Chicken Dinner

We lost a chicken yesterday.  And by lost I mean something came in and decided raw chicken was better than fried chicken.  There were feathers everywhere.  Our teeny tiny Bantam rooster was no match for whatever got in there, and little Truffles became a meal for some creature in the woods.  

Peyton and Chris felt they had made a great enclosure.  They knew it wasn’t foolproof.  It didn’t have a real roof, but with a coop inside the large closed-in space to lock them up at night, they felt it was rather safe.  However, as the chickens got older and as Peyton started working, it was less frequent that she remembered to close the coop at night.  There hadn’t been a problem since we bought the chicks 10 months ago, and we got lazy in doing the little bit extra to keep them protected.

Are we the same way about sin?  God gives us clear scripture telling us of the need to protect ourselves from the wiles of satan.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” –Ephesians 6:11

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” –James 4:7

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

“And no wonder, for even satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” –2 Corinthians 11:14

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” –John 10:11

It is well known that satan will do whatever it takes to keep us from full fellowship with God.  If he can tempt us with thoughts of coveting, greed, or selfishness, he will.  If he can get us thinking about how nice it would be to skip your bible study or miss church, he’ll do it!  There’s nothing he won’t do to try and steal our devotion to God.

We should be prepared for this!  We shouldn’t only be praying “Father, keep us protected from satan.”  We should be studying scripture, digging into the word, putting on the FULL armor of God to protect ourselves.  The more we are submitting and surrendering to the will of God, the harder it is for satan to get that access to us. 

When we’re fully prepped and ready, we aren’t sitting around waiting for the attacks of the devil.  We’re ready to keep those sinful deeds at bay before they even get close enough to become an action!

Ladies, let’s stand strong in our faithfulness to God and prepare ourselves properly for a possible attack before that nasty thief even gets close! 

~Erin

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

Discovery: Nazirite Vow

I must have been under a rock during the day I was taught about the Nazirite vow in Sunday school.  Maybe I was day dreaming; maybe I was absent that day; maybe it wasn’t even a subject taught at my church.  A devotion I read several weeks ago mentioned the Nazirite vow and I’ve had to really dig in so that I could understand this concept.

Numbers 6:1-8 describes the vow as a way to make a special Covent with the Lord.   It was a strictly voluntary, special in its intent, and indicates a separation from a temptation.  It seems that the vow was used most frequently during a time of difficulty or extremely hard trials and temptation…at that time, the person could take this vow as a way to grow closer to the Lord. 

Interestingly enough, Numbers 6:3 commands that anyone taking the Nazirite vow should abstain from drinking alcohol.  More specifically, it called for an abstinent from wine and all products made from the grape plant. This would have included grape seed oil or cream of tartar.  

Another aspect of the vow included continually growing one’s hair.  If one temporarily forgot the vow, a simple look in the mirror would remind them.  It became not only a reminder of the vow, but a testimony opportunity when asked why they were growing out their hair.  

This led me to another question…are there any examples in the New Testament that speak to the Nazirite vow?  Guess what? Of course, there is! 

In Acts 18:18 (NASB), Luke wrote “Now Paul, when he had remained many days longer, took leave of the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him.  Paul first had his hair cut at Cenchrea, for he was keeping a vow.” 

Why was Paul exhibiting behavior associated with Nazirite vow?  He was traveling from Corinth towards Syria when he cut his hair.  His recent experiences in Corinth and in Athens, where he had apathetic encounters with non-believers, very few conversions to Christianity, a lack of new church establishment, and cult-like behaviors of worshiping Aphrodite.  His decision to take a special vow with an outward showing of cutting his hair was a way to mark the growth of his hair from the moment of the vow, as well as a means to protect himself and draw closer to the Lord during his trials.  

Most Americans would be able to tell you about the unique attributes of the wedding vows.  Heck, most would even acknowledge it’s a convent with/before God.  All would recognize that the wedding ring is the outward sign of the wedding vow having been taken.  We know about the wedding vows because we’ve attended ceremonies, watched them on tv, or even taken part in our own commitment with this vow.  We are comfortable with the concept of the wedding vow.

Why am I not as comfortable with this vow mentioned in Numbers and Acts?  How did I know about this very personal “Nazirite vow?”  In a moment of self-doubt, I felt like a horrible Christian that wasn’t studying her Bible enough.  And in the next instance, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I just need to keep studying…keep digging…keep praying.

What Biblical revelations have you had this week? Come to the porch and share!!

~Emily

Numbers 6:1-8 (NIV)

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long. Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the Lord.’”

Counterfeit Repentance

I’ve been involved with several conversations this week about the concept of repentance.  I was anticipating it coming up in the Sunday School lesson from the book of Ruth, but imagine my surprise when it also came up during the sermon.  Don’t you love when God has a message for you and it’s reinforced repeatedly?!?!?!

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of repentance is the act of turning away from a behavior; sincere regret or remorse.

Most Christians would agree that scripture details repentance as an integral part of salvation.  We acknowledge our sin, we repent of it, we ask forgiveness for it, and we accept that Jesus took our punishment and is our Savior.

God has offered us amazing grace.  However, I think there are many within the church who have fallen for the lies of the enemy that repentance is cloaked in grace.

In other words, true repentance is acknowledging sin and turning from that sinful thought or behavior. In the case of counterfeit repentance, church culture acknowledges the sin but does not turn from the sinfulness in the belief that grace will cover that sin.

Not only is that counterfeit repentance, but it is also counterfeit grace.  That is grace that allows us to remain in sin.  But it is not true grace.  God did not design grace in that manner.  In fact, the enemy delights in us falling for the counterfeit grace, as it does not lead us to the cross nor will it allow us to live life abundantly.

In order to combat “counterfeit-ness” in our lives, we need to get tough on our sins.  We need to complete an in-depth analysis of our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  Do they glorify God? Or are they steeped in sin?  Are we willing to turn from that sin, ask for forgiveness, and then do our best to not return to that sin?

I am praying that I will have a serious chat with myself about sin…I am praying that for you too.  I pray God reveals sin that we have previously excused. And I pray that we beg for forgiveness and turn from that sin.

At that point, we’ll have true repentance…and true grace can be experienced.

~Emily

Repentance

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles seem to be a hot quarantine trend this year!  I see my friends putting them together all over Facebook, and about five weeks ago Peyton and I started putting them together ourselves!  I found a puzzle company that had some really sweet looking 1000 piece puzzles, and I bought one.  Then another two more.  The newest two are in the shipping process as we speak.  Peyton and I get so much satisfaction working as a team to put the pieces together, and even though it’s probably a good idea to take it slow and savor the experience, we’ve loved challenging ourselves to get it done as fast as we can!

The work to complete the puzzles reminds me of the current study of the book of Mark I’m doing from the bible.  I read a chapter.  It’s the outside edges.  I push a little more and look to the who, what, when, where.  I’ve got the corner of the puzzle together.  I’m taking notes and cross-referencing scripture to see where the Old Testament converged on the New.  The puzzle is beginning to look like a real picture.  Before long, I’ve got a notebook full of information on the time period during Jesus’s ministry, the healings, the preaching, and the places.  I’ve got the clearest knowledge I’ve ever had of a book from scripture, and it draws me even nearer to God.  The puzzle is complete.  And now, I start a new puzzle with a new book.  The cycle continues.

I’m not done studying Mark.  In fact I’ve only just started.  But the idea that I’ll have a more complete understanding of the ministry of Jesus only pushes me closer.  Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  This sweet verse tells me I need to treasure the words in the bible, to know them, to understand them.

I encourage you today to pick a chapter or a book of the Bible and treat it like that puzzle.  You don’t need to rush it like Peyton and I do with the tiny little pieces!  Take one piece at a time, study and put it together to create a final and beautiful picture.

~Erin

IMG_1292
Our first masterpiece!

Jealous of the Disciples

I’ve always had a secret jealous streak when I think about the relationships that the disciples had with Jesus.  They walked with Him, slept near Him, and ate with Him. They literally had a front-row seat to His teaching, to His storytelling, and to His faithful prayer life. They had THE model right there with them…day in and day out.

There are times in my Christian walk that I’ve struggled with following the guidelines provided by Jesus.  I’ve prayed and felt like I didn’t hear an answer. I’ve failed again and again.  I have this irrational thought that if I had walked at the same time as Jesus, that somehow that would make my relationship stronger with Him.

I know it’s irrational.  Yet, it makes me slightly jealous that the disciples were able to ask questions face to face. They were able to make a prayer request and hear the voice of God respond.  I wish I had the literal face-to-face time with Jesus, in the flesh.

This week, while doing my homework for my small group “Maximum Joy” by Dr. David Anderson, I had a realization.  We all have the opportunity to fellowship with the Lord, much like the disciples did.  In 1 John 1:1:3, John wrote “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

Scripture tells us that if we are following the direction of the Word, as well as the insights provided by the ones who walked with Christ, then we too can have the sweet joy of fellowship with the Lord.

I’m excited that the next several months studying 1 John will help me have deeper intimacy that leads to fellowship rather than just a relationship.  I’m also excited that it’s going to dispel this idea that I should be jealous of the disciples when I too can have a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Who else is harboring secret jealousy? Come to the porch and tell us…

~Emily

Bible2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Shop Bold

I ordered a coffee and then had confusion cloud my brain as I began to doubt if I’d called the cashier by Ma’am or Sir. I called them something but then questioned if it was the correct gender reference.  The confusion was not because I’m middle-aged, rather because the cashier was exhibiting traits that appeared to be male and female.  I wanted desperately to ask them, out of sincere concern but didn’t want to risk being offensive with my questions.

I received my coffee and went to a table to begin working on bible study homework.

The ladies at the table next to me were having a very lengthy conversation about a nightly escapade with a guy they knew. It was loud. It was lewd.  The more I tried to ignore them, the louder they got.  I desperately wanted to ask them if they knew they were sharing intimate details in a public setting, but I didn’t want to risk being told off or cursed out.

I closed my study material.  I sat back.  I prayed silently.

The cashier’s shift was over and they left. The ladies with the wild night antics were done sharing and they left.

I remained.

I asked myself and God why I was so afraid to engage with these two scenarios.  Why was I reluctant to have a conversation with individuals?  What reservations overrode the need to be bold? What if I had been bold and had used the opportunity to share Christ’s love simply through my words?  What if this was the only time those three individuals encountered someone who could share the gospel through action, rather than by being timid or worse browbeating?

I immediately thought of the verse in 2 Corinthians where it states that because we have hope (in Christ), we are bold.  I couldn’t remember the context or even the exact verse, so I had to open the Bible and dig in.

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold!

~ 2 Corinthians 7-11(NIV)

 I want to be bolder in my action.  I want to stand firmly for Christ.  I pray I’m bold as a lion!  Even if it’s simply engaging in a conversation with strangers at a coffee shop.

Ladies, be bold and be brave this week!

~Emily

 The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

~Proverbs 28:1(NIV)

 

Coffee Shop Bold

 

 

Named By God

What’s in a name? Why are names significant? Why does God value them?

Think about some of the names of God and consider the meaning behind them…

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)

El Elyon (The Most High God)

Adonai (Lord, Master)

Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)

Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)

Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)

Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)

Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)

El Olam (The Everlasting God)

Elohim (God)

Abbah (Father)

If God, our Father, allows that many distinctive names to describe Himself, don’t you think it’s amazing that He has prescribed names for us?  Names within the Bible and in Hebrew culture are declarations of destiny and purpose…. sometimes they had positive meanings and sometimes they had negative meanings.

Positive examples include Joshua, whose name means Yahweh is Salvation.  Joshua led the Israelites through Jordan and took over the promised land while allotting the twelve tribes within that Promised Land (Joshua 1:9).

A negative example includes Achan, whose name translates to the troublemaker.  Achan sinned and through that sin he caused many deaths in the Israelite army (Joshua 7:1).

Several characters within the Bible had names which were prophetic in meaning, but it leaves us in 2019 wondering if our names are prophetic in nature too.  If God knew you before you were knit in your mother’s womb, don’t you think that also means he knew your name and exactly what your life impact would be?

Our names mean something now.  As in the Bible and Hebrew culture, our names are declarations of destiny and purpose.  If God chooses to change our name, as He did with Paul from Saul or Israel from Jacob, then He does that with a declaration of destiny and purpose.

In the next week, consider what your name means. What is the definition according to different cultures? What does your name mean to God?   Read Revelation 2:17 to consider the re-naming in Heaven that will occur during the End Times.

~Emily

Names

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