A Good Good Father on Good Friday!

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It’s Good Friday and today marks the day our Savior willingly chose to give Himself up for us! All of us, or one of us, Jesus died on the cross so we could have the opportunity for redemption. A love that holds that much immeasurable depth truly boggles my mind because in my broken, human state I’m so incapable of loving like that. With Christ’s Spirit in me, I still have trouble surrendering to that kind of love sometimes.

Peter shows that very example of humanness and struggle too.

We all know about Peter denying Jesus not once, but three times before the crucifixion. How could he? How could we? In our daily lives we are constantly faced with circumstances that call our faith to the carpet. Do we stand firm or do we waiver when we know better?

Matthew 26:75

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

As Christians, I don’t think any of us like to think about how we might intentionally deny Jesus, but given the right circumstances, none of us are exempt.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s what makes the work on the cross even more mysterious to me. The mystery of Christ runs so deep and countercultural I’m taken aback at how my best days are still filthy revealing my significant need for a redemptive Savior.

Last night, my husband and I were chatting about different people in our lives that ask for prayer over their various circumstances. Interestingly, the circumstances in which they choose to live are often laced with intentional sin. Sin that our culture would have us dismiss as no big deal. Wrestling with how to pray for those people can be challenging. Processing how to pray for people who ultimately want God to bless their sinful mess is tough. But then, I stop and recognize how subtle this can be in all of our lives. It’s the big stuff that sticks out so obviously, but we are all one poor choice away from denying Jesus on some level.

Thank you Jesus for enduring the pain and humiliation of the cross, for ME. Thank you for going in my stead because your love runs so deep, for ME. You have a compassion and love for ME that would NOT stop you from going all the way to the finish of that cruel, cruel cross, just for ME. He did it for YOU too!

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Tears and Oil

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Luke 7:36-50

The Pharisee invited Jesus over for dinner. A sinful woman from town heard He was going to be there, so she came with an alabaster jar of perfume oil. As Jesus spoke to the Pharisee, the woman’s tears wet Jesus feet. She wiped them with her hair, kissed His feet then poured perfumed oil on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said in his heart, “If He is a prophet, He would know this woman is sinful!”

Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give Me any water for my feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured perfume on My feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

It was tears and oil that day.. this woman, who had lived a life full of sin was grateful for Jesus’ forgiveness. She went into the house of a Pharisee, uninvited by the owner but welcomed by the Savior. Her sin was BIG but Jesus’ grace was bigger. It’s the same for us. As Satan would have it, he leads us to thinking that we have done too much and gone too far.. forgiveness is out of our reach, he would like us to believe. This Scripture shows us otherwise, the cross has defeated Satan’s lies. You can be forgiven.

If you don’t know Jesus, it’s simple. Romans 10:9-10 tells us,

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (NLT)

 

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DON’T EVER FORGET WHERE YOU’VE BEEN!

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I have NO lies to tell! I got a little excited AND nervous this week when my friend, Becky McCoy published her 35th podcast episode and tagged me on Facebook because I’m the one being interviewed!!!   In this episode, I’m sharing my journey from addiction to sobriety as an RN from nearly 20 years ago.

Becky McCoy began her podcast called, “Stories of Unfolding Grace” a little over a year ago. She interviews ordinary people with extraordinary transformations in Christ to encourage others who need to know they too can survive hard stuff! You should really subscribe to her Podcasts because they are awesome and she it too!

As a pastor’s wife, I’m constantly being faced with people who are going through hard stuff. It is so helpful to keep a fresh perspective on where I am now compared to where I’ve been. God’s word is pretty clear about sharing our testimony and the power our story holds.

 

Revelations 12:11, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

 

I encourage you to share your testimony often. We sometimes forget that we constantly have new people all around us that need to hear the powerful story of God’s work in our lives!

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, please share Episode 35, Stories of Unfolding Grace!

 

http://beckylmccoy.com/iTunes

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Frozen Blooms

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It was going to be beautiful. The Jane Magnolia that sits some 30 feet from my living room window, the window where I daily drink my coffee and study my bible, was covered in buds. With the backdrop of the neighbor’s white picket fence, and the lake beyond, it was going to be stunning and I was anticipating the joy of it. This was going to be it’s third and best spring. I had walked out to it on warm days and grinned at how lovely it would be in full bloom.

Then there was the forecast and three nights in a row of temps in the teens. All those almost-open buds turned brown instead of pinkish lilac. I gave up and thought we’d have to wait until next year.

And now, not two weeks later, it is beautiful! Oh there are fewer blooms, and a few frozen brown petals still hanging on. But the blooms and new-green leaves are the prettiest sight.

Our lives, our work or ministry sometimes isn’t the beautiful we had hoped for. Expectations can get the best of us. But God (aren’t those two of the sweetest words!?) is still at work even when we might want to give up. Wait for Him. Pray as you wait. Trust that He is at work in even the cold dark times. The beauty He brings may not be what you had hoped for, but it just may be better! He brings beauty from ashes and redeems even the darkest of times.

Trusting Him to make all things beautiful,

Sara

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made every thing beautiful in its time: also he has put eternity in men’s hearts, so that no man can find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end.

Posted in Leadership, Ministers' Wives, Prayer, Women's Ministry | 4 Responses

Dinosaur Eggs produce Patience!

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We are a homeschool family, our weeks are full to bursting with spelling bees, math drills, and geography trivia for fun learning! When our kiddos do really well, we treat them with a few dollars and drive out to our local Dollar General. They get their own little yellow basket and scan the isles for that perfect shade of glittered nail polish or the loudest toy on the shelf. This particular shopping trip was extra fun for our little man, Jacob. He had $6.00 AND a friend with him. Those two boys were thrilled, they found a dinosaur egg! All they had to do was bring it home, immerse it in water, then in the next few hours the mystery dinosaur would hatch out of the melon sized egg! We came straight home and carefully placed the egg in a large bowl of water. Then we waited. And we waited some more. Nothing. As bedtime came, they were so disappointed. Early the next morning, they ran into the kitchen to see if there was any progress. Sure enough, there was a green beak poking ever so slightly from the egg! They were jumping up and down, so excited to see it had begun! They watched and watched, waiting for this dinosaur to make its appearance!

I noticed as time went on, they would give the water a little stir. Then they took a pencil and gave the egg a little spin. It wasn’t long before they asked me if they could just help it out a little bit and maybe pull a few pieces of the shell back to see what kind of specie they had. Their impatience was getting the best of them! They had to know! Before leaving for church, they were so discouraged and just knew it had done all it was going to and they would never see the results that were promised to them in the manual.

That’s just like me. Many times, I only see a sliver of what’s coming up next in ministry. There are other times when I get so excited and watch expectantly for the next step. On occasion,  I become discouraged and want to help Him along. I will try to give the water a little stir! You know, try to pull a few pieces off of the promise, a tiny bit here and there! Just like those little boys, I want to know! Impatience has to be one of the hardest obstacles in this life. In James 5:7-8 we are told to be patient, like the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, until it gets the early and the late rains. Patience will strengthen our hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near! Maybe you’re waiting on that marriage proposal, the positive pregnancy test, the job you just interviewed for, or like me that next step in ministry. All of those are exciting and overwhelming when you just see a tiny piece! Wondering what will this look like when it finally hatches? But, we must be patient and wait on the Lord! I know, I am right there in the seat of impatience with you! The Lord is ever faithful! But, I am finding, He doesn’t work on my time schedule, but only His! When I look back, I am grateful for the pauses, commas, and the waiting rooms! How about you?

 

Till next time, friends!

Shana

 

 

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional, Just for Fun, Ministers' Wives, Moms, Single Women, Women's Ministry, Working Women | Leave a comment

Even If

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The Christian band, MercyMe, has a new song out called Even If. Take time today to look this song up and listen to it, TODAY! This song describes a God who is able to remove us from our pain, but even if He chooses for us to endure it for a season, He promises to never leave us alone while we bear it.

This song refers to the story in Daniel chapter 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had built for all of the kingdom to worship. These three men decided not to give allegiance to what the king had created and rather stand for the one true God. They knew their fate if they made this choice would be to face the fiery furnace and die for their convictions. However, they still declined the king’s mandate. King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to them in verse 15 was “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed that they must honor their God even when the threat of death was inevitable. The king had no idea how his question would come back to haunt him in the minutes ahead, but the three men to whom the question was directed had a quick and direct response.

 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”—Daniel 3:17-18

These men knew that their God was capable of delivering them from being thrown in the fire or even be saved from the flames if their fate led them into the furnace. Verse 18 starts with “But even if he does not.” Those words speak so much faith from the perspective of someone who faces impending death.  I believe that along with the miracle of these men being saved from the fire was the proclamation of their faith no matter what they endured.  Even if….I want these words imprinted on my heart to trust that even in the midst of pain, God will be ever faithful even if I am thrown into the fire.

 

Posted in At Home, Christian Living, Devotional, Leadership, Prayer, Women's Ministry | 1 Response

Light Shines Brightest in the Darkness

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Back in the 1980s, my family was touring Mammoth Cave.  We were only a few yards inside the cavern when a lightning strike knocked out the electricity to the cave!  We were left in pitch darkness, unable to see each other or even our hands in front of our faces!  I remember someone lighting their cigarette lighter.  It was amazing how much light that single flame emitted into our surroundings! Finally someone from the Park Service brought our tour guide a lantern and we finished the tour guided by other lighters and the lantern.  It was certainly a memorable experience!

One tiny flame can erase the darkness around it.  One Christian example can have the same effect.  As Christians, we are called to be a light to this world, showing the way to live by loving, caring, sharing, and witnessing to those around us.

Our world is a dark place!  It seems more evil and dark all the time…all the more reason for Christians to shine more brightly and illuminate the path for others to follow!

You are the light of the world….let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5: 14a, 16b

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Citizenship Status

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“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.  And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”

Philippians 3:20 NLT

 

 

On the day I’m writing this, my granny took her last breaths on this earth.  Her suffering has ended and as John writes in Revelation 21-22, her eyes enlightened at the sight of the gates of pearl, streets of the purest gold, and the River of Life that leads to the throne of God.  All the beauty that granny had seen up to this point would not have even satisfied the thirst she had to fix her eyes on her Savior and Lord.  There will be no light, no sun in Heaven because the glory of the Lord and the light of Jesus illuminate this place.  My granny, healed of her pain, freed from her chains, and forgiven of her sins, would be singing, playing the piano, and worshipping because she was a citizen of Heaven.

Spending these last days with my sweet, 88-year old granny, I have been reminded of the unwavering faith she possessed throughout her life and even to the end.  She told her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of conversations she had with Jesus to tell Him that she was ready for her faith to become sight.  She longed for the day when the brokenness of this world would no longer have a hold on her.  The love she possessed for her family there would be no rival, but the faithfulness we witnessed throughout her life for her Savior proved where her citizenship lay.

Granny was faithful in her life, but better than that, Jesus Christ is infinitely more faithful.  We have no hope of tomorrow, no strength in our weakness, no boldness in our fear without the love Christ showed us on the cross.  If there were no crucifixion and no resurrection, our citizenship would remain in its ever-sinful state of the chains on this earth.  But with His life, His sacrifice, and His intercession for us, our citizenship can be changed.  Granny’s faithfulness proved to the world where she belonged, but only because Jesus was always faithful to her.

Where does your citizenship belong?  Does your life reflect it?

 

Lord Jesus, help me to be more faithful to represent the One who is ever faithful.

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional | 1 Response

Is Discipleship the Culture of YOUR Women’s Ministry?

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Women’s ministry can have life-changing, generational-bondage-breaking effects in your church and beyond.  If the culture of women’s ministry is one where Christian women become disciples who make disciples, the very heart of God is expressed and experienced.

At least six factors need to be present in women’s ministry to make disciples who make disciples:

  1. Prayer is vital in building a discipleship culture in your women’s ministry. Consistent communication with God gives women His game plan for living as a disciple, making disciples and repeating the process. Also, teach the women to pray for their disciple(s).
  2. A purpose statement should intentionally and clearly communicate the disciple making factor of women’s ministry.
  3. Bible study should be at the core of your women’s ministry. Topical studies about love, character, prayer, faith, being a disciple, etc. are a few discipleship-culture-creating curriculum examples.
  4. Establish a biblical understanding of discipleship. Matthew 28:19-20 defines making disciples as the whole process of conversion, baptism and obeying the commandments of Jesus. Thus, for me, discipleship is the process from evangelism (leading the person to Christ) to maturity (teaching them to follow Christ).
  5. Train women leaders to make disciples who make disciples. Sonlife ministries describes discipleship (or making disciples) as a lifetime of followership to the ways of Jesus’ pattern and priorities. Discipleship should simply be the way of life encouraged through women’s ministry.
  6. Evangelism training should be ongoing in your women’s ministry, providing opportunities (internal, community-wide, etc.). God-focused curriculum for the discipleship process such as Beth Moore’s Living Free and Heart Call (four-week Bible study that points believers in the way to live and share their faith as they go) are excellent resources.

Women’s ministry can help us be disciples who make disciples. Is it your women’s ministry’s culture? We (I) have work to do!

~Shelly

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Christian Heritage

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These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children  talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

….teach them to your children and to their children after them.  Deuteronomy 4; 9b

 

The branches of my family tree are vast and go in many directions, but for generations, no matter the walks of life or circumstances, all the families have been Christians.  Ministers, Sunday School teachers, deacons, prayer warriors, and other faithful church members are scattered throughout my heritage.  My ancestors took the scriptures to heart and passed their faith in God and His Word on to the next generations after them.

This faith was evident this past week.  My young cousin gave birth to a son that they’ve known for months had a deadly birth defect.  Even though this young couple knew their time with their precious baby was limited,  they very publicly shared sweet Elias with family and friends for the 32 hours of his short life.  They chose to celebrate his life and their faith that God was in control.  The hashtag #Eliaswins has been used on social media to reference that Elias is a winner because he is in Heaven with no more defects and will experience no pain!  What an incredible testimony out of a heart wrenching journey! That kind of faith is an example to us all!

I am eternally grateful to those Christians who have gone before me influencing  generations of family members to follow the Lord and His teachings, to have faith in God, to study His Word, to minister to others, to seek and follow God’s plan for our lives.

Now we are the ones who must ensure the generations following us know Jesus.  We must share our faith with them, teach them biblical truths, take them to church, and most of all, lead them to give their lives to Jesus so they might have eternal life!

May we pass Jesus and our faith in Him on to the generations following us!

Donna Coffey

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