What’s A Woman to Do?

These were the 2019 Bible Study words of the year:  gathering, authenticity, connection, trust.

These are the 2020 words of the year: quarantine, COVID-19, social distancing, flattening the curve, shortage, pandemic.

What is a Christian woman to do with all that? The two years seem to be polar opposites. As I leave the conversation from my first Zoom and FaceTime meetings and group discussions, a flood of emotions overwhelms me. I am frustrated with technology, which I’ve only ever slightly enjoyed when it worked as effortlessly and flawlessly as a woman pictured on a cruise ship drinking from a coconut and lounging in sunny bliss looking gorgeous and carefree — well, maybe not the best image right now.  I am tempted to take the easiest way out and really “social distance” by isolating even from virtual forms of community. I am thrown off by unexpected waves of deeply embedded grief turning up salty memories of loss, loneliness, death, and separation that no phone or virtual chat could or will ever remedy. I am overwhelmed with schedules, books, online education platforms, and mounds of worksheets that come with managing my daughter’s education while schools are closed and I am working remotely. I am very aware of the loss of income from a second job that is temporarily suspended due to business closures.

Many emotions flood over me.  Deep down I know everything will be okay. Jesus always triumphs. Even when we think He isn’t winning, which is essentially what we are believing when we question His goodness, justice, or love, He always triumphs over darkness and chaos. Think of the disciples, those following Jesus. When He was crucified, the Bible says the crowds who saw what was happening went home with great sorrow. Three days later would-be-hopeful bystanders to the recent events walked sorrowfully on the Road to Emmaus assuming their Messiah was just another sham. We all know what happened with them, though. . . they saw the Truth and understood from Jesus Himself why His death was just a step to the Resurrection and that the eternal results of His death and resurrection won them forgiveness of sins and peace with God. Yes, God always triumphs!

  • For the woman who is anxious and aware of potential future impact . . .  Matthew 6:25-34
  • For the woman who ponders the goodness of God . . . He arose.  Luke 24
  • For the woman who feels overwhelmed . . .  Psalm 139:10 
  • For the woman who is reliving the grief of death, loss, and separation . . .  Revelation 21:3.  I love that God’s people will be restored to perfect community and harmonious, joyful celebration.
  • For the woman who grieves for distances that will never be bridged in this life or the next. . .  Revelation 21:4
  • For the woman who is not sure what to do with herself during these days. . .

                       Pray without ceasing.  I Thessalonians 5:17

 Pray for many, and certainly anyone you care about, to realize their need for forgiveness now so that they are not forever quarantined in hell. Luke 16:19-31

About the Writer:
Lyndsay loves movement of most every variety. Some of her favorite moments are going on long walks, runs or bike rides in some new uncharted territory or exploring some intellectual or emotional space waiting to be uncovered. By day she works at First Baptist Dallas and in her spare time you will find her enjoying family, teaching mindful movement classes or serving in some community that has as many questions about God and life as she does. She is passionate about God’s Word applied masterfully by the Holy Spirit’s leading and believes the kindness and compassion of Christ changes hearts and unbinds minds – the most significant movement of any kind.  

Fighting the Unseen Enemy

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.  Psalm 103:19

In an effort to fight the unseen enemy, COVID19, my husband and I are on the fifth week of our self imposed, homebound, and endlessly exhausting sheltered time. We are separated from our family and friends at our two daughters’ insistence due mostly to my husband’s asthma.  We, like many of you, have both experienced a full range of emotions including the “what if’s” – – – we, family, or friends get sick or die; or “what if” – – – the retirement investments do not return; or “what if” we are separated from loved ones for months on end; or “what if,” “what if,” “what if” . . . as reality sets in that the COVID-19 pandemic could go on for an extended period of time.

However, WE know our God is still on His throne (Isaiah 6:1);  He is almighty and sovereign (Psalm 103:19).  He knows our future (Jeremiah 29:11). He is our holy (Exodus 3:5), faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9), and righteous sustainer (Deuteronomy 32:4).  He has us right in the palm of His hand and will not allow more than we can handle in and through His strength (Romans 8:37).  He will guide us through (Isaiah 43:2) all afflictions; and will work all things together for good. (Romans 8:28)

Below are are items to consider as we all transition to a “different” way of life.  I would encourage you to develop a daily routine of time in the Word, taking captive every bad thought (II Corinthians 10:5), changing every worry that pops up into prayer, and keeping an attitude of gratitude, all the while trying to be “anxious for nothing.” (Phil. 4:6)  I have heard there are over 365 “fear not” phrases in the Bible, one for each day of the year.  I guess our Lord knew we would need them.  And finally, don’t forget to take care of the physical body, the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19): go for a walk, do an exercise video, or whatever works best and most enjoyable for you.

It has helped us stay disciplined by setting up a daily and weekly routine while staying productive.  We are finding there is much to do we had long neglected.  Remember, we can always give a friend or family member a call (NO virus there).  Be aware of your surroundings, cautious of close contact, and wash your hands often.  With Him we can make it through the deep waters.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

Remember Christ is always there with us! (Psalm 23) Just because the pandemic at times appears to be spinning out of control, it is not.  Never give up hope.  He died on the cross for us!  BUT HE AROSE!  Stay strong and march on!

About the Writer:
Beverly is a retired educational teacher and administrator who strongly desires to assist in the discipleship of others while serving the Lord through ministries at First Baptist Dallas.

**Special thanks to Trudy for the photo taken above.**

Mark That off My Bucket List!

I did it!  I took a trip to Israel!  It was amazing! While there I was constantly grappling with “Do I just keep taking pictures, or do I stop and just take it all in, savoring every moment of the experience?”  Now I’m glad I just kept taking pictures.  But one of these pictures stands out to me more than all the others.  Not the one of the Via Dolorosa. Not the Caiphas House, or not even Golgotha, or the empty tomb!  Of all the pictures I took on my unforgettable trip to Israel, this one is the most memorable.

This seemingly innocuous stony path is the road to the Caiphas House and dates back to the era of Jesus’ earthly ministry . . . as in they think this is the road that Jesus walked!   And just beyond this path is the courtyard where Peter denied Christ, where Jesus met Caiphas, and where He was denied justice.  I think this picture represents so many things that happened in those final hours. And it begs the question, “Why?” Why didn’t Jesus stop on this road and say, “This far and no further?”  Why didn’t He turn to the right instead of the left when He reached the fork in the road?  Or why didn’t He call the 10,000 angels right there? Or even why didn’t He just go ahead and set up His kingdom before He had to endure the next several hours of brutal treatment?

Of course, we know the answer now.  He didn’t stop the plan God had in place because of us. He didn’t  see the fork in the road. He was always walking with the intention to fulfill the Father’s plan. Even though tempted in his own humanity, He walked humbly to the fate of the cross.

So here we are today, the day after the crucifixion and before the resurrection. This is always the saddest of all days for me, and yet it is a day when I reset my mind on why I follow Christ. It’s gratitude that He didn’t take that fork in the road on that day and gratitude that He offered us the gift that resulted in His choice to stay the course and finish the road to the cross.  His actions on that road bring us to the choice we too can make.  And that is to have the attitude that Christ had:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.      Philippians 2:5-8

About the Writer:
Pam Brewer is Director of Women to Women Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers. 

 

God Was Ahead of Us

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I’ll admit it.  As I sat in my house during the first couple of weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was frustrated.

Life is changing by the minute! I always carried hand sanitizer in my purse, but now it’s not just a good thing to have, it’s a necessity! Many events are being cancelled or postponed. My granddaughter’s long-awaited band trip to Disney World was cancelled. Will our son and daughter-in-law get any of their money back?  Will our granddaughter’s school have a prom and other senior activities?  Will she get to experience walking across the stage at her high school graduation?  Will we get to take the trip we planned for this summer?  Will our retirement investments ever recover?

Before social distancing, I enjoyed my freedom to do whatever I wanted. Even if I didn’t want to go somewhere, I knew I could. I could go to church, attend my weekly Bible study, have a meal inside a restaurant, attend parties, and have family and friends into our home. Before March of 2020, I knew grocery stores would typically have everything I wanted. Even if I didn’t want or need what was on the shelves, those items would be there.  But all that has changed. I’ve never seen empty grocery shelves. I’m beginning to get a glimpse of how people on the other side of the world might feel. I’ll never experience their difficulties, but at least I can understand the frustration and disappointment they must feel.

People around the world are walking around in masks and gloves, no one is shaking hands, there’s no more hugging, people of all ages are being hospitalized and some are even dying. If there’s a funeral, I’ve wondered if the family can even grieve together. It’s all so sad. Life, as we have always known it, appears to be in chaos.

Our lives seem to have been put on hold. A friend said, “It feels like I’m in a movie.” I agreed and replied, “Yes! I feel like someone has paused us in a movie and life, as we know it, feels like we’re not moving.”

As I’ve prayed and pondered these changes, God has brought to my mind the many ways He worked in advance to prepare us for this ordeal. I’ve had time to think about His preparation of our world “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Through technology, God has made it possible for us to exist inside our homes. Electronically we can:

  • attend church services and school classes
  • listen to and watch speakers, musicians, programs, events
  • give money to churches, ministries, organizations
  • work from home
  • order, pick up, and receive food from grocery stores
  • order food from restaurants and have it delivered to our door
  • receive prescriptions in our mailbox
  • see and communicate with people around the world
  • visit doctors through telemedicine
  • borrow e-books from the library
  • purchase e-books for various devices
  • bank online and pay bills

You can probably think of other things God has orchestrated. He has gone before us because He knew COVID-19 was coming. God is taking care of His children, and He is taking care of those who are not His children.

God has also reminded me:

    • He is sovereign and in control of everything.
    • He knows the end from the beginning.
    • He is trustworthy.
    • He is all-powerful.
    • He is faithful.
    • He is all-wise.
    • He is loving, kind, and good.
    • He is full of grace and mercy.
    • He sent His Son to forgive us and His Spirit to live in us.
    • He does not treat us as our sins deserve.
    • He intercedes for us.
    • He gives us hope and a future.
    • He is victorious over death and the grave.

AND Jesus is coming again to take us to live with Him forever!

So,

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:22-23 

About the Writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.