The theme for this year’s Gather Conference, “Sought After,” is from the book of Isaiah. (Isaiah 62: 12) Isaiah’s name means “The Lord is salvation.” Isaiah was called to bring God’s word to the southern kingdom of Judah. He foresaw the coming Babylonian captivity of Judah because of their departure from the Lord. The message of God’s future judgment is clear in Isaiah as well as comforting words of their future restoration.
In Isaiah 62 we read about the future return of God’s people, Judah, and its capital of Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The prophet’s words reflect God’s delight in His people. (Isaiah 62:4) Isaiah tells the people to prepare the highways (by building them up and taking away the stones) for their journey home as well as opening the gates to welcome them.
“Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.” ~Isaiah 62: 10, 12
God will restore His holy people and give them a new name, “Sought After, the City no Longer Deserted.” (Isaiah 62:12) God sought His people who were exiled to Babylon in order to bring them salvation.
Just like those who were “scattered and in captivity” we are “Sought After.” Though our sin sometimes isolates us from God and we feel forsaken, we have a Savior who clears the highways and opens the gates to welcome us back to the One who loves us and calls us by a new name. Through Jesus we are no longer deserted but we are “Sought After” to be in relationship with our God who loves us.
As we prepare to come to Gather, may we remove the stones of distraction and discouragement. May we enter the gates and receive a new focus and encouragement from the One who died for us and gives us a new name and new life in Him.
“I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them,
and they shall be as many as they were before.” (Zechariah 10:8)
A few years ago, when the Lord was uniquely calling...whistling...to our hearts about Gather, Beth and I were walking past a large Monkey Pod tree in Hawaii. It was teeming with life and activity as flocks of birds were gathering there for the evening. The sound of their whistling was overwhelming to the point of drowning out any hopes of our conversation continuing until we were well past that gathering place of a tree.
We both were struck by the intensity of the whistling and found ourselves praying that, just as those birds heard the whistling, came to the tree to gather, and joined in the bird song, that those women who the Lord was calling to join us at Gather would also hear His whistle, come and join the chorus of praise as we gathered for His purposes.
We, the Gather Team, still find ourselves praying and believing the very same thing this year. The Lord in His sweetness continues to fill my days with birds and bird songs. A sweet reminder to my heart. He is whistling... calling... gathering us in. Our prayer is this: that we would all have “ears to hear” His whistle and the faith to respond!
We believe that He is calling many of us to flock together and join our voices as one at Gather. We believe that He has set apart that time for worship, healing, restoration, encouragement, refreshing, and connection! We believe that He desires for us to know and walk in the fullness of who we truly are... His Sought After Bride! We believe He desires for us to come and gain an understanding of what that looks like in our own personal faith journey.
Friends, if I, no... if we, quiet the busyness and clamor of our own daily life, we can hear Him. He is whistling. He is calling. It sounds different for each of us. His whistle is uniquely orchestrated. I am, however, sure of this: He is calling for you! It is our response to spend time in prayer, to seek His Word, and to listen well. Only then can we know to where He is calling us.
Can you hear it? Do you hear the whistle?
May you, dear friend, have the courage to respond to His whistle.
May you, dear friend, see the beauty of His redemptive work that occurs when we do respond.
HE is whistling!
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9) It is time for us to respond!
“Go through! Go through the gates! Prepare a way for the people! Build up! Build up the highway! Clear away the stones! Raise a flag for the people! “ (Isaiah 62:10)
Because He Sought Us... Much Love ~
*The entire Gather Team is praying that those the Lord is calling to come to Gather will hear that call. We are also believing that He will make a way for that to happen. Our team is here to help you in whatever way we can. Please let us know how to pray. Our desire is for you to be a part of all He has planned for us at Gather 2017*
Isaiah 62 is a beautiful example of the identity that the Lord gives to us. Read through the passage slowly…what do you notice? These are not just things God does for us. God doesn’t say, “I will seek you out; I will delight in you.” He says, “I give you a new name: ‘Delighted in by God’ and ‘Sought Out’.” He calls us by who we truly are, by who He has made us.
Who are you? “Nobody”? The Lord says you are a crown of glory in His hand (Is. 62:3).
“Nothing Special”? A royal diadem in the very hand of God (Is. 62:3).
“Burden”? A delight of the King (Is. 62:4).
“Divorced”? Married and in union with God (Is. 62:4).
“Disappointment?” Rejoiced over by God (Is. 62:5).
“Sinner”? A Holy People (Is. 62:12)
“Alone”? “Abandoned”? “Left”? No Longer Forsaken (Is. 62:12)
“Not Wanted”? Sought After by the King, by the living God (Is. 62:12).
“Lost Cause”? Redeemed of the Lord (Is. 62:12).
He names us these things, saying “This is who you are. These are not just things I do for you but who I name you.” When God names us, He speaks truth into the core of our being. He can name us but will we choose to live in this truth?
Read these names and let them seep into your heart. Are there one or two or more that your initial response is “No, not me”? Write them down and pray, asking the Lord to speak those names over you. Read Isaiah 62 and let the truth of God’s word change the lies. Proclaim His truth! Say (out loud) “I am the redeemed of the Lord, I am Sought After.”
Let’s rejoice together in the new name the Lord has given us!
There are many things our Father has put in our hearts for this upcoming Gather. As the prayer team continues to pray and intercede for you, we look forward with an expectation only the Holy Spirit can give us and get a glimpse of what He has in store for each one of us.
I believe there's a table prepared and your name is already placed in the beautiful seat set apart for you. I believe He desires for us to hear His special invitation to come to the banquet He designed. I believe He is saying come, you are welcome! You are welcome just as you are.
This is a place of refreshing, healing, freedom, restoration, of deeper love, where His dreams and visions are awakened in us.
I know we can't truly realize all He has in store but I know He is calling you by name. He desires for you to experience what He means when He says you will be called my holy people, the people redeemed by the LORD, a desirable place, no longer forsaken but sought after.
Tell me about Gather. What is it? I hear this question a lot. My reply: Gather is a conference for women in PWOC and beyond to celebrate, connect, encourage, and prepare. Such brief words to express deep purpose.
For those unfamiliar with this acronym, PWOC is Protestant Women of the Chapel, the women's military chapel ministry. In PWOC I have walked in deep spiritual friendship with Christian women of nearly every denominational background--Anglican, Assemblies of God, Southern
Baptist, (General Baptist, Conservative Baptist, Baptist Baptist 😉 ), Evangelical Free, Nazarene, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Methodist, American Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, you get the idea. I have experienced the beautiful, rich heritage of liturgical worship, hymns, worship dance, praise choruses, and contemporary worship music all in one place, with one heart, in unity, as the Body of Christ, His Bride. We have carried one another's burdens, sat quietly with those in sorrow, prayed for God's grace, mercy, miracles, and forgiveness. We have celebrated the safe return of husbands, the return of prodigals, the birth of babies, and the birth of new believers. We can count on a shoulder to cry on, a hug to encourage us, strong arms to lend a helping hand, and great laughs along the way.
The cry of Jesus's heart in John 17:3 reverberates in our hearts. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." [emphasis mine] And some of the saddest and most sobering words in Scripture are found in Matthew 7:22-23 "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" [emphasis mine] Within all of our backgrounds, traditions, worship styles, and practices must be the walk of a disciple whose aim is to know Him. For this is eternal life. And honestly, looking back through nearly 20 years of involvement and leadership in PWOC, this desire to know God the Father, to glorify Jesus the Son, and live by the life of the Holy Spirit, is what I have experienced with these precious women.
Has it been perfect? Certainly not. There have been bumps, bruises, wounds, failings and fallings. But there has always, always been the kindness and gentleness of sisters who are committed to walking together in love, in forgiveness, and healing. I have walked with women who wound and those who have been wounded. I'm sad to admit it, but I have been wounded and I have wounded others along the way. But I have also experienced the beauty and power of forgiveness at work in us to bring reconciliation and restoration to relationships. And I expect to see this continue to happen, for forgiveness and love are the way of God's Kingdom. We will live together for all eternity. We might as well practice now, right?
Because we believe this beauty of the Body of Christ, His Bride, is meant to be experienced in the whole world, not just in PWOC. What we have received so graciously in PWOC, we desire to graciously give to others! We need one another. There is a completeness that comes when we gather together as one body from different traditions and backgrounds to worship our God Who loves us so deeply, the One Who says His delight is in us. When we dwell together in unity, it expresses such sweet worship to the Lord. And we, too, grow in spiritual wisdom and understanding as we learn the deep meaning held within each others' Christian traditions.
Part of the philosophy of Gather is to live without labels and denominational boundaries that have divided us for centuries. Our Gather team agrees with the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."
Come to Gather...Go beyond.
Welcome to A Taste of Training!
In the Taste of Training workshops, we will setup the environment for leaders to encounter God around His Word; learn best practices for knowing your team and planning the ministry year; and biblical problem solving principles that will help your team maintain a healthy, growing ministry.
This year we have an excellent training team ready to answer questions, share biblical principles and give strategies to be prepared as leaders. Bring your ministry team and come join us for Taste of Training 2017!"
As we eagerly approach Gather 2017, I have been delighted with God’s heart and promises for this new year that we are Sought After and all that waits for us in Isaiah 62. Yes, His new word that He desires to be fulfilled at this Gather Conference in September!
Yet in the excitement of Gather 2017, I have also been reminded daily, often hourly, of the power of living a life in His presence-- that was the heart of Gather 2016. You may remember, Let it Be This, our theme from last years Gather Conference based out of Psalm 27:4. If you were able to attend you will remember the fight to stay in His presence. The struggle with the flesh to truly live a life that only desires one thing…I have asked one thing from the LORD. This I will seek: to remain in the LORD's house all the days of my life in order to gaze at the LORD's beauty and to search for an answer in his temple.
It is this, yes it is STILL this One Thing, that I look to every day that offers such power in my own life. Psalm 27:4 breaks chains in my life daily. Psalm 27:4 connects me to the heart of the Father in ways that few understand. The beauty of living all of my days in the house of the Lord, the very presence of the Lord, is indeed where I choose to live and where I pray you choose to live as well.
If you did not attend Gather 2016, I invite you to study and reflect on Psalm 27:4 and to ask God to experience the freedom from fear (Psalm 27:1), the victory over your enemies (Psalm 27:2), the confidence of His protection (Psalm 27:3), and the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4) that He desires for each of us. He longs for you to dwell with Him today.