Pathways Through Gethsemane
The Power of Prayer in Our Lives

Women of Georgia 51st Annual Retreat - Page 3

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Stories written and submitted by
Chris Klimshuk, Lawrenceville First Christian Church, official Retreat Reporter

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Sunday A.M.

"Aligning Our Desires With God's Will, To Give Birth To Salvation"
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Ann brings us in with praise! From then on, I had songs on the brain for the rest of the day! Read on and you'll see what I mean.
108_0844.JPGChecking in with the A / V crew! Guess who is going to apprentice for next year's A / V crew!! Tamie Hines!!! Check the Saturday PM report photos! Tamie, go for it. All those buttons frighten the daylights outta me! I still look at that panel and for some reason I just know I could press the wrong button, or turn the wrong dial, and that would be the end of Europe! Just can't take that kind of pressure! Tamie, I tip my press hat to you!


Choir

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Choir singing "Days of Elijah"
( a note to our Choir Director at Lawrenceville First...
Kim, we really, really like this song! )


108_0852.jpgAdei and Judy ( the little drummer girl ) ROCK ! Rightfully so. It's a cool song!

Following "Days of Elijah", Connie Thompson offered the prayer of confession. It was one of the most moving and heartfelt prayers I've ever heard. It brought all of the components of our weekend together. I think sometimes a prayer is also like hugging God. He always hugs back!

108_0854.jpgMinnie Haynes did our scripture reading Luke 22: 39 -46


108_0855.jpg 0855 Linda Whitmire sang "Eagles Wings", impressive as always. I recall that some of the women joined her on the chorus. I always think that's cool, because it means that folks are paying attention to the words and the message is getting through. After the responsive reading, the choir sang "Jesus, What a Beautiful Name." Indeed!



(Adei quotes -- as well as could be manually recorded -- appear in bold print below.)

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Our hearts and spirits
welcome Adei's message
"The Laboring Lord
of Gethsemane"

Adei introduced us to the concept that we started out as spiritual beings in a spiritual world governed by spiritual law, but then we passed through the light and became physical beings in a physical world governed by physical law. This sets us up for a great struggle. The best example of this is Christ -- God become Man -- agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, a metaphor for life itself. Here, Jesus labors to align His thinking with God's. Christ was trying to align His heart and His will with that of His Father even in the face of the fear of the cross. In the garden praying, " ...not my will but Thy will be done ...," in that moment praying for strength to endure, and also to bring honor and glory to His Father. Can you imagine the anguish yet courage in the face of unimaginable suffering that Jesus must have had? I stand, no I kneel, in amazement that if there were only one living person, any one of us, regardless of our past, or present, that He would go through it all just for that one! For you, or for me. We can never earn that gift, but I don't see any reason why we can't continue to try. Even falling far short is better than apathy toward such a gift!

Adei's superb point is that, given what Jesus faced, we can be sure that the battle is on for control of our thoughts, so we must gain control of our thought life in order to align our will with God's. I've always looked at the battle between God and Satan as a custody fight. A really nasty one! Satan would do anything to hurt God. He couldn't care less about us; we're just a means to an end to him. We're tools he can use against God. If he hurts us or encourages us to make choices that lead us away from God's plan for us, he hurts God. We live in an imperfect world. Choices we make or others make, have a ripple effect and not all plans are set in motion by God because of our gift of choice. God is there in times of suffering to sustain us if we allow Him. He can even take the worst possible suffering and make something good come out of it, but only if we let Him. He is truly a gentle parent who won't force us to come to Him, but waits for us to come and crawl up on to His lap into His loving arms to be comforted. If we allow Satan to control our thoughts, we take away God's power to help us heal, find peace, comfort, joy, grace and strength, something God can do even in the middle of what we think we could never bear. With God, we bear nothing alone. How much we give up when we spiritually move away from our loving Lord. As a child I heard a song called " I Wonder If God Cries". When His children reject Him, I still think of that song.

Does this sound familiar?: "From the heart the mouth speaks," and "Thoughts are seeds that lead to deeds."

The seeds of thought are the first step toward bringing about a change for good or for bad. If we begin our thoughts with prayer and try to align our thinking with God's, our spiritual witness will remain healthy because we haven't closed ourselves off from our most important resource...God! Sometimes it is in God's plan that we need to charge ahead and do something for others while other times, we have to sit back and let them minister to us.

I am to call myself what God called me first,' Blessing'. If I don't soften my heart and run the risk of being hurt myself, I may not be able to receive what God has for me, and I may deprive someone else of an opportunity to answer God's call to bring a blessing. That is so hard to accept for many of us! When I feel uncomfortable accepting time, comforting or anything at all from someone else, an area in which I have continued to struggle, I try to recall when Jesus, the very Son of God, symbolically bathed the feet of His disciples at the last supper. Peter felt uncomfortable with that and told the Lord he should be the one to wash Jesus' feet. As Jesus explained the purpose of the ministry of receiving, Peter then realized and asked that the Lord not only wash his feet, but all of him as well. By rejecting the ministry of receiving, Peter would have rejected the greatest blessing he had ever known. He had to align his thoughts with the Lord, learn from the experience and then go out and bring the blessings he received to others. We must chance allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be open. We have to be vulnerable just to get to know someone else, especially God. Otherwise, we can't communicate with God, the fallout of which is that we cannot receive our blessings and may prevent someone else from following God's plan. Remember that self is plural... When we fail to allow, to receive, a blessing that God has for us through another person, our rejection of that blessing is a "No!" that becomes ...a spiritual bullet shooting through the universe. Who knows where the bullet lodges? Who have we wounded by our non-acceptance?

God's own Son was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3). The greatest blessing the world was ever given was rejected -- and wounded. Talk about fallout!  We are not in control of anything but we influence everything. Think about the ripple effect from tossing a pebble into a stream. Depending on where the pebble settles, it could either make a village thrive, or die. Too little water and crops fail, or too much and they drown. Just enough and they reap a bountiful harvest. We didn't create the pebble, nor the stream, but we did influence the flow. Another Ray Boltz song that comes to mind is "Thank You". One part speaks of a young man who came to thank his Sunday school teacher for praying one Sunday while the young man was a child. It was through that prayer that he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. We may never know the magnitude that a seemingly infinitesimal act may have had on the people around us. Imagine how far one smile could reach if it was shared from one person to the next, or a hug, or a handshake. Pick something! The only ministry that we have is our lives. Remember the words to the song "Eternal Life", the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi? "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace..." We are a living witness, something we must always guard. Our Christian Witness, depending on whether it is healthy or not, is what will draw people to our Father or push them farther away. Like it or not, we are all role models to someone.

Adei went on to say "Forgive me" comes from a deeper place than "I'm sorry". She had us say the words out loud and strangely, I did realize that "I'm sorry " sounds like a hollow excuse and even sounds vocally higher. It simply rolls off the tongue without any spiritual meaning while "Forgive me" seemed to cling to the heart and had the sound of true repentance.

In closing, Adei alerted us that the adversary wants to deprive us of our joy because he knows that our joy is our strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Years ago I remember a minister's wife who was really suffering through her husband's calling. She was drained by the demands the church expected of her. She suffered from depression. Yet every Sunday she put on the disguise of a smile. Even through her misery she still genuinely loved the church family, but the expectations from just a few members were more than she could handle. One particular day, as she was speaking with my sister and me, she finally let her guard down and told us of her grief, trying to fit the mold expected of her. It was so devastating to her. She told us, " No matter what happens in your life, or what demands you feel are put upon you by choice or not, don't let them steal your joy!" It made a great impression on me. I realized that without the Joy of the Lord, I have no strength to fight any battles in the spiritual realm or the physical realm. I try to remind myself of that every day, and in all things find some element of joy, no matter how small, because I know I need it. I know we all need it to make it through the battles that come with life itself, and I refuse to voluntarily give Satan any chance at a foothold. If the battle is truly the Lord's, He must use the joy He offers to us as one of His weapons. ( Lord, help me to laugh, to help others to laugh and help us all to help each other hold on to our joy and in so doing, our strength, completing the circle back to you again. Thank you for that blessing of joy! )

108_0860.jpgAs the worship came to a close, communion meditation was offered by Zena McAdams and Vanessa Hickman after which, and during the communion hymn, we covered our heads with the prayer shawls we were making during the weekend. It was a symbolic act of reverence toward our Lord. Something about it made me feel both humbled and hugged at the same time.



Following this very moving final session, we prepared to eat our final meal together and leave to all parts of Georgia, hopefully carrying the treasures we gained during our time together to our home church families to continue the blessings! Saying goodbye is always tough every year and so we take all the goofy or memorable shots we possibly can.

108_0862.JPG I finally got Vanessa to wear the Press hat even if for only as long as it took me to snap the photo! This one just may go up on my wall!
0863 A final shot of the Horda ( the rock!) 108_0863.JPG
Adei receives special gifts for offering her spiritual guidance and insight, along with her bountiful love and acceptance throughout the weekend. 108_0864.JPG
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108_0868.JPG Special hugs to Adei!
Close up of the beautiful plaque. 108_0869.JPG
Ann, Adei and ...the drum. Something so simple yet so memorable in our journey together this weekend! 108_0875.jpg
108_0871.jpg Sisters forever! One Father! One blood! One home!

Ok so since I got to be the retreat reporter this year, I reserve the right to put my two cents in again. Hey, as you can tell, I work cheap! I've put my two cents in so many times, I'm going to have to charge myself interest just to make up the deficit!
This was for me, one of the most memorable retreat weekends I've ever experienced and that counts retreats I've been a part of from many other denominations as well.

We were moved to tears, and we were moved to laughter and sometimes still moved to tears through the laughter. We reached up and together touched the hem of our Lord's garment and all of us took home some sort of healing, regardless of just how we felt about any specific part of the retreat itself. We aren't who we were when we started and we aren't yet who we are going to become, because of what we experienced together, but we are becoming, being continually created and then encouraged on toward that goal because of what we were able to be a part of at the retreat!

Today we have a chance to bring a blessing to someone and today we may have the privilege of receiving a blessing from someone else. We have to be loving to do the first, but we have to be courageous to do the second. There is a ministry in both giving and receiving. I hope to be able to understand how to do both in a way that will bring honor and glory to God. The good thing is, if any of us need help doing either, all we have to do is ask Him and the help is there! We know we are in a continual relationship with our heavenly Father. We are far from alone, because He made us complete in Him and we are from the very breath of God. We can call ourselves "Blessing" for that is what our "Daddy" called us!

At the bottom of the Friday program schedule this was printed: " The biggest disease today is not leprosy, or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity." (Mother Teresa) I pray that I'm going to try harder to be more compassionate to other people, other races, children, animals, and all that God created. I don't know how much of this goal I can achieve, but growth seems to begin by making a choice, a prayer, so that's what I choose to do. Sometimes, for some reason, we need permission from someone else to do what we know is the right thing. Well, consider this your permission...I invite you to look around you and reach outside of yourself and find the part of you that is connected to God. Let no one feel unwanted, uncared for, or deserted by any of us. We can all be there for each other, because as Adei said, "Self is plural".

We won't be perfect, but we will be better tomorrow for the positive changes we choose to make today. God is continuously creating us. If God is willing to work hard enough on us to bother to make each of our fingerprints completely different from any of our other fingerprints and all of our prints different from everyone else's, not to mention all the other personal touches He gently enfolded into all of us, I think we can offer a prayer that He keeps creating us and guiding us in His plan. Let's just see where His plan and our prayers lead us by our next retreat.

God bless and love to all! May your own personal journey lead you to such a close relationship with our Father that you never feel alone, or helpless and you always feel the joy of the Lord. May His power and love surge through you to every living being you touch along the way!

Many hugs,
Chris Klimshuk and Connie Thompson


Some additional people photos from Zena:

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