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Monday, September 26, 2011

A Beautiful Life

This past Thursday through Saturday morning, some of the ladies from our church experienced a retreat held at Gull Wing Resort on Fort Myers Beach.  The theme was A Beautiful Life and our speaker was Angela Blycker.  She and her husband, along with their three children are missionaries with New Mission Systems International.  Angela's website can be found at  She also has a blog, Immersion, which can be found HERE.  Her book is Running Into Water: Women Immersed in the Pursuit of God
(Betty Whitehorne at breakfast Friday morning)

The view from the conference room was amazing!  We were able to set up breakfast both mornings in a space just off from the meeting area and enjoy the view and fellowship before the study sessions.
The group of ladies you see in the forefront of the picture above are some of our senior adult ladies who were able to attend.  I was blessed to get to spend time talking and visiting with them.  I'm not always able to get to do that at church chasing my little ones around.
Eladia Osterhouse, our church pianist, led us in worship prior to each study session.  She is also the wife of one of our deacons and is the mother of four children.  She and her family are truly a blessing to our church.  She did a good job of helping us prepare our hearts to hear God speak through Angela.
And speaking of Angela...that is her (second from the left) in the picture above.
Here are Dawn (one of our church secretaries), Sharon and Louise (otherwise known to my son as "Lego Lady").  I had the wonderful privilege of rooming with both Dawn and Sharon along with Eladia and our pastor's wife, Mamie.  Sorry I didn't get a pic of you Mamie!

The thought running through all that Angela shared over the retreat was Creating Culture:  The Family as Culture Makers.  Here are my notes from the three sessions she shared with us.

Life is Beautiful
Creating Culture involves being firm in what you believe and then living it out.
Living our lives "to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1) is a grand celebration of God's presence.  Angela explained "praise" as "grateful celebration" and "glory" as "the bright presence of God".
  1. Culture making is to reflect God's image.  (Genesis 1:26-31)  God let Adam feel his need (for a companion).  Obedience is our worship.  Our culture is what we were made to do under the gaze of God.  We have forgotten who we are and what we are equipped with in Christ.
  2.  Culture making is to sow into the things of the Spirit.  (Gal. 6:7-10, Rom. 8:5-7, Eph. 5:15)  As women, we need to get into God's own established rhythm work, relationships, and rest.  Angela asked us this questions:  "What are we making space for in our homes?" and "What is going in our homes and what is shining out of them?"  
  3. Culture making is to involve cultivation and creating.  (Rev. 21:24-27)  This question was asked:  "What is your posture?  Is it one of condemnation (focus more on the dangers around you or the delights), critique (beliefs with no experience), copy (not creating, but allowing the culture around you to dictate to you), cultivate (be receivers who are thankful and not just consumers) or create."
Body care is to express worship.  (Rom. 12:1)
There should be the peace of God showing in our countenance. 
We should be "living" sacrifices - Rom. 6:13, 1 Cor. 6:19, Phil. 1:20.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made - Psalm 139:13-16.  The secret place is the imagination of God.  If we were to lay out all the DNA in our bodies, we would be able to reach to the sun and back 77 times!  (Col.1:16-17, Zech. 14:20-21)
Angela reminded us that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, it should all be done for the glory of God.  

Being a Modern Day Disciple
God sees what we can become and we should see this potential in those around us as well.  Angela encouraged us as women to live as transformed followers not holding onto the right to run our lives, living in complete reliance on Almighty God, and making disciples by "show and tell".
Love others in their imperfection - love others as God intends them to be.  She spoke a lot about how we use our words and encouraged us to "speak to the highest in another" (Prov. 10:11, 18:4, Eph. 4:29, Ps 141: 3)
Discipleship = Relationship.  Accountability - place yourself there!
A Disciple's Heart:
  1. Surrendered - My life is not my own.
  2. Growing - Everything alive is growing and changing.
  3. Servant - The opposite of self-centered.
  4. Generous - Gives liberally; it's a posture of the heart.
  5. Evangelistic - A passion for the nations.
As we abide in Christ (John 15), we will experience streams of Living Water flowing through us as we dwell in God's presence, listen to His voice, focus on His beauty and taste His goodness;  THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL LIFE!