Celebrating Amazing Women
James and John. But the Bible has stories of incredible women too. Strong and brave women who led armies and challenged kings. Prophetesses who heard and obeyed the voice of God. Wise women who made difficult decisions and led the people back to God. Loyal women who stayed faithful to God even when their situations were perilous. Women who did the right thing no matter what everyone else was doing, and changed the course of history forever.”
There is much more to the women highlighted — here is a summary of their stories:
Shiphrah and Puah were Hebrew midwives (Exodus 1) who, through their courage and boldness, defied the Pharaoh’s orders to execute all newborn babies in Egypt. They, along with others, hid the babies and saved hundreds of lives. They followed and trusted God and were blessed for their loyalty and obedience.
Rahab was a Canaanite living in Jericho who trusted in God (her occupation is up for debate). She hid and saved two spies from Israel who’d entered Jericho to see if they could conquer the city. She showed herself to be brave, bold, strong, and loyal to God in spite of great danger to herself and her family. When the ‘walls came tumbling down’ she and her family were saved. Mother of Boaz, she was King David’s great-great-grandmother.
We know of Ruth as the widow who choose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, refusing to allow her to remain alone, likely in poverty. She was humble and kind but also bold and strong in the way she provided for herself and Naomi. She became Boaz’s wife and was King David’s great-grandmother.
Prophet and a judge, Deborah was known as a strong and brave leader — faithful to God. She followed the Lord and listened to his word even when others were doing evil.
Esther was a brave and strong queen. Her story reads like a soap opera with all of its twists and turns but ultimately, in the face of great danger, she trusted in God and saved the nation of Israel.
Faithful and trusting in God, every one of these women along with so many more, showed themselves to be brave and strong in very dangerous situations. What other lessons can we learn from the strong women of the Bible? Who are the amazing women in your life?
In His Name, Janet
God of the In-between Spaces
However, lately, I have found myself bogged-down by a sense of disappointment and longing. On one hand, I feel frustrated and confused by much of the world. Observing the continued fighting in Ukraine and rising tensions across international fronts, I can’t help but yearn for a sense of stability that I think ought to be present, but is not. This yearning translates into a deep desire for simplicity, for something that I can easily wrap my brain around without having to resort to some form of cognitive dissonance. In other words: I want life and this world to make sense.
Despite my longing for simplicity and understanding, I find that I must be content with not having all the answers. There are some things in life that have no explanation. They are clumsy and uncomfortable. They leave us with no easy answer or way forward. While these things leave us frustrated and discontent, attempting to solve them through simplistic formulations of faith are unhelpful, and at times, harmful. In moments such as these, we often try to speak for God. We say things like, “God wants to teach you patience” or “This is part of the Lord’s plan for you.” I understand why we say these things: we want to help! We want to give our friends and family hope. We want to reassure them that everything will be alright.
The problem, of course, is that everything doesn’t always end up alright. Sometimes, an
experience can leave us feeling hopeless. We lose a loved one or friend. We are laid off from work. A promotion or relocation doesn’t pan out. We are given difficult news from our doctor. In situations like these, our gut reaction may be to give a response that satisfies our desire for simplicity and understanding. Friends, we must fight the urge to do so.
On the cross, Jesus reveals himself to be the God of the “in-between-spaces.” On the cross, Jesus is the One who stands in-between the hopelessness of death and the fantasy of cheap platitudes. In Christ, God demonstrates that there are no easy answers. The answer given on the cross is marked by a willingness on God’s part to stand amidst the uncertainty and confusion of death. In that place, where we so often find ourselves seeking understanding, we are given the hope that we are not alone. For us,
that must be enough.
So, what shall we do as we stand in these confusing moments? We find hope in the cross. We hold to the promises of God. We trust that He will lead us through the uncertainties and ambiguities of this life, and He will serve as our strength when we are weak. In this knowledge, we can declare with the psalmist:
“This is the day that the LORD has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Let us rejoice in Him!
Support of Love 1st
to come alongside students. Chap Clark suggests one of the leading markers of lasting faith in students in the presence of at least 5 adults willing to invest in each students’ lives. That number has really stuck with me, and was a pillar of development in my own philosophy and heart for ministry to youth. When I reflect back on my own experience navigating life through my teenage years, I am grateful for the people who supported and invested in me, during a transformational season of life. When I look around the pews on Sunday mornings, I see the smiling faces of so many people who have poured into me, loved me and my family, and who’ve walked alongside me through many pivotal moments in my life. Out of this church family came trusted mentors and cherished friends.
Our mission at 1st Pres is to Love1st. An integral piece of that call is to love our students and their families by encouraging and supporting their endeavors, equipping them to share their unique gifts with the world, and walking with them on their faith journey. During the last few years, I have been honored and privileged to serve our youth and families with our youth team and staff. We have amazing students in our midst, who are world changers, and they’re just getting started!
My encouragement to our church family is to seek ways to get connected with our students. Prayerfully consider what capacity you could serve and invest in the lives’ of our students. Would you join us in praying for students? Would you join us in cheering them on at games, performances, and other special events? Would you join us in providing scholarships for summer camp experiences? Would you join us in connecting with and investing in students’ lives on Sunday mornings? Whatever the call may be in your heart, please consider jumping in and getting connected!
If you feel called to serve students in our ministry, or have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Do Do Passage
What a brain-twisting passage! The repetition of “do” and “do not do” mirrors my own mind as it tries to navigate this unsolvable problem. Paul outlines the struggle and the turmoil I feel as I seek to follow God’s good and right and desirable commandments. The pain that comes when I try to be good and righteous and fall short over and over again.
Earlier in the chapter, Paul tells me that in the very act of knowing the good and holy law I discover how incapable I am of fulfilling it. When he says “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner” I feel the truth of it.
It seems so harsh, outlining this hopeless reality and my own broken heart that can never conquer sin. But immediately after thoroughly breaking down how impossible it is to be righteous despite my bone-deep desire, Paul tells me the good news.
This is a verse I have heard many times. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the church, perhaps it’s because I have so many memories of sleeping in the pew on my mom’s lap, but I find that the more I’ve heard a verse the harder it is for me to take the time to truly hear it anew — to feel its impact. However, as I read these two passages together, they take on a more powerful and personal meaning. I hope you too can hear this anew.
In Christ, there is no condemnation.
What I could never do, Christ came and did for me.
Christ did this to set me free.
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Christ Jesus our Lord!” - Romans 7:25
Have a Delightful Day,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.