When my son was little, he would barely eat enough food to keep a bird alive.
His little taste buds possessed a lot of picky-ness, which left him few foods to choose from. But when it came to fruit - he was like a bunny in a carrot patch - nibbling on every type of fruit he could get his sweet little lips around. In fact, everyone in our family is an avid fruit lover, and as soon as fresh fruit is available, mouths begin to salivate.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that fruit is much sweeter and more delicious than any vegetable could ever hope to be. Yet today, although I love my vegetables of every color, I tasted a fruit that was the sweetest, most delicious and satisfying fruit I have ever tasted.
The fruits of salvation, obedience, perseverance and love.
The fruits of His Spirit, in the hearts of my children.
For many years, as I watched them grow from beautiful blond, blue eyed little girls into beautiful adolescents, I have longed for my daughters, and my son, to build a meaningful relationship with Jesus.
My husband and I have had them in church since before they could walk, all the while knowing that church would not insure their salvation, but hopefully equip them to receive it when they were ready. All three of them accepted Christ when they were old enough to understand but our prayers did not stop there.
We prayed that they would one day truly understand what Christ did for them, and that He is with them, no matter where they are or what they are going through.
We prayed that they would embrace God's forgiveness, when they made mistakes or bad decisions.
We prayed they would believe how much He loves them unconditionally, despite their mess-ups, and for them to understand that in Christ, all things are possible.
We prayed that they would grasp the reality that twe are all called and equipped to share God's love, and stand up for our faith, even in the hardest seasons of life - like high school.
This past year has been challenging. My two teenage daughters are growing up, and with that, comes great joy. But toddling right along side that joy, are the challenges that come with trying to raise children in a world that does not honor God, and often times, the overwhelming emotion of concern.
Concern to help them understand that all those Bibles we have bought them since they were fresh out of the womb, were not just pretty books to carry to church, but a powerful tool to face life head on with a passion for what matters.
Concern for their future, their well being, the friends they choose, the boys they date, peer pressure, grades, good decision making, safety, colleges, future spouses, and so on.
But trumping over everything - the greatest concern of our hearts - has been the concern that they know the Lord, personally and intimately, and open the doors of their heart to let Him in and take residence.
This month, I was blessed with a glimpse, a little taste, that God has heard those prayers and concerns.
My middle daughter Kaitlyn had such a powerful encounter with God on a youth trip a couple weeks ago, that she still has not come down from her spiritual mountaintop. I shared with you in another post and on Facebook, the video of her singing a Christian song that she and her friends wrote, and playing it on their guitars.
I am so proud of her, as any mommy would be, but more than anything, I am so thankful for what God is doing, and excited about the fruit God is growing in her heart.
This week, both of my daughters left on Monday morning for a World Changers mission trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. My prayer was that God would use their hands to help repair the homes they would be assigned to work on, their words to share the Gospel, but that He would touch their hearts in such a way that they could not doubt His presence or His power.
My prayers were answered.
Last night, my seventeen year old daughter called me, with sheer excitement in her voice and tears in her eyes, as she explained that she had led a young boy to Christ that morning. I celebrated with her, and thanked God for giving her the opportunity to see that she can have an eternal impact on the lives of others if she allows God to work through her.
This morning I awoke before sunrise, and could not get back to sleep. So I headed into the kitchen, made some coffee, read my Jesus Calling devotion, and opened up my email.
At the top of my inbox, was the daily email update from our youth pastor who had accompanied the kids on the mission trip. As I read it, my heart felt as if it were going to burst out of my chest. Here are the words that he wrote:
"Even more exciting was the tearful report tonight during our group devotions time from Morgan Miles - as she recounted her opportunity to lead a 6 year old boy to Jesus today at her job site. Her tears were partially from her excitement about what God allowed her to be a part of, and the others stemmed from an overwhelming sense of God's blessing on her and how her life has been filled with strong Christian parents and family. These budding conversations with her "new found friend" this week allowed her to see the contrast of her life and upbringing (in an environment that allowed her the privilege of knowing God) versus one void of that privilege. One that she has sometimes taken for granted."
As I read his email, my eyes became blurry with hot tears, I cupped both my hands over my mouth, and literally dropped to my knees in awe of His goodness and mercy.
I give God all the credit for what He has done in the hearts of my children during this hot, sticky month of July. Lives have been impacted. Hearts have been changed. All God. Only Him.
I know my children will still make mistakes, teeter between right and wrong, and be forced to face difficult situations in the coming months and years. But what peace it brings, knowing that they are connected to The Vine - The Only One who is capable of producing fruit in them, and through them.
Sweet, sweet, delicious fruit that makes my spiritual tastebuds salivate.
Friday, July 29, 2011
When my son was little, he would barely eat enough food to keep a bird alive.
at 8:43 AM
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Most people would be hesitant to admit that their Bible had dust on it. But most people, myself included, have had seasons of life where that was exactly the case.
Life is busy. Sometimes too busy to pick up a book as big as the Bible. It seems intimidating, complicated, and waaaayyyyyy too long.
But if we harbor that opinion for too long, we gradually build a wall in between us and God. We cut ourselves off from His instruction, encouragement, and guidance. We turn down the volume to His voice, until we get to the point where we cannot hear Him at all.
I know, because I speak from experience.
The phrase "your eyes are bigger than your stomach" comes to mind. I've often said that old cliche' to my children, when they would fill their plates up with too much food at a buffet, knowing full well that they could not consume that much.
I used to feel that way about the Bible. I was convinced that it was more than I could consume, and that trying to fill my plate (aka, brain) with it would be hopeless, and probably lead to eventual failure.
So many years I wasted being afraid to try read the Bible - in all its great vastness - instead of simply understanding the application and truths it held for my life. I would see it sitting on my coffee table, and feel a longing to understand its contents, and even an obligation as a Christian, to dig into the pages, but lacked the faith confidence to believe that I could do it.
Oh how wrong I was. Had I only known all those years that the Bible was all the nutrition that I really needed for a healthy and fruitful life, and that God would always serve me the exact portion that I needed. Nothing more, and nothing less. One bite at a time.
When we open up God's Word, we should say "Wow!! I am about to meet with God!" instead of looking at it as an obligation of a Christian.
Take a look at this passage, from Psalm 119:97-104 (NLT)
97 Oh, how I love your instructions!
I think about them all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are my constant guide.
99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
for I am always thinking of your laws.
100 I am even wiser than my elders,
for I have kept your commandments.
101 I have refused to walk on any evil path,
so that I may remain obedient to your word.
102 I haven’t turned away from your regulations,
for you have taught me well.
103 How sweet your words taste to me;
they are sweeter than honey.
104 Your commandments give me understanding;
no wonder I hate every false way of life.
As I read these verses, I cant help but ask myself, "do I feel this level of emotion when I read God's Word? Am I in love with them, thinking about them all day long? Do I feel wiser and stronger because of them? Can I be proud of my actions, words and choices because they are in line with these holy instructions?
Do I look at His Word and feel my heart salivating, eager to consume the truths found within?
Are His Words sweeter than honey to my lips?
These self-directed questions can really give us food for thought, regarding the level of importance that we give to God's Word.
The truth is, that if our hearts are void of these intimate feelings, lacking any twinge of excitement or enthusiasm about opening The Bible and digging for truths, then lets face it, scripture may not be at the top of our priority list.
It if is not a priority, it certainly will not become a reality as we live out our daily lives.
We will not see what we are not looking for.
Will you make a commitment today to open God's Word? Maybe for the first time in a long time?
Will you pick up that piece of God's warmth and begin carrying with you, inside and out?
Will you allow Him to speak to you, through His written Word?
Will you trust that He will "feed" you exactly what your heart is starving for?
Rest assured,friend, He will not fill your plate with more than you can eat.
The Lord gives us each our daily bread, and it will be exactly the right portion for us, and at exactly the rigth time.
If you are not involved in a local Bible study or do not have a local church, check out the many Bible study options on our Proverbs 31 shopping page.
We also have several awesome P31 speakers that offer free online bible studies throughout the year, including Melissa Taylor, Wendy Blight,Renee Swope, and Wendy Pope.
at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I am so glad you stopped by my blog today. If you are visiting from the Proverbs 31 daily devotion, then welcome! And welcome to all my daily visitors and email subscribers too!
Todays devotion was focused on living by God's "blueprints", better known as The Word.
Just like when God allowed Josiah's men to find His instructions in the Temple that had been long forgotten, when we neglect God's instructions and fail to follow His guidelines for living, He will eventually find a way to open our eyes, move our hearts, and inspire us to go back to the ways we know are right.
Sometimes that task of getting back to our faith is easy - but other times, it might be easier said than done.
Changing direction in life or in our actions or behaviors, or just standing up for what is right in God's eyes and not the opinion of the world, can not only be hard, but can also cause us to run head first into opposition to people who do not share our beliefs.
In the face of opposition, or temptation, standing up for what is right in God's eyes gets even harder. The only way to have the strength to persevere, is by leaning on Christ and staying plugged into Him.
I can only imagine that when King Josiah realized that he and his kingdom had been living in chronic defiance against God's instructions (2 Kings), causing him to "clean house" and get rid of all detestable things in God's eyes while trying to make right all the wrongs, he was surely faced with fierce opposition from people.
Although the Bible does not describe that opposition, common sense about human nature tells us that it must have been so. I feel sure that there must have been some backlash from those who did not believe that God's blueprints held truths, maybe even accusing Josiah that his actions were unwarranted and ridiculous. Maybe he was threatened, or feared for his own life even though he was king.
But Josiah was devoted to His God - at all costs. He believed God's Word to be the ultimate truth, above all else, and that devotion resulted in a changed life, and is what kept his heart focused and on fire for God.
Just recently, one of my daughters went on a worship trip with our church youth group to Daytona, Florida, returning home last weekend. Let me tell you - she has not come down from her spiritual mountaintop yet! My heart has been overflowing with joy and gratitude for what God did in her heart, and the hearts of all the teens that went on the trip.
The theme for worship over their youth week was DEVOTION. Devotion to God, His Word, His truths, His ways.... His blueprints for living, all of which are timeless and relevant to every generation.
My daughter's ignited passion for Christ has ignited mine as well, and permeated our family. She has been filling the house with praise songs every day, pouring joy into the atmosphere of our home. She has been an inspiration to other youth as she praised God with her whole heart, committed to be devoted, and stand up for what she knows to be the Truth.
Josiah was only 26 years old when He stood up and made drastic changes in himself, and an entired kingdom, in order to be devoted to God with His whole heart - so that His life could be an example that glorifies God.
My daughter is only 14, but has decided to be more devoted to her faith, so that her life can glorify God as she stands strong in Him. Forty other teens on their trip made this same amazing committment last week as well.
You, and I, can take a stand today to be devoted --- completely sold out for Christ --- stronger than ever before--- when we make God's Word the blueprints that we study every day as we build our lives.
If you are ready to turn your life over to Christ, stand up against something that is wrong, cease participating in things that you know are not abiding by God's blueprints, or just recommitt to being fully devoted to your Savior and His Word, leave a comment today professing your desire to stand up for your faith, at all costs.
Every day, there are people who are not afraid to be devoted to Christ, even in the face of great opposition. Their devotion may result in some sacrifices and even hardships - but God will use them to powerfully impact the hearts of others - one person at a time.
Today is the first day of the rest of our life - and a great day to get truly devoted to Christ.
Let's be stronger than we have ever been.
Special video: My daughter (far left, sitting down in video) and her two best friends singing a worship song that they wrote the music and God-inspired lyrics for while on their youth trip. Watching these teens sing and praise God without reservation, with hearts full of devotion to stand up for Christ in their generation, brings tears to my eyes. I hope it will inspire you too. (Email subscribers click here)
(Check back on Wednesday for a follow up post about the importance of staying in God's Word to keep our faith on fire, or sign up on the right sidebar to automatically receive future posts in email)
at 7:17 AM
Monday, July 18, 2011
So how was it? Trying to pray without ceasing? Easy? Difficult? Impossible?
I am sure the answer varies for each of us.
When I first read this verse many years ago, I admit, I thought it sounded impossible. How can I "pray without ceasing"? How can I possibly pray all the time, when I obviously have to have other thoughts going through my mind as I do life? How can I stay focused on prayer, and still focus on daily obligations?
Maybe this is my simple-mindedness showing through, but I narrowed it down to an answer that I could understand - which was simply - never say Amen.
Just think about it:
When we are finished speaking with someone on the telephone or in person, we say "goodbye". The word "goodbye", ends the conversation. Both parties disengage, and move on to something or someone else.
When we are involved in corporate prayer, with a group or another individual, the person praying aloud usually says Amen. This ends the corporate conversation with God, and people move on to something or someone else.
Do we ever want to be disengaged from God? Of course not! Do we ever want to end our communication with God? Of course not! Do we ever want to get up and move on, away from God? Of course not!
So why not just keep the conversation going? Throughout the day, as something comes to mind that you want to take to God - just say, "oh yeah, God, and I also wanted to talk to you about xxxxx".
In doing this, we stay engaged with God, always communicating with Him, always praying, simply through the easy task of conversation. The more we do it, the easier it gets, and before long, it just becomes second nature.
God is always walking right beside us like a loyal and trusted friend, and all we have to do keep the conversation going is acknowledge that to be true, and keep talking to Him.
By not saying Amen until we fall asleep in our bed at the end of the day, we stay connected and close to God - and our faith stays strong - which is the reason He commands us to do this.
We pray not for God's sake - because He and His kingdom will be the same whether we pray without ceasing or not - but we pray for our sake, because we will never be the same without Him.
Other than the fact that we are commanded to pray without ceasing by God, for our own benefit, there are many other reasons why praying without ceasing is crucial to our faith.
We need God's power within us to face the difficulties and temptations of life, which we obtain through constant and daily prayer.
God wants us to live by faith, and prayer keeps us on that right track, as we stay plugged in to conversation with God.
Prayer strengthens us to stand firm against the games of the enemy, because the Holy Spirit keeps us grounded and intercedes for us as needed.
Through prayer we can hear God's voice, speaking to our hearts as we struggle with decisions to make and which paths to take.
My pastor once said that Satan cannot keep God from answering our prayers, but he will do all he can to stop us from praying - because when we pray, the power of God is brought into the situation.
We are called by God to live our life in an atmosphere of prayer every day, and creating that atmosphere begins with acknowledging that God does not need us to pray, but we need to pray in order to keep our faith on fire.
Praying without ceasing keeps our faith red hot, just like throwing fuel on a fire keeps the blazes burning.
Praying makes us strong, on fire for God, inside and out. If we all commit to carrying that "torch" from His fire in our hearts, the world would begin to see a wildfire like never before.
at 8:06 AM
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Earlier this week, I shared a story of losing a treasured necklace, finding the necklace, and then losing the necklace yet again, once and for all. I also made the analogy of how our faith can sometimes get caught up in a similar cycle of lost and found.
I posed a question for you to ponder, which was "how do we break that lost and found cycle?"
The answer in my opinion, is simply this:
We need to commit to building a campfire - - a campfire of faith, that is.
Play the video above, and let your thoughts wander. (email subscribers will need to click here to see the video)
Think back to a time when you enjoyed sitting around a campfire, maybe at summer camp as as child, on a camping trip with friends, or with your family as you sat around a firepit in your backyard.
As we sit beside a campfire, our body is embraced by the warmth of the hot embers that permeate the area around the fire. We hear the crackling sounds of the burning wood and watch the flames dancing all over.
We laugh as we poke our marshmallows onto the twisted coat hangers, and roast them over the hot ashes. Then we excitedly make s'mores , squishing the melted marshmallow onto the crunchy graham crackers and Hershey chocolate pieces, and then letting the morsels melt in our mouths as we devour the deliciousness.
Around the campfire, we feel warm, cozy and peaceful, inside and out.
In fact, we may be so warm and cozy, possibly even hot, that we think we can never be really cold again. However, when it's time to go, we arise and move away from the fire, feeling the heat lessen just a bit.
We take a few more steps away from the fire, and the warmth gradually decreases. After a few more steps, the cold air hits us like a hard reality. Then before we know it, we are freezing cold again, from the inside out.
The only way to continue staying warm, would be to take a piece of the fire with us. To carry a flaming torch that would warm our hearts and bodies everywhere we go, so we are never too far away from the fire.
You know, our Savior is like the campfire, and our closeness to the fire is like our faith.
The farther we walk away from the Savior, the colder and more distant we will feel from His warmth. The only solution to breaking this cycle of hot and cold faith, or lost and found faith, is staying close to the Fire, and carrying Him in our hearts each and every day.
There are many ways to carry Christ in our hearts, but one of the most important torches to carry is prayer.
Let's talk a little more about prayer tomorrow. Until then, i want to give you a challenge.
Try to begin praying without ceasing, as we are told to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
It might be harder, or not as hard, as one would think, but its a great starting point to breaking this cycle that we all get caught up in.
So until then......
Ready, set...... pray. :)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Several years ago, my husband bought a three diamond necklace for our anniversary and gave it to me as a gift. I, of course, was elated - just as any wife would be when her husband does something extra special to make her feel loved and appreciated.
at 3:00 PM
Thursday, July 7, 2011
My sweet friend and fellow Proverbs 31 sister, Micca Campbell (of whom I greatly admire and love I might add) had a marvelous idea. To help all of you get to know the Proverbs 31 gals just a little better, she is doing a Proverbs 31 team promo.
As we are counting down the days for our annual She Speaks conference, we want to partner with all the ladies who are coming, or even praying about coming next year, and let you know that we all have shared those same feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement and anticipation - and it's always great to see how God has worked to bring us to the placed we are in now.
So, with all that said, Micca is highlighting P31 team members on her blog this month, to help others get to know a little more about all of us, our journies in ministry, and receive some encouragement at the same time!
Today, she is highlighting little 'ol me. Smiles.
So hop over to her blog today, and all month long, and check everyone out.
Monday, July 4, 2011
When we hear either of these statements, a lot of things come to mind.
Hot July weather.
Red, white and blue.
Flags. Stars and stripes.
Getting together with friends and family.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken and watermelon.
Swimming in the pool, lake or ocean.
Sometimes in the midst of the traditional memories, we may give little focus to the reason for the celebration. We may neglect to stop and think about the blessing of living in America, which is something we all take for granted from time to time. Maybe even every day.
We may inadvertently forget to focus on those who have fought and died for our country, and those who are fighting for us today.
We may not even stop to say the pledge of allegiance, silently or corporately, as we get caught up in planning our annual day of fun.
But yesterday at church, as I am sure many churches did across this great nation, we paused to focus.
We sang several patriotic songs, we praised God for our country, despite the flaws that exist within it. We thanked God for our freedom, and lifted our Bibles in the air as we sang the hymn Ancient Words, softening our hearts towards the history of God's Word, and our nation.
One comment our pastor made yesterday, was how much he treasured the Pledge of Allegiance, in all of its simplicity, and I agree:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
He then went on to talk about another type of allegiance - our allegiance to God. We reviewed the verses in Exodus 20:1-3, where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, beginning with God's law to not worship other Gods.
He also said something that resonated in my heart: "The 10 commandments are not out of step with the times, but the times are out of step with the commandments of God."
Every Christian knows this is true, but feels helpless to do anything about it.
The state of our nation, in many regards, brings tears to my eyes. The fragile economy, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and divorce are just a few of the many struggles that so many Americans face every day.
But I am also saddened as I consider how far we have fallen from being a nation grounded on faith in Jesus Christ, to a nation grounded in tolerance and acceptance of all things, even if they transcend God's moral law, all the while allowing modern-day pleasures to become idols in our lives.
Unfortunately, those things are true. However, we are still living in the land of the free, where brave men and women fight, and suffer, for our freedom every day, and we have an obligation to pause and focus and be thankful for our great country - while remembering - that we are not helpless, with God on our side.
Knowing He is always with us, and He is sovereighn, should empower us to passionately pledge allegiance to Him, committing to standing strong in our faith, proud of our Savior, thankful for His blessings, humbled by His forgiveness of our sin, and radiant in our love for Him.
The devil would love for us to believe all those lies that we have addressed over the past couple months, and buy into the world's view of life and of ourselves, so that we will allow our fears and insecurities to take precedence over our allegiance to God.
But although it may seem hard at times, we can stand in allegiance to Him every day, no matter what is going on around us, what we have done, or what we have not done. And since we are sinners, living in an sinful world, there is only one way that we can do that:
Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Saying the pledge of allegiance to our country is easy, in fact, most of us could probably say it in our sleep, without considering the fullness of its' meaning.
But pledging allegiance to Christ takes a commitment with our whole hearts, not just our words. A commitment to love Him and honor Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, all throughout the year, and not just on a special day of the year set aside to do so.
July 4th - a day to pledge allegiances.
To our country.
And to our God.
Let us be passionate about making both of these allegiances on this special day.
God Bless America. And Happy 4th to everyone!
(please click here to view the video)
at 9:09 AM