Jesus FIRST…Be Active!!

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

The Christian life has become so passive. We go to church each week and passively listen to a message that someone else has prepared. We read the blogs that appear on our newsfeed, hit “like”, and move on. We view our pastor as our main source of spiritual food, when he is supposed to be a shepherd. The shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep to the good pastures where the sheep eat for themselves. No wonder pastors suffer so much stress!! We expect them to hand-feed us when we should be feeding ourselves! The problem is that we don’t even realize that we should be doing it any other way!! We think that we are being good Christians by going to church, listening to Christian music, reading Christian blogs, and praying at meals. This is what we have been told. We have accepted other people’s revelation from God with no effort to seek out our own.  Are these things bad? NO!!! They just aren’t enough. We can no longer afford the luxury of being passive. We must actively seek Jesus for ourselves! “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” –Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) ‭‭ As … Read More

Are You Living In Unity?

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Her email was cheerful, ending with a smiley face that did nothing to hide the snide undertones. She wanted to be sure I knew what I had done wrong. Completely rankled, I emailed her back with a proper explanation of how I had done nothing wrong and she was the one who made a mistake. Which prompted an email back, with more smiley faces, of how she was in the right and if I had handled the original situation better, there would have been no confusion. I replied that it had been this way for years, and since she had been involved in the project each time, she already knew the complete rules. And then God reminded me that He is my Defender. He doesn’t like quarrelsome behavior.     I was getting caught up in a pointless argument all because I wanted to prove I was right. So as much as it irritated me that she got the last word, I deleted the email and let the matter drop. Lately, as I look around me, all I see is conflict among Believers, and it makes my heart hurt.   +  A son who avoids his mother and treats her terribly when they … Read More

ACWM: Paid In Full

Betty StooksburyFaithLeave a Comment

Paid In Full A few weeks ago I found myself in line at a drive-thru, picking up a little snack on my way to work after a doctors appointment. My order was small, a fountain soda and two personal apple pies (yes I ate both of them) but what happened next was even sweeter than my treat. When I pulled up to the window to pay the cashier said “The car ahead of you paid for your order.” What a kind little gesture from a complete stranger. This stranger didn’t know me, they didn’t know that food is my love language, they just felt lead to do something kind for me, and they did. That simple gesture completely made my day. I would have loved to know who it was that paid for my order, I would have loved to have the chance to thank them, but it was anonymous. My order was paid in full, all I had to do was receive it, and enjoy it. This random of kindness reminded me of a very purposeful act of kindness that happened long ago. A day when my debt was paid in full. For God so loved the world that … Read More

When it’s all we have to give…

Jennifer BullardFaithLeave a Comment

I have always loved the innocence of children.  The way they see the world is fascinating and so different from how we see things and interact.  When my oldest son was about three, we were driving and he suddenly screeched, “Mommy!!  Look at that beautiful car!”  To you and I, the car looked like a big old hot mess.  It had a blue door, a red hood, and was held together with more Bondo than metal.  To him, it was a beautiful mobile rainbow.  A few weeks ago, while waiting for paint to be mixed at the hardware store, my youngest son suddenly said, ” my brother lost a tooth.”  The sweet man gently looked up and smiled, revealing that he had no front teeth.  The first story shows us how children see beauty in everyday things, the second is how simple things are in the eyes of a child. We have spent the past month and a half visiting churches in our new town, desperately searching for a new church home.  One of the first churches we visited was a large Baptist church in the middle of town.  The program was very similar to us and we settled right … Read More

Reflecting on my Year of Jubilee

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

The week between Christmas and New Years is a time of reflection for many people.  As 2015 comes to a close, I’ve been pondering all my experiences over the past year.    + All the goals I’ve accomplished, both professional and personal.    + All the things God has taught me and how my faith has grown.    + All the memories I made with my family that will be my legacy. Sometimes people have a word they apply to an entire year. I’ve never done that before, and frankly, I always thought it was for people who were super spiritual. But last January, God told me 2015 would be my personal year of jubilee. I had no idea what that meant. I only knew this concept from the Bible had to do with freeing slaves. I was even hesitant to claim it for myself, since I had never applied one word to a year of my life before. But it soon became clear that God wanted to teach me something.  In the beginning, I didn’t understand what He wanted from me. All my attention went into saving my marriage. I felt like it was simply a promise from God … Read More

Before and After

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Holiday, MarriageLeave a Comment

Life is full of before and afters. I’ve learned that more and more over the last year and a half. Each person has defining moments in their life that left them different than they were before. Your before and afters may look different than the next persons, but each unique experience is the opportunity for God to shape you into who He wants you to be. Are you who you were before you finished school? Are you who you were before you met your significant other? Are you who you were before you had children? Are you who you were before they told you, you couldn’t have children? Are you who you were before you lost a child? Are you who you were before the adoption? Are you who you were before the deployment? Are you who you were before the accident? Are you who you were before the weight loss? Are you who you were before the addiction? Are you who you were before the affair or divorce? Are you who you were before the diagnosis? Are you who you were before your trust was broken? Are you who you were before they died? Chances are, you have been … Read More

WHAT TIME IS IT?

Betty StooksburyFaithLeave a Comment

I am not a blogger or a writer.  I think, except for an occasional post on facebook, this will be the first time I have EVER attempted to write……..and it may be the last.  However, I was reading my Bible this morning and I came across a passage, that I had read before, and it “struck” me a new way.  (Has that ever happened to you?) I was reading Ruth 1:19-22.  The very last section of verse 22 says “…They arrived……at the beginning of the barley harvest.”  And I just went WHOA!!!!!   How perfect was that.  Now if you do not know the story of  Naomi and Ruth, I’m not going to spoil it for you……read the book of Ruth, its only 4 chapters, tragedy at the beginnng but the rest is  full of hope and love.  But what I do want to share with you are the thoughts I came away with after reading those 9 words.       “THEY ARRIVED…..AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BARLEY HARVEST.” Did Ruth and Naomi know they would be arriving in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest?  I doubt it……..but God did.  (GOD’S TIMING) Did they plan their trip … Read More

A Perfectly Good Church.

Jennifer BullardFaithLeave a Comment

For weeks I was without a computer.  For weeks I had ideas for blog posts pouring from me at every turn.  For weeks I was so full of passion to write that I nearly cried when the “new” computer finally came.  But something happened during that few weeks that has rendered me unable to write about anything else until I say this. About a year ago my family and I moved an hour south of Knoxville, TN.  Knoxville was our home, but my husbands job was no longer in Knoxville.  He was driving an hour one way each day and with 12+ hour shifts, it was wearing on him.  The answer seemed simple.  Move to the country (which I LOVE) and give him a lot more time with his family everyday.  Easy?  Simple?  It seemed that way. For the last year we have been commuting that hour to attend our church.  We have a WONDERFUL church family and are blessed with an amazing Pastor and leaders. We were determined to keep our church.  At first we were doing so well, still attending every service that we had been and keeping up with events.  Slowly, Wednesday nights became a problem.  We … Read More

Is There Really Power In The Name Of Jesus?

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

 Jesus. As a woman of God, does this word cause a stirring to your soul? Does it bring tingles to your arms? A smile to your lips? Peace to your heart? “There is power in the name of Jesus.” We’ve all heard that phrase before, probably multiple times. But do we really get it? When I was a child, I heard a minister talk about the power of speaking Jesus’ name out loud, and he said something that made the hair on my neck stand tall. Now more than twenty years later, I haven’t been able to get those words out of my head: “When you say the name of Jesus, you say a mouthful. Because at the sound of that name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD!” Kinda puts current struggles into perspective when you really meditate on it. Whatever tough situation I’m going through seems to melt away when I think about the greatness of my God and the son He sacrificed to save me. And the Bible says ‘every’. That rude person who cut in front of me on the highway. That ungrateful customer who argued with me on … Read More

Unexpected Gratitude

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

The other night I wearily laid our newborn baby into her bed. She still sleeps in our room and probably will for quite a while. As I pulled back the covers and poured myself in to bed as well, I heard a gentle voice say “thank you for being the mom you are, and for doing all that you do for our family.” That simple, unexpected expression of gratitude meant so much to me. A simple thank you from my husband was like a soothing salve to my weary heart. I chose this part of life. Actually I begged for it. I plead with my husband and the Lord, for several years prior to now. I wanted another child so desperately it was pretty much all I could think about. I wanted the sleepless nights. I wanted to nurse for hours on end if I needed to. I wanted to dance around the house at all hours of the night in a desperate attempt to soothe a restless infant.  I said “I would give ANYTHING to be this tired!” And I meant it. So to be thanked for doing something I expected to do, I’m supposed to do, was a … Read More

When You’re Assigned A Wrong Label

Jen CudmoreFaith, TrialsLeave a Comment

How do you feel when you’re labeled?   I’m not talking ‘wife’ or ‘mom’ kind of stuff. I’m talking criticism and judgement, like “hypocrite”, “gaudy jewelry lady”, “hair that hasn’t left the 80’s”, “why did they let her on the worship team when she can’t sing?”, “always has to be the center of attention”, “never makes a home-cooked meal and keeps fast food chains in business” kind of labels.  Last week I wrote about how women tend to assign labels to each other, and explained why we must stop that tendency. God doesn’t like it when we look down on each other, when we criticize, judge, and gossip about each others’ weaknesses and mistakes. So when others label you, does anything constructive come of it? Or does it only bring feelings of shame, worthlessness and condemnation? Do you want to rise to your defense, or thank them for pointing out your weakness? I’ve been misjudged a lot over the past year – by people who consider themselves to be Christians.  – I’ve been accused of being ungrateful for some services provided to me.  – I’ve been accused of being unloving and looking down on others who are not as ‘spiritual’ as … Read More

Another Syrian Refugee Blog…

Carol DunfeeCurrent Events, FaithLeave a Comment

I had planned to write about the refugee crisis this week. All week, I have been mulling the matter in my mind, reading different articles from various perspectives and searching in the Bible for answers. I started to write, but it got too political. Nope. Not going there. We don’t need any more political articles. Time to start over. As I mulled the arguments on all sides, questions crashed into my brain like waves. One led to another and another and another. Are we responsible to help refugees? Where is the balance between protection and compassion? What does the Bible say about a nation’s response to a threat? How does the above answer apply to an individual’s responsibility? What does Jesus expect of ME? If you ask 100 people these questions, you will likely receive 100 different answers. People on each extreme of the issue are passionately convinced that THEIR answer is the only right one. I’m not going to tell you what to think. I’m going to lay out five principles I found while studying and pondering this. You decide how they apply. YOU do the thinking! Jesus expects us to care for orphans, widows, strangers, the hungry, the … Read More

In The Shadow of His Wings

Sarah OlsonFaithLeave a Comment

“… the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending — listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.” – (http://www.faithgateway.com/spiritual-benefits-waiting#.Vk33QXslL4k) When you attend to someone’s needs, you are serving them. A waiter at a restaurant is an excellent example; they are literally waiting around, vigilantly watching to serve and attend to one’s every need.  Many times, I fall into a trap of thinking that God doesn’t need me. And while I am correct to an extent because God is God and I certainly am not, I am mistaken! God placed us on this earth to be His hands and feet! The Church is to show God’s truth in words and actions here on the earth. In Matthew 28:19-20, God commands and promises, “Go ye therefore and make disciples… baptize… TEACH… and I will be with you always…” This is the quintessential passage of God’s Word! It is, in essence the call – the charge – to Christians to be … Read More

Passion Isn’t Enough

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

My third-grade classroom had a piano in it.  That simple fact changed my life.  Our teacher played it often during classroom sing-alongs. I loved her piano-playing so much that I played “piano” on tabletops whenever possible. I dreamed of making music of my own. I begged my parents relentlessly to let me take piano lessons.  This is the piano my parents purchasedwhen I started piano.It has followed our family to five different states. By October of my fourth-grade year, I met Dad’s prerequisite for piano lessons–typing 20 words per minute on an electric typewriter. Each morning, I got up and worked on the typewriter before school. My passion was strong!  By November, we had a piano in our home and I started piano lessons. I flew through the first few books. My teacher, Mr. Harville,was a kind old gentleman who fed my passion for music. I could not get enough.  Fast forward three years. We moved to another state. My encouraging teacher was replaced by an average one. We had no recitals. The songs were boring. My passion was gone. I didn’t want to practice or go to lessons. Thankfully, my parents stepped in, had my teacher change a few … Read More

No greater love

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, HolidayLeave a Comment

Today is Veterans Day, a day we honor our soldiers. We recognize those who have served and currently serve our country. I am blessed to know many veterans both young and seasoned and I don’t think a few words typed into a blog will ever convey my gratitude. Our soldiers have joined the military for a multitude of reasons. Some joined because they wanted to serve, some were drafted and served because they were needed. Some joined because of the education available. Some joined because they had the opportunity to see the world but regardless of why our soldiers have joined and served, their service and sacrifice is something many of us take for granted. Our soldiers have experienced fear we will never comprehend. Our soldiers have had to say goodbye in faith they will get the chance to say hello again. Our soldiers have missed births, birthdays, holidays, and even deaths. They have had children grow up in their absence and prayed to get the opportunity to hold them again. Our soldiers have spent many sleepless nights alone, and longing to be home. Our soldiers have been shot at, bombed, and hated for the uniform they wear, the flag … Read More

Let Jesus Do What Religion Can’t

Carol DunfeeFaithLeave a Comment

My Gramma was an amazing cook. Her roast fell apart in your mouth. Her pies were the perfect blend of crisp, tender crusts and home-grown fruits. For each meal, she heaped the table to overflowing with different vegetables from their garden. I’m sure she collapsed in exhaustion for a week after we left! After the delicious meals, my mom stood over us kids and made us wash all the MANY dishes. Since there was no dishwasher in the tiny red, pink, and white kitchen, we had to wash and dry every. Single. Dish. By hand. We even had to wash and dry flimsy vegetable bags by hand. Ugh. I think at one point, we might have gotten a little sloppy in our dish-washing, because Gramma told us about a relative who only washed the top sides of her plates and bowls. Apparently, the bottom sides were dirty, too, and when all were stacked together, the plates and bowls arrived at the table for the next meal in a hideous state of old-food crustiness. It didn’t matter that the top sides were clean when they were put away. They came out of the cupboard in a most disgusting condition. Apparently, Jesus … Read More

What I Learned About God From Studying the Eye

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Image courtesy of Eyesight Laser Surgery Center in Sydney   One of my favorite classes in college was Cognitive     Psychology, probably because it was taught by one of    my favorite professors, Dr. Leach.    As a psychology major, I found most of my classes    fascinating. But one day during my Cog Psych class, Dr.  Leach began explaining the anatomy of the eye.   While I usually find science rather boring, I was struck  by how cleverly the eye was designed (can I get a shout  out to our amazing Creator?!)    Dr. Leach reminded us of a familiar Bible story –   the blind man who was healed by Jesus (John chapter 9).  He challenged the class to really consider just how big this  miracle was. This man was blind from birth and had never  seen anything in his life.   Jesus didn’t just suddenly make the eyes see again – it was so much more than that. He restored the connection between the eyes and the brain. He reactivated the nerve impulses that sends the images. He healed the man’s mind so it would accurately interpret the data received by the eye. The entire system was restored. Our … Read More

Monday, Monday; Can’t cut that day…

Guest BloggerFaithLeave a Comment

From Psalm 27 Thou Lord has said, “Seek My face…”My heart replies, “Thy face I seek…” Thou Lord has said, “Require My Presence…”My heart replies, “Your Presence, Lord, I require…” Thou Lord has said, “Come and talk with me…”My heart replies, ” I am coming, Lord…” Thou Lord has said, “Do this as I am your vital need…”My heart replies, “Lord, I need you, Lord…” To be personally invited into the Presence of the Lord is almost more than my heart can bear.  And, yet, it is the very desire of my heart – to be seen, to be wanted, to be known by someone greater than “I.”  Even more, to be cared for, loved, helped, and protected – the very beat of my heart cries out for such love and intimacy. Lord, You are truly my vital necessity.  Vital. Vital signs are what we look for when someone has been physically damaged – they are indicators of the “state of life.”  Lord, You are vital for me.  My life is caught up in Yours.  Without You, I am awash in an angry sea and the world swirls around me in uncontrollable motion.  Many times I have been afraid, Lord.  Many times … Read More

Winner: The One Year Home & Garden Devotions

Jen CudmoreBook Review, FaithLeave a Comment

We’ve chosen a winner! On Tuesday we announced a giveaway for a brand new book from best-selling, award-winning author Sandra Byrd, and today we drew a name. Congrats to Carol! For more information about this inspiring book, see our previous post. And, you can purchase your own copy!  It’s now available at most book retailers, including Amazon. Blessings, Jen

What’s In A Name?

Sarah OlsonFaithLeave a Comment

It’s amazing to me the meaning of names. You see, in Hebrew times, names were a very powerful explanation of a child’s life path, but also how a child lived, loved, related, and was known to its family and friends – it literally DEFINED them. The playwright William Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, Juliet, Act II, Scene ii, Lines 1-2). This is an example of an epic force in the pursuit of truth. In this classic dramatic tragedy, Juliet was trying to convince Romeo that the Capulet- Montague family feud was meaningless and that he just needed to surrender to the sweet truth before them – that they were madly in love and that he needed to “deny [his] father” so their “star-crossed” love could bloom in all its glory. Well, we all know what ends up happening. In true Shakespeare tragedy form, the two young lovers die in a confused love state of suicide, cyanide, and sword – no love life lived together, no new family to embrace. (Sorry for the spoiler literary lovers, but that’s Shakespeare for ya!). … Read More