Thursday, March 31, 2016
When I was about this age, I remember going to church at the old Calvary Baptist Church in Pampa, TX. The reason I remember I was about this age is because I remember going to the nursery-and couldn't even see over the Dutch door--and would ask the nursery ladies to give me my baby brother. It never worked. Anyway...the pews in that church were old wooden pews--which made a lot of racket when a little girl was unloading her purse on them. I'd get bored with what was going on and spread out on the pew and check what I'd brought that morning in my purse (which always included my offering envelope). In dad's effort to quiet me, he'd motion to me and offer me his fingernail clippers he carried in his pocket. I'd get so excited! I'd scoot down that long pew and take dad's clippers and begin clipping his nails. I'm laughing my head off even as I type that. Who does that??? My dad. I'd clip a nail or two and then get a little overanxious and clip too close. Dad would mouth, "Owwww!!" because he couldn't actually scream that out during the sermon. I'd be a little more careful, but dad would silently yelp a couple more times before it was over. But my dad was so funny (and I already knew that by this age) so I wasn't sure if he was playing with me and keeping me entertained, or if I actually hurt him. After all the clipping was done, I'd hand him the clippers and he would unsheathe the fingernail file for me. And I'd proceed to clean under his fingernails. This elicited more silent yelps which were actually from pain because dad would quickly pull his hand away from me. Dad & I had a good thing going. Dad got his weekly nail clipping, neither one of us were ever bored...and I grew up loving church.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
When cowboys ride at the back of the herd, they're eating dust. Those cows kick up a lot of it--which is why cowboys wear kerchiefs over their faces. Bandannas weren't just meant for bank robbers to hide their mugs...those bandannas had a more important purpose.
When people stir up dust, we don't have to eat it. Romans tells us to avoid the flesh--instead, we are to walk in the Spirit. So when we're on the trail ride of life and faced with the dust of flesh, we need to ride ahead of the herd and start walking in the Spirit. The air is so much cleaner there! It's so easy to get caught up in negative attitudes, gossip, anger, or maligning others. But we were never intended to eat that kind of dust. We were created to rise above where we are already seated in heavenly places!
God gave us something different to eat: the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.
...and that's a whole lot more palatable than dust.
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:6-7
Friday, March 25, 2016
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." Mark 12:30
Recently, as I was teaching about being made up of body, soul, and spirit...God pierced my mind with something I'd missed! Our soul is made up of our mind, our will, and our emotions. How many times have you heard someone say about a church service, "That was just too emotional?" or "It's just like they were trying to stir up people's emotions?" I wonder if whoever said that is afraid of their emotions or is not in tune with their emotions? God created us with emotions. And we are to love him with our emotions.
I remember when I began worshiping God with my emotions. I was afraid to do it in front of certain people. And God whispered to my heart, "Will you fear them...or Me?" I lifted my hands and worshiped with all of my being. Emotions should be part of our worship. Not by manipulation, but as an act of love.
You have to fall in love with God with all of your heart to become emotional about Him.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind: God loves a good battle! I've been teaching some of the Old Testament stories to the kids on Wednesday nights and last night, a little boy asked me, "Where do you get these good stories?" They are good stories! And those Old Testament stories were given for our instruction. Think about the stories you love from the O.T.: David & Goliath, Joshua and the battle of Jericho, Moses vs. Egyptians, Deborah (a woman!) leading men into battle. I could go on and on. We don't like to think that God has enemies (people). But because He made a covenant with Abraham and Israel, anyone who came against them chose to take a side against God. And He wanted them utterly destroyed. Sometimes His leaders didn't completely obey that order. But because God had said that their sins would be passed down to the third or fourth generation, He wanted every generation destroyed--because God knew the next generation would perpetrate the same sin against His covenant people.
But then in the New Testament, Jesus began teaching a different way. The battle moved into the heavenlies. It became a spiritual battle. But God gave us the strategy in the Old Testament we can use in this new war. There will be different battles, different seasons, different battle plans, different places, and the enemy may look different each time. And Jesus showed us who our battle is with: Satan and his demons. That's who God's ultimate enemy is--Satan--since the time he tempted man and messed up God's perfect plan. He challenged God and wanted to rule over God. In the New Testament (new covenant) every man became responsible for his own sin--no more passing down to the third or fourth generation--even though there may be sins common to generations. When we are in Christ, we are seated with Him in heavenly places. So we have access to everything God offers for this battle and we can rise above anything Satan throws at us. God even told us what our weapons were and how to use them in this spiritual battle: truth, righteousness, the peace of the good news, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. He told us to be alert because our enemy was seeking to devour us. He never intended us to just walk peacefully through this life. James 1 tells us that His whole plan was to strengthen us through the battles we would face. God's plan, from the time sin entered into the world, was to raise up warriors, overcomers, victors!
It's so easy today to fight people instead of our true enemy because so much of the time Satan uses people! We forget our battle is in the heavenlies now. God told us our battle wasn't against flesh and blood in the New Testament. It's against our true enemy: Satan. So when people come against you, look beyond them and fight on a different playing field.
I've found in my lifetime that there are different battles for different seasons. When my children were growing up, my battle was intense. I met with friends and we poured our hearts out to God. We battled for their future and it was a very broad battle. As they became young adults, it became more focused and my strategy became different. God led me in each of these battles and He gave me the different battle plans. I'd say now my battle is even different. Satan battles my mind and I really have to be alert to whose thoughts I'm thinking. And God is using the weapons of rest and laughter against the enemy. Satan wants me to worry, stress, and be fearful. But when I'm at rest, it's a clear indication he's losing the battle. And when I laugh over my future, he knows that I know Who is in control!
So rise up, Warriors!! Know that you're in a battle---and always have been--even if you didn't realize it. God has given you strategy and this world is not your battleground. The war has been moved to the heavenlies. Pick up your shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit and strengthen those muscles. Be alert!! Your enemy wants to devour you. Satan knows God will win--he just wants to deceive us and keep us from knowing. He's hoping to keep us out of the battle so he can take as many as he can to the place of ultimate defeat. God doesn't just love a good fight--He's fighting beside you and WILL ultimately destroy your enemy. It's a battle He won't lose.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Rest is probably the #1 thing people crave today and yet the least possessed commodity. In the beginning, God worked for 6 days creating all that exists and declared the 7th day for rest. On the 6th day, God created man. So the first full day of man's existence was spent in rest and then he worked the next 6 days. Paul Burleson reminded me this week that God rested after His work...and man worked from his rest. That is grace.
That's something we need to understand--how to work from our rest. But first, we have to REST. Webster describes rest as: freedom from activity or labor, state of motionless or inactivity, repose, peace of mind or spirit.
When is the last time you stopped all activity and were motionless? When is the last time you enjoyed peace of mind or spirit? If you couldn't come up with a quick reply to those two questions, you seriously need to stop...and rest. Without guilt!! It's Satan's plan to keep us so busy and going in such circular motions that we are exhausted and don't even have the energy to spend time with God or our families. Rest is also a weapon to fight the enemy. When we're "at rest," it proves to the enemy we don't fear him. Philippians 1:28. I think resting is like a tithe of your time to God.
Do whatever you need to do. Hire a babysitter, escape to your favorite spot, make some coffee, get alone with God and find that peace of spirit and mind. Rest your body, soul, and spirit. Be still.
Rest. I give you permission.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
We were taught that:
- We needed to be saved because of our sin.
- We needed to be discipled.
- We needed to tell other people about Jesus.
- We needed to be ready for the rapture.
- And that the ultimate goal was to go to heaven and forever be with God.
Mostly true. But over the past 3 years, through Zach Neese and his book, How to Worship a King, through Paul Burleson at our pastors/wives retreat, and through LLBD (and in that order), I've been confronted with the gospel of the kingdom. I never realized that this is the gospel Jesus brought and taught. (Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John and underline every time you see which gospel Jesus teaches about. I was amazed!) You see...with the gospel of salvation, I never felt any future--except to wait for heaven--and very little purpose. To fulfill the gospel of salvation, the only future I saw was to be involved in full-time ministry. Spend your life evangelizing and then wait for the rapture. I feel like we did a horrible injustice to generations of people. They got saved...and then had no idea what to do next. It felt dead.
But the gospel of the kingdom is so much more! It's a government. It has a constitution, the Bible. It has a monetary system, it has territory, and it has rulers/ambassadors. It is righteousness, peace and joy. And all of a sudden, the gospel becomes SO MUCH MORE!! And I'm involved in ways I'd never imagined. I'm not just waiting for the rapture or heaven---I'm trying to make earth look like heaven. Isn't that what Jesus taught us?
Monday, March 14, 2016
Our firstborn granddaughter turns 17-years-old today! It's so hard to believe we're at this place. I just kind of dread her turning 18 and becoming an "adult." Where has the time gone?? Caitlin is an adventurer. She's never met a stranger!! When she was young, she would light up a room with her smile and need to go to every person in the room to acknowledge they were there. As she's grown, she's become a beautiful young woman full of grace, love, and purpose. She still acknowledges everyone in the room because she doesn't want anyone to feel left out. She's a good friend. She loves her younger cousins and knows exactly how to relate to each one of them. But she also interacts well with adults--and always has. She's a very down-to-earth person and just pretty solid. She loves to sing and has gotten to sing with the praise team at her church. She has a heart after God--which is what I love most. Caitlin is a beautiful 17-year-old. I can't wait to see what wonderful plan God has for her!
Caitlin's 10th birthday--we all went ice skating!
Christmas--when she still liked toys.
She's the oldest of her cousins and has definitely led the way.
From a sleepover when we did nails.
Swimming with the cousins!
All grown up at 17!
Caitlin is an amazing singer and worshiper. I love this girl!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAITLIN NICOLE!!
I LOVE YOU,
Friday, March 11, 2016
Satan speaks to our minds..and he's always speaking. He doesn't come to me and say, "Becky, you are so stupid!" Why? Because he's a deceiver and wants me to think that what he's saying to me are my own thoughts. He comes to me and says, "I am so stupid." He speaks in first person singular. The voice you hear that is accusing, derogatory, malicious, critical, impulsive, fearful, full of pressure...are all from the enemy. That's why God tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 10:5
Have you ever taken a thought captive? I picture taking a thought out of my head and holding it in my hands and asking it, "Do you obey Jesus?" If it doesn't obey Him, throw it away! Sometimes, you have to do this 100 times a day. When Bill & Anabel Gillham first taught this truth to me, I had no idea how many thoughts were just roaming around in my head all. day. long. I'd never taken one thought captive in my whole life that I knew of. But as I began practicing taking my thoughts captive, I was appalled at the number of thoughts Satan spoke to my mind constantly. And I'd just entertained them. All day long.
So if you're depressed or overwhelmed, start paying attention to what you're thinking about. What thoughts are roaming around in your head that are not your own? If God tells you 20 wonderful things about yourself and Satan tells you 2 horrible things about yourself, guess what you're going to concentrate on? Of course--the 2 horrible things. That's his plan. He wants you thinking on the negative. His whole intent is to destroy you. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. But God has come to give you abundant life. But in order to obtain the abundant life, you have to be thinking on truth. Because "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7.
Start taking notice of your thoughts. You've entertained some thoughts so long, you believe they're yours. Ask God to reveal the truth of your thoughts to you. Don't allow thoughts to just roam absently through your mind. Make them obey Jesus. You have the authority to capture them and command them to leave if they don't. And think on what is pure, honest, just...and all these things. Philippians 4:8
Today is my son-in-law's birthday. Jay Wright. I had an epiphany this week when I was thinking about him and realized he was 14-years-old when I met him--exactly one year older than his oldest son, Isaac, is right now. My nephew, Jeff, brought Jay to our youth camp as part of his band. Jay was keyboard player....at 14. He's a gifted pianist--and was very gifted even then! But looking back, it's amazing that he was doing camps with a band at 14-years-old. Jay came to our camp for several years with the band and they began doing skits. I can remember being in the break room and watching them practice, "Mama's Little Baby" and I was crying because I was laughing so hard. Jay was a great ad libber and never did the skit the same way twice. Jay is definitely the life of the party. He loves people and remembers their names--and doesn't forget them. But I think the thing I love about Jay the most is his love for God and his family. In fact, the first fun fact I knew about Jay is that he loved his mom, Jean. (Thank you for the gift of your son, Jean!) Of course, that won me over. Andy likes to brag that he chose Jay for Amy.
Jay & Amy have instilled a sense of life, fun, and discovery in their family.
I love that Jay loves my daughter.
He fits right in with our family. We all love him!
I love this picture of Jay! It was taken at our 20th anniversary of being on staff at FBC Borger, Kaye Smith snuck into our family photo and Jay was laughing hysterically! Of course, I was, too.
We never lack for entertainment when he's around!
Jay is also a great dad to his 4 kiddos.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAY!!
I love you and I'm so glad you're ours.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
God has always championed women. So many of the great stories in the Bible have women as the star of the story: Esther, Ruth, Deborah, Mary, and so many others. Jesus didn't just receive women--he embraced their giftedness and strengths. There were women who followed his ministry and contributed to his support. Jesus not only forgave the adulterous woman, he protected her in her humiliation and put the men accusing her in their place. He received the anointing oil of Mary and told the men who rebuked her that her story would be remembered forever. Yes...Jesus was a champion of women. He loved them, received them, received their gifts, strengths, wisdom, and help. He purposed to change societal thinking about them.
In the photo above are 4 mothers...but not just mothers. They are entrepreneurs, organizers, directors, artists, nutritionists, healers, teachers, explorers, singers, counselors, decorators, bloggers, runners, speakers, photographers, mediators, adoptive mothers, friends, missionaries, prayer warriors, women involved in church and civic concerns...and so much more. They are all fun and laugh hard. They care deeply about one another and others. They try to meet the needs of their husbands and children and sometimes find themselves a little frayed at the ends. They don't take enough time for themselves and often overextend themselves in managing their family's schedules while still helping in their children's schools, their churches, and communities. Some are more emotional than others. And all express their emotions in different ways. They are hard workers and give themselves 110% to their jobs--whether that is working in a church, developing their own business, or caring for their families. They love their families. They are ordinary...but extraordinary.
These same women can become wild-eyed, crazed maniacs if their children or husbands are attacked! You have no idea. And you certainly don't want to test it. (I can only tell you that Andy had to restrain me from "confronting" a few people back in the day.)
The amazing thing about these women is they all have husbands who champion them...men who aren't threatened by a strong woman. These men honestly believe what Jesus came to teach about women. They honor women, love their gifts and strengths, and love working alongside them. In fact, these men know they wouldn't be who they are without these strong women.
And women? We must become champions of one another. Find a woman who needs encouragement. Instead of being jealous of someone's strength, call it out! Tell them you love that about them. Bless them. Help them. Learn from them. Build them up!
God loves women. His plan was so good. And He's not bothered at all by successful women! In fact...He created women just for that reason. He'd be disappointed if you didn't become a champion.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
I had four of them. They each were born strong-willed! It may have manifested in different ways, but they were all four definitely strong-willed.
Andy & I wanted our kids to know God at a young age and fall in love with Him early. And then my prayer was that they would become "stand-alone kids!" I wanted them to be able to stand up against peer pressure. I wanted them to be the positive peer pressure--helping others to make good choices. (Which may have been a little unrealistic....you think?) Well, one day when they were all under 13, I'd just about had it with four strong-willed kids. They were fighting, arguing, and yelling and I went into my room and probably slammed the door and wailed to God, "WHY DID YOU GIVE ME FOUR STRONG-WILLED KIDS?" It was overwhelming. And then I heard God say, "You can't have it both ways, Becky. You can't ask me to make them stand-alone kids without having a strong will!" And I can honestly say I never questioned Him about it again.
Man! Am I proud of my kids!! Did they ever give in to peer pressure? Of course...they were kids. But I believe as adults we set the pace for peer pressure. How many of our homes are decorated just like everyone else's? How many of us drive the same kind of car? How many of us wear the same style of clothing? See? We all just want to fit in.
A strong will helps us get through some hard things in life. It can help us overcome hurtful things which might have happened in childhood. A strong will can sharpen another strong will. A strong will can cause us to persevere and meet new challenges. A strong will can help us pursue our dreams! A strong will can even help a senior adult make big life changes. A strong will just needs to be guided and developed. It's easy to misinterpret it for rebellion. Be careful to not jump to conclusions like I did a few times. Ask God to show you how to work with Him to develop those strong wills in your home.
My kids are adults now making their own choices. They all have different personalities and preferences. And I'm thankful to say....they're all still strong-willed. They're gonna need it for their own strong-willed kids. Apparently, it's in the genes.
Matthew, Amy, David, Zach