By, Rebecca Sliwak
I grew up in a very traditional church where Sunday attire included a dress and heels, a few hymns led by an organist and songs led by a choir. The rest of the service followed the same standard of formality. I dreaded singing along to these ancient songs so I would opt out and follow along silently. Although I knew it was part of worship, I still had a difficult time letting it out in this way.
I carried this bias against worship music up until I was 22 years old when a friend invited me to a more contemporary service. The service started out with a live band! This four person band was jamming out to Christian music and at first I was taken aback. I had never seen Christian worship music played this way before. I was intrigued, although found myself once again following along rather than participating with the congregation.
That afternoon it registered in my mind that I really wanted to participate with the rest of the congregation in this way. My eyes or should I say, ears, were open to another way in which to worship and even though I still felt a bit uncomfortable I wanted to make it work. I made it my mission to worship God through using my singing voice and to try and find a way to like it.
I went straight to Pandora where I literally typed in, “Christian Worship”. I scrolled past the old-school hymns and looked for a young contemporary band. This is where I was introduced to Elevation Worship.
I started following Elevation Worship and downloaded their album, “Here As In Heaven”. Although I still was a bit hesitant, I listened to this band on my thirty minute commute every morning into the city. Quickly, their words started to become a sense of comfort and prepared me for my long day ahead.
Eventually I found myself singing these songs and knowing every word. What a beautiful thing to sing God’s words and have them instilled into my mind and heart!
My attitude towards worship music completely changed after forcing myself to search for something I could relate to. For me, Elevation Worship allowed me to make room to worship God in a way I never had before. Now I am not uncomfortable singing along during worship service on Sundays and glorifying God in that way.
Did you know the Bible calls us to do this?
Ephesians 5:19 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord”
Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation”
With this new found love for contemporary worship music, I’m open to recommendations from you all. Please comment below some of your favorite Christian artists you love to listen to. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
By Maryann Barattia
Director of Membership & Community
“We Love Because He First Loved Us”1 John 4: 19
What is it that draws women and girls to the Her Life Speaks ministry? After each of the four annual Lenten Retreats I have attended I hear, “What inspired you to return as an attendee to this ministry?” Without hesitation every woman young and older replied “the genuine smiles, love and friendliness of the women who greeted and welcomed me!”
How do they do it? How do they display genuine care consistently? Is it a new perfume or cosmetic treatment, a successful marketing strategy? As one who has experienced this at a time when I was lost and broken, I can truthfully say it is the unconditional love of God. It fills the hearts and souls of our sisters who share his love with everyone they welcome to Her Life Speaks.
Attending my first small group bible study I noticed a women who was looking in my direction. I was captivated by her bright eyes and welcoming smile. Every encounter over the last five years has been the same, welcoming and genuine. We are God’s representatives to all through the sharing of his love. It is a promise that he has made to us.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed says the Lord, who has compassion on me.” Isaiah 54: 10 NIV
Although I didn’t feel worthy, I heard the Holy Spirit’s call to share my spiritual gifts with others. I didn’t know I had spiritual gifts and was fearful I would make mistakes. It was through prayer the Holy Spirit helped me understand when you answer God’s call he equips you with the grace you need to use your spiritual gifts. “But I’m so busy and this is so out of my comfort zone!” The Father’s love enabled me to feel secure in his calling and I am blessed by each seeking heart I welcome to HLS ministry.
“Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” Romans 8: 37 - 39
When God calls you to serve as sisters in Jesus that is where it begins, welcoming others by sharing his love. Sit in stillness listening for the Spirit and he will reveal God’s plan for you, to use all things for good, to give you hope and a future.
There are many ways for you to serve him and in the discovery you will receive a great gift, to become an instrument in furthering God’s kingdom.
Will you take the first step to join us in welcoming women and girls who are seeking his love?
By Dee Coroneos
Our daily lives are filled with responsibilities, challenges, and obligations, leaving us weary and spent at the end of each day. The Lord will provide many opportunities for us to encourage, witness, lift up in prayer, or offer a shoulder to someone in need. Are we willing to interrupt our busy schedules and take the time to reach out to someone in our family, a friend, a stranger?
My prayer has been to be aware when the Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder, prompting me to stop, and redirect my attention to anyone He points me to. I keep a tight schedule and I used to cringe and groan when inconvenienced or sidetracked by someone in need at the “wrong” moment. The Lord worked on my heart through the years, convicting me with teachings I’d listen to, and meditating on scripture.
I started praying, I would be ready and willing when the Holy Spirit brought someone to my path, in need of an encouraging word, a gesture pointing them to Jesus. I’m so grateful for these opportunities, knowing and believing they’re God moments.
1 Peter 3:15—Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
Allow me to tell you about a Friday afternoon, and how the Lord used a few moments of my time to bring hope to a stranger. After a long day of classes with my overactive, chatty preschoolers whom I dearly love, I was physically and mentally spent, and couldn’t wait to pick up a few groceries and rush home. The checkout line was empty, and I was relieved I’d be on my way soon, when the man behind the register noticed the double cross around my neck. He admired it, and commented how unusual it was with one cross behind the other. My flesh wanted to reply a polite “thank you” and move on, but I felt the Lord saying—“this is your God moment.”
I told him I chose the double cross because of its significance of Jesus carrying His cross, and myself behind him, carrying mine. His eyes lit up, and he thanked me for such beautiful visual. He started telling me how hard it is for him to be surrounded by complaining colleagues, and tough stories. He said how disheartening it is to hear the grumbling and the disappointments, and not knowing how to respond. I told him to pray for his co-workers, to encourage them whenever possible, and above all, to point them to God. Until we reach out to Him and start a relationship with Him, there will always be an empty space in our heart that God can only fill. As the shoppers started lining up behind me, he smiled and thanked me for bringing light into his day. I could see him still smiling as I walked away, and I was grateful I took the opportunity the Lord placed on my path.
2 Corinthians 1:4—He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
I felt the weariness of the day leaving me, and my heart filled with gratitude as I left the market refreshed, thanking God for the opportunity to encourage, and give hope to this man. It’s so exciting to see God at work, when we’re obedient and willing to make the time.
Our unwillingness to be inconvenienced can even be present while working for the Lord, whether building ministry, or church. We can be so busy doing God’s work, making no time to lend an ear or a shoulder to someone in need. We are Jesus’ hands and feet, and our responsibility is to take a step back when prompted, and share the hope we have in Him with others.
Are we willing to have our busy schedule interrupted, or even miss an appointment to give our full attention to someone who’s hurting? When the Holy Spirit prompts us to take action and we don’t respond, we grieve and disappoint Him.
In this season of gratitude, let’s be grateful for the Godly interruptions that can make us shine for Jesus, bringing blessings to others in need.
1 Thessalonians 5:11—Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.
By Rebecca Sliwak
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” Acts 20:28
Her Life Speaks held its first Women’s Leadership Training led by April Sliwak and Elise Parker on Saturday, November 4th. Forty-five women attended to be encouraged, empowered and equipped to lead others in ministry. April and Elise taught us how we can work to feed and lead our flocks, as we are called to do so in Acts 20:28.
In the first session led by April, Executive Director, we heard of God’s warning to “Guard yourself, watch out and beware” of our lifestyle. To take notice of how negatively we can be in our mind, body and souls and how that influences our teams and ministry.
Collaboratively we shared what we do as ministry leaders to take care of ourselves. These are some responses:
God has entrusted leaders to watch over His flock and it is our responsibility to do so according to His will.
In the next session led by Elise, Director of Staff Training and Development, she taught on the emotional aspect of being a leader in ministry and why it can sometimes be difficult when leading. Elise posed the question, “What holds you back when leading or from leading?” and the audience joined in:
It was conclusive that women often think the same way as one another and that these thoughts hinder what God has called us to do. With the God’s help and prayer partners together we can overcome and lead according to God’s purpose.
“If you lead, lead well” Romans 12:8
God gave us a place of community that day, full of love, prayer and support. We left feeling encouraged and empowered to serve the way God intended us to do. We are not expected by God to be perfect leaders, but as leaders in Christ it is our responsibility to best equip ourselves so we can lead our flocks. This Leadership Training was a great way to do that.
What are some ways you work to be a stronger leader for Him?
By April Sliwak
Do you remember the day you were given a vision by God to serve Him or when God graciously called you into ministry? Think about it. Was the vision clear? Did you hear God’s calling vividly or did it take a while for it to become fully known? What was your first reaction? Were you rebellious, anxious, thrilled, or ready? I’m pretty sure you’ve probably heard this before, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called”. Well, this may be true however I’d like to take it a step further and agree with the scripture that says, “God’s power will be made perfect in my weakness”, (2 Corinthians 2:9).
It was 13 years ago when I was called into ministry and I’ll never forget how I felt. Timid. With my arms crossed over my chest I told God to find someone else. I was nervous and cared about what others thought of me. He was asking me to step out amongst my peers and that made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. I worked myself up into a tizzy about speaking and leading by listing all the reasons why I couldn’t do it. I felt weak and alone even though God gave me a vision and He called me to do it.
"So guard yourselves and God's people..." Acts 20:28 NLT
That was a long time ago and I’ve learned a lot since then. What I would tell my younger self now is, “Honey, you need a Mentor and a community of women to be praying and encouraging you”. Through the Body of Christ, a community of other Believers, God gives us one another to love, pray, encourage, care, and support each other. This kind of community, which the Lord specifically designed to fulfill this need; guards me, my heart, my mind, my calling. I protect myself by reaching out to the Body of Christ to stand in the gap for me as I’m called into leading God’s people.
How about you? Where are you in ministry? Just starting out? Or have you been serving for years? What struggles do you have or what encouragement would you share to a younger you?
I’d love to know.
I hope you’ll join us at the Women’s Ministry Leadership Gathering on November 4th when we’ll be in community, lifting one another up and equipping ourselves to serve. RSVP today:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-ministry-leadership-gathering-tickets-37973026344
We feel called to provide opportunities to raise up younger leaders to serve. This couldn’t be more important. So, we want to encourage you to bring your leadership team or young women who desire to serve the Lord. All are welcome!
April Sliwak is the Executive Director of Her Life Speaks, and she can be contacted at email@example.com.
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.