Gear Up: SALVATION

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

When you grow up in church, you can develop an odd vocabulary compared to the rest of the world. A pew, a vestibule, and a sanctuary mean completely different things to a church goer. We might think of a sanctuary as an auditorium dedicated to worship, while a non-church-goer might picture a wild bird refuge instead. And what on earth is a vestibule anyways? Can’t we just call it a lobby? Kidding aside, “salvation” is one of those words that gets an odd meaning in church circles. We think of salvation as a person receiving God’s forgiveness from their sins. This is truly one of its meanings, but not its original meaning. To understand the next part of our armor, we need to understand the meaning of this word. The Greek word for salvation, soterios, is based on the root word, soteria, which means: defender, defense; saving, bringing salvation; hope of future salvation. To gain a broader perspective of “the helmet of salvation”, let’s look at another passage talking about helmets and salvation. So what is this salvation? What are we saved from? According to this passage, we are saved from the wrath of God upon unrepentant sinners. Jesus is our defender … Read More

Love Is In The Little Things

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Marriage, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

The garage door closed behind our vehicle, signaling my husbands departure for the day, but no more than 30 seconds later, my cellphone started to ring.   It was him.   He’s always my favorite phone call. I answered the call immediately, thinking he may have forgotten something (since he had just left) but it wasn’t him that had forgotten something…it was me.  His call was just to ask me, if I remembered to take my medicine for the day. UGH!!! Of course I didn’t…why can’t I remember that one simple thing?  I’m supposed to take it every morning, but mornings are hard, and often I forget.  Many days he will bring me my medicine, and my favorite jug of water, since I’m so forgetful, but he doesn’t just hand me the pills to take, he extends the straw in my direction, then drops the pills into my mouth. That day he didn’t bring me my medicine, so he called, because he loves me, and wants me to be taken care of.   His one little phone call, and his almost daily distribution of thyroid medicine remind me, that love is in the little things.   A different day, I stood barefoot on … Read More

Voice of God: Was That Really Him Talking?

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Have you ever felt confused or unsure when you thought God might be speaking to you? This happens to us all! Was it really God speaking? Did I really hear Him correctly? Last week we covered some tips for how to hear God speak.  Yet, even when we do all those things right,  it can be tough at times to really know for sure if the impression we feel is truly from the Holy Spirit, and if we understood it right. Some people can pick it up quickly, while others may be less confident. I believe it just takes a little practice! Over time as we learn to tune into the Holy Spirit, our faith is increased, we become less nervous and more excited. Our confidence grows and we recognize His voice more often. When you’re not sure if God was really speaking to you, ask these questions: Does it contradict anything in the Bible? This should always be our first question, because the enemy will do all he can to confuse us or make us quit trying to understand. God will never tell us to lie, steal or kill someone. He will never tell us to say something disrespectful … Read More

Voice of God: Tips for Hearing Him

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

How do we know when God is speaking to us? Everyone’s experience will be different, based on needs and personality, and it may feel daunting in the beginning. When I first started trying to hear Him, I found that learning to recognize His voice wasn’t as hard as I expected. I began to pray that He would teach me to hear Him, and soon discovered that He spoke more often than I realized – I labeled it as my own conscience. Over time, I have learned to pick out the subtle differences between a prompting of the Holy Spirit, and a prompting from my own conscience. The first time I remember distinctly hearing an exact phrase from the Lord was several years back when my daughter had head lice. She caught it 3 times in less than a year and a half, and I was quite upset. I may have even yelled at God a little bit. Yet His answer was perfectly clear. His exact words to me were “I have been trying to get your attention, and you are not listening.” Yes, I reluctantly admit, my first real encounter with the voice of God was a reprimand! The single … Read More

Balancing Rest and Rigor

Madison RosserFaithLeave a Comment

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23. Balance has never been my thing. Whether it’s a yoga pose or balancing my schedule, I always seem to topple over. At the same time, I love to work hard, to take risks, and to try new things, even if it means exhaustion, and if I choose to commit to something new, I’m all in. Do you see where “balance” gets lost in all of this? These past three weeks of starting school, coaching athletes, preparing for teaching in my classroom and the church, and loving family has left me sleep deprived and a bit stressed. When I committed to some new roles this year, I knew what I was stepping into; however, I have had my moments of doubt as I’ve let morning runs escape me, drank way too much coffee, and seen my husband for fewer moments than I’ve seen the mounds of paper chaotically spread across my classroom. The good news is: I know this season is brief while I adjust to a new schedule and finish out some short (but time-consuming) commitments. I know I am not the only one who … Read More

Blessing in a Rough Day

Jewel ZymurgyFaith1 Comment

Yesterday I was so tired. My body was just spent from me pushing it too late into the evening and rising up too early for a decent sleep. When I got off of a mentally grueling day at work (only 8 hours mind you) my mind and body screamed for reprieve. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and I had so much that I could be doing. There was laundry needing to be washed and a load on the couch that needed to be folded. There was mail to go through. Things that were in the hallway and living room that needed to get put away. Emails that needed to be read. Dinner for my daughter before I went to my bible study small group (which I hadn’t even thought about). School paperwork to be read and signed. Purchases that needed to be budgeted for. Appointments to be made…and the list goes on and on. Feeling super overwhelmed at the clutter that is everywhere that I rendered me defeated by looking around and thinking that it was all too much! I just want to be sitting in a clean living room/kitchen and as cliché as it may sound…I want to … Read More

Gear Up: FAITH

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

We are in active spiritual warfare. The attacks come from media, culture, and history revisionists…not to mention our own temptations, desires, and lusts. Knowing this, I pray through Ephesians 6, carefully mentioning each part of my spiritual armor as though I can manufacture them by my words. I am slowly learning that, while this is a good place to start, our armor goes much deeper than that. It is NOT something we can instantly produce. Rather, it is something God produces for us as He helps us walk in a life of obedience. The next part of our armor is the shield of FAITH. The modern church seems to struggle with this one. In the days of the early church, Christians saw miracles left and right. The blind received their sight. The dead were brought back to life. The lame received strength to walk. Few of us see those faith-building miracles today. They seem to be relegated to the missionaries who spend their lives in the deep jungles of foreign continents. But whose fault is that? Did God stop delivering? Or did we stop asking? We must ask for faith. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, people flocked to Him for healing … Read More

The Kind Of Friend We All Need

Rosalynn LasleyFaithLeave a Comment

Friends

I hadn’t left my bed in days, aside from the essential trips to the bathroom, or to sit in the shower until the hot water ran out, only to return back to bed, and repeat again in a few hours. My heart was much to broken, to do anything more than that. My family had just left for the Sunday evening church service, when a familiar voice gently spoke out from downstairs, letting me know I was no longer alone.   I remember the day, as though it happened just yesterday. She was dressed beautifully, a white skirt with a delicate floral pattern, while I laid there with wet hair, and yesterday’s pajamas. I was so surprised to see her, and somewhat embarrassed about my current appearance and emotional state. I was in no condition for company, but she never seemed to mind.   “You’re missing church!” I said, as my voice cracked and tears welled up in my eyes.   “The Lord understands…” She replied, as she gently climbed up into my bed, and rested herself right beside me. She didn’t care that my hair was wet, or that I was still in my pajamas, she simply reached her … Read More

Voice of God: Why Hearing Him Matters

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Deuteronomy 8:3 Our culture has become an arena of differing personal opinions, all vying to be claimed as the ultimate truth. I’ve been saddened of late by all the thoughts that we as a society try to force on each other. Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared a little of my heart, how God has convicted me of being opinionated and shown me that voicing opinions really doesn’t bring about much good. I’ve written about: How sharing our opinion actually causes division How to know when to share an opinion How to focus less on my opinion and more on Holy Spirit promptings Is there anything wrong with me voicing my own thoughts? Not necessarily. But the words of a Savior, Redeemer, and Prince of Peace are worth so much more than my own. But how often to we really listen? How much do we try to hear the voice of God? How much do we even care? And why does it matter? God is interested in the details of our lives. If we listen, He can guide us away from … Read More

Gear Up: PEACE

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting, TrialsLeave a Comment

When our oldest was about three or four, she had a favorite tune she liked to sing. We all recognized the tune, but the words she sang made no sense. We could not figure out what she meant by “hap-py shoes, hap-py shoes”. Why were her shoes happy? Were they going to the park? It turned out that she had misunderstood the words of an old children’s song that I sang to her. It goes, “Have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry.” Since patience was a big word for someone her size, she equated it to something she knew…shoes. Happy shoes, at that. Honestly, I feel that way about our next piece of armor. I have struggled to grasp what is meant by the “gospel of peace”, and so I have filled in my imagination with some strange meanings. Huh? Maybe I am the only one who struggles with this, but just in case, let’s break it down like we broke down “Have Patience” for our little girl. Shoes make us ready. When our oldest was curious, into-everything toddler, I started following the advice of the Fly Lady, … Read More

Their Loyalty Struck Me

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, RedemptionLeave a Comment

I sat in the movie theater this last week with my daughter. It was one of our “Weekly Date” times. We watched a movie based on a tale told for hundreds of years as we sat in the comfort of our plush seats. A warrior king…chivalry…nobility…bravery. The soundtrack was spot on and very shortly after falling into the theater seats I felt the music resonate somehow deeply in my bones. It matched beautifully with how I think emotions of passion mixed with fear, courage and intentionality would sound like. And within a few moments, I was hooked. I watched as the actors on the screen spoke to what I see personally as the struggle of the human condition. Witnessing not only an initially self-serving and selfish individual but the fight to change perceptions, learn, grow and ultimately claim victory. I mean, that’s what it’s about isn’t it? In the middle of temptation, sin and lust of all kinds it seems that somewhere in the core of us screams for protection, provision, unity and love…or is that just me. In any case, it wasn’t just the strength and justice that had me in tears. It was the love, loyalty and honor … Read More

Be of good cheer, it is I!

Rosalynn LasleyFaithLeave a Comment

I’ve been learning a lot lately that Gods word happens upon my heart when I need it the most.  I know God promises that His word will not return void, yet somehow I’m surprised every time it happens.  God is good like that.  I have what I call those “white knuckle promises” (His promises you cling to so tightly your knuckles turn white) that are often my go-to scripture for certain things, but it’s bible stories and parables you don’t think of too often that come to heart at the perfect time that catch me by surprise.  It’s those things that remind me that He is present, He cares about what concerns me and that fill my heart with joy. Today has been a bit of a low day for me.  (I promise this isn’t an invite to a pity party so stay with me, it’s about to get good) I’ve had quite a few of those lately and it’s those days that I do a lot more praying than I normally would. I have shared in my previous posts that this season of life has been very difficult and full of many trials for our family but I’ve tried to be … Read More

My Opinions, When Compared with the Holy Spirit

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

  “…without the quickening of the Holy Spirit even truth is of small advantage.” Watchman Nee Previously, we’ve discussed how sharing our opinion can be valuable. Knowing when to speak up can be tricky, because God doesn’t want us to get caught up in petty arguments. Sometimes we need to keep our opinions to ourselves. Too often our opinions cause division.   So what if, instead of speaking with our own agenda, we chose to speak based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I get weary of being surrounded by opinions. In the past 48 hours, I’ve encountered: a woman at the grocery store who wanted to tell me her thoughts on the public school system. my friend on social media who once more has something negative to say about our political leadership. a coworker who didn’t like a new process we’ve put into place. my child who doesn’t want to eat the dish that’s been made for dinner. What would the world be like if we spoke less of our own opinions and more of God’s thoughts? What if, when we talk about school, we discussed how God wants Christians in all avenues of education, that He doesn’t … Read More

When you don’t know how or what to pray for…

Guest BloggerFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

Do you ever get a prayer request that is private or “unspoken” and you don’t know exactly what to pray for? Or perhaps you are going through a situation that requires decision-making or life-changes and you are not quite sure how to proceed or what to ask for? Let me encourage you with this: “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) I know it’s hard sometimes to not be specific in our prayers and/or not get a clear answer on what to do. But when you ask the Lord our God for His will to be done, for His name to be glorified, for His presence and peace to overcome, you surrender to His feet, you lay down your burdens, and trust that everything will happen according to His perfect plan. God doesn’t need our permission to accomplish His mighty acts, but He does seek our invitation into our lives and souls to glorify His name in us. Even though life doesn’t come with a precise instructions manual, Jesus gave us the Bible as a gift. Use it as a road map to heaven! Go to Him! Following Matthew 6:8, He gave us the Lord’s … Read More

Gear Up: RIGHTEOUSNESS

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

When I hear the word righteousness, I picture a severe, mirthless character standing on a mountain-top looking down upon a valley of wretched sinners. Or a silver-haired, sour-faced reverend dishing out long lists of rules. Or a stuffy church lady in her fancy Sunday hat criticizing unruly teenagers. You, too? Boy, are we wrong. These caricatures are waaaaaay off the mark. In fact, each one represents pride rather than righteousness. So what IS righteousness? And why does it matter? Last week’s blog suggested that we might be putting our spiritual armor like a toddler puts on his clothes…inside out and backwards! We examine how truth is a protecter, how it is absolute, and how God’s Word IS our source of truth. We were challenged to say more than a trite prayer to really wear the first part in our armor, which is the belt of truth. The next part of our gear is the body armour, or breastplate, of righteousness. If righteousness is not the proud picture of piety described in the first paragraph, then what is it? The American Heritage Dictionary defines righteousness as “meeting the standards of what is right and just”.* Righteousness is the breastplate that protects our … Read More

Moments I Can’t Protect Her From

Jewel ZymurgyFaith, Motherhood, TrialsLeave a Comment

As a mother…and a single mother…I have done many things wrong, thinking at times that I had to make decisions on my own. I have reacted emotionally and irrationally instead of taking my intense emotions to God and/or a trusted and healthy, caring friend. However, my heart to lovingly protect my daughter is something I don’t think I will ever need to apologize for. Despite knowing my own inner thoughts and motivations, I found myself having conversations with her that would give her knowledge about and maybe a desire to protect herself from one of my greatest fears as a mother. I look back and see that my anxiety was so great that I lost focus of my original intent to have conversation with her and instead found myself talking at her without any room for her to communicate with me. I let my worry over what may happen in the future take over. And then it happened… That thing I fought so desperately to protect her from… She tried to hide the truth of what happened though was relieved when I found out. Until then she was alone in her thoughts and feelings. Wrestling with lies and emotional muchness … Read More

When You’ve Fallen Out Of Love

Rosalynn LasleyFaith, Marriage, Redemption, TrialsLeave a Comment

No one ever plans to fall out of love. It’s just one of those things that happen gradually, over the course of time. Maybe you stop putting in the effort you used to, or have been hurt along the way, and by the time you realize that things have changed it, it seems impossible to get things back to the way they used to be. Realizing you’ve fallen out of love can be a painful, and sobering realization, but it’s not to late to turn things around.   When love is new, you don’t care who’s watching your interactions. Your admiration for one another is obvious to everyone around you. The sound of your loved ones name, is on your lips as often as you exhale, and spending time together is something you just can’t do often enough. Every waking moment, of every single day, doesn’t feel like enough time with one another, and late nights followed by early mornings become a part of your new routine. Every midday yawn is worth being with the one you love.   When you’re newly in love, you willingly and eagerly go out of your way to show you care for each other. … Read More

When To Express An Opinion

Jen CudmoreFaithLeave a Comment

Last week I wrote about how opinions cause division. In most cases, giving our opinion ends badly and just creates tension in relationships. Yet there are a few situations where it’s valuable to speak up: When another person may be harmed if we don’t intervene, such as confronting sin. In many of these situations, it may be the Holy Spirit prompting us to speak, in which case it’s not us sharing an opinion, but speaking the truth of the Lord. (More on this next week!) When someone is seeking advice and is genuinely interested in what we have to say. Sometimes people get stuck in a situation, and just need a word of wisdom or inspiration. When someone challenges us to a conversation. Sometimes a congenial debate (when handled respectfully) is healthy, giving us a broader view of an issue and helping us see another perspective.   So how do we know when we ought to speak up?   Before we express our opinion, it’s best to pause and review if we should: Check heart motivation. Why do we feel the need to speak our mind? If we’re honest with ourselves, we know when we’re acting with selfish intent. If … Read More

Why Read Your Bible

Guest BloggerBible Study, Faith1 Comment

Is it really that important to read my Bible? You may have wondered this question and the answer is a loud: YES! Why? Because God guides our every step when we read the Bible. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) When we create a daily routine that includes Bible passages, we invite God to show us the way. We admit that we are humans, children of the One True God, in need of His wisdom and protection.  And we obey what He has commanded us to do over all things: Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38) If we have too many activities in our day-to-day lives that keep us from our Bible reading, we are unable to do our basic function: love God. Some of the things that keep us from God are actually distractions the enemy throws at us in the shape of “sweet candy” or “innocent entertainment.” But anything that keep us from spending time with God, even if it is a good thing, hampers our relationship with Him. We need … Read More

Gear Up: TRUTH

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Prayer & FastingLeave a Comment

Have you ever watched a toddler dress himself? Socks go on backwards. Underwear ends up on his head. Pants are inside out. It’s really quite entertaining, until you have to leave the house! His clothing would function much better if he could only put it on properly. What if we are putting on our spiritual armor inside out and backwards? Have you ever wondered if we are wearing our gospel-shoes on the wrong feet? What if we have the wrong grip on our swords? I can imagine that God often chuckles at my own fumbling attempts to wear my spiritual armor. He must shake his head as I try to wrap my brain around these strange concepts. Many Bible teachers focus on the items themselves: the sword, the shield, the helmet, etc. This summer I became curious about what I would learn if I studied the armor from a different perspective. What if I focused on what each of those pieces represents rather than the word picture? What if I ask how truth affects spiritual warfare rather than focusing on the belt? Maybe it would only be a minor difference, but I felt like I needed to find out. According … Read More