Who am I?

Yesterday I turned down a job opportunity.  To be exact, my husband and I turned down the opportunity to minister in a new state, hundreds of miles away from where we are living now.  It’s something we have been praying about since February, and yesterday we officially said no.  I knew it was the right decision.  He knew it was the right decision.  And although I suppose I should have expected it, I wasn’t prepared for the attack that came at me after the phone call ended.

Backstory time…

As 2019 rolled around, my husband and I knew that God was preparing us for something new.  We knew that He was preparing us for the next thing.  When we got the invitation for this ministry opportunity, we couldn’t help but wonder if this was the new thing.  There was a nagging feeling; however, that it was not.  If it wasn’t, though, what was?  So, we kept hanging on, undecided.

Meanwhile, I was sick, sick, and sicker.  Currently, I am bed-ridden…well, couch-bound, I’d say, since I am spending my days on the couch instead of the bed.  haha.  I will be having surgery in 7 days (yes, I’m counting down), but until then, I am trapped, unproductive, not participating in life the way I would like, and in pain.

So, here I am, not attending church, not being “productive”, and not contributing to the world in the ways I would like to, and now I’m turning down an amazing opportunity in ministry.  I live to minister.  I love to minister.  I desire to minister.  And now I’m trapped on a couch and saying, “No, thank you,” to this opportunity before me.  What is happening?  Who am I?

Who am I?  That’s the exact question the enemy wanted to attack me with when the phone call ended.  If you aren’t going to go minister to these people; if you aren’t going to take this chance, then who are you?  If you are just going to be lying around on the couch doing nothing, then how can God even use you?  What difference can you even make?

This, my dear friends, is why we need to know what God has said about us.  10 days ago, I got a confirmation that the Lord was calling me to a higher level.  Just because I’ve said no to that specific chance does not mean it’s the end of my story.  It means God has a different plan for me.  There is a different assignment under my name and once I am healed and my training is complete, He will make sure that I am placed there.

I cannot allow the enemy to take captive my thoughts and pull me down now…not after all this time.  The Word tells me that I am to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  It’s up to me to take captive my own thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  Anything that tries to set itself against my knowledge of Christ has got to go!

So, today, if you feel yourself having any thoughts like me:  Who am I?  What difference can I make anyway?  How can God even use me?  Then I hope you will demolish those arguments, as well, and take captive your thoughts, too!  Satan wants to steal our hopes, destroy our ministries, and kill the people we love by having us neglect to do the ministry we were meant to do because we feel too crippled to do it.

Even from this couch, I can minister.  Even from where you are, so can you.  Take those thoughts captive and let’s get busy!  There are too many souls at stake and there are assignments out there with OUR names on them!

Called,

jamie

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The serving legacy

Have you been called to serve?  Do you find yourself serving in your church over and over again?  There could be a good reason for that.  Maybe it runs in the family.

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Numbers.  This is where the Lord placed the Levites over the service of the care of the most holy things in the tabernacle of meeting.  When the Israelites were ready to move locations, Aaron and his sons would disassemble everything…the curtains, the utensils, the lamps…and then cover them.  They were the only ones allowed to touch the things inside.  After that, the Levites were the ones entrusted with carrying everything to the next location.  They were called for this purpose.

I believe that there are families today that are called in this same way.  Do you notice how some people just love to serve?  Have you seen some families that seem to always have a member that serves or is involved?  The church needs workers.  Things that go on at a church don’t happen by accident or without help.

My great-grandmother, Pearl Tolbert

My great-grandmother started a church that is still going strong to this day.  To its original church building, she would walk from her home, and light a fire in the old wood stove in the winters.  Sometimes, when it was extremely cold, people wouldn’t even show up, but she was ever-faithfully there.

My mother was often a teacher for one of my classes at church; and we sang in the church choir together for most of my life.  My father served on the church board up until my young adulthood; and, on the weekends, could almost always be found mowing grass or making repairs around the church.

On the flip side, I know a pastor who was not raised with Christian parents, but made the decision to live for and serve the Lord.  His son and grandson became pastors, as well.  His great-grandchildren are also growing up with hearts that love the Lord and a passion for serving.  Just because you don’t have the heritage behind you, doesn’t mean you can’t start one for the generations that will follow you!

The best thing you can do for your family is to serve with them, and to leave a legacy of service behind you.  I am grateful that I was born into a family of people who serve the Lord, but I am more grateful that I can show my children the way to serve Him.  Even if you don’t have children of your own, it’s those nieces and nephews, those cousins and young people around you that you can still influence.  Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter.  Just one servant decision at a time…it matters.

Serving with you,

jamie

Are you with him?

Do we really need to read our Bibles, pray, worship, spend time with God?  Does that stuff actually matter?  Does it make us saved?  Does it change anything?

Things I’ve heard lately:  “How do I know if I’m saved?”  “I don’t need to raise my hands in worship.  God knows how I feel.”  “I don’t need to read my Bible, I feel saved.”

Now, let me be clear right up front.  John 3:16 says whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.  It says if we believe, then we are saved.  I will never say that anyone is not saved if they don’t perform.  The Lord indeed knows our hearts.

However, when Jesus told people to follow Him, He would ask them to give things up.  Some gave up families, jobs, and homes.  He asked the rich, young ruler to give up his wealth.  And he always told people to repent.  He never said that anyone could just go on sinning.  He very clearly told the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.”

We don’t believe in Jesus without knowing Him and if we truly know Him then we understand that He is not ok with us just living any kind of way we want.  No, He doesn’t expect us to come to Him in a perfect state.  What He does expect is that we spend time with Him and allow Him to change us, mold us, and grow us into the person He wants us to be.

How does this happen?

I can say that I’m married to my husband, but if I never spend time with him, how can I know him?  If I don’t have conversations with him, then I will never learn anything about him.  If we never spend time together, then we won’t grow closer together.  What if I live somewhere else and choose to maybe call him twice a year?  What kind of relationship would we have then?

And if we told you we were married, but we were never affectionate, we never saw each other outside of the church, never talked outside of the church, and didn’t even write letters or emails to one another or read each others writings, then would you really believe we belonged to one another?

Worship (being affectionate to God) is an outward way to show that we know Him, we are grateful for His blessings, and that we believe in Him.  No, it is not required, but if you’re in a relationship with someone, isn’t affection usually expected?

Reading your Bible is the way you get to know God more.  It isn’t required, but the Bible is our sword!  It gets us right into the heart of God.  It is how we grow and change.

Prayer is the way we get to talk to God.  We are blessed to be able to speak directly to Him.  Prayer is our lifeline to God.

Cultivating our relationship with Jesus is what grows us and helps others to see that we belong to Him.  Then we become a true disciple for Him.

Follow Him,

jamie

 

 

Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

Be usable during the trials

Laying block with oxygen.  What’s stopping you??

My father was bed-ridden for several years, and then weak for several more.  Why not healed?  One night the Lord spoke to him and told him to build a house for someone he’d never met.  He wasn’t able to in his own strength.  The Lord also spoke to the pastor at his church and told him to give away a substantial amount of money.  He spoke to another man and told him to donate land.  Person after person stepped forward, obeying God’s leading, and a home was built for a family from start to finish in 40 days.

My dad’s weakness enabled God’s strength to be perfected and manifested.  Might I suggest that before that time my dad may have been too busy to hear the voice of God in that way?  Or too busy to take the time to help organize and attend a project of that magnitude?

God uses us all in different ways and for different reasons.  We just have to be available for His purposes and plans.

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

These are the words the Lord spoke to the disciple that was sent to put his hands on Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul–missionary to thousands), when he would regain his sight.  And yet, Paul always had what he called a “thorn in his flesh” that God never removed.  He said he prayed for the Lord to remove it and the Lord told him no.  The Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

It’s interesting that when Paul was called into ministry he was shown how many things he would suffer God’s name’s sake, and how the Lord told Paul no, and how now, in 2019 we think our Christian walk should be about our comfort, our happiness, our delight….about us.  When did things get so twisted?

Christianity just simply isn’t about us.  It is about the Lord.  It says about Saul, “Immediately he preached the Christ in synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”  He began immediately doing what he was called to do, and people immediately began wanting to kill him.  (You can find all of this in Acts 9)

Job, in his agony and suffering repented and humbled himself before the Lord…before he was ever healed or restored.  Then, in Job 42:8, the Lord put Job in charge of praying for his friends.  In his state, he was best suited to pray for his friends.  He was the one God called to pray, to work, to do His will.  And then, praise God for him, He was restored.

Sickness and trials are not a problem that keeps us from fulfilling God’s call in our lives.  It may hinder us from doing all the things we want.  I know I still have times when I can’t sing, can’t raise my hands in worship, can’t teach or even attend church; however, if we are still alive then God can still use us.

Ask God how He can use your vessel.  When He gives you an opportunity, don’t let it pass you by.  Don’t fear that you’re too weak.  In your weakness, His strength is made perfect.  It has been proven over and over:  see David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, 3 Hebrew’s in the furnace, on and on.  God will give you all that you need to complete the task He sets before you.

Be available just as you are,

jamie

 

Giving thanks!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!  For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!  For His mercy endures forever.   Ps. 136:1-3

 

jamie

Abraham’s incentives

Heb. 11:8-10:  “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise like a foreigner living in tents; and so did Issac and Jacob, who inherited the same promised.  For Abraham waited for a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”  

Abraham leaving his country, family, and his father’s house to go dwell in tents in a land he didn’t know…as a foreigner…does take great faith.  There is even more to his faith story, but for today…

When I went back to Genesis this morning to read the beginning, I saw the mention of the fact that Abraham’s wife Sarai was barren; she had no child.  (Gen. 11:30)  Then, in Gen. 12:1-3, the Lord tells Abraham to leave his country and go to a land He would show Him.  But God gave him an incentive.  Well, several incentives, actually.

Remember, his wife is barren.  The Lord said, “I will make you a great nation.”  Wow!  That’s a pretty great incentive to leave.  Ok.  “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.”  Goodness!  Really?  I mean, me?  “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Boom!

So, not only was the Lord promising to bless Abraham, but He was going to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham.  I mean, come on!!!!  How can anyone resist that!?  And so, Abraham obeyed.  And so God did as He promised.  God blessed Abraham and his wife.  And God has blessed us all because through Abraham and his descendants came our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!!

Drop the mic.

If we trust in anything in this life, let it be the Lord.  He does what He says He will do.

Last night we had a soup dinner at church.  I had this amazing new recipe for cornbread casserole that I had eaten the day before.  I also have a great crock pot.  I put all the ingredients in my crock pot and mixed it all up.  When it was time to leave for the dinner, I simply unplugged the crock pot and we headed out the door.  When my pastor’s wife took the lid off the crock pot and stuck a serving spoon inside the casserole was more like soup.

I’d trusted in my recipe and my crock pot, and didn’t even check the results before we left home.  Fail.

Abraham trusted in the Lord who promised to bless him and all the families of the earth through him, living in tents and waiting for a city with eternal foundations.  Win!

In God we can always trust.  He will never let us down.

Served,

jamie