Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

Have you had a refreshing weekend and are you ready for the blessings of a new week?  I hope so!  My hubby was off work this weekend (in camp ministry, weekends are often work days).  He has been working on the trim in the sun room so it is so much closer to being usable!

For the past month, our church elders have been giving their testimonies of how God has and is working in their lives.  The congregation has been encouraged to look deep and so last Sunday individuals took turns sharing.  It was a holy time, and I was suddenly struck by how our congregation was fulfilling 1 Thessalonians 1–talking about how God redeemed each life, and how God is working in our circumstances today; we were sounding forth our faith!

While I know that the congregation’s leaders had this planned even before we began this study of the Thessalonians, because of learning to pray God’s will in these chapters, I was able to recognize how God is working and give praise!  It was the highlight of my week!

Are you ready to look into chapter 3 with me?  I’m not a Bible Scholar or Theologian.  I’m a “home-schooled” student of God’s Word.  I used the ESV, NASV, Amplified Version and the study tools at in my study of this chapter.

Let’s pray for understanding!  I can’t wait to learn how God spoke to you through this chapter!


thess, ch 3

My Notes: (I really do study with a spiral notebook!)

vs.1 & 2– Therefore: because Paul and his Fellow apostles desired so strongly to see the Thessalonian church again. (This is a continuation of chapter 2)

Paul and Silas stayed in Athens so that Timothy could return to Thessalonica.

vs. 2 & 3– Purpose of Timothy’s visit:  1) To strengthen and encourage them in their faith 2) so that none of them would be disturbed (saino~disturbed, moved {the mind of one}, agitate, trouble, unsettle, be shaken) by “these afflictions” (that the apostles were encountering).  The whole chapter is really anchored in Paul’s concerns here.

vs.4– The apostles had tried to prepare them in advance, warning them that they (the apostles) would encounter persecution.  We know from from chapter 2 that the Thessalonian Church was also undergoing persecution from their countrymen.

vs. 5–Paul was concerned because Satan had prevented him from being with them (ch.2 verse 18), and would try to test them.  This reminds me of Jesus’s parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13.  Paul wanted to be sure that the gospel would not be choked out by worries and distractions, but that they would continue to grow in Christ and have spiritually fruitful lives.

vs. 6&7–Timothy returned to Paul with good news, which comforted and encouraged the apostles, despite their difficult circumstances.  What was this news: 1) The Thessalonian church was standing steadfast in their faith (unwavering in their trust in God), and 2) they missed the apostles as much as the apostles missed them! 🙂

vs.8–Their faithfulness made all the apostles had been through worth the cost.

vs.9– The apostles continued to give thanks for the Thessalonian church

vs.10– and continued to pray for them.  The opportunity to finish discipling them is Paul’s concern.

vs.11–Paul trusts God to bring them together again for this purpose,

vs.12&13– and then in the spirit of verses 2 & 3, Paul prays for them, that: 1) God will cause them to increase and overflow with love for one another and for all people, 2) so that HE may strengthen and establish their hearts to be without blame at the coming of Christ. 


Personal thoughts:

I am struck by Paul’s concern that the Thessaonians have the opportunity to be discipled so that they can grow to maturity in Christ, and not be discouraged.  It is just killing him that he can’t get back to them.

I love the example Paul sets for us.  He expresses his concern, but then when there is nothing further he can personally do, he ultimately places the burden for producing growth in the Thessalonian church precisely where it belongs–square on the shoulders of God.  Not only that, but he prays specifically for them, believing that God will answer his prayers in time.

In camp ministry, every year we see many young people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and what He did for them on the cross.  It is amazing to be able to witness their salvation, but after camp is finished and they go home?  Then what?  It is an utmost priority to work and pray for opportunities to connect these young people to churches in their home towns so that they can be discipled, grow in love for all people, and become active members of the church body.

In our age, so many are trying to “do church” on their own because for whatever reason,  but Paul makes it clear that God created the Church Body to be a live, growing, interdependent entity.  We need God, but we also need one another–you need the Church AND the Church needs you.


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

* vs.4 & 5– Pray that we (the Church) will be prepared for the difficulties that God knows we will encounter, and that our faith will never be shaken by trials.

* vs.10–Pray that we will be concerned for younger ** Christians and have opportunity to disciple/mentor them, give thanks to God for them, and pray for them!  **(younger in the length of time they have walked with Jesus and/or younger in their level of maturity~sometimes older Christians need to be discipled by someone more mature, though not necessarily older in age.)

*vs.12–Pray that God will cause all of us to increase and overflow with love for one another and for all people (Jesus said the world will know us by our love!)

*vs.2, 3, & 12– Pray that God will continue to strengthen, encourage, comfort, and establish our faith and our hearts to be without blame at the coming of Christ.  He can return any day!  In what condition will he find our hearts?  Let us stand firm in faith.  Let us live for Him, one day at a time.

How did God speak to you in this chapter?  

I invite you to join me every Monday to pray God’s will.  If you would like to be notified when a new post is ready, please subscribe to follow Growing Grace-Full, and you will receive an email when each post is available! ♥

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2


BE RENEWED, A Refreshing Getaway at the 3CA Conference

What is the 3CA, you ask? 3CA stands for the Christian Camp and Conference Association.  The CCCA exists to help Christian camps accomplish their mission.  They do many things toward that end, but a big one is that each region has an annual conference which gives camp professionals an opportunity to “unplug” a little, network with other camps, observe trends, attend workshops where they can learn from each other, worship together while receiving encouragement from God’s Word, and don’t forget– the opportunity to eat lots of food they don’t have to cook. It’s a showcase for ALL the food service companies to show off their best offerings. 😉 (If you’re looking for a job in Christian Camping, you can check out the CCCA’s job boards).


{Lake Geneva Christian Center’s new dining hall is beautiful!  This is their serving area… 4 lines at two stations and a double drink station on the end.  About 260 camp professionals packed this area out at every meal.}

Our section is called the Minn-E-Dakotas Section because it includes the camps in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.


{This picture only shows about half the dining hall.  There are windows all around, a fireplace on one end, and the serving lines are to my right.  Good to see these camps mingling, resting, and enjoying fellowship.}

Years ago, I attended the sectional with my husband every year, but after baby number three I just found it easier to stay home and take care of the family. This is the first year in probably a decade that I’ve been able to come and stay overnight for the whole conference. I have been loving it!

Conference theme

My favorite times have been the general sessions, when we have listened to a speaker teach from the word of God and enjoy a time of worship with awesome music. I know that music is not everyone’s worship language, but it is very refilling to my spirit.


The speaker has been Kirsten King, the Director of Youth and Family Discipleship at Maplewood Evangelical Free Church here in Minnesota. She really has a knack for striking her audience’s funny bone, but then she balances that with a message packed with truth.  If you’re looking to book a speaker for a women’s retreat or conference, she has my reference!

There are some retreats you don’t learn something new or deeply meaningful, and that’s okay because Retreats like that can be God’s way of affirming something He’s already been teaching you, or perhaps the get-away is an opportunity  for you to reach out and bless someone else at the retreat.

This conference has been a little different for me.  I’ve been laughing and crying (in a good way) a lot. There have been many reunions. I was SO excited to find a couple sessions addressing women’s ministry, because this is my heartbeat–this is the passion God has given me.  The worship time has been amazing. And the messages have each included some nugget that spoke to my heart.


After dinner Tuesday night, we enjoyed a wonderful drama  called, “The Psalm King” by Theater For The Thirsty created by Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble.  Jeremiah is a product of growing up in a camp ministry family. 😉  I you live in Minnesota, I hear they do a fabulous show in St. Paul during February called, ‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical.  You can check it out!

It was a good 3 days at the 3CA, but I am glad to be home with our children.  My heart is full and still processing, but I definitely want to share what I learned after it sinks in…and I catch up on hugging my kids.

Treasuring These Days, & Our New Family Photo

Hello friend!

Family photos are great.  You never know what you are going to get back, and there are always these little tell tales that speak so loudly about this season in life, frozen in time.  🙂  Many thanks to Angela out at Camp Jim for taking our family staff photos and sending me this copy.  She did such a good job, and was patient with us!  I know she snapped quite a few in order to get one good one.  Camp has been busy (thankfully!) so the editing took time to get around to.

family pic, oct2017 less pixels

We posed for this in October, so it was cold.  I tend to feel the cold a little more than most, so I was grateful for the small, warm body on my lap.  😉

It was VERY windy.  So, even more cold!  But the hair… oh, it was blowing everywhere.  I was sure that we’d get pictures back and everyone’s hair would be air born, and I was glad the boys still had their hair buzzed.  Aren’t they cute?

Doesn’t my little lap warmer look like she’s just tolerating all this picture stuff?  Yeah, she was trying to lean over and play musical laps.  See the hands?  I am literally hand-cuffing her to keep her still!

The photo was taken in the back yard of the Retreat Center.  I just love the blowing leaves and warm colors of fall.  I think it’s one of my favorite family pictures, and it captures the essence of who we are (for a little while anyway).  We’ve already replaced a pair of glasses, and outgrown shoes.  In another couple months we’ll be surprised by how much the little ones have grown.  And then there’s my Angel Girl, all grown up.  Who knows how many more seasons she will be at home.  I am reminded of Mary the mother of Jesus, who scripture said, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” and I am thankful for every day.

Time marches on, but God’s grace is ever present.  May you feel His presence this week, and treasure your own blessings, as you prepare to celebrate the Christ child.





Let Them Imitate You

I was standing at the sink, scrubbing the residue of Keto-Angel Food Cake from the bundt pan, when I faintly heard the sound of someone miffed across the room.  It wasn’t serious, so I kept scrubbing.

And then I heard my 19 year old Angel Girl speak up.  Her tone was patient and kind.  “Ella, it’s okay for them to copy you.  You’re a big sister.  Get used to it.”

I paused and looked up, surprised by wisdom.  Then I smiled at her.  “Didn’t I used to say that to you?”

“Yes,” she chuckled, “and I hated it.”

Truth.  You just can’t run away from it.

That first born baby learns so much from following mama around.  I even had to teach her how to play… but then the next baby comes, and the next, and they watch how to learn and play from their older siblings, too.

BeFunky Collage

When we moved to this town and this camp, I remember being overwhelmed by the idea that I was the Director’s wife and should be setting an example of a Godly women for other staff wives and campers.  Whether I liked it or not, there were times I knew eyes were on me.

Some constituents of the camp were curious, or concerned, about who we were and what this new director would do with the camp.  Churches we visited were interested in our growing family and homeschooling adventure.  And you can’t forget the cute little girls who sang their way through every store… who can ignore that?

I remember being so self conscious.  I was young and I was living through the most devastating season of my life, emotions raw, and patience thin.  I was so afraid other people would realize how flawed I was, and that would somehow undermine my husband.  I think my worry was magnified by having supported him through an internship that stressed that families were evaluated, and would impact the intern’s final assessment.  Many times I wished I could hide.

And then one Ladies’ Retreat, after being here for a year, I noticed how the women were getting more comfortable around me.  They shared things that concerned me.  Women who were decades older than me were just as self conscious–more so, and I thought to myself, “I thought that by that age women had it together!”  Apparently not, and that was what concerned me.  I wanted to have it together (if that’s possible).  I didn’t want to be in the same place thirty, or forty, or even fifty years down the road.  I wanted to be, well, mature–emotionally and spiritually.

I bought a new Life Application Study Bible and began again at Genesis, reading every single study note.  I read books by Godly authors and blogs that modeled what I had never seen put into practice.

I prayed for a mentor, and God sent me my friend, Sherrill.  She took me through a book called Search for Significance.  It was only 13 chapters, but it was a very hard 13 chapters!  It took me a whole year because when God sets about changing a heart, it’s a process, and he is thorough.  I wrestled and cried through it, as God pried the lies that had shaped my character out of my sweaty hands and replaced them with the Truth of what HE said about me and this relationship I have with the King of the Universe.

Whenever I thought we were done, He would open a new chapter of refinement that  continues, even to this day.  Looking back, I notice how my gaze shifted away from the gawkers and onto HIM.

I stopped worrying what other people thought about me, and I developed concern for what other people think about HIM.

The Apostle Paul said this, in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Paul is teaching the church in Corinthians what their conduct should look like, and then he tells them to imitate him, as children imitate their father.  Not only that, but he says it in Ephesians 5, and again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, modeling for us how to deal with being under the magnifying glass…

“Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.”

There are always going to be eyes on us.  Jesus said others will know we are his disciples by our behavior.  Instead of viewing it as a burden, lets embrace the responsibility for what it is: an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.

Whether at home or without, people learn by watching and by doing.  There is always going to be someone less spiritually mature than you are.  There is always going to be someone more spiritually mature than you are, as well.

Ask someone who is in the “more mature” camp to mentor you, and be blessed by their example.

Imitate Christ, and keep your eyes trained on Him instead of your audience, but take joy in every opportunity to help a less mature brother or sister grow up in Jesus.  Remember that there will be countless times you will not even know that, in letting the Holy Spirit work in you and through you, you touch a life in a powerful way, simply because someone is watching you.

Let them imitate you.



The Danger in Comparing


Our girls have always sung: all over the house, at church, in the store… it shouldn’t have surprised me.  I was the child who clogged through every store my mother took me.

I remember our oldest 3 girls singing VBS songs in a grocery store and getting a bit loud, I thought, to serenade a woman standing nearby.  I tried to hush them a little, but as the woman passed me to leave she leaned in close and in a low tone she said, “Just think, they might be the next Point of Grace.”

It took my breath away, the way you know God just used someone to speak important truth to you.  The truth was that they were made to sing out loud, and it wasn’t my place to muffle them. I felt a little panicked, suddenly wondering if I was equipped to teach them what they would need to know.  I started praying right then and there that God would provide by enabling me or sending whatever teachers He will, and He has done both over the years.

My husband started them singing at the camp Annual Banquet each year, and I don’t remember how they began singing at church, but nowadays they sing at no less than 20 churches or events a year.  Their harmony is beautiful.  I don’t turn on the radio at home very often because who needs that when you have live music most of the day?


It is a joy to watch and see how each one of the children develop in their gift each year, and even the older kids notice and appreciate as their younger siblings reach new levels. Lilly is 14 now, and has been coming into her own.  She is developing her own style and writing her own music.  I’ve seen our oldest listening, shake her head in wonderment, and I’ve known that she was comparing.

“My voice isn’t anything special,” she began to believe.

She forgot about the man who said that whichever sister is singing alto is “Amazing”.

She didn’t think about the woman at church who said she knew my Angel Girl would be able to pick out the elusive harmony.

She never considered how she has been becoming the teacher her sisters all go to when they need help understanding music theory.

I encourage her, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone who isn’t ‘just Mom’.

The comparing… it chokes dreams.  It kills confidence.  Instead of trail blazing, you fall to the rear because that is where you feel more comfortable. You might even talk yourself right out of the plans God has for you, but you and I, we’ve been chosen to be the bearer of the blessing others need.

In the Old Testament, God chose Esther.  He used Esther’s humility to save an entire nation.  He used her position: as the king’s favorite she had potential sway. He used her wisdom: a young woman who respected and listened to the uncle who told her that if she refused, God would use another way and she would forfeit the plan for her life.  He used her Jewish influence–the nation of Israel fasted and prayed with her in preparation for a risk that was greater than any you and I are likely to encounter: to go to the king without an invitation, and it could have cost her life.  She gave what she had to God as an offering.  She said, “If I perish, I perish.”  She didn’t say someone else was better equipped.  She risked everything and history documents how she blazed that trail.

While my Angel Girl was counseling at camp this summer, they put her on worship team. Every chapel, she had the opportunity to lead the singing with her peers while playing the keyboard and/or singing for worship.  I was glad.  I knew it would be a good experience, and I just kept praying God would use it as He weaves together his will for her life.

Angel on Worship Team

She said she played so often that the nervousness which normally paralyzes her concentration and her hands when she plays in public had disappeared by the end of summer camps. And then there was that voice she kept hearing over the monitor… the one she didn’t recognize as belonging to any of the other singers, and then one day she realized it was her own.  “In a good way,” she smiled.

Angel at bleachers

My daughter has been given a song to sing out loud.  So have you, whether literally or figuratively.

Your abilities? They don’t belong to you, as much as society will tell you that they do and that it’s your right to do with them as you please.  No, they were given to you by God and for God.  Don’t think about what other people think. Don’t belittle your gifts.  Don’t allow your song, whatever it is, to be muffled by comparing it to the abilities He has given to others.

Don’t fall back.

Don’t forfeit the plan.

Keep your gaze on the King.  He is your compass.  Orientate your thoughts, your feelings and your feet toward Him, and Keep. Moving. Forward.

You may never know all the lives you touch, but someday you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself the way God sees you.  You’ll hear your own voice in the so called monitor and be surprised {in a good way 🙂 } and you’ll be glad you chose to sing.