Do What is Right & Avoid What Isn’t

Do What is Right & Avoid What Isn’t

I grew up being a check list gal. If you told me the rules, I could 100% do what you asked. In Church, I was a box checker for character, a rule follower. On the same note, I associated sin and repentance with guilt and shame. 

The moment I had someone explain to me that with repentance, we simply turn from, change our mind about the sin, and align our thoughts, desires, and heart with God, life seemed to make more sense. This deeper understanding in turn helped me in my convictions and ease of repentance. 

I have had the same issue with Moral excellence as a Christian. When I think of those words, my brain floods with everything I’ve ever done wrong, how I am not a “good enough” Christian. But if you actually look up virtue, or moral excellence, one definition is: “the quality of doing what is right, and avoiding what is wrong”

It’s simple. God asks us to do what is right and avoid what is wrong…. 

In our theme verse for the year, God asks us to live in moral excellence so that we can escape the corruption in this world because of sinful desires.  2 Peter 1:9 says, “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

God calls us to do what is right. And he gives us the wisdom to discern

Do what is right. In how we speak to our children, our husbands, how we speak about people. In our work, in our hospitality. In what we watch on TV. What we share on Facebook. What we do in secret, and in the light. God asks us to do what is right, and avoid what isn’t. And when we misstep, he asks us to turn from, repent, and realign our mindset with God’s heart. 

We don’t have to stay stuck in guilt and shame. God has a fruitful joy filled life for us

God gives us a roadmap on how to get through life and experience his promises. That doesn’t mean hard times won’t happen, but he has graciously shared how we experience an abundant life because of HIM. When we choose what is wrong- it brings strife, conflict, exhaustion, frustration, and hardship. But if we choose to walk in what God has called us to, leaving our old ways behind daily, and always looking forward, striving for goodness and virtue… we can experience the life that God promised us.

My prayer for you is that you can shut out any guilt or shame of the past. REMEMBER you have been forgiven, and walk forward, striving for moral excellence so that you can experience the blessings of God, and be a blessing FROM God to others.

We want to thank Lori Johnson for sharing this post.

Do you have any tips for recovering after “putting your foot in your mouth” during conversation?

Do you have any tips for recovering after “putting your foot in your mouth” during conversation?

Let me tell you, you’re in GOOD company. 

Everyone has done this at one time or another. We all say things we regret and we’ve all “put our foot in our mouth”. 

The question is, what do we do after we’ve messed up and said the wrong thing?

First, we acknowledge it. The only way to change is to acknowledge where we’re at and move towards where we want to be. 

We also need to apologize and then move on. God forgives you, most people will understand and will forgive you and you must forgive yourself. 

One of my favorite verses I pray, most days is Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” 

Submitting my mouth to the Lord has helped me “think before I speak.”

Being aware of your tendencies, submitting to God and asking him to help you, and apologizing when you’ve made a mistake will make you a better communicator all around.

We would like to thank Julie Snellgrove for answering this question.

Christ-like Character

Christ-like Character

I have heard the term “moral excellence” many times throughout my life, but I never truly understood what it meant. In my mind, excellence was equal to perfection. Perfectionism and people pleasing have been struggles of mine for as long as I can remember. Because perfection is unattainable, living life in this mind set led to many insecurities, fear, and self-doubt, which led me to believe I could not make a difference in the kingdom. Instead of being bold and speaking up at times when I should have, it was easier to be invisible. When people don’t notice you, they don’t see your failures. I couldn’t be perfect, so I didn’t want to be seen.

Thankfully, through maturing in my walk with Christ and through discipleship, I have been letting down my “shield of invisibility”. I had a choice to make and was ready to step into who he created me to be. I could choose to partake of his divine nature or continue the path of pridefulness and perfectionism. If moral excellence doesn’t mean I need to be perfect, what does it mean? I’m going to be vulnerable and admit that it took a lot of prayer and diving deeper into the definitions of perfectionism and moral excellence for this blog before I truly began to see the difference between the two.  

What I discovered is perfection is striving to be better than everyone else, but moral excellence is striving to be better than what one already is. Perfection puts the focus on worldly characteristics whereas moral excellence puts the focus on building Christ-like character. Webster defines moral excellence as “the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong”.  In other words, living a life of moral excellence means living with virtue and integrity.

As followers of Christ, we are called to increase in moral excellence so we will not be “ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). I don’t know about you, but I have spent too many years as ineffective and unfruitful. I would much rather grow in knowledge and virtue and have a heart open and ready to be used by the Lord. So where do we learn how to practice moral excellence? 

First, through the example of Jesus-the only one who is, and ever will be, perfect! The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jesus and moral excellence is Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. Even through hunger and exhaustion, Jesus resisted temptation (and used scripture to do so).

Second, through being diligent about spending time in prayer and in God’s word. Jesus was able to use scripture in response to Satan’s temptations because he knew the word in his heart. Through reading God’s word and hiding it in our heart, we will learn what Christ-like character looks like and how to respond like Jesus against the corruption of the world.

Across the nation, there seems to be more and more churches teaching “Progressive Christianity”. If you are unfamiliar, this movement seeks to re-define or re-interpret the Bible and the Christian faith. There is also a Christian deconstruction trend all over social media-which has ultimately led to many abandoning their faith. Instead of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, so many have chosen to adopt the practices of the world. Peter writes “be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). We must consistently study God’s word, spend time with the Lord in prayer, and choose to stand for biblical truth. Not to show the world how “perfect” we are, but to show them who Jesus is. 

We want to thank Courtney Harper for sharing this post.

What are your favorite life verses that you hold on to?

What are your favorite life verses that you hold on to?

You asked, and we answered! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of the questions that were submitted during our 2022 Harvest Women’s Retreat, and the answers from some of the women in our church.

When I let fear start to creep in:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

When I become overwhelmed, I remind my self of who He is:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:10-11 

When I doubt, I cry out:

… “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 

When I need a reminder of His faithfulness:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth..” Psalm 121 

We want to thank Sandra Villa for answering this question.

Glorify God

Glorify God

The definition of moral excellence is doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. 

After looking up this definition I thought to myself, “oh yes, I do that”. I have stood strongly to my convictions. Growing up, I chose to strive for moral excellence because I wanted to be a good example to my 3 younger siblings. I withstood the pressures of high school and college without doing the bad things. But then I caught myself wondering what about now and felt God leading me to dig deeper. 

Moral excellence is the pursuit of the moral will of God in every area of life. Not just the big things. Do I do this? Do I show moral excellence in all things? Do my small children who are always watching see moral excellence in me? I found a definition that mediocrity is undeserving of blame but unworthy of praise. I don’t want to be that. I want to be morally excellent. 

In order to be morally excellent we need to have the desire to please and glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

To glorify God means we value Him and honor Him in our actions. God is glorified when we obey Him and live the way He calls us to live. I want others to see God in me. 

The desire to please and glorify God isn’t to earn His love but instead is because we love Him. 1 John 2:5 says, “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.” 

God wants our willingness to do what he asks of us. He wants us to choose what is right and avoid what is wrong. God loves us and wants the best for us.  Making wise choices sows blessings now and for the future. “Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 12:28

Choosing moral excellence glorifies God, but it is also for our good. Let’s choose to glorify God in all things. 

We’d like to thank Bailey Adams for sharing this post.

How do you introduce a non-believing spouse into attending church, etc.?

How do you introduce a non-believing spouse into attending church, etc.?

You asked, and we answered! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of the questions that were submitted during our 2022 Harvest Women’s Retreat, and the answers from some of the women in our church.

There are probably many ways to introduce a non-believing spouse to attending church, but I feel the most effective way is through our life groups. The settings of our life groups are informal and a great place for fellowship and an introduction to people just like you and your spouse. Life groups and fellowship give a great opportunity to invite people to the church in a more comfortable atmosphere.

I would also like to add, there is no greater invitation than living a life of example to our spouses. Jesus is the greatest example of how we should approach an open invitation of salvation to people we love. Galatians 5 tells us about the fruits of the spirit that help us display Jesus in our homes and in our marriages. What does the heart of God look like? Patient? Kind? Gentle? Loving? I think these attributes help us draw our spouses into the open invitation of Jesus.

We would like to thank Crissy Urrutia for sharing this answer.

What Excels and is Best

What Excels and is Best

“ …and this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11

In this prayer of Paul and in 2 Peter we are called, as children of the Heavenly Father, to pursue the moral excellence of God’s will. To become a reflection of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but this would scare me into not even trying if it stopped there. But we have been given all the promises of God, and His Spirit living within us, to help us accomplish the purpose for which He has called us.

  “ …and if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.” Luke 6:29

My father had the reputation of following this principle. People would say of him “… if you ask Joe Bontke for the shirt off his back, he would also give you his coat, pants and shoes as well.” He gave whatever he had to help someone in need. Family, neighbors, and acquaintances were always borrowing money, farm equipment, whatever they needed and not returning it or bringing it back broken. I never saw my father angry or worried. My mother would be the one to be upset and angry, telling him he was being taken advantage of and that they were just using him. Dad would just say, “it’s going to be okay, it will all work out”.

I would love to say I take after my father, but truth is I am more like my mother. I did marry a man like my father. Stewart is a good example of the pursuit of moral excellence. He believes and lives, that whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord and not to man. Colossians 3:23.

Moral excellence is not merely a matter of what is good over what is bad, but what excels and is best. Going that extra mile. Doing what is right even when no one is looking. It is wanting God‘s will in every area of our life. This includes values, attitudes, priorities, goals, or purposes, how we live and act in our homes, at the office, at church, in our community, one’s hobbies and entertainment.

People are watching us in how we speak, how we act and how we live our lives. The old saying that we might be the only Bible some people will ever read, is true.

A few years ago our son-in-law, Matt Gilleland, came to share with us how God had blessed him at his work that day. Matt was manager of a fertilizer chemical company here in Plainview. One of their trucks broke down around the Clarendon area. It was late in the afternoon and Matt was not able to find a mechanic willing to go check the truck to see if it could be fixed. He had about given up but had one more lead. This man also said no, but while visiting with Matt found that his family farm was next to my family farm. He told Matt of how good my father was to them and how they had been helped so many times. My father left a legacy for his family and his granddaughter’s husband received one of the blessings.

   “… do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” Rom.12:1-2

How do we have our mind renewed? We asked the Holy Spirit to fill us, give us faith, wisdom and understanding. We receive the truth of knowing how much we are loved by our Heavenly Father and who we are in Christ. We meditate and study His Word, and this grows our relationship with Him. This is a lifelong journey, not a short weekend trip.

I want to be a reflection of Jesus and leave a beautiful legacy for my family. I never want anyone to wonder if I’m a Christian, but to know without a doubt that I am! When I pass from this life, I want to hear these words from my Heavenly Father “WELL DONE DAUGHTER! WELCOME HOME.”

We would like to thank Elaine Norrell for sharing this post.

Questions Answered – Laura Brandenburg

Questions Answered – Laura Brandenburg

You asked, and we answered! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of the questions that were submitted during our 2022 Harvest Women’s Retreat, and the answers from some of the women in our church.

Check out this video to hear Laura Brandenburg answer this question:

“How do you stay faithful in the storm? I’m struggling to get pregnant and want to keep the faith, but I get discouraged.”

Diligently Pursue the Heart of God

Diligently Pursue the Heart of God

My prayers of late come from a place of brokenness, a place of earnest, a place of longing for the nearness of God.

In my study of diligence, I discovered that it means so much more than working hard. I’ve done that my entire life as I grew up in good ol’ West Texas. I know how to work hard. But lately, the hard work has felt more like running in a hamster wheel, sweaty, futile. From a place of requirement rather than from a place of the heart.

2 Peter 1:5 speaks of adding to our faith with “all diligence” the attributes of godliness that follow. I love the rich language of the word diligence. We are to seek God not merely with hard work, but with every effort, with diligence which is sincere and conscientious. Strongs concordance explains the Greek word as “earnest swiftness…we need to quickly and carefully and intensely prioritize God’s truth, adding His attributes to our faith.”

Earnest is “sincere and intense conviction;” it’s real and undeniable; it’s passionate and authentic.

Diligence is “careful and persistent work or effort” or “having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties”

Therefore, we need to work with sincere and thorough care when it comes to increasing in the attributes of God. It’s an act of faith, not of works.

The conviction of this word and the prompting of the Spirit have been ruminating in my heart in this personal season of healing and restoration. I have known the nearness of God. I have walked with Him in faith. I have hurt. I have numbed out emotionally to keep from feeling pain-not with substances, but with work some days. With social media some days. With brainless games that help me “unwind” at the end of the day. But it doesn’t only numb the pain. It also numbs the joy. It robs delight. It robs me being fully present with my family, with my friends.

In a moment of quiet, while watering my garden, I prayed a prayer that is vulnerable because it reveals the state of my heart. “More than a move of location, I need a move of the Spirit. May I always seek Him first. May I have a passion about my calling again. May the jaded edges be refined and may hope reside in my heart again.” It’s not that I want to return to the same closeness that I’ve experienced with God in the past. It’s that I long for my heart to beat with His-like a transplant. My very existence depends on Him.

I shared this prayer with a dear friend. She replied, “that we would all pray that prayer with as much sincerity” as me, but honestly, that sincerity comes from a place of utter longing. When we are saved we rejoice because God through the sacrifice of Jesus has taken our utter depravity, our entire incapability of overcoming sin on our own, and He gifts us with, He graces us with, salvation. When we acknowledge our need, how much greater is the satiation of that need?

My initial internal response to her was the desire that no one would experience the pain that provoked such sincerity. And yet, we all already have experienced that pain-the pain of distance from God. Since the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden, we all have.

Diligence looks like hard work, but it’s not. It’s not hard because it is sincere, it’s careful, it’s conscientious. Adam and Eve worked before sin entered the world. Work is good, but it doesn’t have to be hard. May we all diligently pursue the heart of God.

We would like to thank Mary Coleman for sharing this post.

Questions Answered – Bambi Lutrick

Questions Answered – Bambi Lutrick

You asked, and we answered! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of the questions that were submitted during our 2022 Harvest Women’s Retreat, and the answers from some of the women in our church.

Check out this video to hear Bambi Lutrick answer this question: How do you surrender to your husband when you are struggling with his reasons for leading you in that direction? (Not ungodly leadership, but inconsistent leadership)