What IF

photo-5IF I told you that it would change your life, would you go? IF I told you that you would leave maybe not knowing all the answers but anchored to the truth, would you listen? IF I told you that we were all in this together, would you be a part of it? IF:Gathering did all this and more for me a few weeks ago in Austin and I believe IF:Local can do the same for you right here at Chets.

I didn’t realize how much I needed this weekend until it was over. I had reasons, okay so more or less excuses why I couldn’t go. The world has a way of making the routines/demands of life seem more important than time carved out solely for focus on God. It’s amazing how much better life can be when you start to see it and live it through God’s lens.

The IF:Gathering is more than just a weekend conference or women’s retreat, it is a movement and this movement needs you. Through authentic Christian women, God is reminding us of our purpose. He uses those with a huge platform like authors and speakers but you’ll also hear Him just as loud through “regular” moms and wives thick in the weeds and heartache of ordinary life but choosing to have faith in Him.

IF is more than just women speaking. It is God moving. It is His word asking us to rise up, to own what we believe and to help anyone and everyone understand that His love and grace is available. It is the most important thing in this world. IF tackles big issues with which both unbelievers and Christians struggle- race, terrorism, human trafficking, etc.  IF challenges us to step up, step out and face the tough issues because if we have Him in our heart than that is enough to do something.

Throughout the weekend, it is clear that His word is the truth, that we need it and we are all called to do something with it. Being a part of IF:Local will give you an opportunity to discover what your faith means to you, what you need to change, how you need to grow and what’s next. IF reveals we are better together than apart. Our stories are not the same but our God is. We can be that cloud of witnesses that encourages and strengthens the Christians around us. We need each other.

IF is really simple. IF is going back to the basics of faith and living it. You won’t know it until you experience it for yourself but you need IF and IF needs you.


{This post was written by Mary-Lauren Eubank.  Mary-Lauren is a curly-haired Texas transplant who has fallen in love with Jacksonville beaches! She in the trenches of motherhood with two sassy and entertaining daughters. A busy body in the truest sense, she teaches fitness classes all week and runs her own business Jax Stroller Strength. Her family has been a member of Chets Creek for six years and she cameos in the nursery every month.To stay sane, Mary-Lauren requires a daily dose of dark chocolate, unwinds with a page-turner and folds laundry watching just the kind of reality TV that she will forbid her girls from watching in the future. A wannabe foodie, she loves to learn about, prepare, experiment and indulge in all things food…well except the shopping part with kids in tow. She is a contributor for Jax Moms Blog and an active volunteer at her oldest daughter’s school.}

 

Ready…Aim…

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In my household lately we have had much discussion about our thought life. We have taken much of our current sermon series about habits and thoughts to heart.  Our thoughts control our actions: what we say, how we say it.  It completely impacts everything we do!
A few Saturdays ago the Chets Women prayer team went to gather for prayer and shoot archery. This was absolutely not coincidence and it’s timing was actually perfect. Many women arrived to shoot their arrow straight at the enemy. We shot arrows and prayed prayers to impact the thoughts and habits of our families, church and children.  There was prayer for healing, marriages, children, discouragement, and for God’s vision.  How powerful is that!?
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Just as these women gathered to pray and shoot their arrows physically it was confirmation that daily we must tackle our thought life and shoot our arrows spiritually.
Psalm 144 was our guide that day to our spiritual warfare. It’s how we approached tackling our thoughts and habits.

Psalm 144

A psalm of David.

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations[a] submit to me.

Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
    mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
    their days are like a passing shadow.

Open the heavens, Lord, and come down.
    Touch the mountains so they billow smoke.
Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies!
    Shoot your arrows and confuse them!
Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
    rescue me from deep waters,
    from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
    they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.

I will sing a new song to you, O God!
    I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.
10 For you grant victory to kings!
    You rescued your servant David from the fatal sword.
11 Save me!
    Rescue me from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
    they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.

12 May our sons flourish in their youth
    like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
    carved to beautify a palace.
13 May our barns be filled
    with crops of every kind.
May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands,
    even tens of thousands,
14     and may our oxen be loaded down with produce.
May there be no enemy breaking through our walls,
    no going into captivity,
    no cries of alarm in our town squares.
15 Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
    Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.

(Source: BibleGateway.com)

How powerful is it that the Lord trains our hands for war?  He is our shield in whom we take refuge. He shoots His arrow to scatter the enemy. We will sing a new song to the Lord.
This passage alone can help us transform our thought life and create new habits. Psalm 144 teaches us to put our Trust in the Lord, tells us how to overcome our enemy, shares how to prepare for battle, and demonstrates how to celebrate our victories.
If the enemy tells you something negative…grab your arrow.
If you have doubts…grab your arrow.
If you think something can’t be done…grab your arrow.
If you need healing…grab your arrow.
I have learned at the start of this year that it’s not ever too late to form new spiritual habits. Your new habits begin with your thoughts. Your thoughts lead to positive habits, and your habits CAN and WILL shoot the arrow straight at the enemy. It will keep you steadfast and strong in the Lord!
So keep your heart and mind focused on Him and your arrow will land on the target.
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It’s not too late to join one of our women’s prayer gatherings.  On Tuesday mornings, moms are invited to join together with other moms as we pray for our school-age children and their schools.  Our Wednesday Night Prayer Gatherings are simply ladies gathering to pray.  We will be taking aim on our families, marriages, parenting, workplaces, and more.  Finally, starting Saturday mornings is our Praying Fit – open to all who would love to walk and pray.  Check chetscreek.com/women for more information.

{This post was written by Elizabeth Hendry. Elizabeth and her husband Jerry have been married 23 years. They have a beautiful daughter named Kaylee. Their entire family serves in some form of praise and worship at Chets and they have dubbed themselves the singing “Von Trapp” family! Elizabeth loves being a mom and wife and you will find her on the Soccer field and in a pedicure chair as often as possible!}

Why I Love My Discipleship Triad

Have you heard of life transformation Triads?  Want to know more about what they are?  Type “triads” in the search bar on the right of our blog or start with Leslie’s 3 part series by clicking HERE.  But for now, check out a great testimony by Chets Woman, Lauren Bedwell, about her experience with a Triad.


When you think of the commitment involved with a discipleship Triad, it is easy to “say no” and not get involved.  Granted, many of us are already involved in great communities like life groups or women’s Bible studies.. BUT after doing a Triad for the last year, I encourage you: do not write it off yet!  For me, it was totally worth it and needed!

I have been going to Chets for the past 5 years and most of that time I have participated in women’s Bible studies with my adult life group. This has been a sweet, sweet time of developing friendships with girls in my same life stage. We have started families around the same time and are facing similar obstacles. It is amazing to have people in my life who are going through the same things I am going through. With that said, in a large group Bible study, you miss a certain accountability that can be found in a discipleship Triad. I was feeling like I wanted to go deeper in my spiritual walk, and I had questions on some basic spiritual truths that I wanted to learn more about. When I heard about the book “Discipleship Essentials” and the discipleship Triads being promoted by Chets Women, it caught my attention. I found two women who were not in my life group (this isn’t necessary, but it worked out that way for me), we looked over the covenant to complete the study together, signed it, and then started meeting on a weekly basis.

It is awesome to dive into the Word with on a weekly basis with two other women who are seeking God and seeking to grow in their relationship with Christ. The beauty of the Triads is the “in your face” accountability to study God’s Word and complete the lessons each week. I mean – if I am being honest – in a large group Bible study, if my week gets crazy and I am tired, I can leave a couple of pages blank and no one will likely notice. But in my Triad, we go through each question one by one and there is no way to “fake it til you make it.” There have definitely been weeks that I have slacked off and the night before I am up until midnight because I know that I have to complete the lessons because the other two women are counting on me to have finished. I LOVE that about my Triad, because it keeps me in the Word and keeps me growing and on the path of becoming a disciple. I believe most of us want to be growing closer to Christ, but it has catapulted me forward knowing there are two ladies beside me, cheering me on. Psalms 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” I totally agree with this verse, but it is so hard for me to memorize scripture and store it in my heart! Typically, memorizing scripture (unfortunately!) gets pushed to the back burner when life gets hectic. In our weekly meetings, one of the first things we do is recite the scripture we have learned over the past week. Not to sound like a broken record, but it keeps me accountable and keeps me memorizing scripture.

Beyond the actual spiritual truths that I have learned through this study, I have developed deep friendships with the other two women in my Triad. When we meet on a weekly basis, we hear each other’s struggles and help each other walk through life. It allows us to have a transparent, honest relationship with each other. Triads are about accountability and consistency, but in our Triad, there has been grace when life happens – interruptions because of children, sickness, the holidays, or moving may happen, and weeks will go by where we have not met. Even in this absence of meeting, I believe we have developed a friendship where we are still pushing each other forward to Christ and encouraging on another.

I cannot say enough positive things about my Triad experience and I highly recommend everyone to get involved in a Triad!  Pray about the ladies with whom you’d like to develop a Triad, and then talk to Chelly Brown (Chellbro06@gmail.com) or Susan Freese (susan@chetscreek.com) and they can help you get started!


{This post was written by Lauren Bedwell. Lauren is married to Jeff, and together they minister to middle school students at Chets Creek Church. She is mommy to a sweet toddler boy who keeps her on her toes. Lauren also works part-time as an ER nurse here in Jacksonville. Lauren loves the beach, hanging with girlfriends, and Greek food. She’s always up for playing fun games, and you can lure her in with any kind of dip – think salsa, sour cream and onion, buffalo chicken.}