What We Do
Our Women’s Ministry team works in affiliation with the Deaconesses to meet the spiritual and fellowship needs of the women in our church. We accomplish this through Bible studies, counseling, in-home visitation, baby showers, and other special fellowship events. We serve our congregation through communion setup and through planning and providing food for memorial services. We also reach out to our community in a variety of ways including providing Christmas visitations and gifts for shut-ins.
Monday evenings: Hoping for Something Better – a Nancy Guthrie study in Hebrews
Led by Bridget Raley. Meets at 7:00 pm in Room B. Begins September 11th. (Book price $13.00.)
Wednesday mornings: Hoping for Something Better – a Nancy Guthrie study in Hebrews
Led by Darlene Bruce. Meets at 10:00 am in Room B. Begins September 13th.
(Book price $13.00.)
For further information, contact the Chico Grace Brethren office at 342-8642.
Looking around, I see I’m not the only one. Social anxiety is epidemic. The American ideal of rugged individualism and self-determination has given way to a culture of rugged trampling and being trampled.
Thirteen years ago, after a lifetime in and out of churches, I came to Christ. Since then I have watched Christians leave the church, one-by-one. A few rejected the faith outright. Others expressed their frustration or dissatisfaction with church. Some had been abused. I am sympathetic to them all.
“Me and Jesus” is a siren’s song. I, too, have been dissatisfied and frustrated. I, too, have witnessed and experienced abuse by Christians. I, too, have been tempted to give up on church and go it alone with Jesus. It would be easy to believe the author who refers to my heart as “the prize of God’s kingdom,” or the one who said that the Bible that the Holy Spirit gave to the church was insufficient to satisfy her private yearnings (2 Tim. 3:16-17). She required “personal” communication from God.
“… I betrothed you to one husband,
to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” 2 Cor. 11. 2
While it’s true that our individual relationships with God are so personal that they reach deep into our souls to cleanse and transform us, Paul wrote the words above not to an individual woman, but to a church. According to God’s word, I am not the bride of Christ, we are.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish … This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5.25-27, 32
To be the bride of Christ is to be a part of his church. Jesus poured out his life and sent His Spirit to transform his gathering of people. The church is the focal point of his energy (1 Peter 2.4-19), the center of our growth, the place where our transformation is revealed, and where his love is displayed to the world (John 13.25, 1 Jn. 1.9-10).
The church is also our destiny. It is the new Jerusalem, the city in which we will dwell, not alone with Jesus in our rooms, but together for eternity (Rev. 21.1-3).
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10. 38-42
Martha, it appears, believed the same thing I did – that, as a woman, the measure of her life was in her “much serving.” Martha fretted because she had a houseful of guests. Her value and her identity were on the line, and possibly her pride. But Jesus was not impressed by her busyness. Neither did he mind that her sister sat idly at his feet.
According to Jesus only “one thing is necessary,” and it is not our hustle and bustle. It is the time we spend together at His feet, being filled and transformed by his heavenly words, that will never be taken away from us. That is “the good portion.”
Only learning together from Christ frees us to serve with joy and to love without grudging. That is one reason why CGB Women’s Ministries is committed to providing quality Bible studies for women.
This fall we are offering Hoping for Something Better, a 10-week study of Hebrews, written by Nancy Guthrie. The book of Hebrews was written to people being tempted, like many of us, to trust in our works instead of the gospel. Hoping for Something Better will be offered at two different times, Monday evenings at 7:00, beginning on September 11th, or Wednesday mornings at 10:00, beginning on September 13th. If you would like to attend, please contact the church office at 530-342-8642. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to set aside your hustle and bustle and learn from Christ together.
It’s hard for me to believe in God’s love or accept his grace. I try to earn it. And when I can no longer fool myself that I am a good enough person, I hide. When I do seek forgiveness, I try to find ways to repay the debt. When that fails, I cower in fear of condemnation.
Fear, not love, also characterizes my relationships with people, especially Christians. Seeing them as God’s representatives, their rejection feels like his rejection; their judgment feels like my condemnation. That is the spirit of slavery.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4.4-5
The Scripture reminds me that God’s people are not God. They are people just like me whom God has purchased out of a slavery just like mine. They, too, are adopted children still learning to accept their new Father’s grace and to speak this new language of love.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8.1
The Spirit of adoption frees me from condemnation, frees me from the slavery of fear. Free from fear, I find myself running to God with my sin instead of away from him. Confident in my new Father’s love, secure in his acceptance, I’m free to love others from a pure heart, without fear of rejection. Our freedom from slavery is freedom to love.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5.1
The ruins showed me that one of my biggest mistakes was in allowing God’s word to lose its priority in my life. The shift had been slow and subtle. I had gradually drifted from the Bible itself to books, articles, discussions, and debates about the Bible and doctrine. Though what I was taking in was by and large biblical and contained plenty of Scripture references and scriptural concepts, I had begun to rely on hearsay, so to speak.
Over time I accumulated my favorite group of authors and preachers, a set of pet doctrines, and my preferred attributes of God. Claiming to have the highest regard for Scripture and the God of Scripture, I picked and chose where to focus and mostly ignored the rest. Like a funhouse mirror, exaggerating this and minimizing that, I created a distorted image of God.
Not only is it blasphemous to treat God this way, as if we get to decide what kind of God He should be, it is destructive to us. Every attribute of God is not only essential to who He is, it is also essential to who we are. Christians are beings in whom God’s image is being restored, and this restoration takes place as “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
Restoration only happens when we see God as he really is. Christ has revealed God’s image and glory perfectly to us (Heb. 1.3, Col. 1.15), and his glory has been passed down to us through the teaching of his apostles. The teaching of the apostles comes to us through the Bible. This means our spiritual restoration is dependent on Scripture – knowing it first-hand, understanding it, and letting the power of the Holy Spirit rebuild our lives through it.
One of my favorite shows on this channel is called Chopped. Here’s how it works: It begins with four chefs. Each is given a basket containing four mystery ingredients. They are given a specific amount of time to make one dish featuring all the ingredients they were given. They find out what these items are just before the timer starts. And immediately, the chefs begin to cook.
They use what they know of the ingredients to combine them with other things, or they take chances on what they may not know and hope for the best. From pickled pig lips to sea cucumbers to licorice candies, they use all the things they’re given and every moment of time they have to put together a dish to wow the judges.
When time is called, whether or not they’ve finished, all activity stops. It’s time for the judges to taste the food. They offer compliments as well as criticism. They decide which dish is the least good. The chef who produced it is “chopped” from the competition and goes home, leaving the others to the next round and another mystery basket. After three rounds, the one chef remaining goes home with the title Chopped Champion.
I can’t help but compare this TV show with our lives as Christians. As the chefs do not choose what ingredients they will have to work with, we are not always in control of things that happen in our lives. As they use those ingredients to impress the judges, we are called to live our lives serving the Lord and bringing glory to God. As with the chefs, there is a clock running, but unlike them, we don’t know how long we have. The time will come when the clock stops and whatever we’re doing, wherever we are, we will stop. We will stand before the Lord, the Righteous Judge, and He will judge not the content of our plates, but the content of our hearts. If we’re honest, we all know… we should be chopped!
But it gets better. Because while those chefs get sent home and the show is over for them, we have an advocate with the Father. We have Christ beside us, and he has already covered those errors and missteps. He’s paid for our blunders and stupid decisions. When the Father looks at us and sees his Son, we won’t be “chopped,” oh, no. For us, the Father will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And instead of Chopped Champion, our title will be Child of God!