Betsy Bolick lives in the mountains of North Carolina and serves as the college minister at Perkinsville Baptist Church. She is also the founder and director of Small Enough Ministries. Betsy is passionate about reaching all women for Jesus Christ. She desires to make disciples and to fulfill the mission Christ has called her to fulfill for His glory.
Betsy will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 N.C. Baptist Women’s Retreat scheduled for Oct. 25-26 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, N.C. This year’s retreat theme is “Abide” based on John 15:5. Betsy recently took some time to answer some questions about this year’s retreat and what it means to abide in Christ.
How do you define “abide?”
I believe Sinclair Ferguson said it best when he defined abiding in Christ as, “Allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections.” Abiding is remaining fixed on Christ and His Word. It means that we rest in His sufficiency and surrender to His will and work in our lives.
What does it look like for you to abide in Christ on a daily basis?
Multiple times last year I had several friends share with me about inductive Bible studies. My dear friend and fellow staff member at Perkinsville, Carrie, reminded me about the beauty of studying God’s Word inductively last summer. It was a life changer. At last year’s “Holy, Chosen and Beloved” retreat, I had the joy and privilege of listening to Cathy Moffett inductively teach on Colossians 3. Her teaching set a fire in me to study God’s Word in this way and it has been transformational to my time with the Lord. This type of study helps me focus on what the Word is actually saying and not what I want it to say. This has been crucial and life altering during this season in my life.
Abiding looks like turning off the radio and driving in silence before Him. I travel a lot so my car has become a solace for my time with God. It has allowed me to seek His wisdom and rest in His presence. I also abide by filling my mind with His Word through memorizing Scripture and listening to worship music, which points to Christ and not to myself. We were created to abide, therefore I will abide in something. However, it takes work to abide in Christ. This work for me on a daily basis is reading Scripture, memorizing Scripture, speaking Scripture, praying Scripture and resting in Scripture. Do not think for one second that I do not battle daily in this work. God is teaching me through much sorrow, suffering and battling that, “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Abiding is not natural — it is supernatural. I will never abide apart from the work of Christ in my life.
What has God been teaching you about abiding in Him?
God is teaching me to rest in the work that He has already done and to rest in Him as He continues to work in and through me. I am a “doer.” I often find my identity in the things that I do or do not do well. I am a performer, and I am not sure if anyone else can relate. Recently God has shown me that although I can lead a Bible study, serve in my church and perform well, it is all null and void without the power and presence of the Prince of Peace. Oh, that God would strip me of my performance and put me at His feet! Abiding is not natural — it is supernatural. I will never abide apart from the work of Christ in my life. I do not wake up with the natural desire to abide. He has shown me that to abide well I must be pruned of all that does not bear fruit. He is stripping me and cutting me in ways I never fathomed. This cutting feels hard and painful, yet I know that He prunes to protect and preserve His work in the lives of His children.
What does it look like in your life when you are not resting in Christ?
My life looks like complete and utter chaos, devoid of joy and purpose when I am not resting in Christ. I become a woman plagued by fears, doubts and sins. My feelings take precedence, and I follow them wherever they lead. James 1 truly spells out my life when I am not abiding in Christ. James writes, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” When I am not resting in Christ, I am reaching for fleshly desires and driven by the need to fulfill them. As a result, I find myself entangled by sin, and I experience so much death in my life. This death is evident in my loss of joy, hope, peace and purpose. I am so thankful that God pulls me out of that place through repentance, discipline, revelation in His Word and accountability from His Bride.
How would you encourage another woman to abide in Christ?
Abiding in Christ is to remain in Him. How can we remain in Him if we do not remain in His Word? Sisters, we must read His Word. We must eat it like honey, savor it when it does not feel sweet, cling to it when it feels hard and follow it even when it does not feel good. We are often led by our feelings and directed by our schedules. Abiding takes sacrifice and death to self. We must rest in the risen Savior by abiding in the living and active Word of God. Read it when you are alone, talk about it with other women, memorize it and hide it in your hearts. To remain is to read, and to savor is to study. We must remember that apart from Christ we can do nothing. Warren Weirsbe said that, “Of itself, a branch is weak and useless. It is good for either bearing or burning, but not for building. The branch cannot produce its own life; it must draw that life from the vine. It is our communion with Christ through the Spirit that makes possible the bearing of the fruit.” Let us not forget that there is no life apart from our Lord and Master. To live is to abide.
What can this year’s retreat attendees anticipate as you teach through John 15, the retreat’s focal passage?
I have nothing to offer you apart from His Word. Praise Jesus that is all we need. We will dig, dwell, bask and beg God to do what only He can do — make us more like His Son. I pray this weekend would be a time that He prunes from us all that is not of Him. I am asking God to cut away the sin that easily entangles. I am praying that He removes the deadness in our lives that is choking the fruit He produces in us. I pray that you feast on His Word during our time together, and we leave hungry for more of Him. I pray that He releases an army of women that have fixed their eyes on Him, remain in His Word, and are steadfast in their pursuit of holiness. I pray He deepens our affections for Him and lessens our affections for the world. May this weekend be one of abiding in our Abba Father. My prayer is that we desire to abide and no longer fear the pruning. Let us welcome the tearing, cutting and slicing of sin as we rest in His Word and His goodness. Oh God, make us more like Jesus! My hope is that God would draw our hearts unto Himself as we abide in Him during our time together and for the rest of our days. May God make us abiders who produce much fruit by His power and His work alone.
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to challenge us to dwell on, study and memorize John 15 this year in preparation for our time together. Memorizing His Word is a powerful tool that helps us fight against the enemy and keep our eyes fixed on Christ.
by Betsy Bolick
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