This post may seem a little jumpy because it has been based off of my experience at the E Women’s Conference in Roanoke, VA on Oct 6th and 7th. There were many different speakers, each with there own stories. While I will be telling something from each speaker, they all have something in common. The theme of the E Women’s Conference for 2017 was Trust Him and each speaker spoke to that same theme.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Through a relationship with God we learn how to trust. We learn not only to trust God but also to trust others around us. The E Women’s Conference, just as the name suggests, is a conference for Christian women to come together in fellowship and worship. One of the first things mentioned was about having girl friends. Personally, I was never one to have girl friends. I never liked the drama or things that you typically link with females. Honestly, it’s probably my inability to be around to many people like me. The thing is, any females that I have ever been friends with have done something to hurt me in the long run. I have always just avoided friends because of that. If I don’t put myself out there, no one can hurt me. Then Bruce and Angela walked into our life. Our friendship fell into place so easily and from there our friendship transitioned into family. In addition to them, our family grew by 5 more when they brought their children into our lives.
Angela, her daughter Tiffany, and I roomed together for the conference. My relationship with them is honestly so easy that sometimes I forget that we haven’t been family for my whole life. That being said, I think Angela and I are a lot alike in ways. I think we both have been hurt by people and let down. Because of that we shut ourselves away from people as a self defense mechanism. Angela took a step recently to reach out to the girls at church, though. She took it upon herself to seek out relationships with not only the other women at church but one woman in particular. She sought out a relationship with Bruce’s ex-wife. Can I just say how strong of a person that takes? Through that I am reminded that the two strongest women in my life are my mom and Angela. I look up to both of them so much. It’s because of Angela that I was even at the Women’s Conference.. What a blessing! Through her and this conference I now have a whole group of women that I can lean on and who can lean on me. Praise God for that.
Up first to speak was Angie Smith.
Angie Smith is a speaker, best-selling author, and blogger. Many people became more familiar with Angie as she and her husband, Todd, went through the life altering battle of losing their fourth daughter. Angie’s greatest passion now is to share her story so that others may be encouraged in their faith.
As I just mentioned, Angie’s main focus was on her story during the conference. She spoke about losing her daughter and also about her father’s health. She told that her father was her hero, someone she was extremely close with. Before her father became ill, Angie did not have a relationship with God. It reminded me so much of my story. She said she didn’t know how to “do that God thing”. At some point in my life I know that I have used those very words. Once she found out her father had terminal cancer she came home to help care for him. It was then that she said words SO similar to mine.. “God, if you exist, if you are out there somewhere…” She asked God to take the terminal cancer away that had left her father with only a few months to live. And guys… God did. Her father had months to live and God gave him his life back through Angie’s prayers. That’s when she dove in to find out information about God. She spent the first part of her walk with God learning about Him. She realized though, in seeking just the knowledge, she hadn’t built a relationship with God.
Angie compared knowledge and love at the conference. She said, knowledge is the need to have control. (that means feeling like if you have the knowledge then you will have more control over the situation) On the other hand, with love, you are surrendering. (meaning you give up and let God take control)
To have knowledge is to have religion but to love is to have a relationship with God. In my opinion, a relationship with God trumps religion all day long.
To seek only knowledge is more for yourself, but to have a love for the Lord… That’s for Him.
The last comparison was one of the things that really spoke to Angela and that is… Knowledge says your relationship with God is a contract. Love says your relationship with God is a covenant.
Angie said the choice between knowledge and having trust in the Lord goes back to the garden. Adam and Eve chose knowledge and look at all the trouble that caused!
We have to stop putting our faith into things that we control and instead surrender and place our faith and trust in God.
One last note from Angie.. She mentioned that so often, as we should, we praise God once he does things for us. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great. Every once in a while though, we should praise God because of all that he can do, rather than only what He has already done for you.
Next up to speak was Shelene Bryan.
Shelene Bryan is a former Hollywood producer whose life took a dramatic turn when she took a trip to Africa to see if the children her family had sponsored through a food program were real. Out of the experience, Shelene founded Skip1.org, a charity dedicated to providing food and clean water to children in America and around the world.
Shelene’s main focus during the conference was on Compassion International. Compassion is a group that gathers information for children all over the world who are in need of help. Whether that help be in the form of food, clean water, clothing, education, medical care, etc., Compassion offers a program where you have a specific child that you donate $38 per month to. That money goes directly to cover that child’s needs as listed above. Part of Shelene’s organization, Skip1, is the understanding that by us skipping one manicure, on night of eating out, or one new outfit, we can change lives.
Shelene actually sponsors two children that live in Africa. She has their pictures hung on her refrigerator. She told us a story about having some friends over to her home one night for dinner. One of her guests saw the pictures on the refrigerator and said “Oh, I see they got you.”. Shelene wasn’t quite sure what to say so she simply said, “excuse me?” The person said, “how do you know they(the children pictured) aren’t 40 years old and scamming you?”. Shelene said, “well, I guess I just have to have faith..”.
That night Shelene tossed and turned thinking about what her guest had said. “Is my $38 a month really going to those children?” she thought to herself. Finally she told her husband that she had made up her mind and was going to Africa to be sure that money was going to the children as she thought it was. Her husband was a little shocked, he even asked why she wanted to spend $3000 to go to Africa over $38. (Typical man.. IT’S THE PRINCIPLE!) So Shelene set off to go find her children. Once she got to Africa she found her little girl first. She was living in a mud hut no larger that a small pantry, with a sheet hung over the entry way. Shelene was so thrilled to see that she was real! What really blew her away is that the little girl had Shelene’s family Christmas card up on her wall. How incredible is that?
Shelene asked her little girl, if she could have anything, what would she want? The little girl replied with a bed. Shelene headed out in search of a Target, and much to her dismay there wasn’t one in sight. She went to the Ugandan version of Target though and found that bed’s with sheets and mosquito nets were the US equivalent of about $20. She bought many of each and distributed them to the children back at the village. Shelene said she felt life Oprah! “You get a bed, you get a bed, you get a bed!” At some point during her trip she met a four-generation family who were living together. There was a woman probably about Shelene’s age, that woman’s mother, her daughter, and her grandchild. Shelene said that the little girl carrying around the baby was just a baby herself and it broke her heart. Despite the fact that she was told not to become emotional in front of the people she was meeting, she couldn’t help it and she began to cry. She asked the second generation woman if she could pray for her and her family. The woman looked at her and said, “actually, I would like to pray for you”. Shelene was honestly a little shocked, and she asked her “why”? The woman replied.. “You have more to distract you from God then I will ever have.”. What she meant was, we look at the people like her in Africa and feel bad for them. We see our material things and feel sorry for them because they don’t have them. But how greater of a tragedy to have those things but be missing out on a relationship with God? It’s easy to become distracted by all the material things we have, and then we lose focus on God.
Shelene said we have to start getting comfortable with God making us uncomfortable. See, having a relationship with God is more than going to church or the eWomen’s Conference. It’s going out into the world and spreading God’s word and love.
When is the last time you did something for someone knowing you wouldn’t receive anything in return?
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
We are spending our time chasing stuff and possessions when we should be dropping all of that and chase what God has had planned for us before we were even born.
We are striving to succeed in things that don’t matter. In order to live the life that God is calling us to live, we have to leave the safety of what we know and trust Him.
It’s easy to say. “Well, I go to church and I pray. I wear shirts that say Jesus and they have crosses of them. Because I do those things, I have enough points to skip the other harder stuff. But a relationship with Christ isn’t a checklist, it’s a life list. This particular point stuck out to Tiffany, Angela’s daughter. I love Tiffany as my own so I am going to take a second to brag on her a bit. She is truly a wonderful young woman who is growing in her walk with God each day. She has young people in our church that look up to her. It would be so easy for her to take the easy way out and follow those around her down the wrong path. It would be easy for her to check a few things off a list and call herself a Christian. Tiffany steps out of those comfort zones though. She trust the Lord, she leans not on her own understanding but on that of the Lord’s. She sees her relationship with Christ as life list rather than a checklist. Because she doesn’t take the easy way out and truly stands by her beliefs, she is truly a role model for the youth in church. For all of those reasons, I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Our next speaker was awarded the title of Extraordinary Woman of the Year for 2017.
Kasey Van Norman’s teaching style radiates a unique and refreshing authenticity as she speaks to a generation of people tired of hypocrisy and hungry for transparent leaders. Her ministry passion is to reach those who are far from God and ignite a spiritual flame in those who know Him.
Kasey posed a question to us.. “Who do you turn to in moment of crisis?” The answer to that question is the person who holds your greatest affection. It’s easy to run to your husband, best friend, mother, etc., first. When really, we should go to God with everything first.
“Greater is He who is living in me, than he who is living in the world.”
I don’t know about y’all, but if I’m in a crisis, I want the greatest of all in my corner!
Kasey then presented us with two more questions to help guide us in our walk with Christ.
What’s the worst that could happen?
In asking yourself that question before doing anything, you are determining where your fear lies. Do you believe that God can’t use you at your worst? If you don’t believe he can then you are living in your own fear and viewing God as a punisher. What we really need to see is that the perfect love of God can absolutely use us in our worst case scenario. If we start believing that in our worst case scenario God will punish us then it can be easy to fall into a slump. You start believing that anything negative that you experience is God punishing you and you may find yourself separating yourself from God.
When is the last time you felt free to be honest?
Truth is, we live in a very judgmental world. It can be scary to be honest. Do you feel that you might be rejected because of your honesty? That maybe because you don’t feel that God has truly forgiven you. The thing is, God has forgiven you today for sins you haven’t even thought of yet.
“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”
Kasey went back to her original question.. Who do you turn to in a moment of crisis? If you urn to a person or thing in a moment of crisis, do you believe that God is holding out on you? I mean really, can you imagine only having a person or thing to rely on or satisfy you? A human’s love is limited whereas God’s love is limitless. How nice would it be to have something to satisfy you so deeply that you don’t need anything else? God can be that for you!
It is possible to believe in God and not allow His love to free us. God’s love can truly change you though if you allow it to. God is personal to you, He sees you, knows you, and feels your pain. Allow his love to free you from your burdens.
Next up to speak was Paula White.
Paula is a mogul in Evangelism. She is the host of her own TV show, a senior Pastor of a church in Florida, and an international Evangelist. While she spoke to us she demonstrated to us the point she was trying to get across by using somewhat of skit. She said that God calls us to high places, however if you have your burdens as well as other peoples burdens on your shoulders, you may not be able to reach those high places. She demonstrated this by piling books in a backpack. First she put in her own burdens… work, school, issues at home, issues with friends. Then she put her husband’ burdens in the bag, then her children’s, then her friend’s, until the backpack couldn’t hold anymore. Her point was that in order to make it to those high places, to help your husband or your friends, you must first help yourself. You have to take care of your own burdens before you can take on those around you.
Lastly we heard from Jeremiah Johnston.
Jeremiah is the President of the Christian Thinkers Society, an Associate Professor at Houston Baptist University, a contributor to Fox News, and the author of UNANSWERED. Jeremiah started by telling us that God is FOR us. God wants to see us succeed, He wants to give us things and reward us. To prove that point he told us there are 8810 promises in the Bible. That is pretty amazing! Jeremiah then moved on to talk about his book, UNANSWERED. In that book, he answers some of the most common questions asked by Christians. He told us that it is not a sin to have questions about your faith. However, many churches refuse to answer those questions, many times leading to losing a brother or sister in Christ. He even said that a large portion of the women attending the Conference were probably one or two unanswered questions away from walking away from God. That’s scary!
Because our churches aren’t answering our questions, we begin turning to outside sources for answers. As Christians we need to start thinking biblically by getting into the Word for our answers. Jeremiah is affiliated with Fox News and made the comment, “There is no hope in Fox News, or any other worldly sources. Hope lies only in the Church of Jesus Christ.”.
Because there are so many unanswered questions surrounding our faith, Jeremiah wrote his book. One of the questions he addresses is that of suicide. Many times as Christians we are led to believe that one of the greatest sins is to take your own life. Jeremiah told of many pastors that he knows that have committed suicide. He explained how hard it is for him to rationalize that in a moment of weakness, all you’ve done in your whole life could be erased by taking your own life. He closed with this, “The only sin that will not be forgiven is rejecting Jesus Christ.”. For the families that have lost their Christian family members to suicide, Jeremiah believes that they can and will be forgiven for that if they accepted Christ as their savior during their life.
this conference was so eye opening and powerful. I learned things and grew in my faith even outside of the conference center. The group I went with found ourselves checking into hotel that on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, we would give it a -5 stars. Great right? Even better, women from all over were in that one city that weekend in need of hotels. Guess what that means? You book early or all hotels WILL be full. But guess what is greater than the numbers and the odds? The power of God. He provided us with a room at an extremely nice hotel just down the street despite all odds. He said, “don’t worry, I’ve got you, I’ll protect you.” and He did. God is so good. He always provides you with what you need, even if you don’t know your need it or don’t understand it. God knew that we needed a hotel room to protect us from the horrors of what we originally checked into and He provided. God knew that I needed girl friends in my life so he gave me Angela. Not only did He give me Angela but with her came Bruce, so that Justin would have someone. Also with Angela came Tiffany, and all the other women at the church. Faithy, Cheryl, Amy, Gretchen, Joanne, Ashley, and more.. They have all accepted me as one of them. I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
I trust You God, I’m surrendering myself to You.
Until next time… thanks for reading!