Sunday, April 29, 2012

Run and Never Stop!

We have the privilege of serving students and families at our church in El Dorado.  Last year we had the honor of talking with one of our students (Spencer) and her momma about the daughter's need for Jesus.  That night on May 3, this sweet girl trusted Jesus to be her Savior and Lord. 

"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord,
believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
you shall be saved." Romans 10:9

I ran across this time we had with her last week as I was looking back over my prayer journal for May 2011. The entries included:  (pray for) Spencer's salvation, Spencer would see her need for YOU, Spencer's heart would be receptive, parise the Lord!  She chose YOU! As I was reading these entries, I was taken back to my own salvation experience. 

"He brought me up out of the pit of destruction,
out of the miry clay;
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm." Psalm 40:2

When I was 16 years old, my parents got divorced.  Not an easy time at all in my life.  We (us 4 kids) moved with my mom to Arkansas.  It was the middle of my tenth grade year.  It was just a couple of months later that I started to meet some good friends.  One in particular that took me under her "wing" was Jennifer.  Jennifer drove me around, hung out with me, and helped me adjust to small town living.  I also started to get involved in activities at school.  One of those activities was track.  It was early March 1993, track season had just begun. One afternoon as we were walking to the track, Jennifer asked me if I was a Christian.  I said yes, because I knew from the little church words that I did know( from a few VBS's I had been to), a Christian was a good thing to be.  She said okay and we went on.

"I am a C.  I am a C-H.  I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.  and I have C-H-R-I-S-T in my H....."

A couple of weeks passed and we had just finished putting our track gear on in the locker room.  We were walking across the cement floor of the upstairs locker room at Mansfield High School when she once again posed that question to me.  "Are you sure you are a Christian, Melissa?"

"Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,..." Psalm 51:6a

That day, God made it very clear to me.  My eyes were open.  Truth was shown me.  I was not a Christian (Christ follower).  I wanted to think of myself as good.  Moral.  All together.  But I wasn't.

I realized that day on the red bench in the girl's locker room:
  • I had sin and was separated from God.
 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
  • God had sent His Son, Jesus, to die for my sins so I could have a relationship with Him.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life."John 3:16
  • If I confessed my sin to Him and asked Him to be the Lord and Savior of my life, He would!
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."I John 1:3

Very few days pass that I don't thank God for Jennifer and her willingness and obedience to share Christ with me.  Even at school, in a girls locker room, on the way to track practice, and totally out of the norm.  She didn't wait to bring me to church for me to hear.  She didn't wait for someone else to tell me.  She did it.  Bold.  Courageous.  And I am SO thankful. 

"I do not cease giving thanks for you,..." Ephesians 1:16a

Ever since those track days, I still have a love to run.  It causes me to remember.  To pray.  To sing.  To be thankful.  To share.

"And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear,
And will trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3

and to remember to never, never, never stop asking others, "Are you thinking about Jesus?"

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but only one receives the prize? 
Run in such a way that you may win." I Corinthians 9:24

Happy 1st birthday in the Lord, Spencer! (May 3)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Good Morning, Honey!

It was 2 years ago this Saturday (4-28) that I woke up with a very heavy heart. I knew exactly what needed to be done. I walked into the living room where Warren was drinking his coffee and rather than saying 'Good Morning,' I proclaimed 'today is the day.'

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you
should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you." Psalm 32:8
A relationship in our lives was broken. Severed. Disunited. The events surrounding the broken relationship was confusing and really there was nothing at the heart of it. Just some feelings hurt. But it was a broken relationship. My husband, kids , and own heart was heavy everyday because of this broken relationship.
It was on that morning 2 years ago that I had my Esther moment. Not the beauty part. Not the Queenie part. The Courageous part. My people needed me. The 4 people in my house needed me to be courageous. I had to put aside my fear and pride because something way more important was at stake.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?" Psalm 27:1
That day I searched the scriptures like I never had before. This broken relationship had produced silence for almost 4 years now. The broken relationship caused so much to be missed out on for both parties involved. But I was SO SCARED! In fact, scared may have been an understatement. Terrified. A little prideful as well. But God quickly reminded me who I was in HIM and what our family had been called to.
"...To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives,
And freedom to prisoners..." Isaiah 61:1
How can we do that when we are prisoners to a very binding broken relationship?
How can we tell others how to be set free and find liberty in Christ when we have chains of a hurtful relationship always on our minds?
"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..." 2 Corithians 5:18
There was only one thing to do. Call. Make that call. I couldn't completely serve, love, and honor the Lord with this broken relationship in our lives.
"If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar,
and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your offering there before the altar,
and go your way;
first be reconciled to your brother,
and then come and present your offering." Matthew 5:23-24
So I made the call and the rest is history. Praise the Lord history. Thanks upon thanks history. God is sooo good history. Humbled like never before history.
Why was this so important for me to do? Jesus. Sharing HIS good news. Salvation. Healing.
But it was also important for generational changes. Doing things different. Our children. Being a family who is on mission together.
"Know therefore that the Lord your God,
He is God, the faithful God,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness
to a thousandth generation with those who love Him
and keep His commandments;" Deuteronomy 7:9
So a stone was laid that day 2 years ago on April 28,2010. The stone of God's faithfulness. I don't want to forget what His faithfulness and goodness is. I don't want Tyler, Ethan, or Elise to forget what it is. The stone is also a reminder to forgive, be forgiven, be humble, without bitterness, love, serve, and do whatever you can to be reconciled with others. That's what ministry is all about.
"Let this be a sign among you,
so that when your children ask later; saying,
'What do these stones mean to you?'
then you shall say to them,..." Joshua 4:6-7a

Monday, April 16, 2012

How long has that been in the church pantry?

Our family is blessed to be a part of a great church family. Immanuel Baptist Church in El Dorado, Ar. Some of the friendliest and most caring people I have ever met. Last night we had the privilege of taking the Lord's Supper together as a church family: a time to remember what Christ has done for us.

" this in remembrance of me." I Corinthians 11:24-25
It was the first time since we have been at Immanuel that we have taken it the "old-fashioned" way. By that I mean, pass the plate and take out the little cracker and take out the little plastic cup of juice. As we were sitting there as a family, I looked to my left and there sat my three kiddos. They were each holding the cracker. They were each holding the cup. How wonderful to know that all three have came to a point in their life where they have trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord and have made HIM the boss of their lives. Blessed. Totally blessed. Thankful.
"You shall teach them(God's Word) dilligently to your children, and shall talk of
them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:7
Only a week has passed since we celebrated Easter. So what a fitting and wonderful time to remember just why we celebrated. When it came time to eat the bread, it was bitter. VERY bitter. About that time Elise leaned over to me, "Mom, that tastes HORRIBLE!" I naturally said "shhhh" to her quickly. I surely didn't want anybody to hear her. My intial response was "I totally agree, yuck, Warren mention that in staff meeting." But God grabbed my heart quickly.
Our pastor, Faron, had just finished preaching that we shouldn't let this time become ritual, a habit, meaningless.
I wanted that bread to be just right. To my liking. The same as always. Pleasing to me.
It was instead bitter. It was pretty hard to swallow down. Not pleasing to the tastebuds.
Wasn't Christ's death bitter, painful, hard, tough, sorrowful?
"He was pierced through our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scouraging we are healed." Isaiah 53:5
As I walked away last night, God reminded me just how great His love for for us is. So very great that He desires a constant relationship with me.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),... Ephesians 2:4-5
That "cracker" will always impact my thoughts of Christ on the cross.
I am thankful for those moments in life that God grabs me in the everyday things and reminds me. Just reminds me who He is and what He has done.