Monday, August 21, 2017

"It Wasn't Me"

My local friends and regular readers might be surprised to know we've added a new child to our home this summer. We simply call this individual, "The Naughty Kid." Anytime nobody knows who left the door open, the milk out or water running we say, "It must have been the 'Naughty Kid.'"

The older kids laugh and understand exactly what we are talking about, while at times it still confuses our little guys. But because of this invisible, little individual, we're talking about owning our actions and learning someone is to blame.

This past weekend I found myself sometimes speaking and often thinking a phrase that can be common in our home with 5 children - "It wasn't me!" Only I wasn't trying to disown the blame, I was attempting to refuse the credit.

On Saturday, we enjoyed the 6th annual Renewed Life Women's Event in our small town. God again did amazing things. We enjoyed powerful messages from Luann Prater and listened to impactful testimonies from local speakers. The worship team ushered us into the presence of God and fellowship with sisters uplifted our soul.

Personally, this year was a bit different...on top of helping organize the day and introduce our speaker, I too gave a message from the stage. For the girl who 14 years ago struggled to voice her name at a MOPS meeting, this is quite the step. I was also the one others approached to sign a book that contained my name on the cover.

Honestly, as I sit her in the wee morning hours it all still seems crazy and I want to echo my kids' words - "It wasn't me!" I prayed and shared these thoughts with my heavenly Father and realized this time the phrase is true. I'm not saying this to blame "the Naughty Kid", but give credit to our Great God!

Psalm 126:3 says, "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." The NIV states, "and we are filled with joy." No words could better express my thoughts about the Renewed Life Women's Event and my Bible study, Renewal Road. But these words from Scripture describe my feelings about even more - the transformational work God has done in my life.

He's taken an insecure woman who's often felt unworthy and changed me from the inside out. He's used a girl who thought her voice didn't matter and encouraged the hearts of others. He's done more than I could ever ask or imagine and that makes me glad.

Friend, I encourage you to stop for a moment today and think about what our good and great God has done for you! Thank Him and receive His work and His words. If He's reminding you of blessings, praise Him. If He's convicting of you sin, don't blame "the Naughty Kid" - ask for forgiveness, repent and join Him for the journey towards holiness.

Regardless of what the great things are, remember our response - to be filled with joy! Share that joy with others so that they too see our mighty God for who He is...the giver of ALL good things! Let's thank Him today...I'd love for you to comment about one of the great things God has done for you so we can praise Him together!

Dear Heavenly Father, you are so, so good. You do things we never think we could. You use us, You bless us, You change us. May we continually humble ourselves before You. I pray we always remember it is You who are good and may we never forget You are working in us to make us godly. Help us join You in the process and be grateful for the journey. Thank You Lord for who You are and all You do. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reflecting on my mess...{And a GIVE-AWAY}

Unloading hay…it’s a job that has to happen on the farm. My kids claim I have the easy role; which when it comes to manual labor, they are right. I drive the skid-loader while they stack bales, so clearly they do more work, but my role creates some stress. Because of the bale rope, I have to gauge my speed and time my power so the bales don’t spin and hit the barn.

I’ve done this job before, but last week was a bit rough. Due to some weak twine and my lack of timely acceleration, a group of bales hit the frame of the door and 4 of them fell to the ground. It was a broken mess of loose hay.
My husband simply reiterated his instructions and a few kids offered smirks through the haymow window. Eventually, my little boys grabbed forks and started to clean up the mess. I felt bad and became more determined to do better the next time. 
As I sat waiting for Job to reset the bale fork, I felt the arrows of shame. Words from Satan intended to leave me defeated. Ones that would tempt me to think wrongly, which lead to wrong actions as well.

Satan, the great deceiver, who exists to steal, kill and destroy, was messing with my mind and I’m so thankful I realized he was attacking. In years past, I haven’t been so quick to recognize his ways. I’ve often let the lies overwhelm me and leave me feeling like a failure. I’ve let the evil one shame me and listened to his words of condemnation. 
Thankfully, that didn’t happen this time. So instead of sitting in the skid-loader with tears of pain and regret, I was able to praise God for the transformational work He has done.

Now a week later, I have a better understanding of how He’s done it. I was listening to Christian radio and Jeremy Camp's song, "Word of Life" caught my attention. I strongly encourage you to listen to it and think about the truth behind the words.
I'll share a few lines - "Word of truth, Illuminate all these lies, The enemy speaks inside, In freedom I will rise, 'Cause You called me out from the grave, So I can live like I’ve been changed, There is a new song in my soul, And it begins when I breathe in, Your word of life."
Friends, God's Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). This Word of Truth has transforming power, but we must tap into it.
Reading God's Word is good, but studying it, meditating on it and memorizing it are even better. If we want God's Word to get into us we need to get into it. 
And as we do just that we must live out 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13. Here Paul says, "And we also thank God continually because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe."  
Did you notice the last key phrase in this passage? Who experiences the work of the Word? The one who believes! Do you believe? 
Friend, I challenge you to dig into God's Word and I pray that He gives you a desire to understand it. As we study it, we don't just learn what it means, we get a better understanding of who God is and are able to better believe what He says. And as that happens, the living, active Word works in us to change us and make us more like Him. 
I've known this for years, but I've experienced it mightily this past year. With the release of my new Bible study, ReNEWal Road, I've found myself reflecting. God transforming my response to broken hay bales is just the beginning of the work He's done in the past 12 months. 
As I believe the Word of God, I experience the work of God. And friend, you can do the same! Open your Bible and ask God to speak to your heart. Study a topic and see how scripture supports scripture. Cross reference your favorite verses and understand them even more. Visit biblehub.com and read the interlinear translation to get a better understanding of the verse in its original language. Take part in a Bible study that really gets you into the Word.
If you're looking to do a Bible study, leave a comment and you just might win a copy of ReNEWal Road! It's a study that God truly used to transform me and I pray you will experience the same! So a few questions to consider as you comment...
How has believing the Word of God helped you experience the work of God?
Have you had any messes lately that you've responded to differently because of the work God is doing in your life? 
If time is short, just leave a comment saying, "Count me in!" and I will! Stop back on Monday when I'll announce the winner!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word of life. Give us a hunger for it. Fill us with Your Spirit so that we can better understand it. Remind us of our role and help us read it, study it, memorize it and meditate on it. Lord, we believe, but ask You to help our unbelief. Sanctify us with Your Truth Father. And transform our thinking as well. God, we thank You for the work You've already done and praise You in advance for what You will do. In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.