My name is Melanie Strong. My husband and I are lead pastors at Bethel Assembly of God in Rapid City, South Dakota. My assignment for the Fall Introductory issue is Engaged: Beautifully United. I have a big heart for the Church and I fully believe in the life-changing power of worship, guidance, confession, and celebration – these spiritual disciplines have greatly affected my story. But first, here is a little bit about my walk with Jesus.
“Christ’s Love Makes the Church Whole” (Ephesians 5:26 MSG), These words are so powerful.
As a child, I spent hours watching my mom. My greatest memories are sitting in the chair next to her as she put on makeup, sitting on her lap as she sewed clothes or standing on a stool to watch her bake. She is the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. Loving Christian, taking in the orphan and widow, providing for the poor, looking after her household, raising Godly children, all through an incredible testimony of surviving horrific childhood abuse. This woman did it all. And I always thought I had to too.
If I couldn’t be perfect, I wasn’t good enough. This was the monologue in my head. I was broken, held back by fear, and the nagging worry of disappointing everyone with me.
It has taken years of Bible study, prayer, accountability, worship, and thousands of tears to break through that perfectionistic spirit. It has taken mountaintops and valleys to see God’s faithful hand of grace in everything. But God is faithful and His Love fills the “soul holes” I have. Now I can talk about the struggles of motherhood without feeling like a shadow is being cast over my life. I am able to share my weaknesses knowing God’s strength can then shine through me. And that lie of perfection is broken in surrender of my life to His grace. He is enough and in Him, I am too!
His Words Evoking Beauty…
The most life changing book of the Bible, for me, has to be the Book of Ephesians.
One time in college when I was really struggling with the call God had placed on my life, my mom, wrote out the entire book of Ephesians but replaced it with my name.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed Melanie in Christ with every spiritual blessing, in the heavenly places, even as he chose Melanie in him before the foundation of the world , that she would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined her for adoption to himself as his daughter through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace…”
Wow! Suddenly these weren’t ancient words but they were promises and blessings, gifts and callings that were for me!
There are a lot of incredible scriptures I could point out that have changed my life but this entire book has done more for me than any other. And I have recommended so many women I have spoken to, to do the same thing. You want to know how God feels about you? You want to know why He is so good? You want to know your destiny in Christ? Write out the book of Ephesians, and replace “us”, “you”, and “we” with your own name!
God’s Word is alive and active for your life and mine!
Bringing Out the BEST…
I pray that my entire life exemplifies Christ. As a wife, I want to show love and forgiveness. As a mom, I want to my show my children their purpose and destiny. I want to teach them to grow up loving God and loving other people. As a daughter, I want to show honor and grace. As a sister, I want to be a prayer warrior and encourager. And as a Pastor, I want to lead people to the only true Hope this world has, Jesus.
My favorite thing about the church, is that it is just a small taste, a 2-dimensional image of what heaven will be like one day!! It is made up of imperfect people, just like me, putting their trust in a perfect God!! And I am so thankful for that!