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Faith Like a Mustard Seed

 

Speak the Truth:

Matthew 15:28 (ESV) 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Talk the Talk:

Oh to be told by Jesus that my faith is great! That’s what we all want in the end…or at least we should. So, in the past 2 weeks I had a front row seat to a young lady whose faith was like the faith described in the above scripture.

Here’s a bit of the backstory. I am heading to Uganda for the 4th time. I didn’t think it was in the plan anytime soon; nevertheless, God made a way and made it clear that I was to join the team. Our plane tickets had been purchased and we already had our planning conference call. However, I felt an overwhelming persistence to pray for a friend’s niece, Morgan. When I couldn’t get Morgan out of my mind the next day I reached out through text. I asked if she would have any interest in going to Uganda to serve with me. I didn’t even know if the organization would allow her to join the team at this late date, but I had to at least put the idea out there. And then God started to work.

She said she would pray and let me know but she quickly shared goals she had written out a week ago. One of them was to go on a mission trip to Africa. I instantly knew the Holy Spirit was definitely behind the prodding I felt to reach out to her. She was told that she would have to have all the money turned in by the following Friday in order to join the team. What Lord!? $3500 is a lot to raise in a few months, let alone 1 week!!!

However, through Facebook, letters, her church, and auctioning off her paintings, Morgan’s money was raised in 1 week, with some extra to spare. Talk about amazing! I know that we all had some doubts that she would raise the money. However, Morgan took a giant leap of faith living out Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God delivered in a big way.

Walk the Walk

Seeing this experience play out, I was reminded why we are to live our lives according to 2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) which says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” God has used Morgan’s journey to Uganda to strengthen many people’s faith. So, I look forward to the promise in Matthew 17:20 (ESV) playing out during our time there. It says, “He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Painting by: Morgan Maxwell

unnamed-11

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Debt Free Holidays

Speak the Truth:

1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Talk the Talk:

Here are some simple ways to stay debt free during the Holidays.

1. Create a budget.  As simple as this sounds, it is the most important.  Know what you have to spend, and what you want to spend it on.

2. Remember Spending isn’t always Saving.  If you haven’t budgeted for it, and you don’t have the extra income for it, don’t buy it.  A lot of times companies will lure us in with their 2 for 1 deals, or 50% off today only, and we end up buying something we didn’t necessarily need, just to save money.  Unless I am missing something, that isn’t really saving.

3.  Find creative ways to make extra money.  I have friends that sell items on ebay, then they use that money to purchase gifts on amazon or ebay. There are also companies out there that will pay you for completing surveys and then you can use that money towards Christmas gifts.

4. Learn to shop 2nd hand,  I get it, you want gifts to be nice, and you don’t want to look cheap.  But if you look at sites like ebay, a lot of times you can find Like New items or even new items, that someone no longer wants at a fraction of the cost.

5. Learn how much something goes for and shop around.  I have never understood people that go to the mall, pick something up, and buy without even looking at tags.  With websites like Amazon, etc. out there, you can usually find things so much cheaper. Also, don’t be afraid to buy online.  A lot of companies have free shipping during the holidays. I honestly love this!  I buy less because I avoid the store and I avoid the crowds. Also, if you google the name of the company and ask for a coupon code, you will be surprised with what you can find.  Or you can use a website, such as ebates, which gives you a cash rebate for a % of your online sale.  Always remember to refer to #1.  Know what you want to buy, and avoid unnecessary items.

6. Know your weaknesses.  For some people, it is better for them to use a debit card and keep track of their purchases, because they spend cash too quickly.  For others, It is easier to have cash, because they know once the cash is gone, they are done.  Know which is better for you and use it, always keeping in mind rule #1.

7. Be willing to make gifts.  Sometimes we can make something at a fraction of the cost (Especially with the help of Pinterest), and it means a lot more too.  My mom is so crafty at times and I find myself extremely jealous.  She has made some of the most amazing gifts that my girls cherish!

Walk the Walk:

These are just a few ways to try to keep your finances on track during the holidays.  If you struggle in some of these areas, find a friend that will help you stay on track.  Always remember, at the end of the day, Christmas isn’t about spending every last dime to make our kids, others, or ourselves happy.  It is about Remembering our Savior, and honoring Him.  It is just as important to honor Him with our finances, as anything else.  Happy Holidays!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Health and Wellness

 

Family Rules

Speak the Truth:

Hebrews 13:1  Let brotherly love continue.

Talk the Talk:

The holidays are coming!  The holidays are coming!  Food, fun and family!  Are those three words synonymous during this time of year?  For some, yes.  For many, no.  Family, what a word, right?  The term, family, is chalked full of interesting dynamics.  Families come in all different shapes and sizes and inevitably go through all kinds of changes.  Within a family, there is truly a time for every season.  But, like it or not, families are bound together by blood and genetics. My two brothers and I are very different, yet we share many things.  Physically, our complexion, our eyes…personalities….all kinds of idiosyncrasies that we won’t discuss here, and above all, our senses of humor.  We laugh at the same things for the most part; no one can make me laugh harder than my brothers.  At the same time, in our earlier years, no one could make me angrier and I’m sure I can speak for them and say they feel the same about me.  In many ways, we just get each other, but could definitely get to each other.  Pushing buttons was inbred and practiced often by all, including me…..ok, especially me.  But, no matter what, we are still family.  When life is joyful and when life gets hard, we stick together….no matter what.  I wish that last statement were always true, but if I am being honest, there have been times when there was a rift.  Something not right.  Something, whether it be anger, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, caused a separation and the resulting feeling was just….yuck.  So, as a mother of two, I try to be proactive with a a little visual reminder.

photo-17

Family Rules:

1) Always keep your promises.

2) Say please and thank you.

3) Listen with your heart.

4) Speak kindly.

5) Clean up your own mess.

6) Respect each other.

7) Don’t forget to laugh.

8) Say I love you everyday.

9) Count your blessings.

Not a bad list, right?  Good for every family to remember?  Through Jesus, The Living Water, and His blood sacrifice, we all have grace and forgiveness binding us together.  We are family.

Walk the Walk:

Shouldn’t a set of rules apply to the whole body of believers?  Like it or not, we are bound to one another by Jesus Christ.  You cannot change that.  Hebrews 13 is kind of the Bible’s version of ‘Family Rules’.  What is the first one?  Let brotherly love continue.  Keep on keeping on when it comes to loving one another through words and deeds.  Read the whole chapter.  It goes on to get a little more specific.

1) Love one another.

2) Show hospitality to strangers.

3) Remember those in prison or those being mistreated.

4) Honor marriage.

5) Be content in Christ.

6) Remember your leaders.  Obey them.  Submit to them.

7) Don’t be led away by strange teachings.  Remember grace.

8) Do good.

9) Share.

10) Pray.

During this season of family, remember who your family in Christ is and act accordingly.  If you aren’t up for reading Hebrews 13, Jesus gives us a one two punch in the book of Matthew 22: 36-40.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

 

Wisdom – Who Wants Some of That?

Speak the Truth

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Proverbs 10:9

Talk the Talk

The book of Proverbs has nuggets of wisdom and insight embedded in the verses. Do you seek wisdom? Do you seek to know what God would have you do? How He would have you live or make choices or treat your family, customers, neighbors? It’s all right there.

Have you ever heard this nugget from well intentioned people: “You can be anything you want to be.” Our society ingrains success and the American Dream in us as early as conception. Want an intelligent child? Play him or her Mozart while they are still in the womb. Want analytical and critical thinking skills? More fine arts exposure as infants and toddlers. Want to avoid being saddled with college debt? Start playing tball, football, soccer as early as you can wear cleats. Join the magnet programs and earn as many college credits before leaving high school so you can be ahead of the others. These things are not bad things to do or pursue.  It’s when the YOU becomes the justification for the HOW you achieve the dreams and goals. We just finished an election cycle that jaded almost all of us. Plentiful were the claims of integrity issues, character flaws and seedy undersides to polished pictures.

The problem? “You can be anything you want to be” is a lie.

I cannot be anything I want to be but I can be everything GOD wants me to be. (I’m not sure who coined that phrase but I heard it on the radio.)  When we sneak and look for short cuts to get what we want, our ways will be found out – usually at the most inopportune moments. Someone spills the beans. In our home, Tiny Tornado can keep a secret for about 1.1 seconds and then it’s fair game. We are always seen – God is always there.

For our human interactions, it’s exhausting to not walk in integrity. The old me – the one who didn’t know Jesus – was not an honest person. The person I lied most to and hid the most from was myself. This journey with Christ is a constant exercise in laying down my human gut reaction in order to walk in integrity as I bear Christ’s name.

Walk the Walk

What do you want to be? Do you have hopes and dreams? God has an incredible plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). To be ALL that He wants you to be, walk in integrity. Seek him desperately. If you see a crooked way, ask Jesus to walk with you – He will guide you to a much straighter and narrower path. Two verses earlier in Proverbs, we read this: “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” (10:7) How do you want to be remembered?

Have you read any good books on this topic?  The one that stands out the most to me is Chuck Colson’s Born Again. I love that book! It is definitely worth your time if you need a good book for the coming winter nights. You can read about his life here: http://chuckcolson.org/the-life-of-chuck-colson/

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Faith and Spirituality

 

Give Thanks

Speak the Truth

Ephesians 5:2 “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Talk the Talk

November—A time to be thankful for the change in weather, the beautiful color change of the leaves (not so much in Florida—but a small glimpse), anticipation of gathering with family and friends to celebrate our many blessings. God is praised for the many beautiful and exciting events happening in our lives. But Ephesians 5:2 says “give thanks for everything”. Everything!—what about the orphans, the homeless, the conflicts, the disasters, the diseases? Philippians 4:19 declares that God “will supply every need”. This made me consider how we can be thankful in the areas we do not deem as blessings:

*Orphans: Thank God for the missionaries and sponsors who provide care and love.
*Homeless: Thank God for people who serve, share, and provide for their needs
*Persecuted: Thank God for providing courage and strength to stay strong in faith.
*Lonely: Thank God for those who visit and care for the neglected, rejected, and to
those feeling abandoned.
*Military/Police/Firefighters: Thank God for the men and women risking their lives to
keep us protected and safe.
*Abused Individuals: Thank God for shelters, foster homes, and agencies that provide
safe places.
*Bullied children: Thank God for teachers, counselors, concerned and caring adults.
*Unbelievers: Thank God that He has given us a mouth, hands, and feet to carry the
Word to those in desperate need of hearing the Good News of a Savior.

Ray Boltz recorded a song years ago titled “Thank You” It tells the story of a person dreaming of going to Heaven and seeing the people that were blessed because this person gave. Things unnoticed on the earth but proclaimed in Heaven. Let us give thanks this year for all the people who have blessed us and others (sometimes without our knowledge)

Walk the Walk

Thank God this year for everything in your life, and look for the blessing He provides—even when it is difficult to see. As the lyrics say in “Give Thanks” : “Give Thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One, Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son. Let the weak say “I am strong” and let the poor say “I am rich” because of what the Lord has done for me.” We give thanks. And all the people said “Amen”

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Friends and Community

 

A Testimony Worth Sharing

Written by Guest Blogger: Lori Bannit

 

Speak the Truth…

(21) testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21

(22) To this day I have had the help that comes from God,and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass. (23) that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles. Acts 26:22-23

Talk the Talk…

I’m not sure about you, but sharing my testimony with others can sometimes be scary. What if they don’t feel the way I feel? What if they just simply say…okay…no big deal when it’s such a very BIG deal to me? What if it doesn’t help them to understand what God can do in their lives? Well, I can assure you that all of these questionable reactions may very well come to pass when you go to share your testimony with someone. But also consider this…what if they are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting patiently to hear your every word…waiting and willing to hear what you are sharing…even getting excited and emotional along with you?  One thing is for sure…you will never know their reaction until you take that walk of faith and share…trusting and asking God to use you as a vessel, asking him to prepare their hearts for what is about to take place.

Walk the Walk…

As a volunteer counselor, I find myself in the midst of many opportunities to share my testimony followed by the Gospel. I wish I could tell you that this makes it easy every single time. I still feel that sudden fear of failure and being judged; this is why I strive to pray before I meet everyone.  Before I sit down with this perfect stranger, I ask God to go before me and prepare the way. My favorite part about sharing the Gospel to young girls and women is when they ask to know more, saying I’ve never had anyone share that story with me. It’s exciting for both of us and I know without a doubt that God is all about what is happening in the room. Do they all pray for salvation after I share my testimony and the Gospel? I wish…oh how I wish they would all pray, but all too often they simply want to take the small Bible and Bible tract that I will offer them home and process what I’ve shared. I thank them for listening to me and encourage them to read the Word and get involved in church or a small Bible study group. I remind them that I will be praying for them.

May I encourage you today to be brave, to trust God for the help that you will need to share the Gospel with someone and to share your testimony…because it’s a testimony worth sharing!

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Missions and Discipleship

 

Take Care of You

Speak the Truth:

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Talk the Talk:

Self Care. This term wasn’t even in my vocabulary 15 years ago. Not because I didn’t love myself, but because I knew no other life. I took great care of myself back then because there was no one else to take care of. Rewind with me ladies… remember young adult days before kids and marriage? Remember college life or singles days when the entire paycheck was spent on whatever you wanted? Yeah, that’s the kind of Self Care I’m talking about. Self Care these days is all about sneaking into the closet to hide and not share my Peanut Butter Snickers Bar while the kids are banging on the door.

We live a different life now- For months, we talk about getting together with our girlfriends for a weekend at the beach. You know, when there’s a little more time and money. It takes weeks of planning just to get a haircut, manicure, or coffee with a friend… Women tend to walk a fine line between putting the needs of others before themselves and the art of self martyrdom. I was reminded recently of the graphic and direction given to passengers by flight attendants before take off; the one where you are instructed to put on your OWN oxygen mask before trying to assist young children or adult dependents to do the same. How can you give what you don’t already have for yourself?

Walk the Walk:

I’m not just alking about coffee with your gifrlfriend and getting your roots done every 8 weeks. We’re talkin’ balance between spirit, mind, and body. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I learning anything new? What am I doing to sharpen my mind?
Read some books. Sharpen your skills in some area. Take an online course. Take up photography, learn how to change a tire, read about how crayons are made. Join a book club or learn how to line dance. I’ve always wanted to learn how to Fence… as in sword fighting. Anyone care to join me?

2. Am I growing spiritually, or am I too busy for Quiet time with God?
Find yourself an accountability partner; a female accountability partner who won’t be afraid to step on your new pedicure when you aren’t going to Bible study and indulging in God’s Word at home each day. This God of creation is crazy about you and is in hot pursuit of your life to pour out immeasurable blessings on you! How can you refuse an offer like that?? Cut out ten minutes of social media and give those minutes to Him. Our gracious Heavenly Father tends to multiply our time together like the fishes and the loaves.

3. Am I taking care of my body?
There are a lot of folks with some very real limitations here. There are a lot of folks withOut limitations though. If you are blessed with the ability to move, then get up and take a walk. Begin a new thought process about food so that you can begin to make healthier choices. Exercise releases feel good chemicals into your body and stimulates energy! It also gives a mom a few minutes of sweet mental, stress relief. I always come back through the door a bit more focused and happy even after just ten minutes for a walk, run, bike ride, or pathetic attempt at Zumba.

Self Care isn’t at all selfish. It’s biblical and necessary- even our sweet Savior backed away from the crowds to rest and refresh for the next round of ministry to friends and crowds that needed him. Are we so different? Girls, if you aren’t taking good care of yourself you simply cannot give what is required to others who may depend on you. That makes perfect sense right? Here’s another approach. You are a holy temple. Your body houses the perfect Holy Spirit of the Forever, Living God. What are you doing to ensure that His temple sustains the gift of life He has given you?

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Health and Wellness

 
 
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Angela Thomas

Angela Thomas

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Speak the Truth. Talk the Talk. Walk the Walk.

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