Pastors' wives hear from Donna Gaines
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Jesus died so believers could have abundant life regardless of their circumstances, Donna Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., said during the Pastors' Wives Session of the SBC Pastors' Conference June 9 in Indianapolis.
Before an audience of about 600 women, Gaines pointed to Genesis 2 for a picture of "life as it was meant to be."
The session's worship was led by Kim and Suzanne Noblitt of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark. The women participated in a time of directed prayer for each other and were encouraged by panelists interviewed by Susie Hawkins of Dallas.
Gaines, whose husband Steve is pastor of the Memphis-area church, compared the disobedience described in Genesis 3 to "times when Christians fail to take God at His word and take matters into their own hands in order to relieve difficult circumstances."
Separation, fear and shame replace God's plan for intimacy, security and innocence, she said.
From 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, Gaines described how the same Spirit of God who knows the very thoughts of God desires an intimate relationship with believers.
"It takes time and discipline for us to grow in Jesus," she said, mentioning a collection of resources she described as her survival kit. Gaines advised women to read through the Bible systematically, record in a journal the impressions God provides, meditate on God's Word and find encouragement from devotional books and music.
"This is where you spend your time if you have an appointment with God every day," she said. "He called you and now it's up to you to pursue Him."
Gaines cited Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:12-14 and Romans 12:1-2 in describing God's plan for Christian maturity.
"The Spirit-filled life should not be affected by our trials and difficulties," she said. "We should become more like Christ as He knocks off rough edges, revealing areas of the flesh that are left uncrucified."
After describing a particularly difficult time in serving a local church, Gaines said: "It was in the middle of some of the most excruciating pain I've ever experienced that the Lord met me in a deeper and even more intimate way as He began to speak to me on a daily basis. I could not get enough of His Word. It was absolutely life to me."
In 1 John 4:18 Gaines discovered how love is perfected "regardless of where your feet land." She advised ministers' wives that they can "choose not to be offended," releasing the hurt through God's grace. In her exposition of Psalm 37 she related the process of ascending through trust, delight, commitment and finally rest.
"God knows where He has you serving because He placed you there," Gaines said. "Surrender to Him, take up your cross today, die to hurt, unforgiveness and the bitterness that is poisoning your life to prevent you from experiencing Him more. There is abundant life that will follow as you surrender to His Spirit."
Chris Adams, a women's ministry specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources, reminded the pastors' wives of resources available at www.lifeway.com/women. LifeWay's Glorieta and Ridgecrest conference centers offer a women's ministry track each summer, and in 2009 a "Living through Life" event is planned for ministers' wives during the first quarter of the year. LifeWay Christian Resources helped underwrite the Pastors' Wives Session.
Next year, the session for pastors' wives in Louisville, Ky., will feature Elizabeth Luter of New Orleans. For more information, visit www.contagiousjoy4him.com.
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.