I'm excited to have someone very special today sharing with us about the VITAL role our relationships with other women have in our lives.
Renee Rutledge describes herself as quirky, eclectic, passionate, transparent, an excited follower of the Risen Lord, who has been radically changed by God.
Renee loves to share His hope with the hopeless and thrives on encouraging, teaching, training and inspiring others that "everyone has a greater purpose".
God called Renee and her husband, Brad, to full-time ministry at Eastridge Community Church in Covington Georgia, where they have served as the leaders of Celerate Recovery for over 15 years.
Renee is a wife of 31 years, mother to one, and NaNa to three.
Hey ya'll! I'm excited to be with you today! Terri, thank you for the invitation!
About 17 years ago the Lord gave me a heart for women. I did as most mature Christians do, and said, "GOD! ARE YOU CRAZY?!? I DON'T EVEN LIKE WOMEN!!"
Now before you are offended, hear me out.
For years I had no reason to like or trust women, much less, minister to women.
I was a Youth Director in our previous church. I loved my teenagers and they loved me; they were my safe place.
Now, back to the calling into Women's Ministry; well, of course I said, "Yes Lord", but was horrified! And as I journeyed through this "calling," God was gracious and merciful.
I have learned a lot; mostly about myself. I learned that I didn't like or trust women, only because I didn't like or trust myself.
You see, I was the one who couldn't be trusted, passed judgement and was afraid of rejection.
You see, I was the woman no one liked, because I was the woman I didn't like. Therefore I didn't want anything to do with women. I just hid out in youth group.
When I allowed God to transform my heart, mind and purpose, He changed everything! He gave me freedom. Freedom from the woman I used to be; freedom to become the woman He created me to be.
As God transformed my heart, I desired healthy, strong relationships with other women. I learned that I needed women in my life pouring into me, and I needed to pour into other women. As I did this simple thing; not easy, but simple, God blessed me beyond measure.
I have been mentored by some amazing women over the years! God, through these women, has forever changed my attitude, my marriage, my mothering... He's used women (a species I used to be scared of) to change my life. I've also had the opportunity to mentor many ladies.
God ordained all of these relationships and I am thankful.
But I've also been hurt. As a matter of fact, several years ago I was ready to walk away from women's ministry all together because the hurt was so deep.
"See God! I told You I didn't have a heart for women!"
And God gently held my heart in His Victorious Hand and whispered, "Then why is it breaking? You love her, that's why it hurts. And if you walk away now, you will miss out on many more blessings I have in store for you. I am using My daughters in your life and I am using you in My daughters’ lives. Don't run."
And again I said, "Yes Lord."
We all need safe relationships that we can be real with, grow and thrive with, cry and share with and to have fun with; safe relationships with like-minded women.
We need the right people challenging and encouraging us in times of temptation, in weary times, in hard times...
Two are better than one, because they have a good
return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one
can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has
no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together,
they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend
themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
Ladies! we are better together! We need each other!
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
I can't imagine what my life would be like if I had not said, "Yes Lord." I would have missed out on so many blessings from women encouraging and building me up, and opportunities for me to do the same for them.
God wants to use each and every one of you in these very special ways!
Are you like I was? Scared to let ladies in? Scared of being judged or rejected?
But what if?
What if God has an amazing relationship, especially for you, to encourage, challenge, love and accept you? But you miss out because you're scared and won't say, "Yes Lord."
What if God wants desperately to use you to impact someone's life in unbelievable ways? He can't do that unless you say, "Yes Lord."
Have you said, "Yes Lord!"
Or are you hiding out?
Are you running from your calling, whatever that may be?
Or are you being used by God in extraordinary ways, in and through His purpose for you?
Say, "Yes Lord!" Even if you don't understand His calling on your life! Your obedience to His calling will bless your socks off!!
You. Beautiful women, daughters of God, sisters in Christ have truly blessed my socks off and I am thankful! I am thankful I said, "Yes Lord!"
Thank you for letting me share!