Family Discipleship

Women’s Christian Conferences are a chance for me to refresh and reconnect to the Lord without the everyday distractions of life. It’s a time where I can literally focus 100% on the Bible and prayer with other women.  During every conference I’ve ever attended, I’ve always left with at least one new friend and a pile of scripture nuggets & observations to study further.

Last year, I was blessed to attend the Connecting Ministries, Connecting Women Conference in Birmingham, AL.  I actually blogged about a Prayer Warrior that the Lord specifically told me to engage with while I was at the conference. Prayer Warriors

Fast forward to this year’s Connecting Women’s Conference.  That Prayer Warrior and her mom sat right next to me!

You see, that appointment with God last year has led to my front row seat to watching this Prayer Warrior grow into her new role of leadership for the Kingdom.  She went from a non-volunteer-volunteer on the prayer team last year, to the prayer team leader this year.  She went from receiving daily prayer request emails before the conference to crafting them this year.  She went from praying faithfully privately to praying on the stage this year.  She went from a quiet prayer warrior to a bold and public prayer warrior.

Normally, I would take that as the significant observation and “take away” from this weekend.

But there was one other observation about this Prayer Warrior that is significant….

The Prayer Warrior was with her mother!

They sat side by side. They prayed together and with others. They raised their arms in worship together. They wept and laughed together. They illustrated family worship in a very precious way.

In Matthew 22 and in Deuteronomy 6, we see that Jesus highlighted the most important commandment in the Bible.  He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise’” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV).

Interestingly enough, as soon as Jesus answers the question of the Great Commandment, God focuses our attention on family life.  He speaks specifically to parents on how to pass along the power of faith to children.  At the heart of the Great Commandment is family discipleship…how parents are a primary spiritual teacher for their children.

Now I don’t know the Prayer Warrior and her mother enough to know their entire backstory.  I don’t know when they came to know the Lord and what their trials and tribulations have been.  I don’t know if this is a relationship where the mother taught the daughter about God or if it happened in reverse.

I’ll tell you what I do know:

I know these two women love the Lord.  I know they love each other fiercely. I know they love other women.  I know they model the behavior of Christian love.  I know it was an absolute joy to watch them interact with one another and watch a Christ-focused relationship between a mom and her daughter.  I know it was a beautiful thing to watch.

I am honored to have watched this faithful sister in Christ grow in her prayer life and step into a leadership role for God over this last year.

I am humbled to have watched a mother and daughter praise God side-by-side over this last weekend.

I am grateful to a loving Father who outlined family discipleship and allowed me to witness how it works in 2019.

Watch for the Prayer Warriors.  Watch for the Family Disciples.

~Emily

P.S. Mark your calendar to join us Feb 21-22, 2020 at the Connecting Women’s Conference to see how the Lord is going to move in the next 12 months…

Children

Love is…Bible Study Time

More often than not, I get stumped while reading the Bible.  I want to know all the details and frankly, the Bible doesn’t always give all the details.

The OCD in me wants to know who’s who and why of the Bible.  So, I spend time cross-referencing family lineage.

The historian in me wants to know what is happening on a timeline.  So, I spend time looking up historical references about what was happening during certain parts of the Bible.

The researcher in me wants to know why some versions use particular words, while others have selective different verbiage. So, I spend time cross-referencing different versions of the Bible.

The woman in me wants to know how it applies to me. Right Now.  In 2019.  So, I spend time in prayer and journaling in an attempt to fully understand a scripture.

A new technique that I’ve recently employed is putting myself into the scripture or the scenario.  This has afforded me an opportunity to hear God’s voice in a manner that I hadn’t previously tried.

For instance, imagine yourself as one of the disciples being asked to pray for Jesus the night before His death.  As you are sitting in the dark garden, would you have been faithful in praying?  Would you have fallen asleep? Would you have sat up chatting with the others in an effort to stay awake?

In that scenario, you can begin to picture what the disciples were feeling that night.  Perhaps you get a glimpse into how Jesus reacted that evening.  Whatever your reaction to this exercise, you begin to see the Bible through a new set of lenses.

Let me present you with a challenge to put yourself into a scripture.  I’m sure you are familiar with the scripture of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV), but for the purpose of this exercise, I’m asking you to break it into individual lines (you can do this in your journal or on a scrap piece of paper).

Love is patient,

love is kind,

it does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Now, the harder part of studying and applying this passage.  Replace the word “Love” and the word “it” with your own name.  Once you do that, prayerfully ask the Lord and yourself if the statement is still true.  Ask the Lord for help to strengthen you where there is weakness and continue to protect you where there is a strength.

In this challenge, “Love is patient” becomes “Emily is patient.”  “Love is kind” becomes “Emily is kind.” So on, and so on.

Guess what?  Love is patient all day, every day.  Emily, not so much.  I lose patience all the time.  And that is an area I need to take to the Lord in prayer.  What happens in this Bible study time, through putting myself into a scripture scenario, I identify an area that I need to prayerful consider in time with the Lord.

Take the challenge.  See what God speaks to your heart through a new lens.

~Emily

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.  It penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

love is

Unbiblical Teachings

bible“It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” Job 34:12 (NIV)

Dealing with untruths, when spoken as though they are the words of God, is one of the most difficult scenarios that a Christian can face.  Churches split, relationships are damaged, and hearts break over this very issue.

A few years ago, my husband and I each had a nudge from God to attended an established church that we fell in love with.  There was a large church following without multiple services. This was a church without debt. They added on to the building when they had funds.

The Pastor spoke words from the altar that defied political correctness. He was passionate. He provided offensive sermons and was unapologetic for those messages.  More than once I questioned his Biblical basis for his claims in sermons.  Yet my husband enjoyed the church and the services.

When the Pastor came to our house, he railed my husband about not being a “true” Christian head of the household.  Again, offensive and unapologetic.  Still, my husband was drawn to him and his teaching.

When this Pastor had a sermon on being fruitful and multiplying, the stage was set for my feelings to be hurt, based on my past experiences with infertility and miscarriages.

He preached that those who did not have multiple babies were being “unwilling” or “unfaithful” to spreading the Word of God.  He stated that if you weren’t pregnant, trying to get pregnant or having babies then you weren’t a strong enough Christian.  If you weren’t able to get pregnant, you weren’t praying hard enough. He stated that God gives His faithful and prayerful people what they ask for.  Therefore, if you are not receiving what you are praying for, then you are either unfaithful or don’t have a healthy prayer life.

Imagine my shock. The dagger to my heart when I realized that he was saying that my 20+ years of praying for a baby was not enough. That I wasn’t a strong enough Christian.

It was the first time I had been in doubt about my Christian walk based on the words of a Pastor. And it was the first time I defied my husband’s lead regarding the church.

You see, my husband liked this church and he liked the Pastor.  However, that was the last day I went to that church. My husband wanted to go back, but I refused. I did not believe it was Biblical teaching coming from the pulpit. I did not believe he was speaking to the hearts of Christians about God’s message.

It was not the first time that my husband saw the spiritual gift of discernment being used in our house, but it was certainly the first time that it caused chaos and contention.

After prayerful consideration, we found another church.  That decision was not easy.  It’s not always easy to follow your heart when you hear the true voice of God speak to you.

Come to the porch and share an experience where following the voice of God was not an easy road…

~Emily

unbiblical truth

The Sanctity of Prayer Requests

When you hear a prayer request, do you really pray about it?

When you say, “I’ll add that to my prayer list,” do you really pray about it?

How many times have you been in a church-related meeting or small group that includes a prayer request time?  We go around the room and each person states a prayer request or praise.

I struggle with that format.  On a heart level, I understand that it’s a mechanism for us to share and trust one another.  On a head level, I have often wondered how often that prayer request is truly prayed over. Does anyone in the group actually go home and pray about the request? Is it just a side note on the class roster? Does it just become a list of items on a list? Is it a method of “checking the box” that we took a moment to “get to know someone”?   Do others feel like they have to share? Is that why we often hear, “unspoken prayer request”?

In some regards, I’ve felt a sense of obligation to share.  For a long time, I felt compelled to come up with something to add to the prayer request time.  I decided to stop feeling that obligation.  That means that when I do share a prayer request with an individual or a group that it’s one that is pressing on my heart and that I trust that particular group to truly pray about the situation.

I believe that there is sanctity in the act of sharing a prayer request.  There is sanctity in receiving a prayer request.  There is sanctity in praying over someone else’s prayer request.

As detailed in several scriptures, God wants us to bring prayers to Him.  He wants us to grow with one another.  He wants us to keep each other accountable.  Jesus taught us how to pray.

If God wants us to come to him in prayer and there is sanctity in sharing a prayer request, then we better be Christians of our word and actually follow through with praying.

In James 5:16 (NIV), we read “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective.”

The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective.

That statement alone reminds us that God wants us to be prayer warriors.  In order to be effective prayer warriors, we must remember one another in prayer.  The act of requesting prayer should be sacred. And the act of praying on behalf of someone should be sacred too.

Some of my most special prayer requests that I’ve asked for or received have come through one-on-one time with someone rather than in a group setting.

If a friend invites you into their heart by asking for prayers, listen carefully to how she words the request. If she began the request with “I haven’t told anyone this…” then know that it might be code for “please don’t repeat this.”  That means she wants it kept as a secret.

Not only should we truly pray for a request when it is asked, but we also need to honor the desires of those who are requesting the prayers.  If there is a desire to keep it quiet, then keep it quiet.  If there is a desire to share, then share…with discretion.

Here are a few tips to remember how prayer requests are special:

– Know that God hears your prayer request well before any human ears do

– If you say you’ll pray for someone, do it

– When you ask for prayer, do it without a sense of obligation

– Keep the prayer request to yourself, unless you have permission to share

Remember the sanctity of a prayer request.  Become the righteous person whose prayer is powerful and effective!

Please come to the porch and tell us how we can pray for you this week.

~Emily

Pray without ceasing ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

prayer request

 

Your Roots Are Showing

In my favorite movie Steel Magnolias, Ouiser Boudreaux tells Clairee, “Have your roots done!”

If someone tells you to “have your roots done,” or worse “your roots are showing” you may immediately get on the defensive regarding your hair coloring.

There may be another way to interpret those comments.  Perhaps someone telling you that your roots are showing is referring to the roots of your character.  These could be positive or negative characteristics.

If you are a cynical person, you are rooted in negativity. Your cynicism will show.              If you are a joyful person, you are rooted in positivity.  Your optimism will show.

If you are an untruthful person, you are rooted in distrust.  Your lies will show.                  If you are a trustworthy person, you are rooted in integrity.  Your truth will show.

If you are a gossiping person, you are rooted in meanness.  Your ugliness will show.          If you are a humble person, you are rooted in concern.  Your heart for others will show.

Deep roots of our childhood, our present circumstances, our education, or our faith make up who we are.  Those roots will show eventually.  Both the positive and the negative.  The good news is that with Christ in our heart, we can overcome the negative roots and strengthen the positive roots.

Life with Jesus is much like a tree.  It must be deeply rooted in order to continue to grow and produce fruit for the kingdom.  In Jeremiah 12:2 (NIV) God promises goodness for us if we dare to grown deep roots for Him; “You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.  You are always on their lips, but far from their hearts.”

In the parable of the seed, Jesus warns of the danger of having shallow roots that are not deeply developed.  “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.  It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” Mark 4: 5-6 (NIV).

We need to have deep spiritual roots.  We need those strong roots in order to improve our churches, our marriages, our families and our communities.  Deep roots take an effort to develop.

If you are willing, you can develop strong roots through prayer, Bible studies, and serving others.  Share the Gospel, practice grace, work for others to know Christ.

When someone tells you that your roots are showing…be confident that they are strongly developed, deep roots in Christ that are showing.

~Emily

roots

Raindrop Races

Recently it rained for nine days straight in Alabama and it seemed we were going to float away.  Being from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up with continuous rain and know that it will end eventually.  Nothing of my childhood in the rain prepared me for nine days of rain with an eight-year-old on Christmas break.   We were both going stir-crazy and on each other’s nerves.

While we were driving during this ever-present rain, I was reminded of a game I used to play with my brother when we were younger.  We would each select fat raindrops towards the top of the window and then we would watch as the drops “raced” each other towards the bottom.

In retrospect, it was a good game to keep us quiet and occupied while my parents drove.  It also afforded an opportunity to pause and enjoy the glory of nature.  We loved the joy of inspecting raindrops, which lead to both of us to be mindful and present in nature.

God gives us the gift of nature to know He loves us completely and we can benefit from what nature provides.  In Acts 14:17 (NIV), we see an exact example of his kindness through the provision of rain. In this instance, the gift of rain is specific to the needs of the crops in order to provide food for each of us.

This look at nature should fill us with joy simply because it is tangible proof of God’s love for us.

He will testify about His love.  He has a testimony.  Through the rain, we see that testimony of love for humans being a top priority.

During times when we feel stir-crazy, joy can be found.

That joy may be in something as simple as a raindrop race.

Reflect on how God’s love, through a glimpse at nature, and tell us about the joy God provides.

~Emily

“Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons: He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” ~Acts 14:17

rain

Crying Gifts

I made my husband cry on Christmas day.

All I did was hand him keys and an invoice to a brand-new boat.  He was so overwhelmed that it brought him to tears.  It wasn’t the boat itself that caused the tears. The tears came from knowing, I was willing to be part of investing in his dreams.  At that moment, he knew that I had complete belief that he would have his own fly-fishing guide service.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a gift and started crying?

I once cried over a set of earrings, my first real diamonds.  I have cried over a rocking chair, in hopes I would one day rock an infant to sleep.  I even cried over my great-grandma’s Bible, entrusted to me as the family historian.

There is an overwhelming emotion that comes out as tears when someone believes in you and your dreams.  A career change, becoming a spouse or parent, or preserving a family’s heritage…all of those are dreams, that when tied to a gift, create an emotional response.  I think that’s the main reason my husband cried over a boat.

With that in mind, do you think Mary cried over the gifts from the wise men?

The Bible tells us that they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is historically a gift provided to someone of royalty.  Not necessarily a traditional gift for a child, but rather a gift fit for a King.  Both frankincense and myrrh are used for their aroma as incense, perfume, and medicine in burial rituals to assist with covering the scent of death.  Not necessarily a traditional gift for a child and certainly not one for a King. Yet these gifts are a foreshadowing of the death that would occur for this small child.

My feminine heart feels like Mary may have cried over those gifts.  They were gifts with overwhelming meaning, which created the potential for an emotional response.  The knowledge that the Messiah had been born and was going to die for all of us.

A death, which would be the ultimate gift. One worthy of an emotional response. And likely the reason that we see new believers often in tears when they first accept this gift from God.  Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” (NIV)

Whether is a dream come true gift, a piece of history gift, or an extravagant gift, tears could be a natural reaction.  I didn’t mean to make my husband cry on Christmas, nor do I think the wise men would have meant to make Mary cry if that ever happened.

I do believe God smiles benevolently at the heavenly rejoicing when one of us accepts the gift of salvation through the belief that Jesus is our Savior.  It’s likely that He understands tears, as an emotional response to that gift.

~Emily

Boat