As we concluded our Ephesians series, I had many mixed emotions. I have never wished to stay and linger in a teaching series before. We cannot let it be lost on us that we have made STRIDES in our understanding of the Gospel and what following it implies. I knew that God would be transforming us in the expected ways (purging idols, identity, security) but I did not expect the weekly teaching of His word on Sunday morning to renew us in the way that it has. I thank the Lord for the elders of our church who have lead us in that!  

In September, I was challenged in my perspective of the hope that I have been called to and the idea of heaven that I have imagined. The opening chapters of Ephesians gave me a broader sense for the divisions that exist between men and God and the divisions between men and other men. That reality produced so much joy in the work that Jesus has done in breaking down the dividing wall of hostility.

Our racial justice series opened my heart and my mind not only to the issues of race I've been avoiding my whole life but to injustice of all kinds. I can truthfully say that the Lord used the leadership of our church and their teaching to turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and that because of that I will never be the same. My ability to turn off and turn away from injustice has been crushed. The way that I am able to see and speak about and pose questions about race is still incredibly limited - but thank the Lord that I am not done and this beautiful church is not going away. I look forward to many days ahead learning and growing more and more in my understanding and application. We can look forward to more teaching, more encouragement and more rebuke.

I am thankful that we took time to work through the family mini-series and that our Equipping time allowed us to work out Biblical Womanhood and Manhood more with one another. The leadership I personally received has had implications on my direct relationship with Jesus, on my marriage, on parenting my daughter and my son, on the way I relate to my friends and other women in my life and on my leadership. It has been a season of incredible growth for me as the floodgates were lifted. I feel like many of our women have been feeling the same tension as I have in wanting to understand but not knowing how to; not having a firm grasp on our limits and our value. I am thankful that Cottage Grove made much of family and gender and gave us the space and time to work through these things. It has been such a joy to experience the freedom in ADORING God's intentional design for me as a woman and the role that He has given me. Again, I will never be the same.

The vision of this church drew us in. We anticipated that in this season God would allow us to flourish.  But only God knew the depth to which he would take us in helping us to flourish. He has used the vision of this church to work mightily in us. I am so grateful to have been here for this exact moment in Cottage Grove's timeline. Thank You, elders, for holding firm to the truth, for seeking reconciliation, and for letting us know redemption. I look forward to the days to come as these truths to press in to us more deeply and pour over into our homes and our community.

by Wendy Pierce