Saturday morning 18 women met in the Coffee Cove for the second official meeting of T2W, but for our first discussion of Women Helping Women, a book edited by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Since some of you wanted to be there but your schedules did not allow for it, we thought blogging the meeting would keep everyone in the loop.
Though it was a little early for some of us, coffee was provided and no one fell asleep. In fact, all caffeine aside, I was encouraged by the fact there was discussion (not “discussion leader speaks, then waits in uncomfortable silence while crickets chirp and everyone stares at her”). Thanks for that!
As most of you know, the plan is to meet once a month (2nd Saturday) to discuss a couple of chapters, and this week we logically started with chapters 1 and 2. We opened by asking, “what did you find most challenging, interesting, or surprising in our reading?” It was not surprising that more than one woman mentioned the statement on page 16, “. . .don’t be confused. The Bible is not a self-help book. Written on every page is this truth: we cannot help ourselves.” Since bookstores (secular and Christian) are drowning in self-help books, CD’s and DVD’s, this is a bold statement. Later in the same chapter, this thought was reinforced:
We don’t need self-help; we can’t use it. We need Other-help. We need a Savior. . . The Bible teaches that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ-the good news about what He’s already done for us-that transforms our lives. (p. 21)
That truth – the gospel is not about what we do, but about what Christ has already done – has transformed my thinking over the past few years, and I don’t think I’m alone. The problem that we often have is connecting this gospel truth to the way we live our daily lives, and that will be the focus of our time together each month – connecting the gospel to our lives, specifically as women.
When Elyse came to speak for Faith Lift a few years ago, she was in the midst of writing the book, Because He Loves Me. In the introduction she talks about how we as believers move beyond the gospel, not because we don’t value it, but “we don’t really understand how God’s love to us in the gospel applies to us practically, here on this side of Calvary, “ and then she asks the question, “In your pursuit of holiness, have you left Jesus behind?”
Chapter 1 reinforces what our pastors regularly preach – we never move beyond the gospel.
Chapter 2, Do God’s Promised Apply to You? is a discussion of the assurance of salvation, and more than one woman cited her appreciation of the quote on pages 29-30, which ends with the statement, “He assures us not by giving us confidence in ourselves, but by bringing us to the end of ourselves, so that we might know and love him.”
Again we are faced with biblical truth that seems upside down and backwards to a world living by the slogans, “Believe in yourself!” or, “You are worthy!” The freeing truth is that I am not nor will I ever be worthy, but Christ is, and His righteousness covers me.
So, when we discussed the indicators of our identity in Christ at the end of chapter 2, we reminded the overly introspective among us that sanctification is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. That should remind us not to excuse our sin, but to run boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:12-16).
We want to encourage you to keep reading this book, but not in place of the Word of God. In fact, we want to be like the believers in Berea, who “searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things a were true.” (Acts 17:11)
The last 20 minutes of our time together was spent in prayer for those in need in our church family, for our pastors and for various ministries in the church. Let’s continue to hold each other up in prayer during the month.
The next meeting is set for July 9, at 8 am in the Coffee Cove. We will be discussing chapters 3 & 4, so keep reading and come ready to listen and to share.
In Christ Alone,
Dianne for the T2W Team