Monday, December 24, 2012

Women of Faith Conference

Finally, I'm putting up pictures from the Women of Faith conference I attended back in October! I went with a bunch of other women from church and we had a BLAST! These are just a few random pictures from worship time and some of the speakers. Most of my pictures of the ballet and MANY pictures of the worship time and speakers were way too dark and blurry to post on here. But you'll get the general idea!

2012-10-20 16.31.51

2012-10-20 19.11.31

2012-10-20 19.11.50

2012-10-19 18.01.33

2012-10-19 18.01.50

2012-10-19 18.04.03

2012-10-19 18.09.03

2012-10-19 18.30.02

2012-10-19 18.30.21

2012-10-19 19.00.37

2012-10-19 19.13.44

2012-10-19 19.13.57

2012-10-19 19.14.03

2012-10-19 20.00.44
2012-10-19 21.46.42

2012-10-20 08.58.25
2012-10-20 09.48.46
2012-10-20 09.49.54

2012-10-20 09.50.32

2012-10-20 09.54.06

2012-10-20 16.31.42


This first video has a really cool background story. Mandisa was there as one of the singers, and she did a lot of the worship music Friday night at the conference. She was slated to go on again first thing in the morning, and wanted to sing one of her songs, "Good Morning". She normally sings it with Toby Mac though, who raps during part of the song. She asked for someone in the audience who knew all the lyrics to sing it with her. A huge crowd started pointing at a woman right in the front who was jumping up and down. This woman got on stage and verified that she knew all the lyrics and was willing to sing with Mandisa in the morning in the place of TobyMac. Mandisa finally asked her what church she was from and she said, "Grace Church in Southern Pines!"  We all started screaming so loud from our seats! (That church is in our county and very well-known, so we were excited!)

Anyway, all that to say, this is her singing the next morning with Mandisa. Very cool!

This next video is actually the entire video of the man who drew the Jesus picture above. It is quite long, about six minutes, but the entire drawing of the picture is a story, of our separation from God, and the cross, and our salvation. It is really beautiful but I understand a lot of people won't want to watch it. :)

The conference was so awesome, and it was great to be there with so many wonderful ladies from church.

Best part? Out of the hundreds of people that were there, I won free tickets to next year's event! I called my mom as soon as I was back in town to tell her I was taking her with me! That is such a huge blessing because although it is totally worth it, these conferences are quite expensive. I was praying that God would let me win so I wouldn't have to worry about the financial aspect of it in October 2013!

If you've never been, I highly recommend you hit up one of these conferences. It will definitely fire you up and get you excited for God!

Women of Faith Website

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Psalm 19

2012-12-22 17.11.44
Things God will do or has done: (actions)
  • Made a perfect law, converts souls, truthful (v. 7)
  • Perfect law (again), pure, opens our eyes to see the right way (v. 8)
  • Perfect in judgment, righteous (v. 9)
  • Able to cleanse me from even my secret sins (v.12)
  • Keeps me away from sin and helps me to overcome it and not allow sin to overcome me (v. 13)
Commands to me:
  • Fear the Lord (respect and awe) (v. 9)
  • Desire his judgment (v. 10)
  • Keep his law and judgments (v. 11)
  • Keep upright and innocent from sin by leaning on him (v. 13)
  • Let the words of my mouth and all the things of my heart be acceptable to God (v. 14)
Characteristics of God:
Full of glory, has beautiful handywork, perfect lawmaker, just, my strength, my redeemer

Things to take away from this:
Even nature declares the majesty of God. The heavens tell all about his glory, and the earth shows all his creation. These creations could not have created themselves. They could not be produced by a huge explosion of atoms. They must have a Creator. Because the creation is so gorgeous and perfectly woven together, the Creator must be just like that. Every new day is a reason to declare his glory. Verse 3 is beautiful - "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." There isn't a single spot on earth where there isn't some natural beauty... natural beauty which speaks loudly of an awesome Creator. Nature overcomes all languages and all boundaries of people.

The law of God is perfect. It is meant to be a gift to us and a guide. The law, when used correctly, converts our souls; brings us back to God because it shows how far away we have gone and how to come back to a relationship with him. God's laws are perfect. His commandments are perfect. Sometimes we complain about them because we don't want to change certain things in our lives. But the fact is, God can open our eyes (enlighten our eyes, v. 8) and show us that the best thing we can do is realize that these judgments and laws of his are pure, righteous, and that we should desire to be within those boundaries. If we keep these commandments there are great rewards from it - mainly eternal. So we should pray that God cleanses us even from our "secret faults". These are sins that we may not even see in ourselves. We should certainly have that desire to come to the knowledge of these so we can turn from them. We also need to pray against "presumptuous sins". How often we think we are too good to fall into temptation, or we're better than others, or we have knowledge of someone else's sin and we say, "Well, at least I'm not that bad." We have definitely got to pray that we don't lean toward these sins of pride and arrogance. The fact is we aren't any better than anyone else. We have to continually pray that we will walk "upright" (v. 13).

The other night at church we were talking about REAL New Years resolutions, like some sincere spiritual ones, not "I want to hit the gym every day" or "I want to get a high score on my new video game". Here is the resolution you should make this year. See verse 14 - "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord." If that is something we resolve, 2013 will most likely fall into place. :)

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of?

On another note: I am reading a great book right now, which was loaned to me from a friend at church. It's called "First Hand Faith" by Bruce Wilkinson. It's a real page-turner. He speaks in the book about Three Chairs. Here is the basic principle. There are three chairs. The First Chair is a saved person who has experienced the works of God. The Second Chair is a saved person who has heard about the works of God. The Third Chair is an unsaved person who doesn't know about the works of God.

Probably just from that description you know where you stand. But what about your church? The chapter I read today had something very interesting to say.

"Second Chair churches have their Bibles, and the people usually bring them to church. They honor the Word, and can usually find the passage being read during the sermon because the majority have been raised at the feet of committed parents. Second Chair churches have deeds, activity and orthodoxy. But there isn't any fire to it. They believe that they are rich and in need of nothing. They have the truth, but they assume that simply having the truth is enough. Rather than a vibrant relationship with Christ, they've got a ho-hum acquaintance with Him. The Bible is rarely opened between Sundays, and they don't give any authority to its principles to impact their lives.

First Chair churches honor the Bible. More than that, the people are hungry for it. The congregation experiences the conviction of the Holy Spirit frequently. Repentance is common among its members. The Bible is seen as the authority of life - it is fully embraced as the final and full answer to the heart-wrenching problems of marriage, family, personal character, values, parenting, business success, and societal dilemmas. The pastor doesn't value his own ideas; rather, he views himself as a servant of the Word of God. First Chair believers are able to reflect the Bible in their daily lives.

Third Chair churches see the Bible as a relic of bygone days. Second Chair churches see the Bible as a helpful guide. First Chair churches see the Bible as living, vital revelation from God, given directly to them for whatever their needs are that very day. Third Chair church families have large family Bibles in cases. Second Chair church families carry their Bibles to church but use it rarely between Sundays. First Chair families feast upon the Bible and use it regularly."

I just wanted to share that because I thought it is probably very relevant to a lot of people.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Psalm 46

2012-12-21 15.46.34
Things God will do or has done (actions):
  • Help us (v. 5)
  • Speak and have the earth fall into submission just from his voice (v. 6)
  • He is with us (v. 7)
  • Make desolations in the earth (v. 8)
  • Make wars stop (v. 9)
  • Will be exalted among the heathen (v. 10)
Commands to me:
  • Do not fear (v. 2)
  • Be still and know that he is God (v. 10)
Characteristics of God:
Refuge, strength, help during our times of trouble, lives in our midst, I AM, with us

Things to take away from this:
God is our refuge and our strength, particularly in our times of trouble. He is "very present" when we have troubles. We shouldn't fear anything, even if the entire earth is removed. If the earth were destroyed, as long as we have our treasures laid up in heaven we have absolutely nothing to fear. (This is extremely fitting considering the world was "supposed" to end today!!) Even with our nation in confusion, people turning away from God, we have personal troubles in our lives... we still shouldn't have any fear of these things. God. Is. Our. Refuge. This is repeated several times in just these eleven verses. No chaos can destroy a relationship with God. We have got to be still... trust in God... have faith, even when it's hard. Because in the end, he WILL stop all the chaos and tribulation that is going on. And he WILL be exalted over all the earth.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Psalm 47

2012-12-20 17.02.10

Things God will do or has done (actions):
  • He will subdue the people under us and the nations under our feet (v. 3)
  • He will choose our inheritance for us (v. 4)
  • He has gone up with a shout (v. 5)
  • He reigns and sits on his throne (v. 8)
Commands to me:
  • Clap and shout to God (v. 1)
  • Sing. SING. SING!! (v. 6, 7) 
Characteristics of God:
Awesome, powerful, great king, ruler over all, KING, holy, exalted

Things to take away from this:
I must praise God. I can't be ashamed to clap, or shout, or sing, or anything that is truly praising him. He is completely awesome and he is king over all the earth. One day that will be proven. He is setting up an inheritance for us, which is incorruptible, undefiled and reserved for me. (1 Peter 1:4). God has ascended and he is reigning over us all as he sits on his holy throne! He is absolutely worthy of our praise and deserves to be exalted.

What awesome scripture!!

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

A Radical Review

Several months ago (maybe a year ago even??) my mom read a book called "Radical" by David Platt and highly recommended it to me. To this day I still haven't even read it. Shame on me! So when I got this copy of "The Radical Question/A Radical Idea" by David Platt to review, I was really excited. After reading it I really want to read the first book, and more in the series as well. You can tell that Platt is a genuine guy. He is employed by a megachurch in Alabama but I have a sneaky suspicion he'd be willing to give up any prestige or leadership positions if he felt led by God to do that. In this book (actually two books in one) he talks about our commitment to Jesus, and what it looks like when it's in action. He has such great ideas and he will talk about things in this book that make you think, and make you think "Ouch!", and ultimately make you change.

The books are short and they are simply to the point. I love the easy style he writes with. It definitely makes me want to read more books by him. This book is very motivating and I encourage all people of faith to read it.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Psalm 63

Today's scripture - Psalm 63.
2012-12-19 17.12.17 by altalbert

Things God will do: (action)
  • Uphold me in his right hand (v. 8)
Commands to me:
  • Seek God (v. 1)
  • Praise God (v. 3, 5)
  • Bless his name and lift my hands up to him (v. 4)
  • Remember God and meditate on him (v. 6)
  • Rejoice (v. 7, 11)
  • Follow God (v. 8)
Characteristics of God:
Powerful, full of glory, loving, helpful, our shadow/protector

Things to take away from this:
I've got to seek God continually. I can't worry so much about the minutes I spend studying or the time of day I'm studying at, but the fact that I set aside time every day. And that I long for that time. That I really thirst for a deeper relationship with God. Because nothing in this life is comparable to his love for me. I've got to bless his name while I live. Time is so short. Verse 5 says "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness". I love that. For some reason this vision comes to mind - I'm pretty sure my grandfather is one of those people who sucks the marrow out of chicken bones. Maybe I just dreamed that... but this verse makes me smile because I just think of someone with this look of complete and utter contentment in their soul, and it's all because of Jesus. After we have that satisfaction it's just natural to praise him with joyful lips! This scripture also talks yet again about God's right hand supporting me and me being under the shadow of his gigantic wings.

I feel it's a little dramatic to talk about "enemies" or "those that seek my soul to destroy it" as these words are used in some psalms. I can't think of any human that really fits that description. But this could be anything damaging to my relationship with God. Although in these verses I do believe it's apparent that nonbelievers and those who speak against God will be stopped in the end, and ultimately end up in hell.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Psalm 66

Today's psalm that I read speaks about how God interacts with humankind. This scripture was really beautiful, just talking so much about how worthy God is of our praise. And how true that is!!

2012-12-18 20.40.01

Things God will do or has done: (actions)
  • Turned the sea into dry land (v. 6)
  • Will rule forever (v. 7)
  • Proves us and tries us (v. 10)
  • Bring us into a net and lay affliction upon us (v. 11)
  • Cause men to ride over our heads and bring us out into a wealthy place (v. 12)
  • Hear me and attend to my prayer (v. 19)
  • Will NOT keep his mercy from me (v. 20)
 Commands to me:
  • Make a joyful noise (v. 1)
  • Sing praise (v. 2)
  • Worship and sing to God (v. 4)
  • Rejoice in God (v. 6)
  • Make his praise heard (v. 8)
  • Raise up offerings and make vows (v. 13)
  • Make sacrifices (v. 15)
  • Declare to anyone who will listen what God has done for my soul (v. 16)
Characteristics of God:
Great in power, powerful, worthy of praise!!

Things to take away from this:
God does interact with humankind. He definitely deserves our praise. I love verse 3 - "through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee." I don't believe this will happen until the coming of Jesus, but I think it will be unimaginable when every single person finally does submit themselves to God. The Hebrew word used here literally means "to cringe" or "be found liars". That makes complete sense to me. Through the greatness of God's power, his enemies will be found liars. Pretty powerful words.

The scripture in verse 3 also says "How terrible art though in thy works!". The word terrible here actually means "to cause astonishment" or "to inspire reverence". I'm throwing that in there lest any of us think of the word "terrible" is being used how we normally use it.

Verse 4 - "All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee." I love this. I know that one day everyone will realize that God is the Almighty. I don't long for that day... I know too many people who don't have that relationship with God, and I want more time on this earth for the sake of those people. Unfortunately I do think that day is coming very quickly.

Verse 10 talks about how God tries us and proves us. When silver is refined by fire it becomes more clear and is set free, in a sense, from its waste. For us, the exercise of being tried will make our faith more active and stronger.

This scripture talks about the sacrifices we must make. We must sacrifice our very best. Verse 15 talks about offering bullocks with goats. This is speaking of entire herds. This is a very generous sacrifice, not holding anything back. As Matthew Henry says, "he would not offer that which cost him nothing, but that which cost him a great deal."

We cannot keep sin in our hearts if we want God to hear our prayers. And when we confess that sin and we turn away from it, he will certainly hear us and answer us. He won't turn away our prayers or his mercy as long as we aren't dwelling in that sin - living in it with no feeling of shame or want of repentance.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Psalm 90

Today's psalm - Psalm 90.

2012-12-17 15.21.58

Things God will do: (action)
  • Formed the earth and the world (v. 2)
  • He will set our iniquities before us (v. 8)
  • Teach us to number our days (v. 12)
  • Satisfy us (v. 14)
  • Make us glad (v. 15)
  • Establish our works for his glory (v. 17)
Commands to me:
  • Apply my heart unto his wisdom (v. 12)
  • Rejoice and be glad (v. 14)
  • Work for God (v. 17) 
Characteristics of God:
Our dwelling place, the creator, everlasting, merciful, all-knowing of our sins (even the "secret" ones)

What should I take away from this?
God is the Creator. Verse 2 tells us that he formed the earth and the world. He has been our refuge in all generations... from the very beginning, and that will last to the very end. As Matthew Henry said in his commentary, "We are dying creatures, and all our comforts in the world are dying comforts, but God is an everliving God." That is awesome to know! I do believe that there are times when people suffer due to the consequences of their choices, and God allows that to take place in the hope that it will bring those people back to him (v. 3) I don't believe he does this without reason. I think sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants or a slap in the face to realize the choices we are making. And the fact is - our life is so short (v. 5,6) it's just a little "poof" in the existence of time. Sometimes God just needs to say, "Look at yourself. Look at where your choices are getting you. Here are your consequences, now work through them and come back to me." "Time passes unobserved by us, as it does with men asleep; and, when it is over, it is as nothing." (Matthew Henry).

This psalm does speak of God's wrath (v. 7). People want to think of God as a loving God, and he is, but I have heard him compared to a father who disciplines his children, which I believe is accurate. When your children step out of line, you certainly take steps to discipline them, but you love them the same. God's wrath on people is not without cause. At times we sin openly, and at times we think we can hide our sins, but the truth is we cannot hide anything from God. He will see all our "secret" sins. The wrath of God is not coming from someone who just wishes to punish people for the fun of it, or because he is that powerful. The wrath of God is the reaction against the distortion of the law of life. It is reestablishing the balance between God and man.

Lord, teach us to number our days (v. 12). We act like we have so much time left in this world when we really have no idea when our last moments will be. Verse 16 is something I must remind myself of - "let thy work appear until thy servants, and thy glory unto their children." We must constantly allow God to work in us and through us. Sometimes we don't want to change things, we are afraid, or we just keep messing up it seems like. But as long as we have the want to become more mature in our faith, we always have that opportunity to become a great servant of God.

Matthew Henry also wrote these beautiful words in regard to verse 17 - "We are so unworthy of divine assistance, and yet so utterly insufficient to bring any thing to pass without it, that we have need to be earnest for it and to repeat the request: Yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it, and, in order to that, establish us in it." We must be willing to serve him, and then call upon him to complete that work and establish it. Awesome!

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Psalm 91

This morning I happened to study Psalm 91. It was a random choice and yet as I read through it I just shook my head. It fell right into place with the situation that Connecticut is going through right now - school shooting yesterday which killed 20 children and 6 adults needlessly. I saw lots of statements on Facebook of course - where was God when this happened? Why do things like this happen if God cares about us? This is proof there is no God. Several of my Facebook friends don't believe in God, and some who believe are hanging on by a thread, so when something like this happens it puts them all a little bit further from having that intimate relationship with God.

I freely admit I have never been through a tragedy that personally affected me. I have lived through tragedies such as school shootings and terrorist attacks, but I was not involved with anyone personally involved in those attacks. So these are my thoughts on this psalm, knowing the promises God gives us... knowing how big his protection is over us... and knowing that no event that happens in this world can separate us from his love.

2012-12-15 10.52.02

Things God will do: (action)
  • Deliver us from entrapment and from pestilence (v. 3)
  • Cover us with protection (v. 4)
  • Give his angels charge over us (v. 11)
  • Set his love upon me (v. 14)
  • Deliver me, answer me, be with me and give me salvation (v. 15, 16)
 Commands to me:
  • Speak of the Lord and trust in him (v. 2)
  • Don't be afraid (v. 5)
  • Set God on high (v. 14)
Characteristics of God: 
Protector, refuge, fortress, deliverer, my shield, my salvation

What should I take away from this?
There is so much to take away from this psalm, and it's certainly fitting, I suppose, to read it the day after such a tragedy in our nation. There are lots of unanswered questions and a lot of people claiming Christians are simply being pious in our prayers for the affected.

God promises over and over again in this psalm and he will be our refuge. A refuge should be our place to hide. He will give us the shadow of himself to hide in (v. 1)... how huge that must be! In verse 2, when God is called our fortress, the original word there actually means "net" or "stronghold". Beautiful! God is our net when we fall. He's there to catch us, dust us off, set us upright again. He's our stronghold when we don't have that strength within ourselves. He will deliver us from those who want to harm us, and he'll cover us with protection. We should not be afraid for anything that might happen to us. We have angels watching over us alongside God. When we love God, God will bring us out of situations. When we call upon him, he will answer us and be with us during troubling times.

A couple of things I really dug into:

We're not supposed to be afraid. There are people now who are scared to send their children to public school. I say that is a valid feeling - I would be lying to say the same thought hadn't crossed my own mind. But the truth is, as Christians, we are not to fear. Verse 10 is one of those sneaky ones that can easily be twisted around by people. It reads: "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." How easy it is to read that verse literally, and blame bad things on the person, or say it's because they aren't saved that things are happening to them. And how easy for nonbelievers to grab onto that verse and point it out as a contradiction in the Bible. The fact is that God never promised us an easy life. Romans 8:35-39 says "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God didn't promise us a smooth sailing life, but he sure did promise that we would never be able to separate ourselves from his love. I believe that's what this verse in Psalm 91 is saying... when we have Christ dwelling in our hearts, no evil can befall us that has an eternal affect on us. If a terrible tragedy were to happen to my family, it would certainly mean that evil has befallen us. It would definitely affect my life here on earth. But it would not take away my eternal promise, or my relationship with God. Verse 14 and 15 tell us that God will not forsake those who seek them. This doesn't mean everything in our lives will be good, but it means that if we will continue to seek him through the valleys in our life, he won't forsake us. He'll be there for us. And he'll get us through those times.

I also did some digging on verse 3 - "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence." I didn't know exactly what this meant and I found a great sermon from Charles Spurgeon on this very topic. Forgive me for paraphrasing...

*The old devil is dead, and there is a new devil now. It is the same evil spirit, but there is a different mode of attack. The devil of the old day was a black and grimy thing. He was a persecutor who cast men into the furnace, and put them to death for serving Christ. The devil of this day is a well-spoken gentleman: he does not persecute—he rather attempts to persuade and to beguile. He would only link worldliness with religion; and so he would really make religion void.

I do not think that a Christian is so often betrayed into a sin that is palpable and known, as he is into a sin that is secret. If the devil comes to my door with his horns visible, I will never let him in; but if he comes with his hat on as a respectable gentleman, he is at once admitted. The metaphor may be very quaint, but it is quite true. Many a man has taken in an evil thing, because it has been varnished and glossed over, and not apparently an evil; and he has thought in his heart, there is not much harm in it; so he has let in the little thing, and it has been like the breaking forth of water—the first drop has brought after it a torrent. The beginning has been but the beginning of a fearful end. Take care, Christian, of things that are secret; take care of the common doings of the world, which are well enough for them, perhaps. We would not deny them their pleasures, for they have no others; but they are not good for you, for you have a finer life—a life of a finer texture and order than can exist in the haunts of ungodly persons.

The snare of the fowl is easily adapted. A fowler (who is trying to bait a bird) will adapt his bait based on the bird he wishes to catch. Satan will do the same thing. He will not tempt you all with the same temptation he would tempt me with; nor me with the temptation with which he would naturally assail another. If we be like Achilles, and can not be wounded anywhere but in our heel, then at the heel he will send his dart, and nowhere else. He will find out our easily besetting sin, and there, if he can, he will attempt to work our ruin and our destruction.*

The entire sermon is really incredible if you have the time to read the whole thing. It certainly added to my reading of this psalm today.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Psalm 139

2012-12-14 11.15.10

This morning I got to study Psalm 139, a scripture I have read many times in my life, but it is so beautiful, it is a great one to read over and over again. I would love for you to read this scripture and tell me what you get from it. This is what I found in my searching:

Things God will do: (actions)
  • Search me and know me (v. 1)
  • Compassest my path (v. 3)
  • Beset me behind and before, lay his hand upon me (v. 5)
  • Lead me and hold me (v. 10)
  • Possess my reins and cover me (v. 13)
  • Slay the wicked (v. 19)
  • Search me, know my heart, try me and know my thoughts (v. 23)
  • See any wicked ways in me and lead me (v. 24)
Notes: "Search me", "know me", "lead me", and protection are repeated over and over in these verses. This tells me it is very important as Christians that we ask God to open our eyes to our actions, and even our motives. This way, we can become aware of the sin in our lives and make changes accordingly.

I didn't know what it meant to say "Thou compassest my path" (v. 3) so I did some research. Read the whole verse to put it in context: "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted [with] all my ways."  As we walk this path of life, God "scatters" our path, separating our good works/thoughts from our evil works/thoughts. As for "lying down", he even knows our thoughts that we alone think in the night, when we are in bed, and the world is quiet, and just our thoughts are going through our mind. He knows our whole path and all of our thoughts, and all of our ways, whether they are good or bad, and that is our motives as well. This goes perfectly with the next verse: "For [there is] not a word in my tongue, [but], lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether."  He knows our thoughts even when we don't speak them or put them into action. Not only that, but he knows our thought's origin... the motive... the purpose we have if we do put it into action (whether good or bad). Amazing. He is all-knowing, for sure.

I also didn't know exactly what "possess my reins" meant. The word "reins" is literally "kidneys". God has owned me since my kidneys were being formed, and started protecting me even as I was just in my mother's womb. Beautiful.

Commands to me:
  • Praise God (v. 14)
  • Hate those that hate God and grieve those who are his enemy (v. 21)
I believe that we are to hate the sin, love the sinner. Kind of cliche phrasing, but I do believe this is true. The wording of this psalm actually says "I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee... am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee..." but when you look at Psalm 101:3 the same author (David) says "I hate the work of them that turn aside". I do not believe God wants us to hate people due to their sin. I don't believe that God hates them either. I believe he loves everyone (lost and saved) and hates all sin (from both the lost and saved) and we should as well.

Characteristics of God:
All-knowing, protector, omnipresent, creator, lover of me, leader

What should I take away from this?
God knows everything about me. He knows the thoughts I've had (even ones I've forgotten) and the thoughts I will have. He separates our good from our bad. He knows what our motives are when we do things or say things . He protects me and surrounds me. He is omni-present so I never have to worry about being alone. I am in His hands at all times, being led by one and being held by the other (v. 10). He created me and knew me before I was even born. He saw that I was unperfect and even then he still loved me and wanted me... I cannot even count the thoughts he has toward me which are precious and loving - even though he knows all my faults. If I live for God, I will hate sin and want to turn away from things that I do that are against God. I should constantly be asking God to reveal things to me in my life that need to be changed, and then make the changes accordingly.

I used a Matthew Henry commentary to help me on some of the verses I didn't understand.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Psalm 27

So, if you are friends with me on Facebook, you know that I was really excited when I got my latest book to review:

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I have been wanting a new Bible for a LONG time but there's nothing wrong with the *many* that I own, I just wanted one that was new, and fresh, and... I don't know, who really needs a reason to want a new Bible?  :)

But one reason I couldn't wait to get my hands on this is because a few months ago I came across this web page:

When I read that post, I wanted to do it so bad, with a fresh Bible that didn't have any old markings in it.

Y'all, I was so excited when I opened my mailbox and that Bible was in there. And then I got to go to Hobby Lobby today JUST TO BUY THESE SPECIFIC COLORED PENCILS THAT THIS GIRL ON THE BLOG TALKS ABOUT. That sentence deserved to be in all caps because I am a crazy lady who thinks it's a good idea to take two children to the colored pencil section of a craft store. Because these colored pencils are over $30 for a box... FOR A BOX, Y'ALL... and so I had to check every pencil to make sure it was SOFT LEAD so it won't tear my Bible pages. Too many minutes, too many tantrums, and one really helpful and polite employee later, I got my pencils and a new fine point pen.

Oh, P.S. I only bought the pencils I needed, not the whole $30 box!!

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Yes, I used a 40% off coupon. Don't worry. Y'all, I honestly do not feel like this was $10 spent frivolously. Yes, my children have colored pencils at home. But to me it's worth it to buy these darn special pencils to make sure I can mark up one side and down the other in my Bible with no worries!

Got home from the store and Hunter went down for a nap which meant there would be peace and quiet for at least two hours.

With Brianna on one corner of the bed with her paper and HER colored pencils and stickers, and myself on the other corner of the bed with all my stuff sprawled out, I got down to business.

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I just happened to pick Psalm 27. I am actually reading Matthew right now but I wanted to do a Psalm today. So this is what I ended up doing, after reading this other lady's blog post (and some of this I do already, and some is added into my quiet time routine now; you obviously can tweak this based on what works for you):
  • Pray for guidance
  • Read the entire passage you are planning on studying
  • I read through it again, marking any characteristics of God in yellow
  • I read it through again, marking any actions of God in blue
  • I read it again, marking all commands to the reader in red
  • I marked a "w" on all verses speaking of wicked people or my enemies
  • I marked a crown on the word "temple" to remind me that Christ is King
  • I marked the word "heart" with a red heart
  • I underlined the word "all" twice (all tends to be very important in scripture, and as Lee Jeffries would say, in the Bible "all means all")
  • I journaled everything I was learning as I read through the scripture
  • Read through the scriptures that were on the side notes to see if they made something else come to mind
  • Normally I would also look up anything confusing, or look up the original text in a lexicon
  • Read through the passage again and pray again over it
I don't always get 30-45 minutes a day to study my Bible like this. Frankly, during Angel Tree time (which won't stop until after Christmas this year, it looks like!) I barely have time to get in a good ten minutes of study time. I know that's awful and maybe by next year I'll have more of a "team" helping out with Angel Tree than just a couple of other people. :)  So I'm excited that things are beginning to slow down a little more around here and I've got this time again. Personally, I can really tell when I'm not doing the studying like I should. I can tell it in my attitude (I get impatient with the kids, etc.), I can tell I feel more mentally exhausted, and sometimes I can even turn my blessing of a ministry into a burden. Fortunately I usually can see the signs and I can get myself back on track.

ANYWAY. I didn't mean to go off on a tangent!

I won't always have time to blog like this, I'm sure, but I wanted to share what I learned from this scripture today. It was totally random, picked out of the blue, so there was no ulterior motive for picking this scripture or anything.

Things God will do:
  • Hide me and set me up upon a rock (v. 5)
  • Hear me, have mercy on me and answer me (v. 7)
  • Take me up if my parents abandon me (v. 10)
  • Teach me and lead me (v. 11)
  • Strengthen my heart (v. 14)
Commands to me:
  • Sing praises to the Lord (v. 6)
  • Seek God's face (v. 8)
  • Wait on the Lord and be of good courage (v. 14)
Characteristics of God:
Light, salvation (x2), strength, beauty, help, goodness

What should I take away from this?
Whom shall I fear? No one. I must be confident in the security that God gives me.
My life here should be spent focusing on my relationship with God. Our end goal is to dwell with God forever, but we must live like that now - don't get too wrapped up in temporary things.
I have a firm foundation in God. He will cover me in His shadow (how big must that be!!) and hide me, keep me safe when I have troubles.
When God does keep me safe I must praise him for that.
When I cry out to God, he not only hears me - but he responds. He has mercy and answers me.
If my parents forsake me, abandon me, turn their backs on me... God will take me up.
God will teach me his ways but I must follow them.
Wait on God. Have courage. He will strengthen your heart.

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Christmas Tree

We have a Christmas tree in our church this year for the first time ever. The Sunday it was put up, our pastor read this poem. I loved it and wanted to share it here. It is titled "The Christmas Tree".

From a tree a manger was made,
On the first Christmas, in it He laid.

Also from a tree a cross was made
And on it, for our sins, the price He paid.

I remember each year, as the tree I adorn
His gift giving began, the day He was born.

As I gently place each ornament of gold
In His hands I place my heart, and my life for Him to hold.

Trusting in Him to take good care of me,
I pray and I sing as I decorate the tree.

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, said He,
That's why I put lights on my Christmas tree.

Each one is unique and decorated differently
But your cross in each one is what I will see.

From now on, when I look at each Christmas tree
I will remember, You arose Lord, after dying for me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Angel Tree 2012

Angel Tree 2010

Angel Tree 2011

Okay, I am finally going to blog about Angel Tree 2012! As you can see, I linked to the past two years above.

The "Before" Pictures:

Over 100 children. About 20 staff members. Presents for everyone!

Delivery date is December 8.

Several "wrapping parties" were held between November 18 and the week of the actual delivery. I couldn't have done this without so many willing volunteers, and more importantly - BABYSITTERS!!

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 Oh, and LOTS of Black Friday shopping!!

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We gathered the youth group to help sort presents by number on December 5. One table for numbers 1-20, one table for 21-40, etc etc. We start piling presents into garbage bags and labeling on the outside. This turns out to be a HUGE help when we are unloading the trailer at the Head Start. Note to self: remember that in 2013!

So December 6 I walked into the church with my sister and this is what it looked like:

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By the evening of December 6:

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Friday, December 7, a few of us meet at church to load up a trailer which will be hauled by Jim Babb. Other years we have relied on people's vehicles and our church bus. This year Jim and Jackie offered their trailer and we loaded that thing FULL!

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 After loading up the trailer, I went to the Christian bookstore in Southern Pines and bought almost 200 tracts in English and Spanish and the rest of their buttons that say:

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Now for the big day! December 8, delivery day!

Step 1: Unload the trailer


 Group picture! (From left to right: Michelle, Chelsea, Pastor Chad, Mike, Jim, Andy, Jackie, Meagan, Prescilla, Harriette, myself). We also had other helpers - Peggy, Adrianna, Ethan, Cindy, Kimberly who came out but were not pictured)

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 Step 2: Organize the presents by class and family:

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Step 3: Let the families have at it!!

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After about an hour and a half, there was a break in the stream of parents coming through. Ms Spencer and Ms Cheek took us into one of the classrooms and gave us the biggest thank you EVER - look at this food they donated to Fed by Faith!!

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I cannot say enough about how amazed I am by this ministry every single month, every single week. The Angel Tree is my absolute favorite time of the year. By now we know these families. We know the staff. I love them all so much and I would do anything for them. They are such a blessing to me.

I don't even know how to begin to thank everyone involved with Angel Tree. There were people who spent countless hours with me at church, organizing and wrapping presents, people who came to my house to do the same thing, people who went shopping for me, gave me cash donations, gave me toy and clothing donations, sent me encouraging emails and texts... I could never thank everyone because I KNOW I would forget someone!! But people have stood next to me since this started back in October and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

If even just one person comes to know Christ through this Angel Tree ministry, it is all worth it. Every other year we have spoken to the families about God and his blessings but this is the first year we had tracts in hand to give out to the families. Hopefully there is someone that came to get a gift and walked out with a tract, and because of that they will come to know Christ. That is 1000% what it's all about.
A couple of years ago I mentioned that it is really easy for nonbelievers to give the glory to the people who help out with this ministry. But the Bible states that no one is good. Not one of us is good without God. I truly believe God gives people passion, or the finances, or the want to help others, or a sacrificing spirit, and all of those God-given characteristics in people come together and make ministries a success. It is NOTHING that we do. We are simply the hands and feet of God. Glory, glory, glory that we get to do things like this. I do thank every person involved, so many of you went WAY above and beyond and you did not have to. I can never thank you enough.

I'm already gathering goodies for 2013... how bad is that!?!?  Hahaha!