Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tough Stuff Tuesday: With All Your Heart

The book of Acts is filled with conversion stories. One such story that I'm sure you're familiar with is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. In the story (true account, not fable), the eunuch is in a chariot reading from the book of Isaiah, except he doesn't understand what he's reading. He asks Philip if the prophet was talking about himself or about someone else. From that point, Philip starts "preaching Jesus" to the eunuch.

What makes this account so 'famous' is that it is in this setting that eunuch offers what we often call the 'good confession'. He tells Philip, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37b). However, I think in all the years that we've studied this verse, we've overlooked a key phrase. Prior to this great moment, after hearing the gospel proclaimed, the eunuch says to Philip, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" and Philip answers him and says, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." (Acts 8:36-37a)

Recently, when re-reading this account, those four words stuck out to me in a way they never have before. You see, Philip doesn't simply say, in response to being asked if the eunuch can be baptized, "if you believe you may." Instead he says, if you believe with all your heart, you may.

So what does believing with all of your heart look like? Today, I submit to you that it looks like this:

Believing with all your heart means keeping Jesus' commandments. In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love me keep My commandments". He goes on to say in verse 21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me."

We know that baptism is the act that puts us into the church (Acts 2:47). Baptism is the point that we come in contact with the blood of Jesus and are thus saved by it (Rom. 6). But, baptism isn't an end-all event. From that point, it is imperative that the now-child of God live faithfully, for it is only then that he/she will receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). Living faithfully means abiding by the commandments that our Savior (the one whose blood cleanses us) has established.

It is not enough to say, "I want to be saved, can I be baptized?" Instead, when deciding that we want to put on Christ in baptism, we are deciding to dedicate our lives to faithful, obedient service. Had the eunuch half-heartedly believed that Jesus was the Christ, and only wanted to be baptized as a one-time sign that he believed, I fully believe that Philip would have done some more teaching. Why? Because there is so much more to being a Christian, a disciple of the Lord, than the initial act of baptism. It is a commitment to faithfully serving the one you have chosen as Lord of your life.

James said in James 2:18-20, "But someone will say, 'you have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus. Instead, we must believe with all our heart, which will produce a change in our lives. It will demand obedience to not some, but all of the commands that our Lord has given to us--even (and especially) the ones that are hard for us to adhere to.

Being a true disciple, a saved member of the Lord's body, is all about whole-hearted service. The eunuch couldn't have a half-hearted belief and be saved, and we cannot either. To the church at Laodicea, Jesus said, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16). Philip knew that Jesus didn't want half-hearted, lukewarm disciples, and that is why he told the eunuch he could become a Christian if, and only if, he was prepared for whole-hearted service to the Son of God.

So why is this a Tough Stuff Tuesday post? Because mediocre Christianity is on the rise! Part-time, half-hearted Christianity is a growing epidemic, and yet we know there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. James said that you are either a friend of God or you are an enemy (James 4:4). Think about yourself today. Have you been following Jesus with your whole heart? Because that's what it takes. If not, decide to give your entire self over to Jesus, either through baptism (if you are not a Christian) or by rededicating your entire life to One whose body you were baptized into.

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Anxiety-Ridden Society

Why are we anxious? Why do we spend our time obsessing over things that may come to be or have happened in the past that we can't change? Anxiety is a very real temptation to most people in every age group (see this list of temptations by generation courtesy of Chris Clevenger's blog). Today, let's examine why it matters, and why we really need to stop.

In my previous post on the subject, I listed a few ways that we can replace worry in our lives with something else. Today, I want to talk about why we need to stop worrying, even though it will be extremely difficult to do.

The apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at Philippi and said, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6)." Why is it that when this same apostle says "abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4:3)", we take that as a command and implement it into our daily lives, and yet when he says, "don't be anxious", we say 'I can't quit!'.

Previously, we have talked about complaining, and why the Bible tells us that we shouldn't: "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil.2:15)." Could this not be one of the same reasons that we shouldn't worry?

Think about it this way: the Bible calls us to be set apart from the rest of the world. We are told not to be conformed (Rom. 12:1-2), but instead to be transformed by renewing our minds--by changing the way we think. Anxiety and worry are mind sins. They are things that we can do, rather frequently, without anyone else knowing about them. And yet, these things manifest themselves in other areas, such as making us physically sick, making us rant about them on Facebook, or making us talk about them constantly with others. These latter characteristics are ones that, I don't know about you, but I constantly see from people of the world. They obsess over things that are out of their control, they make themselves sick worrying over what might happen in the future (never considering God may not give them that time).

As Christians, if we stop putting our faith and trust in God Almighty and start worrying and obsessing over things in our lives, we are looking exactly like the world. And what was it that Paul said to the Philippians? That Christians are to shine as lights in the world. They are to remain blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

It makes us crooked and perverse to behave like the world. From what Scripture tells us, the crooked and perverse will not be in heaven. If you read my blog regularly, then I know you want to be in heaven. I know that you know I want to be in heaven. That is why I have to stop worrying.

Jesus commanded it in Matthew 6, saying "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on." We all know that the way we show our love for God is by doing the things that He has commanded (1 John 2:3, 5:2-3). If Jesus has commanded that we not worry, and yet we worry all the time, are we showing that we love Him? Do we love Him?

Worry is one of those sins that is hard to overcome. Just a few days ago, I got in my head that something terrible would happen to Robert and me as we journey overseas in the coming months. But you know what I had to do? I had to stop, sit down, and pray to my Father about it. If I had a concern over my safety, who else could I go to but the One who watches over me, and everyone else, constantly? And since then? Well sure, there are times when those thoughts pop in my head, but I know that God will watch over me, and that if something were to happen to me, I would get to see my Father face to face.

Often times, we worry because we lack faith in God. So that thing you're worrying about comes to fruition! Are you still God's child? Then what is there to be bothered by? If you are worried about your safety and health, are you not confident in your salvation when you pass from this life? If you are worried about your bills being paid, are you not confident in Jesus' words that God will take care of our necessities? In whatever thing it is we worry about, we need to trust God more in that situation.

This week, let us all purpose in our hearts to beat worry. It is an ever-present temptation for me, and one that I must battle every single day. And yet, I know that all things are possible in Christ, and He will help me overcome all temptation so that I can get that crown of life (Rev. 2:10).

So, before you write that post on Facebook, think about how it makes you look. Does it look like a status the rest of the world would write, or does it seem different? Does it have confidence in the Creator and trust in His timing and plans? Before we tweet those 140 characters, let us make sure that we fully trust that all things are in God's hands. Before we do anything, let us pray that God will provide for our needs and take care of our insecurities, and that He will use us as a light to this crooked and perverse generation.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brag Post!

As previously mentioned, I want to dedicate at least one post per month to my amazing husband, and today is the day!! While I have done a couple of marriage-y posts this month, I want one to be full-fledged all about my one and only! So here goes!

Robert is super unique.

Growing up, I prayed multiple times that God would just allow me to wake up on my wedding day. The dating process as I knew it was horrible and exhausting and emotional draining and all kinds of challenging. I dated a few guys in high school, and after each relationship had ended, I found myself praying again that I could just somehow wake up and it be my wedding day, and God would have picked the perfect person to be standing at the end of the aisle.

I knew that my prayer wasn't really feasible; however, I knew God listened to me. And on July 8, 2011, I got my answer--as my perfect man really was waiting there at the end of the aisle. But, instead of allowing me to skip out on all of the fun pre-married times with Robert, God's plan was for us to start dating at Freed-Hardeman and then ultimately decide to spend the rest of our lives together, starting on that fateful Friday evening. I like God's plan much better =)

All of that being said, dating was rough until I met Robert, and then his uniqueness started to shine. From the moment I met him, I knew he was unlike any other guy I'd ever known (mostly because I thought he was a professor--after all, who gets to speak two consecutive days in chapel as a sophomore?!). Really, though, the reason Robert was so unique is that he wasn't really a boy; he already had so many MAN of God qualities. He was humble, sweet, caring, and generous. He was an amazing listener, a true confidant, and an encourager that would rival Barnabas himself.

What's wonderful about Robert now, though, is that nothing has changed. He is still an amazing, humble, sweet man (who won't take credit for the great things he's done so far with TLN!). He is still the greatest encourager I have, and still the best listener (and friend) anyone could ever want.

While I hated (loathed, really) the whole dating scene, I came away with the most precious gem of all. I would not trade Robert for anything or anyone; he is truly the one who makes me whole (and better in the process). And while my plan may have been for God to somehow wake me up on my wedding day, I'm so glad that His plan was for me to meet and subsequently fall in love with this amazing man I get to call my husband.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Leading Ladies: Priscilla

If you have been keeping up with my podcasts, you know that I am fascinated with 1st century life. I love thinking about what life would have been like for those people we read about so often in our New Testaments. I especially enjoy thinking about what it would have been like for the women of the Bible, and one such lady is the topic of our discussion today.

We don't know a lot about Priscilla. She is only mentioned in a few verses, and yet we can learn so much from these few words. In keeping with our Leading Ladies theme, let's explore a few of Priscilla's characteristics that we can imitate in our own lives.

1: She picked good friends. There are only 3 verses that mention Priscilla by that name (Acts 18:2, 18, 26), and yet there are three other places in inspired scripture where she is mentioned by the name Prisca (Romans 16:3, 1 Cor. 16:19, 2 Tim. 4:19). If you're anything like me, names mean a lot to you. When someone gives you a nickname, it is special. For instance, I really don't like it when people casually call me Em. I just don't. Why? Probably because all of my life that is what my sisters have called me, and thus I reserve that nickname for people who I am close to. When my closest friends call me that, I don't mind. Total stranger, well it's a little weird! With this logic in mind, I truly believe that Priscilla and Paul had a wonderful friendship. Casual acquaintances don't generally refer to each other by nicknames, and yet Paul speaks of saluting 'Prisca' on three separate occasions.

Truly this is a characteristic we must implement. Friends make or break you, and that is just a fact of life. The times in my life that I have been the farthest from God are the times in my life when I have been the closest friends with people of the world. On the other hand, the times in my life when I have been the closest to God, those are the times when I have had great Christian influences and encouragers in my life. The Proverbial writer said, "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray" (12:26). Truly we do well when we surround ourselves with faithful Christian friends, and Priscilla was an amazing example of that.

2: She was involved in the Lord's work. I often hear people making excuses as to why they are not involved in doing the Lord's work. Priscilla does not strike me as one who would be making excuses. Instead, in Acts 18 when we find her with her husband, Aquila, she is teaching Apollos. She is not standing idly by. She is not off busying herself with the tent making. Instead, she is out with her husband doing the work of the Lord.

Maybe you are a preacher's wife like I am, or maybe you are simply the wife of a faithful Christian man (and good for you!). Sometimes it might be easy to think we're doing good works simply because our husbands are. Don't be fooled by that, though! Each and every individual Christian is required to be a servant and to spread the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). It isn't enough for your husband to go visiting or for your husband to conduct a Bible study. Get involved! In the 1st century, Priscilla was only one of many women doing the work of the Lord---we can see that from passages like Acts 8:4 which tell us that the Christians who were scattered ALL went about teaching and preaching. Still, Priscilla is a great example to us in that we should be out doing as much as we possibly can for the Lord.

3: She put God first. Maybe you are unaware, but Robert and I moved a few months ago. One thing I learned from the experience is: moving is NOT fun. Packing and unpacking and wrapping in bubble wrap and wrapping with tissue paper and unwrapping and forgetting what's in each isn't very fun. Living in a mostly packed up house for a month--not fun. Nor is it fun to get a new house full of boxes and live that way for a bit longer. It's inconvenient and difficult and....we even have all of the modern day comforts like uHauls and packaging tape and cars!!

You may be wondering if I've forgotten I'm talking about Priscilla, and I have not. I just think it's interesting that the first time we hear about Priscilla she's in Corinth making tents, then she's in Ephesus teaching Apollos, then she's in Rome risking her neck for the cause of Christ. This girl was on the move! And yet, in every instance that we hear about this 1st century family moving around, it has something to do with the gospel of Christ. Truly Aquila and Priscilla were wonderful, inspiring laborers in the Kingdom.

How often are we willing to behave like that? It is so hard for me sometimes to step out of my routine and do something I know I should do. It seems that my life gets wrapped up in an already-full schedule and I just don't make time for some of the things I need to do to spread the gospel of Christ to those around me. If I were more like Priscilla, willing to put my entire livelihood on the line and pack up and move simply because I could be a more effective servant elsewhere--I truly believe I'd conquer the sin of worldliness that way!

I need to be more like this faithful sister. I need to choose great friends to be around, involve myself in the Lord's work more, and put God ahead of my own convenience.

*For more on Priscilla, check out my podcast THIS Thursday entitled Ephesus.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Living a Blessed Life

One of my resolutions for this year is to do at least one post monthly where I list and subsequently thank God for the blessings that He has afforded me. Far too often it is easy for me to get caught up in the day to day affairs of life and not stop and realize that God is the One through whom all things were made possible. And so, today, I want to pause from the busy schedule that is life, and thank the Giver of all good and perfect gifts (James 1:17).

1: My amazing husband - Every single day I am reminded just how mindful my Heavenly Father is of me, because He has given me the most amazing husband in the entire world. Proverbs 31:10 speaks about how rare it is to find a virtuous wife, and I believe that the same could be true of a virtuous husband. Were Proverbs 31 written about a man, it would be describing my Robert. He is far too good for me, and has the heart of a true servant. If you read my Defining Moments post, you know how blessed I was that he entered my life when he did. Every moment since we got married could also be described as a defining moment, because with every day that passes he is helping to shape me into the person God wants me to be. He helps me so much, every single day, and I am so blessed by God to have him.

2: My beautiful home - This past month has been the first month where Robert and I have really been able to 'entertain' in our home (*I should add I am so thankful for this time of year, too, when things calm down!). Having people in our home is one of my favorite things, I'm pretty sure. It is so nice to be able to have a space for people to come and be a part of your life. Jesus exhorted those present when He delivered what has been dubbed the Sermon on the Mount not to worry about the externals of life, but to instead seek first the kingdom of God, and all the rest would be added to them (Mat. 6:25-34). I fully believe that God's fingerprints were everywhere in the process of buying this home. The entire process was smooth, even when we went out of town for Polishing the Pulpit for a week during the closing process. It is so amazing to have a God who is active and present in your life, and hears your prayers and takes care of you. Recently, I was watching a documentary entitled "God of Wonders" on Netflix, and it amazed me all over again how huge our universe is and how great our God is, and how amazing it is that He is mindful of us. When little things, like houses and food and clothing, are taken care of by the Almighty Creator of the universe, it humbles you and leaves you in awe of His compassion and mercy. I am so thankful to my God for the blessing of this home I have been given.

3: Diet Coke. This may seem like the most trivial and ridiculous thing in the world to be thankful for, and yet it is so much more than Diet Coke. Like my last point suggested, does it not amaze you that God made things like taste buds and colors? God has given us life and breath and eternal life, and yet He has also given us the tiny pleasures of this sinful world. And so, while I am a huge fan of Diet Coke and Nutella, it all points back to my amazing God who has been mindful enough of His creation to create things that they enjoy. To give their temporary bodies ways of experiencing pleasure and taste and smell. God designed our bodies in such a beautiful way, and I am so thankful for the care He put into creating us. And so yes, I will be thankful for Diet Coke, because no thing is too small to not thank God for; and perhaps I thank God less for the little things, and so I need to be even more mindful of thanking Him for the little 'Diet Cokes' in my life.

Today, I urge you to join me in thinking about and thanking God for the blessings in your life, both big and small. The old adage rings true, "What if tomorrow you only had the things you thanked God for today". Let us do our best to thank God for every single one of the blessings He's given us, knowing that even if we listed a new one each day, we would never scratch the surface of thanking Him for all of them in a million lifetimes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Will You Worship Tomorrow?

Mark's account of Jesus' crucifixion is a hard one for me to read. To me, one of the most powerful scenes in all of Jesus' 'trial' is when the soldiers place a crown of thorns on the Son of God's head and then proceed to beat Him over the head with a reed. The pain, the humiliation; it's all there. I can't ever read this passage without becoming overwhelmed by the thought of how much Jesus suffered for me.

Normally when I read this account (perhaps during communion on Sunday morning), I think about Jesus' suffering, and rightly so. But recently, something else caught me eye...something I've never really noticed before about this passage.
"Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him." (Mark 15:19)
They worshiped Him? That can't be right. Worship is sacred. Worship is something you do to someone you adore. Worship is holy. Worship is meaningful. Worship is commanded by God. These people, the ones killing and torturing Jesus, certainly they weren't participating in the same act I do every week.

Worship has been a huge topic in my mind this year. The different acts of worship, what makes something worship, how exactly you worship, when you're not worshiping, etc. Something that I don't generally spend my time dwelling on, though, is vain worship.

These soliders were down on their knees, doing the physical signs of worship, but were they truly worshipping the Lord? Of course not! They were mocking Him. And while we aren't in the same situation today (to actually be crucifying Jesus), can we not do the same thing?

Worship involves a mindset. What makes my worship holy and meaningful and precious to God is the attitude I have when I go into that sweet communion with Him (an attitude that wants to worship Him in both spirit and in truth). Sitting in a church building from 9:30 to 11:30 is not worship. Bowing our heads (sometimes) and getting our Bibles out (usually) is not worship. I can say and do all of the physical things that dress my Lord up in purple and make Him my King, but if I'm not in the mindset of worship, it's vain. By making jokes or scribbling on my bulletin, I can be the one mocking my Lord. By continually living in sin, I can be the one beating Jesus with my own reed. By perpetually denying the invitation to return to my Savior, I can be the one spitting on my Lord and the blood He shed for me.

Worship is so precious to our Father, but, without the right mindset, we aren't pleasing Him at all. If we're just going through the motions, we're making a mockery of His name-- just like the Roman soldiers did to Jesus.

Joshua told the Israelites to "choose you this day whom you will serve" (Josh. 24:15). Each week before we go to worship our Maker, let us consider those words in a different context. Let us choose, on every first day of the week, how we will worship. And let us purpose to worship with a humble, thankful, and obedient heart.

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." John 4:23

Friday, January 18, 2013


Recently, I attended a Bible class centered around the book of Colossians. As we were studying through the first chapter, verse 23 really hit home to me. I would like to briefly look at a couple of verses that I hope will challenge you (like they did me) to be a better personal evangelist.
Mark 16:15 says, "and He said to them, 'go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature'."
Colossians 1:23 says, "if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister." 
What do these two verses have in common? You probably picked up on the "every creature" phrase in each one, so let's think about that in depth a bit more.

Jesus's ministry would have likely concluded on this earth around 33AD, and it is post-resurrection that He issued the above command to go and preach to every creature. The book of Colossians was likely written between 64-66AD, so approximately 31 years later. Paul said in Colossians that the gospel had been preached to every creature in heaven already. So, in 31 years, the gospel reached everyone. 

That's remarkable!!

Now sure, there were probably less people on earth during that time. And sure, people probably weren't spread out quite like they are today. But think about it: there was less transportation, no technology, and yet every creature under heaven heard the gospel and all it took was approximately 31 years.

We have been given the same command that Jesus gave to the disciples in the first century: to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We were not told exactly how to go, just to go. So, we can still go and do face to face evanglism: there really is no better way! But, we can also use technology much like The Light Network is doing, and spread the gospel via the internet. We can use television programs, radio programs, Bible correspondence courses through the mail, and various other ways. But, in whatever ways we choose, we MUST 'go' and 'preach'. 

Acts 8:4 says, "Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." It wasn't preachers and deacons and elders who went (though surely they were included in the number). Really, it was just Christians. As these Christians were scattered abroad, they taught--they were personal evangelists. In the same way, everywhere we go (overseas, cross-country, Wal-Mart) we must spread the gospel, and we must all do it. It wasn't a minority of first century Christians who spread the gospel, it was all of them! That's why they could accomplish such a great feat in 31 years. 

If every Christian on earth right now would spread the gospel of Christ, imagine how quickly we could get to the entire world! Sadly, we cannot control every Christian. You know who we can control, though? Us. We can purpose to spend 2013 spreading the gospel of Christ to everyone around us. Will you please join me in this cause? 

Jesus says it is those who love Him who keep His commandments (John 14:15). He has commanded we go. So I guess the only question left is, do we love Him?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

When in Rome

In light of my most recent podcast over at The Light Network, I've had Rome on my mind a lot. It was absolutely one of my favorite places when I visited there over 4 years ago (wow, has it been that long!?), and has continued to impact me ever since. The architecture is breathtaking, the history is rich, and the gelato is amazing. Besides a really disgusting metro, I have nothing but praise for present-day Rome.

Located in the center of Rome is a place that is a country in and of itself: Vatican City. There, the hub of all things Catholic, I got to see so many beautiful structures and fascinating artifacts. At the same time, though, I saw so many things that made me sad. You see, there were dozens, maybe hundreds, of people that I saw who had dedicated their lives to serving the Pope, or serving Mary. These people had misplaced their trust and their focus, and while they were so dedicated to serving, I couldn't help but mourn for these people who weren't serving the right One.

As New Testament Christians, we must be more evangelistic. There are so many people who do not know the gospel, and who are spending their days working toward something that won't get them to heaven! Some of these people are even dedicating their lives to a false religion!

On Tuesday night, a group of young adults came over to our house for a devotional. During the course of the study, a question was raised about people who haven't heard the gospel--will they go to heaven? We know and believe what the Bible teaches, and thus we regrettably came to the conclusion that, no, they won't. In the moments that followed, all of us were pricked in our hearts to be more evangelistic, because it is a very real thing that people are dying every single minute and their final destination will be hell. If you are reading this today, please know that I did not post this as a rant against Catholicism or a pronouncement of judgment on any group -- I am SO thankful that I am not the judge! And yet, I do hope this post will make you think. Every single person that you come into contact with -- your neighbor, the people in your community, the people you see while you're on vacation -- every single person has a soul that is going one of two places. As people who know of salvation and know how others can obtain it, we must not keep that message in!!

Tomorrow, I will have a post specifically geared toward personal evangelism. Pray with me this evening that we can all do more to be evangelistic, and as the old hymn goes, "lead me to some soul today."

*Please note that you can check out all of my previous podcast episodes here. And if you know someone who is more interested in travel than the gospel, point them toward this podcast. Perhaps through their hobby/interest, we can gain their trust and point their attention toward some very pertinent points. After all, it's all about spreading the gospel message of Christ. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Defining Moments Pt. 2

From the time I was in 3rd grade and onward, every summer was an exciting one. The first week in June was always 'Freed Camp', and starting when I was in high school, mid-July meant a week tent camping in North Carolina. The first time I went on the NC camping trip, boy was I in for a surprise! Firstly, I didn't like anything that we had to eat. Chili - no. Fettucini alfredo - no. Sub sandwiches - no. I thought that I was going to be miserable the entire time! Secondly, there were no showers in the outhouse. Thankfully Mr. Tim rigged up a MacGyver-like shower that would do for a week, but for someone who'd never 'roughed' it, like I said, I was in for so many surprises.

That week taught me a lot of things-- and more than to like fettucini alfredo (and that Tuna Helper tastes better than Chicken Helper in that respect) and sub sandwiches. Since the title of this post is 'defining moments', obviously there is one instance that has stuck with me ever since.

Mr. Tim was all about teaching us life lessons. Everyone there was required to participate in devotionals, help fix dinner, and even clean up afterwards. Every single person had to pull their weight on a trip like this if it was going to work. On one such occasion, I was helping Mr. Tim with KP (kitchen patrol). Mr. Tim, Jessie (my bff growing up) and I were talking and laughing and throwing soap suds at each other and having an all-around good time. And then, I said it. I said a phrase that I had said so many times before: oh my goodness.

The moment could have passed. Mr. Tim could have turned a deaf ear toward the innocent, childish phrase. But he didn't. In that moment, he went from joking and playing around, to serious. It wasn't an 'in your face' kind of serious, but instead he stopped and he asked me what that meant.

What do you mean what does that mean?! I'd never thought about it --and who hadn't heard that phrase to know what it means! And yet, Mr. Tim probed some more. He asked me if I thought it was disrespectful. Again, I'd never thought about it; after all, I was a young, immature high schooler who frequently said before she thought. The discussion continued and I came away from that situation thinking three things:

1: You need to think before you say things.

2: You don't need to take the Lord's name in vain.

3: You can take the Lord's name in vain without even saying His name.

How many times had I said the phrase? Countless times, I'm sure. How many times had I intentionally been meaning to say, "Oh my God"? Probably zero. How terrible did I think it was to say, "Oh my God"? Pretttty terrible. And yet, I'd been using a euphemism for His name multiple times throughout the day. What was worse is that I never thought about it: I never thought about God one single time when I uttered the phrase. After all, I wasn't saying Oh My God or even lessening it with Oh my Gosh. I was saying goodness! That was different, right?

It was in that moment that I decided that I needed to hold myself to a higher standard. If I was going to be pleasing to God, I needed to respect Him. I needed to show Him that I awed Him and revered Him, and that I didn't think His name was something flippant that I could use as an exclamatory thought, especially in light of Jesus saying we would be judged by our idle (fruitless) words (Matt. 12:36).

On that very day, I got a rubber band and placed it around my wrist, then popped myself every time I said it. After a few days, my arm was SORE! I couldn't believe how many times I thoughtlessly used God's name (or a euphemism) in conversation! And yet, after about a month, the phrase was completely removed from my vocabulary.

But obviously it still had lasting effects. To this day, I cannot hear the "Oh My God" phrase without shuddering. I am constantly aware of it, even when people try to substitute God's name with euphemisms/synonyms like "gosh", "goodness" or, "word". And every time I hear the phrase? I think about Mr. Tim. I think about him looking at me and asking me if I respected God. I think about him being saddened that I, a Christian, would use such a word/phrase so flippantly. And while I know that what people think doesn't matter, it was apparent to me on that day that he was just the human representation of what God must have been thinking every time I said it.

I am so thankful to have had Mr. Tim in my life. I could probably write a novel over all of the things that he taught me, and yet I cannot think of an instance that has affected me more than this one.

Today, think about the words that you say. Think about the ways that you proclaim who you are. Are your words confirming your Christianity, or causing others to question it? We will be judged by our words, so let's all use them wisely and respectfully.

Monday, January 14, 2013

5 Marriage Builders

I have the privilege of being around some amazing couples from time to time, and they truly inspire me to be a better wife and helper for Robert. Sometimes, though, I have the misfortune of hearing one part of a couple talk bad about their spouse, and those moments really get to me. And so, while I am by no means a relationship expert or guru, I am a Christian trying to be in the most godly marriage I can, and hopefully some of these tips will encourage you in your walk with God and your spouse.

1: Never put them down. I don't care if it's to your mom or to your best friend or to a random stranger: don't put your spouse down! You have been given the opportunity to give other people a glimpse into what your spouse is like -- only use those moments for good! When you get into an argument, don't call someone else to vent. When he/she does something that you didn't like, pray about it. Never spread negativity when it comes to your spouse. We all know that there are going to be amazing moments, too, but the likelihood of you going to these same people and telling them about how wonderful your spouse is in that moment--well, it's a slim chance. And, even if you do, they have a tainted view of your spouse now from all of the negativity. Be sure you are one whom your spouse can trust (Proverbs 31:11), and be sure that you only speak kind words about them (Proverbs 31:26).

2: Keep secrets. This goes along with the trust we just mentioned. The heart of your spouse should feel safe with you, and that includes publicly and privately. The Proverb writer said, "A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter." (11:13). Your spouse should wholly trust that you aren't going to be running off and telling other people negative things about them, but they should also trust that you aren't going to share some of your private and intimate moments with other people. The bond between a husband and a wife is a special, sacred bond meant only for them. Do not tell other people about the things which should only be kept between the two of you. That doesn't only include things that center around the marriage bed, either (though it does include them!). If you and your spouse talk about something serious (or even silly!) and it is only meant for the two of you, don't spread it! Having inside jokes with your spouse can be one of the most amazing things about marriage: being able to share a glance from across the room when a certain word or phrase is mentioned can be fun and secretive and exciting! Never feel that you must share those moments with others! Keep your marriage private, and keep the secrets that your spouse needs you to keep--serious and silly included.

3: Show your spouse (and others!) you're happy in your marriage. One of my resolutions in 2013 is to dedicate at least one blog post per month to my husband. You may think that's silly and superficial, but there's method to my madness. I want Robert (as well as the rest of the world) to know that I value him and cherish him and am so proud/happy to be his. The Proverbist said, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorry of the heart the spirit is broken." (15:13). As a wife, I have a daily opportunity to either give my husband a cheerful countenance or to break his spirit. Every spouse has that same opportunity. Whether it's something cheesy like a Facebook post or something aww-inducing like a precious blog post, show the world how much you love your spouse and how thrilled you are to be married to them--regardless of if it's been 2 years or 22.

4: Don't measure your marital bliss by your bank account. Proverbs 16:8 says, "Better is a little with righteousness than vast revenues without justice." Just one chapter earlier we read, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf with hatred." (15:17). How much money your husband makes shouldn't determine how happy you are in marriage. During one of our pre-marital counseling sessions, the preacher warned that most couples fight the most about money once they are married. Sadly, I've seen that develop for many people. Instead of focusing on money and things, spend time improving the quality of your marriage. Whether you have a lot or a little shouldn't add or subtract one ounce of happiness to your marriage. So you have to pinch pennies one month because there's less money! Find creative ways to do that together. Decide on cheap alternatives to your daily lives, and maybe even make a game out of it. Resolve to take monthly dates, even if there isn't money there. There are plenty of things to do that don't cost money (hello pajama party watching movies you already own!). Be sure to let your husband know that how little or much he makes isn't what makes you happy: him being yours is what does that!

5: You don't have to share everything. Let me tell you, Robert and I are sharers. From the time we became friends at Freed, sharing just came easy for us. Getting married, I thought that I had to share every single thought and intention and motive and idea I ever had. Ha!! Now listen, I don't mean that I keep things from Robert or that I purposefully don't tell him things, but here's what I mean: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Prov. 29:11). You are a human being. There will be days when you are not at your best. There will be days when you are cranky and when your spouse simply cannot do anything to make you feel otherwise. On those days, do not share every thought, feeling, insecurity and frustration. If you're like me (and bless you if you are), chances are you won't even mean/feel those things the next day. DON'T SAY THEM. They will hurt for much longer than you even mean them. Keep them in. Never say anything to intentionally hurt your spouse. Note that the Proverbist did not say you cannot talk about any feelings whatsoever; instead, he says a fool vents them all. We all have those spur of the moment, fleeting feelings that no one should ever hear about. They will go away, be sure to be self-controlled enough to keep them in so you do not do unnecessary harm to your marriage.

Here's a true saying: "The grass is greener where you water it." If you want a happy marriage, build one! Happiness and contentment and joy are always within reach!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Behave Like a Roman

Being a Roman citizen and being a Christian in the first century would have proven difficult. Those who were against Christianity would make a sport of killing Christians: throwing them in the Colosseum and watching as gladiators and lions ripped them apart. Nero, renowned for being one of the most awful Roman Emperors of all time, was in power, and it is said that he lit his gardens with crosses on which hung Christians who were burning to death (The Church in History, by B.K. Kuiper, p.8.)  Of the faithful of old, the Hebrews writer tells us that some were "mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, and slain with the sword" (Heb. 11:36-37). Truly, being a Christian was a difficult thing.

And yet, I find it fascinating that it is to the Christians in Rome that Paul pens the following:
"[be] patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep...Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12: 12-15,17-18, 21)
These people were experiencing hurt and torture and grief first hand! No doubt some of them had family members who were already murdered. Perhaps some of these had already been tortured and mocked and scourged for their belief in Jesus. And yet, Paul tells them to bless the ones who are persecuting them. Don't repay evil for evil, but only do good to those who want you dead. Do you think any of these Christians would have wanted to talk all kinds of evil against Nero? Sure! Did Paul tell them to go right ahead? Of course not, because that's not what Christianity is about.

Christianity is about being like Christ, "who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet. 2:23-24)

Jesus is our perfect example, as He was to the first century Christians. When He was falsely accused and beaten and murdered without cause, He did not complain, did not rebuke, did not threaten and did not destroy. If the Son of God -- deity incarnate -- did not shut the mouths of those who were senselessly mocking and torturing Him, those Romans didn't need to either. And if these first century Christians who were being murdered and tortured and persecuted were to bless the ones who were doing it and were not to repay evil for evil, how should we act as Christians today?

There are going to be people and social groups and governments and pop stars and news reporters and celebrities and foreigners who are going to persecute Christians. They are going to belittle us and say harsh things against us and mock us and put us down. They are going to make life harder and enjoy every second of it. Jesus Himself told us that the world would hate us and persecute us (Jn 15:18-19) and Peter told us that we should count it as a blessing and glorify God (1 Pet. 4:16). Regardless of how people act toward us, we have a responsibility to behave as a behave as Christ Himself would--and we already know how that is:

Be patient in tribulation. Continue steadfastly in prayer. Bless those who persecute you. Repay no one evil for evil. Live peaceably with all men. Overcome evil with good.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Navigating the New Testament: Episode 2

As most of you know, I am currently the host for a women's only podcast on The Light Network, a network of podcasts designed to teach and admonish Christians, and better equip them for service in the Lord's kingdom. Today, the latest episode of my podcast, Navigating the New Testament, came out. You can check it out here, or you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes!

This week's episode is all about Rome and the Mamertine Prison. Tradition holds that the Apostle Paul was held in the Mamertine prison right before he was executed for being a follower and proclaimer of Christ. Were this the exact prison Paul was held, this was the place where the books of 1 & 2nd Timothy and Titus were penned.

Upon my first (and only) visit to Rome, the Mamertine Prison immediately became one of my favorite places. It was so solemn and serious--quite a different mood than the rest of our travels had been. Knowing that you were standing in the place where an apostle of the Lord had been (if not in the exact spot, definitely within the same city!) was a humbling, moving experience to say the very least. The one picture that I have from the Mamertine prison with me in it, I'm not smiling (you're welcome for not using that on the podcast!). I just didn't feel right smiling and having a good time while hanging out in a place where so many Christians were tortured and beaten and treated with such senseless hate and rudeness.

It is so easy for me to get discouraged sometimes. Sometimes, it just seems that there are people that are out to get you and make your life more difficult. Sometimes, your entire day goes amiss. In those moments, I urge all of us to think of the Apostle Paul. In the midst of what could have been the roughest time in his life (though he had quite a few to choose from -- 2 Cor. 11:24-27), Paul chose to be joyful and anticipate heaven. He didn't get down and sit in his cell and wait to die. He didn't even have a pity party! Instead, he sat in a cold, damp prison cell and wrote letters of encouragement and exhortation to young evangelists. He urged them (and consequently hundreds of thousands of other Christians) to be better and to continue in the work of the Lord.

When we are having down days, truly the Apostle Paul is an incredible example to us. Had he chosen to just give up, we wouldn't have such wonderful sentiments as these, written from his final days in prison:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17) 
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing."(2 Tim. 4:6-8)
The book of 2nd Timothy holds such beautiful words and more encouragement than you can probably take in a single sitting; and yet, the book is so short that I urge you to go and read it in its entirety now. How blessed are we to be able to have the Word of God, preserved through the ages so that we could be encouraged, enlightened, and empowered!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Defining Moments: Part One

We all have those moments in life: moments that turned everything upside down and around and changed everything about who you were.

One such moment happened to me in 2007. I remember the time very, very vividly, as it was a highly emotional time. My grandfather has just passed away, my boyfriend had broken up with me at the beginning of a three hour car ride back to school, and I was working 20+ hours a week on a Makin Music show for Freed-Hardeman. Translation: Life. Was. Crazy.

I hit a really low point in all of this. My priorities shifted, my attitude changed, and my faith weakened. I was relying on self, consumed with self, and shutting out those around me. And then, God did something beautiful in my life.

Providence is something that is very hard for me to put my finger on, but looking back, it is easy to see God's handiwork in your life. For me, looking back at the end of 2007, I see God's fingerprints everywhere.

During the fall semester in 2007, Robert and I started becoming much better friends in a common journalism/media class we had together. He consoled me when said boyfriend broke up with me. He talked me down from quite a few Makin Music ledges. He really and truly became my best friend.

Over the Christmas break in 2007, my life completely changed. I had someone who was truly concerned for me, and interested in helping me to get my spiritual life back on track. I had someone who valued me and told me that I should value myself. I had someone who constantly lifted me up and helped me gain a stronger, truer relationship with my heavenly Father.

When I got back to school in January of 2008, my life was forever changed. In those coming weeks I would officially start dating this boy who'd been there all along, I would lead my first devotional in Hall-Roland, and I would vow to be better for God in front of hundreds at the Henderson church of Christ.

I didn't know what all God had in store for me in the early parts of 2008. I was broken and weak and frail. I was hurting, but He was healing, and soon I would be back on my feet--His strength making me stronger than ever. It was, absolutely, a defining and life-altering moment for me.

So what's the point?

The point is, God's grace offers all of us new beginnings...and what better time to decide to be a new, better you than right now--in these early weeks of 2013! Perhaps you feel broken and at rock bottom: that's ok! God heals (Psalm 51:10,12). Maybe you feel beaten down and unworthy: that's ok! God sent His only Son to save all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). No matter what you have gotten yourself into in life, there is a way of escape from those sinful chains, and that way is Jesus Christ! If you want your life to be better, all you have to do is follow Jesus' plan for you! Living the Christian life is truly the best, most wonderful life there is! Following after the perfect and sinless Messiah makes for the most joyful life of all! And having the assurance of heaven? There is absolutely nothing better.

Whatever it is that's holding you back/down/under -- give your burdens to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Lay on Him every weight that easily entangles you. Put your burdens at the feet of His cross, and He will give you life everlasting. Make today a defining moment in your life: change who & how you are and who you live for.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Beautiful Promises to Christians

Yesterday I was briefly reading in 2 Corinthians and came across these verses:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; stuck down, but not destroyed." (2 Cor. 4:7-9, emp. mine). 
How marvelous and comforting it is to be a child of God! This earth is filled with sin and poison, with deadly disease and tragedy abounding. Evil has encompassed us, and yet we have these assurances from Holy Scripture that say that God's child will not be crushed, will not be in despair, will not be forsaken, and will not be destroyed.

If your life is anything like mine (and as a human being, it will be), you have experienced loss and heartache and grief and discouragement and fear and hurt. You have been hard-pressed by the devil's tactics, persecuted by those who are doing his work, and beaten down for holding strongly to your beliefs in the Almighty God of heaven. Please know, though, that in every hour of trial you have these promises. You will not be crushed. You will not be destroyed. Most importantly (to me, at least): you will not be forsaken.

The Creator of the universe will never leave you. In this life, He is always with you...His light shining though you (2 Cor. 4:6). In the next life, we will be face to face with Him, and He will wipe the tears from our eyes and give us the crown of life (Rev. 21:4, James 1:12).

No matter what this life offers you, God promises to deliver! And, in the midst of your hardships and battles, He promises His immeasurable and indescribable peace (Phil. 4:7). Again I will say, how marvelous to be a child of God! Thank Him for this blessing today and always.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's Finally Here!

If you have been keeping up with me for a couple of months, you know that the day we have highly anticipated is finally here! The Light Network (TLN) officially launches tomorrow, at 2 PM CST. If you'll hop on over to my husband's blog, he'll tell you a few more details about it all.

I would like to personally invite all of you to tune in live at some point tomorrow, and join us via our chat room to take part of the day! We would love to have as many as possible, not because we are attention hungry, but because we want everyone to be encouraged by the amount of people who love the Lord and want to see His borders increased!

If you would like more information about the podcasts that we offer exclusively on TLN, please check out this previous post. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave me a comment, or email me at

I am so excited about all that is The Light Network. Please continue in prayer on behalf of this effort, that God will receive all the glory, and that souls will be added to His kingdom because of these efforts.

Thanks, and see you tomorrow!

*Don't know how to get to The Light Network? Click the links on the right hand side of this page!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Resolution Time Again

In preparing for my girls class on Sunday morning, I wanted to do something special that dealt with resolutions. As I was researching, I found a list of the top 10 New Years resolutions, and I thought it would be neat to turn them into something with a spiritual application. And so, if you don't mind, I'm going share that with you today, because I feel it's beneficial for all of us.

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

1: Spend more time with family. As Christians, we are a part of a spiritual family (Rom. 8:16-17, 28-30). Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching." It is good for Christians, brethren, to be together and to encourage one another. It would do every Christian well to resolve to spend more time with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely, after a year of spending more time with holy people, we ourselves would be holier.

2: Get fit. Paul wrote to Timothy that bodily exercise profits little, but that godliness is profitable to all (1 Tim. 4:7-9). To the Corinthians, Paul would write, "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it unto subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:25-27)" In no way do I think Paul is undermining the need for a healthy body (as it is the vehicle for us as we 'go into all the world'), but is instead focusing on that which is of more importance, and that is our spiritual workout. We must discipline ourselves spiritually so that when we teach others, we are not being hypocrites.

I think this can also fall into the priority argument, too. Sometimes we get so consumed with our physical bodies that we neglect our spiritual selves. We don't get the proper spiritual diet or the appropriate (and regular) spiritual work out. In 2013, let us all aspire to get our spiritual self fit.

3: Lose weight. The author of the book of Hebrews said in chapter 12:1-2, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Sin is quite cumbersome. When we have sin, it holds us back; it weighs us down. It keeps us from running with endurance and winning the prize. To be a faithful child of God, we must all lay down the weight that entangles us; however, like shedding physical pounds, it won't be easy. Letting go of the sins we have held on to for so long will be difficult, but it is not impossible. Not if we'll do as the writer told us: look to Jesus.

4: Quit smoking. Our bodies are the temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19) and are not our own. So, we must take care of them. So while you may not struggle with putting nicotine into your body and irreversibly damaging your lungs and throat, there may be other things that you could stand to quit. Let us all strive to quit harming our physical bodies -- be it by alcohol, drugs, excessive sun exposure, self-inflicted wounds, or participating in sexual immorality.

5: Get out of debt. The reason that Jesus came to earth and suffered all that He did was so that we could all go to heaven and be with Him one day. He came to lift the burden of sin -- to free us from the debt of sin (Mt. 18:21-35). Take advantage of Jesus' gracious offer this year. If you are not in a relationship with Him, do as He has commanded and become a child of God by being immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). If you are a Christian, it is still possible to accumulate debts of sin. Do as John commanded in 1 John 1 and confess your sins so that God will forgive you of them.

6: Enjoy life more. So many people are searching for happiness and the 'best life possible'. Jesus came to give us that way. "I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10)."If you are one of those people who are looking to get more out of life, look no further! Though His sacrifice, Jesus has given us all that we could possibly ever need: salvation! BUT, on top of that, God showers blessings upon His children (James 1:17). Truly being a Christian IS living the best life possible!

7: Quit drinking. Since we've already talked about harming our bodies, let's take this one as a 'quit drinking the Kool-Aid". Our world would have us believe that homosexuality is cool, that partying and drugs are awesome, and that profanity and taking the Lord's name in vain are harmless. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid! If you put impurity in...guess what your heart looks like? Spoiler alert: it's impure! Jesus said that only the pure in heart would see God (Matt. 5:8), which explains why Paul urged the Philippians to think on pure, lovely, true, honorable, virtuous things (Phil. 4:8). The more impurity we put in, the less we look like Christ. Stop trying to look like/sound like/dress like the world and start trying to imitate Jesus.

8: Learn something new. Why not use the time that God gives you to learn more about Him? Challenge yourself to learn something new about the Scripture--and truly there are always new gems to uncover! Perhaps you don't know all of the books of the Bible, or have a hard time finding them during class -- challenge yourself to learn them. Memory work is always a valuable thing to embark on. In whatever way you want to challenge yourself to do this, learn something new about God in 2013. And not just something, somethings.

9: Help others. The great commission applies to each and every one of us when it says, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)". Use this year to bring at least one soul closer to Jesus. While helping others physically is needed and beneficial, helping someone spiritually matters the most. The soul is the most important feature of a person, and if you truly want to help them, teach them how they can inherit eternal life!

10: Get organized. Matthew 6:31-34 says, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?" or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." There are so many things that can occupy our time. Instead of getting consumed by physical things, use 2013 to re-organize -- re-prioritize -- your life. When we seek God first, above all else, He adds the rest to us.

We have the power to make 2013 the best yet. If we will choose to put God first, the rest of our year will be well spent. Let us all purpose to be good stewards of the time that God affords us.

From my heart, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a blessed rest of the year.