A Teacher? No, Not Me! by: Brenda Cole

A Teacher? No, Not Me! by: Brenda Cole

Are you a teacher? Stop for a moment before you answer that question. If you are like me, you’re quick to say, “No. I’m not a teacher,” and move on to something that’s more relevant to you. Think about the people you have had interactions with in the last two weeks? My list would look like this:

  • My family
  • My coworkers
  • My neighbors
  • People who go to the same places I do (stores, parks, church, etc.)
  • People I interact with online

Think about your list. What did you do or say that you may have “taught” someone. Directly, or indirectly, we do teach others when we interact. For me it’s a little scary to think about some of these interactions and what I may have “taught”. What did I reveal about myself, my opinions, my motives, my beliefs…perhaps something not so appealing or desirable?

One time I was exhausted from a long workday, looking forward to getting home to my safe-haven of quietness and much needed solitude. My heart sunk when unexpected guests came to the house. I wish I could say I was compassionate enough to be kind and entertaining. I confess I was not. Later, I soon regretted my actions and apologized for my sore lack of the graces of hospitality. 

What did I teach my guests at that moment? That it was ok for me to care more about myself than I did about them? I certainly didn’t teach them anything about Jesus. When He was in similar circumstances, He was moved with compassion for the droves of people following Him around. He saw and valued them as people needing care, needing a shepherd. 

Sometimes our teaching is direct, like teaching a child to tie a shoe, or teaching a new process to a coworker. Unfortunately, in my old life, things I intentionally taught others were actually harmful. While the example I gave earlier may not have destroyed the persons involved, I am certain that when I have excused my own bad behavior, encouraging others to behave in the same way, I did them harm. God has forgiven and freed me from those bad choices and habits, and yet it pains me to know others I “taught” are still trapped in those sins.

What would it cost me to accept more responsibility for what I teach others? A beautiful teaching relationship, like father-son, is described in 2nd Timothy. Paul the Apostle knew Timothy’s mother and grandmother, strong in their faith, and he wanted to intentionally teach Timothy how to grow strong in his faith, moral character, and effective teaching. Paul mentored and encouraged younger Timothy in at least three ways to teach others both directly and indirectly:

Live a Spirit-filled life (2 Tim 1:9) Paul reminded Timothy that he holds a gift from God within himself, within his own soul: the living and holy Spirit of Jesus who comes to live within every true believer. Think of a dark, empty cave where no light exists. You can’t even see your own hand in front of your eyes. I picture my soul like that before the Spirit of Jesus was living in me. Once I invited Him to come and live in me, my dark soul-cave was flooded with light, like a bright candle burning within me forcing away all the darkness in my life. 

Paul taught Timothy that this to-be-cherished Presence of Christ within him would encourage, strengthen, reassure, comfort, and teach him self-discipline. The Holy Spirit would initiate godly desires and empower him to live them out. He would learn holy, healthy ways, living for the purposes of God, and the ability to do so would come purely by the grace and strength of God within him.

Train to be godly (1 Tim 4:7) Paul taught “train yourself to be godly,” comparing the effort required for godly training to that of physical training or working out. He says “we labor and strive” to set an example for other believers “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Working out physically is popular, but it’s not common to hear talk about godly workouts! Paul wrote, physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, … for both the present life and the life to come.” Working out physically has value while you’re living in your earthly body, but the godly workout has value forever in eternity. 

How does that work? How do I do a godly workout? Paul taught Timothy to do a godly workout like this:

  1. Know the Scripture – read daily, memorize portions, study the Bible with others.
  2. Live like Jesus lived – Jesus was the embodiment, the fulfillment of Scripture. Read about his life, what he did or didn’t do, how he interacted with others, the things he said or didn’t say to others. Practice those same things.
  3. Make godliness a priority: Paul wrote “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching,” …“be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them…” “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them…” 
  4. Become the teacher – Paul continues “……because if you do (these things), you will save both yourself AND YOUR HEARERS.”

Love others (1 Tim 1:5) Paul taught Timothy to actively love others. This deep love is a choice, not a feeling. This love grows from the Presence of God within. Causing us to do the right things, to speak up, to teach others the truths that we learn about, and begin practicing in our own life. An increasing knowledge of God’s truth in Scripture gives us an awareness of counterfeit or ungodly lies. The whole motivation for how to interact with others was to be “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  

Have a great godly workout! May God make us all great teachers to everyone in our lives!

The Way Forward by Monica Folk

The Way Forward by Monica Folk

It’s been a tough season. We survived a world-wide pandemic! Our lives were restricted in ways we couldn’t have considered possible a short time ago. We experienced division, loss, uncertainty, loneliness, stress, fear, and more. We’re all ready for it to be over! But can we pause for a moment and look at what we might take with us?

As women, when we walk through difficult seasons, we carry emotions, responsibilities, and relationships. Some days we’re able to walk in confidence and strength. Other days, we struggle. Some days we’re filled with joy, and others seem filled with despair. As we face each day, we have to choose to walk forward in life. Sometimes, it’s just not as easy as it sounds. Here are some truths that helped me.

Where we look matters.
Things happen that we don’t like, and can’t understand. As we experience any difficulty, we have to make choices. We can choose to focus on the causes, pain, and loss. Or, we can choose to focus on life, love, next steps, and healing. As we go through darkness, we can’t ignore the causes, pain, and loss. But, we can view them in the light of God’s truth.

God’s truth tells us:
We’re not alone – Deuteronomy 31:8
We can cry out to God – Psalm 61:1
God hears our prayers – Psalm 34:6, Psalm 116:1
This season is temporary – Revelation 21:4

Who we follow matters.
When we choose how to respond to difficulties, we are also choosing who we are going to follow. The world tells us it’s ok to broadcast our hurts and feelings. That we should let our feelings guide our actions. To declare the person on the “other side” as bad. Following the world, means we choose to follow the ruler of the world, the enemy of our souls. He intends to steal and destroy what God has planned for us.

When we choose to follow God, He gives wisdom, strength, courage, grace, kindness, peace, and even joy. We can have these things even if we don’t understand our circumstances and they don’t change. Choosing to follow God doesn’t guarantee our prayers will be answered the way, or when, we want. But, choosing God allows us to walk through difficult seasons in life.

God’s truth tells us:
The thief comes to kill, steal & destroy. – John 10:10
Jesus has overcome the world. – John 16:33
God gives life. – John 5:21
God protects us. – 2 Thessalonians 3:3
God provides for us. – Matthew 6:25-33

Who we believe we are matters.
The enemy of our souls tries to tell us who we are. What he tells us are lies. We have to declare God’s truth regardless of what we see or how we feel. Difficult seasons don’t change who God says we are. We are God’s creation. We are His daughters, His heirs, His friends, His ambassadors.

While the enemy of our souls wants to make us believe we are useless in difficult seasons, God still uses us. We are given opportunities to see others with new insight. We sympathize with other’s struggles in new ways. We can care for and encourage others with more compassion and kindness. We can share God’s love and truth with more understanding and gentleness.

God’s truth tells us:
The enemy of our souls is the father of lies. John 8:44
God created us – Psalm 139: 13-14, Psalm 119:73
We are children of God – John 1:12
We are His heirs – Romans 8:17
God calls us friend – John 15:14-15
We are His ambassadors – 2 Corinthians 5:20
God chose us to bear fruit – John 15:16

We are coming through a really difficult season. Hopefully, we won’t face another one like this one. But, difficult seasons aren’t over. So, as we go, may we remember to look to God, follow Him, and believe Him.

Surrounded by: Jessica

Surrounded by: Jessica

It’s seemingly all around us, right? From the moment our alarm sounds each morning until the moment our head hits the pillow after another long day, it’s there. It’s on our car radios, it’s in our work spaces, homes, and our “suppose to be fun and enjoyable” social media.

What is it?

I’m talking about pain, division, sorrow, disappointment, political strife, loss, bad news, fear, and a never ending list of personal and public problems, with no indication of an answer. [But let me insert a mini sermon in here, Jesus – He is THE answer, still, today, right now! He has not changed. God’s power is no less than it was when He created the world with a spoken word, or raised Jesus from the dead. He is still our God. He still is redeeming and resurrecting. Nothing happens out of His control – He is worthy of our trust and obedience. Let’s look up! AMEN!]

We’re surrounded – surrounded with all this pressure, heaviness, and lack of control. It’s exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It’s affecting how we live. Fear and decision fatigue weigh heavy each night as we close our eyes to sleep, and we wake the next morning even less rested than the night before. A constant barrage of bad news takes away our capacity for resiliency and we find ourselves less patient, loving, and kind when we’re at home with roommates, family, or even ourselves. Darkness has wound its sinister tendrils around our hope and joy seeking only to destroy.

Sister, let me remind you that hope and joy are our birthright as daughters of the King; the very things that Jesus came to bring as He tells us in John 10:10, when He said..He has come to give life, and life abundantly. And those heavy things we feel surrounded with, Jesus also said that those are the things the enemy came to bring – he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. If the weight of all this stealing, and killing, and destroying – whether inside or outside your home is becoming just too much, let me remind you of a story in 2 Kings 6:8-23.

Let me briefly paint the picture. Israel was at war, again. The prophet Elisha was given insider information from God about how to protect the Israelite army and the king of Aram (the opposing side) was NOT happy about it. So the King of Aram came for Elisha. 2 Kings 6:14 says, “He (King of Aram) sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.” Elisha’s helper got up early the following morning, looked out the window and was shocked to see an overwhelming force of chariots, horses, and warriors surrounding them. Can you imagine the absolute fear and helplessness? He ran back to tell Elisha and in a panic asked, What will we do now? (2 Kings 6:15). They were surrounded – completely and utterly.

Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17). What the servant saw at first glance was only destruction and defeat. But when the servant’s eyes were opened, God revealed He was there all along and that He had come to fight on behalf of His anointed one. When you read the rest of the story, you’ll find that God did a miracle that day with His angel armies as He came to the defense of Elisha and his servant.

This story serves as a reminder of two poignant truths for us as daughters of the King. First, there are always battles being fought and won in the unseen on our behalf. Oh that God would open our eyes. Oh that our faith would rise. What difference could it make if we had a greater awareness of His presence and might? What could change if we truly believed that our pain and suffering does not escape God’s notice and that there is never a moment He is not standing at our defense?

And second, while the pain and suffering we experience on this side of heaven are very real (and even predicted in John 16:33), did you know God also describes a number of promises that surround as we face each trying hardship?

A quick word search of “surround” in the Bible unearthed promises that have become prayers over my physical, emotional, and spiritual body in this season. So when the fear is too much, when the sadness is too deep, when the anxiety or depression are too heavy, and when the joy is gone – these promises are for you.

 

We are surrounded with:

*Favor like a Shield (Psalm 5:12)

*Songs of Deliverance (Psalm 32:7)

*The Angel of the Lord (Psalm 34:7)

*Salvation like City Walls (Isaiah 60:8)

*Lovingkindness (Psalm 32:10)

*A Great Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1)

*The Lord, Himself (Psalm 125:2)

 

Sisters, while the darkness will inevitably come, and at times, you may feel utterly surrounded – so take heart as you remember that God is always at work and that our darkness is surrounded by HIM!

In the Waiting by: Robin Dodge

In the Waiting by: Robin Dodge

In The Waiting…

Sometimes the answer to a prayer is wait.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like that answer.  Because really, who actually likes to wait?  And sometimes, the waiting is for an extended period of time.

I’ll tell on myself here.  Quite a few years ago, I felt like God said yes to a prayer.  And in my humanness (and maybe immaturity), I just knew it was happening “right now.”  Well, it didn’t and I began complaining to God about making me wait so long.  Most of my prayer time definitely included letting God know exactly how I felt about the delay.  Then I got mad and quit talking to God on a consistent basis.  I mean, really, how dare He make me wait this long!  – Let me insert an eye roll right here – How dare I, right?  Who did I think I was?

Three years ago, during one of the 21 Days of Prayer Focus Services, I felt God say “wait.”  Yes, wait … to the same prayer!  I thought to myself, “Wait! Again? Are you serious?”  Immediately I heard God say, “What have you been doing in the waiting?”

Whoa!!! Talk about a wake up call!  What had I been doing in the waiting?  I’ll tell you; I was complaining and sulking.  That’s what I’d been doing!

Yes, God asked me to wait. Why? I don’t know. But all I could give Him was an attitude.

“What have you been doing in the waiting?” This phrase has been floating around my head and heart over the past three years.

Now, I can’t say I’ve quit all the complaining,  **smile**  I’m still a work in progress.  But my attitude during my prayer time has definitely changed. My waiting has not ended. But I know I need to be doing something IN my waiting time.  I need to worship, work, read, pray (with the right attitude), and whatever else God asks of me, while I wait.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Jeremiah 29:11a

This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture.  I go back to it again and again.  I don’t have to have life all planned out.  I just need to trust God because He has a plan for my life.

Has God told you to “wait”?

I don’t know what it is you are waiting for, but it just might be that God has something for you to learn during this waiting period. God has a plan for you. And waiting just may be part of that plan. Trust in His plan for your life.  But also, trust His process.

·      Learn to worship God even when you don’t understand His timing.

·      Pray (don’t complain).

·      Serve Him however and wherever He leads.

 

Maybe maturity needs to take place; maybe you need to experience certain circumstances to be better equipped.  Maybe there is a lesson (or two or three) you need to learn. Is there a book you need to read? A class you need to take? Someone you need to talk to? Or, it could be a job you need to start, or maybe one you need to quit.  You just might need to give up something good, so you can receive God’s best.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Call out to God and ask Him to show you what it is you need to be doing, or what it is you need to learn during your season of waiting. 

Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.  James 4:8

God will not leave you during this waiting season. 

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:13-14

God knows what He is doing and He knows exactly what we need when we need it. Trust Him to bring the answer in His time.

Let’s learn to wait well.

What are you doing in the waiting?

Love Your Neighbor by: Buffi Crump

Love Your Neighbor by: Buffi Crump

Love your neighbor as you LOVE YOURSELF!

Have you ever had a time where God spoke something so clearly, it almost seemed audible? But then you didn’t quite get it the first time and so that same message kept appearing over and over?

Yeah, me too….It has taken me the better part of an entire year to fully grasp on to a truth God had been shouting at me. You see at the end of 2019 my wonderful hubby sent me to the island for a couple nights on my own personal prayer retreat. I was able to reflect on the past year, pause and prepare for the year ahead. (Little did we all know what 2020 was going to look like).

As I looked forward to this new year, contemplating what this year could be, the verse from Galatians 5:14 came to mind. “The whole law is made complete in this one command: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭ERV‬‬ As I read this verse over and over, it was as if God was putting a magnifying glass over the words – as you LOVE YOURSELF!

I realized after having reflected back on the last year and knowing how depleted I was… it was a reflection that I had not loved myself very well. As a wife and mom it’s so easy to put myself on the back burner, to put everyone else’s needs before my own and never really take time to care for myself. Over the years I’ve heard my friend and pastor’s wife Teri, say that I can’t give what I don’t have. I have to make sure I keep my cup full otherwise, if I keep pouring out eventually there will be nothing more to give. I can’t give from an empty cup. I thought I was being loving by putting everyone else’s needs before my own. But in reality, I wasn’t giving them the best because I wasn’t taking care of myself in the process. I realized that I began to dislike me…I was running on fumes and needed something in the tank. So if I’m truly to love my neighbor, be that my spouse, kids, extended family, co-workers, or friends, the best gift I can give them is the best version of me. To be the best version of me and to love me, is to take care of me.

 

To take care of yourself, you must know:

  • What fills you up?
  • What drains you?

 

Once you figure these two things out, tell someone. A spouse, a close friend, or a parent. Someone who can ask you “Are you loving YOURSELF and taking care of YOU?”

This doesn’t mean that you neglect all your responsibilities, it just means that as you make time for others in your life, you also make time for yourself. Schedule it on the calendar and then like anything else that’s on the calendar, you follow through.

To neglect taking care of yourself is to disobey one of the greatest commandments. To truly love your neighbor is to LOVE YOURSELF – taking care of YOU. But may I encourage you, start from the inside and in the process may you begin to truly like who God has created you to be. In return, you will be able to truly love your neighbor as well.

Spiritually Hangry by: Leslie Keener

Spiritually Hangry by: Leslie Keener

• Have you ever been so hungry that you could feel it in every part of your body and even your mind?

• Have you ever snapped at a family member or the waitress at a restaurant?

We’ve all been guilty of responding from a place of physical “hanger.”

And once we’ve had our fill and are satisfied, we quietly remind ourselves to never get to that point again. We understand that our biological processes depend on regular nutrition and for the most part (apart from intentional fasting for spiritual purposes) our bodies and attitudes are affected by the lack of sustenance!

I realized something a few years back: my soul and spirit both are affected similarly, by a lack of nutrition. Today, I propose that we oftentimes are spiritually “hangry” as a result of simply snacking on (or maybe even fasting from) God’s Word, even if it’s unintentional.

So I want to talk about the spiritual discipline of diving into God’s Word. Now let’s get things straight: there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading “the verse of the day” or gliding through a particular week having only heard from a teaching pastor at church on Sunday. We ALL have certain times in our lives where this is all that’s going to happen. This blog is certainly not meant to discourage anyone. But it is meant to challenge our current level of satiety or satisfaction in our spirits. I know sometimes when I’m trying to get my ‘daily bread,’ if I’m not careful, I get distracted. This is why I can’t depend solely on my phone to be the source of my bible study. There are too many other colorful alerts and enticing options to get in the way. I challenge you to find a tangible bible in a version you enjoy and throw your phone to the side if you DARE! Now I want to show you in scripture how Jesus Himself can be found ANY day, whether we “feel” Him that day or not.

In Revelation chapter 19, John saw a vision of the return of Christ, and verse 13 records … “His Name is the Word of God.”

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:14 says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” So Jesus is the Word of God.

I’ll make one more connection to seal the deal here: John 6:35 puts it like this: Jesus replied to them, “I am the Bread of Life. The one who comes to Me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in Me [as Savior] will never be thirsty [for that one will be sustained spiritually]. 

Often times we wonder how to find God or hear from Him here on earth. Some people have heard an audible voice and others sense Him in nature or music or other circumstances. But sometimes it seems as if He is silent. This world is affected by sin and death, whether we like it or not. Although we are not of this world, we are IN IT- but there is a place where He is NEVER silent. He has spoken and written His will into the Word of God. This book is a gourmet meal for your soul unlike any other!

Are you merely grazing on it or are you feasting like it’s Thanksgiving Day? You won’t gain any physical pounds from this “Bread”, but you will gain weight in your soul: like weighted gold! Try to find a version of the Bible you can digest smoothly and enjoy it often: like the feast He meant for it to be. He has prepared a table for us and sometimes we are just straight-up walking past it.

Women of PVC, let’s not pass up his feast for us! Commit to the discipline of digesting His Word every day and let’s get all the way full!