Monday, December 17, 2012

What a FRIEND we have in Jesus!

I need to blog. It helps me process. It helps me understand and it is therapy to me.
I am currently in a pruning process. 

Jesus said,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
John 15:1,2
Have you ever seen a pruned tree? They aren't pretty. It isn't a fun process... 
this whole pruning thing.
The Lord has been cutting things out of my life. It is hard because you thought they were of value but the Lord chops away. It was things I depended on for strength. Things I hid behind for security. And Jesus takes out a holy chainsaw and chops away. Branches fall to the ground and there you are, somewhat naked. Not beautiful... 
yet full of PROMISE. 
Full of life to come.
But spiritual re-growth requires faith... and TIME.
I am working on my FRIENDSHIP with Jesus. I know that sounds so elementary yet I am realizing I go to others instead of Him. We can spend hours on the phone with friends yet what does my prayer life look like? Am I truly going to Him for counsel? Him for friendship? 
Him for refuge?
Why wouldn't I? He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. He is a friend who will never betray. A friend Who is always available. A friend Who can not only listen, but HEAL and HELP. When friends disappoint or hurt us, maybe we have put them in a place of expectation that is unhealthy.  We are setting ourselves up for failure by seeking to be BFF's with anyone other than Jesus Christ. 

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his FRIENDS."
John 15:13

 "I have called you FRIENDS"
John 15:15

"there is A FRIEND who sticks closer than a brother."
Prov 18:24

Girlfriends cannot be Jesus.  
I want to be BEST FRIENDS with Jesus. 
That means spending more time in my closet than on the phone.
However, I am SUPER thankful for the friends God has given me. 
I have gotten to spend a lot of time with them at Christmas dinners or parties lately.
AND, I get to go on a romantic getaway with my 2 friends, Jennie and Julie, and our hubbies  to a Bed and Breakfast. I am dreaming of it already! A Bed and Breakfast in the mountains with two of my closest friends, my hubby, and my Bible.
Um, yes, I think so!!


 God is moving in Tim's heart and in mine. He is giving us desires that I believe are His desires. He has placed a burning passion in us to minister to children. To bring families together by the power of the Word of God. It is new ministry ground for us. We honestly have no idea what we are doing. One thing I have learned how to do is teach children the Word of God (by the power of the Holy Spirit) because I have been in my house doing that for the last 5 years.
The enemy is out to destroy children and families and he is doing a good job. As we step out into a new ministry, we need your prayers. There are new attacks. New opposition. New trials that require much perseverance & MUCH faith. 
We simply don't have what is required... unless the Lord gives it to us. The enemy is going to great lengths to stop this ministry which seems SO simple and benign but is it?
 Teaching children to fall in love with the Word of God early isn't benign. Strengthening families definitely isn't. 
Our prayer is to  strengthen/equip families and to teach the next generation to know and obey the Word of God and to be WORSHIPERS. 
Lake led worship last night singing 10,000 Reasons and playing the piano. He said, "Momma... I wasn't even shy! I just said to myself, 'I am doing this!'. And I DID IT!". He is amazing. He is such a gift to me. 

I have gone through a time of serious brokenness. The Lord has been showing me my sin and my need for a SAVIOR every day. The enemy has been very strategic in trying to destroy us lately. We are having to learn the "street smarts" of ministry the hard way. When you have an evangelical heart, you can be vulnerable because when you naively say "whosoever" can come into your house and your life, the door truly is left wide open. Maybe too open. 
Yet love & ministry requires vulnerability. Jesus came into a world as a humble servant who was obedient to death on a cross. Talk about vulnerability!!  He was bloody and naked hanging on a cross while people mocked Him and spit on Him. Dying to save people who hated Him without reason. That is agape love.
But Jesus also says we need to be wise...
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Matt 10:16
The enemy is CRAFTY. His craftiness gets even craftier the longer I live. We are to know His schemes. You know one way we can be outwitted by the enemy? 
Check this out...

"And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,  in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
2 Cor 2:10,11

We have to forgive out of obedience and because Jesus has forgiven us but also so that the devil may NOT OUTWIT US! 
The longer I serve God and deal with the enemy, the easier it is to recognize his schemes. You get to the point where you are getting sucked into a situation that seems toxic and then a light bulb goes off in your head. You say, "Whoa... whoa... whoa... I have seen this before!". His schemes are necessarily that creative. Just different means and different intensities. 
I have wanted to give up and quit wondering if this is all worth it. I have wanted to throw in the towel mostly out of fear and the desire to be comfortable. 

Then I study John 12 about Mary and how she washes the feet of Jesus with the most costly perfume. She doesn't care the cost. Her best is good enough for the FEET of Jesus. Her act of sacrifice was like that of a slave. 
I am a bondslave of Jesus. I am His. I gave my life to Him 16 years ago. Sometimes when we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we can tend to squirm off the altar when the going gets tough. 
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."
Romans 12:1
A living sacrifice stays on the altar even when the heat gets TURNED UP. The ONLY two things that will keep you from squirming back off that altar is 
1. The power of the Holy Spirit  
2. The power of the Word of God

One verse I recently memorized that has KEPT me lately is...
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
John 12:24

Girls, we are to constantly be FALLING TO THE GROUND AND DYING. You know it is interesting that that is how I received Jesus. I fell on my face and DIED that night in my bedroom. I died to myself and my desires and gave my life to HIM to be used for His glory.  I received Jesus as my Savior.
That is now how I received Him and now that is how I WALK...
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him"
Col 2:6

If you want to produce life, you first must die. That is how you receive Jesus and that is how you walk in Him. Funny to think of walking on your face but that is how we walk with Jesus. 
On our faces and on the ground. That is our posture.

If you want to listen to the whole teaching on John 12, 
click HERE.

Crew is still my dreamboat baby. He is fiery like his sister. He is competitive and determined. He is ALL boy.  I love to kiss his face and his teeth and his tummy and his neck. He is just delicious.

 Hope is full of FUN. She just cut her hair for the first time. I noticed really strange alfalfa bedhead sticking up out of her crown and said, "Hope! Did you cut your hair?" She said, "Uh-huh... upstayrs in the boys' room, momma". 

My older boys are maturing quickly. They play together all day long until they get hungry. 
Having 3 boys so close in age was hard in the beginning but now there life is a constant party.
Watching children fall in love with the Word of God is one of the greatest joys of my life.
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
3 John 1:4

 Here we are studying Jonah....

We just acted out the whole book of Jonah. 
Chapter by chapter. :)
"Seaweed wrapped itself around my head."
Jonah 2:5
"When the news reached the KING OF NINEVEH, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust."
Jonah 3:6

My heart couldn't help but dream of our nation repenting like Nineveh did. REPENTANCE is our only hope. Not gun laws, not more mental health facilities, not teachers carrying guns. None of that will work. But if we humble ourselves, mourn over our sin, and TURN...  I truly believe God will have mercy on us.
"People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence...
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened."
Jonah 3
I so wish God would send a prophet to our President like He did with Jonah. Jonah didn't want to go. Maybe He is calling US believers to be that voice?? 
It is TOTALLY uncomfortable. 
You can understand why Jonah RAN the other direction. I GET Jonah's fears. As God calls me to leave things that are comfortable, my flesh wants to run  the other way too. I want to go hide on some boat somewhere and go to sleep as I sail away from the hard stuff God is calling me to do.  But then you realize, it wasn't about Jonah and it isn't about YOU.
It is about the lost. Jesus is ALWAYS about the lost.
The ones who don't know their right hand from their left.

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" 
And I said, 
"Here am ISend me!"
Is 6:8
 Jesus LOVED the people of Nineveh. Do you know that in Hebrew it says that Nineveh was a "great city to God"?  He wanted to save them. 
He used one imperfect man to deliver the message. Are we willing? Or are we seeking comfort and escape? Believe me, I am talking to myself here.

The message was a hard one to give. Oh how I wish our country would cover themselves and their animals with sackcloth and MOURN over their sin.  Declaring a 40 day fast as a nation? Maybe, just maybe, God would show us compassion and we could see revival again

"The Ninevites believed God...ALL OF THEM"
Jonah 3:5

May repentance and revival start in MY home. May it start in my heart. 
"God, I hate my sin. Give me the courage to TURN from it and toward YOU!!! Forgive us as a nation. We have sinned against you. 
I HAVE sinned against you."

If Jesus Christ lives in you, you can TURN from sin. If He doesn't, you can't.
If you have never fallen to the ground and died, let today be the day. Jesus Christ will come and live inside you. It is His power that will give you the ability to TURN from sin and toward God. You cannot do it without Jesus. 
Christ is us is our ONLY HOPE!
 "Christ in you, the HOPE of glory."
Col 1:27

If you do know Christ and you are in a STRONGHOLD of sin, Cry out to Jesus for mercy and AID!!
"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."
Hebrews 2:18

I learned yesterday in Church that the word for AID means "to run on hearing a cry".
Like a mother runs to her crying baby!!
That is how God helps us when we are being tempted. 
He runs to help us when we cry out to Him with an even greater love than that of a mother toward her baby. 
Having had 5 babies and knowing MY mother bear instinct when my babies cry... WOW.

Until Jesus comes back for us, we will SERVE Him with all of our hearts and souls. 
Teaching children the PURE and POWERFUL Word of God while strengthening families. 
"But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Matt 19:14

Notes from a PRECIOUS 7 year old last night. I cried on my way home. If only one child falls in love with the Word, it is all worth it.

 (Hope cracks me up below)...

Let me know if you want to join us as we meet together to seek God. We are having a Christmas celebration next weekend. Please, please pray for us as we step out into a new realm of ministry.
"'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' 
says the Lord Almighty."
Zec 4:6

1 comment:

The Yarbrough's said...

Great post!! Continue allowing God to use you and your family. I know He has awesome things in store for ya'll.