then commit to reading for thirty minutes. If you do this every day, in addition to growing spiritually, the University of Michigan’s annual health and retirement study says you’ll live an average of two additional years.1

Want to read more? You can get a copy of Life + Love: Navigating Singleness, Dating, Engagement, and Marriage at LifeWay.com/LifeAndLove.

1. “Health and Retirement Study,” accessed January 23, 2019, http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/.

The post Three Ways to Redefine Your Singleness appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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Many of you have told us you’d love to have or be a mentor but don’t know where to start.

That’s why we’re so excited to announce a new set of resources created in partnership with Passion City Church to meet your mentoring needs!

FLOURISH calls women to a higher standard of living: a decision to live a life rooted in the Word of God and the love of Jesus. Such growth is fostered in the rich soil of a mentoring relationship.

God created us to be in community with other believers because He knew we couldn’t do life alone. To flourish, women benefit from the encouragement of those who have gone before us and reflect Jesus.

FLOURISH is a year-long mentoring journey based in Scripture and will help you establish a strong relationship with your mentor or mentee as you dig into understanding God’s truth and love together through His Word.

To learn more about this new resource and read an excerpt, click here.

If you want to win your own set of journals (1 mentor and 1 mentee), enter now for a chance at winning 1 of 5 sets!

Just fill out the form below for your shot at winning:

By entering today’s giveaway, you acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resources’ official promotion rules. Today’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends Wednesday, May 22, at 11:59 AM CST. You must be 18 to enter, and you may only enter once. The winner will be selected at random. Only participants who live in the United States or Canada are eligible to win. For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Brandy Cerny at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234.

The post Flourish Mentee + Mentor Book Giveaway appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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Once a month, you’re going to hear from our authors, from our team, or from a guest on how we study the Bible, what resources we use, and what questions we ask.

Imagine this scene with me. The disciples had new life breathed into them. Their darkest hour had happened some forty days earlier, the night when Peter abandoned Jesus and the rest of the disciples scattered for cover. Then three days of despair followed before the break of day on Sunday morning, and there He was—new. Alive.

Then came forty days of fellowship. Of intimacy. Of learning. Of seeing the true and deeper meaning behind all of Jesus’ words and actions. And now they were traveling back to Galilee, the place that held so many memories for them. There was Jesus, on top of the mountain, waiting for them. They had no qualms or questions about His identity anymore, and they fell on their faces and worshiped Him as Lord. That’s when He spoke.

He spoke about His authority, and in light of that authority, Jesus gave this band of rejuvenated followers their marching orders. They were to take the message of the gospel far and wide, teaching everyone who had ears to hear the glorious news of hope. And He closed His commission with these words of reassurance: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Now that’s encouragement, for they remembered what life was like without Jesus. Those three days of questioning. Of fear. Of self-hatred. But those days were gone; He would be with them always.

Except for the fact that when He got done speaking, He left (Mark 16:19). So what are we to make of that?

In this moment when the disciples could have stared with open mouths up into heaven, wondering how Jesus’ departure squared with His promise to be with them always, they did nothing of the sort. According to Mark, as recorded in his Gospel, after the ascension of Jesus into heaven “they went out and preached everywhere” (Mark 16:20). Evidently, they were not shocked or surprised at His departure; if they were, it certainly didn’t deter them from getting on with the business of the Great Commission.

Maybe that’s because the disciples weren’t surprised. And perhaps there was even a tinge of excitement mingled with the sadness as they watched Jesus ascend into the heavens above. Looking back at John 14, Jesus told them this day would come: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ answer to the needs of the children of God. He’s the One who will be in them, walking with them through life. And in this passage, Jesus chose the Greek word paraclete to describe Him. It’s translated here as “Counselor.”

John 14 isn’t the first time the Holy Spirit showed up in Scripture. In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit hovering over the surface of the waters, and He popped up now and again throughout the rest of the Old Testament. There He was with Bezalel, filling and enabling him to work with his hands to construct the sanctuary of God (Exodus 35:31). And there He was descending upon Saul so that he began to prophesy (1 Samuel 19:23). There He was periodically throughout the Book of Judges, giving God’s people the strength to defeat enemies with things like jaw bones. But starting in the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit showed up like never before.

In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit didn’t come upon an individual but the entire believing community. From that day forward, as Jesus promised, He wasn’t a divine Visitor but a permanent resident, dwelling permanently inside those who believe in Jesus. It’s this permanent residency Jesus was talking about, and that also helps us get at the meaning of paraclete.

The root word, paraclete, is a combination of two words: para, which means “by the side,” and kaleo meaning “to call.” The paraclete, then, is one who has been called to the side of another. “The side,” though, isn’t a description of proximity but of relationship. The Holy Spirit doesn’t walk side by side with us literally; He’s literally inside of us as Christ-followers. He’s by our side in the sense that He’s on our side.

That means when we think about the Holy Spirit as Counselor, we aren’t necessarily meant to take that to mean someone who gives us advice. The Holy Spirit doesn’t give advice, for advice is based on opinion and can either be accepted or rejected. He’s not the Spirit of suggestion; He’s the Spirit of Truth. So you can be sure that when the Holy Spirit speaks, He’s not giving us information we are meant to take into account in our decision; He’s telling us the truth, and our job is to obey.

Think of the word Counselor in a legal context. Sometimes today lawyers are still referred to as counselors in court. This word was used by Greek writers to describe a legal advisor, one who would come forward on behalf of and as the representative of another. If we apply that logic to Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit, we see the Counselor is a divine Helper, our Advocate. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the greatest help for followers of Jesus.

It’s one thing if someone wants very much to help you but doesn’t really have the resources to do so. In that case, the help is really not much more than a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. Not so with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, far from a benign presence, is Jesus’ personal Representative on earth. He speaks (Acts 1:16), teaches (John 14:26), witnesses (John 15:26), searches (1 Corinthians 2:11), and even intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). In fact, we owe every bit of our spiritual development and power to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Given His vital importance, we might well wonder why the Holy Spirit is often the neglected member of the Trinity. Our reluctance and lack of experience with the Holy Spirit is visible in the simple fact that most of us refer to Him as “it” when we talk.

But the Holy Spirit isn’t an “it.” He’s a “He.” And as long as we try to keep Him at an arm’s distance, we will live lives of spiritual lethargy and bondage. The Holy Spirit is God’s great gift to the believing community. He’s at all times working in us for our good and God’s glory. The only question is how aware of His presence we want to be.

The Holy Spirit, our Advocate, and His presence in our lives means that we never, ever, ever have to pray for God to be “with us.” He’s already with us. But it’s even more than that. God is for us. For our good. For our development as followers of Christ. For our continued growth in godliness. And thank God for that.

Michael Kelley is a husband, dad, author, and speaker. He serves as the Director of Groups at LifeWay Christian Resources, and in all those arenas, is trying to help people have a holistic view of what it means to be formed in Jesus. Michael is the author of Growing Down and Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, which tells the story of his 10-year-old son’s battle with leukemia.

The post The Reference Desk: Who is the Holy Spirit? appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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Get ready, friend. Wedding season is upon us.

Who doesn’t love a good wedding? They come with heartfelt vows, a beautiful bride, joyful moments, and the celebration of love between a bride and groom.

Within this picturesque earthly union we see a glimpse into something more divine. We see a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:22-33). This is why we truly love weddings!

And God loves marriage. He chooses to use earthly marriage as a picture of His covenantal love for His people.

But after all the wedding photos have been edited, the dress has been safely tucked away, and the years go by, it gets real—a healthy marriage requires hard work.

Where do you go for help with the hard work? What do you do?

In 2015, LifeWay Research asked pastors, pastors’ wives, and church members about their views on these things. The answers they received uncovered several sobering facts about divorce and marriage in the church and how to provide help for couples. We learned five facts:

  1. 78% of pastors have had at least one couple come to them with serious marriage difficulties in the past year.
  2. On average, one couple for every 41 people in average attendance approaches pastors with serious marriage difficulties each year.
  3. 69% of churches do not have an ongoing marriage ministry.
  4. 4 in 10 churches have had at least one couple divorce or separate in the last year.
  5. 20% of churchgoers no longer attend church after a divorce.

In our research, we also learned about many struggles facing church leaders and those in marriage ministry. It’s no secret that pastors have one of the toughest jobs on the planet. Not only do they serve in a public role, one very open to criticism, but they also help shepherd marriages in the church. Three common struggles emerged from the research:

  1. Lack of Time: 40% of pastors said they (and their staff) lacked the required time for marriage ministry.
  1. Not Feeling Qualified: 34% of pastors said they didn’t feel qualified as marriage experts. Based on conversations with pastors we’ve had at LifeWay, the qualitative data sounds like this:
  • How am I supposed to help this couple when my own marriage is struggling?
  • This couple is twice my age. I can’t tell them anything they don’t know.
  • I only took one counseling course in seminary. I’m not prepared for this.
  1. Lack of Finances: 33% of pastors said they didn’t have the finances to pay for marriage ministry resources. 

“What Can We Do?”

We asked this question after the research came in. We realized we had to do something, and the solution was two-fold: help our pastors and help the couples in our churches.

This is why we created Woo Marriage—an online tool that provides Christ-centered marriage coaching for churches.

We designed this tool with couples in mind and for all seasons of marriage. The tool features video courses on foundational topics like communication, conflict resolution, and forgiveness, as well as curated pathways for all seasons of marriage. We even have courses for pastors and pastors’ wives!

We have over 100 videos arranged in courses taught by leading practitioners, social researchers, and seasoned ministry leaders. Some of the coaches include:

  • Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn
  • Clayton & Sharie King
  • Jackie & Stephana Bledsoe
  • Ben & Donna Stuart
  • D.A. & Elicia Horton

And this resource has been approved by pastors:

“As a marriage and family pastor, I am always looking for new tools to help couples in my church and in my community. Woo Marriage is the go-to tool for all couples in every stage of life. It is easy for couples to use and I am really excited to see how God uses it.”

—Keith H., Beta User, Marriage & Family Pastor

“Woo Marriage contributed to a catalytic conversation with my wife in addressing a long-term issue of tension in our relationship. The result has been transformational!”

—Tom C., Beta User, Director of Equipping

Get a 30-Day Free Trial

Interested in trying Woo Marriage? You can get 30 days of unlimited access for your church with this promotion code (a $99 value). It also includes a 30-day launch plan for your church.

Promotion Code: WooForOne (all one word)

Offer expires at midnight on May 31. Just head to WooMarriage.com/Pricing.

Please share this resource with your pastor, and be on the lookout for free courses in the next few weeks!

Want to learn more about this new resource? Watch the short video below or head to WooMarriage.com.

Woo Marriage Promo - YouTube

And here are some fun downloads to celebrate! Click the images or links below to download!

The post Big News! New Marriage Resource at LifeWay appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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This summer, we’re going to be sharing stories of hope found through the work of Compassion International. We are thrilled about Compassion’s work and our partnership with them, Watch Her Rise, created to help bring hope to girls in highly vulnerable situations. Learn more and join us here.

“Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.’ He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but him who sent me.‘” (Mark 9:35-37).

If you really want to change the world, sponsor a child.

It’s one thing to see the stats on how sponsoring a child makes a difference. It is a completely different thing to see it with your own eyes.

I had the privilege of traveling with Compassion International to Peru in April to see firsthand the work that this incredible organization does. We visited three churches that run Compassion child development centers and were able to see behind the scenes of what that means for both the church and the child.

Three things were obvious from my visit:

1. These local churches are committed to the welfare of the children in their surrounding area. To run a Compassion child development center, the church provides programming for children from 4 to 8 hours a week, 48 weeks out of the year. Church volunteers serve as tutors who prepare and teach Bible lessons, visit homes, and advocate for the kids that are assigned to them. It’s obvious that the children love the time they spend with their tutors. They are smiling, laughing, singing, playing, and hugging. They are genuinely happy to be there.

Compassion International | Becky's Story - YouTube

2. Children of all ages are grateful for their sponsors.  Each child knows the name of their sponsor. They cherish the letters they get from their sponsor. As we met the kids at the child development centers, many children told me the name of their sponsors and asked me if I knew them!

A special part of this trip for me was the opportunity to meet Lucerito, the 14-year-old young lady that I sponsor. We visited her home, met her mother, and shared stories of our families. Right before I left, she took out a canvas that she had painted and gave it to me. I was so touched by the gift of being able to meet her and to have a reminder of that special day.

3. The Compassion Sponsorship program develops leaders. At each child development center we visited, we were able to meet teenagers who had been sponsored since they were young. As they grew, they were given opportunities to develop leadership skills and serve the younger kids at the center.  We met one 24-year-old named Junior who was part of the Compassion program from the age of 5. Junior was able to graduate, go off to college, then come back to be a tutor at the same development center he grew up going to. He told us all about his plans for his future and showed incredible gratitude for the investment his sponsors have made in his life.

Do you want to do something to change the world? Here are three things you can do immediately that will have eternal impact!

  1. Sponsor a childChanging the world is not a difficult task. Your monthly investment of $39 and 30 minutes of your time to write a letter can make an eternal difference in the life of a child.
  2. If you are already a sponsor, write a letter to your child today! Your letters make a huge difference and help to show these children that they are loved and cared for. It’s a privilege to be able to encourage and build up these children—take advantage of the opportunity!
  3. Pray for the volunteers in churches all over the world who are tutors in child development centers. They are the first line of defense for children in vulnerable situations and are trained to identify their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

My trip to Peru is one that I will never forget. I am grateful for the opportunity to see the work that Compassion International does first hand and I pray that God lays it on your heart to sponsor a child (or two!).

Becky Loyd manages the marketing team for LifeWay’s Adult Ministry. When she’s not wrangling a rogue group of strategists and creatives, Becky is cheering for the LSU Tigers or baking yummy treats. This self-proclaimed pseudo-crafter makes frequent trips to Moldova in Eastern Europe and stashes multiple pairs of shoes under her desk. Follow her on Twitter @Becky_Loyd or Instagram @Becky_Loyd.

The post Compassion International | Becky’s Story appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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This monthly feature will give you the inside scoop on our events from backstage passes to interviews with our speakers, here’s what happens In Any Event.

Maybe you’ve heard of this little get-together we’re throwing this July called LifeWay Women Live?

Spoiler alert: It’s not going to be so little!

This event will be the party of the year with two days of live Bible study with your favorite authors in a gorgeous setting, where women—unapologetic and unshakeable in their pursuit of Christ—can come together.

Above all else, this event will deepen your relationship with Jesus. But you’ll also nurture relationships with the women at your side through shared struggles, victories, and experiences that will create lasting connections.

We don’t know about you, but this sounds like exactly what we need right now.

So let’s get right to the details!

WHO:

Featuring Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Harper, Christine Caine, Jackie Hill Perry, Kelly Minter, Whitney Capps, Jamie Ivey, Mandisa, and Lauren Chandler

WHAT:
  • Main teaching sessions with your favorite authors
  • Daily worship with Lauren Chandler
  • Live concert with Mandisa
  • And surprises around every corner!
WHEN:

July 19–20, 2019 (Friday and Saturday)

WHERE:

Orlando, FL (Bring the whole family—there’s something for everyone in Orlando!)

CFE Arena at the University of Central Florida

If you want to make the most of your experience, come early on Friday for the In-Depth Sessions!

Join LifeWay Women authors for in-depth sessions on timely topics in an intimate setting.

  • 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Coffee will be provided!)
  • First Baptist Church Orlando
  • $49 Add-On Price
  • Session Choices:
    • Kelly Minter // Living on Mission in Community
    • Jackie Hill Perry // Gay Girl, Good God
    • Whitney Capps // Better Together: The Call of Biblical Community
    • Jamie Ivey // Understanding Your Story and Why It Matters

And to get even more out of your time at LifeWay Women Live, you could get the Premium Experience! 

You’ll get access to a Q&A panel with our speakers led by Jamie Ivey, group photo with all the speakers, chic LifeWay Women swag, reserved floor seats for the event, early entry at 5:00 p.m., and more. And what’s better—it’s only an additional $50 to add on! Space is limited at both add-on experiences, so make sure you register early!

If you’re looking for an event where you can meet like-minded women, study God’s Word with your favorite authors, and have a lot of fun while you’re doing it, this is the event for you.

Learn more about LifeWay Women Live here, and join the community group for exclusive updates, promo tools, and giveaways here.

Will we see you in Orlando this summer?

The post In Any Event | What Is LifeWay Women Live appeared first on LifeWay Women All Access.

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