“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain from the flight deck. We’ve been cleared for landing in Houston. Skies are fair, winds are light, and the local temperature is seventy–two degrees.”
Dashing off the plane, straight to our rental car, printed MapQuest in hand, (Lord have mercy on my co-piloting skills), my very brave friend hopped in the driver’s seat. Deep breath and a sincere prayer to get us to our hotel, we were off.
Fearful Freeway Fretter that I am, you’ll be relieved to know my friend navigated those roads, dodging daredevil drivers, getting us to our hotel in no time. At one point, two lanes exited left, two lanes exited right and our one middle lane was exactly, and miraculously (!!!) where we needed to be.
You may be wondering how this all transpired: My dear friend, mentor, and therapist (!!!), Liz Curtis Higgs, rang me up recently to tell me about a new, never-before-offered Women of Faith (WOF) conference. WOF would be having five fabulous Bible teachers equip attendees to “Unwrap the Bible”.
Checkout the line-up: Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Sheila Walsh, Lisa Harper and Christine Caine. Worship would be led by beautiful and super uber-talented Kari Jobe.
Liz, who is also a speaker for Women of Faith, wanted to go and support her Christian sisters and soak in the teaching for a change, being poured into, in lieu of also being on the line-up, pouring out. After filling me in on the details, Liz said, “Would you like to go with me?” My goodness gracious, would I ever!!! (That was the invite of all invites, huh?!!!)
On Saturday, Liz and I found a great backdrop for a pic:
We flew down on Friday, February 21st, and back home late Saturday night the 22nd. Our hotel was close to Lakewood Church, where the conference was held. Eleven thousand women, plus a few brave men (including our pastor, Dave Stone and his wife, Beth) attended.
Parking was interesting. Friday night, we wound up underground in one of the many garages. I had to write down the color code, floor number, garage name, etc. just so we could find our way back. Leaving a trail of bread crumbs, had we had a spare loaf (!!!) did cross our minds.
Being in the church/arena was wild. I bet many of you have seen it on TV before. It didn’t seem as big in real-life, altho’ eleven thousand women can make some noise! Stop and think about 11,000 women opening God’s Word together. Slice of Heaven…
This picture was taken backstage Friday night. Victoria opened the conference with a prayer and Beth was the first to teach.
You gotta know the bathrooms quit working Friday night due to a water main break in that area of Houston. A wee challenge. (Pitiful pun intended.) Liz and I were beyond relieved to discover our hotel’s water was on and working upon our arrival that night!
Let’s get to the Bible teaching…
First up: Beth Moore. Each of the five teachers chose a woman from the Bible to teach on. Beth chose Hagar. She was convinced Abraham’s wife, Sarai, must have had a case of spiritual amnesia since she orchestrated his having a child with Hagar.
Beth walked us thru’ Genesis, Chapter 16, where Hagar flees after having had enough flack from Sarai, whom Beth dubs “Miss Mess”. Hagar flees into the wilderness with her son and the Angel of the Lord finds them. He asks her two questions we must ask ourselves in verse 8: “Where have you come from and where are you going?” Excellent points to ponder.
Beth further encouraged us by pointing out Hagar’s response to the Angel of the Lord. In vs. 13, “She called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!” (ESV and MSG) No matter what season we’re in, God sees and hears each and every one of us.
Beth added, “There’s new grace in a new place for each and every one of us.” Next time you wonder where you’re going, marinate on new grace in a new place…Isn’t that comforting?
One of Beth’s sweet staffers wrote an excellent post about this conference on the Living Proof blog, from February 26th. Go to www.lproof.org and checkout the post as well as a cool pic of the church.
Next up was Lisa Harper. She taught on “A Woman with a Disabling Spirit”, found in Luke 13: 10-17. The woman was “so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years.” (MSG)
Lisa pointed out that while this woman had a physical disability, many times we are crippled or bent over with a mental one, or two, or twelve. She said, “Our view, when bent, is very limited. We must be careful to not swallow the lies of the enemy.”
Lisa pleaded with us, “Girls, Jesus does not want us to live a bent-over life. He calls us to Him, as He did to this woman in Scripture, calling us to stand. “ We must make up our minds to stand tall and to stand firm.
Equipping us with numerous Scriptures, little did Lisa know three of them are my jump-off-the-page favorites:
2 Corinthians 1:24 – “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” (NIV)
Ephesians 6:13-15 – “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (NIV)
1 Peter 5:8-10 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. “ (NIV)
Lisa’s empowering lesson reminds me of a book which could apply to all of these teachers and to all of us. (A must-read for surviving the Christian life.) When the five teachers were brought together in a panel discussion led by Sheila Walsh, they were all asked how they have their quiet time as well as which book or books have helped them along the way. I couldn’t write fast enough. (I’ll share their answers with you in next week’s post.)
The book which they could deftly add a sequel to, is also from a panel discussion with six courageous contributors, each with decades of experience in walking with Jesus. The book? Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints by John Piper and Justin Taylor.
The contributors? Randy Alcorn, Jerry Bridges, John McArthur, John Piper, Helen Roseveare and Justin Taylor. Each wrote a chapter in the book and their two-cents’ worth will blow you away.
All eleven of these great Bible teachers and writers say the same thing: “The Lord is more precious to me the older I get.” This was a quote from John Piper’s eighty-six year old Father. Justin Taylor says, “One of the purposes of this book is to encourage you and equip you to truthfully write such a sentence—and mean it—in the final season of your life.”
Helen Roseveare admitted she’d like to change the subtitle of the book from “A Call for the Endurance of the Saints” to “A Call for the Perseverance of the Saints” creating the mental picture to “steadily go on, refusing to give up, no matter what comes.”
Each of the women in the Bible the WOF speakers chose do exactly this, all the while standing firm. Join me next week in Part 2, when we pick up with invaluable information from the girls’ panel discussion as well as pearls from Priscilla. Part 3 will conclude with favorite quotes from Sheila and Christine, as well as tidbits from our lunch with an amazing bunch of women. Tuck your toes under the table, as all these gals pack a punch!
Friday night’s farewell, led by Kari’s worship, had us using the flashlight app on our phones:
Meanwhile, enjoy some fabulous music– from worship leader, Kari Jobe! (www.karijobe.com )
‘Til next time!