Monday, August 30, 2010

don't you just love to worship?

'The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy;
he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee
with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17)

Don't you just love it when the Holy Spirit shows up so powerfully in your worship service?

Don't you just love the sound of the whole church lifting up their voices in such sweet unison and singing praises to our God and King?

Don't you just love the feeling of family among your fellowship of believers in your church congregation? I love walking down the halls and everywhere I look I see sisters and brothers in Christ greeting one another with smiles and big hugs. Showing genuine love and care for each other.

I love walking into the sanctuary and feeling the mighty power of His presence waiting for us. I love seeing the joy on peoples faces as they are so glad to be in the House of the Lord.

I love Sunday school. I love church!

I love being married to the pastor. I truly embrace my role as pastor's wife and I am thankful that God equips me day by day to be able to do my best for His glory.

I love corporate worship. I love private worship. I just love worship!

Don't you just love God's Word? I love how I can open the bible to any passage and it is God-breathed, inerrant and Holy.

Every word inspired by our Creator. Every word breathed from the mouth of our sovereign God. Every word is Life. Every word is Truth.

I love hearing the Word preached with power and conviction. With love and exhortation. I love it when the Word is brought straight from the Throne of Grace and dropped right into our hearts. I love it when the Word pierces deep and covers wide.

I am thankful that God draws us close. Opens our hearts. Gives us ears to hear. And blesses us with receptive spirits.

Don't you just love it when the Holy Spirit shows up so powerfully in your worship service?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

seeking Him early

As I write this, I am sitting in the sanctuary of my church at the altar. The quiet inside is almost overwhelming. So peaceful. No air stirring. No sounds nor movement. Silence.

The sounds I can hear outside seem very distant. They seem a lifetime away and after a few moments, I don't even notice them anymore. Nothing but the sound of silence fills my ears.

I felt God drawing me into His temple today. Like a magnetic pull on my spirit, it beckoned me and I had to come. As I walked the short distance from my home to the church, I felt the anticipation of an encounter with God building deep within my heart. And as I opened the doors to the sanctuary and began walking down the aisle, I felt His mighty presence descend upon me. It was thick and it was powerful.

I love being in His house. I love the stillness of His sweet spirit settling down on my soul as I just sit and bask in the glory of His sweet presence. I sit in awe of His tender love and care for me.

The altar is baptized with my tears as my heart cries out in thankfulness. Thankful for deliverance. Thankful for His presence in my life. Thankful for the sacrifice of His Son. Thankful for the freedom of worship.

As I lay myself out for the covering of His mercy and grace, I lay down some things in confession. As I spend intimate time with my Savior, I feel the burdens lifting from me.  I pour out my deepest thoughts and feelings to God. I relinquish control of my life to my Creator. Letting go of some hurt and some guilt. Confessing those things that He already knows and that He has already forgiven.

I am so thankful that God doesn't keep a record of sins. I am thankful that He is a forgiving God. I am thankful that He knows our hurts. I am so thankful that He cares.

The sanctuary is my refuge. As I sit at His feet, there is safety and security. Peace and comfort. I am in His dwelling place. I am in His House. His Holy temple. His sweet spirit is all around and the thickness of His presence presses down on my head.

An unquenchable thirst arises deep within and creates an insatiable hunger for that intimate relationship with my Father.  I want Him to abound in me more. I desire for Him to surround me and astound me. As I am filled to overflowing with His goodness, I begin to sing.

'He is here... Hallelujah. He is here... Amen.
He is here... Holy-holy.... I will bless His name again.
He is here... Listen closely. Hear Him calling out your name.
He is here.. you can touch Him. You will never be the same."

I arise from the altar, vowing to be different when I walk out the doors than I was when I came in. I am leaving some things at His feet that I don't want to pick up again. I am taking a new revelation of Him with me. I am leaving renewed and restored. Placing my life in His mighty Hands and beginning with new mercies.

Oh, Lord, I place my hand in your hand and desire to walk with you for all the days of my life. As I renew my commitment to you and your kingdom work, I feel a new joy bubble up in my spirit. A new appreciation for the amazing gift of salvation and eternal life. May I indeed, never be the same.

"I love them that love me; and those that
seek me early shall find me"
(Proverbs 8:17)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

easier said than done

I have found that many times in my christian walk, it's so much easier to 'talk the talk' than to actually 'walk the walk'. I find this a very sad revelation in my spirit and definitely don't want it to be true from this point forward.

It seems to be much easier to counsel people going through hard times with wise words from the scriptures and with evidences of our own past experiences that turned out good, than it is to actually convince our ownselves to put our problems in God's hands. To admit that He knows best. That God's perfect will for our lives will prevail if we just render control to Him. For some reason it is harder to relinquish control over OUR lives than it is someones elses...

It is certainly easy to be the picture of peace and calm when it isn't us that is going through trials. When we aren't the ones facing a grim diagnosis. When our jobs aren't at stake. It's not hard to be the voice of wisdom to someone going through a rough patch in their marriage but it is hard to face our own vulnerabilities in that area.

I find that when my children are enduring some difficult circumstances and are having a hard time perhaps finding their way in this thing we call life, I tend to be more inclined to try and solve the problems on my own and let myself get all worked up over it.  My own children's troubles affect me in a very deep and heart-wrenching way. But I find I am able to more readily be the voice of positive encouragement to another mom facing this same type of conflict and have no problem directing them to lay it all at the feet of Jesus.  But when it is MY kids that are troubled, I seem to try and carry the burden on my own. Go figure. 

Why is it easier to believe God for others than for ourselves? Why do we think He will bestow favor on someone else and not on us? I think it has something to do with our feelings of unworthiness. Our knowledge of our weaknesses and failures. We seem to equate God's movement in our lives with our works or lack thereof  and that is so wrong. God moves in our lives and it has nothing to do with whether or not we think we deserve it. We don't earn it. We aren't worthy. We can't do enough works to garner His mercy. But God loves us still.  He wants good things for us. We just don't always believe Him for the big things.

I am choosing from this day forward to believe God for who He is. I believe that He is the first and the last. The alpha and the omega. The author and finisher of our faith. I believe that He can do all things. I believe that when we lay it all at His feet and turn it over to Him, that He will work for the good in our lives.

God's Word is Truth.  And His Word says "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

When things don't work out like I want them to. When things don't go quite the way that I thought they should. When life throws me a curve. I will believe God and I will trust Him in ALL things. I will place these things in His hands. Lay them at His feet. And then allow Him to work in my life and the life of my family as He knows is best.

"I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge
and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust"
(Psalm 91:2)

Thank you Lord for being a God of patience and of mercy. A God of second chances. A God whose mercies are new EVERY day. I love you with all of my heart.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

loose those chains!

Do you ever feel like you are bound with chains that are inpenetratable? Do you feel like the captivity you are in is permanent? Do you think your bondages are just too great to be overcome?

Good news my friends. God wants to set us free. He so desires for us to live in the freedom that He so lovingly supplied for us. Oh, hear me my precious sisters, He wants us to look at those chains that bind and recognize their temporary nature! He wants us to be free!

We need to realize that we KNOW the One who can break those bonds and set us free. Completely free. We know the One who holds the key to our bondage. In fact, He IS the key!

Jesus wants us to be living a life of freedom through Him. But we have to understand one of the first things we have to do is to fully acknowledge our strongholds and the start turning them over to Him. One by one. And when we do that He WILL begin untying those ropes. Loosing those chains. Setting us free.

God uses those times of brief captivity to grow us. He uses those times when we feel hopeless to learn to lean on Him. To draw closer. To seek deeper. To fully rely on Him.

If we allow Him to work and move in our lives, we can come out on the other side of those ropes and chains stronger in our faith than ever before.  If we allow Him into our secret places, He can begin a good work. He can begin sifting out those things that bind. He can begin healing within.

"The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14)

We can learn to lean on God for He is our strength. He is our solid Rock. He is the constant in our lives. But, we have to get on our faces before Him. We have to confess our sins to Him. We have to turn our lives over to Him completely and allow Him to work deep in our hurt and confusion. Deep in the closed off areas of our pain. Deep in the recesses of our hearts. We need to give Him full access to those gaping wounds. And then....

He WILL do a miraculous work in us. He WILL graciously mete out the soothing balm of His precious Holy Spirit. He will cover. He will enclose. He will minister. He will set us free.
Thank you, God, that you have the power to set us free. Thank you for the loving sacrifice you made at Calvary. Enable us to let you into the deep places of hurt in our lives and allow you to do an amazing work of freedom in us. You are the One who holds the key to our chains. Show us how to be free and live our lives in the liberty afforded us through the death of your precious Son on the cross. Break those chains once and for all and help us to live a life of true freedom in you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

family filled thankful thursday

I am thankful for Greg and the ability to join him for our own Thankful Thursday post.

** I am thankful for all my grandchildren and am very thankful that they all love each other.  They may not always get along, but they do love each other! ha!

(Mercie R. and Bryton H. reading together on Sunday)
** I am thankful that my daughter Ashlie and her husband, Cody, celebrated 4 years of marriage yesterday. They went out to eat and I got to keep Sawyer while Cody's mom kept Bryton. Ashlie won't leave the boys much so it was fun to get to keep him without her being here!

We played animals.
He played the piano and I'm sure he was praising the Lord.

Came home from church and took a good bath and played until the water was cold.

I got to wrap him up in a baby towel, slather him with lotion and get him dressed in his jammies. There is nothing quite as sweet as a good smelling baby in his jammies.

Ahhh.. no words for this. Just pure bliss. Pure love. Pure joy.....
** I am thankful for God's word. I have so many verses highlighted in my bible and a stack of index cards on my desk filled with scriptures. I also LOVE my new index card binder! It is so cool!
(did you get one Yolanda????)

I love God's word!

"That they might set their hope in God, and not forget
the works of God, but keep His commandments."
(Psalm 78:7)
 **I am thankful for my husband. I love being a preacher's wife. I love being married to my pastor. I am so glad that he is an amazing father to our 3 girls and super Papa to our 6 grandbabies.

We've been together 25 1/2 years. We must be doing something right!

** I am thankful that God continues to bestow such undeserved mercy and grace on me and my family. He is the biggest joy of my life. The greatest treasure I could ever find. Thank you Lord for sending Your precious Son to this earth to die on the cross at Calvary, so I could have forgivenses for my sins and thank you for giving me eternal life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

do i know, live and abide?

May the Words of the LORD abide in my heart. Take
up residence in my soul....

If you glanced through my bible,  you would find many, many scriptures highlight with yellow. There are so many verses that just so loudly speak to my heart and I want to make them stand out.  As I read, I love it when certain passages just leap off the page into my heart. There are so many Words of God that are so vital to my Christian walk and I want them very visible on the page.

As I was having my quiet time with the Lord, I started thinking about all the scriptures I have marked and how they each mean something so specific in my walk. And wouldn't you know it... the Lord started speaking deep into my spirit.

"Beth, it's not enough that you just underline or highlight these verses. It's about KNOWING them and LIVING them. It's about them ABIDING in your very soul and heart."

And as He spoke, I realized that even though the Words of God on the written page are awesome and powerful, they don't do anything for me until I transfer them from the page to my heart. The very depths of my heart. I have to live them.

I need to make sure that when God gives me a Word, I am INHALING the very substance of it. Hiding it DEEP within my hearts recesses to become LIFE to me.

I want His voice, through the Holy Word, to take up permanent residence in my very being! I desire for the God-breathed Holy scriptures to be my dwelling place!

If I have nothing else... I have Him and His Word. If all else around me fails, I have His voice recorded in my heart.

I want to KNOW Him more. I want to soar higher and reach farther for the much more of what He has to offer. He showed me that He has so much more for me to experience and obtain. I just have to ask and then receive it!

He desires for us to have a spirit-filled, richly abundant and effective life. He desires for us to be women after His heart.

I want Him to just consume me. I so desire for a deeper relationship. More intimate than ever before. I want to ascend into a new atmosphere of experiencing Him. I want to leap into the glorious heights of walking daily in His Word and in His will.

Oh, sovereign and precious Lord. Create such a hungry and desperate spirit in me that I have an insatiable appetite for You and Your Word. That I just devour the scriptures and then hide them deep. May I apply them to my heart and life and then live accordingly. May I only hunger after you and be a willing vessel and may I always be an instrument for your glory.

"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart"
(Psalm 40:8)

Monday, August 16, 2010

it's fun being a Nana

(a happy Nana and 4 of her precious angels)
When my girls were small, I used to make "homemade" cinnamon rolls that they thought were the best things ever! I started making them with my precious grandyoungin's and now they look forward to spending the night with Nana, because it means cinnamon rolls will be made for breakfast. The recipe is so easy, so I thought that I would share it.

All you need is the following:

1 can crescent rolls
butter or margarine
cinnamon sugar mixture
powdered sugar
grandkids (optional)

(Eli,Mercie and Mikaela)

Unroll the entire can of crescent rolls and press seams together to make one big rectangle. Spread entire surface with butter or margarine.

It works really well when you have many small hands fighting for the butter....

Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Roll the dough back up into a cylinder and then cut into 10 - 12 equal slices.

Slice into 10-12 pieces and place in round baking dish. Bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes.

Mix together 3 T softened butter/margarine, 1 cup powdered sugar (more or less), dash of milk and vanilla. Spread onto baked cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

Thank you, Lord for the ability to spend time with my precious grandbabies. I am so blessed and I am so grateful for your loving kindness and mercy upon me and my family. May I continue to strive to always be an example of You to my children and grandchildren. May I always be filled with gratitude at your unfailing love and grace. You are breath and life to me. And I will serve you all the days of my life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

an awesome thankful thursday

If you haven't joined GREG before for Thankful Thursday, take a minute and join him this week. It is a wonderful to way to share our thanks for the goodness of God in our diaiy lives. Thanks, Greg!

1. I am so thankful for honeydew melon. Oh, yes I am! It is sweet and delicious and I am thankful that God created it so I can enjoy it!

"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:12)

2. I am thankful for the gift of music.  God saw fit to give me the ability to play the flute and I am so thankful that even now, at 48 years of age, I can still play for Him during our praise and worship service and bring Him glory through song. Thank you, Lord for bestowing the gift of music upon me.

3. I am thankful for this little guy named Silas. God has blessed my precious grandson and he is doing so great!  At 7 weeks of age he is  healthy and happy and  is weighing in at 10 lbs 8 oz. He has been such a blessing to us all. Thank you, Lord for the life of little Silas.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above...." (James 1:17)

4. I am thankful that Mercie is so in love with her little brother. She loves to hold Silas and thinks that she can really take care of him. She loves her little rainboots as well and wanted to wear them for the picture! Thank you, Lord for big sister Mercie.
5. I am thankful for God's Word. There is so much powerful stuff hidden deep in the Word of God and we can never get to the end of it. There is always more to learn. More to know. More to seek and devour. I love His Word! Oh, thank you, Lord for your Word!

"Nobody ever outgrows scripture. The book widens and deepens
with our years"  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Monday, August 9, 2010

He showed up....

Don't you just love it when God moves in our midst? When He just shows up and shows out and you feel His presence on your skin like fire? Oh, yeah. There is nothing better than a face-to-face, all-consuming, glorious encounter with our Lord. Nothing.

Last night at church we had THE most awesome worship service. My husband felt God leading him in a new direction and so last night after our song service, he told the church that we were going to worship a little differently that night. He said that we were all going to have a few minutes of silent meditation and then we were to let God lead us into worship, however that may be.

We had several minutes of just silence. Amazing, loud silence. The kind of silence that just speaks. I, then headed straight to the altar and got face down. I just felt God calling me there and I have grown to love my time at the altar. I think I could sleep there and be completely at peace.

One by one, our people began to worship. Someone stood and read a passage of scripture. Someone else stood up and gave a short testimony. Another person recited their favorite memory verse. It was peaceful. It was so reverent. It was a Holy moment in time.

You could hear pages turning in bibles, as people were letting God speak through His Word. You could hear the muted sobs of His people feeling His spectacular power moving about the sanctuary.

A sweet voice began to sing, "I love you Lord. And I lift my voice..." One by one the whole church joined in and we sang in unity and love to our God.

Over the next hour, many scriptures were read. Many praises given to our Lord. Testimonies were shared. Numerous choruses rang out from our lips. Hearts were opened and love was poured out. The Holy Spirit was all over the place! His Presence was abounding in each crack and crevice. The air was so thick with with the sweet aroma of Christ,  it was hard to breathe.

Slowly the voices grew quiet. The pages in the bibles became still. Our spirits were once again silent as we enjoyed the peace that overflowed from our time of communion with Him.

We had met with Jesus. He had shown up and He had shown out. We surely encountered our Lord in the sanctuary and we walked out of the church different than when we walked in.

We had been in the mighty presence of the sovereign King and His glory was beheld by all.

Oh, yes. We had church last night. And it was good..

"Glory ye in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore."
(Psalm 105:3,4)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

face down at the altar

Months had passed and our prayer time that had taken place in the late night hours at the church, had slowly dwindled down to nothing. That which God had called us to do for 8 months, somehow had gotten lost in the dailyness of things that we think life dictates as necessary.

Gone were the quiet and intimate times sitting in the darkened sanctuary with friends who shared a burden. A burden for our church. The lost. The hurting. A burden for that which satan tries to destroy.

Gone were the nights where minutes ever so fleetingly turned to hours as we feverishly searched the scriptures, desiring for God to speak through the powerful, Holy Word. 

Gone was the feeling of unparalleled peace that came at the close of each prayer time, as we knew that we had surely met with God. We knew that when we walked out those doors we had been in His glorious presence.

Gone was that intense time of communion with our Lord that ended with us flat on our faces at the altar, crying out to the Giver of Life. The Keeper of Eternity. The One true God.

As the months passed and that which was ordained by God fell by the wayside, we unwittingly gave the enemy a foothold. Not a very big one, but it doesn't take much. When you are dealing with the devil, any amount is too much.

And once again, God began drawing us to His sanctuary.

Beckoning our hearts to come commune with Him.

Filling our spirits with a deep longing for intimate fellowship and prayer.

As I opened the doors to the sanctuary, the winds of the Holy Spirit blew upon me and I was consumed with a reverent love for an awesome God. As I slowly walked down the aisle, I breathed in His fragrance and I was overwhelmed with His presence. Astounded by His love. Surrounded by His glory. Unspeakable peace filtered through any hinderances and settled like a soft blanket on my soul.

I approached the altar with a lump in a my throat. I was filled with immense gratitude at the sweet mercy and grace He has had on my life. His hands enveloped me and I felt oneness with God.

For whatever reason it took so long to come back to this Holy place for our nights spent snuggled up  to our Savior, it was worth it. I could already feel that unquenchable thirst for more of these serence moments with him. More of this face-to-face worship with our Lord. More of Him.

As I knelt at His feet and prayed, an immense satisfaction drenched my spirit. God's voice had beckoned me to come close and my spirit had yielded to the call. He had bid me come and I was home.

Praise you, Jesus for drawing me near and giving me ears to hear your voice. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

thankful for His goodness

Many times I stand in awe at the goodness of God. I marvel at the wonderful things He bestows upon me daily. He has blessed me in ways that I never thought possible. He has been so gracious to me and my cup truly overflows with unfathomable treasures of life. Thank you, Lord for the abundant mercy and grace that you have chosen to dole out to me. So undeserved. So unmerited. But so appreciated...

I watch Sawyer and Bryton run and jump and play and my heart is filled with thankfulness at the health my precious Lord has given them. I am thankful for their strong legs and their active bodies. I am thankful that I can put my arms around them and get some awesome hugs and love from these sweet boys. Thank you, Lord for allowing me the joy of watching them grow.

Help me to be thankful even when they won't cooperate for pictures.....

I see my oldest 2 grandchildren learning more about Jesus everyday and it just thrills my soul. As I listen to Mikaela read her bible to me, I am thankful that she loves the Lord. When Eli's eyes light up as he tells me what he is learning in church, I whisper my thanks to my precious Savior. I am so thankful that for whatever reason, they love their Nana so much! I am thankful that they still get excited when I walk through their door, even if it's the 3rd time that week. I am so thankful that I have the chance to spend so much time with my grandbabies and that I am able to develop close relationships with them.

When my sweet Mercie tells me that she loves me and ends her sentence with 'dude', I am thankful. Thankful that she makes me laugh with her extreme southern drawl. She turns a one syllable word into one with at least 2 or possibly 3. Thank you, Lord for the gift of our sweet Mercie. Have mercy, indeed.

When I see my favorite preacher holding our little Mercie girl and really rockin' his cowboy hat, I am thankful that he loves our grandchildren so deeply.

Oh, my. I am so thankful for the miracle of new life. The amazing, wonderful, precious miracle of a newborn baby. Silas has given me 6 weeks of snuggles, love, smiles and even a laugh or two. When he smiles, he has the cutest 2 dimples just like big sister Mikaela. When I nestle that precious cheek next to mine, I am so thankful that God has allowed me to part of his little life. I am thankful that He has blessed me with another grandbaby to share my amazing love of God with. Thank you, Lord for this little creation that you breathed the breath of life into.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift"
(2 Corinthians 9:15)
thank you Greg for hosting Thankful Thursday, yet one more time!

Monday, August 2, 2010

crosses, corn and a message from God

At this time of the year, I just love living deep in the heart of farm country. Our house is surrounded by acres of fields filled with a variety of crops. And each time I get a glimpse of the fruit of a farmers labor, I get a distinct glimpse of God and His goodness.

Each field at this point in the season, is bountiful with the beauty of the harvest. Rich, dark green soybeans cover the ground like a blanket, as well as the bright green blades that hold grains of rice deep within. The tall, majestic stalks of corn waving gently in the breeze are just about ready to be cut and harvested.

As my husband and I were traveling the highway home a few days ago, we passed acres and acres of corn. We pass this way several times a week, but this particular time as we approached these 3 crosses that stand just off the highway, I  felt compelled to stop. The crosses stood in sharp contrast to the stalks of corn standing tall behind them. The crosses caught me eye, but it was the corn stalks that beckoned to me. It was almost as if they cried out to me with a message to deliver.

For all intents and purposes, the corn appears to be ruined. To someone that is not from this area, it would seem like the corn was just burned up and dead and not good for anything. But in this part of the country, corn is grown to be ground into feed and things like that, so the corn that is seemingly dead is actually just now ripe for harvest. That which appears to be ruined is perfect.

God gently spoke to my heart as I stood by my car and took pictures of the crosses and the corn. He lovingly reminded me that we, too, need to be like that corn. Dead so we can be alive. Dying to self so we can be living for Him. Imperfect in ourselves, yet perfected in Him.

Once we have essentially died to ourselves and sacrificed the very part of our flesh that cries out to be glorified, God can then begin working in us to mold us into a vessel to be used of Him and for His Kingdom. And then and only then, can He be glorified through us. 

God showed me that day that there is still lots of 'me' that is alive and kickin' that needs to be dead and dyin'. I still have things to learn. I still have areas of my life that need God's mighty touch. I still have things I need to turn over to Him.

I desire to be all that I can be for Him. I want my life to bring Him glory and honor. I want to fully place my life in His hands and be strong in my faith. I want God to be my everything.

I want to be ripe for the harvest. A harvest of spiritual growth. A harvest of a deeper relationship with him. A harvest of winning souls for His kingdom purpose.
"...Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are
white already to harvest" (John 4:35)