The Marvelous Cornerstone

standard April 12, 2017 2 responses

Last fall I sat on the Southern Steps in Jerusalem. These steps are remains of the Temple, God’s dwelling place on earth. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I had butterflies in my stomach, sensing the Lord’s presence, knowing that I truly was on holy ground.

(The Southern Steps leading up to where the Temple would have been.)

(Part of the original wall. The first layer is almost as tall as I am.)

(Ruins of the Temple.)

These were the same steps that Jesus and other Hebrew boys would have climbed as a child to sit under the teaching of a well-respected rabbi. They are the same steps where the Jewish Pilgrims would gather to sing the Song of Ascents, moving up step by step as their lips sang the praises of Psalms 120 through 134. And they are also the same steps that supported Jesus’ feet as His authority was challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders within days of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus. God in flesh. The maker of heaven and earth who spoke creation into existence. This very same Jesus is now being disrespected on the steps of His very own Temple.

And in response Jesus tells a graphic story of a man who owned a vineyard. The man makes all the necessary preparations in order to have the vineyard succeed and he then leaves the vineyard in the hands of capable farmers. When the man sends one of his slaves to collect a portion of the harvest, the farmers beat him and send him away empty-handed. This happens again and again until eventually the farmers start killing the slaves until the man is left with only his beloved son to send. He thinks, “Surely they will respect my son.” But, of course, they didn’t. They killed him and threw him out of his own vineyard. Despised and rejected.

As you and I read this story from Mark 12, we have the hindsight to know that this exact thing will happen to Jesus just days later and we want to shout to the chief priests, “Don’t do it!! He’s the Messiah! He’s come to save you, His chosen people.” But the actual audience doesn’t get what Jesus is telling them. However, He knows just how to get their attention…by quoting Scripture. Jesus asks them point blank, “Have you not even read this Scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And immediately the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders would have known that Jesus was quoting Psalm 118. It’s a Psalm that they would have known in its entirety. Listen to what it says and allow the magnitude of Jesus’ point to register within your spirit:

This is the gate of the Lord;
The righteous will enter through it.
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is from the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:20-24, emphasis mine)

How many times have we woken up to a beautiful day and said, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,“? I know that I’ve used it thousands of times, especially when trying to wake up my children. And on another note, I’ve always wondered why Good Friday was called “good” when it was the day that our Savior was brutally killed and thrown out of His own creation. But I never thought to put the two together. How could the day that Jesus died on the cross be a day worthy of rejoicing?

Sitting there on those Southern Steps is when I finally realized that the day that the Lord has made, the day that was worth rejoicing over, was in fact Good Friday!! Yes, it was the day that the cornerstone was rejected, but it was also the day that salvation came for all people. And it was totally the Lord’s doing. This is so profound!

Jesus Christ alone is that cornerstone, the firm foundation on which we place our hope. The cornerstone should not be your parents, or your spouse, or your kids, or your friends, or your job, because Lord knows they will let you down and your foundation will crumble. There is only One who will never let you down and His name is Jesus. Don’t be like the chief priests and reject the very One who gives life. Put Him at the center of your life and build around Him.

As we prepare to celebrate our risen Lord this Easter weekend, I pray that we will remember the magnitude of the rejected stone who endured so much on that Good Friday. It truly was a day to rejoice and be glad.

Because that chief cornerstone was rejected, you and I have an opportunity to receive our salvation. Because His hands and feet were nailed to the cross, you and I are able to enter through the gate of the Lord. Because of the Lord’s doing, you and I have a reason to rejoice. And the cornerstone that is Jesus Christ is so very MARVELOUS in our eyes!

(A replica of a cornerstone in Jerusalem.)

No Greater Joy

standard March 25, 2017 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is brought to you by my very special friend, Lesli Thomas. Lesli is an AMAZING wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, volunteer, and much more. She makes God’s Word a priority in her everyday life and it shows up in everything that she does, especially in raising her handsome boys. I know you will enjoy her wisdom!

Two years ago I chose to adopt a word for the year – JOY – to dig deep into and find out how God desired that in my life.  Joy means so much to me as I have seen it bless my life by the reality that it is a daily choice… sure there are times that someone blesses my life which brings joy but most days it is a choice to find joy in my circumstances.  Fast forward two years to 2017 and the word of the year became TRUTH.  Then this scripture jumped off the wall at me…   “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4

My husband and I have two little sports loving, outside playing, lego building, bayou fishing, dirt covered boys.  Most days as parents seem so full with school, sports, homework, playtime, laundry, cooking, baths, bedtime, repeat.  It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of “life” and wake up days, months, or even years later and feel like what just happened?  How are they already 6 and 8 years old?

This verse speaks such life to me… and so much intentionality!  I desire to experience a life full of joy, don’t you?  And I desire even more for my children to “walk in the truth.”  Then this got me thinking about 2 things: 1) What is truth? And 2) How will my children know truth?

In an effort to answer the question of “what is truth,” here are a few truths found in God’s Word.

Truths about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

God is our strength and our shield, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.  Psalm 28:7-8

God is with us wherever we go.  Joshua 1:9

God is our deliverer from all fears.  Psalm 34:4

God is our consoler, the bringer of joy.  Psalm 94:19

God is my helper.  Hebrews 13:6

God cares for me and lifts me with His mighty hand.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  John 14:6

Jesus is our advocate who speaks to God in our defense. 1 John 2:1

The Spirit of God gives us power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit comforts us, teaches us, and reminds us of Jesus’ teachings.  John 14:26

The Spirit guides us in all truth.  John 16:13

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8:26

Truths about us:

I along with my children must know Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – to come to the Father.  John 14:6

To have fellowship with one another and be purified from all sin by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in the light.  1 John 1:7

We must love God and love one another.  1 John 4:21

We are known as children of God when we do what is right, obey his commands, love one another, and bear fruit.  1 John 2:3-6, 3:1, 3:10

We are His hands and feet, the body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27

We are children of the Most High.  Psalm 82:6

We are not our own; we were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20

We are adopted to the sonship.  Romans 8:15

We are strong and courageous.  1 Corinthians 16:13

We are the light of the world.  Matthew 5:14

We are created by the Lord, His masterpiece, to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10

We are redeemed, summoned by name, the Lords.  Isaiah 43:1

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  Philippians 4:13

We are given strength when we are weary and increased power when we are weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We are strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.   Ephesians 6:10

We will soar on wings of eagles, run and not grow weary.  We will walk and not be faint when we hope in the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31

We cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus.  Romans 8:38-39

Truths about Salvation:

By the gospel you are saved… for what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then appeared to many.  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

In an effort to answer the question of “how will my children know the truth,” here is where I as a parent find such conviction.  One of my God-given responsibilities as a parent is to teach my children His Word – the absolute truth.  Take a minute and soak that in… that is heavy!  I must be intentional!  I play a part in experiencing “no greater joy.” 

And if 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 holds true, then of first importance is that I teach my sons about Christ and the gospel that saves.  Judges 2:10 is a stark warning to us as parents.  It states that “after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”  The Israelites had been rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt yet it only took ONE generation not teaching their children of what the Lord had done for them to not know the Lord.

So, let’s make this practical for our everyday lives.  How can we as moms do our part to make sure that our children know the truth and bless us with the greatest earthly joy?

  • We as moms must be in God’s Word… seeking His absolute truth so that we may know it, talk about it, teach it, answer questions about it, and be confident in His promises. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Talk about God’s Word and promises around the dinner table, in the car driving to practice, when you tuck your kids into bed, and when you send them out the door to school.
  • Make God’s word tangible for your kids, your husband, yourself, and your house guests. Deuteronomy 6:8-9 states, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Scatter the truth of the Lord around your home… notes on the bathroom mirrors, index cards by their beds, canvas scriptures on your walls… fill your hearts and minds with God’s Word.

If we are willing to seize this awesome opportunity to leave a legacy for our families by patterning a life lived in the light and truth of God, then we are raising up children who will walk in this truth that gives eternal life. There truly is no greater joy!

Serving Up YOUR Gift

standard February 1, 2017 6 responses

If anyone serves, she should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 4:10

This past week I was blessed to use my gift of speaking seven individual times and it was truly one of the most fun weeks of my life. I woke up Monday thinking I would be exhausted, but instead I was invigorated.  It felt so good knowing that I had used my gift to glorify God.

One of my presentations was a devotional for the leadership team of the retreat where I was speaking. Prior to the event we walked through the verses of 1 Peter 4:7-11, establishing our purpose to “Feed His Sheep” because the “end of all things is near.”  When we serve with the gospel in mind, it creates a sense of urgency that Peter intended for us to have. It’s all for the sake of the Gospel!

However, the BEAUTY of serving lies in the various gifts that each of us possesses.  

Peter makes the point that we all have our own unique gift. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” And aren’t we so thankful for that? Because who would really want to attend a retreat where the same thing was being done over and over again? No thank you.

But here’s where the trap comes into play.  Sometimes we start comparing our gift against our sister’s gift and we believe the enemy’s lies when he tells us, “Your gift isn’t special. It’s not nearly as good as hers is. You don’t have anything to offer so you might as well stay home.”  Don’t believe that for a single second! Without you faithfully administering YOUR gift, the blessing for those present will never be as great as it could be.  Remember that Comparison is the Thief of Joy.  Step up to the plate and play your position.  You are essential to the successful administration of God’s grace!

I witnessed true beauty this past weekend. Each woman came with her own gift and she served it up faithfully.  One had the gift of leadership.  Another brought her gift of painting.  There was an interpretive dance to “King of My Heart” that brought tears to my eyes.  The women on the cook team brought their A-game (talk about “feeding the sheep”)! And so many more gifts contributed to this wonderful day of worship.

The women also accepted the challenge to take their gift of service to the next level when they resolved to do it in the “strength that God provides.”  I think that’s the biggest difference maker in how a Christian woman serves. No matter what the venue (a Christian event or not), we always have the opportunity to serve in His strength and not our own.  I can always tell when I’m trying to serve in my own strength because I will start to feel overwhelmed and little things will begin to irritate me.  But when I hand those reigns back over to the Lord, my strength is renewed.

Lastly, in order to serve effectively, we must be willing to give the glory to God.  When the retreat is over and the last of the decorations are put away, offer your praise to the One who made it all happen.  Scripture says, “so that in ALL THINGS God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” I am not suggesting that every single thing will go smoothly (it won’t!), but praise Him anyway and ask Him to reveal any necessary changes that need to be made for next time. He deserves our praise in ALL THINGS.  Praise is always the appropriate response!

And that’s how you serve up your gift, my friend.  It’s not rocket science, but it’s not elementary either. Service requires preparation, but the cost is always worth it. Bring your unique gift and serve it up in the strength that He provides so that His saving grace may be administered to others and then give Him all the glory.

To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Make a New Year’s Reflection Instead of a New Year’s Resolution

standard January 4, 2017 4 responses

Happy New Year!

It took willpower but the final crumbs of the cheese straws have been thrown in the trash and all the Christmas candy has been consumed. And praise the Lord the kids are finally back in school!  So now it’s just me and my double chin hanging out, ready to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

But really, what exactly are new year’s resolutions and how did this tradition get started? In 1813 a Boston newspaper ran an article where these three words were first mentioned:

“And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.”

Yeah. I’d say that’s pretty much on target.  Merriam-Webster seems to be in agreement with the above writer and says that the word resolution actually means “the act of determining.”  With all that determining going on, some serious changes are about to be implemented and faults magically erased.

Yet, if you happen to say: Hey Siri! How many people achieve their new year’s resolutions? A disappointing answer of only 8% is given.  What?! How could that be with all that determination we set out with on January 1st?

I am no psychologist, but maybe it has to do with our mindset and the way we go about trying to achieve our goals. Perhaps we should try a little New Year’s Reflection instead.

The word reflection is defined as “consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose.”  Hmmm. This definitely seems a more thoughtful approach of goal-setting.  Reflection allows us to celebrate and continue what is working and implement strategies to improve what isn’t working. Let’s explore some scenarios.

Resolution: I want to lose weight in 2017.

Reflection: It is important to be healthy for myself and for my family and even though I’m not a big fan of sweating, I like how I feel after I work out. I also feel better if I don’t eat large quantities of sugar. Therefore, I am setting a goal of lifting weights every Tuesday and Thursday and adding cardio activity 3 times per week. I will also fast from sugar for 21 days and then eat it in moderation, tweaking it week by week.

Resolution: I want to have more money by the end of 2017.

Reflection: I would really like to have the financial freedom to be able to buy our dream home in the next five years so that our family can enjoy it before the kids are grown. Therefore, I will continue to systematically save a set amount each month. I will download budgeting software and will keep track of areas where we can cut spending, evaluating it on a monthly basis.

Resolution: I want to grow closer to God in 2017.

Reflection: I absolutely love how my relationship with God has flourished this past year by making the commitment to rise early and meet with Him daily.  I know that reading His Word and praying makes me a better wife, mother, friend, employee, and daughter of the King. Therefore, I will continue to practice this discipline, and I will put forth the effort to attend a routine Bible study with other women who seek Him first.

I like the purpose-driven nature and sustainability that a New Year’s Reflection provides rather than a New Year’s Resolution, don’t you? Whatever your goals are in 2017, my friend, I pray the Lord will bless them and that you will resolve to make the only real reflection that matters: to let your life be a reflection of the Light of Christ.

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.

Proverbs 27:19

Giving Thanks with a Happy Heart (ICM Trip to the Philippines)

standard November 2, 2016 Leave a response

As we move into the month of November, our minds naturally start to anticipate the holiday season.  We’re thinking less about our exercise routine and more about pumpkin pie, caramel corn, and the obligatory roasted turkey.  It’s also a time when we are counting our blessings, and as Americans they are many!

I was the recipient of an immeasurable blessing this year when I was asked to attend a mission trip with International Care Ministries (ICM) to the Philippines.  ICM focuses on serving the ultra-poor in the Philippines, meaning men and women that earn $.50 per day or less.  You may be wondering, how is it even possible to support one person on $.50 per day, much less an entire family?  The answer is: it’s not possible. Thus, the extreme poverty.

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However, ICM has developed an ingenious program that they use to treat the serious problem of poverty that ransacks this beautiful land, and they call it Transform.  Transform is a 12-week program that addresses the needs of those in ultra-poverty on three levels:

1. Values: ICM works with a local pastor to find those who need the most help in the community and when they gather weekly the participants are taught the Word of God by the pastor and are presented with a chance to hear the gospel.  (I’m sure by now you know that this is HUGE to me and one of the main reasons why I am so attracted to ICM!)img_3871

(The Pastor bringing the Word out of Matthew 12.)

2. Health: This part of the Transform program focuses on the family’s wellness and sanitation. One of the leading causes of death in the Philippines is diarrhea.  Such an easy illness for us as Americans to remedy, but dangerously lethal for those living in poverty.  ICM gives health solutions and teaches the Transform participant how to guard against such tragedy.  They also administer Manna Packs (a fortified rice and soy blend) which can provide the family with several nutritious meals for the week.

dsc00088(I taught the Health portion on diarrhea prevention. Thank goodness for a good interpreter named Denzel.)

3. Livelihood: You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  This is precisely what the Livelihood portion of the Transform program seeks to do. The goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among the participants so that they can have a sustainable source of income, whether it be by baking banana cakes and selling them in the marketplace or forming and participating in a savings group amongst themselves.

img_3870(A local savings group is being formed with the help of ICM.)dsc00058(ICM helps the Transform participants start and maintain a garden.)

At the end of the 12-week program a graduation celebration is given for those that participated in ICM’s Transform Program and it is a true reason to rejoice.  Not only are the graduates learning to fight poverty, but almost always new friendships have been formed within the group and the once unbearable weight of hopelessness is replaced with feelings of belonging and HOPE for the future.

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Proverbs 14:21 states, “Whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”  

I love this promise in God’s Word for many reasons. One being that our happiness is directly dependent upon ourselves and the kindness that we give to others.  But also because kindness shown to the poor creates a perfect triangle of happiness between us, those that we choose to bless, and our Creator.  

This Thanksgiving it’s all about giving thanks with a happy heart.  We have so much to be thankful for and showing kindness to the poor is one way that we can spread happiness and hope.  Will you join me in partnering with ICM as they work tirelessly to provide serious solutions to serious poverty in the Philippines? If yes, then click below and allow your kindness to make you, others, and God happy!

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Note to my 20-year-old Self

standard October 20, 2016 7 responses

Dear 20-year-old Self,

Happy Birthday, Love!  You look so cute today in your Kappa Delta party shirt strutting around ULM…oops, I mean NLU’s campus.  Isn’t college so much fun? Yeah, I know. Maybe you should pump the brakes on those late nights out though.  Just a suggestion. 😉

You’re a Junior in college now and it feels like you’ve lived a million years already, but I promise these next 20 years will fly by.  Within the next year and a half, you’ll be entering the working world as a career woman.  You’ll have to trade in your jeans and flip-flops for pantyhose and high heels. But hey, there’s good news in the fact that pantyhose will eventually bite the dust…thank God for small miracles, right?

Here’s a few things that I think will be helpful to you as you journey through these next 20 years.  Take them or leave them, but just remember, I’m older and wiser than you.

  1. Accept and love your body.  (Especially your flat stomach!  You will miss it every day once it’s gone.)  I know that as a woman you tend to be concerned with your weight, but here’s the reality: there will always be someone skinnier than you or prettier than you or more athletic than you.  Let them be.  You be exactly who God has called you to be, which is beautiful by the way.  This is so hard to do when comparison is the name of the college game, but let me tell you, Comparison is the Thief of Joy and joy outshines physical beauty any day of the week.
  2. Enjoy your family and friendships. I know it’s easy to get caught up in boys at this stage in your life, but strive to keep your head out of the clouds. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t date or even kiss a few of those frogs before you find your prince.  What I am saying is that the time that you spend with your family and friends will produce much richer memories and will have lasting effects on your life. There will be a time when you go through a drought of having close girlfriends by your side and you will ache to have that camaraderie again in your life.  Don’t lose heart. God will give you another set of close friends and this sisterhood will be one of the biggest blessings in your life.  In the meantime, appreciate your girls.  Equally important is the time that you spend with your family.  Hug them and spend time with them every chance that you get. Trust me, you will thank me on this one.
  3. Learn to have a teachable spirit. Nobody likes a know-it-all.  I’m not saying that you are one, but learning to have a teachable spirit will provide tremendous favorable outcomes for you IF you will embrace it.  Keep your eyes wide open and learn all that you can from the lessons that God is presenting before you.  In order to do this, you need to get back into God’s Word.  Dust off that Bible…yes, I know it’s in a box somewhere…and start to remember the Scriptures that were taught to you in your youth. They will be an enormous source of comfort to you in the future.
  4. Make every day count and always remember that God is faithful!  By the time you reach 40, you will have gone through some pretty significant valleys in your life.  There will be times of questioning God and His goodness, but rest assured that you will make it through to the other side. Within these same years you will also experience mountaintop peaks that will absolutely blow you away. And when you stand on these peaks, take a minute to look around and give God the glory. He is not only able to do immeasurably more than you ever could think or imagine to ask Him for, but He actually WILL do these things in your life (see Eph. 3:20).  Your job is to make every day count as you reflect the light of Christ and also know that never once will you ever walk alone.  Your God is faithful.

That’s all we have time for today, Sweetie Girl.  Believe it or not, your life is pretty busy at 40. I know you’re thinking that you will have achieved all your life goals by the time you’re my age, which makes me chuckle because I’m over here praying that the best is yet to come!

With much love,

Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. One last thing: you might want to pay attention to the cute drummer in your marketing classes.  He’s a keeper. 😉

 

 

Thank you, Donald Trump, for reminding us that “Words Are Spirits”

standard October 12, 2016 3 responses

My mother always told my siblings and me that we better watch what we say to one another because “words are spirits.” She said it so often that I grew up believing that this exact phrase could be found word-for-word in the Bible and I was shocked when it produced no search results.

Yet the spiritual principle of our words carrying power remains.  And not just any power, but the power to invoke life or death.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

I am sure that when Donald Trump spoke those extremely vulgar and sexist words eleven years ago, he was not thinking that they would bear the consequences that they have in October of 2016.  He saw himself as a reality star with such popularity and fame that whatever derogatory statements he said against women in general was perfectly fine and acceptable. After all, it’s just “locker room talk.” Right?

Well, not exactly, Donald.

You see, when we allow our tongue to boast, we are not only considered immature, but also filled with corruption setting “the whole course of one’s life on fire,” (see James 3:6).  Please hear me. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is going to hell for what he said eleven years ago, but I bet that he is feeling like his life has been set on fire right about now due to his lewd and loose tongue. The comments that he so carelessly spoke concerning women will have eternal implications for him, as they should. Women are not objects to be used and thrown away. They are precious in the sight of their Creator.  But please also hear this: if we want the respect we deserve, we as women have a responsibility to carry our body in a manner worthy of respect. The halt of the vicious cycle of the objectification of women starts with us!

And therein lies the lesson for those of us who wish to reflect the light of Christ in our everyday lives.  We must aim to control the things that we say and do. Will we get it right 100% of the time? No, not at all.  In fact, James also said that we all stumble, but it is the mature woman who keeps her body in check in action and in speech.

That means that when we are tempted to want to speak that ugly word to our sister/friend we remember how just last week she played with our children so that we could go grocery shopping or listen to the sermon at church.  It could also be that when we are arguing with our spouse, we take the high road and resist the urge to want to retaliate with hurtful words.  Or if we have children and we are trying to get their attention on a certain matter, we speak words of life and encouragement over them instead of words of manipulation.

It’s a choice we are making to see that person as not only a human being, but as someone who has been made in God’s likeness.  We treat him/her with respect and dignity.  It does not mean that we are a doormat or that we accept abusive behavior.  It simply means that we recognize that “words are spirits” and we attempt to speak life over those that we come into contact with, not death.  We strive to let them be filled with fruit, such as kindness and gentleness, so that when we bear the consequences of the things that we have said, it will be a sweet taste in our mouth.

This is not intended to be a political post with a nod for or against Trump as the next United States President.  It is simply a chance for us to learn from a man who allowed his tongue to get the best of him and resolve to not let that same mistake to happen to us.  We will choose to remember that each and every word we utter holds the power of life and death. Words Are Spirits.  

Deep: A Bible Study Conference

standard September 23, 2016 5 responses

What a blessing it has been to be a part of Deep: A Bible Study Conference!  Thank you to all those who came out to join us and Heartfelt Ministries for this amazing time in God’s Word. I pray that you left encouraged and empowered to go “Deeper Still” in your walk with the Lord.

Together we examined John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” Below is a recap of the steps you can use to get the most out of your time in God’s Word.

Bible Study Tools for Your Everyday Life:

  1. LOOK ~ What do I see when I answer these questions:
    • Who?  Jesus is praying to God the Father
    • What?  Jesus is praying for His disciples after He has comforted them with His final words of encouragement (ending with John 16:33)
    • When and Where? After the Passover dinner/Before His arrest
    • Why? Because He loves the disciples and He knows what is about to take place (His crucifixion)
  2. LISTEN ~ What is God telling me through His Word?
    • Context: What comes before and after the passage?
      • The disciples have obeyed, accepted, and believed the Word of God.  Jesus asks for protection of the disciples from the evil one. They are not of the world, but they are being sent into the world for the sake of the gospel.
    • Content: Examine each word  
      • “Sanctify” is hagiazo which means “to be set apart” or “to be holy as God is holy”
      • “Truth” is a repeated word relating to the disciples’ sanctification and the Father’s Word
      • “Word” is given by the Father and spoken by Jesus
    • Compare to other Scriptures
      • John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the Truth!
      • John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word!
    • Culture: Then vs. Now
      • Jesus (the Word) was physically with the disciples
      • Today we have God’s written Word, the Bible
    • Commentary
      • New American Commentary on John 17:17, “Truth is here related to the word (logos) of God.  But truth and the word in John are not merely ideas. They are to be embodied in people the same way that the word became flesh. Since God is holy, God’s people are to be holy.”
  3. LIVE IT! 
    • How does this truth apply to my everyday life? 
      • I must accept God’s Word as the ultimate truth in my life
      • I need to have the discipline to set apart time to read God’s Word daily
      • I should allow His Word to sanctify me (to make me holy as He is holy)
    • What one thing can I implement today in order to shine the light of Christ?
      • Facilitate a Bible Study
      • Start a Scripture memorization group
      • Host a worship night in my home

Online Bible Study Tools:

My favorite apps that I mentioned are The Holy Bible app by YouVersion, She Reads Truth, and Superbook for kids.

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What are your favorite Bible study tools? Please comment below.

Do All Lives Matter?

standard July 17, 2016 5 responses

Recent events have left no doubt that our country is broken and hurting.  We are especially heartbroken in Louisiana today at the news that three police officers have been shot and killed and three additional officers are injured during a senseless ambush attack in Baton Rouge. This attack comes on the heels of the loss of Alton Sterling, an African American man who was shot and killed as he wrestled with two police officers on July 5, and the loss of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack on July 7.  Everyone’s emotions are running high. We respond with posts bearing hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, each with extremely valid reasons of why these particular lives do matter.  The #gaylivesmatter community is saying, “Don’t forget about us…we are hurting too.”  So we come up with an all-inclusive #alllivesmatter.  And, yes, all lives DO matter.

So, what is the solution to all the chaos we are currently facing and how can we do our part to promote healing?  And where is God in all of this?

When Paul was writing the Book of Philippians, he was facing days of uncertainty and dire circumstances (think oppressive Roman imprisonment).  Yet the over-arching theme of this book is for the church at Philippi to have JOY and UNITY despite their circumstances as Paul was striving to do in his own life.  He gives these simple instructions that also applies to our current reality as much as it did to the early church.  The solution lies in these words:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  Philippians 4:5

Could it really be that easy? Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of “easy” is.

Gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit, is used in this verse as an adjective meaning that not only are we to be considerate of others, but we are also to treat people in a manner that is “fitting, right, or equitable.”

The word for all is πᾶς meaning just what you think it does: each, every, whole, ALL.

God is telling us that we are to treat each and every person that we come into contact with on a daily basis with consideration and view them as equitable in God’s eyes.  Whoa! Take a minute and let that soak in.  If we are all equitable in God’s eyes, then why are we still stereotyping each other? And therein lies the rub. We all want to be viewed as if our life matters and we want to be treated in a fair and equitable manner.

But most definitely, killing is not the answer; anger is not the answer; retaliation is not the answer.  Love is the answer; peace is the answer; gentleness is the answer.

But why can’t I just live my life and you live yours? Why do I have to be considerate of others and their feelings?

The answer is this: Because the Lord is near.  This does not mean the Lord is near as in the Holy Spirit is among us (even though He is), but this is better translated as “People get ready! Jesus is coming!” 

If we really believe that all lives matter, then we have an obligation to not only be considerate, but also to be the Light.  Pointing others to Jesus, telling them of a Savior who values their life so much that He gave His own life.  Ultimately, Jesus is the answer.

So, you see, healing is never “easy,” but you and I can do our part to show the world that all lives matter by doing these two things in our everyday lives:

  1. Let your gentleness be evident to all. To the black police officer who took a vow to protect you. To the young white man you pass on the street. To the person bagging your groceries. To your gay coworker. To the waitress serving your food. To your spouse. To your children.  To ALL.
  2. Let your light shine. The world is watching and waiting to see how we will respond. Resist the urge to speak out judgment or condemnation on others who are different than you.  Rather speak the name of Jesus…the Name above all names…the only name that saves.

He is near and He is the original author of life.  His desire is that everyone (all) would come to repentance and know Him as their Savior (2 Peter 3:9).

He is a God who truly believes that ALL LIVES MATTER.