Author: Kimberly Gallagher

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Step Out: Identify and Overcome Obstacles

Welcome to April 1st! Our theme this month is no joke: Step Out – Grow in Faith…Become a Disciple. For this first week, we are looking at identifying and overcoming obstacles.

In order to achieve your goals, you need a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish. If you’re attempting to step out of your boat and explore, but you haven’t heard clearly from God, then we invite you to review Step #1: Stand Up – Did God Speak to Me?

Once you have clarity about what you’re exploring, it’s time to assess what’s in your way. Obstacles might be tangible such as time, money, or resources – but obstacles can also be perceived such as fear of failure, fear of success, or feelings of inadequacy.

Let’s take a look at the current situation: In these historic days, you might be faced with a myriad of obstacles that are affecting your schedule, your time available, your mental and physical health, and your resources. Remember, your obstacles – both tangible and perceived – are not a surprise to God. He might use them, move them, or help you navigate around them!

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

You might view the current Pandemic as a huge obstacle – but what if you view it as an opportunity?

  • How is God using you and growing you spiritually and professionally right where you are?
  • How is God speaking to you right now?
  • What is God asking you to do?
  • What does God want you to hear?

Comment below or contact us if we can help you uncover God’s work in your life.

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Stand Up: God Speaks through Situations and Events

Throughout the month of March, we are exploring Step #1 of the step forward lifecycle: Stand Up and recognize that God is speaking to you. One way that God speaks to us is through situations and events.

Nothing that happens in our lives is by accident. God knows every detail of every second and nothing is a surprise to him. The current Pandemic is a great example. It may have been a surprise to us, with massive changes in lifestyle, income, education and health seemingly overnight, but God already sees the whole timeline of these events.

You might be wondering: So how can God speak through a situation like this?

When we’re going through a trial in our lives or experiencing a hardship, pain or loss, it’s easy to blame God: “Why is God doing this TO me?” It makes sense that if we are feeling something or experiencing something, we feel that it’s happening TO us — but that’s not the 30,000-ft. view.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:8-9

Everything that happens to us is part of a much larger picture and it’s one that only God can see and walk through with us.

That’s a key point: God wants to walk through each situation with us.

When difficult times come, just like this unprecedented time we’re facing now, it’s an opportunity to ask this question, “What can I learn from God?”

Whatever you are facing now…

  • What is God trying to teach you?
  • How can you make more space to spend time with Him and hear from Him?
  • What can you thank God for?

Comment below or contact us if we can help you uncover God’s work in your life.

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Stand Up: Seek Wise, Biblical Counsel

Dear sisters, during this month of March, we are covering the first step of the step forward process: Stand Up and recognize that God is speaking to you. One way to more clearly understand how God is speaking to you is to seek wise, Biblical counsel.

We look to Jesus as our example.

Jesus always sought to do the will of His Father: “For I have come down from Heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). When he had a big decision to make like selecting his twelve disciples, “…he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.” (Luke 6:12-16)

It’s easy for us to discuss our plans and opinions with everyone we know, but that’s not the life Jesus modeled for us. There are no accounts of Him receiving directions from His Father and discussing them with the disciples or anyone else. Instead, He showed us the power in retreating to silence, prayer, and boldly following where the Father led.

So, what does this mean for you?

Once you realize what God is saying to you, and you have a sense of direction from Him, ask God to show you someone who will provide you with wise, Biblical counsel such as a Pastor, or a church elder, or a Godly friend with a deep faith walk. You might also consider meeting with a Spiritual Director – someone who will walk alongside you, who can help you tune into the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, and can help you discern God’s work in your life.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your biblical community?
  • Who in your life can you seek wise, biblical counsel from?

If you don’t have that person, how can you go about finding that person in your life?

Comment below or contact us if we can help you uncover God’s work in your life.

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Stand Up: Rest in God’s Presence

Hey Friends! Our theme for March is the first step of the step forward process: Stand Up. One way to stand up in your boat and recognize that God is speaking to you is through prayer and quiet reflection. It’s really easy to talk at God, but the main idea here is to spend time resting in His presence.

Resting is no easy task. How many times have you tried an official quiet time and were completely distracted? Or maybe you fell asleep? Some of you remember the old Energizer Bunny commercials – the idea that the battery is so good the bunny just keeps going and going and going and going…

Does that sound like you?

It’s easy to keep going, propelled forward by circumstances, goals, or one expectation after the other. In the quiet moments when you finally stop, you have to deal with all of your thoughts and emotions…the cracks and gaps you try to avoid…everything about your daily life that you shove under the rug or cover up with other things.

By resting in God’s presence, you gain clarity about how you see God in your life – and it’s in those quiet moments that you really have an opportunity to let God work and direct you. When you rest in God’s presence, He can clear your thoughts and open your heart and mind to receive His message and prepare you for the work He has for you.

Will you try to rest in God’s presence this week for as little as 5-10 minutes a day?

A great practical tool for spending time with God is journaling. You can journal your questions, things you’ve been wrestling with, your thoughts, what you’re thankful for, prayers, etc., and then look back and see how God provided an answer, opened a door, made a way, and what He taught you through the process.

What methods have you tried to draw closer to God?

Comment below or contact us if we can help you uncover God’s work in your life.

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Stand Up: God is speaking to YOU

We’re one week into Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter. Many of you know that the Easter season begins with Ash Wednesday and it’s a common practice for Christians to attend church on this date and receive a cross or touch of ashes on their foreheads. The ashes symbolize our sinfulness and need for repentance in the light of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection on Easter Sunday.

For the month of March, we’re taking a look at the first step in moving forward: Stand Up – recognizing that God is speaking. One way that God speaks to us is through His Word.

It’s easy to look at the words written on the pages of the Bible and feel that they’re irrelevant…ancient words on a page written thousands of years ago. While it is true that the historical events and cultural customs written differ greatly from our modern world, the Word of God remains true today. His love for us, His faithfulness to us, and His forgiveness of our sins never changes.

So, if the Word of God is still true and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), why do we have such a difficult time believing that God is speaking to us?

Maybe we don’t understand our worth and identity in Christ.

When we stand up in our comfortable, familiar boat of positive or negative circumstances and recognize God is speaking to us individually, we are compelled to acknowledge that He sees us, that He’s interested in us, that He loves us, and that even in our constantly imperfect state, we are somehow worthy to be heard and recognized by the King.

Harkening back to Ash Wednesday, to stand up and acknowledge God’s voice and work in our lives means we rise to stand in the ashes of our sin, recognize our worth in Christ, and listen to what God has to say.

What is God saying to you?

How do you know when you’re listening?

Share your comments below or contact us if we can help you uncover God’s work in your life.

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spend this year with Jesus

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

This is not the typical goal-setting, list-making, organizing-your-life type of stuff that you normally read at the beginning of a new year. Whether you’re at the top of the mountain anticipating all that 2019 has waiting for you, or you’re trying to lift your hands in worship from the trenches of brokenness, the key to this next year – and really, the rest of your life – is to take it step-by-step, second-by-second, with God…not just “God with us at Christmas,” but every day. This year: Prioritize deepening your spiritual life.

Walk with God Every Day
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

  • What are your first thoughts when you wake up? Are you dashing out of bed into the day without any minutes to spare? Even if you can’t set your alarm earlier, make it a habit to tune your thoughts toward God. Thank Him for this new day and ask Him to walk with you through it. If you have concerns, doubts, fears, tell Him. If this is new for you, stick a reminder on your bathroom mirror or other go-to spot to help you recognize God first in your day.
  • As you go through the rest of your day, can you see Jesus with you? Sitting in the chair next to you? How about the passenger seat of your car? In your meeting at work? Working out with you? What would you say to Him? What is He saying to you? God is with us 24/7, but since we can’t visually see Him, use your imagination to picture Him next to you.
  • What time of day is best to call on Jesus? Every second! He’s walking with you and He wants to hear from you. Any moment is a good one to call on Him, talk to Him, thank Him, and bring your needs before Him. He is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

Make Your Decisions with God
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” (Isaiah 58:11)

  • No decision is too big or too small for God. If you’re making a decision about anything at all, ask God for His wisdom and guidance…and then be prepared for His answer. He will direct you and inspire you – but you must also be open to His plans and be willing to change yours accordingly.

Practice Being in His Presence
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

  • To love God and follow Him is to know Him and make time for Him. In addition to walking through the day with Him and consulting Him, the best way to deepen your relationship is to spend time with Him. The silence can be uncomfortable, but simply resting in His Presence is powerful. Maybe you would enjoy sitting in a comfortable spot or going for a walk. There’s no right or wrong way to spend your quiet time with Him…and if you find yourself nodding off, don’t feel guilty; discipline takes practice.

Embrace the Power of His Holy Spirit
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

  • As you’re walking with God daily, consulting Him, getting to know Him through His Word and spending time with Him, rely on the power of His Holy Spirit. It’s His strength that will get you through difficult situations and allow you to take the risks He wants you to take to accomplish His plans and explore the gifts and talents He’s given you.

If you want 2019 to be different, if you want to take charge of your life, if you want to see real change, spend this year with Jesus. If you have questions or need help deepening your spiritual life, reach out to us. We’re not experts, but we’re here to walk with you!

Pursuing God with You,

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a tapestry of hope

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

September 9, 2018 was the day individual accounts of broken stories of restoration multiplied exponentially through the body of Christ and became 1,000+ touchpoints of conversation as Heartland opened its first-ever creative arts exhibition, “Broken Pieces.”

Displayed on panels and tables throughout the lobby, more than 30 works were presented in poetic form, captured on film, pieced together with ceramic tiles, intricately woven with yarn, brushed on with acrylic paints and oils, sculpted, collaged, and drawn with pencil.

Theme aside, these somewhat fragmented displays of artistic works taking up space where comfy couches were normally located could have been placed anywhere except for one defining feature: the exhibit cards. Suddenly, simple white cards bearing the typical piece description became a megaphone for the healing work of Jesus. With one glance, personal trials, struggles with mental illness, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, homelessness, hopelessness, and death multiplied out from darkness to light as every individual’s internal monologue touched 1,000+ lives every time someone read an exhibit card.

2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

God took a simple display of themed creative work and turned it into a tapestry of restoration and hope. Like a stained-glass window, all the panels and tables of artistic broken stories were held together with the love, healing and grace of Jesus.

The Enemy wants us to keep our broken stories, deep hurts, and struggles to ourselves so that we remain isolated, but through the Power of God’s Holy Spirit and the saving work of Jesus on the Cross, there is no limit to what He can accomplish in us and our relationships with others when we make ourselves vulnerable, authentic, and transparent.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 says, “…But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

The Broken Pieces exhibit is just one more example of the transformational work God can do in our lives when we allow our stories to be used by Him.

Have you experienced Christ’s love and healing in your own broken story? Are you still trying to make sense of everything that’s happened in your life, or are you losing hope? If any of these ring true, please reach out!

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unpack your bags

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

As part of my fun and curious quest to read the Bible chronologically, I recently read through the book of Leviticus. Quite honestly, I slogged through the book of Leviticus. The entire book is about all of the rules, sacrifices and procedures required to be clean before God — or make atonement for sin — and it completely sets the stage for the time when God would send Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for all sins, putting an end to the Levitical system.

I’m a very visual person, so as I was reading, all of these unwanted pictures about what was happening were running through my mind. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be the priest, and I thought about how fearful and dejected the people must have been: “Is this animal an acceptable sacrifice for my sin? Did I follow the right number of days or the right type of sacrifice to be purified?” Can you imagine the burden of living like that every single day?

Many times I asked myself, “Why am I reading this book?” because I was pretty certain God would be cool with me just skipping it. “God, I know you had a plan here, but really? Like this is what you came up with?” However, I knew if I kept reading, there was going to be some little gem in there that God was going to speak to me through. By the time I got to chapter 26, I was beginning to doubt that this gem existed in Leviticus, but then, there it was in verses 12 and 13:

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

What a great illustration of what God is doing in our lives TODAY. Maybe your response looks like mine: “Yes God! YOU walk with me daily. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit and by the grace and mercy shown me through Jesus Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin or any part of my past. Because YOU have broken the chains of my bondage, I am new…transformed before You.”

I encourage you to be fully free in Jesus Christ. And if you have a personal relationship with Christ but you’re hanging onto some stuff, I encourage you to take the baggage of your past hurts, disappointments, stress, lack of confidence, negative feelings, and root causes of your addictions and hand it all over to God. You can stand tall with your head held high (Lev. 26:13), knowing “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

Let me know how I can help you on your journey of being continually transformed. We’re in this together!

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unraveling = freedom

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

The song starts, “You unravel me with a melody…”

While singing those words during worship last month, the word “unraveled” stuck with me. Various images came to my mind like when a hanging thread gets pulled and an entire seam comes apart, or when soft threads start to separate and create a hole in a favorite sweater. But we sang, “YOU unravel me” — YOU, God, unravel me. My trusty Google search produced this definition:

Isn’t that interesting? Let’s look at the first part of the definition: “undo” or “untangle.” The idea of unraveling is much more acceptable when we’re talking about fabric. We, as people, usually try to appear “put together” – not “undone” or coming apart in any form. But something beautiful happens in the purposeful unraveling of ourselves: like threads separating, unraveling creates space.

Loosening up the threads of our lives like our tightly wound personas, our impossibly busy schedules, our death grip on the things and people that are important to us, and our sin entanglements provides space for us to breathe…reflect…become free…and trust in God and experience Him more fully.

The second part of the definition reads “investigate, solve, explain, unscramble.” The action of unraveling ourselves and walking more purposefully with God draws us closer to Him. As we dive in deeper, He draws us closer and we achieve a greater understanding of His mystery, love, power and holiness.

So, how do we become unraveled? What does that look like? Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Examine your schedule. Is every activity necessary? Why? What can you delete?
  • Examine your lifestyle. What is important to you? Who are you trying to impress? Why?
  • Examine your secrets. Are you willing to give them up? God already knows about the hidden sin areas of your life and loves you outrageously. Talk to God and reach out to a pastor for help.
  • What other areas can you look at?

Unraveling = freedom. Like threads separating, we too can create space in our lives to more fully experience God and share the outrageous love of Jesus with everyone around us.

Unravel with me!

the shoreline of perspective

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

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Standing on the shore, looking out at the expanse of water and sky – nothing but water…sun…clouds…and the whooshing sound of the waves as the tide goes in…and out.

Breathing in salty air…breathing out life.

Clearing my mind.

Clearing my soul.

Gaining perspective.

Sometimes God places us on the shore – to rest and retreat away from the crashing waves of chaos that push and pull at us: – that space of creative silence where we can’t generate content or pour ourselves out. That place of perspective and discernment where we don’t speak, but instead tune into what God is speaking to us.

This unexpected shore of perspective might be a job change, an illness, a shift in family dynamics…some life event or situation that causes us to step back and take stock of the situation, to reprioritize and reconnect with what is important.

“Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Sometimes we feel sidelined on the shore.

Sometimes we feel passed by on the shore.

Sometimes we feel alone on the shore.

But the shore is a vital part of our walk with the Lord. If we live our entire lives walking on the busy, crowded water of our mission, or tossing in the chaos waves of the storm, we will miss what the Holy Spirit can only say to us in the quiet, decluttered spaces.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Stillness, retreat and silence are all necessary parts of our relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily details of the task or mission, and even easier to make those details about the things we want instead of what God wants for us. Spending time in stillness and silence draws us closer to our Creator, deepens our faith, strengthens our relationship with Him, and reminds us that His plans are greater than what we can understand in our limited knowledge.

Time on the shore of perspective is time to allow God to bring the components of our lives into focus so that we can head back into the water with His Purpose, to let Him accomplish what only God can do.

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