April 19-20, 2013: “Living the Upgraded Life…Even in Difficult Circumstances”
April 27th 2013
Heavy, blowing snow, icy roads, accumulation of over a two feet nearby…A perfect opening day for the 2013 Arise! Minnesota women’s conference, “Living the Upgraded Life…Even in Difficult Circumstances.”
The conditions were daunting, but hunger to experience His presence and desire to receive teaching while in the company of over 1,000 of our sisters outweighed a little weather.
UPGRADES THROUGH TEACHING
Our main speaker was Graham Cooke. This was the ninth time he’s shared at one of the Lutheran Renewal/Arise! conferences. We are grateful for the relationship he’s established in our hearts as well as the call he has to this region.
Graham shared very personally about difficult circumstances he’s experienced during the past few years and how he encountered the grace, presence, and power of God during those times. When we are in a hard place, he encouraged us to ask this question: “Who is God going to be for me during this season?”
Just a few quotes from his sessions:
· “When God looks at you, He only sees what’s missing in your experience of Him.”
· “When God gives us a promise, He binds Himself to that promise and then sends the Holy Spirit to help us unpack it.”
· “Accountability isn’t calling people out on their stuff; it’s calling people up to who they are.”
· “The fruit of the Spirit is more powerful against the enemy than the gifts of the Spirit.”
· “God will not be content until you’ve received the exact opposite of all that you’ve suffered.”
Londa Lundstrom Ramsey was new to many of us, but we soon realized what we had been missing in not knowing her! She’s passionate, funny, and has the heart of an evangelist in her love for others. She invited women to give their lives to the lordship of Christ and 62 responded. Like many others, I was crying tears of joy as I watched His daughters encountering the love of God.
The Lord had told her the day before she spoke that she was to conduct a funeral during her session. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” She explained that many of us are still alive to our own agendas and selfish ways and that it was time to stay dead! Londa had no idea that Graham had spoken on the importance of staying “dead” the day before.
She had never conducted this kind of funeral, and most of us had never experienced a call like that. When she first told us what she was going to do, I said to myself, “That’s interesting…” (That’s code in Minnesota for “What in the world is she thinking?!) But when she gave the call, the Spirit started moving in our hearts. It was a holy moment of repentance and new life.
I (Denise Siemens) taught on the danger of linear thinking in our relationship with God and that living with the expectation of formula-based Christianity will lead to extreme disappointment and disillusionment in God. I stated, “God cannot be bought with our tithe, He’s not a vending machine, and He’s not a magic genie.”
I shared about our own heartache when our daughters had walked away from fellowship with God for a time. Hundreds of women came forward for prayer who needed to encounter hope and courage for their own circumstances of loss, physical pain, and heartache.
Linda Morken shared her testimony of how she overcame extreme childhood abuse by the power of the love of God. She encouraged us all to know that the power of Christ can bring restoration to any situation no matter the depth of pain or the severity of hardship and loss.
UPGRADES DURING WORSHIP
I love to worship on my own in front of my stereo or computer singing praise to God; those are precious times. Worshipping corporately is a whole other experience! When the crowd starts to sense the wind of the Spirit and then begins to respond independent of the worship leaders, it’s an amazing encounter. We get to experience in large-group gatherings what we will one day experience forever in heaven.
Our chick band, or should I say “our all-female worship team” did an amazing job of hosting the presence of God through worship. We were blessed to have Kalley Heiligenthal and Rebekah Bartels as the team leaders. Many women told me how at the sound of the first chord, they started crying—they recognized that they had come home.
One of our offerings was designated for relief and development to women in Kenya, Uganda, Tajikistan and Thailand. We worshipped Him as we gave to His daughters around the world.
UPGRADES DURING PRAYER MINISTRY
Over 300 women had individual prophetic prayer appointments on Friday afternoon. Sometimes you need others to speak healing and affirmation to you, especially if you’re going through a difficult time. God blessed those appointments with so much grace and power.
The seventy women who served on the prayer team are a powerful group who are passionate to see the transformation that occurs when the love of God touches someone. They serve because they love. What a wonderful band of warriors!
UPGRADES THROUGH COMMUNITY
It felt like we were at a family reunion! We were excited to see our loved ones who live far away, and we enjoyed getting to know those family members whom we have never met. There were so many connections taking place all weekend.
Women tend to be very relational and enjoy doing things with a friend or a group. A church in Wisconsin was represented by 36 women who traveled together and 27 came from Omaha, NE. Add a photo booth to record these moments and you have a recipe for Family fun.
See you next year!
Denise Siemens, Arise! Women Team Leader
As you know, a family reunion doesn’t just pop up on its own. Many, many women served behind the scenes to create a grace-filled atmosphere and they were led by Ali Siemens. Ali loves people, loves God and loves to see others experience Him. The weekend wouldn’t have been the same without you and your team. Thank you all so much!
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