Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who Knew Jeggings Could be Spiritual?

By Hilary Strat, FullFill™ Alliance Manager

“Great news, girls! We can each have a pair!”

Sheer excitement poured forth as my girlfriends and I discovered the very pants we had coveted on a friend a few days earlier—on sale! What was this highly sought-after pant you might ask? (Who knows . . .you might even be wearing them right now.) Jeggings!

For those of you who have not yet “experienced” a pair of jeggings, imagine a pair of pants made out of a denim fabric with the elasticity of a legging, complete with fake pockets and belt loops. Jeggings, we swore, were the most flattering, most practical pair of pants we had every owned. We convinced each other that if we didn’t already own a pair, we needed to fix that as soon as possible.

Fast forward one year: Christmas. Friends and family. And (cue dramatic music) pictures. We chatted again about our formerly favorite fashion item, but with a different attitude than the previous year. Most of us had gained weight and looked a little different than when we had rejoiced over the ease of making outfits without extra zippers and buttons. The structure of the jeans we had been wearing before our “discovery” kept us all the more aware of which foods we were consuming and the frequency with which we were exercising each week.

We came to the devastating realization that we had allowed too much S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

Many times it takes too much of a bad habit, a draining relationship or a need for control, to realize we’ve taken our lives into our own hands without seeking the Lord for structure. We think we have it all together so we move another step without asking for his guidance. We give advice, to ourselves and to others without consulting the Word. We continue to stretch the limits, leaving behind the bounds he already has in place for us.

There is safety in the structure that he provides. The Lord desires for us to draw closer to him—in our walk with him, in our relationships with others and ultimately, in the realization that this world is not enough. He is our enough. He provides the structure that this world has told us to blatantly ignore.

The jeggings gals had replaced function for fashion in the same way many of us replace God with something more “comfortable.” In the end, it turned out the structure of our good ol’ denim blue jeans was what was best for us after all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stretch yourself to go deeper into the Word

By Keri Wyatt Kent

We live in a culture of sound bites and Tweets. While sharing your thoughts in 140 characters or less makes one more concise, it rarely is enough space to delve deeper.

What works in social media is less effective as an approach to Scripture, despite the proliferation of Verse-A-Day calendars and short, pithy devotionals. It’s been said that Scripture is like a lake whose depths have never been fully plumbed. And yet, we are content to splash in the shallows of God’s word instead of stretching ourselves to go deeper. Our growth and our effectiveness as influencers is thwarted as a result.

Scripture itself decries depth for the sake of mere intellectual attainment. Rather, I want to seek to study Scripture in a deeper way for the purpose of spiritual transformation: that as a leader, I would be changed, slowly conformed to the image of Christ. And because of that, I’d be able to facilitate transformation in others. This is almost impossible if I don’t read, or don’t accurately understand, God’s word.

Where to start? Take advantage of tools that exist, online or at your local Christian bookstore. Here’s one way to do so:

Read a given text. Pick out what you would call keywords –the words you would tag in a blog post. Look each word up in a concordance (there are some really great ones online, like Just as we can understand an English word better if we hear it used in a sentence, we can understand biblical words better if we see them in other contexts.
Using a concordance with a lexicon (like the one available at, for example) can take you even deeper, by showing you which Greek or Hebrew word that the English word translates, and other verses containing that same word.

This is not study for study’s sake, but rather, a way to more deeply understand God’s word. If we are Christian leaders, yet skim along the surface of his Word, we and those we lead miss out.
When I’m willing to go deeper into God’s word, and thus allow it to inform my leadership and stretch my mind and heart, I will be more deeply connected to the living Word, Jesus. But I will also find in that quest the heart of Scripture, which is transformational wisdom. I will become a better leader by stretching myself to be a biblically literate leader.

Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Words from the New Testament, a book she describes this way: “If a Bible dictionary and a deep, thoughtful devotional had a baby, it would be this book.” Keri writes and speaks to help people slow down, simplify and find God in their story, and loves to help make Scripture relevant to 21st Century life. Learn more at or Find Deeper into the Word on amazon by clicking here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's not really a stretch...

by Elisa Morgan

Okay - you already clicked to open this Weekly ReFill. You're expecting - hoping for - some words of encouragement, or insight, or training, or help. Words for today. For right where you're living. For just what you're facing.

Guess what? They're already written. You just need to click once more. It's really not a stretch.

I know, you think, "I don't have time to read the whole magazine right now. I'll do it later." But then you don't. Ever. You forget about it. It falls below the line of pressing right-now-ness.

Can I talk you out of closing this email without one more click?

-Do you need some perspective on how to take a stretch in your leadership, your faith and your life?
Click here for Onwards and Upwards.
-Are you desperate for a turnkey curriculum for your small group TONIGHT? Click here for the FullFill™ Fountain template.
-Do you need to set your eyes on a woman who's using her gifts - just to give you hope that God might one day use you as well?
Click here and read about Pomegranate Place.
-Do you know the five traits most desired in a leader?
Click here for Quick Fill.
-Have you been wondering if you have any hospitality chromosome whatsoever?
Click here for "Untamed Hospitality."

And if you don't do any of the above, at the least, don't forget to bookmark FullFill™ to read later.

The staff of FullFill™ spent months writing and designing and acquiring just what you need to stretch so that you wouldn't have to bend backwards to get what you need to grow. It's really not a stretch! Click here.

And then, let us know if it helps?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Resolution for 2011

By Nicole Unice


Last week I had some disappointing news that sent me sprinting down the path of self-doubt. In response, one of my “wiser” (read: older) friends shared a story of what God taught her through her own disappointment. Another friend left me a quick note: “Continue to be powerful.” Yet another exhorted me with words I’m still thinking about.

Through my disappointment, I felt known and understood. I felt comforted and challenged. I felt the invisible boost of confidence that comes from genuine encouragement.

We know encouragement helps in disappointment, but in the bustle of leadership it’s easy to let words of encouragement slide—until that next crisis. What if in 2011, you treated encouragement as a spiritual practice? The writer of Hebrews says “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (3:13)

Here are three reasons to make encouragement a New Year’s resolution:

Encouragement is our responsibility every day.
The author of Hebrews says to encourage someone not just when we notice they are down, but every day. As leaders, we need to be sure that we take time daily to speak a word of truth and strength over those we influence.

Today is a day to choose.
The word “today” is capitalized in this verse because it refers to a specific time period. The time period called “Today” is the time when people still have a choice to make about following God. “Today” is a day to choose the path of being led by the Spirit, of allowing Christ to be our Lord. “Today” is a day I choose to let God lead and to follow his command to encourage others in their choice to do the same.

Encouragement is the preservative for freshness.
Encouragement is the solution for avoiding both sin’s hardness and its deceitfulness. Does that surprise you like it does me? I would think, based on popular opinion, that listening to sermons or doing the right thing or having my quiet time is what would keep me from sinning. But encouragement? Really?

Encouragement is a preservative for the giver and for the receiver. To provide a fresh word of encouragement requires listening, asking good questions, caring about the answers and making space in the busyness of the day to allow for those thoughts to be spoken.

So, what is the result of encouraging someone else? It’s knowing what it feels like to put our own needs aside and to invite the needs of another to occupy that space. And that’s what Jesus taught us servant leadership is all about.

Today, I’m taking time to reflect on how to be more encouraging in 2011. Ask yourself: Who do you encounter daily who could use encouragement? Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

Do it today. Do it tomorrow. And experience the encouragement to your own soul as you truly partner with the Spirit in his work of comfort, counsel and strength in other’s lives.

Nicole Unice, MA is a counselor-turned-ministry leader, blogger, and author of The Divine Pursuit. She discovered her love for encouragement as a high school cheerleader. You can find Nicole blogging at