Women encouraged to rely on God, release burdens

LAS COLINAS—About 200 women filed into the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas to attend the ladies session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s 2016 Empower Conference Feb. 29. During the three-hour afternoon session, women heard from author and Bible study teacher Jennifer Rothschild, actress Shari Rigby who serves on staff at the Dream Center in Los Angeles, and Jennie Allen, founder of IF: Gathering. Modern-day hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty led the group in praise and worship.

Jennifer Rothschild

Rothschild spoke from a place of personal experience, talking about how blindness that overtook her at age 15 brought out the self-determination in her to not be overcome by her circumstances. Although when that sharp self-will faded later in life, Rothschild said she came face to face with the reality that she could do nothing without the grace and power of God.

“I was relying on my can-do attitude,” Rothschild said.

Pointing to Philippians 4:13, she explained that those following God can do all things through Christ who strengthens them, emphasizing the “in Christ” portion.

Rothschild went on to talk about two other “I” statements in the passage, including “I am,” pointing to a Christian’s identity being rooted in Christ, and “I will,” talking about placing “my will” under “his will.”

“I am going to put my will under thy will, and then I will be able to say, “I will.”

Shari Rigby

Rigby, who played the role of a birth mother in the feature film “October Baby,” offered portions of her testimony to the group of women, highlighting how God called her to minister to “broken women.” Having had personal experience with drugs, alcohol, an abusive relationship and becoming a mother at age 17, Rigby said she hopes to, through the Lord’s help, minister to those women who need to know they are valuable and “enough” for the Lord to love them.

She talked about wanting to “activate women to inspire, influence and dream,” urging women to seek what the Lord would have them do in their own areas of influence and ministry.

“Ask in prayer, ‘God, what breaks your heart, and what have you called me to?’ Commit to being that shield and linking arms with women,” she said.

Jennie Allen

Allen, wife of a former minister and a ministry leader herself, spoke about shrugging off the burdensome “backpacks” women carry for the sake of loving Jesus more and exuding his joy and light.

“Life is hard, and inadvertently a lot of time we strap it on our backs,” Allen said. “What we’ve got to do is care more about other people’s freedoms because then we want to get free ourselves.”

Allen said women must stop and ask themselves, “What am I not believing about God?”

Pointing to John 6 where Jesus feeds the 5,000, Allen explained that Jesus, believing fully in God and his ability to provide for the people, did not operate out of worry or fear or burden.

“Something Jesus beloved about his father caused him not to strive, caused him not to worry,” Allen said. “There is a reason we are so tired. We don’t have to be. I’m not saying that it is easy, but I am saying that it could be easier. If we really believe that God is so good.”

Allen closed with thoughts from Romans 8.

“There is a spirit of life that has set you free, and there is a spirit of flesh that results in sin and death,” Allen said. “The question is which one are you feeding? Are you feeding the spirit, or are you feeding the flesh?”

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