Building Up a Church Body

We have all been in that situation. Your heart is racing, you’re sweating from every crevice, your muscles are burning, and you’re wondering why you’re doing this to yourself. Yep, you guessed it… exercising.

We all know that building up our bodies is hard work. Hard enough that we often give ourselves really good reasons why we can't do it. I recently started working out doing CrossFit. (I know I know, I've heard all the jokes about how there are no quiet vegans or cross-fitters…😉). The first few weeks after every workout I wasn’t sure I’d be able to walk to my car. But then the craziest thing started to happen. I started sleeping better, being in a better mood and stopped getting sick all the time. See, we all know it’s good for us, but sometimes the work of just doing it feels like it’s too hard.

I think we do that in the church as well. The Bible tells us that the church is the body of Christ and that we each have our unique function and purpose. But even within the body, each part needs to be healthy for the whole body to function well. You know exactly what I mean if you‘ve ever hurt your pinky. You quickly realize that all your functioning is impaired and that little finger is the only thing you can think about even though it's just one tiny part of your otherwise functioning body.

Maybe we are missing out on some blessings because we haven't been exercising our part. We have each been given the tools to be equipped as saints; namely scripture, the Holy Spirit, and a community of believers. But is it possible that we sometimes just find it too hard to actually do? I know I do. I can think of 100 reasons why I can't be involved in building up the body of Christ (and they're mostly all over the floor of my kids’ room).

In Ephesians 4:12, Paul is urging the church in Ephesus to be building the church up, each part of the body doing its part so the whole body could function in unity and in love. And the same is true for us today. We each get a special blessing as we exercise our part, as “small” or “big” as it may seem, because that’s how we build each other up and glorify God.

And maybe like exercising our physical bodies, the first few weeks or tries will feel achy and hard and impossible. But after a while, we will see the fruit and the blessings that come to us as we engage in our part in building up the body of Christ.

What’s God calling you to? What part is He asking you to be in building up in His Church body?

Alisha Keating


Well Equipped

Ephesians 4:12 To equip the saints for ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Does anyone ever feel equipped to do anything they try? I’m legitimately asking because I can’t tell you how many times a day I feel that I’m not well equipped to do something I’m supposed to. Being a wife? Being a mom? Being a healthcare provider? There’s a term “imposter syndrome” that describes the feeling that you are in a position or role that you’re not qualified to be in even if you really are qualified. I find that I feel like an imposter in many areas of my life, even as a “saint” for Christ. I mean, even that word makes me feel like an imposter. I’m really not a saint. And I certainly do not feel equipped for ministry and building up the body. Music ministry? Didn’t really take voice lessons. Women’s ministry? I haven't been to seminary. Being a mom and raising boys in the way of Jesus in a postmodern world? …there’s no playbook for that. Certainly it can't be me that the Lord is asking to do those things… could it?  Thankfully, I’m not alone in this feeling. I think of Moses and take comfort. He tried to make every excuse he could think of for why God shouldn’t use him to free God’s people from slavery in Egypt. And God used him anyway… And I love that. Isn’t it so sweet and beautiful that our loving Heavenly Father equips us through His Word, His Spirit, and His truth? Isn’t it amazing that even though we may have imposter syndrome in our different roles of ministry which happen inside the church campus and outside the church campus, he still uses us? Isn’t it fantastic that all the reasons we give God for why He shouldn’t use us He just smiles and nods and uses us anyway for His glory? And He will keep doing so over and over again. He has said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness”. (2 Cor 12:9). Take heart, sister. You are equipped for your role because the God of unending love and grace has chosen you for your unique ministry and He is with you.

Alisha Keating


Confidence

It happened too quickly. He was out the store entrance, dancing down the sidewalk, and heading straight toward the driveway. My mom instinct started to rise. Suddenly just a few feet in front of him, a car pulled into the blind driveway. I yelled at the top of my lungs for my oblivious child to stop… and the car missed him by a few feet. ⁣ Every traumatic event I witnessed being a nurse flashed before my eyes, and my heart sank as fast as my anger grew. I've taught my kids to be careful around cars because I've seen firsthand the lethal force they can be, so why did my child dance down the sidewalk and forget to check the driveway? I squeezed his arm tightly as I asked him why he wasn’t paying attention? And at that moment as I realized my anger was a result of my fear of losing my precious child, I let go, and hugged him gently. ⁣2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”⁣. It's a verse I've heard over and over again having been raised in the church, but this time, the part of the verse that stuck out to me was “self-control”. ⁣See I think God knows that when we are afraid, we freak out internally and/or externally and we lose our ability to control our responses. So we act out and we try to protect ourselves from situations or people in ways that keep us less vulnerable to pain. But God, in His wisdom, is calling us out of fear and into a spirit of self-control. ⁣In the moments of fear instead of losing it and reacting in ways that we regret later, we can instead have a spirit of self-control. We acknowledge our burdens and fears and throw them at the foot of the cross. And then, with self-control, we allow God to speak peace into the situation. It doesn’t mean I was wrong to yell for my child to stop running into the driveway, but that it would have looked different after he was safe with me.⁣. Has God given you a spirit of self-control or do you let fear run your moments and your days?

Alisha Keating


The King Is Enthralled By Our Beauty

This month we have been meditating on Psalm 45:11 “The King is enthralled by your beauty: Honor him, for He is your Lord”. So many of us can’t see our beauty, worth, or value in the same way God sees it. In my Life Group every week, we so often admit the view we hold of ourselves is flawed. These beautiful, amazing ladies that I get to spend time with every week who are truly incredible inside and out, struggle with the fear of inadequacy, the lies of discontentment, and the realities of disappointment from expectations not met the way we had imagined they would be. We discuss as women how we struggle with feeling valuable, important, successful, and often only see the opposite. And I’ve been thinking…Do we help each other in this struggle or do we allow a culture of self-deprecation? Do we as Christian women, women of EFCC, do we cheer each other’s beauty on? Or is there any hint of comparison, judgment, or inadequacy that keeps us from doing this for each other? I don't know. Each of us knows our own hearts. But I do know it would honor the Lord if we, as a group, as the women’s ministry of EFCC, would try to make it our goal to honor the beauty in each other in a way that reflects God’s heart and beliefs about each other. It is essential that we fill our minds with the truth of God’s word, and that we spend time listening to God’s voice through prayer. But God also knew it wasn’t good for us to be alone. He knew when he created us that we needed each other. Maybe your words of encouragement, pointing out the beauty you see in another woman, maybe that is what she needs that day to draw her back to the truth of God’s word… that HE thinks she is beautiful. That HE created her worthy. That HE loves her. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our hearts to the women around us. Ask him to give you a word of encouragement to speak to the gal sitting next to you on the baseball field, your co-worker, the mom you always see picking up her kids from school, your neighbor, your Life Group leader. We all need to be reminded over and over again that the KING is enthralled by our beauty.

Alisha Keating


Honor Him

Isn’t it amazing that the King who already rules over everything wants our honor? So much so that he has allowed us to have free will so that our honor to him is not robotic but actually a choice? Honoring the Lord is a genuine heart response to his love for us, not a mandatory homage. ⁣So how do we honor the Lord? I’m sure each of you does this in different little and big ways in your lives and your hearts. I have recently been practicing the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. I wake up in the morning and sit in my living room in the quiet before the noise and chaos of the day begin and ask the Lord to quiet my heart and speak to me. I wish I could tell you that I'm really good at it and I hear from the Lord all the time. The reality is, I get anxious about the quiet and stillness and feel like I could be doing so many other things. I feel guilty for how distractible I am. But I’m learning to practice this discipline. And the practice of setting aside time in my day for my relationship with the Lord has been just that, a practice that is intended to honor my King. ⁣There have been seasons in my life where honoring the Lord meant traveling to other continents and giving my time and resources to bless the poor and the sick. Some seasons of honor looked like working really hard at my classes or learning to honor the Lord with my gifts and talents. There have been many seasons where honoring the King meant choosing to put one foot in front of the other and not give up on marriage, health, kids, career, and faith.  Each heart act of honor is so beautiful to our King because it is an honest response to his great love for us, not a demand. Ladies, in this beautiful community of believers, new and mature followers of Christ, what are some ways you have chosen to honor your King? If you feel comfortable sharing, we would be blessed to hear!

Alisha Keating


You Are His

It was one of those moments when I felt like everything was coming together just as I planned it. The chicken was marinated and grilled, the salad had the perfect homemade dressing, the sweet potatoes that I scrubbed, cut, and coated were sizzling in the oven, and I was reading a book with my kiddo at the end of a long, beautiful day.⁣ That’s when I smelled the smoke. ⁣I flew to the oven and muttered something under my breath in a… frustrated tone. And then? My husband had the audacity to ask me what temperature I cooked them at and I blew up at him. The feeling of failure sunk deeper and the self-doubt felt thicker than the smoke in my house. ⁣At that moment, I didn’t think about all the wonderful moments of the day and the “successes.” All I could think about was how angry I was at myself for ruining something I had worked so hard at. I felt that surely, eventually, someone was going to figure out that I was a fraud. That I’m not a great mom, wife, homemaker, practitioner… because, at my core, I so quickly believe that I’m not. ⁣I don’t pretend to know what might plague your thoughts, but for many women, myself included, self-doubt and feelings of failure come in an instant. But then we read the Bible and see this: “The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord” Psalm 45:11. ⁣Enthralled? How can this be true when all I see in my moments of failure is an ugly self-portrait? Sometimes truth is a wonderful and difficult pill to swallow. But the TRUTH is that the KING is enthralled by you. He’s enchanted by YOU. The God of the Universe thinks you’re beautiful. Notice that it doesn’t say He is enthralled by your beauty because you have the perfect hair, made the perfect dinner, have the most successful career, etc.. He’s enthralled by your beauty simply because He made you and you’re HIS. PERIOD. And out of response to His great love for us, we honor Him. So take a breath, open the windows, whisper Psalm 45:11, and let God’s word gently fill your soul with love.

Alisha Keating


Enchanted

As women, I think we often revel in fairy tales. We long for the same kind of love that breaks spells, defies odds, and ends on that high note with everything working out perfectly. But I'm not sure that we would actually want to live through the fatal flaws, choices, and battles that these same characters endure. The crazy thing is, God has already written our fairy tale love story and YOU are the main character! And this one is not some made-up story to make you wish your life was better. God is enchanted by YOU and He sent His son, Jesus, to literally DIE for you. So many of us have heard it over and over and sometimes I think it can become mundane. So let me say it again: The King of the universe, Creator, became a creation so that he could die for YOU, pay the penalty of the curse of sin, and rise from the grave to conquer death once and for all. Did you catch that? He did it all for love. That deep, enduring, end-on-the-high-note kind of love that cannot be broken, shaken, reversed, or revised. Agape. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).  

Alisha Keating