Hope and Grace

Love always hopes–1 Corinthians 13:7.

My mother fought hard for relationships that were threatening to break. As a member of the Body of Christ, she considered it her personal responsibility to fight to preserve “oneness.” She avoided gossip like the plague, but when she learned of trouble brewing in a marriage or any relationship in the church, her mama bear instincts kicked in to protect that part of the Body from severing. She reached out, asked questions, listened, prayed, offered assistance, and reassured the wounded that there is always hope.

I’m not sure my mother ever thought about what her spiritual gift was. Maybe the apostle Paul—and the rest of us—might assign her the category of “encouraging” and “showing mercy” (see Romans 12:3-9).

My mother was quiet. You may have rarely noticed her. Preparing meals; sewing sundresses; cleaning closets; inviting little ones to discover silent treasures inside her “church bag,” which caused a joyful hush in her pew every Sunday morning—none of these things drew attention to herself, but all of these things blessed the Body of Christ. When no one needs credit, Christ gets it instead.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us–Romans 12:6a.

We all want our gifts to be received graciously, even it if we don’t “hit the ball out of the park” every time we offer our gift. Is it okay with you that people “have different gifts, according to the grace given?” Is it okay with you that that brothers and sisters in your church, members of your very own Body, may offer those gifts with differing amounts of faith?

Some gifts are quieter, but who’s to say how much faith it may take to persevere in them?

Grace is the glue that keeps me—and the Church—together. We are truly one Body only when we pour grace out abundantly over each other.

Whether all eyes are on you as you offer your gift or no one sees your sacrifice, you belong. Let’s hold onto hope and keep fighting this good fight of faith together. Let’s live by the grace given to us so every member knows that they belong.

Which Way is Forward?

Forward, Alliance Council 2017, is in full swing in Columbus, OH. We are being inspired and encouraged. We are all ready to move Forward! But, at times, we find ourselves paralyzed. Unable to move. Asking, “Where do I go?” Here’s hope.

My husband of nearly twenty-five years had just divorced me.  At 41 years old, I was a stay-at-home mom with no career, no home, and my family was broken.  It was as a death to me; the love of my life was gone!  I was absolutely devastated.  I had no lasting means of support and was given two weeks to decide “what I wanted to be when I grow up.”  I was broken, hurt and fearful.  What would I do?  How would I carry on?  Why didn’t You save my marriage and keep my family together?  Questions, fear, anger, disappointment – I just didn’t understand.  For about ten years, I was a born-again, earnestly seeking Christian, but I was afraid.  The storm had come and it was more terrible than anything I could have imagined.  My desperate heart cried to God over and over and then, He gave me a dream.  I was standing on a sandy beach with a map that looked like a treasure map in my hands.  I was looking at it very closely, trying to get my bearings.  “Where am I?” “Where do I go?” Just as I began to get my bearings, a wind came up and blew the map out of my hands.  This happened three times.  As I woke up, I sensed the Spirit saying, “I am not going to give you a road map.”  “Trust me!”  He was asking me to trust and follow Him without any clue as to where I would end up or how He would get me there.  Honestly, I was disappointed.  I was hoping for some answer to hold onto, but He didn’t want me to hold onto anything except Him!  That was fourteen years ago and I don’t know what you may be going through, but our God is faithful.  As you seek and follow Him, He will see you through the valley of the shadow of death and into the promised land of the peace that passes understanding.  He is ABLE.  He will PROVIDE.

Debbie Payne, Alliance Community Church, Geneva, NY

Looking Forward with Hope

On the first day of spring, March 20, 2017, I finally removed the pumpkins and gourds that were artfully arranged in the planters outside my front door. Purchased from the local pumpkin farm and put in place for Thanksgiving 2016, they have been an unexpected source of delight throughout the fall and winter months. Snow-covered pumpkins are, actually, quite beautiful!

Now, I look at the empty planters, and the bare dirt, and anticipate what they may look like this spring and summer. Do I dread what I may see in these planters? No! I look forward with hope. I anticipate beauty, color, and life!

When you look at the current landscape of your circumstances and contemplate the future, what emotions spring from your heart and mind? This is my prayer for you. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Recently, our Alliance family was reminded that we are Good News people. Thanks, Peter Burgo, for your excellent editorial in the March/April 2017 Alliance Life magazine. Peter writes, “We are neither harbingers of doom nor purveyors of deceit. We are the good news people.” Yes! May we once again be filled with all joy and peace as we trust in God. You can read the entire editorial here.

In May, our Alliance family will gather for Council 2017 in Columbus, OH. I hope to meet many of you there, particularly at the Women’s Global Gathering scheduled for Saturday, June 3, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. Do you need a fresh infusion of hope? Come see what God is doing in and through His people – here at home and around the world.

Whatever your circumstances – whether your life looks like an empty planter waiting to be filled or a cluttered mess needing some attention – look up to the One Who can fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, and look forward with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God bless!

Article Submitted by: Jen Vogel, Director, GCW National Executive Team