Sunday, September 1, 2013

'Kudzu' is (should be) like Christianity July 2008
'Kudzu' is (should be) like Christianity
 The Great Commission
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."    Matthew 28:18-19  
      During the Ladies Bible Study this week we began to speak of Kudzu and its entrance into the U.S.  Some of my facts were not exactly correct so let me inform you for I've done some more extensive research since then. 
     That said, I began to compare Kudzu to Christians or with the way Christians should be.  We have been given marching orders to go into all the world...  On a radio interview with a man who became a Christian following having been told by someone that Jesus loves him I was intrigued by his openness of acceptance of the literal reality of God's Word.  After this statement was said to him, at which time he'd never even heard of Jesus, he began to read the Bible and as a result asked Jesus into his heart.  He was so excited to find the passion and drive these Christians he read about possessed that he began to attend a church and was shocked to find that the Christians he'd read about in the Bible were nowhere to be found in the church.  He was so excited about the passion and drive to fulfill the Great Commission in the lives of the people he'd read about but couldn't find it in the pews.  Am I guilty of that same thing when someone who is truly looking for Jesus in the pew arrives?
     That's where, I believe, the Kudzu comes in.  We should be those men, women, children with passion and drive to fulfill the call of God on our lives.  That passion and drive should be so rampantly spread wherever we go and whatever we do that we become like that Kudzu that we see on hillsides, on the sides of the road, etc.  One of the attributes of Kudzu is that it can thrive in many climates and adapts itself to its surroundings while still standing out in a crowd.  
     One of the sources I found while searching the internet states that scientists say Kudzu, one of America's most invasive plants, is also a potential for obtaining bio-fuel.  What a find at this time!  This plant can grow more than 6 1/2 feet a week.  Shouldn't we, as Christians, grow at that rate of speed, too, if we apply ourselves to the nutrients of God's Word?  In the research it has been determined that about 1/3 of Kudzu plants would be harvest-able to supply bio-ethanol.  I think we Christians can do better but only when we apply ourselves and encourage others around us to do the same.  We, Christians, should have a 100% harvest-able rate. 
     In my research, I didn't find much that was positive about the Kudzu vine.  Most want to eradicate it from its places of existence.  Most have tried everything they could think of but to no avail.  It may lie dormant for a bit of time but then it takes root and begins again to spread like crazy.  Do we really do that or do we just allow the voices, cares, opposition of the world to completely choke our witness out?  
     One of the places I worked had an eyesore of a hill that was also problematic of eroding.  The Kudzu vine covering that hill was truly extremely beautiful.  It never had to be tended, it grew over all of the hill and stopped at the stone, blacktop and concrete that surrounded it.  It is a great asset for the business it shines for.  Shouldn't we be like that Kudzu hill?  I think so!  
     In Ecclesiastes 9:10a we are admonished that Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,...  Often I'm guilty of NOT doing what I do with all my might and then God convicts me of my lack of commitment.  As I've said early in the year, commitment is something that is of great priority in my heart and my decision has been to be more proactive in my commitment to the things the Lord has called me to do.  I know that there will always be areas that I have to focus on and with God's help I will overcome any obstacles that hinder.  I also know and am persuaded that nothing can separate me from God's love that is in Christ Jesus my Lord as stated in Romans 8:39.  Also that promise is not just for me but for everyone.  Will you apply it to your life also?  I pray so.   As I've been thinking about this writing I've thought so much about the Scripture passage in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 where we're admonished to impress them (God's commandments or His Word) on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.  This is the way I've been thinking of Kudzu, it gets everywhere as God's Word should get everywhere we are at all times. 
     May the Lord richly bless you in all you do and lead you into the things He has planned for you.  I pray that as you delight yourself in Him then He will place his richest desires in your heart and you will then know how to wait on Him as an attentive 'waiter' stands ready to wait on his special dinner guest constantly watching to see if He needs anything.  I believe this is the 'wait' that 'wait on the Lord' means.  I DO NOT believe that 'wait on the Lord' means sit down and don't do anything else until God speaks to you in an audible voice and tells you what to do next.  As a Christian, some of the things we are to do are spelled out and some of the things are learned as the moment arrives.  We have need of 'waiting' on the Lord.  There may be need of a 'bottle of water' or a full 'five course meal' or maybe just a 'delightful dessert' or 'refreshing drink'.  We just need to be attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to know what need is present.
     Since Bro. Carl issued the challenge at the first part of the year to find out what God is calling us to do I've been much more aware of the things I do.  I pray that God will stir your heart to find out what He desires for you at this moment in time.
In His Service,


"Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."  Jeremiah 33:3  "Then when you call upon Me and come and pray to Me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find Me; if you seek Me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:12-13 "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."  Jeremiah 29:11    

   This month I want to share with you some of the reflections I've been engaged in over these last few weeks.  Many of you know that I've had a bit of a different journey in the last few weeks and in that time I've been able to have plenty of time to ponder God's Word and to study a bit more than I usually am able to do.  I've so missed being able to participate in church like I'm used to doing.  I thank each of you who prayed for me, called me to check on me and prepare food for me.  I don't think I've missed this much church or my friends at church since I became a Christian.  It is so good to be back and on track again.  In the changes I'm experiencing there have yet again been doctors who have ordered tests due to some things 'they just want to look at'.  Praise the Lord!  All the tests have been completed and I've passed them all with flying colors.  No pre-cancerous cells are found and everything is perfectly fine.  The only thing I'll have to do is some minor medical treatments for the next three months.  I've been given a completely clean bill of health.  With all this being said the Doctor still wants me to see the General Surgeon for confirmation.  I guess it never hurts to get a 2nd opinion!  Again, I say, Praise the Lord!
   Tuesday August 19th, Jonathan and I returned from a trip to Omaha, NE that took us eleven days.  WOW!  What a trip it was.  We had a great time and had great experiences and are so glad to be back.
   August was the launch of Jonathan's newsletter, Kids Gettin' Radical for Jesus --- Thank you all so much for your great comments of encouragement.  He was extremely excited when people started emailing with their praise for his efforts.  With this newsletter launch and our cross country trip Jonathan is off to a good start as he has been back in school for about a month, too.  His curriculum is so much fun as well as imparting such great learning to him.  Since we are seeing this year's curriculum being so heavy on him and the newsletter does take a bit of time we are praying about sending it out once a quarter.  So look for his next newsletter to arrive in December.
   In my first ever blog submission I began with a story from 3rd grade in Kalamazoo, MI and some of the meaning of Psalm 1 for my life.  I began planning on sharing different Psalms however the Lord is continually giving me new direction for this path in my life.  I will place on the web site a new selection each Monday that pertains to whatever the Lord has put on my heart for that particular time.  I will not dictate to God what I want to share but will allow Him to lead.  I should always do this anyway and I often think I am then in retrospect see that I continued to place my ideas in the driver's seat and not allow God full control of what I do.  I feel like the way Paul must have felt in Romans when he said, 'the things I don't want to do I do and the things I want to do I don't'.  The thing is, often there is not even a 'knowing' that I'm in the middle of doing the thing that is not in line with God's will or best design for that time until it is over.  During the couple weeks I was confined to home prior to our trip I was able to spend a lot of time in Bible study, prayer and just alone time with God.  I've really enjoyed this time and feel like I've been in a sort of cocoon.  I know that He is doing something that I've not yet been able to put my finger on.  It is so amazing that the peace of God has had such a powerful rule over me and that I feel so close to the Lord and experience His presence ever so strongly.  He is really giving me the knowing that Paul also spoke in the Word saying 'I've learned in whatever state I am to be content'.  Many challenges have come my way in just the last month or two but through all of them I've definitely sensed His comfort and joy.  The faithfulness of God is really not contingent upon me or anything I do, but on Him and His love for me.  The only thing I have to do is pray, commune with Him, read the Bible, praise Him and allow His love to flow through me. 
   I pray that each one reading this will begin to reassess your walk with Him and where you feel discontent you will allow His presence to fill that realizing that the only way you can walk in that contentment He gives by communing with Him through Bible study, prayer and praise.  I urge you to come back to your first love, that you love of God you experienced when you first gave your life to Him and asked Him to fill you with His Spirit.
   May the Lord bless and keep you.       
In His Service,

The Spirit Guides

Psalm 32:8a "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;.."
 WOW!  Today I read a devotion entitled 'The Spirit Guides, The Devil Shoves'.  Just let your mind wrap around that for a few minutes. 
  I know this may sound odd but I really don't remember that much about the reading itself but I do continue to hear that phrase resonating in my person.  I've often heard people for most of my life state that God made them do something or pushed them or drove them to do whatever.  But this confirms a statement that we know from the Word of God and have learned in relationship with Him and that is that He gives each one of us a 'choice'.  He is not pushy.  He does not demand but allows us the time, space and whatever latitude we may need in order to become acutely aware of the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 
   I'm sure some of you may recall my state of being just prior to my coming to the Lord as a young woman.  I was going through some devastating times in my life and I just drove into my driveway, sat in my car in front of my house and hit my steering wheel.  I just yelled out, "Why did You have to just go and die, why couldn't You be here, NOW?!"  I know, and so do you, that those words were spoken in desperation to the only One who could lead me into the truth.  I was so desperate and grasping at whatever small bit of hope I could and my inner being just cried out to Jesus.  I knew even in my darkest times that only He could lead me into the true way and only He could make my life liveable again.  I probably knew deep down inside that Jesus is still alive but at that moment it didn't feel like it at all.  This began my journey to a deep and true relationship with Him and thus my beginning to understand the leading of the Holy Spirit in my everyday life.
   If you had known me then and now you would not believe I am the same person.  Which, in essence, I am not.  I am a new creation!  I've been born again, washed by the blood of the Lamb.  I had been to church for many years of my life but walked, of my own free will, completely away from any semblance of God.  I am so thankful for people in my life who prayed for me and didn't give up.  If not for a praying Mom and Grandaddy I would probably not be who I am now.
   I guess sometimes the leading the Holy Spirit gives does seem like He's pushy or shoving but completely contrary to that He is opening up doors and giving us a choice as to whether or not to go through them.  We are told 'it's darkest just before dawn'.  Well, in the spiritual realm it's the same way.  Just when all looks like gloom and doom just around the bend the Son shines brighter and brighter with each passing moment.
   Keep in mind that when things look tougher than they ever have that's the time the Lord is just about to step in and shine the Light on your situation.
   May the Lord bless and keep you.       
In His Service,

How Good and Pleasant It Is!...

Psalm 133:1-3  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.  KJV
      The days prior to the ladies retreat that I was blessed to participate in the first week of October I was asked to share a Psalm with the group and tell what it means to me. 
      The one above is actually the second one that came to mind so because of the story behind it for me I chose it. 
      When I came to a real saving knowledge of the Lord I was attending the most wonderful church.  My Mom was going there and all the people there were so great for me and my growth in my spiritual walk at that time.  My Pastor was so good to give me things to learn each time I finished whatever he had given me the last time. 
      During the 1st year of my time there a man named Alan arrived in town.  As I recall he was of Jewish descent but had come to know the Lord Jesus as his personal savior but was not very knowledgable about Him.  He knew a lot about the God of the Old Testament but not Jesus.  There is so much to tell about him but the main thing that always sticks in my mind is that he taught us a tune to remember the above passage by.  I honestly cannot at all even begin to recall the tune but I think the scripture will be imprinted in my heart forever.  Often when Carl preaches he will refer to anointing with oil or even various ways to baptize and he'll sometimes refer to the method of pouring over the head.  When he does, this is the thing that always comes to my mind. 
      Jesus anointed each one of us, His children, with His blood by completely covering us.  I can picture that covering of His blood in much the same way as the oil that is mentioned as being poured over the head of Aaron and running down all the way to the hem of his garment and puddling up on the floor.  There was enough to meet the need and have some left over piled up at his feet. 
      One of the things about Alan is that there didn't seem to be a trace of him that could be found by those who looked and when he left there was also a buzz about the fact that he left no trace.  I was greatly convicted by his childlike faith and innocence in so many of our ways of speaking.  Things that I would never even consider offensive to him would be just as weighty as a curse word.  I really began to look at what I said in a much more serious manner. 
      I pray that I would be as much a positive influence in the lives of folks I meet for such a short time as that.  I would love to have you pray for me that I'll be much cognicent of the fact that there are always others observing my life and that I'll moment by moment give it over the Lordship of Jesus.
      May the Lord richly bless you and keep your mind sharp and alert to His guidance as each day passes.      
In His Service, 

Pay It Forward!

"Pay It Forward" to everyone everywhere!
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."  Luke 6:38
    I'd like to share a "Pay It Forward" time in my life where others "Paid It Forward" to my entire family during the Christmas season when I was just 14 years old.  My Dad had to be away for his job a good bit during the year of 1969.  This kept him away during the time when Camille hit the area.  We were in Hattiesburg and were affected however not quite as harshly as those on the coastal areas. 
    Later in the year, just following Thanksgiving we, I'm one of six children, were at school one day but were instructed not to ride the bus but to wait for our Mom who came to pick us up.  We all knew there must be something out of the ordinary going on because she worked and got home just prior to our arrival on the bus.  She was there to tell us that our house was burned down.  We lost everything but the pictures.  They were all in bottom drawers in boxes and wrapped up!  Everything else, however was gone.  She had just the few days prior gotten all of our Christmas presents out of layaway and had them at home. 
     I can only imagine being in her shoes.  All six of us were parceled out to different families in the community in Petal, friends from church and school as well as neighbors, none of which any of us really knew very well prior to our house fire.  Daddy was in Illinois with no hope of returning until after the first of the year.  Mama was at that time the cafeteria manager at Thames Elementary in Hattiesburg. 
    Now comes the 'Pay It Forward' part!  As I write this I'm tingling and having a hard time seeing what I'm writing for the liquid buildup in my eyes!   The entire Thames Elementary School decided to take our family on as their family to buy for that Christmas!  As you might well imagine being in a family of six children we were not accustomed to receiving many gifts Christmas.  But that year we were given more than any of us ever had before that in our lives.  Also the gifts were much nicer than we'd ever received before.  I can remember many of the things I was given but the one thing that stands out most of all was a small goldtone filligree hand mirror with carved metal roses on it that was from my Girl Scout Leader, Mrs. Crowson.  As I think on that one little token of love that was 'Paid Forward' for me and all of our family I can totally count my blessings.  And guess what, I do NOT have any of those things and I'm quite sure none of the rest of my family have any of their gifts, either.  But the one thing we do have is the knowledge that when we were in need our community reached out to us in ways beyond our wildest imagination.  God will often show up 'with skin on' when we face desperate challenges and His skin is so soft.  The people were all so glad to do for us and we really didn't know how to take it - talk about humbling.
    Guess what else happened!  There was a knock on the door on Christmas Eve that startled everyone.  We were not expecting anyone else to visit as the gifts and food had arrived a few hours prior to that unexpected knock with a large effort of unloading gifts ensuing.  You may have guessed by now, Daddy had come home for Christmas!  Hugs and kisses and yes, tears and laughter were shared by all!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! 
Please always remember, when you "Pay It Forward" the recipient will often carry your gift of kindness in their heart for years to come, often for a lifetime! 
Jennie Heberg

Reflections of 2008

"I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation.
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
Isaiah 61:10 
   I have been reflecting over the past several days on the things of 2008 and what I want to change for 2009.  In looking back over the year I have been so blessed to recall many good memories. 
    I truly am not at all satisfied with the small amount time I've spent in the Word and devotions.  I truly need to be much more consistent and decisive in that area.  As a matter of fact, I made a plan to read the Bible through this year and have yet to begin in the plan I've chosen.  However, I will begin on Sunday afternoon and get as far as I can into getting caught up and then will be diligent to stay caught up in the plan laid out.  I, however, will not berate myself or put myself down in any way if I have to have more do-overs in the future.  I have such a new excitement in joining Jesus each day as He opens His heart to me as I receive His Words as jewels for my soul. 
    Jewels for my soul is what I based Jewels from Jennie on in the first place.  Now, I just need to live it out in a more precise manner.  I am so excited at the prospect of my weekly Bible study group's choice of study for this year.  We will walking through the Psalms and if I know Faye, we will walk with the Psalms through the entire Bible.  I can hardly wait to get started in this journey.
    I am also excited to see so many of you so ready to set new goals and see them through this year.  Let's all walk together, encouraging each other in the goals the Lord has placed in our hearts and see them come to fruition as His plan opens up to us.
    I have begun to Read The Bible Through in a Year so many times but have never completed that goal.  I welcome any of you to challenge me and hold me to the fire in that respect throughout 2009.  If I have not been as faithful as I should your challenge will urge me on and I trust you will also be encouraged.  Look with me throughout the Bible in 2009 and let's find mines of jewels He has hidden for our pleasure.
    I pray that the Lord will bless you immensely and that you will be able to see answers to many of your long unanswered prayers this year.
    May the Lord richly bless you in all you do.  I am so blessed to be the Pastor's Wife here at Byrd's & Wesley Chapels and in the Henleyfield Community in the Seashore District of MS.  Praise You Lord for placing me just where You have me.  Thank you all for your prayers and support.
In His Love and Service, 


Delivered by the Hand of God

My heart overflows with a good theme...
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."
Psalm 45:1 (NASB) 
   As I sit here to write this article I am so overwhelmed by the events I've read so far this year in my daily Bible reading.  I am amazed at the situations people either got themselves in or were put in by others.  And in every case they were delivered by the hand of God but only when they called on Him and put their trust in Him completely.  However, the deliverance didn't always come overnight.  Many people walked through some pretty tough stuff and for quite a long while.  Probably some of them may have thought that when deliverance came it may be too late.  But those of you who have walked with the Lord for any length of time know that God may be later than we might want Him to be but He is always right on time. 
   He knows the end from the beginning and we just know part of what we can see in front of us.  Isn't it amazing that we adults have such a hard time trusting that God has 'it all' under control?  We really should be the ones, since many of us are parents and lead our children in directions that will be for their benefit since we have a bit of insight into growing up, because we've seen some of the same scenarios.  Well, why can't we, adults, like our children, learn to trust that God already has a handle on everything?  He's been there and seen many of His children go through similar events and He has seen them through.  He is well able to take us through every event that would occur in our lives and give us the land He has promised.
   I encourage you to always look to Jesus, who truly is the author and finisher of our faith.  The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  He also gives us a great promise in that every person has been given the same measure of faith.  We just have to exercise that faith we've been given.  We'll then see God's hand at work in ways that we may have only thought was a bit of 'wishful thinking'.  Allow that 'wishful thinking' to develop into God's vision for not only your life but the vision for your future generations keeping in mind that He is coming back for a Bride that is madly in love with her Groom.  The Bride of Christ, the Church, is on a journey and will reach her destination as she looks unto Jesus, her author and finisher.  This author created her and will finish her into the most beautiful thing the world has ever seen.  In saying that we know that the more beautiful a jewel the more aggressive the cleansing, buffing, etc.  Let's remember that when the going seems tough the Lord is doing His most precious work on our lives.
   May the Lord richly bless you in all you put your hand to for Him.  May He lead you into paths of righteousness and keep your foot from stumbling so that you may be that witness those around you are looking for.  Always point to Jesus, who is God's Son and our Savior.
In His Love & Service,

An Emotional Affair (by: Lysa TerKeurst)

This month I'd like to share with you a devotion that I received from Proverbs 31 ministry.  I receive this daily but given the content I just think it says everything just as well if not better than I could say it myself.  (There is a reference to a friend in this writing that is unique to the author, not me.)  As a family who has dedicated our lives to the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have made a specific effort and pledge to one another to keep ourselves in a position to give no one the appearance of evil in this particular area of life.  We have been ridiculed by fellow ministers in this as everyone does not seem to see the importance in this.  However, we do.  In so doing we'd like to challenge you to be cautious in this as not to allow the enemy to trip you up in this way.  Enjoy the article that is shared by permission of  the Proverbs 31 ministry.
February 26, 2009
An Emotional Affair
by: Lysa TerKeurst

 "Flee from sexual immorality."
1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)
  A few years ago, I watched a friend get tangled up in an emotional affair. She was a strong Christian woman who loved her family but the attraction to this other man seemed unavoidable.She tried to talk herself out of it but her heart played tricks on her mind, and the justifications for letting things continue down this path soon led her to a very dangerous place.She was becoming emotionally attached to this other man.
  In a moment of desperation and fear, she confided in me what was going on.As she described how she got pulled into this place, I found myself being challenged by the realization of how subtly this had happened.She hadn't planned on being emotionally attracted to this other man. As a matter of fact, she'd always prided herself on being a woman of strong conviction and had scoffed at the idea of ever being tempted to have an affair.
  It starts off simple enough - his comment that you mull over one too many times, a conversation in which you find a surprising connection, a glance that lingers just a second too long, or one of a thousand other interactions that seem innocent yet aren't.These are the dangerous seeds that can easily sprout into an emotional affair.
  Some think it is a safe way to enjoy the lure of being attracted to someone other than your spouse without crossing any lines. But God boldly and plainly says in 1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee from sexual immorality."  God doesn't say walk away from sexual immorality.No, He says to flee as if your very life is at stake! The time to prevent an emotional affair is before it ever starts.For me to rest on my spiritual laurels and think that it could never happen to me, made me a prideful, open target for Satan.
  Jesus warned his disciples in Matthew 26:41,"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."  The Life Application NIV Bible commentary says, "Jesus used Peter's drowsiness to warn him about the kinds of temptation he would soon face.The way to overcome temptation is to keep watch and pray.Watching means being aware of the possibilities of temptation, sensitive to the subtleties, spiritually equipped to fight it." 
Watching:  I now realize that I need to be aware that I am just as prone to this temptation as anyone.One of the best ways to be watchful is to be praying with and for my husband. We need to be open and honest about meeting each other's needs and investing wisely in our marriage.If we get into a rough place, we need to be willing to get help.I love the quote, "If you are busy rowing the boat, you won't have time to rock it." The more my husband and I are taking care of each other, the less attractive temptations will seem.  Sensitive to the Subtleties:  I will have to be honest with myself that temptations do exist.When another man says or does something I wish my husband would say or do and doesn't, it can make me lessen my husband in my heart and build up this other man.This is a seed of poison.If watered and fed, this seed will sprout and spread and devastate.Seeds seem so small until you realize that within them they contain the potential to become huge.So, I will be steadfast to keep the fertile ground of my heart pure. Spiritually Equipped:  Philippians 4:8 reminds us, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things"(NIV). I must park my mind with the truth and the truth is I am married to an amazing man.He is not perfect and sometimes our marriage can be hard, but I made a commitment to Him in a covenant before God and there are no Biblical reasons in our marriage why we should ever part.Therefore, I've made the decision not to part - in big ways or small.
   My friend did the wisest but hardest thing she could have done in telling me about her emotional affair.Not only did it help her to see she needed to flee and have someone else hold her accountable, but italso made me aware and alert to the dangers lurking in any kind of unhealthy emotional connection with another man.
Dear Lord, may I forever treasure my marriage and see it worthy to be protected.Help me to be a courageous woman who absolutely flees from any and every situation where there is even a hint of danger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."(NIV)  
© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
 Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
  I encourage you to sign up for these wonderful daily devotions that will greatly encourage you.  I have enjoyed the ministry of Proverbs 31 Woman for quite some time.  I look forward to seeing you again next month.
In His Love and Service,
Mt. 6:33 & Isaiah 55:12 

Polycarp: Martyr for the Cause of Christ

Polycarp : Martyr for The Cause of Christ
   Do you know Polycarp?  Have you heard of him before?  I had not heard of him at all to my recollection prior to studying ancient history with Jonathan a few months ago.  I'm sure everyone who's been to Seminary or has studied various religion classes knows much more about him than I have learned, but I have been fascinated at finding out some of the history of him.  What is so fascinating to me is the testimony of his death and following.  You see, when he was in his late 80s he was given an ultimatum which is to 'renounce Jesus Christ and live, or, hold on to his faith and die'!  He chose the latter.  The norm at that time was to nail the martyr to the wood to be burned however he asked not to be nailed and that he'd stay put so they did as he asked. 
   I digress just a bit.  Polycarp was a man in his eighties in Smyrna circa AD70-155.  As he was eating supper in his home he realized his life would probably be in danger soon since many Christians had just been executed for their faith in the local arena.  However, given these circumstances he still refused to leave Rome.  You see the Romans were executing any self-proclaimed Christians and many were betraying those who they knew to be Christians.  Following recent executions, the crowd in the arena began calling for Polycarp's death.
   We know John the apostle, who is the person who mentored Polycarp and led him in discipleship in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the days preceding this night at supper, one of Polycarp's servants had been tortured into revealing his whereabouts.  When the soldiers arrived knocking at his door, rather than trying to hide his calm statement was "God's will be done".   At this time he requested an hour of time for prayer and given his age the soldiers allowed him his request.  He actually prayed for two hours not for himself but for all the Christians he knew and for the universal church and the soldiers gave him the lattitude.
   As he entered the stadium, it is reported that several Christians present heard a voice from heaven say, "Be strong, Polycarp, and act like a man."  Due to his advanced age the Roman proconsul gave Polycarp a final chance to live.  All he had to do was to swear by Caesar and say, "Take away the atheists", for at that time all Christians were called atheists.  At being given this choice the crowds began gesturing him to say "Take away the atheists!"  The proconsul then continued, "Swear, and I will let you go.  Reproach Christ!"
   He then turned and boldly declared,  "Eighty-six years I've served Him, and He has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"  Yet again he was urged to swear by Caesar.  At this his reply was, "Since you vainly think that I will swear by the Fortune of Caesar, as you say, and pretend not to know who I am, listen carefully, I AM A CHRISTIAN!"  I think you can't get any more plain than that.  As Polycarp knew he'd be led to the slaughter soon he continued to look unto the hills from where his help comes.  This is what we can do today also. 
   I said before that he'd be burned but he was also given the choice to be torn apart by wild animals.  We saw in Daniel both of these two choices used against men of God and God's hand stayed both of these things from hurting His children.  When Polycarp was threatened with each of these choices given he replied, first concerning wild beasts, "Call them!  For we cannot 'repent' from what is better to what is worse; but it is noble to turn from what is evil to what is righteous" and in reference to threat of fire, "You threaten me with a fire that burns an hour and is soon quenched, for you are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment stored up for the ungodly.  But why do you delay?  Do what you want."
   At these two statements it was decided that he'd be placed on the pyre for burning.  As the preparation continued and Polycarp was ready it was custom to nail him up but he asked them to, "Leave me like this.  He wo gives me to endure the fire will also give me to remain on the pyre without your security from the nails."  So they allowed his request yet again.  As Polycarp confidently approached the wood, he prayed these words, "O Lord God Almighty, Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of You, God of angels and powers and all creation, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before You, I bless You that You considered me worthy of this day and hour, to receive a part in the number of the martyrs in the cup of Your Christ, for the resurrection to eternal life both of soul and of body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit.  Among them may I be welcomed before You today by a fat and acceptable sacrifice, just as you previously prepared and made known and You fulfilled, the deceitless and true God.  Because of this, and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through whom be glory to You with Him and the Holy Spirit both now and for ages to come.  Amen." 
   Now comes the total climax of the whole of Polycarp's life.  As he had been threatened with wild beasts and fire allowing nothing to turn him away from his faith in Jesus Christ, the pyre was lit with the flame springing up quickly.  However, even the fire would NOT touch him as it formed an arch around his entire body.  The Romans didn't know at all what to make of this and in the end commanded an executioner to stab him with a sword.  At that time there came such a great amount of blood from his body that the remaining fire was extinguished and Polycarp bled to death.  Don't you know that at thot moment Polycarp was in the presence of the Lord in whom he had just professed as his own Savior and King and that he had no regret or remorse.
   The reason for these executions was to destroy the name of Jesus in the world and lo and behold following the martyred death of Polycarp more people became Christians and at a greater rate because of his death.  His death was remembered by "everyone" -- "he is even spoken of by the heathen in every place." 
   You know, this story is so important at this time of year in that he, in his later years did what he could to settle disputes about the date to celebrate Easter.  He was also responsible for converting many from Gnosticism.  I'm sure if we really knew all this man's life entailed we'd be amazed and astonished as it is reported that he was not a highly educated man but was firm and direct in his stand for righteousness.
   This is just one example of one person who has made Jesus Christ the Lord of their life.  I think the apostle Peter in I Peter 1:7 said it best, "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ."   We've all heard of the heroics of missionaries and others called to serve in various parts of the world but what about you? what about me? as we serve right here, right now.  Let's determine to be as steadfast in our faith realizing the preciousness of that faith and when tested by fire we can be found to be full of praise, honor and glory in our revelation of Jesus Christ.
In His Love and Service,



 "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Ex. 9:16 (NIV)
   Purpose!  Purpose, what is my purpose?  Do I have a purpose?  If I have a purpose, how do I find out what it is?  How can I live my life 'on purpose'?
   These are things that I've heard about, read about and thought about over the past couple weeks. 
   When we are children, and sometimes as adults, we do things and then say we didn't do them 'on purpose'.  How many of us have been called on what we did, whether 'on purpose' or not?  We were, are and will be held accountable for our actions, whether done 'on purpose' or not!  I have known this principle for most of my life but there have been 
a few specific pinpointed times throughout my life that I've come face to face with that word, Purpose!
   Most of the time I am so secure in the 'purpose' of God in my life.  There are, however, times when I'm rocking right along in that 'purpose' and then along comes this 'idea' that maybe I should be doing something more, or something else, am I really sure about this 'purpose'?  This got me to thinking that if I think this there are probably others who just may not be sure about the 'purpose' of, in and for their life.
   Most Christians know that their 'purpose' is to bring others into the Kingdom of God and disciple them when possible or encourage them to get in a Bible believing/teaching church that will disciple them.  But what about the day-to-day?  Am I where God wants me?  Like, for instance, homeschool?  I know that there is flexibility in this form of schooling, but there is also lots of day-to-day, one foot in front of the other, discipline, etc. that goes along with it.  What about the support given to the Pastor, my husband?  Where is my outlet to minister to others?  These are not things I dwell on because whenever these thoughts, ideas, etc. enter my mind I combat them with the Word of God and know that, as stated in Ecclesiastes 3 ..there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  Well, that means the activities in my daily life, because they are things done with 'purpose' and they are under heaven are the things I know God placed in my life, or the 'purpose' he gave for this time. 
   Several years ago, about 17 I think, I was in the company of a lady who had been a Pastor's wife, raised five children and was at that in full time ministry on the mission field in Africa.  We were blessed to spend a good bit of quality time together as I was her driving companion as she itinerated for mission support one year.  One thing she said that has always stuck with me when 'these thoughts' come about is that she felt, while her children were small, that God had placed a calling on her life to do something BIG for his kingdom in the way of ministry to others.  But she was so confined to 'raising her children' and 'supporting her husband as a Pastor'.  One of the days when she prayed about it the Lord firmly planted in her heart that his call was made BY HIM, ON PURPOSE.  She hadn't 'missed God'.  She was right where she was supposed to be. 
   At the time we were discussing this, her husband had already been with the Lord for a few years.  Her five children were all in full time ministry, and she was actually working in Kenya, East Africa with her eldest son.  This is what the Lord reminds me of when I begin to question my purpose.  Is it his or is it mine?  Is it just for now, or will it stand the test of time?  All the 'what ifs' are defeated!  All the 'is this all there is' attitude is dissipated. 
   So, if you're thinking that God has forgotten the call that you know he placed in your heart and on your life, know that he always does everything 'on purpose'.  And he created you with a 'purpose' in mind.  Seek him to find that purpose and depend on him to show it to you and lead you in it.
In His Love & Service,
 Mt. 6:33, Is. 55:12

A Jewel - The Fruit Produced by God

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks Himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.  Isaiah 61:10-11  
  To be a jewel in the sight of the Lord is a concept that really appeals to me and I'm sure to many others.  Today the jewel I am focusing on is the fruit produced by God.  In reading the words of the two verses used I'm reminded of the produce Jonathan and Carl have received as a result of their work in their garden.  No matter how much or little work has been done by them they could never have made the produce be there.  They could well have given an atmosphere for it but only God could make the fruit to be there.  His work is beyond our abilities and comprehension.  All our work is in vain if the Lord does not provide the end result.  This result, in the case of the garden, is the squash, tomato, cucumber, etc.  So many of the fruit is in great abundance due to the work applied. 
   However, when the work was done on one of the plants all the fruit rots no matter what work has been put into it.  There is a blight of some kind in that one plant and no matter what we do, it does no good. 
   Sometimes it's like that in the church.  We, the church, try to work out a situation, tend it the best way we can, and yet it never does produce the fruit expected or desired.  These are the times we need to realize that only God can produce the fruit for this plant.  For you see, only He can see the true heart of the situation.  We can do everything there is to do, and when there is found in it a blight, only the Lord can cause a change to come about so that the fruit produced can bring glory to Him.  I don't mean in saying this that we need to stop doing all we can to bring about the desired result, but that we completely depend on the Lord to lead us in the right ways to tend this situation, plant, and eventually see His fruit come in its season. 
   You know, there may be something that we'll find to do in working with this plant in the guys' garden that will work during the season of producing.  If so, we'll partake of the fruit of it.  If not, we'll be excited to partake of the surrounding fruit and know that there was nothing else we could do.
   Sometimes we are to do that very thing in life's situations that we face.  We are to listen to the Lord and do what He directs knowing that often there are situations, plants, that come into our lives that we have no control over due to the fact that there are others who make choices, choices that may not be aligned with God's plan.  However, in these situations God can work to provide the desired fruit.  And in trusting God to bring about His desired plan we will continue to seek Him in what our part will be and walk in it in total abandon to Him in obedience to His Word.
In His Love and Service,

What a Friend We Have In Jesus....

"Come near to God and He will come near to you."  James 4:8
   "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."  This line is just the beginning of a song that has been dear to my heart since childhood.  I think truly we all long to hear the words, he/she is a friend of God as we see in the Word about Abraham.
   Don't we truly enjoy those relationships that the Lord has blessed us with that have given us so much comfort and in which we can feel so comfortable?  There are some friends we can be with in which we don't even HAVE to talk.  Just being together brings a great sense of peace.  Then there are times that we both talk over each other with the excitement of life that only the two of us know intimately.  We finish each other's sentences, correctly; look at each other and both know what the other is going to say, often the very same thing.  What a great blessing these relationships are when they come into our lives.  
   I can think of only a handful of these friendships that have blessed my life over the past 50 plus years.  With these friends, no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, we just pick up where we left off the last time we were together. 
   I pray that one of these friendships in your life is with Jesus, the one who laid down His life for you. John 15:13
   "Father God, please accept me with open arms when I just want to be with You.  Thanks for those times.  What Peace!  The excitement of renewed joy when we both have that look - the one where we know that we are totally on the same page.  God, I would that more of Your children would be so ready to spend time with You that there would be such a variety of ways to be with You that we have a veritable smorgasbord of relational activities.  Lord, please permeate our communities, work places, homes, churches, etc. to the point that You are so evident in Your love and grace in all we see.  Thank You for Your deep and strong love for each of Your children and for imparting that same love in our hearts for You and those around us. We love You, in Jesus' name, Amen." 

God is Better that Any STOP Sign
During the past few weeks the Lord has impressed upon me that there is so much I need to be wary of.  There are so many choices that really are good choices.  For instance I attend a very fulfilling Bible study weekly and there are so many more that have been opening up to me in the way of invites.  I'd really like to attend them all for they all offer things I'd benefit from and could reach out and help others as a result of being a participant in any of them.  I've had to really focus on what God desires for me to do.  In thinking of each one of these great invitations I've evaluated the responsibilities in my life; i.e. Pastor's Wife, Homeschool Mom, etc. and have come to the realization that God is better than any STOP sign and can truly give me the right direction.  I just need to be sure to follow His guidance.  If I were to continue on through the intersection without stopping to evaluate the situation I could easily be blindsided which could very well bring calamity to my spiritual life.
   In stating these good things that could be distractions to my spiritual and family life I can also see that there are many things that may not be Godly at all that could come to squelch my effectiveness as a Christian.  Whether or not I am a Pastor's Wife I am first and foremost a Christian and I, as well as every other Christian, have the responsibility to keep my mind and heart tuned in to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit in every sense.
   As we've seen in the news concerning the Methodist Church, other denominations also, the world and every avenue of life, there are choices that each one of us has to evaluate according to the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to give us the right direction.  I pray that I'll always be one who will do just that.  We are told in the Word that in the end times even some who are the 'elect of God' will become deceived and follow the wrong path in areas concerning spiritual matters, thinking they're doing the right thing.
   I covet your prayers that I'll not be swayed, deceived or distracted from the call God has on my life.  I encourage you all to faithfully attend church services everytime they are offered.  Sometimes the services that may not be as faithfully attended truly do contain some of the most meat of the Word that you may get for the week.  Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as far as the  attendance of church goes.
In His Love and Service,

In The Stillness

In The Stillness
  And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness - I kings 19:12
He is a still, small voice.  A still voice can hardly be heard.  It must be felt.  A steady, gentle pressure on the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face.  A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear.  His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent on hearing even faintest whispers.  There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in.  He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. (10/03) (excerpted from Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman) 
  In reading this devotion I am reminded of a close friend who lead a Cursillo Retreat using as her theme "Be still and know that I am God" - Psalm 46:10.   I observed her prepare for months in the stillness of His presence among the busyness of life and since then there never a day goes by that something doesn't remind of this passage and the photo of a lone adirondak chair at the end of a wooden pier overlooking a fantastic sky and a body of water.  The retreat moments bring us to a place of stillness that resides in us no matter what is happening in life. 
   In the past couple weeks we've seen earthquakes and tsunamies of record proportions.  Fires blazed across our TV sets for weeks.  Also just this morning we witnessed reports of a heroic rescue of a young child from an apartment fire by a local business owner who apparently did not know him.
   During our Annual Charge Conference for the Pearl River Cluster our District Superintendent, Rev. Bill McAlilly's sermon spoke of a true story of a modern-day 'Good Samaritan' who threw himself on top of a man who had fallen under a subway, and in so doing saved his life.  This also was someone he didn't know.  Two individual examples of Good Samaritans in one weekend an abundance of them as rescue efforts are in full swing in the places hard hit by the earthquakes and tsunamies, floods; yet more reminders to 'Be still and know that I am God' in the midst of life's happenings; earthquakes, tsunamies, floods, fires, etc. 
   Amazed at all these things!  Oh, the stillness of His presence in the activity of everyday life! 
   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Rom. 1:7b
In His Love and Service,
DGC Testimony
 I have an awesome testimony to share with you this month.  As many of you may recall I attended a Discover God's Call weekend in November.  My first experience with DGC was at a pivotal time in my life in April of '04 and I've been involved in as many of the meetings following that initial introduction to this spririt filled weekend as I possibly could since.  For those of you who many not know, DGC is a power packed weekend focusing strictly on assisting the New Discoverers in finding the Call God has placed on their lives.  Often they are already walking in that Call, and sometimes they are just not sure of the direction to go in next.  Sometimes one will come away not knowing at all their next step or God's Call for their lives.  The main thing is that the Lord is the One who gives the Call and not any person. 
   The testimony is one that was shared on Saturday night by one of our Team, actually our worship leader.  As long as I've been part of this great ministry we've been  praying for her son.  I'm not going to share any names because that really doesn't matter.  What matters is the miraculous power of prayer and God's hand at work in the life of a young man and his family. 
   This son has had a time for several years with a variety of addictions.  Many relationships have been greatly tested and some broken completely.  He lost all he had and went through several treatment centers to no avail.  In fact the last few he didn't complete.  But one day while walking down a sidewalk in TX he happened by a church and was drawn by the Holy Spirit to enter.  What an awesome thing happened when he took that step.  He came face to face with the presence and power of God.  The direction his life has taken since that day is phenomenal.  The Lord has used him in a mighty way to deliver His Word in such power that many have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  God has filled this young man with His presence and power and he now is a New Creation and reaches out to the homeless, outcasts, drug and alcohol addicts, etc.  There is life in his step now where there was hopelessness and despair. 
   I know what God can do and many of you do also, but isn't is so refreshing to hear of it in this way?      
   In communication with his mother she shared that during their Thanksgiving celebration there is evidence of the hope of her son's marriage being restored also. 
   So, if anyone ever asks you to pray for their friend, child, spouse or anyone else to be delivered please remember this testimony.  If God can do it for him, you, me He can do it for them, too. 
   The Words of the Lord are pure words, purified seven (7) times in the furnace of the earth.
In His Service and Love,

New Year Ahead

  Here we are with another New Year ahead of us as they say  'Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes' to spend once more.  What are we to do with them?  Right now in our house we've been spending the days since Monday after Christmas doctoring Jonathan with tonsillitis and low and behold now Mama can't talk, well not much anyway.  But she can write! 
   In retrospect of the year 2009 I've been amazed at all that has transpired.  In reviewing the year's newsletters we've really been busy with the Lord's work.  There have been a good many join Byrd's Chapel and several more in regular attendance along with the family who are continuing in their faithfulness to God in attendance and relationship with the Lord. 
   Our Pearl River County Cluster has become stronger and our youth are now getting more involved.  There is always room for involvement in the cluster as well as our own individual congregations and communities.
   The Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors policy that the United Methodist lives with is a great inspiration and is the backbone of which we live our lives.  All people are welcome to worship with us and we are so pleased to see new friends begin a new relationship with the Lord or renew an old one. 
   We've seen ups and downs in our congregation, community, country and the world in many ways.  However, over all, the Lord has prevailed and is still on His throne.  Those of us who call ourselves Christian are the ones who can call on our God and see His will come to pass in not only our lives but in the lives in which we come in contact.
   Let's continue to look forward with spirit eyes to see what good and wonderful things this new year, new decade, will bring our way.
   I look forward to walking hand in hand with you and expect good things along with some bad I'm sure, knowing that God is working in all.
Have a Great New Year,
In His Service,

What Has God Done for You in the Past?
  Today I have lived with the Sunday message of January 24th for 2 days.  I can't get away from the final two questions stated.
  What has God done for you in the past?  Can you remember?
  First, the theme for this year, 2010, that Carl presented on the first Sunday is "Don't Limit God".  That three word phrase packs a big punch!  Just think.  "Don't limit God"!  That says quite a lot.
   In the sermon on the 24th we took a journey with the Israelites as they had been delivered out of Egypt after the plagues had ravaged that country and its inhabitants.  There was literally nothing to go back to.  Some days had passed and everyone was thirsty with no water in sight.  "Moses, give us something to drink, NOW" was the general consensus of the people.  At this point we begin to be reminded of God's miraculous provision of the recent days.  All provision had been given by the hand of God.  Israel's response was to grumble at the difficulties life was presenting to them.  They also quarrelled with God, Moses and each other.  This is the time of testing, or proving if you will, what they were made of.  God was making them strong through adversity which is just what happens with us today.  Our response can be that of negativity as was the response of the Israelites at this point in their journey or it can be one of doing what we can to see God in the situations or circumstances of life.  We have all heard it said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  It can also be said that when God is walking with you through the rough patches of life He is giving you a stability in your relationship with Him and leading you in the right way.  He will never leave or forsake us as we continue in His plan and the greatest thing is that even when we step out of that plan God always makes a way for us to get back in step.  
   We must find a way to remember the 'testimonies' of what God has done.  Don't forget.  Write down the things God has done in your life.  Journaling is what we call it!  You can see hundreds of thousands of 'blogs' on the internet of people posting the everyday things of their lives.  In going back one can see the highs and lows in life and see where God brought us out of life's dire situations.
   One thing that stood out to me in the sermon is that 'the worse the disaster, the greater the miracles that happen'!  Just look at the events following Katrina and all the helpful events following the earthquake in Haiti just less than two weeks ago.  God is in the midst of the storm comforting, encouraging and yes, doing the miraculous.  Remembering helps us not to forget! 
   In our society, our Egypt is that we were born into sin.  Our deliverance, is His salvation!  What a powerful statement.
   Again, "Don't Limit God", He has a plan to prosper His children and not to harm them.  His way is true and sure.  He will make a way where there seems to be no way.  He is THE way, The truth, and The light.  Come to Him and walk in His deliverance and begin the journey anew!
In His Service,