Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Christmas!!

This past week, our family put up our Christmas decorations in our home. However, this is the first year that my husband and I have had children in our home for this occasion. Our three year old (foster) son was with us as we pulled all of the decorations out of boxes and began to set up the Christmas tree. We had just fixed the base when our son exclaimed "WOW MOMMY...IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!" About every five minutes for the next three days, he would leave the room only for moments at a time, and then run back in to check and see if "it was still Christmas". Every single time he saw the tree, he reminded us that "WOW MOMMY...IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS!" Something so familiar to so many people (a Christmas tree) is the most amazing sight to this little boy no matter how many times he sees it! This season, some of you may have heard the Christmas story hundreds, or even thousands of times. However, may we take a moment to remember the wonder and amazement that Christ chose to humble himself and come to earth for sinners like you and me. May our hearts express a child-like faith and awe every time we hear the Christmas story this season..."WOW...CHRIST HAS COME!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gifts that make a difference

If you are looking for a gift that makes a difference, allow me to recommend one:

Women at Southern:
A Walk Through Psalms
Jaye Martin and Alyssa Caudill, Editors
ISBN# 978-0-9840657-0-7

Published July 2010, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, $25

Foreword by Mary Kassian, 409 contributors

The devotional book costs have been underwritten so all proceeds go to women's scholarships at Southern.

Not only will women benefit by being able to go to seminary, those who read this walk through The Psalms will be blessed.

To purchase your copy, visit the: LifeWay Christian Bookstore on the campus of Southern Seminary or call them at 502-897-4506 or email southernseminary.4689@lifeway.com.

This Christmas, I will be giving some copies to those who need to know the love of Christ. Giving the devotional book, Women at Southern: A Walk Through Psalms, is a great way to share the love of the Lord.

I pray that God will give you opportunities to share the love of Christ during this Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Psalm Of Thankfulness!

"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His People, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100 (ESV)

"On your feet now - applaud GOD! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into His presence. Know this: GOD is GOD, and GOD, GOD. He made us; we didn't make Him. We're His people, His well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourself at home, talking praise. Thank Him. Worship Him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generations in love, loyal and ever." Psalm 100 (MSG)

As we Thank God, Count Our Many Blessings, and Celebrate Thanksgiving this week; please read Psalm 100 - "A Psalm of Thanks"! What are you thankful for right now in your life? Let's "Count your many blessings, Name them one by one, and it will amaze us what the Lord has done!" Happy Thanksgiving!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xgxn9DW1ng (Thank You, Lord! - Hillsong)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Bottle of Water: Thankful for Southern Seminary and the W Conference

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16, ESV).

The truth is, I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness to God and to Southern Seminary for the W Conference that I can hardly find words. I suppose that is fitting for the Thanksgiving week that is upon us.

As you probably know, Southern Seminary hosted the inaugural W Conference this past weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. Approximately 300 mostly young women gathered and began with incredible, cause-you-to-be-hand-raising-and-charismatic-authentic worship with Heather Payne (formerly of Point of Grace). Her new CD, "Sweet Exchange" will take you straight to Jesus. Mary Kassian, our cute, distinguished, and soon-to-be-sky-diving professor helped us to understand the culture of women and drew us to sincere repentance for being drawn into it. In her dynamic and funky style, she led us right back to the Word of God where the answers were waiting for us.

As if that wasn't enough, our eight breakout leaders (all with Masters degrees, 7 grads from SBTS) were passionate about their subjects, professional in presentation, and sincerely touched the lives of our women by bringing the message home in application! Joy Fagan, Regina Gibson, Jennifer Lyell, Laura Reynolds, Torey Thompson, Lindsey Trent, Alicia Wong, and Kristin Yeldell were outstanding! All sessions will be online within a month or so at http://sbts.edu/events so you can listen for yourselves.

Our Masters students (those in class this semester) jumped in and absolutely pulled off all kinds of tasks and I heard rave reviews from many of how sharp our students are! They did the admissions booth, ministered to and befriended women and girls who came, greeted, prayed, served in the office, ran errands, and did a great job of filling in the gaps. All this with glowing smiles on their faces even after a long week of papers and long hours of class. I am so proud.

Our Ministry Team was suburb! Our Women's Ministry Institute (WMI), as well as other women's ministry leaders in the area, jumped in to hostess tables and create an atmosphere of loving community. They also prayed over the whole conference and were available in the prayer room, as well as conference room, to love on the many who made sincere decisions and commitments. Significant ministry took place and this team was the personal touch of the conference. I continue to be amazed at the gifts of women and especially these who gave of their time to minister to the younger ones. Numerous thanks go to Janice Seifrid, my associate, and Shy Rice, our WMI consultant who led these teams and certainly worked tireless for months in advance to make it all happen. I am so thankful for each one.

I am beside myself and thankful that I get to serve at Southern Seminary who believes in women enough to foot the bill for such an extravagant, incredible, ministry and gathering for women. Thanks go to Dr and Mrs Mohler, Dr Stinson, and others for believing in us! You can be sure that they love women and once again, have validated our woman-to-woman ministry. I can't believe they allow me to be there, pay the cost to get me there, let me serve and teach, and then still give the money and manpower for the W Conference. I am humbled to my face.

The Southern Seminary Events Team under the direction of Jeff Dalrymple, just blew us all away. Not only did they handle every logistical detail but they served with excellence and put on a seamless event. They stayed late and they served beyond the call. And the giveaways were awesome: books, ipod shuffle, cute W journals and pens, and more. Thanks to their team and to all the exhibitors!

Women came with significant needs and the issues they were dealing with would bring you to tears. I know they came because they are trying to figure out how to live like Christ in a world gone crazy. It was a seriously time of ministry as well as an awesome time of learning.

If all that wasn't enough, one of the memories that I walked away with was when Jeff (events) came and handed me a bottle of water. When I asked who it was for, he said it was for me. I almost lost it. It was just one of those moments that I was reminded of what servant leadership is all about - giving a bottle of water in Jesus name. There were plenty of people around helping me but more than anything, I was giving and pouring out on women. That one, unexpected action was just what we should all be about.

To whom are you giving a bottle of water? Let's see who needs us to serve them this Thanksgiving.

NOTE: There is a new W community of Southern Seminary Facebook page so please click the Like button. We would love for you to post your photos, comments, and ideas! We desire to do biblical womanhood together!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Call To Prayer!

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men/women to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:1-4
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:2-6
"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him/her, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he/she should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him/her. But when he/she asks he/she must believe and not doubt, because he/she who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man/woman will not think he/she will receive from the Lord." James 1:5-7
Would you please pray the following prayer today for yourself?!!:
"Dear God, I am devoting myself to pray (Col.4:2). I ask you to forgive me of any sin I have committed against anyone (Mark 11:25, 1 John 1:9). I want to be holy so that those I know may come to know You by seeing Jesus in me (Hebrews 12:14). Please give me Christ's servant attitude and give me Your wisdom and guidance (Philippians 2:3-5). I ask that these words and my attitude be gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15). I pray that You will give me wisdom as I share with others about You (James 1:5-7). I know You will send The Holy Spirit to guide me and speak through me (John 15:13). I will look for opportunities to witness. Please help me see your opportunities (Colossians 4:5-6). I pray that You will give me the perfect words to say (Luke 12:11b-12, Exodus 4:12). I pray for boldness as I share about Your Son, JESUS, because I am NOT ashamed of the Gospel (Acts 4:29)! ♥IN JESUS' NAME I PRAY, AMEN♥
"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with The Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God BOLDLY." Acts 4:31
As we pray for ourselves and most of all PRAY FOR OTHERS, you are making a HUGE difference for Christ through your Gifted2Go Call To Prayer!!
One specific prayer request that I would please ask you to PRAY for RIGHT NOW is the "W - Women of The Word" Conference and the entire W Team! The "W" conference is November 19-20 and you can click on the "W" on the right side bar to learn more about it as we ask God for specific ways that He would have us to PRAY!!! God Answers His Call To Pray!!!
(all of the above scripture and specific prayer is taken from "HeartCall-Women Sharing God's Heart" written by Jaye Martin copyright 1999, North American Mission Board of the SBC)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Life is a Roller Coaster

I googled "roller coaster" and found this YouTube link. You can almost feel the ups and downs!

I feel like my life is a roller coaster ride. I'm guessing that yours is the same. The words busy, crazy, fast, scary, happy, excited, depressing, and many others come to mind! As I watch this video, we see the guys board the ride with anticipation. We see their times of excitment in the highs and lows. We also see the darkness that comes at the end when they go into the tunnel. I can so relate to that...sometimes within the same day!

Today has been a day of highs and lows...and it is hardly half over! Moments of seeing God's hand give me a high and seeing the hurts can take me down quickly. Today, I am reminded that God is the overcomer. He is the constant. He has overcome all the bad and no matter how bad the enemy seems to fight against us, God has already won the battle. If we are connected to Him, then we have overcome the world. Today, I'm going to keep reminding myself of that. And I hope that you will too.

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4, ESV).

Will you pray for the W Conference this weekend? If you are not signed up, today is the day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good News!

 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes first to the Jew, and also to the Greek."  (Romans 1:16)

 Tomorrow is November 13th.  I am sure that date does not mean anything to you, but it is my son's birthday.  He will be 24 years old!  He has been married now for three years and has been a Doctor of Physical Therapy for one year.  Wow!   Twenty-four years have gone by since that evening he was born.  I am reminded of the joy and excitement my husband and I had as we shared the good news of his birth to all our friends and relatives.  (We were just as excited to share the news of our daughters, Kristi, Kari and Karisa :) )  We could not wait to call everyone on our list.  Then we told our close friends and family to call others and let them know of his birth.

God sent His Son Jesus to earth as a baby.  Jesus lived a perfect life and then paid the penalty for all the sins of you and me and the world by dying on a cross.  By believing in Him and trusting Him as our Lord and Savior, we have an abundant life on earth PLUS eternal life forever with Him!  Why do we not share even MORE eagerly the good news of the gospel. 

Lord, help me to be so excited about You and what You have done in my life that it just spills out to everyone I meet.  Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

giving our all

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts"  -Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV

What is our direction, our purpose?   Do we follow what God wants, even if it is temporarily uncomfortable?  Can others see how Jesus is our reason for living like we do?

I love how the verse in Deuteronomy 6:5 describes how our whole person can be devoted to God.  Our love for God impacts more than just what we say, what we give, or what we think.  Our love for God can permeate into every area of our lives.

How can we express what God is doing within us?  One idea is to give God the glory, when we are complemented for our character or a success.  We can reach out to that person who is hurting and explain how Christ has brought us hope. 

The artist Lecrae writes, in his lyrics for "Background:"
"I know I'm safest when I'm in Your will, and trust Your Word
I know I'm dangerous when I trust myself, my vision blurred
And I ain't got no time to play life's foolish games
Got plenty aims, but do they really Glorify Your name?"

Today is Veteran's Day.  Please pray for those who have given their lives for our country and its people.

If you want to learn more about how to live as a woman following God today, then I recommend going to the W Conference next weekend, November 19-20, in Louisville, KY.  It will be a gathering of women trying to seek God's Word together to see how to live in devotion to God in our culture today.  How to sign up? Go to W Conference Registration

(photo above from maryjaneryan.wordpress.com)

Monday, November 8, 2010

On My Face

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation – created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, HCSB).

Meet Gracie. She's the newest member of our extended family (my brother-in-law's puppy). She gains a pound about every other day and to say she is growing is an understatement. Gracie is full of energy but in this photo, you see her crashed and on her face after much activity!

I suppose if the truth be known, that's where I find myself - crashed, exhausted, and on my face! After much activity, I am flat-out tired. (I know you know the feeling!) While I could not do what I do without God's help, it is always good to be reminded that I am not supposed to be working my way to heaven or working for the Lord in my own strength.

I was in the "crashed on the bed state" on Sunday afternoon when the Lord brought this very truth to mind again. I am teaching on being gifted2go at the LifeWay National Women's Ministry Forum this week in Ridgecrest, NC and the key verses are found in Ephesians 2:8-10. It is amazing how God can give me new insights even when I am wishing I was asleep! God reminded me that HE is a free GIFT and that it is not by works that I come to Him (saved by grace alone) and it is not by works that I serve in Him. He IS my strength and He is the gift. He gave me the gift of Christ and it is Christ in me - through the power of the Holy Spirit - that does the work. I work and serve IN HIM, and not in myself.

Today, I pray that we don't work ourselves to death thinking that the world is dependent on us. It's not. The world is dependent on Him and be reminded, we just need to stay on our faces and let His strength work in and through us!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanks LifeWay Girls!

LifeWay Girls Ministry blog...thank you for blogging about the W conference! http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/girlsministry/?cid=RDR-girlsministry

We are excited about what God is doing with girls and young women! Looking forward to the Girls Minsiry Forum http://www.lifeway.com/event/330/ in February!

This week, Tracy Jones and I are gifted2go to the 15th Annual LifeWay National Women's Ministry Forum http://www.lifeway.com/event/27/  in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina (Ridgecrest)! It is not too late to come!

Please pray that we will continue to allow God to work in our hearts and lives!
Let's all be gifted2go!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Be Wise: Come to the W Conference

"Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser.  Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning."  (Proverbs 9:9)

Wisdom!  What a need for today!  Especially for the new generation of high school, college and young adults.  The W Conference November 19-20, 2010 is only two weeks away.  This conference will give the motivation and the practical "how-to's" to gain wisdom. 

"Toto, this is not Kansas anymore!"  Ladies, we are "not in Kansas" either spiritually.  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)  We need to teach the gals in our circle of influence "to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that [we may teach them] to be sensible pure, workers at home, kind...so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (taken from Titus 2:3-5)

Contact the women in your church or community and bring them to this amazing conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary!  I will be doing this too!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

> fresh paint

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).

My housemates and I are excited about renovations to the outside of our house.  It has been more than a fresh coat of paint, since the renovators have chopped down rotting trees, replaced wooden panels and power-washed the walls to remove dead vines. Now, new paint is being coated on, helping our house look more alive.

It reminded me of how, when we let God work in our lives, He is able to strip away all of the mess within us and give us a new spirit.  He gives us the Holy Spirit, when we follow Christ, and we are able to have a new life with Him.  I believe we need Him to renovate our lives, on the inside and the outside.

"I say then, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16, HCSB).  Anthony Hoekema helped me understand this verse more in his book, Created in God's Image.  He explained that this verse is a promise, rather than a threat (page 109).  God helps us live today.  This does not mean that we will be perfect today, but it has helped me see that He is the one who gives us strength and hope to follow Him.   

Will we let Him renovate our lives today?  Will we help others see how He can change us, from the inside out?

Music video, Hillsong United:  "From the Inside Out" - YouTube

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

EVERY Christian is GIFTED2GO!

"..."I don't need you!" On the contrary..."
1 Corinthians 12:21b-22a (HCSB)

As we look at this picture of baby ducks, we see that one duck is different/unique/one of a kind and it is not in the group with the others...have you ever felt this way? Many people, especially Christians that your path will cross today, are feeling this way! The Good News is that God knew this would happen so He GAVE His Word to equip us in The Body of Christ. The truth is that EVERY Christian is able to learn how they are Gifted2Go and specific ways to make sure that they have opportunities to serve in their giftedness!

1 Corinthians chapter 12 is full of great wisdom about Spiritual Giftedness given by God. Please take some time to read this small but powerful chapter. The chapter begins (verses 1-11) with teaching about the uniqueness and the use of what God created through the different Spiritual Gifts that He has given to EVERY CHRISTIAN for specific purposes in The Body of Christ! The middle and end of chapter 12 teaches about the importance of each member of The Body of Christ working together and the importance of INCLUDING each one in the privilege of knowing Christ and sharing Christ!

This brings me to the point of my words today. In the last few weeks I have had many Christian women share with me how brokenhearted they are because they do not believe there is a place for them to serve in the local church. After much prayer God has laid it on my heart that there is a stronghold, a trap from the enemy, to DEFEAT the unique way that God created The Body of Christ to effectively work together with unity with each one serving God in the giftedness He created each one uniquely! If the enemy can not stop the local church, he sure will do anything he can to cause it to be fractured or ineffective...

Women that are in leadership roles in The Body of Christ must be very careful about decisions they make. It may be "easier" to get things done if the same women are invited to serve over and over, BUT what kind of message is that sending to those that may be new to the church, or those that are hoping to be invited/included to be a part of using their gifts to serve the Lord?

Questions are good to use as ministries are evaluated day by day, week by week, month by month, or year by year...There is an important question that leaders should ask themselves when organizing every evangelistic women's ministry gathering of any kind (purpose driven ministry). It is important to have a clear goal of a balanced ministry (Discipleship-Missions-Evangelism) in order to include EVERY gift and EVERY woman that is in The Body of Christ; this question could be something like this, "Have we invited every woman in our church (Body of Christ) to be a part of what God is doing, and what are some specific ways to make sure that everyone is included or recruited?" Balanced ministry leadership will lead to opportunities for every woman receiving the message that they are needed in some way to use their giftedness that is given by God for service!

Let's think about all the many things that need to be done at each gathering of women, here are just a few of the things that women can be asked to do: pray, teach God's word, reach-out to the unchurched or left-out and invite, encourage, organize, follow-up, name tags, decorate, make sure that The Good News is shared in someway at each gathering...and the list goes on!

The 12th Chapter of 1 Corinthians always reminds me of a city-wide event that God gave me the privilege to organize many years ago. In leadership preparation, I studied this chapter of God's Word and the rich text that helped me to take a huge group of women and help each one of them find their place of service, it was amazing to see how God took each gifted woman and found a place for them to serve! There was something for EVERYONE of them to do as each one of them as Christians has at least one gift given by God to SHARE and SERVE HIM with for The Glory of God...God raised up over 200 women to serve on the organizing team as this event was organized. And most of all many women came to know Jesus as their Lord & Savior and many Christian women experienced a life-changing touch from God's Word being shared!

So let's ask ourselves, especially if you are a woman in leadership, "When is the last time you have been given the message "you are not needed" in The Body of Christ?" "What does that feel like?" and most of all "How can we make sure we have plans in place so that no one feels like their gift is not needed?" If we fail to plan we are planning on failing to fulfill God's unique way He created The Body of Christ to make sure everyone has opportunities to use the way that He has made every Christian GIFTED2GO!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAWeHo8E70E&feature=related (If We Are The Body by Casting Crowns)

"...each has his own gift from God, one this and another that."
1 Corinthians 7:7b

"So the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" nor again the head to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, all the more , those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary..."
1 Corinthians 12:21-22

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Jesus' Name

Recently I called my sister-in-law and she answered the phone laughing. I asked her what was so funny and she explained that they had just picked up Tayton (my three year old nephew) from his Awana class at church. As soon as they got into their car, Tayton immediately exclaimed "Mom!! Did you know that Jesus named Amen?" :)

As we were talking about how cute that was, I began to think about how often I have prayed to God and ended with "In Jesus' name, amen", without truly thinking about the significance of that small phrase. It is only because of the name of Jesus that I have the ability to approach God's throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). It is because of the name of Jesus that I can ask anything according to the will of God and He will hear me (I John 5:14). It is because of the name of Jesus that I have everlasting life and do not have to face hell for my sin (John 3:16).
"For this reason God...gave [Jesus] the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow - of those who are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth - and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." (Phil 2:9-10)

Today, as you spend time in prayer, take a moment to stop and pause when you end with the name of Jesus. Thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Do not pray the name of Jesus from repitition, but with a deep heart of gratitude and love that we as sinners can approach the Holy God IN JESUS' NAME.