I’m Lost!

Last week, my family flew in from Cheyenne, Wyoming and I needed to pick them up from the airport.  It was a busy day full of many errands, so I quickly input my desired location into the GPS without giving it much notice and off I went. 

The drive was beautiful.  It took me along a more scenic route, and I was enjoying seeing the sweet little towns.  As I got closer to my destination, it seemed that I should’ve hit a sign that said I had rolled into Georgia, but I didn’t worry too much about, because not all side roads have these kinds of signs.  I finally saw the airport sign at my exit and turned to get off the road.  But I was getting confused because it still seemed rather….too-small-townish?  I quickly pulled up the “details” in my GPS and confirmed I was indeed right near my location.  But as I hit “End,” a flash of the abbreviation AL came into view.  Lightning fast, I clicked the GPS again.  VALLEY HEAD, AL.

That’s right….NOT Atlanta Airport.  Not Hartsfield-Jackson.  Not even Georgia.  I had directed myself to the quaint little town of Valley Head.  Where’s Valley Head you ask? NOT IN GEORGIA.  Turns out that as I was clicking on the Atlanta airport location in my phone, it downloaded several more locations I had been looking at recently, and I accidentally chose Valley Head. 

What was supposed to be a 20ish minute wait for my family while I completed the drive to get them turned into an additional 2 ½ hour wait.  It was awesome.  I cried like a baby.  And I felt so stupid!  I know it was a mistake, but it still stung of carelessness.  I trusted that when I rushed, what I had briefly read/seen was right without making sure my action of picking the correct location and following the right directions was true.

This reminds me of my walk with God sometimes.  I’ve been saved a long time.  I grew up in church and for the first 6 years of school attended a school that was affiliated with my church, so I’ve been around the Bible for as long as I can remember.  And sometimes the prideful nature in me that thinks, “I know what it says in the Bible and how to live uprightly” is quickly destroyed.  Just like being careless in not paying attention when I pushed the button on my GPS, it can be easy to spout off what I’ve learned from my years of following Jesus.  It’s simple to follow some Godly instruction, but not paying attention and not being firmly planted in the study of the Bible can lead you far of the course God has set for you.

There’s so much more in following Jesus and knowing what His Word says.  James 1:22 says “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.”  Am I really DOING what the Word says when I don’t pay enough mind to read, study, learn, pray, and meditate on His goodness?  Is it enough to remember a few stories from when I was 12 and hope I’ve remembered 30 years down the road? 

It’s not.  We need to be diving in, reading what He says and pursuing knowledge of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit!  When we do this, we are careful with our directions rather than careless.  We become knowledgeable in His truth and less mindless.  We become doers of the Word and not just hearers!

I encourage each one of you to not merely hit a button, take a quick peek, and walk away.  Dive in, paying careful attention to the words and commands that are in the Holy Bible.  I’ll be doing that!

Who wants to take on this challenge with me?  Comment in the section below!

~Erin 

Is It Necessary?

“Are you ready?!  Are. You. Ready?!  I’m getting excited!!  Romans…..3:10!  Who’s righteous? NO ONE!  Here wo go!  How about another?! Romans 4……22-25!!!!  Who was raised for our justification?  JESUS!”  Fists pumping in the air, grin from ear to ear; you would’ve thought I was trying to get a crowd of 200 excited at an event.  But it was me on Monday for our Table 8 Zoom call, yelling out some of our memory verses to the rest of my awesome Bible study group.  I like to THINK I facilitate a group of 200.  This go-around of Bible study, we’re a group of 6!

God has led us to the book of Romans, and I decided that we’ve talked long enough about the need and the desire to memorize Bible verses.  We’ve attempted to do it a few times over the last five years we’ve met but have never really made it a priority.  This time, we’re going at it hard core.  We are going to be memorizing no less than 17 verses in the book of Romans!  Maybe more as God leads…let’s not box us in just yet!

Why should we be memorizing Bible verses?  Why is it important to remember the words of God?  The list is endless but let’s chat about a few.

Satan is lurking around trying to distort our thoughts and actions, keeping us from a relationship with our heavenly Father.

Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. –1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. –Ephesians 6:11 (ESV)

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” –Genesis 3:4-5 (NIV)

There are still people around us that need to know about the gospel of Jesus Christ!

And He said until them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” –Mark 16:15 (KJV)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. –Romans 10:17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17

It allows us to have a deeper relationship with God.

I have treasured Your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against You. –Psalm 119:11

But He answered and said, “It is written:  ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” –Matthew 4:4 (NASB) (reference to Deuteronomy 8:3)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. –Romans 15:4

A wonderful Bible study leader of mine years ago, Laura Whitmore, said that when we stain God’s Word into our hearts and into the core of who we are, just a like a piece of wood receiving stain, it soaks in, changing you…the way you think, the way you feel, the way you do things.  It’s not just at the surface.  It deepens your faith in our Savior and becomes a part of who you are.

And that’s why we’re going to memorize verses at Table 8.  We desire a closer and deeper relationship with God that allows us to trust Him and Him alone as our Hope.

How about you, dear friends?!  Can I encourage you to start memorizing Scripture with us?  What tips do you have to help memorize verses?  Share in the comments below!

~Erin

The Frost

There’s a frost coming here in the area where I live.  This wouldn’t mean much except for the fact that I got antsy and planted my garden two weeks ago!  I was told by many a faithful Alabamian that I should not start planting until after Easter, because there’s always one last frost.  However, I just couldn’t wait and after some discussion, forged ahead with our raised beds.  You can imagine my nervousness over tonight’s potential freeze.  I don’t want to lose my very first southern garden.

We have plastic and blankets that we’ll be putting over the plants to help them during the night.  We’ll carefully drape them, protecting them from the overnight chill.  I’ll also be praying faithfully for the next few hours that my plants will make it. 

Just as cautious and careful I am to protect those sweet baby plants that are growing in the ground, I should be equally careful with what I place in my heart.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

I’d like to say that I’m always mindful about what I’m listening to and reading, what I’m watching on TV, or the attitudes and actions that filter through me throughout the day.  However, I know that I’m not always good at it.  God instructs us to be careful with our hearts because the things that consume our heart bleeds out into the actions of our everyday interactions and activities.  If I’m not guarding my heart from worldly desires it can very easily lead me astray and down a path that can not only hinder me but those around me as well.

When we guard our hearts and only fill it with the things of Christ, the love of Christ is what spills out onto others.  I long to guard my heart so that it’s filled only with the goodness of Jesus rather than the things of this world.

Dear friends, commit with me today to guard your heart at all times!

~Erin

Hear My Cry

Today was one of those days.  Everything seemed to be the number one priority and I couldn’t seem to grasp on to a schedule that put things in order.  Pulled in every direction is my absolute least favorite direction to be, and yet it had my head spinning as I ran full force into task after task.  I was worried things wouldn’t be done in a timely fashion.  I struggled with the feeling of being overwhelmed, of not being enough for my work, not enough for my home, not enough for my Bible study.

At the end of the day as I clocked out, my neck and shoulders tense from the stress, I realized not once did I take my burdens and my overwhelming feelings to God to bear the weight.  I tried to handle the day on my own.  How many of us do that on the daily?  I’m guilty of it, especially today.  I’ll get so frazzled and forget that my first call out should be to my Heavenly Father.

Psalm 61:1-2 says, “Hear my cry, God; Give Your attention to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Even when my heart is faint from the heaviness of the load, God will still hear my cry to Him.  He’ll lead us to the Rock of our Salvation and hold us up during the battle that rages around.

Dear friends, I pray that this week as you struggle with the overwhelming tasks that have you weary from handling it by yourself, that you know that you are not alone.  Call out to our Savior, “Hear my cry, God!”  and let Him take you into His shelter.

~Erin

A To-Do List or a Desire?

We’ve been studying the book of Philippians in Emily’s Bible study group.  It’s been encouraging to use a unique approach to this book of the Bible, looking at each chapter in detail from four different perspectives. 

Last night, we got on the topic of feeling inadequate which led to conversation about our time with God.  You know I’ve been writing a lot about that, dear friends, and I’m not stopping now!  Satan is always trying to make us feel inadequate.  He can make us even feel inadequate in our time with God.  We worry about whether or not we are spending enough time reading the Bible or enough time studying God’s Word.  Did we pray long enough?  Did we pray the right way, the wrong way, the insincere way?  It’s a never-ending battle within ourselves.  

I, myself, am a proponent of carving out a specific time to read the Bible at a certain time every day.  However, I’m also guilty of thinking I “didn’t do enough” when I only get through four or five verses. 

One of the ladies said something last night that will forever change how I think about that time.  She said, “Is it my to-do list or is it my desire?” 

BOOM.  MIC DROP.

Are we communicating with God out of an obligation?  Bible reading done? Check.  Prayer complete?  Check.  Or are we communicating with God because He is good and Holy and sacrificed His son, Jesus, on the cross for our sins?  This changes everything!

I long for my time with God to be a desire because it’s time well-spent with the Father.  Four verses isn’t anything to snub my nose at when I spend my time studying and meditating on God’s Word and what He’s saying in those four verses.  And it isn’t anything to snub my nose at when I spend that same quality time reading and studying two chapters when it’s time studying to know our God.

Let’s strive this week and going forward to make our time with God a desire and not just an obligation.  Our lives are sweeter for it!

~Erin

The Beauty In Creation

We hit the crest of the hill and just beyond was the most beautiful landscape I’d ever seen in my life.  The greens, oranges, yellows and reds were so vibrant.  The sun hit the peaks of the Ozarks, and the clouds created the most beautiful shadows in the gorge as we meandered down the road.  It took my breath away.  The only time I’d seen something so stunning was in a beautiful painting, and that painting didn’t even compare to the sight that I was witnessing.  Deep in the valley, as we rounded the bend sat a small white church in the middle of a soft green meadow.  I was simply awestruck.  God’s beauty was all around, and it brought these verses in Psalm to mind.

For the Lord is a great God

And a great King above all gods,

In whose hand are the depths of the earth,

The peaks of the mountains are also His.

The sea is His, for it was He who made it,

And His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down,

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

–Psalm 95:3-6

God is Elohim.  He is my Creator.  He formed nothingness into beauty, and we are the chosen ones to live in His beauty and creation.  How amazing is it that our Heavenly Father has given us such a beautiful space in which to call home!

Part of our daily prayer should be dedicated to the adoration of our King.  As we talk to Him, praise Him for what He has made!  Glorify Him for the splendor that is around us!  Thank Him for the exquisite gift of Earth that He’s given us to be a part of! 

I challenge you, dear ones, to spend time this week praising Him for the beauty that is all around us.  Thank Him each day for something different that you see as you drive around, take a walk, or look out your window.  Thank Him for this gift of creation!

~Erin

The Knick in the Line

Who would’ve guessed that a cable buried underground would be buried so shallow?!  We didn’t.  Which is why we knicked it with an edger on Sunday as we were putting in the dog fence! 

We wanted our pups to have some space to roam on our property while keeping them away from the road that could lead to demise.  Chris used the edger to prepare the ‘trench’ as we walked around some of the woods.  An hour later, our daughter came outside and let us know the internet wasn’t working.  When we finished the project and came into the house, we found it still not working.  I went to turn the modem off and on again and realized it was genuinely broken, and the technician that arrived late Monday afternoon let us know that we had done the damage!  It turns out that because of fear of hitting pipes, they run the cable just a mere inch under the surface!

It’s amazing how some of the simplest things can wreak havoc!  Because of the cut line, my daughter couldn’t do her research online and I couldn’t perform my job functions the next day until it was fixed. 

It made me think about some of the simplest things I do, seemingly ‘surface level’ sins that knick the line of communication with God.  Please know that there is absolutely no difference from one sin to the next.  There are no “big” or “little” sins.  They are all measured on the same yard stick in God’s eyes.  But often we, as humans, give levels to our sins.  And the sins like a mean spirit towards someone or some of the words we say are overlooked because it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. –James 4:17

Those examples (along with 100 others I could name), while not turning me away from God, prevent an open line of communication with God because of actions I take.  Sins, unrepented, can muffle what God is saying and teaching us because our hearts are clouded with the muck and mire that just keeps building.  One by one, these sins start piling up, and just like the wire that was knicked preventing us from accessing the important information we needed, we miss how God is speaking and maturing us.  We’re bogged down with the sins of this world instead of being lifted up with the life-giving grace of Jesus Christ.

I encourage you, dear sisters, to ask God to show you where the knicks are in your life.  Repent and reestablish that sweet connection with your Savior.  He’s longing to speak to you!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. –1 John 1:9

~Erin

The Master Gardener

We’re heading into planting season, and this will be my first year planting a full-fledged, on-the-ground garden in the state of Alabama!  I’m so excited to get started, and Chris graciously took up the previous owner’s garden bed and is reconfiguring it so that I can have a few beds rather than one big space.  I’ll be ready to go any day!

Now that you know how excited I am about this, let me acknowledge that I generally kill most plants.  For those who read my previous blog on gardening, I’ll remind you that I only tried gardening for the first time last year.  I kill most houseplants.  In fact, Emily doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already killed one of the plants in the pot she gave me as a birthday gift in September by over watering it.  (Sorry, Emily!)  I want so badly to grow fresh veggies so that we can eat what I’ve grown myself, but I’m already in worry mode that I’m going to kill it all off; we’ll be destined to eat Piggly Wiggly lettuce and tomatoes for the rest of our lives!

Aren’t we blessed that our Heavenly Father is a Master Gardener!?  We are called to spread the good news to all people.  The good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ!  People all over the world need to know that Jesus came down to earth, died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day.  They need to accept the gift of salvation.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” –Mark 16:15

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of age. –Matthew 28:19-20

That can be nerve-wracking!  Reaching out to people and sharing God’s gift can cause anxiousness out of a fear of rejection.  It’s scary to feel as if we are responsible for leading people to the Lord and helping them grow in their relationship with God once they’ve accepted Christ as their personal Savior.  However, God tells us in the bible that we are to plant the seed, but that it’s God that causes it to grow!

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about this very thing.  He let them know that he planted the seed by preaching the good news and getting them established, Apollos had watered it by continued teaching and encouragement, but that God was what caused the growth.

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. –I Corinthians 3:7

Isn’t that comforting!?  Our job is to tell everyone the joyous news of our God-plant the seed.  Once they accept the free gift of salvation, we can encourage them as they dig in to the Word-water the plant.  But God will grow them in the knowledge of the Truth.  He is the one who will deepen their relationship with Him. 

We don’t need to be afraid to plant the seed, sweet friends!  We can be delighted in the fact that we are doing what God has called us to do.  He will do the rest!

I encourage you to reach out to at least one person this week and share the gospel.  Plant the seed so that God may tend His garden.

~Erin

Learning New Things

I’ve been learning something new recently.  It all started when I read a beautiful book called Finding Allah, Seeking Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.  From there, I caught an Alisa Childers’ podcast that featured guest John L Cooper.  This in turn led me to another book, Mama Bear Apologetics.  (See what a rabbit hole can do!?)

What I’ve been researching has been the study of Christian Apologetics.  People who are Christian Apologists study the Bible to defend Christianity against objections.  Most notably they defend Christianity and the Bible from an historical perspective.   This field is fascinating to me.  I’ve been a Christian since I was a young child and have grown up learning the Bible.  However, when I watch or listen to apologists interact with such immense knowledge of the Word of God and the time surrounding Jesus on Earth, I realize how little I know!

There is a verse that keeps coming up in my research and reading:  All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God my be fully capable, equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17

While not all of us will want to study the ins and outs of the culture at the time, the timeline of historical documents or other relevant history, we all have a responsibility to study the Word so that we may know it!  The Bible is our road map to how we should live, and when we hold tight to it, studying and immersing ourselves in the growing of that knowledge, we develop a deeper and richer relationship with God.  In turn, this allows us to do as we were called to do and share the Gospel with those around us!

When we dig into our study of the Word, much like the Apologists, we have a depth of knowledge that can allow us to plant the seeds for God’s Kingdom.  When we know the Word, we can answer questions for uncertain friends who are interested in knowing why your life feels so different.  When we’ve hidden His words in our heart, we can show hope to the unbelieving family member so that they might find hope in God.

I challenge you, sweet friends, to dig into the Word.  Know what you are reading.  Understand what God is telling you.  Let’s enrich our relationship with our Heavenly Father and share the Good News with those around us!

~Erin

Decisions

The heaviness of a decision lay at my feet, and it’s all I can do to figure out how to make the right choice.  Have I thought it through and how will it affect everyone?  I’m left feeling a weight on my shoulders as I calculate the cost.  What if it’s the wrong path?  Did I think it through enough?

I’m sure you’ve felt it, too.  Choices, both big and small, are always needing to be made.  The burden can be almost overwhelming when you must decide to do what’s best for you, for your family, for your life.  The chaos of this world tells us to do what we want; do what feels good or ‘right,’ but is what feels right really the right thing to do?

And while this world tells me one thing, my heart tells me another.  I have someone that I can go to.  I have someone I MUST go to when I have decisions that need to be made.  I want to hear His voice.  I NEED to hear His voice.  I know that He is good, and I know that He hears me.  Dear friends, are we going to our Savior with our decisions or are we trying to make them ourselves?

I found a verse tonight in the midst of my Bible reading.  I was actually looking up verses about knowing the Bible.  The internet led me to one verse…HE led me to more.  103 verses later, I found what my heart needed the whole time…

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.” –Psalm 119:114 

I realized I wasn’t looking for verses about knowing the Bible.  I was looking for a verse to tell me that it was ok that I didn’t make a decision the moment a choice was handed to me.  As a Christian I must give it to God and trust that He will provide the answer whether it’s an answer I like or not.  I do that because I trust in His unchanging and unfailing wisdom to direct me to the answer that will lead me closer to Him.

I pray that you can know this sense of assurance that I felt tonight reading that verse.  If you have a decision that needs to be made, trust it to our Father.  He is Jehovah Jireh-The Lord Will Provide.

~Erin