It is Valentine’s Day, so it seems appropriate to talk about love. We love so many things; that cute puppy video on Facebook, dark chocolate, and the new sweater I just got. I also love… More
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So maybe you are new to being a “Christian”, “Jesus follower” or whatever you wanna call it. Or maybe you have been a “Christian” for a while and have recommited yourself to a Christ-centered life…. What does that look like? Continue reading “A NEW BEGINNING”
About 6 months ago I moved to a new town. I’ve been thinking a lot about what is it that God wants me to do here? I’ve had the feeling of stay still for a long while now but I don’t want to stay still. I’ve thought about starting a women’s group but I question if I am wanting to start it for all the right reasons. Of course I want to bring glory to God through anything I do. But are the emotions of missing the ladies in the community I once was part of triggering this? Is it something I want to start to keep me busy because I am not feeling purposeful at this moment in time? Continue reading “in the waiting”
Every day I hear people say to one another, “You deserve it” or “I deserve it”.
And while I hate that word, deserve, my actions and attitudes prove that I often feel the same way. I feel I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to get good assignments. I deserve for life to go smoothly. I deserve rest.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15-20 Continue reading “deserve”
My childhood pastor made a statement recently on social media that really resonated with me. I’m kicking myself right now for not writing it down, so I’m paraphrasing him. He basically said that when we pray (as the modern day church), do we pray like we truly believe that God is going to deliver on His promises? Do we pray like we believe that He has the power to heal, to provide, to restore, to deliver? Continue reading “prayer”
John 13: 3-9
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
I was recently in the USVI assisting with hurricane recovery. One of my main duties was to assist survivors with registering for aid. This was aid to fix their homes, replace the possessions they lost and to assist them with getting food, water and medical supplies. Many people had been through this before. The USVI was nearly flattened by Hurricane Hugo in the late 80s.
But for some people, it was very hard for them to ask for help. They would come because their need was great, but then they were embarrassed by their circumstances. As you can imagine, home insurance when you live on an island is very expensive. Many people cannot afford to purchase it, especially after their home is paid for.
The economy has been hard for these people as well. Many of the industries on the island closed years before this hurricane. So what little some people had was gone.
I remember sitting across from a gentleman. He was unemployed and had been living in a shelter. The shelter was destroyed. What little he had was gone. He needed help and he knew it, but sitting across from me in yet another shelter asking for assistance was too hard. He barely answered my questions, mumbling when he did.
When we got to the question about insurance, he looked at me with a jaded look in his eyes, no, he had no insurance. For some reason I stopped. I kept his eye contact and said to him, “You know, if this type of disaster happened in my community, I would be doing the same thing you are doing. I would need help too. You are doing the right thing.” For the first time since sitting down across from me, he smiled. Asked my name again and told me a little about himself.
The judgement he was giving himself for his situation and the perceived judgement he believed I would give him, for that moment was gone. We were two people having a conversation and trying to make a bad situation a little better.
Later when I talked to God, He impressed upon me that I am often like that man. I feel guilt and judgement because I continually fail. I continually do the things I really don’t want to do. But, just like I was not judging that gentleman that day, God does not judge me. I have asked for forgiveness. He has forgiven all of my sins; past, present and future. When I repent, I am doing so, not for forgiveness, but to bring me back into right relationship with Jesus. To open my heart, realize where I am veering off the path and lean into Christ to change me.
But there is another step that I have a hard time with, accepting the forgiveness. Accepting is hard. I know who I am, my bad choices, and the areas I continually fail. But that is a crucial step in repentance. I need to accept forgiveness and turn from what is causing me to stumble.
I may be wrong here, but I think if we don’t accept the forgiveness: feel the feelings of regret and shame, the feelings of really receiving forgiveness and the feelings or turning from that thing and trusting Jesus with the next steps, I think it is easier to do it again. I mean, we already know we probably will. Does that make sense?
Just as Peter didn’t feel worthy of Jesus washing his feet. I am not worthy of the forgiveness and grace I receive. But I have to let go of the feeling and do the accepting. Just as Jesus told Peter, he had to let Jesus wash his feet. He had to feel the imbalance in their relationship, in the receiving, to truly understand what Jesus was doing.
That imbalance is so hard to feel. I push away from that feeling. It uncovers the great need in me. The need I am not able to fulfill. The need only Jesus can fill. As uncomfortable and hurtful it may feel, we need to feel that imbalance. The injustice our sin put on Jesus. It changes us. And we all need that change!
Thank God for giving me what I do not deserve, what I can never deserve.
Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our plan was to not have a plan. We both simply wanted to sit, relax, chat and look at the waves for four glorious days. So, a week or so ago, Pat and I went away for a much needed rest at the beach. We rented a beautiful condo right on the ocean. What a view!
It was a great trip – we walked along the sand, watched the waves for hours, had long conversations, and took a little trip down memory lane. The condo was in Bethany Beach – but memory lane was a little ways up the coastal highway in a sweet seaside town called Rehoboth.
When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived on a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore not too far from there – a visit to their place in the summer always meant a day trip to the beach. My parents would rent a cottage for two weeks every summer while I was growing up and Pat & I continued the summer tradition when our boys came along.
I have so many wonderful memories of Rehoboth Beach – they span from the earliest memories of my childhood up until when my boys were teenagers. So…it was fun to walk all over the little town and the boardwalk – remembering this and remembering that. We spent the day conjuring up old family vacation stories and recalling the early years of marriage and family. As we walked along Baltimore Avenue, I stopped Pat in front of a cute little restaurant and asked him,
“Do you know what happened here?” Continue reading “One Wise Woman”
All things dip.
Who can forget about coffee? As a young mom, coffee is my lifeblood. My source of sanity most days. My body craves the smell, the taste, and that oh so sweet caffeine surging through my exhausted body one blissful drop at a time.
This is not my grocery list (although it could be). This is the stuff CRAVINGS are made of. We always think of cravings as indulgences or even fantasies if we are “dieting”, but they are almost always indicative of something deeper. Continue reading “Craveable”
Another great devo from The Connection’s Refresh! Originally shared on October 10, 2017.
James 1: 22-24 “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
Let’s imagine this…
You are going on a date.
You dress nicely.
You do your makeup.
You did your hair.
Halfway through the meal you go to the restroom and while washing your hands you notice it. You have a huge grotesque piece of spinach in your front teeth. You are horrified! What do you do? Well, when you turn from the mirror to dry your hands you completely forget about it. You travel back to your date with a huge smile in all your green glory.
That’s a very literal analogy of what James is saying so let’s look at it this way.
I woke up early to capture that short window of time before the kids wake. I grabbed my coffee, found my chair. Verse of the day. “Love your neighbor as yourself”, Mark 12:31. Instantly, I think wow that’s convicting! Nevermind that I could very possibly have one of the most challenging neighbors in the entire world.
Anyway, moving on…
I did my devotional.
Scrolled through Facebook. Ooh, I like that verse. Hit like, maybe share it.
Then suddenly, I’m knee deep in laundry, errands, to do lists, kissing booboo’s, playing on the floor and helping with homework.
How many times did I pass this neighbor in the chaos of the day. It’s at this point when reflecting on James 22-24, I have to ask myself. Am I being a hearer or a doer? At what point did I love my not so lovable neighbor as myself?
Then the dialog goes in my head something like this…
“But he’s so mean – not just to me but to my kid!”
“But he’s lonely.”
“But he can be really nasty.”
“But he’s hurting.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself”
Let’s be honest. I can remember times when I haven’t been so friendly to others, maybe lonely, maybe projecting my hurts on other. When I read that verse of the day that morning, was I convicted? Did I allow it to truly penetrate my heart? Was I being a doer or just a hear? At what point, do I truly live the Word?
How did I allow the devotion that I read that morning to change the way I interact with my husband? The devotional was soaked in great biblical truths. Was I hearing it? Or was I living it?
James 1:22 “Be doers of the Word.”
What are you saying here James?
You not only want me to hear the Word but you want me to “DO” the Word. Okay, I get it. You want me to LIVE IT OUT. You want me to LIVE like Christ. To be a DOER of the Word is to LIVE the Word.
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Ok, I get it James. To be doers of the Word is to say that we are to live like Christ.
What does that look like? Because let’s be honest, life is busy.
Isn’t it good enough that I am reading the Word? Now James is saying that’s not enough? So how do I allow my sinful nature to change into a life that can glorify God?
The apostle Paul says give great instructions on how to make that happen.
“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.“ Romans 12:2
Paul is telling us to renew our minds. When you simply read the Word and do not think on it, pray on it, and allow it to move from head to heart knowledge you are simply a hearer not a doer. If we want to be Christ like we must be transformed by renewing our minds.
Just like we become more like the company we keep. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
The amazing thing about the bible is that as you spend time with God, as reading, the Word becomes part of you. As you think about it and pray about it, God is molding you and suddenly by the grace of God working through you, you become “Doers of the Word”. You allow Christ to move in you, by RENEWING your mind.
We are all in different stages of our walk. We all have our own unique circumstances in our lives.
What James is asking you to do isn’t to become a theological scholar. He’s inviting you into a relationship with the Word of God.
Take that circumstance you are going through right now and look to see what the Word says about it. The next time the Holy Spirit speaks to your soul with a verse….
Pause on it.
Pray about it.
Think or meditate on it.
This is renewing your mind! The renewing of your mind brings your will into agreement with Gods will. Suddenly, I’m looking at my not so lovable neighbor in a new light. God’s Word is great instruction and a call to action. A call to renew our minds to come in alignment with the will of God.
In the book of John, it says (paraphrased) I came so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. Jesus himself is life.
Don’t miss this: when you live the WORD you truly LIVE.
So be a doer. Let’s renew our minds to live abundantly.
Ok, now let’s put this into practice! Download our free Doers scripture printable. Print them out. Cut them apart. Select one card per day. Meditate on that verse and ask God how you can DO it.
Mary Bender and her husband Norman live in Greencastle, PA. They have three energetic boys, and one adorable little girl.
Mary counts herself as being truly blessed to be a stay at home mom to her four “littles”. In addition to being a wife and mother Mary uses her God given gifts to serve in women’s ministry at her church, LCBC, as a life group leader. Mary also uses her passion for women’s ministry for serve on the board of directors for The Connection.
It is Mary’s desire to serve and encourage women to have genuine faith while building a home and raising her children.
We don’t have cable television in our home so I learned of the Las Vegas, NV shootings the morning after it happened when opening my computer and seeing #PrayforLasVegas throughout my social media news feed on many of my friends posts. “Pray for Las Vegas?” I questioned. I went to google and began typing: “What happened in Las Vegas?” and hit enter.
There it was.
My. Heart. Broke.
Many dead, many injured. This brought sadness to me as I am sure to many others. Why does another tragic thing have to happen in this world?
After hearing of this, I went to my oldest daughter who was up getting ready for school. I gave her a huge hug and kiss. I then let her know of what happened as I figured she would hear about it at school. We both prayed for all the victims and their families and went on to finish getting ready. We got into the car and headed to her school. I didn’t think I would hear any more of the sadness that happened the rest of the day especially since I decided to take a break from the computer. Sometimes when I hear of things like this I just want to shut it off because my heart just breaks so much for this world. But I should have known we cannot shut off hearing about these sad tragedies because if we don’t see it on the news, or the internet, or hear on the radio, someone eventually will ask you, did you hear what happened?
And so, as the man on the radio station began talking of what happened in Las Vegas tears came rolling down my face because a moment of weakness came over me. I felt like turning the car around to head home and lock myself and family up in our home forever just so that nothing bad would ever happen to us. But of course reality hits. I know that is not possible. I know we cannot live in fear and God certainly does not want us to live in fear either.
One thing I am realizing is I need to not be ashamed to step out in faith and proclaim what I believe. The church my family and I attend is currently in a series called “Next level U”. How can we take ourselves to the next level? Stepping out and proclaiming our faith is certainly a way we can take ourselves to the next level. Instead of fearing what could or will happen next, we can trust God’s got this and wherever we go, whatever happens, God will be with us. Fear is only going to take away the joy that this life has to offer or what we as God’s children could offer someone else. If I were to lock myself and family up in our home forever, I know that would leave the world five less people to let God’s light shine through for others to experience the love God offers us.
You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NLT
So, I know I can’t be fearful about going places just because there are some not so good people in this world. There is hope for those not so good people when we step out in our faith and let others know of God’s good news in any way we are able to. I may sound overconfident in this hope but I truly believe sharing the Lord’s word can make a difference and maybe, just maybe, one less bad thing would happen.
Lindsey Montejo is a stay at home wife, mother and newer follower of Christ. The desire has been placed in her to share her experiences of her growing relationship with God and to let others know that His love is unconditional.
Want to read more from Lindsey? Visit her personal blog HERE.
The words “servant”, “service” and “serve” in various forms, occur well over 1,100 times in the New International Version. People are servants of other human beings or servants of God.
What does service look like to you? Helping the poor, putting aside your needs for those of someone else, giving a ride to a friend, serving your family – the list is endless for that one! Holding the door for someone? The answer is yes! Do you do things even though you will not get human praise for it?
How many of you feel that you serve too little? Too much? How about enough? The funny thing is that sometimes we don’t know how we will be of service. Most of the time, it comes and takes us for a whirlwind. Something we didn’t expect that happens in a blink of an eye.
Sometimes it’s only a random text sent to a friend because you felt such a strong urge to do so!
I think as women we tend to hold ourselves to a higher degree when it comes to serving others. I think that’s why the story of Mary and Martha was put in the Bible! We tend to look at the people around us and judge our serving against theirs. We ask ourselves why we don’t do as much as them. Or why our service can’t be like theirs.
I was guilty of this a lot in my younger years. And in that mindset I would usually take on more than I could handle. I would end up burnt out, and not enjoying the things I found myself doing. It was hard to find the joy in the ways that I served and I knew something had to change.
This summer I had several opportunities to serve in a few different ways. Ways that I knew the younger me would’ve jumped at the chance to have. But the wisdom I have gained over the years made me stop and ask myself if this was something I truly felt lead to do or was it a title I wanted to pursue. And in this wisdom I have found that it’s ok to say no. That there is someone out there who is more qualified with a little more room on their plate to take up that opportunity. And in this, I am able to devote more time to the ministries God has placed me in. I have more time for my family. Because let’s face it. They should get my best service.
So some guidelines to serving…
1 Peter 4:8-11
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.(How many of you think blessing those who persecute you is an act of service?!) Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
I liked these verses because to me, this is when it’s hard to serve. This is when it’s inconvenient. When those we are serving do not like us or don’t understand what we are doing.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
So here is my profound and utterly groundbreaking idea.
Serve when it’s inconvenient, when it’s unpopular.
Serve when no one is watching.
Serve the least of these and serve the greatest of these.
Serve the friend that calls at 3 in the morning desperate for a voice to hear.
Serve the family that seems to not notice the things you do for them.
Serve because Jesus came to serve.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
He served the least of these.
He served in his pain and sorrow and frustration.
He served the lame, the wicked.
He served the one that turned Him over for 30 pieces of silver.
He served the untouchable, the gross and twisted.
And aren’t we supposed to be like him!
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
So in closing…
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
Stephanie shared this great message at our September Refresh. The ladies appreciated it so much that they wanted the chance to hear it again & take notes. We are thankful for Stephanie & our other gifted writers & devo team members. Thank you ladies for being a blessing to us!
My new found love of bringing God’s word in a practical way to women of all ages still comes as a shock to me! But I am thoroughly captivated by the way He leads me and pushes me to dive in and dig more and more. I also have a great love for reaching out to teens and am very active in our teen ministry at LCBC where we call our church home.
My husband Paul and I have been married for 17 years and have two amazing kids! Isa is 13 and Ian is 9.
My hope and prayer is that we all grow closer to each other and closer to our amazing God and watch in awe as he draws us closer to Him!