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Burned, But I’m Ok…

I am thankful for the part time job I have at a small country church in the next county. It is approximately around 15 minutes from my house. So as the drive goes, It really is not that far, and I have some good one on one time with God as well as time on some days when I can have some quietness of spirit. Today, as I was zipping back toward the house I began looking at a woodsy area that lasted for a few miles. In that particular area, someone had done a control burn. This is popular in our area of Georgia to make sure the undergrowth is kept at bay, and if there was a fire started by lightening etc., it would be easier to handle. So as the burn happened a while back, I could see how the trees and flowers were recovering. I am amazed at the resilience of the foliage that God created. It was taking time, but it was recovering. The black ground had new growth and the leaves on the trees were greening out. It was something to see.

Here lately, I have encountered a lot of men and women in ministry who are going through suffering. They are being “burned” by people inside and outside of the ministry. More than once in the last few weeks, I have heard church ministry leaders say that church ministry is hard. You know what, my friend? It can be hard. I don’t always understand why things happen as they do. When I have more questions than answers, I take them to scripture.

In my searching and praying on this topic, I have come to some conclusions. Let me say that I don’t claim to know everything. Hey, I am not Jesus. I do strive to be like him every day and to be a willing pupil of His teaching. I can say that I have been in the trenches of church ministry for 27 years with my dear husband, and through suffering God has taught me some things that I never could have learned any other way.

So, here is one of my conclusions! Only one for now, so hang with me if you will.

Ministry is hard, but God never told me that following Him would be easy. I’m not sure why this point did not occur to me years earlier, but it really hit home for me several years ago. I am called to serve God. I am called to love the people in my congregation. I am called to follow the Lord and His Word. While doing these things, I have been in the position where somebody didn’t like it. I have been where I have been hurt by those who are hurting. I have suffered at the hand of those who disagree with my husband who was doing what was right. I have had times where someone tried to hurt my family members with cutting words and backstabbing. In these times, I have learned that I am not the first one or the last one to encounter this scenario. So I go to the Word!

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:12

Everyone who is trying to do what is right is going to suffer persecution. This verse in II Timothy says, “all”. Did not all of the disciples of Christ suffer bad things at the hands of others?

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18

In these verses in Romans, when I suffer with Christ or because of Christ there is a benefit that I cannot get any other way. God’s glory will be revealed in me. Through suffering I am becoming more like Christ and a little less like me. You see, this suffering that I am facing it’s for my good. In my flesh, I can’t handle the emotions and arrows of hurt flung in my direction. However, I am not suffering alone. I am suffering with Him. In Christ, I know that I will receive the benefits far beyond what I can imagine. I may not receive the glory right now. The glory might not be till I get to Heaven, but that should not stop me from taking on the suffering with Him. I need to accept it as a part of being where I am right now, and doing what I am supposed to be doing. I may not like the suffering, but some things must be endured. I have to keep my focus on God through the midst of the suffering I am facing. I keep my focus on my God, and look forward to the glory that will come for the suffering I faced cannot be compared to it. I can experience joy today because I am in this place with Christ.

I need to be one who is willing to walk the hard road, and in doing that I may be burned sometimes. I must remember though the burning process new growth will take root and flourish. I will not stay as I am. I will recover and I will be closer than ever to the God who has walked beside me through it all.

At the end of the day, everything I suffer is for my good and for His glory. I have even heard a song written about this. I think it’s time to look it up again and take a listen!

Blessings to you,

Amy

The Last Time I Went Crazy…

Let me pose a question to you this morning that has been on my mind and heart for the last few days.

When was the last time you went a little crazy?

Now I know this may be an odd question so let me share my heart with you. A while ago, I did do something a little crazy. No, it was not sinful, or rude, but it was misunderstood. In that moment, I wanted to cry out and defend myself. Did those who misunderstood know that the thing that I did was carefully thought over, talked over with God, even agonized over, and only at the end of my thought and prayer process, did I do it. In my heart I knew that in the effort to be fair in the situation to everyone I needed to do it. However, I was not given the benefit of the doubt, and to be honest it hurt. I have gone over and over this situation in my mind, and praying how could I have done this differently. In the end I feel what I did was the right thing to do. It might not have been popular, hence I call this a little crazy.

In my devotions today, I started a new book of the Bible. I took up the challenge this year to read through the Bible and the book I came to today was the book of Hosea. Now, if you want to talk about someone who went a little crazy to outsiders, let’s talk Hosea.

“The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.” (Hosea 1:2-3)

Wait a minute! WHAT??? God tells Hosea, the prophet, to go take a wife who was currently a prostitute. God wanted to say something to his people so He told the prophet to do something that was a little crazy, and more than likely misunderstood. Hosea obeyed the Word of the Lord and did as he was told. I’m sure there were others who thought, “what is that man thinking?” In the middle of it all, He obeyed, and God blessed Hosea for doing what was right before God. God used Hosea to show God’s people what He wanted them to hear.

I will say in the effort of disclosure, my situation when compared to Hosea’s situation is very far apart from his…a light year even. Mine was not near as drastic or out there kind of crazy. I feel, however, that there is a principle here to be considered. Perhaps, you are in a situation right now where if you go forward with what you know to be fair and right, people will call you out. They will call you crazy, call you out publicly, and/or not give you the benefit of the doubt on the reasoning behind you doing what you are thinking about doing. There comes a point where you must decide, “Are you going to obey what God is telling you to do or what men may think of you? You may know that there will be those who will try to set you straight and point out all the ways you are wrong. If you feel like God is telling you to move forward, you need to do it anyway. Trust the one who has lead you this far. Let me also say that if you are going to do it, let the Lord be your defender to those who don’t like it, and make sure to extend grace to those who disagree. If they outright ask you about it, do your best to calmly and graciously explain if God leads you to. In all of this, follow God’s leading.

Has God asked you to go crazy? If he has, step out in faith and do it. You never know if he may use you to turn a group around to His way of thinking!

Blessing to you all,

Amy

The God Who Hears Me

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. II Samuel 22:7, KJV


When my boys were little around 6 and 5, I often let them play outside of the pastorium which was located behind the church where my husband was the pastor. We lived outside a small town in the country. They did have a few rules in order to keep them safe. They had certain boundaries they had to stay in, and one of their favorite places within that boundary was at the bottom of a large oak tree. They would play with their matchbox cars or pretend the tree was a fort. It was shady, and a cool spot in the summer. I could watch them from my kitchen window as I washed dishes or prepared supper. One thing I stressed to them was even if they wandered to the edge of the boundary they could hear me if I called them. As they grew older and the boundary expanded, I still wanted them to be able to hear me if I called. Even if they were out of my sight, I wanted them within ear shot. This worked both ways unbeknownst to them. If they could hear me, then I could hear them. I could hear them if they cried out for help, or had an immediate need. Now that they are grown up, their boundary has expanded far beyond ear shot. However, they do know that if they ever need to call for help or if they have a need, I will come as quick as I can to their aid.


Many times, when my boys have needed me, I have felt inadequate to meet their needs. Because I am human, there is a limitation to my physical presence, resources, and ability. As much as I want to help, I can only do so much. However, I am so thankful to tell you that God is limitless. His presence is always with us and active in our lives. Sometimes, I feel alone and these feelings at times can be overwhelming. It is in these times I need to rely on the one who has promised in His Word in I Samuel 12:22, “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” KJV. God will not forsake me nor leave me. His presence is always close, and active. God can hear me when I cry out to Him for help. “..my cry did enter His ears…” This is a fact and a foregone conclusion. God is not bound by time and space. His presence comforts me when I need Him the most. In the times when I do not keenly feel His presence, I must search my heart and see if I have put up barriers to block His presence. I must always remember that even though God may be seemingly silent does not mean that He is not active and near.


God’s resources are immeasurable. God does not have a cap to His resources. They never run out and are available to meet our needs. Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” KJV I must have faith and trust that God is going to meet the needs that I have. Often, these needs press on me, and I wonder will God come through. Faith comes in when we cannot see what is ahead. He resources are far beyond mine. So I must decide if I am going to trust God or not. Faith and trust go hand in hand. Do I really believe that God will meet my needs? Absolutely, Yes! I must rely on His Word. God said that He will supply my need. Faith is like a muscle. I must exercise it so it will grow stronger.


Not only is God’s presence active and His resources on time, but also God’s ability is massive and mighty. Many times, as the boys were growing up, I felt inadequate in my ability to raise them to be all God wanted them to be. I would often pray for God to intervene and make up the difference. I tried my best to be strong for them, but I would fall short so often. God has the power and ability to overcome any trial or circumstance that I may face. Where my ability ends, His begins. I had to learn early on to rely on His ability to accomplish His will. In fact, the world will tell you that you are enough, and if you don’t feel this way start to boost yourself up. You can do anything is the world’s cry. God has a different way for me. He wants me to realize that I am not enough, but Christ is enough.

He was enough to meet me where I was and save me, and God will do the same for you. He is enough to heal your heart. He is enough to calm your spirit. Christ is enough for any situation you may face in life. Jude 1:25, KJV, “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” No matter where you are today, God will hear you when you cry out to Him. God hears you, my friend! Your cry “did enter into His ears” in this very moment. He is the God who hears you!

The River…

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. ~Psalm 46:4

I find comfort in being out in nature. When I was in high school, we lived in a home on the river for about 6 years. I can’t begin to count the number of times I sat in the back yard or on the dock and watched the water. Watching the river as it moved along relaxed me. Often, I could feel my stress level going down as I sat there. There was quite a strong current at times, but by just watching you didn’t really notice it. The water held a strength in it as it moved along. It was active, always moving, yet the vastness of it comforted me. The river was a constant in my life. When I sought it out, it was there.

When I think about it, in quite the same way God is reflected in the characteristics of that river. Always active, always moving, but always present. God’s strength and nearness is a comfort to me when I need it most. When I take the time to focus on God and draw near to Him my heart is glad. My stress levels go down and I rest in the one who is unchanging and always constant. Knowing this, it is up to me to daily seek His presence, and watch closely what He is doing for God is always active.

#psalm46challenge

Blessings to you.

When I am shaken…

Sometimes it feels like I am in the world’s biggest shaker bottle. I am shaken and tossed about so that I cannot find my footing. Life is like that sometimes. It usually happens to us unexpectedly because if we were to anticipate it we could counter with appropriate action. So what’s a girl to do when she is shaken and tried?

As I was reading, Psalm 46 this morning, I kept rereading verse 3, “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” In order to anticipate and see what to do before this happens, I have to return to verse 1-2. Because God is a refuge, strength, and help, I do not have to fear when I am shaken up. I can recognize the shaking for what it is a testing of my faith. Dr. Henry Blackaby in His book, “Experiencing God“, calls these testings of the faith, markers, that we can look back to and see what God has done in the past and how He brought us through them. I am a planner by nature. I like to know what is coming and be ready with a battle plan, yet often life shakes us up with things we can’t possibly plan to handle. So, I have a new plan for me. When the shaking occurs, run to God immediately. Find refuge in His presence. Let His divine strength radiate through me. Ask for help that is beyond my ability, but comes directly from the Father. Will I ever falter? Sure, I will. Will I have a lapse in executing this new plan? More than likely. Yet, in this, I would hope that next time life shakes me, I will bounce back a little quicker than last time. I will trust God more than last time.  I will rest in God’s presence more and as I learn and grow He will make me over into the Christian He wants me to be.

The shaking of life is going to happen. It is inevitable, but, sweet friends, we are not alone. God is there.

Blessings to you!

#psalm46challenge

Am I in the grip of God or fear?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.for: or, of Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  ~Psalm 46:1-2
As I read and pray over this Psalm this morning, I am drawn to the phrase, “Therefore will not we fear.”. I often find myself focusing on the circumstances of my life rather than on God. I let these things cause me to fear and worry. The fact of the matter is I do not have to worry or experience fear about my circumstances. Because God is my refuge, I can go to Him with everything that is bothering me. I do not have to be fearful of the “what if’s”. I can choose to rest in the hand of God. I can choose to rest in Him or let fear strangle my trust in God.
I John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.” In the presence of the love of God fear has no place. Many times life will shake us up. Our world will be turned upside down. Will we be paralyzed in the grip of fear or recognize we are in God’s hands? When I feel I am starting to worry or being fearful, this should be my indicator that it is time to focus on God, let Him calm my Spirit, and jump-start my joy in Him.
“Therefore will we not fear…”
I want to live here today!
#psalm46challenge

A Busy Summer Indeed

Is anybody out there? Yoohoo? I know corny use of an opening. I bet you think I have forgotten about you, but that is not the case. My summer has been one that went into busy super drive. I pause to catch my breath. The good thing is I have been studying and writing. The bad thing is that it has not happened here. This Summer I have been leading a weekly ladies Bible study. I long for the moment when I will have my act together to such a degree that I can accomplish both. Until then… I will identify with Mary, “she has done what she could!”

I will say that of late that Psalm 46 is becoming more and more dear to me. I love verse 1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This verse fills me with comfort and hope to know that He is there when I need Him most. There is also beauty in the verse because He is there all the time even when I don’t think I need Him. His refuge and strength is not conditional on me. I know however in my heart I need Him all the time, in every situation. My head often is the problem. It sometimes wants to do what I think is best rather than what God thinks is best for me. So, I repent, and recognize, “God Is…” In the midst of all the busy, “God is my refuge.” God is “my strength.” God is “a very present help in trouble.” Our pastor issued a challenge to read Psalm 46 every day during the month of September and post what God is teaching us about Psalm 46 so I reckon you may be hearing from me quite a bit more as God teaches me. For now I rest in the God who is my refuge! Thanks for reading.

#psalm46challenge

Blessings to you all!

Good Morning, Grace

So, it really happened. The very thing I tried to avoid happening did indeed happen on the platform of our church in the Sunday morning service. Let me explain. My husband and I were going to be singing a special in the service with our Minister of Music and his wife. I was really excited about this. We had been planning it for some time and it was our first time to be singing as a quartet. We had practiced and were ready to go. The song was placed in the order of service after the 2nd song sung with the praise team and congregation. For the first two songs I was singing in the choir loft in my normal spot. I would have to make my way down around the corner of the band in an opening to the platform. I motioned to our guitar player and asked him to move the music stand over so I would have room to slip through the opening easily when it was time to sing. All was well till I was about to round the corner and my foot caught on the music stand. It made a loud noise and I did catch it from falling over. Good Morning, Grace!

I did something this time that years earlier I would not have been able to do. I took a deep breath, smiled and let it go. Can I tell you straight up that this is not because of a work of Amy. This is the evidence that Jesus has been doing something in me. It is all Him, not me. Over the past few years, God has been teaching me that there are times when you have to let things go. Before I probably would have not have been able to concentrate on singing my part because I was so embarrassed about tripping. I would have fretted and wondered if everyone was thinking, “Wow, what a klutz?” or “We had a beautiful flow of worship going and you messed it up.” Psalm 126:2 reads,  “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.”  Now I realize that this verse is in the middle of a praise song that is sung in the Old Testament how God had released Israel from captivity. It is a song of degrees that they sang over and over each round with more intensity than the time before. However, I could relate to this verse on reflection this morning. The Lord has taught me it’s okay to laugh at yourself, to sing on, and let the small stuff go! This has not been an easy lesson to learn, but I am grateful that the Lord loves us where we are in our walk and helps us along with patience and wonderful grace. Remember, You also may be an encouragement to someone who has been struggling to not sweat things that need to be released. So with His help I will laugh and sing it loud, “Let it go, Let it go, Let it go!”

A Story Of Need

A well spun story can stir great emotions. A story can cause us to shriek with laughter. A story can stir deep emotions and thought patterns. A story can take us on a journey of imagination and discovery. A story can also move us to tears and break our heart. It is the latter of these that has stirred me this morning.

My husband told me a true story last night about a teenage boy who was so hungry he was gathering up the scraps of food that others had discarded in the trash. This story moved me to tears, and it broke my heart to know that this was happening in my county. We see in the media all the time the need of children around the world who do not have enough to eat. We help when we can, but when we hear of children and teens in our communities struggling to find their next meal how can we not be moved to action. Some might say, they get meals at school. Two, in fact, are available to them. What happens though to these on the weekends or during the summer? There is a great need.

” For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in… And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:35,40 

In the verses above, we find a message from Jesus himself. We find a call to action. Jesus wanted us to know that when we extend kindness and meet a need in the life of a child we are doing it unto Him. We are living out our faith by reaching out to another. As I think on this, we must meet the need for physical food, but it doesn’t need to stop there. We need to also do all we can to meet the spiritual needs of these dear ones. We need to point them to Jesus who loves them. We need to be the hands reaching out in Jesus’ name.

So how do we accomplish this? We must pray for guidance. We must also be moved to action. Knowing that when we reach out to the children of our communities, we are doing this for Jesus.

Only Today…

I have in the past week been on a trek of profound reflection. It could be the fact that I became a great-aunt a week and a half ago. It could be the fact that my friend who graduated from high school the same year I did proclaimed on Facebook that she graduated 30 years ago. Wow. I’m not sure which one did it, maybe it was the combination of the two. However, I began to look over my life of the past, ahem, 30 years and began to take stock of what I have accomplished in those years. On first glance and pondering, it didn’t seem like much. As I looked deeper I realized that I have gone through quite a bit in those years. I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I met and married an awesome man. I had two amazing boys who are Jesus loving, well-rounded, and daily amaze me. My husband and I have served in ministry for all of our married life together (almost 24 years at 3 churches). We have a great family and a wealth of friends. To you it may not seem that much, but that doesn’t matter. What truly matters is have I taken the time the Lord has given me and served Him to the best of my ability. Have I done everything perfectly? Not a chance. On reflection, I feel I have followed the Lord faithfully to this point. Would I have liked to have accomplished some great things? Well, Sure! but I know that this is not the end. I have today. I am not promised tomorrow so I will take the day I have been given and live it out how I know Jesus would want me to do. I can show compassion, I can love Him with my whole heart, I can serve others in the work place and in my home, and I can live out the plan He has set before me for today. No matter what amount of time I have left, I can finish well the course the Lord has for me. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” This is what I want. I want to be counted among the faithful. A lifetime is made up of what we have done with all of our “todays”. We cannot do anything about yesterday or tomorrow. We have today. Let’s take our today, and put in it all that God would have us to do with it. Serving Him, Trusting Him, Loving Him, Worshiping Him, and Living Life with the purpose of bringing glory to His name will be my goal today. It is indeed a worthy calling!