Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting a Haircut

Last night I went and got a haircut. I really like my new style. I am back to a short look, which I must say Jimmy enjoys. He told me that I should never let my hair grow as long as I had it in high school (when we first met). I don’t think he likes to be reminded of the fact that he is eight years older than me or that I was only sixteen when we met while he was twenty-four (don’t worry! Romantic thoughts never even entered our minds at that point! Ew!). So to honor him, I have kept my hair well above my waist since he made that request.  :)
Although I really love my new hairstyle, it wasn’t the most important thing about getting my hair cut. I actually attempted getting my haircut Wednesday afternoon at the Fantastic Sam’s near my house, but I waited and waited and waited and they were never able to get me in before I had to leave for church. So that was a no go. Last night, I went to pick up some groceries at Wal-Mart and noticed that there was no waiting at their SmartStyle so on an impulse I walked in and got my hair cut. The most important part of my haircut experience was meeting Michelle, the stylist. It wasn’t just because my hair turned out awesome! Michelle really encouraged me and I hope that I was able to encourage her too.

In the typical manner of hairdressers, she started up a conversation as she shampooed my hair. We talked about the work I do at the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, and the ministry opportunities that come with it. Then we started talking about our youth groups. Michelle works with the youth at her church, and although I could tell that we weren’t the same denomination it was still neat to feel the mutual bond of trying to lead students down the path that God has laid out for them. We talked for the duration of the hair appointment and now I know why things didn’t pan out on Wednesday. God wanted me to meet Michelle!

It just goes to show you that God has a plan for our divine appointments. Sometimes there’s a reason that things just don’t go the way we planned. Thank God for the times that you don’t miss out on an opportunity to encourage or be encouraged because of your agenda. God even has a plan for our haircuts!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When God Moves

In the 26 years of my life and 21 years of my Christian walk, I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I have felt God move in a big way. God often answers prayers (even if He doesn’t give us the answer we want to hear) but He seldom shakes us to the very core. However, I saw God move this weekend and I felt Him shake me in a way that I haven’t felt for sometime. This past weekend we had our 3rd annual Disciple Now weekend at Villebrook. The theme of the weekend was Epic. We wanted the youth to experience God in a way that they have never before. I don’t think that any of us could have imagined what God would do, which was appropriate since the theme verse for the weekend was 1 Corinthians 2:9 …

“However, as it is written:
  ‘No eye has seen,
  no ear has heard,
  no mind has conceived
  what God has prepared for those who love him’”

This weekend strongholds were broken. Sins were confessed. Lives were changed. It’s all because God moved. God began convicting His children of the sin they had been harboring in their life and they listened to Him. They confessed it to Him and to one another. Then they prayed for one another and built each other up.

God not only spoke to the teenagers this weekend, He also spoke to me and to Jimmy and the other adults. Then He answered my prayer for the weekend. I have been praying for weeks that whatever God started with the youth group would pour out into our church and begin to rekindle the fire in the adults. Sunday morning, some of the teens shared testimonies about the weekend. Others praised God through the reading of scripture. We all praised God through the singing of worship songs. Then it really hit and the adults began to confess their sins and pray for each other. It was an overly emotional time, but the healing process was genuinely started for the first time! Praise the Lord!

Over the next few days, I am going to talk about some of the issues that God dealt with me on Saturday night. For now, I simply want to show you a picture of our kids (who are very much my family).

By the way, in case you are wondering…the logos are on the back of the t-shirts, but they look like this…

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bread Making Ministry

Today as I sit and think about all the things that God has done in my life, I see that Jimmy and I are extremely blessed. We praise the Lord over the successes we have had in both our personal lives and ministries. We praise God for the struggles that we have lived through that have shaped who we are today. I must even praise God for my failures that show His true measure of grace.

What Make's a Great Ministry?
When people ask how you make a ministry successful, I tell them about our “bread making” ministry. No, we don’t literally bake bread. Hang on for a minute and let me explain to you what I mean…

What is a "Bread Making" Ministry?
All my young life, I would go to my grandmother’s house, and one of the things we would do was bake sour dough bread. The secret to making amazing sour dough bread is the starter. A starter is a small portion of bread dough that is reserved to start a new batch of bread. You must feed it to keep it alive and when the time comes it will be ready to perform. When you make a new batch of bread, you get out your starter and mix it with all the new ingredients for this batch of bread. It becomes completely absorbed into this new dough. Before making your bread, you must reserve a portion of it for your next starter. This bread and this starter are even better than the last because they both contain portions of the new ingredients and the faithful old starter that you have been diligent to feed and nurture. A dead starter cannot be revived nor can it be used to make new bread. Yet the bread that comes from this starter is better every batch because it blends all the different batches of bread you have ever made into one incredible loaf. That’s how we do ministry.

Our "Bread Making" Ministry
Even before I came into the picture, this was how Jimmy would do ministry. He received his very first “starter” when he was in college learning the skills he needed to feed the ministry. Then he made his first “batch” of youth ministry bread when he did a summer internship at a church in Columbia, Missouri. As he moved on to Fritch, Texas he expanded his bread making repertoire. When Jimmy moved to Fulton, Missouri, and we first met, I also had the privilege of being exposed to “starter” members that he had collected along his ministry path. Some of the people he brought along with him from previous ministries were Jeremy, Jeff, Dave, Troy, Chrissy, Penny, Bethany, Mandy, and others. They were able to do things together that they were never able to do alone. Jimmy met Jeremy when he was his youth minister in Texas. I met Jeremy at Millersburg when he came to help Jimmy with our first ever DNOW. Jeremy met his wife Hannah when we all worked together doing ministry in DeSoto, Missouri. Last night Jeremy, Hannah, and their children all came and helped Jimmy and I prepare our students for this weekends Disciple Now. Our kids are going to be the best “bread” yet because they have been exposed to the best “starter” so far.

Do You Get It?
I hope you get what I am saying. This principle can be used in any ministry and in life. Nurture the friends and relationships you have made along the way. Bring your “starter” of people, relationships, and experiences into your current life and ministry to make things even better! Learn to build from the strong foundation that you have been building all these years and someday the people you minister too will hopefully do even greater ministry than you! Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

My RED ALERT for You
WARNING: The quality of your starter will affect the quality of the “bread” that is made from it. Use wisdom and discretion when choosing the relationships and standards that you choose to expose your ministry to.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dream Big

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

This weekend is our church’s DNOW (Disciple Now) weekend. Every year as Jimmy and I plan for DNOW, we sit back in expectation of what God is going to do. This year’s theme is EPIC. We are fully expecting God to come and do Epic things in our lives, the students lives, the adult workers live, and in our church. We are claiming the promise of God that He can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”! I don’t know about you but I can dream pretty big. Still He is able not just to exceed these dreams, He can do IMMEASURABLY MORE than what I can imagine! I can’t even fathom that but I’m not supposed to be able to get it otherwise it wouldn’t be beyond imagination.

How many times have we robbed God of what He wants to do just because we don’t dream big? Seriously, how big is your God?! My God is HUGE! Do I always have faith? Heck no! In the last few years, I have had major struggles in belief and faith. I am just starting to come around and realize that God’s faithfulness has never changed. He is still there waiting for me to ask Him to do big things in my life and in our ministry. Yes, He can do them without me asking Him to do them, but I believe that He wants us to be faithful in asking and He delights in answering our requests. Does He always give us the answer He wants? Heck no! But rest assured God always answers. Sometimes He says “No” or “Wait” and we use our selective hearing and claim that He didn’t give us an answer, but He always, always answers.

So what are you asking God for? Is it in-line with His will? Are you dreaming big? Do you have faith that God can do even more than you can ask or imagine? Try it. Trust God. Believe He can and will answer your prayers. Be faithful in listening for His answer. Be obedient in the things that God asks you to do. Just wait, He’s going to blow your mind!

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:10

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dumping Debt

This week Jimmy and I celebrated paying off another debt! It was so exciting to realize the relief and freedom that came when that financial burden was lifted. Although we got into debt quickly (due to a long period of unemployment and other issues), we realize that it will be a long process to work our way out. In the two years that we have been living by our financial plans and trying to become debt free, we have paid off 4 different credit accounts! Praise the Lord. Yes, we still have many more to go but we have a plan and we have a God that is good who will help us stick to it.

Money Facts
1 in 20 American families carry more than $8,000 in credit card debt. Read More
1.41 Million Americans declared bankruptcy in 2009 Read More
43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for Retirement Read More

Sadly, many people that are in debt have no idea how to get out of it.

How to Get Out of Debt
1. Make a Budget
2. Learn to Live by Your Budget
3. STOP using your Credit Cards and/or Borrowing Money
4. Make a Plan for Paying Back what you Owe

Our Debt Snowball
As I have said before, Jimmy and I follow the skills and tactics we learned from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This is where we first learned how to make a real budget that would actually work for us. Plus, Dave gave us some strategies to use to get out of debt. Dave calls this the “Debt Snowball”.

Read Dave Ramsey’s article “Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Plan”

Here are the highlights for all of you that don’t have the time or the gumption to read the full article.

1. Make a List of ALL your Debts from smallest to largest
2. Start with the smallest debt you owe and pay as much as you possibly can every month on this debt while paying the minimum payments on the rest
          a. This will allow you to pay this debt off quickly
          b. It will help you to feel good about the victory of getting it paid off
          c. The feel good feeling will help you to stick with the plan
3. When you have paid off the first debt, add all the money you were sending to the debt you have now paid off to the minimum payment from the next smallest debt and continue as before.
4. Repeat Step 3 until all debts are paid off.

My 2¢
The hardest part of paying off debt is sticking to the plan. You WILL be tempted to use your credit cards (that’s why Dave suggests closing all your credit accounts). You will be tempted to spend the money you free up from paying off the first debt on something other than paying off the second debt. You will have setbacks once in a while. Don’t give up. This is not a task for the faint at heart! It will take a while to have total financial freedom, BUT it is POSSIBLE! Praise the Lord!

Best wishes to all of you who embark on your journey to become debt free. You can do it!

CLICK HERE to read some Get Out of Debt Success Stories

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Test of Patience

Right now, I REALLY want to throw my computer against the wall. There are, however, a few essential flaws to this plan. Number One, this isn't my computer (it belongs to my school, oops). Number Two, how is that going to help me get my assignment done. Hmm maybe I better think about this again.

I don't know about you, but I find patience to be one of the hardest fruits of the Spirit to apply to my life. I get angry when other people aren't patient with me, but do I really put in the effort to show patience to others? Honestly the answer is "No". I don't spend enough time practicing patience. I hurry from one thing to the next and stress about traffic and the time it takes the computer to render my 3D objects that I need to turn in so I can get out of here.

I wonder how my life would be different if I were a more patient person?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22 & 23

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pulled Down

As you know, Jimmy is the youth minister at Villebrook Baptist Church and I work with him in the youth ministry. Last night, I saw another classic example of a student whose pride is getting the better of them. This student thinks that they are SUPER mature spiritually (and they are a good Christian) and that they can hang out with whoever they want, whenever they want because they are helping the other person and they are too strong to fall into temptation. This attitude makes me so sad. The Bible calls us to be holy and separated from the world (1 Peter 1:16; 1 Peter 2:9). There is a reason for this!

Picture This
Picture in your head a diving board that’s two feet above the water. You are standing on the very end of the diving board and your identical twin is in the water below you. If you try to pull this person (who is exactly the same height and weight as you) out of the water bellows, 9 times out of 10 you are going to end up in the water! Now imagine that this person is twice your size and the odds of you getting them out of the water rather than you falling in becomes even more unlikely. So how does this apply to life?

Life Application
As a Christian you are called to be on the “diving board”. You should adhere to higher morals, higher standards, and you should remain above board in all that you do. Yes, God does call you to reach down and try to pull the people out of the pool who are drowning in their sins. However, if you are spending all your time pulling and pulling and trying to bring people up to your level, eventually you won’t have the strength to crawl out of the pool when you get pulled in. When this happens you will find that you too are soaked to the bone with sin and bad choices and low moral standards. That’s why you need to surround yourself with other Christians. They can not only help you pull people out of the pool. They can give you a rest when you are weary and hold you accountable on how close you are to falling in. Your Christian brothers and sisters should be your closest friends. They should be the ones you are relying on. If your closest friends are the people that are constantly pulling down on you that is SO not healthy for you spiritually. They can’t revived your spirit or lift you up. In fact, they will probably grab a hold on you when you fall in and practically drown you.

Closing Remarks
So while it is good to witness to people and to have non-Christian friends in your life, I urge you to keep them at a distance. Don’t depend on them to be your best friend or to always be there for you (Christ is the only one who will never let you down). Let your “inner circle” be filled with your Christian friends who should do everything in their power to build you up and not to tear you down. Don’t get caught up in the pride that makes you blind to your own weakness. If you do then you will fall.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You Then Me

You Then Me
by Rebeccah St. James
It's my turn, it's not your turn
It's my turn, get outta my way
It's my turn, go on complain
I'm comin' through anyway
Don't ask me why I'm like this
But lately I'm wonderin' if
It's come to pass
That the last shall be
first and the first shall be last
Then the voice says...

Here's the way it oughtta be
You then me, then you then me
Well, I pray one day we'll all agree
And take it you then me, then you then me
Life could go you then me, then you then me

It's easy, you wait then go
It's easy, so make your move
It's easy, don't clown around
Could've gone six times by now
But no sir, you gotta be a pain
Or is this your own way of sayin'
We should all cool down
And be more like the man
who was born back in Bethlehem town?
I betcha He'd say...


If we could only put You first
Maybe this ugly trend could one day be reversed

It's your turn, it's not my turn
It's your turn - well, let's just say
We'll trade off - first you then me
Then after that, we might agree
Let's try it, it could be good
And what if one day it should
Really come to pass
That the last shall
be first and the first shall be last
Betcha we'd say


In our nightly devotions, Jimmy and I have been studying about how love puts the other person first. This is something that I believe all people struggle with in their daily lives as well as in their marriages. It is so easy to say me, me, me and forget about the other person. When we let selfishness win continually then we are doing serious damage to our relationships. Selfishness smothers love and doesn't allow it to grow. Over time it can kill it completely. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce! It's all because we can't look beyond ourselves and put the other person first.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Designed with a Plan

Today we are throwing a baby shower for a girl at work. We are going to lunch at TGI Friday's and then she will open gifts while we all "ooh and aah" over the many things that she got. I actually really love baby showers and I know that we are going to have a lot of fun! The best part of all this is that I know the baby we are celebrating is extra special to this family because she is their miracle baby. This woman and her husband have given up on getting pregnant. They had been trying and trying for years and finally they just quit. Now a few years later, one day they just find out they are pregnant. They were so excited to have been blessed with this miracle. It was so much fun to watch this gal walk out of work holding baby clothes when she was only six weeks pregnant. It is amazing how a new life can change so much in so little time. It's also amazing just how much God cares about that little life. Jeremiah says, " The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'" (1:4-5) I can't even fathom how amazing it is that before God even created us in our mother's womb He had a plan for our lives. Isn't it great to know that you DO have a purpose? You were designed with a plan in mind! Your life has a mission. It isn't just meaningless. God put you on this earth for a reason!

"This is what the LORD says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen." Isaiah 44:2

Monday, March 1, 2010

When Your Heart is Broken

I am not naive. I know that life can be seriously hard. Why does it have to be so heartbreaking? Last night, Jimmy and I sat in a room with two of our good friends. We listened to their story and you could almost hear their hearts breaking. The longer they talked the more you just want to reach out and give them a big hug and tell them everything is going to be alright. Well in the end, I did give out a big hug to both of them, but I just couldn't say it was going to be okay.

In life their are so many unknowns. Thankfully God takes care of us. I don't believe that religion is a crutch by any means but I am SO glad that I do have a Savior who loves me and cares for me and provides for me and I can lean on Him when I know I can't take one more breath on my own. In these times, I seek to learn the lesson of Romans 5:3-5 "also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Then when I have learned to find the bright side of my problems maybe I will be able to help someone find the light at the end of their tunnel.

To all of you with the gift of mercy and to whom this comes very easily, I applaud you. Thank you for picking up the slack for people like me who have very little mercy. Thank you for showing us by example how to minister to the broken hearted. May we never give up even when it feels like our hearts are broken into a billion tiny pieces for Christ is the healer of our souls. He loves us, and He will build us back stronger than we were before.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:16 & 17

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3