Downline Summit for Women

Downline Summit for Women
February 19-20, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great Devotion on Friendship!

I read this great devotion this morning, written by Whitney Capps. I am challenged to go deeper with people!

The Friendship Project
5 Jan 2010

"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Luke:10:29 (NIV)

It was a room full of nearly strangers, barely friends-until that day. I asked the ladies to stand as I read from a list of life experiences. If they had lived through one of the descriptions they stood up. One by one, sobbing women rose to their feet as I read the list. They were family in name only - a family of believers from the same church gathered together for a women's retreat where I was the guest speaker.

Twelve women stood together when I asked if anyone had had a miscarriage. One woman had buried a spouse. Five came from unbelieving homes. One had lived through marital infidelity. Three had escaped relationships where they had faced verbal, p hysical or sexual abuse. Three ladies had struggled with depression. The list went on and on. By the time I had finished, every woman in the room was standing.

We were knee-deep in one another's junk, and yet I had never felt closer to a group of women. As we closed the session I asked them to share more about their stories at their individual tables. As I surveyed the room, women who had been strangers only minutes before were huddled around one another, embracing, sharing and weeping. God was knitting hearts together. It was a moment I'll never forget.

I am realizing that women of all walks of life crave friendships. And yet so many of us feel that we are lacking meaningful, authentic relationships. How is it that a church full of women with a common thread of faith are not friends? Worse yet, if we aren't friends, can we hope to offer authentic relationships to those who enter the doors of our churches every week?

I fear the answer is "no, we can't" unless we change and make a few necessary sacrifices.

Recently I've gleaned some life lessons from the story of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10:30, Jesus paints a not-so-favorable picture of the religious and respectable. I wonder if He would have the same indictment of our churches today? The priest was seemingly too busy to befriend the one in need.

Can I be honest? I am regularly guilty of this sin. Before and after church my husband and I busy ourselves with the work of tending to our children, and doing the business of church. I move past people who are hurting, but I don't stop with my busyness to see their needs. I rarely get off my horse. I am the priest.

The Levite rode past the hurting man too. Perhaps he felt he was too clean to get dirty in the messy business of grace and mercy. Helping the man in need would have made the Levite ceremonially unclean. He wanted to preserve his position and place.

Let me do a little more truth-telling. I don't usually want to get knee-deep in other people's junk. If I don't get into messy relationships I avoid having to deal not only with my own junk, but other's as well. So I don't get off my horse. I am the Levite.

Here is the problem. Real relationships require time and transparency. If we want to move from being casual acquaintances to genuine friends you and I will have to share pain and joy in an authentic, sacrificial way. I believe this, but for right now it's just theory.

I'm curious. What would happen if we covenanted together to get off our high horses and got into one another's junk? I wonder if our churches would explode. I wonder if lives would be forever changed. I wonder if the Church would shed a little bit of its reputation of hypocrisy.

Want to see what would happen? It's not too late to add a New Year's resolution. Let's resolve to change lives through friendship. Let's slow down. Let's share our stories. Let's get knee-deep.

Dear Lord, give me eye s to see those in need around me, and give me the courage to respond. Father, I want to be a part of life-changing friendships by offering grace and mercy. You call us to love others as ourselves. Help me obey this all-consuming command. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis

Visit Whitney's blog today

Traveling Together: Thoughts on Women, Friend ship and the Journey of Faith by Karla Worley

Join Whitney's Facebook group The Friendship Project for more details about this campaign

Application Steps:
How can you simplify your Sunday routine to allow more time for building relationships?

With whom can you share part of your story in hopes of offering encouragement and hope?

Do you have genuine, edifying friendships? Why or why not?

Are you reaching out and developing new friendships with those in need around you?

Power Verses:
Luke 10:27, "He answered: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neig hbor as yourself.'" (NIV)

Luke 10:33-34, 36-37, "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds…and took care of him… 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (NIV)

© 2010 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Great Devotion by John Piper- Happy New Year!

(Author: John Piper)

On October 22, 1976, Clyde Kilby, who is now with Christ in Heaven, gave an unforgettable lecture. I went to hear him that night because I loved him. He had been one of my professors in English Literature at Wheaton College. He opened my eyes to more of life than I knew could be seen.

O, what eyes he had! He was like his hero, C. S. Lewis, in this regard. When he spoke of the tree he saw on the way to class this morning, you wondered why you had been so blind all your life. Since those days in classes with Clyde Kilby, Psalm 19:1 has been central to my life: "The sky is telling the glory of God."

That night Dr. Kilby had a pastoral heart and a poet's eye. He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature.

He was not naïve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts. His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.

He ended that lecture in 1976 with a list of resolutions. As a tribute to my teacher and a blessing to your soul, I offer them for your joy.

10 Resolutions for Mental Health
1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities.

I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."

8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.