BUT - was so thankful that I was able to make it up to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church once again this year, to hear Lisa Harper and Meredith Andrews.
This was our 3rd time joining Johnson Ferry for their annual Women's Conference. They always do such a great job. And it's just such a warm, welcoming bunch.
The theme this year, Next, was based on Philippians 3:14 - "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Forgetting what may lay behind you, but also dealing with anything that keeps you from pressing forward.
Their Women's Ministry leader, Marsha gave a great illustration.
She said one of her favorite things is to go to the spa. She typically gets a hot stone massage and it just helps her unwind and relax. So, not long before the conference, she made an appointment for her usual massage, to help her deal with all the tensions of planning such a huge event. And so, she soon found herself, laid down, face in the hole, prepared for a peaceful time of relaxation and pampering. Instead, she heard "I don't know how anyone can live like this." To her surprise, the massage therapist not only was not quiet, she was critically commenting on her left shoulder, which had grown quite tight. Marsha was taken aback. She said the therapist continued "We can go ahead and do the massage as planned... or I can work on this shoulder. But, it's going to be uncomfortable." Marsha laid there and thought "I just came in for some pampering." "But, I will tell you, if you don't get this shoulder worked on, it will only become tighter and harder to work out next time." So Marsha relented and had the shoulder worked on. And it hurt! Not the relaxing, peaceful time she'd looked forward to. But, she knew the work was necessary, going forward. "Now, you do realize that if you don't continue to work on strengthening this shoulder when you leave, it will only mean more work on it again later." After the therapist had begun the work, it was up to Marsha to continue the work.
So relevant to the Christian walk. Oftentimes, we have things in our lives that we must 'work out', in a manner of speaking, so we can better move forward.
We were each asked to write down what was keeping us from moving foward into what God had next for us. Their ministry team went through them all that night and prayed over each one. And the next morning, they reported that the overwhelming majority wrote that it was none other than fear that seized them and kept them from what God has in store.
I must admit, that was my answer as well. And it was comforting to know I was in such great company.
Now, to do the hard work of getting that fear worked out, so I can better strain for that goal ahead.
Meredith Andrews leading worship on Friday night.
I love that this church is such a supporter and encourager of such great organizations! The past couple of years, they have supported My Sister's House, a safe place for women and children in the Atlanta area.
This year, they have been huge supporters and ambassadors of refugees, which I so appreciate in this day and age. (If you have the slightest critical spirit toward refugees, I would highly encourage you to watch "The Good Lie" with Reese Witherspooon. Or read Immaculee Ilibagiza's "Left To Tell". These beautiful, brave people have been through more than we would even want to imagine.)
So, this year, they highlighted a relatively new organization out of Clarkston, GA (home of World Relief and primary location for refugees to be relocated and worked into our society). It is called Refuge Coffee. It was founded by a couple who had moved to Clarkston and fallen in love with the melting pot that they came to know there and felt it impressed upon them to come up with a way to both support the refugees through employment and at the same time, give them a place or a means of coming together and getting to know one another. The result was Refuge Coffee.
For more information, please visit their website at: http://refugecoffeeco.com/ .