Open Doors

A WILD Devotional by Katherine Hageman

For the first time in fifteen years as a Christian, God miraculously opened the door for me to share some Bible studies with my Mom, twin sisters, and Grams.  My mom had been molested by an evangelist as a young girl, and was turned off to “church.” My sisters were living with their boyfriends, and although Grams took us to church every Christmas Eve, we never talked about the Lord.

When I first gave my heart to Jesus, I went from the “norm” of attending New Age meetings with Mom, to becoming a wild fanatic in their minds!  It took many slow and steady years of prayer and love for my family to trust that “what Katherine had” was a good thing.  They opened their hearts; and God, who plays the best chess game in the Universe, moved mountains so that we could study His Word, together!  

It was during Bible study that we first learned of our “family scripture.” Grams’ confirmation as a young girl in church was– “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has mercy on you.’ — Isaiah: 54:10 (NKJV).  My husband, Dean, gave the eulogy at my mom and dad’s funerals, and read that very scripture, declaring it over our family forever.

I was torn when the time came, many years ago, for us to leave this area and move to Vacaville.  I didn’t want to leave my extended family without us the only “church” they cared to have.  But Dean and I knew God’s plans were for us to raise our four sons there, and we thrived there for thirteen years.

A couple years before we moved back, I began to feel a deep drawing to my family.  The move happened suddenly..  The Lord opened all the doors in His perfect timing, again.  Our sons all grown, we now had six young nieces and nephews, and a granddaughter, to love on in Christ!  Our hopes were fulfilled when we arrived home to discover that my whole family, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, desired to come worship God with us in church!  Three years later, and they are all still growing in Christ!  Praise God!

Do you long for your family to experience Jesus in the same life-changing way that you have? Maybe you’re reading this and you know someone in your family is praying for Jesus to become real to you. When Jesus went to the cross, He was separated, “forsaken” for the first and only time by His Father so that we could be accepted into His family as children of God. That’s how we know that Jesus loves each one of us more than we ever can love each other!  Pray and watch the Lord move those mountains.

 

Kathy's picKathy Hageman, by God’s grace, is a mom of four amazing sons, two daughter in loves, and grandma to two precious granddaughters. She and Dean have been married for 33 wonderful years   She’s passionate about teaching and helping women to realize their full potential in Christ.  She has been involved in women’s ministries for many years and leads the “Breakfast & Bibles” City Group with Pastor Becky.

Hope

“Hope” settled on my heart as my “word of the year”… and I wasn’t excited.  Really, God? Hope? Why not CERTAINTY or STEADFASTNESS? Hope is… weak sauce…

It was early 2016 in Los Angeles and we were “getting on our feet” with shaky legs, having battled a bad financial situation.  George was finally at a stable job and we were grateful.  But this new job’s commute was killing our family time with Daddy. The boys started taking turns pretending to be him at the dinner table. Slowly, George became more discouraged. We were both in bed every night exhausted, dying to regain intimacy and, conversely, alone time.  And then Hope.  Hope said, “Relax.  There is no more you can do than what you are already doing.  Keep driving the kids, keep cleaning, keep meeting with your small groups—keep praying, keep dreaming, keep learning—and hope.  Hope that the future is bright– that the little things you’re doing today, will make a huge difference tomorrow.”  Hope is the confidence that better is coming.  

But the Lord says, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So George and I prayed — desperately.   We prayed for the next step; we prayed for wisdom.  And bit by bit the inexplicable peace came.  Peace that trusted—God’s got this.

Eventually, George got a new job.  It paid more and it was two blocks away!  The time we saved  was tremendous!  He was home to eat dinner with us, he could work out, and afterschool activities were easier to plan.  I told him, “We can never go back to you having a long commute again.”  And then, as if to test me, George was offered a job with Ventura County.  The commute would be long if we stayed where we were and moving would save us that precious ‘Daddy time.’  For us, the answer was almost instantaneous.  We would move to Ventura. We said goodbye to our friends, our schools, our comfort zones. We knew from past experience we couldn’t trade time with Daddy.

Though both fear and excitement gripped me, Hope whispered, “God’s got this too.”  I do my part and the part I cannot do, He covers. Jesus went to the cross to take my fear and uncertainty. He became my everlasting Hope, giving me confidence for the future.

Prayer:

Father, help me lay my burdens before you.  Remind me how big you are and how you have already given us victory.  Help me to hope because I know “Hope” is not a wimpy word.   

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Christine Meier is mother to three amazing boys and wife to George. She is a Child Development Specialist and has her Master’s in Human Development with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She teaches the two year olds (who adore her) at the City Kids Preschool in Ventura. Christine is passionate about marriage and family ministries, particularly around the issues that pertain to women and children. She and George co-lead a fantastic City Group for families on the first and third Fridays of the month. For more information, or to join her group, click here. 

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Intimate Friendship

“15 I have never called you ‘servants’, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. ~ John 15:15 (TPT)

Years ago, I started to see bracelets and heard people giving advice by asking, “What would Jesus do?” I started to think that if I served more and ‘did good things,’ I would get God’s approval. While it sounded like a good idea, it was something that I could never do. I spent many years being a diligent servant, yet love for myself and others was still missing.

One evening when I was having an internal meltdown, I came across a video on grace. My spirit awoke and in that moment, I understood how I could receive and then give others the only thing that matters to the Father – love.  

I began spending personal time with God daily as a “want to,” not a “have to.” Friendship and intimacy with God as a Father gives you access to all that is happening in His kingdom right now. The byproduct is bringing the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is peace, health, prosperity, joy, and more. An encounter with the tangible love of God has the power to transform your life with lasting fulfillment NOW!

Prayer: Father, I thank you for sending your Son to reveal the truth of your love for me, and that you never leave me. You love me unconditionally, and meet all of my needs, as a perfect Father. I ask you to make yourself real to me, to know me as a friend, and show me more of what’s in your Kingdom. I expectantly wait to encounter your love again and again, discovering more of who you created me to be in the fullest sense. Amen

“16 We have come onto an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us. God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. 17 By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us …, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. ~ 1 John 4:16-17 (TPT)

brandi shot.JPGBrandi Matherne is a devoted wife and mother who works alongside her husband in business and in ministry. She has a passion to share with others how the grace of God has changed her life, and how it continues to elevate her marriage, family, and business to new levels. Her testimonies of the various ways God shows His love today are helping others walk in renewed hope, joy, peace, and faith. She is compelled with compassion for other’s to be FREE indeed. Brandi and her husband are leaders in the City Church Marketplace Ministry, and lead a City Group: “Firehouse: Prayer and Power.” To join a City Group, sign up here. 

 

The Miracle of the Sink

WILD Devo By Sharon Rhodes

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Reluctantly submitting to my husband, I found a cheaper sink; so cheap in fact that when we opened the box on installation day, we found that it was completely shattered. My contractor looked at me and said, “You need to get a sink… today.”

As I turned to walk out the door to go settle for another sink I didn’t want, I heard the Lord whisper, “Look at Craigslist.”  I turned around and obeyed.  To my astonishment, I found the exact, English sink that I had wanted and it was being sold for even less than the cheap sink. My sink fantasy was not sunk! God directed my path when I acknowledged Him!

He is a good heavenly Father who has the incredible capacity to know about and care about every detail in our lives. When we yield to His voice, His word, He will always fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to acknowledge You and trust You with every detail of my life. Your ways are far greater than mine and I desire to follow your lead.

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Sharon Rhodes is a mom of three incredible boys and the wife of Allen. She’s passionate about prayer and evangelism and helped to pioneer the Agoura Campus of The City Church. She leads the Agoura Campus prayer team and also leads a City Group. If you’re passionate about prayer and would like to join Sharon, sign up for her City Group at http://www.thecityagoura.org today!

Be Still

 

A WILD Devotional by Monica Martin

We move at such rapid speeds: a text here, an email there, social media everywhere. Not to mention, trying to keep up with our “to-do” lists. It leaves us thinking “how will I ever get this done?” It’s counter-cultural to JUST BE STILL!

As tragic events unfold before our eyes, and with such division at every corner, I find myself asking God, “What is happening?” “Why is this happening?” and “What can I do?” With so many important issues at hand, it’s difficult for me to imagine making an impact. When the loudest voices get heard the most, there’s a tendency to want to shout louder.  However, when we shout, there is so much noise in the atmosphere that we can’t hear clearly. When the chaos of this world starts to encroach on my world; my home, my church, my family, my work, I want to  take control, to do something. Yet, His voice says to me,

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV) 

…and suddenly I know that even if the chaos around me comes close to home, there is a peace and a stillness available in Jesus and I can enter into His rest.

My knowing that He is God does not remove my responsibility to act or speak. It does, however, give me the proper perspective to begin with: Him. His will. His power. His love. Through prayer and the application of His truth to guide my words and actions, I become his hands and feet to affect this hurting world, even if it’s only in my sphere of influence. Just because I can’t do everything doesn’t mean I can’t do something. Jesus said,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

Join me in this prayer:

Father, I trust in your goodness, I pray for Your peace on earth and in our lives. Make me like Jesus, who did the works He saw You do and said the words He heard You speak. May I be ready and willing to say “yes!” to You at every opportunity. May I be quick to love and forgive. In Jesus name, amen.

xo Monica

Monica Martin and her husband Brandon have been married just one year and have an adorable dog named Luey. Together they own Martin Welding & Fabrication Inc, an ornamental and structural metal company. They are active members of The City Church and serve in the Guest Experience, City Kids and Grow ministries. Monica and Brandon are passionate about prayer and will soon be leading a City Group. To connect with a City Group, sign up here.

Monica and Brandon Martin (2)

Family. A Beautiful Story

The greatest story every told, is a story about a family. Through the illustration of the family, God describes His relationship with us. Through faith in Christ we are called children of God (Gal. 3:26, 4:7; Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:18; John 1:12). The Bible also likens the church to a bride (Eph. 5:22-27). Why would God use the illustration of Father and Husband? Because He planned the family to be the home of our most valuable relationships. In family, life is given, developed, and released into destiny. God designed family to be critical to every stage of life, from conception to death.

Our families, and the relationships within them, are precious to Jesus. Whether we are single, married with children, married without children, divorcees, or empty-nesters, we all have some sort of family experience. Whether we grew up in the perfect sitcom family, or lived through total dysfunction, we have been shaped by our families. Our family background does not define who we are, but it is part of our story, and God wants to use it.

My parents did not grow up in church; they met Jesus after they were married. They both came from very broken and hurt environments. After they gave their lives to Christ and began attending church, their entire lives changed. In one generation, they turned from total family dysfunction to a family marked by love and support. We were not perfect, but I am in awe of what God did in one generation because of two people who set their minds to create a Godly family.

Now that I have a family of my own, my desire is to raise a family who loves God, each other, and the church. I thank God for the choices my parents made. Their decision to follow Jesus has affected every generation that will follow them. This is the way God intended family to be, that one generation would pass His word on to the next and each generation would become greater. We will go from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), strength to strength (Ps. 84:7), grace to grace (John 1:16).

Not everyone was raised in a family that was safe for development. The idea of God being a father or a husband may be terrifying. Not every home taught the best way to live or spoke about who we could be in Christ. But God takes our broken places and will heal them as we allow Him to. The brokenness my parents experienced growing up could have caused our family to fall prey to the same issues, but my parents allowed Jesus to come and heal their lives. My prayer for your family, whether it feels fractured or strong, is that each person will experience God in a real way and fully believe His goodness and greatness.

My husband and I are passionate about seeing families healthy and strong throughout the church. The series in September has been on the Vision of our church. One Sunday, as I sat listening to the message, I was struck with the thought that the entire family needs to be part of the church vision. Although children may not understand the same illustrations we do or be able to sit through an entire message, they want to be part of what God is doing in the church just as we do, if not more. Out of that moment I wrote a three-week family devotional relating to the key words of our church vision – BELIEVE, BECOME, BUILD.

These devotionals are meant to be quick, family-friendly times of discussion, no longer than 10-15 minutes. They can be done after a meal, in the car, before bed, or any time. There are separate discussion questions for preschoolers, elementary age, and teens. My prayer is that this devotional will be used to pass on vision to the next generation, just as my parents passed it on to me. Let’s see what can be done in one generation through our lives!

With love, Katie

Family Devotional – Week 1

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Katie and Phil have been married for 15 years and have three boys. They are non-staff pastors at The City Church. Katie is passionate about marriage, family, and the local church. She serves on the service production team, leads City Groups and teaches Middle School Math at City Christian School. In her free time, Katie loves to be outdoors with her family (watching her boys play sports, go hiking, swimming, or roasting smores) or writing devotionals for her blog.

To connect with Katie, join her City Group, Team or follow her blog for working moms at thatworkingmomlife.wordpress.com.