A Fruitful Crop

Reading this morning the familiar parable from Mark 4:14-20 about the farmer sowing seeds which represent the Lord’s word. It seemed like a fresh and new passage and I knew the Lord was speaking to me through one particular set of verses.
“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
My heart so longs to be fruitful for the Lord in many ways. And yet, it can be so easy to allow worries, pursuit of wealth, and desire for other things to become a real distraction – keeping my focus centered away from the Lord and what He desires for my life. Perhaps, you could see yourself in these verses as well.
Lord, please give us a desire above all else to be used by You. To bring honor and glory to Your name through every thought, every word, every action. Keep our hearts pure from anything that becomes a distraction that steers us away from you. Thank you for your patience and grace and mercy. May we become like the seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what was sown.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

“Go tell it on the mountain. Over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain. That Jesus Christ is born!”

For some reason that song has been stuck in my head the last few days. I think (as usual) the Lord has a purpose in that. It has caused me to ask the question, in the rush and chaos of Christmas, do we really focus on the “telling”?

Luke 2 teaches us about the shepherds who were just going about their business living their lives one day to the next. For them it was tending sheep. For us (at least for this month), it’s decorating, checking off lists, shopping till we drop, getting stuck in traffic, sending out cards, wrapping, buying, and stressing about giving the perfect gifts.

But in the midst of going about their normal routine, the shepherds heard about a baby that would (and did) literally change everything. They dropped what they were doing, what they were so focused on, and ran towards the Savior. And scripture says they spread the word about this child, and all who heard it were amazed.

Our Lord and Savior comes to us in our every day lives just like He did the shepherds to reveal Himself. Can we hear Him through all the hustle and bustle? Can we drop what we’re doing for a moment and spend time with the Savior through prayer and bible study? Does it change our focus and priorities? And does it affect our desire to tell others about what it is we are celebrating in this beautiful month of Christmas?

We are happy to greet others with “Merry Christmas”, but do we share what really makes this season so very special, so merry? Jesus is the most perfect gift of all and He asks each of us to share about “who He is” with those He places in our paths.

I recently heard an excellent preacher talk about sharing and telling during this month and how it can be simple. When someone asks you what you’re doing for Christmas, rather than responding with where you’re going and who’ll you’ll be with, or what you’re giving or hoping to get, simply respond with “I’m so excited to come together with my family and celebrate the birth of my Savior. For me, that is what makes Christmas so very special”.

This simple, easy to remember, and non-offensive response might be the start of a conversation. It might lead to a few questions. And this is where we can get nervous (myself included!). We don’t have the Bible memorized, we don’t know all the right answers and words to say. But what others want to know is the difference that knowing Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior has meant to us, how it has transformed our lives and given us a sense of purpose, and even through the challenges and difficulties of life, He’s able to provide us with peace.  People can relate to us when we acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, that we can’t possibly understand everything, but that we have faith and complete trust in our Savior.

His great love that we are able to experience everyday can be easily shared. We can go and tell on a mountain or perhaps at a Christmas party, in the office, while standing in the checkout line, or on the phone while stuck in traffic. Or perhaps we might even be intentional. We could pray that the Lord puts someone on our heart this Christmas to share with. He’ll provide the opportunity and supply us with the words to say.

My prayer is that “Go tell it on the Mountain” might get stuck in your head the way it has mine, that it would be a reminder that this is the perfect time to share, that it can be simple, and that sharing the love of Jesus will always be the most perfect gift.

May you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

The Best Streak of All

The Best Streak of All

I try to stay current (well, somewhat current) and I’m learning to snapchat. As many of you know, this is an app that allows you to send pictures of yourself or your surroundings sometimes with text included to your snap chat “friends” as a way to stay in touch. The images can be viewed for just a short while before they go away. And although this can be a dangerous application for anyone to use (as we all know images never really go away), I think it’s here to stay as a form of communication for our teens so I’m trying to learn as much as I can.

There are really only 2 people I snapchat and the main reason I’m adding this little (fairly stupid) activity to my day is to have another connection with my daughter (and perhaps provide a little oversight). I’ve also tried to connect with my son in this way, but sadly he’s opted out.

Once a day, she sends me a picture of herself (called a selfie) and then I send one to her. The more days we participate in this repeated back and forth; we develop this important snapchat phenomenon called a “streak”. And when you have a streak going, a heart develops next to the relationship. Apparently I stink at this part of the snapchat game. Some days I get a little busy with life and forget to snapchat back. My daughter has become so frustrated with me as we continually have to restart our streaks.

In any relationship a consistent connection is vital. And that’s just as true of our relationship with the Lord. We need that daily connection through time spent in prayer, in Bible study, and in worship for that relationship to grow and flourish.

“I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:5

And as much as I’d like to see a heart by my relationship status with the Lord, some days it can seem really tough to develop a consistent streak. The chaos and distractions of life, the strong desire for a little more sleep, the lack of motivation to spend more time in the Word (it really can be hard to understand), or perhaps the times we don’t want to meet Him in prayer because we don’t know what to say or we just don’t want to face Him with our sin can all interfere with maintaining and growing our loving relationship with our Lord. Or perhaps like me, you might be a little fearful that the more you know Him, the more He’ll ask of you, and you’d really like to just coast in this life.

We all know there is no coasting. We will all face struggles in this life and we need the Lord there with us every step of the way. There really is no greater joy in this life than what He calls us to. And He’ll always equip us and prepare us for what’s ahead.

And although the Bible can be difficult to understand, I’m always amazed at how the Lord can speak to my heart through scripture. That he can use His words written so long ago to address exactly what I need in the here and now. And how even reading the same scripture at different times, can affect how you receive it. The Holy Spirit is incredible and can really help us to have a better understanding of scripture as we read. And my consistent prayer is that the Lord would give me a life long passion for spending time with him, for better understanding His word, and for sharing it with others. Perhaps it’s your prayer too!

And that whole guilt deal that keeps us away from the Lord, we have to stop it! He so desires for us to confess our sins (I mean it isn’t like He doesn’t already know), He is ready to forgive us, and then we can quit letting it overwhelm and overshadow our lives. And just like the Holy Spirit can help us understand the Bible, He can also provide the words for our prayers when we don’t even know what to say.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” ~ Romans 8:26

With snapchat and with our quiet time with the Lord, there is a word that defines the priority in which we place it in our lives. Intentionality. Find your place, schedule a time, decide ahead of time what you’ll be reading or studying, grab a notebook to take notes and right down prayers if you need to. Just figure out what works for you and do it. Oh, the powerful difference this can make in our lives!

My prayer is that we develop a consistent “streak” with our Lord. That we quit finding excuses or allowing the distractions of life to get in the way. And may our time spent with Him in prayer, in Bible study, and in worship deepen our relationship, develop our faith, and keep our focus centered on Him. It really will be the best streak of all.

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I never had quite the skill set for sewing or knitting but it wasn’t for lack of trying.  In “World of Fashion” in high school, I came away with a homemade skirt with an uneven hem line and a half completed cross-stitched Christmas stocking.  And although I was lacking, my mother was blessed with these skills. She really could sew anything:  clothes, costumes, curtains, prom dresses (we found red sequins in the carpet for years after that one).  She even sewed many of the bridesmaids dresses worn at my wedding.

In addition to sewing, my mother also learned to knit while I was growing up.  I’d watch her take a big basket of yarn that seemingly had no structure and no purpose and knit it with her graceful hands and tools.  She was able to knit or “weave” that yarn into something beautiful that served a real purpose.

I don’t know about you, but there are moments and even days when I sometimes lack that sense of purpose.  My heart longs for the Lord to use my life for His glory and yet somehow I lose my way and lose my sense of focus in our busy fast-paced world.  If I’m not careful, the days can quickly pass with a sense of numbness in my heart and just going through the motions with my words and my actions.  But that really isn’t the life Christ has in mind for me – or for you.

Christ desires that we seek Him.  That we allow our time spent with Him each day in worship, in prayer, in studying His word to be WOVEN through our hearts, our minds, and affect every area of our lives.  It is only when we make that time spent with Christ a priority, that we can find that true sense of purpose that we were created for.

I’m extremely humbled to be leading a new Women’s Bible Study starting this fall called WOVEN.  If you live near the Little Rock area and can get away on Wednesday nights, please pray about joining us.  You’ll find your place to connect with other women, worship and learn together, and even have a little fun.  The whole fall semester will be devoted to seeking and understanding Christ.  Click the link below where you can learn more and even register for the class.  Small groups will be forming this weekend so consider registering today. http://www.fellowshiponline.com/get-connected/women/

“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds at rest focused on Christ, God’s great mystery”. Colossians 2:2-4


Please keep this little start-up ministry in your prayers as classes start September 14.

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