Monday, June 26, 2017

Enough With the Excuses

By: Jenifer Metzger

In my children's church we talk a lot about reading the Bible. My desire is for the kids to understand how important the Bible is and that it is for them and for today. We do Bible Sword Drill, JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz), we are doing a 12 week study on the books of the Bible, and I weekly ask the kids where they are reading in the Bible. Often when I ask the kids where they've been reading in the Bible, I hear the same thing, "I've been really busy." (Are you thinking what I am thinking? You are kids, how are you busy!?)

Truth is, I hear the same thing from adults. "I've been really busy." Everyone is just so busy. I know we are all busy. We all have so much to do, so many balls in the air, so many plates spinning. I get it.

Let me put it to you plainly, as I told the kids recently. when you stand before God and He asks why you didn't read the Bible and pray, are you really going to tell Him, "I've been really busy"? Are you going to stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator of all and tell Him that you are too busy for Him?

Here is the deal, we make time for the things important to us. That series we love, we make time for the new episodes. We make time for coffee dates with friends, Candy Crush, Netflix, our kids' sports events, working out, reading novels, and social media. We make time for those things because we like them, they are important to us. Yet when it comes to reading the Bible and praying, we don't find that important enough to make time for. Why are these temporary things so important to us, however the most important, life changing, life giving thing we are so lackadaisical about?

It's time to stop the excuses and get with God. It's time to open our Bible and really begin to have time with the Father. If you are too busy for God, it's time to rethink your priorities.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Unite my divided heart...

One of my earliest memories is of a time that I told a deliberate lie to Mama.  She was mopping the dining room floor with one of those old timey string mops and a big metal bucket of soapy water.  In the background of my memory are two young boys that Mama was babysitting, though I have no idea who they were or who they belonged to.  I have no memory of my older siblings being there, so I guess they must have been in school that day.  I also don't remember my youngest brother being around, so perhaps he was down for a nap.  Something happened that interrupted Mama's mopping, and I remember her specifically telling me to stay away from the mop bucket when she left the room.  I disobeyed her and spilled that whole bucket of sudsy water all over the dining room floor.  When Mama came back into the room and asked me what happened, I lied and blamed those little boys for the mess. To this day I can remember the icky feeling that entered my little heart, the sense of guilt and wrongdoing.  You might say that in that moment my heart became divided from Mama's heart.  My sin, my deceit, built an instant wall inside my little heart.  To keep from being found out I would need to keep on lying, which only served to fortify the wall and the division I felt inside.  To come clean and be completely transparent and honest would tear down that wall and I could live in peaceful unity with my Mama once again.

God's heart is for us to live in a state of peaceful unity with Him.  He made a way for that to be possible for each one of us.  He knew we couldn't achieve this through our own self effort or good works.  So, He sent His Son to live the sinless life that is impossible for you and I to live.  His Son then died to take the punishment for our sins, all of our sins, making it possible for us to live in peaceful reconciliation with our holy Father God.  Our part is in the "coming clean" about our sins, in being honest and open with God about all of our struggles and sin, all of our doubts and fears. A hidden heart is a divided heart, a walled up heart.  An open and honest heart is undivided.

The fear of the Lord is a natural outgrowth of an undivided heart.  This statement is also true in reverse.  The fear of the Lord results in an undivided heart.  The fear of the Lord is simply defined as having a reverential respect for the Lord and viewing sin and evil as He does.  In other words, if God says something is wrong, then no matter how I feel about it or no matter what the current cultural point of view about it is, I accept what God says about it as truth.  It is impossible to live with an undivided heart if I insist on "playing with the mop bucket" when God told me to not do so, or if I am continuously arguing with Him about why this command seems unreasonable to me.  It is also impossible to live with an undivided heart when I go my own way, knock over the bucket of soapy water, then refuse to be honest about it, or worse yet,  blame others for my wrong choice instead of taking responsibility for my own wrong choices.

God is so good that we can cry out and ask for His help about anything and everything.  David, who wrote Psalm 86, was a good example in showing us this.  "Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me", the words of David found in Psalm 51, are kindred words to his heart cry in Psalm 86, "unite my divided heart".  We can't work hard enough to create our own clean heart, or try harder to have an undivided heart.  Even in these things, especially in these things, it takes dependence on God, it takes a willingness to be gut level honest and to ask for help.  It's clear if we read the life of David as recorded in the Bible that he wasn't called a man after God's own heart because of his spotless lifestyle.  In my opinion, it was his confidence in God's steadfast love and his willingness to be honest and open with God about the state of his own heart that made David a man after God's heart.  I don't think this is a title for David alone.  I think we can be women after God's heart, women who live with open, honest, unwalled, unhidden hearts before God, hearts that are at peace and unity with His heart, united, undivided hearts.

still following,

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Work Hard

By: Emily Miller

You may not be a huge fan of your job. You may get tired of doing the same exact thing, day in and day out, every single day.

Yet, it is important to keep this verse in mind for moments like these.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
-Colossians 3:17

Any task God has assigned you in life can be used to further His purpose. You just have to remember the next time that you get tired or fed up with something that God has blessed you with, remember you can spread His light by doing it for His glory!



Friday, June 23, 2017

The Feathers of Hope

 Looks like hope is an important theme for us this week! I hope you'll find encouragement from this post and from Shari's earlier in the week. 
My favorite poem about hope is from Emily Dickinson.  I recall my mom reciting the opening line when I was a child. Later I realized that I loved the whole poem.  Here it is:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune without the words – 
And never stops – at all – 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – 
And sore must be the storm – 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm – 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land – 
And on the strangest Sea – 
Yet – never – in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb – of me.

It has been said that Dickinson’s poetry has a similar style as the psalms and other religious hymns – perhaps that’s why I connect with her writing style.  It’s flow appeals to me, and her metaphor here speaks to me visually.
Hope in its simplest form is a bit shallow.
“I hope it rains tomorrow.”
“I hope my daughter buckles her seatbelt.”
“I hope you feel better.”

But if we dig a little deeper, real hope adds to it expectation.  When hope combines the idea of wanting something to happen with the idea of expectation, whether because of past results or sheer faith, hope becomes so much more meaningful.
Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; any are saying of my soul,“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! 

For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord your blessing be on your people! Selah

Our greatest source of hope is through our Lord. The Savior of heaven and earth, Creator of the world and lover of my soul.  No matter the good and wonderful things, or the difficult and sometime tragic things we experience we can stay steady and remain hopeful knowing that He is in control of it all.
There’s so little hope in our world, and because there is such little hope people turn to evil.  The evil is rampant and overwhelming.  
How grateful I am that there is something far greater beyond this life that fuels me forward.  While there are many wonderful joys in this life, it cannot compare to the hope of our future in Glory.  We should share hope with those around us.  Not a flimsy, shallow hope though – let’s share the reason for our Hope – our expectation of a future more wonderful than we can even imagine.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gossip and Misleading Articles...

by Debi Baker

Today, I am brokenhearted.  I read something on Facebook that I thought was real.  I talked about it in church last night...about how horrible it was.  Then...I found out that it's not true.  I am thankful that it's not true.  But...why...why do people spread such things?  I just don't understand.  God's people are fighting a battle today.  We are trying to do everything we can to spread the Gospel and then there are organizations out there that write such real-sounding articles that cause us to share and comment and essentially spread heinous gossip!

This particular article spoke about a church in Somewhere Town, USA that has decided to stop speaking about God...all on the pretext that they need to get 'money giving units' into the church because 'their expansion from a previous year wouldn't pay itself off.'  Instead of preaching God, they are going to start preaching more 'relevant' topics such as sports, movies, etc.

How foolish I felt in front of my congregation last night when someone looked it up and informed me that it was all a farce!  I haven't been able to substantiate either way.  But it's about more than me feeling like a fool.  It's about the sad turn that the church of today is taking.  The church of today is compromising itself to the point that Satan is evident in many of our churches.  The enemy doesn't care if we go to church; he just doesn't want us to worship or listen to the sermon or to 'do' something for the Lord.

The reality of the matter is that it is more likely that churches will begin, or continue, to share messages that don't mention the Lord.  They will be sermons that 'tickle the ears' to make the congregant feel good about their walk.  It breaks my heart and I know it breaks the heart of our Father in heaven.

First Timothy 4:1 NLT says, "1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons."

 It's high time that Christians begin to realize who they are and to whom they belong!!  If we truly are the sons and daughters of the Most High God, then we need to put on the Armor of God EVERY day and fight the enemy!!  Ephesians 6:13 NKJV says, "13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

I encourage you, today and every day, remember to whom you belong.  Remember that He sent His one and only Son to die for you.  Remember that Jesus willingly allowed the Roman's to crucify Him in order that we might live for eternity!  The least we can do is live for Him and do all we can to enlarge the Kingdom!

Have a blessed day,
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