Over the past couple of days I've had the privilege of investing in the lives of girls and young women through the annual conference of the Pillars ministry of my church. If you are not from FBCC, you may not be familiar with this ministry to girls, which was started 14 years ago. The ministry's founding verse is Psalm 144:12b - - -
...and our daughters will be like pillars, carved to beautify a palace.
We held the annual conference in Cleveland, GA, this year, a "departure" (if you'll pardon the pun) from our usual venue. About 45 girls, including a few moms, were our conference attendees. The Pillars leaders numbered about 15.
I am so grateful to my Savior for the mighty works He did in the lives of those present, including my own. In addition to whole-group sessions, we had what we call break-out sessions: small group sessions presented by Pillars leaders. I was not a presenter this year but was blessed to attend one of the break-outs for moms, led by my friend Deborah Anderson. God spoke to me through her exposition of some key verses that have guided her in her journey as a godly mother.
Then, the whole-group sessions were led by Candace McDowell, our Pillars ministry co-founder. (We greatly missed Lana McNair, Candace's sister and co-founder. Lana was unable to attend the conference this year due to a series of unplanned circumstances.) Although Candace felt Lana's absence especially keenly, she was greatly used by the Holy Spirit through her teaching. I received a tremendous blessing from her as well.
It was beautiful to watch God work in the lives of the young ladies and through all of those who engineered the conference. Some of the leaders are artistically talented. Others are talented in their knowledge of sound/tech. Still others are talented in their ability to really "bust it" and get the job done! We had a precious sister who led the worship, Erin Maynor, of Charlotte, NC. Her leading of worship was anointed. Every leader in the ministry has a servant's heart; I am humbled to serve with them.
The theme for this year has been "Bloom!", and the key verses for our ministry this year have been from Isaiah 61:10-11 - -
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow,
So the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.
These verses speak of what wondrous things God can do with a yielded heart. That's what He wants: our hearts. And then, when we give them, He does a mighty work. That's why after telling you about the victories from this year's conference, I proclaim to you that they are His victories, not ours. I delight and rejoice in Him, because of what He has done, not what I have done. One of the verses we were meditating on this afternoon in the last large session says it well...John 15:5c ... "apart from Me, you can do nothing."
This is a lesson that Father is still teaching me. Go back and read those verses again and this time, notice who is doing the action. Yes, I have to be yielded to Him, to His will; and yes, I have to be obedient to His word. But, it is HE who does the marvelous work. It is HE who causes the sprout to grow and bloom. Because it is HE who deserves the glory.
One of the things Candace taught us today was the origin of the word Ebenezer in Scripture. You may know the word from Charles Dickens' character, Ebenezer Scrooge. But, Ebenezer is a biblical name found in 1 Samuel 7:12 --- (New Living Translation)
12Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.a He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”
An "Ebenezer" in the biblical sense referred to a stone, a stone of remembrance, a memorial, if you will. The stone was set in place by the Israelites to remind them of how the Lord had helped them. The Ebenezer stone was a visual memento to commemorate what the Lord had done.
Father, I thank you for the Ebenezers raised over the past two days. It is You who have caused sprouts to bloom up; it is You who have done a mighty work in our lives. May these Pillars never forget their Ebenezers from this weekend. May this Pillar never forget. In Jesus' name, amen.