Archive for Inspirations

What Worked Before

I can tell from the number of “hits” on this website that many are looking ahead and starting to plan for upcoming women’s events and retreats.  We are too.  So far, we have the theme, the date and the venue nailed down.  We thought we had a speaker, but we are back to square one on that. Here in the planning stages, I have to admit, our retreat schedules and activities look very much the same from year to year.  We alway have promise verses; we always have a quiet time study; for the past few years, we have done an interactive Bible study workshop, all of which our ladies have come to expect along with the teaching sessions.

During Bible study this spring, I felt like the Lord spoke to me from a story in the Old Testament.  If you remember, in Exodus 17, the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness and there was no water for them to drink.  The Lord told Moses to take his rod and strike the rock in Horeb.  When he did, water came out for the people to drink.  Later, in Numbers 20, Moses faced a similar situation–thirsty complaining Israelites.  This time the Lord told Moses to take his rod and speak to the rock, and it would give forth water.  However, Moses took the rod and struck the rock twice.  Water again came out for the people.  However, this was an act of unbelief and disobedience, and because of it, God punished Moses.

I have always looked at this story as willful disobedience on the part of Moses. However, I looked at the story a little differently this time.  What if Moses was doing what he knew worked the first time?  That doesn’t excuse his disobedience, but it does make me understand him a little better.

As we plan this year, are we falling back on schedules and activities which have worked before? Or are we seeking the Lord for His direction, being open to His changes and new things?  It is something to ponder.  I don’t want to fall into sin just because I was only doing what worked before. Don’t be tied to the past; don’t assume that what worked before is how God wants to work now!

Posted in: Inspirations, Lessons Learned, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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The Oscars

And the Oscar goes to…….(drum roll, please)…..(cut to commercial)…..(cue dramatic background music)…..(play one more commercial)…..(make sure the correct envelope is in hand)……
What angst!!  All those poor actors/actresses/directors/etc.!  Imagine the stress and uncertainty they all feel during those pivotal, and probably uncomfortable, hours awaiting the official announcement that will let them and the world know who is, without a doubt, the BEST.  And then what? What if your name isn’t called? Awe…..poor babies.  The plight of going home without a prize.  Sad, and double sad!
 Well, here’s the good news today and every day….we are of no consequence to the scrutinizing, fickle eye of Hollywood. Woo-Hoo!!  That is good news. How could that be good news?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Because, even though the “who’s who” may never know who we are, we’ll never be recognized on the street by autograph-seeking fans, our names will never be announced on national TV as ‘the winner’…..God says we’re Number 1 – THE BEST – in His book!!  He has given us a prize more valuable than anything the Hollywood Mucky-Mucks could ever hand out!  Not to mention, we don’t have to wear Spanx when accepting our award!
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. 2Timothy 4:8

Posted in: Inspirations, News & Information

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A Baby Changes Everything

Baby Jesus and Mary Joseph hand drawn illustration | Christmas season scene | Christian art drawingI hope you had a Merry Christmas, Readers!  And Happy New Year!

For the past few months, I have been more or less absent from Retreat-in-a-Bag.  My son and his wife, along with my 4-year-old grandson have been visiting from China for a few months.  They came home to have a baby–my second grandson (born 12/9/16). That major “distraction”, in addition to our women’s retreat and regular women’s ministry activities, has kept me occupied offline…in a good way!

My daughter-in-law’s progressing pregnancy reminded me of a Christmas song (sung by Faith Hill):  “A Baby Changes Everything.”  How true that is!  Because of baby Josiah’s arrival, our family is forever changed!

But, of course, the song is referring to a special Baby who came and whom we celebrate at Christmas–a Baby who truly changed everything. God loved…and sent His Son for the purpose making our relationship with Him possible. He made possible a life free from the bondage of sin.  He changed our eternal destiny, as well as our day-to-day existence. He covers us with grace and mercy. He gives purpose and meaning to life. He changed everything in my life, that’s for sure.

Honestly, this website exists because of Him and for Him and for His glory. God has consistently used women’s ministry and the accompanying retreats and events for my growth. Size of the ministry doesn’t make a difference–we are a small church.  But depth of the ministry does matter.  We shouldn’t waste the few hours a week that we have with our women. Every activity should lead to a deeper understanding of our Savior and His Word, and a pursuing of prayer and fellowship with Him and others.  My desire is to encourage women’s ministries as they strive to take their women deeper through every possible avenue–through regular Bible study, retreats, skits, and other creative means of making His Word real and applicable in our lives.

My prayer, as we begin this new year, is that God would use the resources offered by Retreat-in-a-Bag for His purposes, and that women’s ministries would be encouraged to follow hard after God, to faithfully minister to their women and to reach out to the hurting world around them.  We know the One who changes EVERYTHING!

“It’s about how Jesus came to be born once, So that we could be born again.”   (“It’s About the Cross” J.J. Statema)




Posted in: Inspirations, News & Information, Retreat and Event Planning

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10 Encouraging Verses for Women’s Ministry Leaders

zahl cipher 10 gold vertikal

In no particular order, I want to share a few verses that have been particularly encouraging or challenging to me as a women’s ministry leader:

  1. I Corinthians 11:1:  “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”  Have you ever really considered the boldness of this statement that Paul made to the Corinthian church? As a Christian, it encourages me, and as a leader it challenges and convicts me.  How would you feel about daily wearing a button or a t-shirt with those words on it?  Would you want to hide when you were having a bad day, or when tasks were overwhelming or people were annoying you?
  2. I Corinthians 16:15b “…they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints….”  Paul describes the household of Stephanas with the words “devoted to the ministry of the saints.”  Another translations uses the word “addicted.”  What a picture that paints…leaders who can’t stop serving even if they wanted to–they are obsessed with serving.  They are hooked, and they can’t stop!
  3. John 15:5c: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”  This is a good reminder to all leaders all the time, because our flesh always wants to get in the way.  If we are not on guard all the time, it is easy to find ourselves doing things in our flesh, using our common sense and our own abilities instead of recognizing our need for Him.
  4. Galatians 6:9 “Don’t get weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  This should be lodged in your memory, available at a moment’s notice, because (light-bulb moment)… ministry can be wearying. People can burn you out; needs can be overwhelming.  Keep your eyes on the harvest.
  5. I Timothy 6:20a:  “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.”  We have responsibility for the souls in our care, and those souls are of great value to God.
  6. I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The enemy of our souls, that great “Discourager” tirelessly works to convince you that your labor in the Lord is in vain.  Are you going to believe him?  We walk by faith and not by sight.
  7. Philippians 1:27a  “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  This verse reminds us of the high standards of conduct the Lord requires.  Our women are watching, possibly more than you realize.  They are watching how you handle problems and conflict, they are watching you handle disappointment and trials in your own life, they are watching what comes out of your mouth.
  8. Philippans 4:8 “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think on these things.”  What we allow our minds to dwell on will sooner or later determine our actions and speech. It is a discipline leaders should take seriously, because our thoughts can be our downfall.
  9. Philippians 2:14-16a “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…”  Our world is obviously getting darker by the moment–but that is when our light shines brightest. We can be a light in a dark place as we continue to hold fast to the Word of life.  Shine on!
  10. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Just a reminder for all of us.  We are privileged to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to serve others and give our lives for them.


Posted in: Inspirations, Lessons Learned, News & Information, Realities of Ministry

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The Faithful Few

workwithOne of our goals in women’s ministry is to serve and build up the women of our church body. As we plan for Bible studies and others women’s events for the coming year, we try to consider women in all stages and walks of life: younger women or older women; women who are single and those who are married; career women or stay-at-home moms; women with special needs, etc.  As much as possible, we want our studies and events to be all-inclusive, open and applicable to all women. To that end, last year we added two regular Saturday morning events during the year, hoping to draw in those women who are unable to join us for events taking place during the week. Also, for that reason, the same women’s Bible study is offered both morning and evening to accommodate working women and stay-at-home moms. Our prayer is that the options available would draw in women “on the fringes.”

But at a recent leadership meeting, we were encouraged with this:  “Work with what you have.”  Yes, we want our women’s ministry to accommodate as many women as possible. We want to be continually drawing new women, helping them get excited about the Word of God and the fellowship and accountability of studying in a group setting with other women. We need to be inviting and encouraging women to attend. However, our focus should be on those who are coming, who have already shown their desire to grow spiritually by being there.

I think of Jesus, who ministered to all who came his way.  But His efforts were centered on the 12 men the Father had given Him to disciple and prepare and raise up.

If God has given you five women who consistently attend your Bible study, work with them. Teach them. Disciple them. Encourage them. Concentrate on depth of ministry, not width.  Work with what you have.



Posted in: Developing Leadership, Inspirations, News & Information

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