Opposition to the Work

All month-long in our children’s ministry I have had the privilege of teaching on Nehemiah. Our focus was on his example of initiative, but I knew God was reminding my heart of his incredible testimony of how to respond to opposition. Sandwiched in the middle of the all the action to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem as the book of Nehemiah describes, there is an AWESOME passage that has been foundational in my life in ministry as a pastor’s wife. And this has never been more true than in these last weeks. In countless areas in too many lives to count, our church family is hurting and heart-broken. Our walls are crumbling, and we feel broken down. Certainly low places are visible. But we must press through and continue our work, and God’s word encourages us as to how.

In Chapter 4, the builders are facing some major discouragement and opposition to their work  from their enemies.  Verse 10 describes the situation as this: “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves, we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” Can you relate? Are the burdens you carry or the ones those around you carry too much? What about your pastors? I see this scenario in me, I see it in my family, and I see it in my church. We CANNOT fight this battle ALONE.

Nehemiah 4:13 & 14 “So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

Family of God, we must see those low places in our walls and gather there with OUR weapon, which is the Word of God. (“the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God” Ephesians 6:17) As we gather we must remember that our Lord is great and awesome, and then we must boldly and tenaciously fight for our families and our homes. This is the Biblical “Freedom” Braveheart call. And I beg of you to let it rip from the top of your lungs. Our church is counting on it, and our city is desperate for it.

And just so you know, the workers did exactly as Nehemiah ordered… verse 16, “From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows and coats of mail. verse 17, “Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.” verse 18, “And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.”…and the wall around the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt in 52 days! I am fully convinced that if we will do the same- while one works, another prays, as we build, we cling to the Word of God as our only supply- He will rebuild our walls too, the low places will be filled in, and our city will be forever changed.

 

 

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Is going to the Dentist like going to Church?

Amongst enjoying the sun, sand and surf  at the beach and staying up late to catch fire flies, my two kiddos also went to the dentist this summer. It was their 1st visit (yeah, I know way late with the oldest, but hey, NO cavities!!!). At the end of our visit, the dentist did a wonderful job of instructing and encouraging me about the importance of  me brushing and flossing the kids teeth. While she was talking I was nodding my head in agreement, but in my heart I was thinking, “Lady,  are you kidding me. We are doing good to get in the recommended two brushings a day for the length of the Happy Birthday song.”  As I was having this contradiction, it hit me that no matter what I sit here, in the dentist’s office, and say or agree to, it’s what I do when I leave here that matters. My actions will show what I really think and believe. She is my children’s dentist, if I don’t brush and floss their teeth, she will KNOW. Their teeth and dental hygiene will show it.

So, kinda like church right?

How many of us sit there on a Sunday morning and nod in agreement to what is said or sung, knowing all the while when we are back at work or back in the privacy of our homes, our hearts, habits and intentions will be far from that? And our lives show it! What we say means nothing if it is not lived out in what we do.  We’re fooling no one on Sunday mornings, except maybe ourselves. God certainly isn’t fooled. The hardest part, neither are our friends, neighbors and co-workers who are far from Him.

And this is where the analogy ends, because in this case what is at stake is a lot greater than a nice smile. Let us not just nod our heads in agreement. Instead let’s go out and live changed lives to see lives changed.

James 1:22-25 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror  and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

As for the brushing and flossing, I don’t get it done twice a day everyday. But we have definitely been making improvements. And come our next check-up in December, we shall see if we’ve “been blessed in what we’ve done” and are still cavity free.

What about you? Is your life showing improvements, are you living a changed life and seeing lives around you changed? Are you being blessed in what you do?

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The Summer of Blue & Pink

My kids are 4 1/2 and almost 2, and it has been a FUN summer. I remember feeling quite a bit house bound last year with my littlest one still napping twice a day.  But this summer, she’s said good-bye to that morning nap and we have made the most of it. This blog serves several purposes, and this post is for the memories.

The Summer of Blue & Pink 2010

picnic lunches & feeding the ducks, Daddy’s work

playing in the fountains, Downtown Rome

enjoying the sun, sand & surf, Myrtle Beach

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Questions

My son is 4 1/2 years old and asks a lot of questions. Lately they have taken on a spiritual nature, which I am grateful.  I know my God is @work in his young heart (been praying that since I learned I was pregnant). His questions are tough ones, like his most recent “Mommy, why when we prayed asking God to not let ________  happen, it still did.”  They leave me pondering many things. Things about my own faith and what I belive, but even in my questions and in his, this SOLID truth remains:

We can trust God no matter what.

I am eternally grateful that even when I don’t have certain answers for him. I don’t have to pretend. I can honestly tell him in the blankness of so much unknown there is an unshakable truth in which we can not only take great comfort and joy in, but build our entire faith upon.

We can trust God no matter what.

No matter how you feel, no matter what you see, no matter how bad it hurts, no matter what your (young or old) mind and heart can understand. God can be trusted with it all.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16 & 17

I desperately want my son to be able to trust God no matter what,  as  I daily am praying for the faith to do it as well. May my journey help him in his, even in the midst of many questions.

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Strawberry Pickin’

Woohoo! My family and I did something today that I have been wanting to do since I was in college. We went to a strawberry farm and picked fresh ripe strawberries. It was such a wonderful time. My kids really enjoyed it, and wow, the fruits of our labor are so tasty! Though the summer has just begun, I can already tell today’s outting will be one of my favorite summer memories.

What to do will all those berries? In addition to sharing them with some special folks we love tons, I am planning on making some Strawberry Nut Bread. It is my Nanny’s recipe, and one of my all-time favorites.  So, I’m sharing the recipe too!

2/3 cup sugar                                                                           

1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 chopped nuts

1 cup sliced strawberries

Cream sugar and shortening. Blend in eggs and buttermilk. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and strawberries. Pour into a greased 9 inch loaf pan. Let stand 20 minutes. Bake 350 degrees for 50 -60 minutes or until bread tests done.

I’d love to hear your favorite way to enjoy strawberries. So, wontcha’ leave a comment?!

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From Crawling to Flying

My children got a super cool gift this spring. It is a live butterfly garden. In the mail we received the larvae. They arrived at our door step as little bitty creepy crawling caterpillars in a sealed cup with all their necessities. At this point all we were required to do was watch, and watch we did! Those little fellas grew at an amazing speed. Even in one day we could see a change. They grew longer and fatter, and then slowly they made their way to the top of the cup where they hung  upside down from its lid. And that’s the last we saw of them. Our caterpillars, now several times larger than their original size, while suspended head down retreated inside these amazing shells. They were now chrysalids and needed to be moved from the cup to the butterfly habitat. Ever so gentle we arranged them in their new home and waited and hoped. We noticed the chrysalids becoming darker, and then today as I passed by them I saw a flutter and was amazed at my 2nd look. Our butterflies were hatching.  First the one, then only minutes later a 2nd, and within 15 minutes from four of our five chrysalids emerged butterflies. My children and I were amazed to get to witness the birth of butterflies.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a transformation. And it is incredible. Right now God is allowing my family and I to witness this remarkable experience not only among his insects but also among his children. Within the last six months at LIFE Church, we have seen dozens of folks make a similar transformation. What they were and what they now are is something entirely different, and that is all because of Jesus Christ. Lives are being changed, hearts are being softened, marriages restored, additions broken, captives set free, healing is happening, and we are seeing the handy-work of our God every week. And just as my children and I sat today anxiously awaiting what would happen next, so too should our city. Rome/Floyd County transformation is happening! Folks that were once crawling in the muck of  sin and the ways of this world are now flying in the trust, grace and goodness of the Savior who gave His life for them.

It is a beautiful thing!

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (The Message) Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.



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Training not Trying

Several months ago, in a small group lesson the speaker shared this concept of training in our spiritual lives, in our walks with Christ rather than trying. His point was profound to me. He said, “When we try there is already failure built-in.”  I can hear myself saying it, “well, I tried.” Think about it, if you decided to run a marathon, you don’t show up on race day and try. No, you begin training months ahead of time, so when the shot is fired you are ready, your body is prepared and your mind is a tune to the task at hand. That runner finishes the race.

So for months, no really years I have struggled with a regular routine of waking early and tending to matters of ME-  spending time in the Word and in prayer, working out, and readying myself for the day. I so desire this. I know first hand the difference it makes in my heart, my home, and my relationships. But all this time I’ve been trying.

And my trying looks something like this:

Day 1: alarm sounds at 5 a.m. and I sit straight up in bed. I’m up, ready, and doin’ it.

Day 4: I am slipping in and out of sleep while reading or praying

Skip on down to Day 8: I’ m hitting snooze repeatedly so that by the time I do drag out of bed there is barely time to even crack the Bible before kiddo #1 is up too

And then by Day 15: I don’t even hear the alarm anymore. I’m sleeping right through it.

What once awoke me with a jolt is now deaf in my ears.

My trying isn’t cutting it. It is time to start training.

So, I am working on a training schedule that will help me to be successful in the a.m. And that starts in the p.m. If I want to get up early I need to go to bed early. I know this is simple stuff, but it is steps, baby as the may be, to training for what I want to become.

Are you training for anything?

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