Jesus, the Servant

Jesus, the Servant

Editors note: For the month of October, our focus verse is found in Matthew 20:28. It states that, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus is calling the disciples (and all who are in Christ) to follow the same path to greatness: humble, sacrificial service to each other.

Have you ever thought of Jesus as a servant? There is no doubt that when Christ came to earth, He revealed his skills as a leader. However, He also showed himself as a servant. He laid aside His majesty to come to earth to show us the love of God. As a result, the action displays the attributes of Jesus as a servant- leader.

Looking back over my life, from youth to adulthood, I feel as though I have always been a servant. I didn’t know enough about Jesus or His word to say my service was a call to be a servant for God’s glory, but I knew I loved to serve.

Even though I didn’t know about Jesus and His word, my mom did. She set the tone for me to be a servant, by her acts of service. 

Reminiscing on my life as a youth and all the ways my mom served her family and the church was somewhat unbelievable. If you ask me, my mom was a Proverbs 31:10-31 type of woman.

A Proverb 31 woman is a noble woman who is productive and ingenious. She can even be intimidating to women who would seek to follow her example. But while everyone can benefit from her example of initiative and hard work the main lesson she offers is her outlook rather than her output. 

All of this woman’s qualities and accomplishments grow out of the fear of the Lord. Fearing God is our central virtue, and this attitude towards God is as crucial for today’s woman as it was then. The fear (respect) of God not only undergrounds our growth in the wisdom but also draws us to the grace of Christ who forgives our sins and equips us for righteous living. 

Another timeless virtue of this woman is her service to others, her husband, her children, her servant, and the poor and needy. She serves them with eagerness, resourcefulness, and strength. She is neither hindered nor demeaned by serving others. Rather, she is fulfilled by it, because godly service is the source of her nobility.

Proverbs 31: Is the saying of King Lemuel, who shares his wisdom that came from his mother, stressing the role a mother can have in building character into her children? The wisdom that King Lemuel’s mother stressed to him is much like my mom’s character.

Because mom was such a loving, and caring woman, I wanted to be exactly like her. I think that’s why, whenever I see a need and I can help, jumping all in with both hands and feet comes natural for me. I don’t have to be front and center. I am ok being behind the scenes. I just love to serve in God‘s kingdom. Serving makes me happy and giving makes me very happy.

We are all called to serve if we are Christians (Christ like). In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says, “just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus, as a servant leader, is a powerful example to follow. It would benefit any leader to follow his example. John Scott put it this way: “The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion.”

John 15:12-15 “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, For everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Be a servant for Jesus, do what He commands, and He will call you friends.

We would like to thank Georgia Wall for writing this blog post.

Serving is a Sacrifice of Praise

Serving is a Sacrifice of Praise

Editors note: For the month of October, our focus verse is found in Matthew 20:28. It states that, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus is calling the disciples (and all who are in Christ) to follow the same path to greatness: humble, sacrificial service to each other.

Each one of us is called to be a servant and have been given gifts used by God to serve others.

1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

As a child, I was in church and watched others serve, so this was just part of the culture I grew up to know.  I did not question the why, how, or where of these actions. After I accepted Christ as my Savior, then I began to wonder about the gifts that Jesus gave me.  I do not know that I ever actually asked what my gifts were, I just started serving others.  First, I began in the music ministry.  Yes, I sang specials in front of the congregation!  I was never one to speak to a group of people, but I could sing of God’s glory!

There have been several ministries that I have been involved with over the years in different churches: music ministry, children’s ministry, Bible studies, administrative, and hospitality. My husband, Robert, and I now serve on the coffee team and host a life group at Harvest Christian Fellowship.  Serving others also continues outside of our local church in our community and where we work. 

Hebrews 6:10 “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your word, and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.”

As I began to pray about my personal gifts, I began to realize how gifts were meant to help others. God wants me to glorify Him and bless others. This is what I am created to do!  I find joy in serving! 

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from Ann Voskamp: “When you are waiting, do what waiters do: Serve”

Aren’t we waiting for something most of the time?  We wait for God to speak to us, for prayers to be answered, for life changing events, and for changes that come in each season of our own lives.

Serving is a sacrifice of praise. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

How are you using your gifts to honor God? Look around and there will always be an opportunity to serve others. Galatians 6:10  “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

We would like to thank Sharon Biles for writing this blog post.

Serving Man or God

Serving Man or God

Editors note: For the month of October, our focus verse is found in Matthew 20:28. It states that, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus is calling the disciples (and all who are in Christ) to follow the same path to greatness: humble, sacrificial service to each other.

I am a servant.  No matter how many times I take the gifts test, my number 1 gift is always servanthood.  I have even thought about changing my answers so I can be something more “spiritual”, but it still comes out “servant”. 

Even as a child, I always wanted to help.  I loved helping my grandmother wash dishes, cook and clean. She always said I was too young to help so I would sneak around the house and find something to clean just so I could please her.  I believe this is where I started my journey of serving just to please others.  

In Matthew 25:21 it says “…well done good and faithful servant.”  This is what I always wanted to hear from everyone…look at me, look at me!  I didn’t grow up in the church so I probably didn’t know this scripture, but it is what I wanted to hear.  I was all about pleasing everyone, but not the Lord.

When I started attending church with a friend in junior high, I wanted to please everyone and started doing all I could for everyone in the church.  You see, I was going and hearing the word, but I really didn’t understand it all. I thought I needed to serve people!

When I grew up and got married, I was still going to this church and I was still not saying no. I did everything, except teach. I am not a teacher, and I didn’t know much about what needed to be taught.  I was learning more but still felt so inadequate, so I served more.  I helped with youth, was in the choir, and I was even the church treasurer for a time.  I was doing all I could to fulfill Ephesians 6:7, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”  I felt that the way to get to heaven was to serve more.  Yes, I had asked Jesus into my heart and really loved Him and wanted to serve Him, but I was a little mixed up about needing to serve God and not just men. Colossians 3:24 says, “Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, it is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  This is the part I was missing.  When you serve Jesus, you are serving man also, but you need to have the right perspective and serve the Lord first.  I really started feeling kind of condemned no matter how much I did.  

I left the church, divorced my husband, and decided that I couldn’t measure up.  Because of all I did, it got in the way of just loving and serving the Lord.  I was burned out and was so tired of “serving God”.  I started living in the world and saying I didn’t need Him or church.  But He never left me. He very patiently stayed with me and every chance He got, when I would get out of the way, He tugged at my heart.  Thank You, Jesus for loving me so much! 

This world was not my home and I got tired of living worldly.  It took me several years, but I went on a Walk to Emmaus and headed back to the Lord.  I met Dewitt who is also a servant and together, we knew we wanted to serve the Lord. 

In December of 2010, the Lord led us to Harvest. I finally heard the truth and I got it.  I had heard the truth before, but the key here is that I GOT IT! We loved our church and had a strong desire to serve. I learned so much more about serving and the main thing for me was that you can say “NO” sometimes. Romans 12:11 states, “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.  I serve because I love Him and believe that He has saved me from the darkness.  God has freed me from a life of inadequacy to a life of joy and rest. 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you; then choose for yourself this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15

I am still a servant and feel blessed that God chose this gift for me.  I serve Him through praise and worship, communion, tithe and offerings, altar team, making coffee, laundry, sewing and whatever else He calls me to do.  I love serving Him.  No matter what I do, I can never out-serve Him.  

“Just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28

We would like to thank Debbie Crosby for writing this blog post.

My Mindset About God’s Word

My Mindset About God’s Word

Editor’s note: For the month of September, our focus verse is Colossians 3:1-2. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Our mindset is our responsibility and I pray that you will begin to focus on your life in Jesus.

As I look back across the story of my life, I can see defining moments where I had a specific choice to make that would set me on a specific path…those choices became the moments that God used to bring me into His Kingdom.  

The first time I heard the Lord speak clearly to me about how He felt about me was when I was 16.  I had already made some bad decisions and was living a life of sin, but Jesus met me with a verse in Jeremiah and I heard God clearly say, “This is how I feel about you.”  I clung to that verse and let it take root in my heart.  When I said yes to what the Lord was saying about me, it changed my mindset and placed me on a path of purpose.  

At the age of 17 a leader in my life spoke Romans 8:1 over me.  This verse tells us that we are not condemned when we are in Christ.  Once again, I found myself at a crossroads…I could embrace this truth and let go of the condemnation I had been carrying because of my bad choices or I could continue to live condemned.  I chose to say yes to God’s word.  This promise to me, set me on a path of freedom from my sin.  When I realized I wasn’t condemned I began seeing myself in Christ and I no longer wanted to sin.  My mindset about God’s word allowed me to live in the freedom that His word brings.  

A few years after Brad and I got married I found myself struggling with some of the ways Brad and I were relating to each other.  I felt like he didn’t see or understand me.  We were fighting a lot and I kept thinking…if only I’d explain myself one more time, he’d “get” what I’m trying to say.  But none of my explaining helped.  It just kept putting a barrier of misunderstanding between us.  It was during this time in our marriage that I really learned to pray.  I remember so clearly hearing the Lord tell me “Julie, I love you enough to change Brad.”  Those words brought such peace to my heart.  I knew that I could stop trying to “explain” myself and I could start “trusting” God to change Brad.  My mindset towards my marriage changed. I can honestly say, I’ve seen God do so much in our marriage because I’ve made my mindset about God’s word be what leads me in my actions towards Brad.  

About 10 years ago I didn’t agree with God’s word, and I ran off to accomplish what I thought was best for our family.  We were financially stretched thin, and I decided to take matters into my own hands and take a job.  Deep inside of me I didn’t have any peace, but I thought this would be best and helpful for our family.  The irony was we continued to be stretched thin in our finances even with the extra income.  It was like we had holes in our pockets and all the extra I was making was just falling out.  During this season, God taught Brad and I two specific truths.  One, that unity in our finances is the number one goal.  We needed to come in agreement about money, how we felt about money and what we believed about money.  The second truth we learned was it’s not about the amount of money you make, it’s about your mindset towards God and His promises.  You see, if in the core of my being, I don’t really believe that God is my provider, then no matter how much money I make, it’ll never be enough.  Allowing my mindset to agree with God’s truth about money was the answer to our financial and material needs.  

Recently, God’s challenged me in new areas in my thinking.  Last year a dear friend prayed over me that my imagination would be awakened.  That I would be able to see the beauty and the glory of God.  In general, I’m not a very visual person, and honestly when they prayed that over me, I was a little taken back…like what kinds of imaginations am I supposed to have?  God showed me this verse in Colossians soon after they prayed that, and I began asking God to allow me to see and picture Heaven and being seated with Christ.  This has been so helpful when I’m interceding for my family, friends and church.  

Often, we think the goal of Christianity is Heaven, and although that is an awesome benefit of salvation, it’s not our goal.  Our goal is oneness with Christ.  If we’re ever to walk in oneness with Christ, we must live a life of responsibility towards our thoughts.  

If I can take responsibility for my mindset…I know you can too.  I challenge you, next time you hear God’s word, say yes to it and allow your mindset to be what leads you to victory.

We would like to thank Julie Snellgrove for writing this blog post.

Choosing What We Think About

Choosing What We Think About

Editor’s note: For the month of September, our focus verse is Colossians 3:1-2. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Our mindset is our responsibility and I pray that you will begin to focus on your life in Jesus.

When I was asked to write a blog post for the September theme of “My Mind is My Responsibility,” I laughed out loud at the email. I hardly felt qualified to write a post like this because my mind and I have been at war for months. 

Only a couple weeks before that email arrived in my inbox, I had my first full-blown panic attack. I didn’t even know what was happening until I woke my husband up from his dead-to-the-world sleep and tried to get out the words that I couldn’t breathe. Howell jumped out of bed, turned on all the lights, and started to pray over me. As he helped me take deep breaths, he told me, “I think you’re having a panic attack.” 

For real? 

Even as my breathing slowed and the pain in my chest eased and the feeling like my throat was closing went away, it still took hours for my heart to slow down so I could fall back asleep. 

How did I get to this place? 

That particular night, I had a bad dream, and when I woke up, I began to dwell on it even more. Fear overcame me like I’d never experienced, and then, before I knew it, I was struggling to breathe. 

But while dreams (and maybe even our physiological responses) may be out of our initial control, I believe I had entertained quite a bit of fear and anxiety in my thoughts in the weeks and months leading up to that point. 

Since then, I’ve asked God to help me learn how to be free from these feelings of anxiety. And in full disclosure, I’m still learning these truths as I share them. 

I choose what to think about. I really, really, really wanted to blame that event on my pregnancy hormones, which I swear are double the amount with twins. And on some level, yes, my hormones are a real thing right now. But just as I’m not victim to my emotions, I’m not victim to my hormones either. So with reluctance, I had to face my role in all of this.  

I have probably long been a what-if, worst-case-scenario thinker. It’s part of my “planner” personality—and God’s okay with my personality. What’s not okay? Fixating on the future more than the present. Becoming fearful of the unknown. Or assuming control of my life rather than surrendering to our sovereign and perfect Lord. 

Bill Johnson once said, “I can’t afford to have a thought in my head that isn’t from God.” Neither can I! So when I’m dwelling on something (almost always at its root, anxiety or fear), I have to ask myself, “Would God want me to think about this?” And if the answer is no, I simply say, “Jesus, help me to take that thought captive.” 

I choose to ask for help. When we’re talking about our minds being our responsibility, let’s not forget that God gave us community and never once expected us to do life alone. When I couldn’t breathe, I automatically asked for help. That feels natural, right? 

Howell already knew the struggle I had all summer with anxiety because I’d asked for help long before that night. I’d been more hesitant to share with friends, family, and my doctor, because frankly, I was embarrassed and felt like I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I would tell myself I know better. I should be standing on God’s truth. And I wasn’t usually this anxious or this overwhelmed with my thoughts, but I’d get it under control. 

After that night, I realized I needed to reach out for help. I needed prayer and support—and you know what? That’s what I got. No one judged me or laughed at me or told me I was crazy (which is honestly how I felt). 

To end, I want to share two verses that I meditate on regularly right now, especially when I’m redirecting my mind to change whatever it is I’m dwelling on. These are my paraphrases for myself, but if you’re struggling with anxiety or stress or fear or worry—whatever label you want to give it—I hope these words will encourage you, and I would challenge you to say them out loud when you feel anxious:

Isaiah 26:3: “God, you keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on you because I trust in you.” 

1 Corinthians 10:4-5: “Laura, you have the authority and the divine power to dismantle and demolish any thought that opposes God and his way of thinking. And you can insist that those thoughts bow in obedience to Christ.” 

We would like to thank Laura Brandenburg for writing this blog post.

Change Your Thoughts. Change Your Life.

Change Your Thoughts. Change Your Life.

Editor’s note: For the month of September, our focus verse is Colossians 3:1-2. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Our mindset is our responsibility and I pray that you will begin to focus on your life in Jesus.

It took a while for me to notice. But one day, I realized my thoughts were overwhelming me. There was a situation in my life that I was thinking about a lot. But at some point, my thoughts were no longer just thoughts. They had become little dictators. Dictators that were demanding my attention, directing my emotions, robbing my peace. And my sleep. I felt trapped and captive by what was going on in my mind.

Can you relate?

The Bible makes it clear that our thoughts don’t have to take us captive. We can take them captive!

“We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10: 4b-5

It sounds simple enough, but how do we do it?

If you look at the Greek words for captive and obey, here is what you will find:

Captive – to ensnare, to make it a prisoner

Obey – submission to what is heard, obedience as the response to someone (Jesus) speaking.

So, we could say it like this…

We must take every thought as a prisoner and make it submit to what Jesus is saying.

When I thought about all the thoughts that had been overwhelming me, I realized I had been letting them run free in my mind. I also realized that almost all of them were not in agreement with what I knew Jesus was saying about my situation. What if I had made those thoughts prisoners as soon as I thought them? What if I submitted them to what the Word says to see if they would even agree? I believe if I had, I would have left space for the Sprit to speak His truth over my situation and to show me His perspective. Oh, how I needed His perspective.

If we want to change our life, we must start examining the thoughts we think. The problem isn’t the circumstance in your life. It’s what you THINK about that circumstance.

The problem isn’t your past, it’s what you THINK about your past.

The problem isn’t your relationships, it’s what you THINK about your relationships.

The problem isn’t your life, it’s what you THINK about your life.

When we change the thoughts we think, we change the life we live! Such a simple statement with such a powerful message.

So, how do we change our thoughts? Where to even start?

A great place would be to repent. It’s where I had to start. What I realized is that I had been exalting all my thoughts higher than the Word of God. I was letting my thoughts rule my life instead of the truth of His Word. Repentance was necessary. Repentance was essential. To repent just means to change your mind. To say, “I’ve been thinking this way about my situation but now I’m choosing to think the way Jesus thinks about it.” Repentance is a gift to us.

The other thing we can do is read our Bible and meditate on what we read. We read all other books, but the Bible reads us. The Word of God has the power to tell the difference between our soul and our spirit. Our thoughts cannot hide from its truth. Do you know why the Word is so powerful? It comes in, finds thoughts that are in opposition with it, and slays them and at the same time, searches for our wounds and heals them. Isn’t that a powerful truth? If we truly believed this to be true, we would make it a priority to read our Bible and meditate throughout the day on what it says.

I hope I have inspired you to begin examining the things you think about. If you have been feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts, I want to encourage you to remember that you are not alone. The Holy Spirit was given to you to be your helper. He can help you move your thought-life from overwhelming to life-giving if you’ll let Him.

Search me, O God, and know my heart.

Test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Amen.

We would like to thank Amber Curry for writing this blog post.

Enjoy the Journey

Enjoy the Journey

Editor’s note: For the month of September, our focus verse is Colossians 3:1-2. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Our mindset is our responsibility and I pray that you will begin to focus on your life in Jesus.

“Since you have been raised to a new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”. Col. 3:1-2

I enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning, but a big part of the goodness is the kind of cup used to hold the drink. One of my favorites is the one with the little fox smelling a flower and written in bold letters ENJOY THE JOURNEY. It reminds me to not waste a moment of this precious life God has given me. Not on anger, fear, worry, jealousy, condemnation, or unforgiveness, but instead to choose the fruits of the spirit: “joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

Stewart and I love to travel (RVing) and have been blessed to see and experience many beautiful and amazing places. I have discovered in these travels that most of our memories are not of the final destination, but of our journey to get there! Jeremiah 29:11 says “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  We know as children of the Heavenly Father our destination (Heaven) is secure in Christ Jesus our Lord. Col.1:12-14, Jn.5:24, Jn.3:16.

It’s in the everyday living (our journey) that our memories are made. In our travels, we have had days filled with such beauty that it takes your breath away, joy and laughter that makes your stomach hurt and peace that is so all-consuming you know it can only come from the Holy Spirit. There have also been times that have made me wonder if I was going to make it through the day. There have been valleys, detours, roadblocks and even fire. It’s during these times I have felt closest to my Lord, where my memories are the most defining and beautiful. Where God’s love, promises and goodness are the most evident.

Romans 8:39 says “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

On one of our trips to Canada, we had set aside several days to visit Glacier National Park in Montana. When we arrived they had several forest fires. After a couple of days of heavy smoke, we decided it was time to move on into Canada. A day trip was planned to visit the little village of Waterton, a little Swiss village sitting by a crystal clear lake surrounded by beautiful, majestic mountains. There is a RV park on the edge of the village next to the Lake. We were told at the Waterton visitor center the RV park was first come parking, no reservations needed. Not knowing Canada’s Park system, we return to our RVs and pack up for a very early morning trip back. Arriving at the upper park entrance, the attendant asked for our reservations. Not having any, we were told all campsites were full in the park. We knew it would take a miracle to be able to stay there. There on top of that mountain, the four of us, with our two trucks pulling our 5th wheel campers and no place to turn around, chose to trust our loving Father and His promises to take care of us! Our mindset is our responsibility! We head down to the village RV park entrance booth and ask about vacancy. God Wink Moment! Two spots just became available, close to the water and right next to each other. What a loving, faithful, good Father we have! 

Our father cares about the big and small things that involve his children. He only asks us to trust him, to set our eyes on the realities of Heaven (Jesus finished work on the Cross), to bring to memory His love and goodness, of the times He turned our ashes into diamonds, our sorrows into dancing, the miracles and blessings He provides for us each day. We have a choice to set our eyes on the things of heaven or the things of earth. CHOOSE LIFE!

We would like to thank Elaine Norrell for writing this blog post.

Taking Responsibility for Our Mindset

Taking Responsibility for Our Mindset

Editor’s Note: For the month of September, our focus verse is found in Colossians 3:1-2. “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong? The kids are crazy, everything is breaking, you’re fighting with your husband, your best friend is unavailable, and work is just out of control?

I think we’ve all had one of those days. Maybe you’ve even had one this week. Most of the time, by the time the end of one of these days rolls around, the words coming out of my mouth, sound something like this:

– Well, if the kids would have behaved, I wouldn’t be so frustrated.

– If he had done what he said he was going to do, I wouldn’t have this extra work to take care of.

– If the dishwasher would just work like it’s supposed to, I’d be able to get more done.

And yes, those things tend to be true. But what is also true, is what Colossians 3:1-2 says. “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

Since we have been raised to new life with Christ, we carry a responsibility within us to mind our mindset. What happens on days like this, is that instead of setting our minds on the things of Heaven, we set our minds on the things of earth. Instead of setting our minds on our Creator, we fall into the trap of setting our minds on our circumstances. When we fall into this trap, we end up with a mindset of victimization instead of victory, which is what Christ has won for us. When we see ourselves as the victims, we think we are not responsible, which is the exact opposite of the truth set out in God’s word.

When we allow ourselves to fall into this victimization mindset, we forget the truth that our circumstances don’t make us who we are, they simply reveal who we already are. And if we can stop in these moments, and seek God, they move from being times of torment, to becoming tools of transformation. These moments, these days, filled with frustration and trials, aren’t meant to just test our sanity. They are divine opportunities for us to truly seize responsibility for our mindsets. They are circumstances that God can use to truly change us.

If we want transformation to occur in our lives we have to take responsibility for our mindsets. 

There are a few ways we can do this.

1. Pause, Ponder, Pray – In moments of frustration, when we believe lies that our circumstances make us this way, we need to stop. We need to pause, and really ponder where our thoughts are vs. where they should be. Then, we pray. We seek God for his truth, and we speak it back to him in prayer. We ask him for his divine perspective, and then we declare it over our lives. 2 Corinthians 10:5 calls this “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

2. Choose Gratitude – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When you have these days, choose gratitude. Something in the atmosphere changes when we choose to offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God, despite our circumstances. So instead of cursing the dishwasher, be grateful you have one. Instead of complaining about our kids, let’s choose to encourage them. Gratitude changes everything, including our attitudes.

3. Call a Friend – Sometimes, we can’t beat this alone. We need to call a friend. And when we call a friend, we don’t just complain and vent. We ask for prayer. We get to the root of our struggles with true vulnerability. Sometimes, we confess our sins. James 5:16 tells us to

 “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

In truth, if we aren’t careful, we can allow most of our days to become days full of frustration. But we don’t have to. We can walk in a life of freedom and victory, because of the work our Savior did on the cross. It’s simply a matter of choosing to make my mindset, my responsibility.

We would like to thank Brooke Kellum for writing this post.

Building the House of God

Building the House of God

Editor’s note: For the month of August, our focus scripture can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:27 where it says that “Now you, collectively, are Christ’s body, and individually, you are members of it, each with his own special purpose and function.” AMP

Think of a home being built and all the people it takes to get it done right! This is just one of many times in life that more than one is needed to accomplish the tasks. We all have our talents that God has blessed us with or lead us to study and gain knowledge in.

Listed below are just some of the many it takes to build a home:

Excavator, Developer, Architect, Engineer, General Contractor, Construction Superintendent, Inspectors, Ironworker, Steelworker, Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Pipe Lifter, Masonry, Drywaller, Plastering Expert, Painter, Floor Layer, Tile Setter, Glass & Glazing Expert, Roofer, Heating & Air-Conditioning Expert, Designer and not to mention the Special Trade Contractors such as Artificial Turf Layers and Bowling Alley Installers. 

If even one is missing, the house could not be built properly. Same goes for God’s house. God sent his Son to this earth and when Jesus ascended to heaven, he left a helper – the Holy Spirit. Together the three are one known as the Holy Trinity! Through the Holy Spirit and as believers we are each blessed with our own unique gifts so we can be the best disciples!

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

All my life I’ve gone to church and known Jesus to be with me always. I just didn’t know what it meant to be his disciple. After I experienced a hardship as a late teen, I was ready to give God more, but wasn’t sure how. I soon became part of the praise and worship team which was right up my alley. A few years later I prayed for guidance to be God’s hands and feet in my community. Not long after, offers to join organizations all over town came pouring into my life—so I got involved. For years I’ve served with a happy heart and have seen pieces of God’s fruits for myself and others. 

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22

After attending our church, which I know to be a bible teaching, holy spirit moving church, opportunity arose to learn more about the Holy Spirit and I have now connected and grown in my spiritual gifts. I’ve also been helped by so many disciples in my journey with God. The power of unity in the body of Christ should not be overlooked. It is important to be sure you are connected to a church family so you can learn and grow in your relationship with Christ.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing your selves to be my disciples.” John 15: 5, 7-8

 We are here to use our gifts for each other as the body of Christ. Don’t put it off—God is calling you now and how much more blessed you will be so you can also bless those around you. That is how God intended us to experience His joy, peace, and love. We can experience heaven on earth. It is here for the taking. We just need to surrender to Christ Jesus daily and he will provide!

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:18-21

We would like to thank Wendy Baker for writing this blog post.

The Cotton Fields of Life

The Cotton Fields of Life

Editor’s note: For the month of August, our focus scripture can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:27 where it says that “Now you, collectively, are Christ’s body, and individually, you are members of it, each with his own special purpose and function.” AMP

Growing up a farm kid, my summer job was hoeing cotton.  For those who know…. you feel my pain.  For those of you that don’t- follow along.  The day would begin before the sun was up: packing the drinks in the cooler that would wait for you at the end of the never-ending rows.  Making sure you were first outside to get the best hoe. The hat that would keep you shaded but make you sweat even more.  The long-sleeved shirt to keep away mosquitos and again, make you sweat even more. The gloves to keep you from getting blisters, and you guessed it- make you sweat even more! Some fields were not so bad – just a few weeds spaced out here and there and could be walked and hoed rather quickly.  Some fields, though, were so overgrown with weeds you didn’t even want to begin.  

Isn’t this how our lives are? Sometimes, not so bad, just a few little issues here and there that can be easily handled without much heartache.  Yet at times, our lives look like these overgrown fields. It feels like trying to sort it all out is so heart wrenching that we would rather not even begin.  

The part of hoeing fields as a kid that made it bearable was that my siblings were there to work with me, sweat with me, talk with me, laugh with me, sing with me, and I am not going to lie – sometimes cry with me.  

Our lives as Christians should be no different. 

In John 16:33, God tells us we will have trials, that the road may not always be easy, we will face hard times.  At some point our lives are going to look and feel like those weedy fields.  There will be times in our lives we need others to walk with us, talk with us, laugh and cry with us.  But most importantly, during these times, we need others to pray with us and for us.  God never asked His people to live this life alone, that was not His intention at all.  

In Philippians 2 Paul challenged Christians to agree wholeheartedly with each other, love one another, work together with one mind and purpose, be humble, think of others as better than themselves, and take interest in others. Paul is encouraging us to have the same attitude as Jesus.

Just like the tools needed to make a day in the field easier – God has given us the tools for this life He has called us to.  He has given us His Word, the Holy Spirit, and other believers that can help us through.   This world we live in is much easier to handle when we have others in which we can count on to go through the weeds of life with us.  People we trust that will point us to the Word of God, ones that will spur us on to fulfill our purpose and cover us in prayer.  

I Corinthians 12:27 says “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

This is true for the people we live with and around at this very minute.  I encourage you to surround yourself with people that have the attitude of Jesus.  Intentionally seek out those who challenge you to walk in the truth and encourage you when you slip up.  Even more importantly… Be that person for others!

We would like to thank Jill Winders for writing this blog post.