Friday, March 30, 2012

My Shield Against Sin

We recently began a new series in our church Ladies Bible Study. We are studying the book of James together. Wow what a book! We are only 12 verses into it and have been challenged! I love it when God does that...when He works in our lives in an unmistakable way.

As I was preparing to teach the next lesson, I was reminded how God did not leave us without defenses against the temptations of Satan. He provided a way of escape for each and every temptation we encounter. That fact is not something I did not know; however, I most certainly needed reminded. I am without excuse. I have no one to blame my sin on but myself! Ouch! I cannot use the age-old excuse, "the Devil made me do it."

As we studies the defenses that the Lord has given us to defeat Satan we were reminded of how Jesus always used Scripture. How good God is to provide us with a ready defense against the wiles of the Devil. This morning as I was reading my Bible God directed me to Proverbs 30:5~"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

Today, I just want to praise the Lord for giving me a shield!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is life's purpose?

This morning while walking through the hallway at our Christian school, I was stopped by one of our teachers. She asked me to come into the class and enter a debate, of sorts, that they were having.

Apparently one of the girls in class had voiced her opinion that her goal in life was to be happy. At the end of the day all that matters, is whether she is happy or not. The teacher was concerned with her answer, as she should have been. It an earnest desire to help this young, beautiful, everything-going-for- her-girl, the teacher plead with her to please hear her...the ultimate goal in life is NOT to be happy. Happiness comes and goes. Happiness if often based on our circumstances. The wise teacher told her to seek JOY that can only come from the Lord.

So, in I walk. All eyes turn and the students looked eagerly to see whose side I was going to take. Wow, talk about peer pressure. :) I shared with this sweet, misguided girl, her class, and her teacher, something my Dad told me on countless occasions. As Dad so often directed me, I sent her to Revelation 4:11. It gives us our purpose in one concise verse. It says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

I am designed to bring God pleasure. I have an ultimate purpose to all that I do and say. The key, as I understand it, to bringing God pleasure, is to glorify Him. In essence, I need to live my life in a way that glorifies Him! I Corinthians 10:31 gives clear direction to how I am supposed to do this. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

True satisfaction from a job well done will come in my life when I bring glory to God. As it was said by CT Studd, "Only one life twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last."

I pray the girl heard, both with her mind and heart, what was said to her today. She is at an age where doors are opening and she has countless opportunities. I pray that she and I both use our lives to bring God pleasure.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I just wanted to thank all of you for taking time to stop by here. Recently there have been several more readers and I wanted to greet you personally. I pray that something on here will be an encouragement to you. God bless!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Always A Student

Growing up, Mom and Dad, encouraged my sister and I to always be a student, continue to learn. My education did not end with my college graduation ceremony. I must strive to grow, learn, and mature even though my formal education ended many years ago. There is something beautiful about a woman who has a teachable spirit. I want that in my life. Proverbs 15:14 says, "The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge; but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness."

We as Christian women, must stay alert and curious. There are more things to learn than is possible for any one human. So, what are we to do? Where should we concentrate our efforts in learning? We must stay focused on learning things that will help us as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, etc. We can never lose our hunger and thirst for knowledge. Our first and most important source of knowledge is the Bible. We must study it and glean the great truths it holds. God put everything we needed to know until His return in His Word! Remember we are commanded in II Timothy 2:15-"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We must meditate on Scripture, memorize it, and certainly apply it!

Other resources we have are endless. Christian friends and those who have gone on before us can serve as excellent examples of God's truths. They can help encourage and guide us. Learn from them. Christian authors can share knowledge they have gone to great lengths to accumulate. Reap the benefits of their hard work. We ought to be careful to always filter what we read or are taught through Scripture. If our "knowledge" does not line up with the Bible, it does not matter how good or logical it sounds, we cannot adhere to it! We must live our lives on the God's Word. However, we must know it do to that. :) We must be students of the Word of God!

*Psalm 78:1, "Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth."
*Proverbs 5:1,2, "My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear unto my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion and that thy lips may keep knowledge."
*Proverbs 4:1. "Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding."
*Isaiah 1:17, "Learn to do well..."
*Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge..."

It may take some effort and work on our part, but we need to continue to be a student of God's Word! The benefits will far outweigh any and all effort that we give it. God will reward our time and we will be better women because of it. I find my schedule it busy and I have to make cuts regularly to get it all done. One non-negotiable on my schedule is time to study God's Word. I must, and so must you! What is your favorite Bible study tip?

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Iron Friends

This weekend I was blessed to be able to attend a women's retreat hosted by a chruch in Tennessee. This retreat was so very special to me for two reasons. First, my Mom was the speaker and I love being with her anytime! It was fun getting to be roomies for a few days and just enjoy each other's company. The sessions she taught were such an encouragement to me! I probably appreciated them more because I knew how much time and energy she spent preparing and studying for them.

The other highlight of my weekend was seeing my "Iron Girls." A little over 6 years ago, God brought a group of four women together and bound us as friends. They are my Iron Friends as found in Proverbs 27:17- "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." God has used each of them, many times to sharpen my countenance. They have encouraged me, been honest with me, even when there were tough things to say, and they have shared many memories.

I share all of this as a reminder that we must be thankful for our friends! True friends like these girls do not come along every day. In fact, our friendships are a direct result of prayer. At the time God brought all of us together, we were all lonely and needed a true, Godly, heart-connected friend.

Personally, I had just moved and left my Mom, sister, and two other heart friends. I was a young mom with little ones, a husband that was finding his way in a new ministry, and I was so very lonely. I was surrounded by people and yet felt very alone. I started praying, asking God to please just help me find one real friend. He blessed my with three!

In the six years we have all been friends, we have gone through many changes in each of our lives. We have since moved again to our current ministry. One of my chums has moved twice due to some very challenging and unexpected circumstances. One recently moved away from our church in Tennessee as her husband took a pastorate in Virginia. And my final chum is leaving in a few short weeks to begin her new life with her family as missionaries in Uganda. God is busy in our group and I pray that continues. As ministry has now spread us out across the globe, we strive to find ways to stay connected. Friendships like these are too valuable to die. We send "round-robin" messages through Face Book and we will begin a Bible study together as soon as our Uganda Girl gets settled. I am blessed beyond measure and I praise God for my friends!!! If you have friends like these, take a moment and let them know how thankful you are for them. If you do not, ask God to connect you with someone. He will!

How do you stay connected with your friends near and far? Leave me a comment with some ideas. Thank you for stopping by today. God bless!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Memorial Stones

We had a wonderful service at our church last evening. Our guest speaker, preached from Joshua 4. We were challenged to put up some reminders or lasting testaments to God's working in our lives. Joshua commanded the children of Israel to take 12 stones, one from each tribe for a rememberance of what God had done. Joshua 4:6,7-That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

The fact is, our children will and do have questions about why we go to church, why do we read our Bible, why do we serve God. They may ask do we have to give in the offering, etc. We as parents must be ready to answer them with thoughtful answers. If we merely dismiss their questions as unimportant or assume they are being disrespectful we fail to do as we ought. As our children grow they must develop a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ and I mean far beyond the point of salvation! Truly it ought be every parent's desire to see their children accept Christ's gift of salvation, but we will fail as parents if we do not encourage and help foster a long-lasting relationship between our children and the Lord. Far too many older teens or college age people are dropping out of church and becoming involved in ungodly things. Many times this "failure to thrive" in church is because it is not personal to them. As a pastor's wife this grieves me. I hate to see young adults drop out!!! We as a church are working hard to minister to this age group. It can be such a challenging time. However, as a mom, it scares me. I constantly ask myself what can I do to "transfer my faith" if you will. At some point I know it comes down to each of my boys and their relationship with the Lord. Until that time, while they are under my roof and influence, my husband and I strive to point them to the "stones" of our faith!

We try to live out a genuine faith, not just put on a church face as we head out of the door on Sunday. We have Scripture hanging in a few places in our home. We listen to Godly music we hope will penetrate their hearts. We memorize Scripture together. We attend church together. We serve the Lord together at our church. We spend time in daily life talking, listening, and answering questions. We pray as a family and try to be quick to give God thanks for answered prayers. We share our testimonies with them. We encourage them to have a daily quiet time with the Lord and maybe more importantly we try to model that for them.

I am always trying to find new and more ways to encourage my boys. What are some things that your family does to point your children to the "stones" of your faith?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Preparing my life for revival

As our church continues in our revival services this week it has been amazing to watch God work. We have had people saved and baptized. People have joined the church and come to rededicate their lives to the Lord. I love watching God work! We serve a big God!!!

Each day before the services I have prayed as David said in Psalm 19:7-14 which says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold. yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be in innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."

I am excited about what God will do tonight....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mind your minutes!

Have you ever heard the saying, "Time flies when you are having fun?" Does is really go faster or is it just our perception of the time passing? How about when you are scrubbing your bathroom, does time fly by then? :) Do all of our hours only have sixty minutes in them? The answer of course is yes, but it does not always feel that way. When we are engaged in a fun activity time does seems to just zip by; however, when we are up with a sick child at 2 a.m. the clock seems to stand still.

Time is one commodity we all receive in equal measure. Each day we are blessed with the same 24 hours. What we are able to accomplish in those hours often varies greatly. In our hurry, scurry culture, we are always running out of time. Many times we blame our lack of time for why we fail to be productive. We reason that certain projects will take too long, therefore, we justify putting them off indefinitely.  You may be like me and have a project or two that is begging for attention. Today I am reminded of the power of 15 minutes!

I admit this information is not original with me. I had a college professor who challenged us to use our 15 minutes wisely each day. The 15 minute principle is on other blogs and in time management books. However, it is discovered, the method holds much can be accomplished in a mere 15 minutes.

It honors God when we use our time wisely. We shows our family love when we bless our home with our time and attention. You may be like me with a week's schedule that is daunting; however, I know if I look hard enough I can find just 15 minutes to tackle some projects. Maybe for you it is not a lingering project but a kitchen that looks like a war zone and a living room that looks like a tornado hit it. The principle remains, set  your timer and be amazed at the difference only 15 minutes can make. It is tax season. May people file late returns simply because they "do not have the time" to get their affairs in order. Take it 15 minutes at a time. Set the timer and when it goes off, give yourself permission to move on to your next project awaiting you.

Do not let the guilt and frustration of unfinished projects or lists rob you of your peace of mind. Sometimes we do face tasks that will take long periods of time. Break it down and work at it just 15 minutes at a time.

Sometimes after a very busy week when our house looks very lived in but somewhat neglected, we as a family will "play the 15 minute game." Sometimes we break up into teams, other times we see who can put away {neatly!} the most items, or my favorite we simply work our way around the house in 15 minute increments until it looks like *home* again.

There are many household tasks that can easily be accomplished in 15 minutes or less...
*wipe down bathroom sinks and toilets
*clean bathroom mirrors and front/back door glass
*sweep front/back porch
*empty trash cans throughout the house
*sort family laundry
*start/switch a load of laundry
*fold and put away a load of laundry
*empty and refill the dishwasher
*sort through mail
*write a quick note or email to someone who needs encouragement
*pay a bill
*read your children a story :)
*take a walk around the block and get some fresh air
*empty car of clutter and wipe down dashboard
*sweep/vacuum several rooms

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Mind your minutes!

Sunday, March 11, 2012 I ready?

Today began our special revival services at our church. We as a church clearly understand that revival is not something scheduled or planned just because it shows up on our church calendar. In recent weeks we have been taught what must be true in our lives for real revival to occur. We must have humble hearts eager to hear what God has for us and the discipline to live it. We must pray and seek God's face. 2 Chronicles 7:14-If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Those things are easy to talk about but sometimes more challenging to live out each day. As I sat in church this morning I had to ask myself if I was truly ready for God to give me personal revival. Am I willing to obey the Holy Spirit? What if He asks me to do something difficult? What if I have to get out of my comfort zone? On and on my list of many (too many) excuses parades through my mind.

I want to live in such a way that God can do a work in me! I want to come to church ready to worship and learn. That means my investment of time in church starts long before I open the doors and walk through them. It starts at home in the stillness of my quiet time, asking God to prepare my heart. It requires me to confess any and all known sin to my Savior. It means that I purpose to give my whole heart and attention to the service while I am there. I do not allow myself to stay distracted when something catches my attention. I silence the voice inside of me that starts hoping "so-and-so" is listening, because you know, she really needs this sermon. I come with a hungry heart, eagerly listening and applying what God has for me. Being ready for revival requires me to bring my Bible to church. I want my own handbook for living, ready to be referenced and read. I find I am much more attentive when I can open my very own Bible and read God's Word for myself. I want to follow along with the preacher and make sure what he is teaching comes from the Bible.

I, along with my family, and our church family have been faithfully praying and asking God to do a work in us. Am I ready for revival? I am claiming Psalm 10:17- LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Listening

One of the attributes most appealing and yet difficult to find in a woman is her ability to listen, really listen to those around her. I know I struggle to stop what I am busy doing and truly listen to what my husband or boys want to tell me. In that moment, loading the dishwasher, checking email or Facebook, or worse yet, watching TV become more important that my beautiful family. I want to send the message to them that they are important to me! I want them to know deep in their hearts that they will ALWAYS rank far above any mundane chore, computer screen, or TV show! I never want them to doubt where they stand in my favor.

As convicting as that though may sometimes be, what about how I listen the the Lord? Do I often stop to give Him my full time and attention? Do I rush through my devotions to get on to my day? Do I pause and linger, waiting expectantly for what He has to tell me? Tomorrow, as I, like many of you, will head off to church, am I prepared to listen? Are you?

For a moment, let's think about the definition of the word "listen." According to The American Heritage Dictionary the word listen means "to make an effort to hear something, to pay attention or heed to something." How often do we listen as described in this definition?

The Bible has much to say on this topic, but we will just consider a few verses. Proverbs 20:12 tells us that the Lord designed us to listen. "The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them." Read Mark 4:23-25, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you; and unto you that hear shall more be given."

Ponder the clear lesson given to us by Mary's example in the art and skill of listening. Remember how she paid rapt attention to Jesus in Luke 10. She did not scurry about and become distracted. She gave Jesus all of her attention. Many of us ought to heed the very gently admonition Jesus gave to Martha concerning this. She was not corrected for being busy or even for wanting Mary to help her.  Jesus spoke to her because He knew the importance of stopping and listening.

What things ought we listen to? First and foremost, we must listen to God's Word. We must allow it to penetrate our hearts and minds.

What about our husbands and children as mentioned above? Do we dominate every conversation with our friends? Do we allow others a chance to speak? When we do allow them an opportunity to share, are we busy formulating our next sentence in our minds? Remember Jesus and the little children? He was busy, He had schedules to keep and important matters to attend to, but He stopped and let them be important. What an example for us to follow! We must practice the important discipline of listening.

Welcome to Adam's Rib

Hello to whomever may be reading this. Tonight, inspired by my sister's own blog attempts, I have decided to follow through on something the Lord has been prompting me to do for quite some time. My name is Amy Sue and I am first and foremost a child of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the tender age of four years old I accepted the gift of salvation from Jesus and my life has never been the same! (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8,9) I am a new creature in Christ and it is my heart's goal and desire to daily become more like Him. God has blessed me with a wonderful heritage of Godly parents who love the Lord and have spent their entire adult lives serving in ministry. That service led my Dad to meet the man of my dreams. Maybe one day I can share our story. My husband is everything God knew I needed! He is my friend, my pastor, and the father to our two blessings from heaven. God has entrusted us to care for two boys and it is my absolute joy to be their mom. I enjoy serving beside my husband in our church. My favorite thing about ministry is the privilege I have of being involved with ladies. I love being a part of our women's ministry!

Long ago, God allowed me to serve with my Mom in a ministry for women and that was a turning point in my life. God gave me such joy in being a part of what He was teaching women. I pray that this blog will just be an extension of what God is doing in my real, everyday life.

It is my sincere desire that this blog glorify God in all that is said. I hope you will follow along as I learn and grow with what God is teaching me. Titus 2:3 says, The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things. That is my goal for this blog, that we as women may reflect on the "good things" that God has for us.  God bless! Thanks for stopping by today.