How to Stay Close

At GateWay of Hope, we often read the “Jesus Calling” devotional, and several of our clients also have copies.

The devotion on August 4th had a statement that seemed to answer a basic question many of us ask, “How can I be sure I’m in the will of God?”God never worries

We love God. We want to serve him in the best way possible, using our gifts and our talents, our passions and our time – wisely.

But what exactly does that look like?

Sarah Young, author of the “Jesus Calling” book, states it this way, “You don’t have to choose between staying close to God and staying on course. Since He is the Way, staying close to him IS staying on course.”

That makes sense.

When we are close to God, we can more easily hear what he is saying and respond to the tasks he wants us to do.

When we are close to God, we live in peace – which is part of the fruit of the Spirit – a result of his presence in us.

When we are close to God, we don’t have to wonder if we’re obeying him, because we’ll know it. Disobedience will cause a separation.

When we are close to God, we won’t wander off into sidetracks and distractions that can become strongholds.

Living close to God cements our relationship with him and helps us find that abundant life we’re all looking for.

So how do you stay close to God?

  • Spend time with him
  • Pray – talk to him and listen for his response
  • Journal what he says and the nudges he is sharing with you
  • Obey when he says to do something
  • Trust him even when times get rough

Stay close to God and you’ll BE right in the center of his will – close to his heart, loving him by living in his presence.

©2015 GateWay of Hope

 

Languages of Apology

On our last blog post, we dealt with the subject of roadblocks to forgiveness. One final roadblock comes as a suggestion from the book “The 5 Languages of Apology.” Written by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, the authors suggest that because we respond differently to love languages, we also respond in certain ways to languages of apology.

If we don’t hear the correct apology, that becomes a barrier to forgiveness and keeps us stuck in the past.

We may have a primary apology language and a secondary language. When seeking an apology, we can ask the offender for a particular type of apology. Then both of us know what the boundaries are and how to move toward forgiveness.praying_hands_bible

The languages of apology include:

1. Express Regret: say “I’m sorry” without any excuses or reasons. A genuine expression of true regret. Behavior also needs to mirror these words.

2. Accept Responsibility: say “I was wrong” and again, with no excuses or personal justification. Genuinely accept responsibility for the failure.

3. Make Restitution: show strong efforts to make amends and right the wrong. Ask, “How can I make amends?” Be specific. Make it right.

4. Genuinely Repent: desire to modify the behavior with a dedicated plan for change and action steps for that plan. This is not an immediate fix. It takes time to see the results of this type of apology.

5. Request Forgiveness: ask specifically for forgiveness about that particular offense and the wrong that has been done.

When we don’t receive the correct apology, it is difficult to move toward forgiveness. This indicates that true forgiveness is based on communication and relationship.

Often, we will never receive any type of apology from our offenders. That’s when we need to release it to God as the Judge, know that He is the vindicator and let Him take care of it in His time.

Forgiveness is difficult, and it is a process. But without it, we cannot move forward – away from the wrong done to us and toward becoming the women God has created us to be.

Only God can truly forget. We can’t do that, but we can choose to forgive and embrace a new soul focus that makes us better and keeps us living a joyful life.

©2013 GateWay of Hope Ministries

Action Points for God

When we think about the new year, making our goals and resolutions, we also decide how to make those goals happen. That’s where action points come in.

An action point is a definite activity or task which helps propel us toward the goal.

Did you know that God also uses action points?

A favorite passage for Jesus followers is Psalm 139:23-24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (TLB).heart of art

A good practice is to pray through these action points and remind God that we want to pursue our relationship with Him.

1. Search me – It’s okay, God, for you to poke around in my soul. You are, after all, Emanuel – God with us. You aren’t scared by what’s inside me.

2. Know my heart – Since my heart belongs to You, God, I invite You into a deeper relationship with me. Know me, love me, pursue me.

3. Test me – Okay, this is not my favorite part, God, but I know that without the test I will have no testimony. So bring it on and then give me strength to pass the test.

4. Know my anxious thoughts – Since You know what I’m thinking, please replace my anxieties with Your peace.

5. Point out anything in me that offends You – For someone who is recovering from legalism, this is a great action point, God. I don’t need to discover my own weaknesses nor do I need to listen to other people list my faults. You know what offends You, and You know how to point it out. This is Your work in me, so I will ignore all the other voices.

6. Lead me along the path of everlasting life – That’s where we are, God, on the path together toward a stronger relationship and an eternity together.

What are some action points you’d like God to take in your life?

© 2013 GateWay of Hope Ministries

125 Women

As we close the calendar on 2011, we evaluate what has happened this year at GateWay of Hope. Between the three ministries of counseling, prayer and groups, we have served 125 women.

Some of these women have found hope and encouragement through a new viewpoint of themselves. They’ve learned more about nutrition and the various ways their bodies react to food. They’ve encouraged each other through the dark clouds of depression and found kindred spirits in the struggle to cope with daily life.

Some of these 125 women are fighting against the ravages of their husbands’ sexual addictions. These women have been reminded that their opinions count and they aren’t going crazy just because their husbands have a problem. They know how to live in freedom and how to set the important boundaries. Some of these marriages are being saved while these strong women learn the importance of confrontation and their own significance.

Another group of women are letting Christ peel back the layers of memory and meet them at their places of deepest pain. These women experience emotional healing prayer and learn how much they are loved by Almighty God. Release, freedom and relief are some of the benefits.

Our counselors have listened and commented, leading women to face their struggles and find workable solutions to move forward in life. We have seen incredible healing and transformation as women find the safety of GateWay as a catalyst for their deepest secrets.

Women who are Unemployed have found a support group that encourages them, helps them network and shares valuable job tips. They meet to pray together and to strengthen each other in their resolve to find that special job where God wants them to serve.

Another group of women encourage each other as they pray for their adult children. They’ve seen some miracles happen, and they’ve been able to commit their children once again to the Father who holds them in the palm of his hand.

125 women – an incredible representation of what God is doing at GateWay. Through counseling, prayer and groups; women are finding the impetus to enter a new year with hope.

Have You Been Identified?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be called children of God (1 John 3:1). It’s been intriguing to think about how our identity changes when we come to associate ourselves with Jesus. My devotional this morning opened with Ephesians 2:8-10. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Listen to what the author, Dennis Kinlaw says about “a moment of divine touch” in his devotional book This Day with the Master.

There is a great difference between what we can do and what God can do. Our work has finite character to it, but his is eternal. That is why one moment of divine activity is worth more than a lifetime of human effort and achievement. Between his work and ours lies the difference between religion and grace, and religion without  grace is sterile and ultimately destructive.

Religion without grace inevitably leads to pride and arrogance. There is an illusion within it all. Religion makes one feel superior to the irreligious. Where God is at work, there is an inevitable humility because God is humble. Just look at Jesus. When God comes, our pride and our arrogance are always broken. We do not feel superior. We know we are obligated. Meekness replaces self-sufficiency because our confidence, our trust, is no longer in what we have done or are doing. When we live in grace, our confidence is in what has been done and is being done for us. We know we are recipients more than we are givers.

The result of grace is a freedom that the merely religious never know. Ours in the freedom of the child. Theirs is the bondage of the servant or slave. Religious people, in spite of all they do, will never be spiritual children. No human can ever achieve that by working, children of the Father enjoy the freedom that comes with that relationship.

God wants us all to be his children, daughters and sons. We can’t make ourselves that. He can, and he can do it in one divine moment if we will let him.

I’m not sure why, but even when I know that I am a child of God, I sometime slip away from grace and into religion. I was encouraged today to remember that my identity is in who He says that I am and not in what I think I can do!

May your day be blessed know who and whose you are!

~Kiersten

Taking Time Away

Life is busy and demands can crowd your calendar to the point of personal insanity. Even when the calendar isn’t full, it seems difficult to find places to sincerely connect with God and others. Some can carve out some time and place for personal quiet time, but that can become routine and familiar. Sometimes, we just have to get away to refocus! The one thing that keeps us from getting away is often coordinating it on the calendar. Our commitments often offer the biggest constraint to making time for simply being.

You may have a morning free, but don’t find the local coffeehouse all that inviting, or maybe you would like to sit and visit with a girlfriend to share news and encouragement for an hour in the afternoon while the kids are at school, but you find the bathroom calls our for cleaning if you meet at your house. GateWay of Hope Ministries understands and would like to help you take advantage of some quite niches you might find in your calendar.

We have created a space for you that we call The Gathering Place. It is designed with you in mind. Many have used the space and found it quite delightful. We would like to invite you to do the same. For more information about The Gathering Place, contact us: http://gatewayofhopeministries.org/gathering_place.html

We look forward to helping you take some time away!

This Mess is a Place

There was a little plaque I used to have on the wall when my kids were little. It said, “This mess is a place.” This was my reminder that I need to loosen my grip on my need to have others think I was a woman in control. Allowing for the possibility of a mess, reminded me that the place I was in was more than a stage for the world to applaud my performance as wife, mother, homemaker, etc. The mess was evidence of life and growth, of nurturing and relationship, of tangible relevant interactions between people that can’t take place in a sterile environment.

It’s so easy to get our focus on how many things are out of order that we forget who we are and where we are. There are days I look around my own soul and I have to remind myself that “This mess is a place.” It’s a place that I incorporate my thoughts and hash out the reality of my feelings. I have to remind myself that God isn’t afraid of my mess. In fact, He placed the seat of His Spirit right in the middle of it.

One thing that my children learned is that a mess can’t stay and the place remain, so we also learned how to clean up – from time to time. That’s what I love about the Holy Spirit. His love doesn’t let our mess stay that way either. But it is by His direction that order comes from chaos and our mess takes on definition. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be all cleaned up for God to be pleased with you. He’s not looking for a performance, He wants relationship! Learn to be comfortable with Him in your mess.

– Kiersten Adkins