Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Lessons From the Potter's Wheel

by Leah Richardson 10. April 2019 12:51
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 ESV The beauty of hand-crafted pottery inspires me. I greatly appreciate something made by willing hands. And I know how the art began--a pile of dense, unattractive clay. In a world of technology, something that was also made in ancient times, that has survived through changes in culture and taste, calls to me. Two years ago, I signed up for a pottery class at the Ankeny Art Center. I attended each week, eager to learn the next step in the process of making pottery. I knew I’d learn about working with clay, the wheel, technique and artistic approach, but as I sat at the potter’s wheel, the greatest lessons were not about the process. Isaiah 64:8 would form a deeper meaning in my heart. Before you put clay on the wheel, you must prepare it. Each type of clay has a different consistency and character, making each piece of pottery unique. It also means the way the clay is handled varies. You begin by wedging the clay, a process of mixing and rolling to ensure the product is free of air bubbles. You knead the clay over and over to remove the air. Air bubbles can cause issues when throwing the clay and can cause the clay to break, even explode, when fired in the kiln. Once the clay has been prepared, you sit at the potter’s wheel to center the clay. It takes constant pressure from both hands, using your entire body to sustain the force. The process can be messy. Arms begin to grow weary, but you cannot stop. About the point you want to quit, you begin to feel the clay change beneath your hands; it becomes pliable… moldable… useable. The metamorphosis from clay to art begins. Many, many times, I have felt the pressure of my Father’s hands working to mold and change me as His unique creation for His unique purposes. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes I wonder if His hands are growing weary. Scripture encourages me: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28). Clay jars are weak; what an encouragement that our Creator never is. Sitting at the wheel staring at the formless clay, I’d think: “What can the clay say to the potter?” Can it say, “I know how life in this vessel should look”? No. The clay is weak. It’s powerless. The raw unshaped clay waits, totally reliant on the potter’s hands. The reality of the clay on the wheel in front of me magnifies God’s love for me. I am formed by His hand and saved by His grace, not because of anything I offer but because of His great love for me. What gracious, undeserved love He lavishes on us! “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). When I’m struggling with my human frailty, my weakness and my imperfections, I’m encouraged to know there is incredible purpose in being a jar of clay! Nothing will disqualify me or you from being used for God’s purposes. He assures us of this when we are told that the power belongs to Him. The glory of God is displayed in our human weakness. We are weak and fragile, and yet by grace through faith in Christ Jesus we are chosen, we are loved, we are His, we are forgiven, we have purpose, and we are used to magnify Him! We are enough because Christ is enough. The world may tell us that we must be mighty to be mightily used, but God says, “… If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11). As we serve humbly, relying on the Spirit at work in us, we are used to demonstrate His great power. Oh, what a beautiful thing to be the work of His hands, used to glorify Him, the Creator and Sustainer of all!

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Womens Blog

Walking Closer with Christ

by Nicole Young 8. March 2019 14:40
Recently I had the opportunity to speak at Lakeside’s first Coffeehouse Conversations. What a true blessing to be able to share my heart and the gospel with a variety of women here at Lakeside! When I was preparing for that talk, God laid on my heart some Biblical disciplines that have carried me through some of the hardest and darkest times after becoming a believer. In the earliest days of my new life with Christ as my Savior and Lord, I was struck with a desire and urgency to daily spend time in God’s Word, to soak in His presence each day. I love how the scriptures talk about Jesus waking early in the morning to spend time in prayer and communion with the Father. If our Savior depended on this spiritual renewal, we CERTAINLY do as well. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35 We have no idea what our future holds. We have no idea what the next hour holds. We aren’t instructed to worry about it. We aren’t instructed to stress or “what if” ourselves into a frenzy. Instead, we are told to ABIDE in Christ. Spend time getting to know who God is through His Word. Dwell on His promises. Tattoo His words on your heart. Spend time in His presence. Make it an unbreakable calendar date. This is your most important relationship. God desires us to come to Him. To seek Him. “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 Over the years, God also worked on my heart to sanctify me in the area of my thoughts. I was letting lies, worries, guilt, fear, and anxiety reign in my heart. I was letting those thoughts and those lies stay in my mind. I would dwell on them. I would worry about what God thought about me rather than trust His Word and what HE SAYS about me. So much like Eve in the garden of Eden, I started to question what God said. Does God REALLY love me? Does He really forgive me? Does He really care about what is going on in my life? I let those lies snowball. And soon those lies seemed more plausible than the truth of the gospel. But God mercifully brought friends and family around me to speak truth to me. He continued to draw me to His Word for truth. And He sanctified me, and helped me turn from this sin of disbelief. It is VITAL that we do not let lies fester in our heads. God calls “this taking our thoughts captive.” “..and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 We must stop the lies, and replace them with truth. We must remind ourselves of the Gospel. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 So sisters, this week my encouragement to you (and to myself) is these four things: Spend daily time in God’s Word—spend time dwelling in God’s Word, learning more about who God is and who YOU are because of who He is! Rehearse the gospel to yourself daily—remind yourself of the great price that Christ paid for you. Remind yourself that you are now a blessed and redeemed, chosen and adopted child of God! Take your thoughts captive—don’t let the lies fester in your head. Tell your head to “Stop It!” and dwell on the promises of God. Write them on post-it notes and stick them in places that you will see. Play some gospel-centered worship music. You may have to stop those lies time and time and time again. But God is faithful and His promises are SURE. Have Sisters-in-Christ who can encourage or give a hard word—be willing to open up and be transparent with at least a few godly women who can encourage you. Find Christian sisters who are willing to give you a hard word if needed, pray for you, encourage you, and help you walk through hard times. Sisters, I am so thankful for the women of Lakeside. Let us be women who lift each other up in prayer, who encourage one another, and who constantly point each other to Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior!  

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Womens Blog

Playing Tarzan

by Jen Subra 6. February 2019 09:34
  In the dappled light of the Amazon rain forest, a muscled man grips a rope like vine and, swinging easily into open air, lets go only to reach out and grasp another that easily carries him across the leafy expanse. There is no hesitation or doubt; that was his plan all along.This may be my poor visualization of the mythic Tarzan, but it is meant only to paint a picture of where God sometimes calls us to go. And, no, I do not mean the Amazon rain forest. We are  often called to “swing out and let go.” We are called to faith: believing what we cannot see; trusting the Planner before we know the plan. The vine-swinging Tarzan has been a mental picture of God’s request for me to let go before I’ve grabbed on to the next thing. We see this picture of stepping out in faith, of required action before revealed plans, throughout the Bible. Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Daniel 3: 14-18 (King Nebuchadnezzar spoke) “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?. . . .  But if you do not     worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Matthew 4:19, 20 “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left their nets and followed Him. That’s some heavy duty vine swinging there. Leave your home, your people, your culture, your country, and I AM will tell you where to go. Worship God only, and I AM will provide for you through the fires. Leave your job—the one thing at which you are skilled—and come do what I AM asks you to do. There are those moments, those decisions, even those seasons of life, where we are called as followers of Christ to follow Him in a way that tests not His character, but our BELIEF in His character. Do we believe the great I AM? In the Old Testament, He is the Most High God, the Creator, the One Who Sees, the Shepherd, the Healer, the All-Sufficient One, and the One Who Provides. In the New Testament, Jesus is the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd, and, appropriately, the True Vine. Are you in a season of “swinging out?” Are you being called to take a step of faith and let go of a fear, a worry, a dream, a relationship, a child, a job, a home,  or a church, and you’re not sure what’s on the other side of that expanse? Where you’re going to land? You can be sure that the great I AM, the True Vine, is there in that space. It is the unchangeable, unwavering character of I AM, our Abba Father, to be in that space that is unknown to us. Do you trust Him enough to “swing out?” “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

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Womens Blog

Five Simple Words

by Julie Summa 8. January 2019 19:22
Five simple words uplifted my day. I have enjoyed playing racquetball for a long time. Because of my age, my current ability to play is not because of any agility or speed, but more because of well-placed shots. I play weekly with a group of guys who are very understanding of my limitations. I was playing doubles a few weeks ago and our foursome included a new guy who was probably in his mid-forties. He was notably physically fit and more skilled than the rest of us on the court. As the match continued, I ran up to the front of the court, but I couldn’t run fast enough to make the shot. After missing the shot, I said, “That’s what happens when you are 61.” The new guy turned to me and said, “I never would have guessed.” Those five words were the most encouraging words I’d heard all day! I was revitalized to think that a relatively young, fit guy concluded I wasn’t as old as I really am! Our words can both encourage and discourage. Throughout the Bible, God gives us guidance and instruction regarding our words…what we say, how we say them, and the attitude that accompanies our words. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) Research says that on average, people speak about 7,000 words per day. With the sheer volume of our spoken words, we can easily slip up and say something destructive. We, as women, need to be extra careful how we choose our 7,000 words! There is one who speaks rashly the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 (NASB) The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3 (NASB) God tells us there will be consequences to our sinful speech. However, pleasing God with our speech should be our motivation, not avoiding consequences. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36 (NASB) One resource God provides us to help with our words is prayer. In fact, He is faithful and willing to help us with any sin in our life, especially when we recognize it as sin, confess it, and call out to Him for help. Praying specific, simple prayers regarding our speech, like the psalmists did, can result in lasting change. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14(NASB) Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 (NASB) Our harmful speech is often preceded by a sinful thought or motive. God’s Word is filled with guidance and truths about the best way to tackle our sinful thoughts, motives, and ultimately our words. Daily immersion into His Word is essential in the battle against our destructive tongue. Consider asking yourself right before speaking, “What can I say to this person to encourage her (or him) today?” Strive to use your words to encourage, not discourage. Your children, parents, friends, boss, co-workers, and even racquetball partners all need your words of encouragement! Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 (NASB) Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)  

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Womens Blog

Make This Christmas Season Holy

by Gloria Stewart 3. December 2018 06:03
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” (Luke 10: 41-42 NIV). Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and worship Him rather than help her sister in the kitchen. Although this isn’t a traditional Christmas scripture, these words spoke to me as I prepared for this holiday season: make it holy. How can I make this Christmas season holy? Keep my focus on Jesus; avoid the commercialization and remember, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” At our house the focal point is on nativity scenes. I have several (at least seven) that I display, including a Fisher Price nativity that has been on the fireplace hearth since our first grandchild was born twenty years ago. We depend on a variety of family activities to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Perhaps there will be an idea for your family to try this year: Attend Advent worship on Sunday Attend special programs such as the Christmas Eve worship Read the scriptures daily until Christmas: Matthew 1:18-2:12, Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-20; and John 1:1-18 Share family devotionals at mealtime or bedtime Spend time meditating on the miracle of Jesus' birth and praising God for sending His Son Play Christmas carols Create a Christmas prayer list and include the ill, the shut-in, the lonely, the grieving Give gifts to a needy child or family Bake cookies together Deliver plates of cookies or fresh fruit to shut-ins or new neighbors Show appreciation to those people who make your life better: postal person, police officers, fire persons, pastors, teachers, bus drivers, or neighbors Use Christian symbols to decorate the Christmas tree Go Christmas caroling to shut-ins in your neighborhood Display an outdoor nativity so others are reminded of Jesus this season Attend presentations of Handel’s “The Messiah” or Christian concerts Make or choose Christian Christmas cards to send Watch Christian Christmas movies (The Nativity Story, Veggie Tales’ The Toy That Saved Christmas, Max Lucado’s The Christmas Candle) The scripture shared above reminds me of what is important this season. As I prepare the house and our lives for Christmas, I want to choose what is better, what one thing is needed—make Christmas holy by honoring our Savior’s birth.  

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Womens Blog

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