Every April the women of Antioch travel to Holden Beach in North Carolina. We rent a few houses and fill them with women in all seasons of life and this weekend even one little man, Noah, 6 months old.
The houses are big and beautiful. They are full of nice furnishings and have many bedrooms. Each house is appointed a house mom. She is the wonderful, faithful servant that cares to all of our needs. They make our experience extra special for us by putting chocolates in our room and decorating our bedroom door with our name and Bible verses of encouragement. The meals are coordinated too. We all take turns helping with cooking and clean up. There is plenty of really good food, bowls of fruit, pots of coffee, a selection of creamers, herbal tea, black tea, bottled water and bowls of candy. I’m telling you, it’s amazing.
We have fun, fellowship, chatting, storytelling and laughter. The houses are so big that you can easily find places of quiet too. The beach is right outside our door where women, young and old take long walks or are brave enough to jump into that cold Atlantic ocean.
The weekend also includes worship music. We sing together. All of us are free of our usual responsibilities so our hearts are able to let go of our worries and come into the presence of the LORD. That time of worship opens our minds to receive the next part of the weekend, the teaching.
This weekend the theme was cultivate.
We were encouraged to enrich our lives by embracing the goodness of God. He has richly blessed us but sometimes we are hesitant to receive what He has provided. Sometimes we are too busy to plant those seeds of prayer time, Bible time, fellowship. Rather than missing out on the sweetness of relationship with God and with each other Cindy and Janet pointed to examples of how the Lord uses the simple things in this life to help us be on the right track. Trusting God with our lives, with our time and even with our hobbies and interests. It’s amazing to sit back and watch what the Lord does when we follow him.
Cindy and Janet shared the truth of God from their hearts. Both ladies are grounded in God’s Word and have years of fellowship with Him. Here are a few of my notes from their teaching:
Cultivate is a strong verb, it implies action, doing the work with and expectation at the end.
We are to grow, nurture, given intention to what God has planted in us to be used by Him.
We are to cultivate our skills and passions in the right season and in the right circumstances.
What will be the legacy of your life? Ask yourself, does my soul know that God has made me, that I am wonderfully made and He had made me with passions?
Sometimes a passion is like a spark within us. It brings light and life.
We have purpose, each of us have different qualities, each quality is God given and valuable, to be used by God. Each gift or passion is beautiful and personally designed. We are equal but different in function. Our similarities are that our purpose is that we all use what we have been given for God’s purposes, to glorify God and bless His people. Pray and ask God to show you what to do with your passions.
If you want a harvest you have to start. You have to plant.
Those are a few of my notes, Janet can give you more of them. She was very encouraging and many of the ladies I talked to afterward were renewed in their desire to live out the passions and purposes the Lord had given them.
Oh, and ask Janet to tell you about the cupcake story, it’s God’s hand in real life.
I have notes from Cindy’s teachings too.
Our retreat theme was cultivate and Cindy shared with us cultivating relationships with each other and God. Here are a few of my notes.
The Company We Keep, Jonathan Holmes. “Friendships, however enjoyable and desirable, are never intended by God to be the end goal … Biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue Him and His Kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who bought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for.”
We are wired to have relationships. We have a desire to be fully known and fully loved and that requires vulnerability from us. We need to be authentic, real and honest. Love is genuine, not covered over by hypocrisy. Love one another with sisterly affection, be tender, understanding and humble. Love is hopeful, is patient, endures. We can’t shut people out because we have been hurt. Sometimes friendships go through a difficult time but weathering those storms together bring you closer.
Love is being giving and hospitable. Love is being a good listener.
Being a good listener requires patience. No interrupting.
Good listening is an act of love, good listening embraces the other person, asks perceptive questions, often open ended questions. Good listening is a ministry. A friend can be helped by having someone actively listening. When listening you can affirm your friend by turning towards them, nodding and asking clarifying questions.
Meaningful friendships take investment.
Cindy gave two talks, the other one was Taste and See That the Lord is Good. I have several pages of notes on that one too. Happily, this has been recorded and will be available on the website https://www.antiochchurchnc.org/resources/sermons/
It was a terrific spirit among us at the retreat. Maybe I should type it Spirit.
The Lord used Cindy to direct us towards loving one another by being open and transparent, by putting down our guard and being willing to risk being seen for who we are. Our God’s Holy Spirit is doing a work in all of us, even those that were not at the retreat. The Holy Spirit is not limited to space and time, we can trust Him to include us all in His development of our hearts and relationships. We are sisters of one family. The family of God.
In closing three things .. 1. Ask Hope about her laundry story and 2. Here is a quote from our booklet 3. Most importantly, we are so thankful for God’s answering our prayers. This retreat was built on prayer and the faith that our God and Father would meet us there. And He did not disappoint.
“But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances.
A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.
Christ, who said to the disciples,
“Ye have not chose me, but I have chosen you,”
can truly say to every group of Christian friends,
“Ye have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another”
The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out.
It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”