Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scattering Seeds...The Bank Associate

Scattering Seeds … The Bank Associate
By Carri Pratt

I recently misplaced my debit card and went to my bank to have it replaced.  With three children in tow I entered the bank, was greeted by a sweet young woman, got my children settled with crayons and coloring pages and was approached by a tall dark haired young man who led me into his office.

I placed my “cross” purse (a leather purse with a large silver cross on the front) on his desk and then took a seat.  I explained my situation and he assured me he would be able to assist me.  As he began to type into his computer I felt a very strong prompting from the Holy Spirit to start a spiritual conversation with him. 

“Really?” I questioned, “I’m just here for a debit card!”  “Yes” was what I heard in my spirit.  I then quickly decided what I would say and proceeded, “Are you Jewish?”  I asked as he actually did have that appearance.  “No, Palestinian.  Close though.” he answered.  “So what religion are you?” I asked.  “Muslim” he responded.

It was quiet for a moment as I regrouped.  I had never talked to a Muslim before and had many questions I could ask.  A friend of mine always tells me that there is power in the Name of Jesus;  I thought about how I could verbalize this power.  I looked at the large silver cross on my purse, “So, does this cross on my purse offend you?”  I asked.  “No.”  he responded. “So, you don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” I asked.  “No” he answered.  “I’ve heard.”   I continued on, “that the name of Jesus is in your Quran.  Is that correct?”  “Yes it is.”  He looked at me waiting for my next question.  “So, who do you think Jesus is?”  I asked.  “A prophet” he answered. 

I could hardly believe I was having this conversation with a Muslim man and he seemed quite relaxed and ok with me asking him questions.  The power of the name of Jesus Christ was spoken and lingering it in his office.

He then got up to get my temporary card.  I felt as if our spiritual conversation had come to an end.  After he left his office I bowed my head and prayed over his desk that Jesus would open his heart and mind and become known to him as his personal savior.

He quickly returned and our business was concluded.  I retrieved my children and allowed them each one lollipop.  When we got to our vehicle I told them what had happened and we all prayed as a family before leaving the bank parking lot.

This is just one example of how we as Christian women can be faithful to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within each of us.  It is not required of us to obtain a profession of faith, evangelism is about being obedient to plant a seed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Does God Deserve Your Time?

Does God Deserve Your Time?
By Stephanie H.

Matthew 6:33 ESV “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

As summer approached, I thought and even occasionally said, “When summer gets here I will have more time for a quality quiet time.”

This year had many hurdles to overcome.  I felt God saying I needed to slow down and rest in Him, over and over.  It must take some large challenges to make me listen!  In all reality when I look back at the year, my quiet time struggled during Christmas vacation, when I had surgery, at the end of the school year and the latest wake up call, a broken foot.  These were times that I should have been digging deeper into my quiet time.  During these “seasons” I let sleep or other excuses interfere with my time with the Lord.   During these “seasons” I was anxious, stressed, worried…you name it.  If I would have been seeking God and His righteousness, going through these “seasons” would have been much more peaceful and joyful.

Sometimes it is so hard to carve out time for a quiet time, but when I do, I am so grateful.  After breaking my foot in early July, I took this as confirmation that the Lord wanted me to rest in Him again. 

God’s word is alive!  The One Year Bible’s daily scriptures almost always apply to what I am going through.  It gives me time each day to hand over all concerns, worries and my schedule.  It positions my heart to be eternally focused instead of focused on myself.  I have time to thank God for all of His many blessings in my life.  So while I am not glad that I am recovering from a broken foot, I am thankful that it brought me back to a daily quiet time.

Challenge:  September means getting back into a routine in our home and I know God is calling me to make my priorities part of my DAILY ROUTINE and not just when it is convenient.  Will you join me in making our priorities part of our routine for the rest of the year?

God - Quiet time, prayer, actively seeking God’s face
Marriage – Ask your husband, “What can I do for you today?”
Children – Spend some one on one time with your children.
Home – Try our menus for some great meal planning this month (this will speak to your husband and children too).
Service – Where are you serving?
Others – Smile and show God’s love to people you come in contact with daily during this month.

Hold Us Together

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lies Women Believe

By Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Lies Women Believe is one of our favorite books of all time.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss does not beat around the bush or tip toe around any issues.  She shoots straight from the Word of God.  This book is no different, she counters many of Satan’s lies that he uses to bring women down such as: doubting ourselves, feeling like failures, and discontent to name a few.  If you find yourself constantly believing negative thoughts read this book.  It is chalk full of scripture and truth for you to put in your tool belt when under attack.
Maybe you don’t even realize you are believing lies, read this book to see how some worldly views have crept into your thought process you don’t even realize they are lies.  The book covers:
Lies about God
Lies about Yourself
Lies about Sin
Lies about Priorities
Lies about Marriage
Lies about Children
Lies about Emotions
Lies about Circumstances
Nancy will help you walk in truth so that you may be set free!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Live Like No One Else Today

“Live Like No One Else Today”
By Suzie

This summer as I have been reading through The One Year Bible for my quiet time I noticed that certain words kept coming up.  Throughout the Old Testament the Lord keeps saying, “If you will walk in my statues and obey my rules and keep all my commandments..”.   I thought this applied to my new job since I had been praying for clear direction and discernment in this area.  Nearly every day this kept coming up and I thought, “ok Lord I hear you, I will obey you, aren’t I already?”  There was no immediate answer that I heard or noticed through His Word.  However, nearly every day my husband would come home and ask “Did you go anywhere today?  How much did you spend?”  These are the questions I dread the most and I get very defensive because I am guilty as charged!  As I have talked about before I like to shop and I can find any excuse to spend money.  “I just had to get the girls this for school” or “It was a great sale!” or “I really needed some new clothes because mine don’t fit anymore!”  and there are many more.  I always told him I would try harder not to spend so frivolously and I would usually be good about this for about a week.   

One hot day in July it all boiled over.  He came home, asked the same questions, I gave the same responses and He just said we cannot keep doing this.  It got really ugly and I won’t go into the details but in the end it was a good thing.

Just the two of us went out the next night for dinner and talked in great detail about my spending and us getting back on our budget and cutting out the extras.  We agreed to talk about money at a specific time each week, if something came up during the week that we had to buy then we would text each other and we got on a plan.  We have done Dave Ramsey, gone through Crown Financial and even helped facilitate a few classes but somewhere along the line we got off track.  We had taken on Ramsey’s Motto of “live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow.”  Whatever!  I want to live like everyone else today!  This is my problem!  My husband does not like debt; he grew up paying cash for everything while I grew up with my parents charging everything.  Combine the two of us and we are like oil and water.  God’s grace prevails and we both love the Lord therefore we will obey Him in all areas. 

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”  This includes credit cards or working enough to pay for all those “extras” we think we or our children need. I don’t want to be a slave nor do I want my husband to think he is a slave to his job because of me.  I should not add this stress to my husband.   

This was the area I was not being faithful in.  I was not obeying my husband therefore, I was not obeying God.  Our faithful Father confirmed it again the Next Sunday through our pastor’s sermon.  He was preaching in Haggai.  Didn’t know Haggai had such powerful words.

Haggai 1:3-6 says, Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”

Challenge:  Does God keep repeating a certain “theme” over and over?  Pray it back and ask Him to clearly reveal what it is if you aren’t sure.  Don’t ignore something that keeps coming up, if God is repeating it, He is trying to get your attention.  Humble yourself and fully surrender to the Lord.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Club: 7

Be Still

Be Still…
By Amy Gentry
A few months ago I was watching a TV special on the health benefits of meditation.  According to research that I have done online; those who meditate daily could improve their health up to 30%-50%
I began thinking that I wanted to try meditation to relax and improve my overall health, but as I pondered the concept of meditation I felt conviction.  Why would I take the time to be still and meditate every day for my physical health, but I don’t sit before the Lord and just be quiet and still.  The verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) smacked me upside the head.
The next day, still reeling from conviction, I came across this verse in my daily devotional, “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am.  (John 12:26a emphasis mine)
“Okay, Jesus!!! I hear you.”  I began to sit.  I just sat.  Breathing.
Do you know what happened?  Nothing.  At first.  But then I could hear choruses from worship songs in my head and old hymns popped into my mind that I had not sung in years.  I could see images of people I had been praying for and of those I should have been praying for.  I felt emotions surrounding issues that I had not yet surrendered to the Lord.  I was reminded of excerpts from my bible reading from earlier in the day, and prayers that I had written out in my journal.  It was a precious and powerful time that brought me to tears.
I was practicing being still, I drew near to Him and He drew near to me.  I was being still, right where Jesus was.  PRICELESS.
I don’t BE STILL every day, but I want to.  I am trying to open my spirit up to hear His Spirit calling me to BE STILL with Him. 
CHALLENGE: Find a spot that is comfortable, lean back, put a pillow under your knees, close your eyes, and breathe.  Then pray.  Ask the Lord to speak to you.  Express to Him that you don’t want anything from Him but to know Him more completely and intimately.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Really Matters

What Really Matters
By Carri Pratt 
Every sister in Christ has a God given ministry to fulfill.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 NIV
This leads me to believe that there is at least one thing God has predestined for us to complete which will add value to His Kingdom. 

I believe we each feel a calling upon our heart to reach out and serve because we love God and want to please Him.  However, we can definitely reach that point when the scales are tipped in favor of doing for Him rather than spending time with Him.  This was the place I found myself not long ago. 

God showed up in a powerful way during one of my quiet times and I felt enormous conviction within my being.  The verse that jumped out before me was from the book of Haggai.  “The Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways… You expected much, but then it amounted to little … Why? … “Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.”  Haggai 1:7-9 HSCB 

I had been busy with my own house and my own agenda. I was getting ahead of God!  Here I was feeling rather good about myself and my various service projects that I had planned out. I had forgotten one very important ingredient, God’s blessing and direction.  I received confirmation of this in the book of Psalms; “Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14

In the book of Galatians we find tremendous wisdom for making decisions about serving our Lord, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 HSCB My understanding was that God was saying, “I will put opportunity in front of you.  Wait for it.”  So rather than me doing my own thing, God would put just the right opportunity in front of me.  My part was to spend time with Him building up His home within me.  Praying about various opportunities presented, to see which are in His Will and which He wants to bless.

I had a dream recently that I was standing before Christ Jesus on the Day of Judgment and all I could say was, “I missed it!  I missed what was truly important.”  I can not tell you how completely helpless and full of regret I felt at that moment.  It was horrible!  Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians, “And I pray this; that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ…” Philippians 1:10 HSCB.  Godly wisdom and discernment only comes from spending time at His feet in His word.

Challenge:  Spend time with God today and ask Him for discernment regarding His priorities for you. 

Before you do for Him, spend time with Him!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grandma's Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

Grandma's Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

Melt in a large saucepan:
35 ounces of applesauce
4 1/2 ounces of red hots
Dash of cinnamon
1/4 sugar (TIP- Grandma said,"It could never be too sweet.")

When all of the ingredients are melted together allow to cool in the pan until you are able to handle. Then use a funnel and pour back into the applesauce jar.

IDEA: Pour into a mason jar and tie a strip of red and white checked fabric around the jar. Makes a cute fall gift.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Darth Dad

by Jenn V.

Proverbs 18:22 “He
who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.”

Yeah, I know I know, I’ve referenced Star Wars before, but give me a break.  I grew up a tom-boy in the 70’s and live in a house full of men.  We quote, reference, make fun of Star Wars and other manly-man movies all the time.  I haven’t seen a good chick-flick since Steel Magnolias.
My husband is going back to school to get his masters degree.  He’s taken two classes already and started his 3rd in July.  Normally, my husband is about as low-key and laid-back as a hound dog in the summertime.  But since he’s gone back to school, a new “dark side” has surfaced a few times that I have never seen before and I call him…..Darth Dad.  The hubs is super stressed right now.  He knows it and he’s apologized every time Darth Dad surfaces.  I must think of ways to help reduce that stress for him.  He works all day and comes home and disappears to go study every night.  I would be grumpy too!
That verse sounds like Martha Stewart wrote it, but in fact it was King Solomon.  I want to be “a good thing” for my hubs.  I want to live up to that verse.  So since I shouldn’t really do his schoolwork for him (thank goodness!), I will pray for him.   When your hubs is under stress, tell him you are praying FOR him and pray WITH him.  Have the kids help out with doing his chores – Give him a massage – Have the home in order and kids quieted down – Make sure he’s getting rest and getting breaks etc.  Be a “good thing” for your man!
CHALLENGE:  When your hubs is under great stress, what things can you do to help him out?  Ask him for suggestions.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Guard Your Hearts

Guard Your Hearts
by Kim Hawkins
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:37
Culture Clip: Researchers have concluded that for every hour of exposure to sexual content in movies, teens were more than five times more likely to lose their virginity within six years.
Plugged In is a wonderful website created by Focus on the Family. Plugged In reviews movies, videos, music, TV and games from a Christian perspective. About their site they say, “We’re shining a light on the world of popular entertainment.”
 I refer to to be very clear what my children’s eyes, ears, and ultimately, their heart will be exposed to when it comes to the media and the entertainment industry. My oldest are 13 and 16 years old and we often don’t agree PG13 has a wise choice for content. The movie content for us needs to be clean of most crude language and all sexual scene or talk. We love movies with action and good vs. evil is fine for us.  
The website’s review’s are very detailed and will breakdown a movie into these categories:  Positive elements, Spiritual content, Sexual content, Violent content, Crude or profane language, Drug and alcohol content, other negative elements, and conclusion.
After reading the Plugged In movie review, we then decide if the movie is appropriate for our kids to see. We have been guarding our children’s heart with this website for several years. My son now guards his own heart by asking me to review a movie before he sees it. This valuable website is one of our very best parenting tools! We couldn’t be happier that this information is available to us. My only wish is that they reviewed books too!
Challenge: Go against our culture by setting yourselves apart and guarding your child’s heart. You won’t regret it!