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Count it ALL Joy!

Greetings my precious friends. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers. The last few days have been very difficult but the Lord has given us the strength we have needed to continue down the path He has laid before us.

I am sitting in the ICU of a local hospital as I type. My Memaw has been here since very early Sunday morning. After hearing the news of the death of her husband of 58 years, her body was overcome with grief. There are a number of things that we have dealt with, too many to name, but we are seeing improvements each day and are trusting in the Lord for His plan to be carried out.

It's during times like these that we are tempted to ask "Why?", tempted to get angry, tempted to blame God, but God's plan and timing are perfect. His ways are higher than ours and His plan is to strengthen His children. I had some time to myself this morning to reflect on these truths as I cleaned my Pawpaw and Memaw's house.

Over the past few months I have been preparing to teach a Bible study on the book of James; this morning the Lord showed me why. God showed me that my digging into the book of James was not so much for the teaching of it to others, but it was to prepare my heart for what was coming my way. In James chapter 1 verses 2-4 James says the following, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

If you look at the definition of "trial" in the Greek language this is what you will find: this word connotes trouble, or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someones life. I think it would be fair to say that my family is in the midst of a trial right now- speaking from the side of human nature the pattern of peace, comfort, joy and happiness have been interrupted. Part of me has been tempted to question "why?"- "why now?", "why this way?"

God reminded me this morning, that my response was not to question, or to blame, or to get angry, but to rejoice and to count it ALL joy, because through this time He was going to increase my faith in Him and strengthen our relationship. There have been several things that I have specifically prayed in faith for over the past few days, and I've seen the Lord answer those prayers. God has bestowed His grace, mercy, strength, and comfort upon us all and I know that He isn't finished yet. He is at work in my heart and in the hearts of others. He is developing perseverance and maturity in the hearts of His children and I believe His is drawing others to Himself so that they are able to have that first time face-to-face encounter with the All-Powerful, Almighty God of the universe.

My God is at work and I am excited to see His plans completed. Yes my heart aches, but He is the lifter of my head and from Him comes help and comfort.

I would ask that you continue to lift us up in your prayers. Tomorrow we will be having visitation at the funeral home. Please pray for strength, comfort, and a peace that passes all understanding. Pray that the love of Jesus will be shared and souls will be saved. I love you all!

"I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help
come from? My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2, NIV


Showers of Grace & Mercy

Hello my sweet friends. Life has found me very busy lately and I've missed chatting with you all. I am passing through quickly tonight as I am preparing to travel to Florida. My Pawpaw went to be with Jesus tonight. I can imagine he is dancing on the streets of gold right now as he praises His Maker.

My mom said so beautifully last night as she was herself preparing to leave ahead of us- "We will see what awaits and pray God's grace and mercy spare him what could come to him in the future." God rained down grace and mercy tonight as He spared my Pawpaw much suffering that could have come from the disease that plagued his body. Although our hearts are aching right now, we are rejoicing that his body is healed and made whole.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I WILL fear NO evil, because the Good Shepherd has gone before me and prepared the way.

Please pray for my family this week. Many will come through the doors of my grandparents home who do not know Jesus. Pray that we are able to share Jesus with them. Pray that we are able to show each and every person who comes our way that there is hope- hope of everlasting life through Jesus Christ. Pray for those who will be traveling. Pray for God's love to fill that home and comfort all who are hurting.

Thank you sweet friends. I love you all so much and thank God for each of you.


Safe in his Savior's Hands

God has answered the prayers of His people- Baby Gabe is no longer suffering or hurting. Tonight he is safely in the hands of the Great Physician, Jehovah-Rapha. Although Gabe's life was brief, God has used him in awesome ways. Please be in prayer for Garrett and Traci, Gabe's mommy and daddy, as they grieve the loss of this precious baby. Thank you all SO MUCH for praying with me over the last few weeks for my sweet friends. I ask that you continue to lift them to the throne of grace. Here is a message from their pastor on behalf of Garrett and Traci.

By the thousands, people have prayed for Gabe. The saints of God have interceded for his little life and prayed for him when he could not pray for himself. We have sensed the mercies of God and the presence of God's Spirit in these difficult days.

God's ways are mysterious and we can not explain all that He does. We live in a fallen world but our hope is in our Lord who promised us victory over death, hell and the grave. As Charles Spurgeon said, "When you cant trace God's hand, trust His heart." We know that Gabe is in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father who has welcomed our son into his eternal home.

We gave Gabe to God before he was ever born. Every day of his life belonged to our loving Lord. His life has been a witness to many in the hospital, and around the country.

God has seen us through these days. He sustained Gabe when many gave up hope. We believe God has and had a purpose for his short life. His precious life marked us as a family, as friends and as a church.

One little life reminded us that most of what we worry and fret about does not matter. What matters is to love God and love others. At Thanksgiving, we celebrated his birth. As we look to Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Lord who gives us hope that we will see Gabe again in heaven. We can't wait to see our little boy running down the streets of gold. That is God's promise and that is our hope. This is not goodbye -- this is, Gabe, son, we'll see you again.

We will celebrate the life of our son Gabe on Monday, December 22nd at 1pm in the chapel at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.

The service will be in the chapel and overflow will be in the Worship Center. The graveside service is immediate family only.

Pastor Michael Catt on behalf of Garrett and Traci


Update on Baby Gabe

From Gabe's mommy, Traci.

Good afternoon ya'll. Praising the Lord for a wonderful night for Gabe.

A quick update...a sweet lady at the hospital is letting me borrow her computer so I am going to try and make this quick but thorough enough so that you all can be praying specifically. I have always heard that specific prayers get specific answers.

Mommy read Gabe his first book this morning. It is a story about a lamb named Joshua that was different but God had a special plan for his life. It was a Christmas story. I think he enjoyed the book. The NICU has a bookshelf that the March of Dimes provides for families.

Last night we were introduced to a sweet family who lives not to far from here and we were able to get a few hours of sleep at their home since it is so close by the hospital. What a blessing they are.

Gabe's incision site looks good today from his surgery yesterday. The stoma seems to be functioning well and the left one is even producing some stool. Please pray for this area not to become infected as it's pretty common for it to do.

This morining they took him off the norcuron (chemical paralization) to see if they can get rid of some of the adema.

His blood pressures are in the 30s this morning. Please keep praying for them to stay in the 30s and 40s. Hhis heart rate is a little higher than we'd like, please pray for it to settle down. Please pray for him to be able to urinate (this is a biggie). Pray for increase in his oxygen sat levels. He's been in the 80-85 range and we'd like to see it higher, like in the 90s. (This is the number that dropped so low yesterday to like 49). It was a true miracle to see those numbers increase yesterday. Praise the Lord his blood gases are looking well; please pray this continues. His lung xray even looked better today. Keep praying that he continues to recover from his surgery and gets bigger and stronger. Pray that God will continue to place that spirit of fight in our little Gabe that makes him oh so tough. He's been through so much but we know that God's holding him right in the palm of his hand.

Thanks so much for praying for Gabe. My appt is later today for my CT scan we did some bloodwork this morning. The doctor's office here is amazing. They have been so good to accomodate me and welcome me. I am so grateful for the Lord placing us right where I need to be to.


Walking in the Light

Grab your Bible, notebook and pen, and a good cup of coffee and let's continue on in our study of 1 John 1.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him (Jesus) and declare to you,
that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him,
and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5-7, NKJV

The message that John and the other disciples of Christ preached came straight from their hearts, because Christ had spoken it directly to their hearts. It wasn’t something that they sat around the campfire and thought up own their own. The message they unashamedly proclaimed came from God (Galatians 1:12). What exactly is the message John was preaching?

~Read John 8:12.
Who did Jesus say He was?
What happens if we follow Him?
As we saw from our visit to the Garden of Eden, because of man’s disobedience to God, sin had entered the world and caused one’s fellowship with God to be broken. The only way for our fellowship with God to be restored was for Jesus Christ, the Light, to come to earth and show us our sin. This is the message John was preaching. It is the Gospel message. It is the message that God so desperately wants all of us to hear and believe in so that we can walk with Him and experience fullness of joy.

In Scripture, “light” and “darkness” are very common symbols. Intellectually, light refers to Biblical truth and knowledge, while darkness refers to dishonesty and foolishness. Morally, light refers to holiness and purity while darkness refers to sin or wrongdoing. Light represents Christ in His truth, wisdom, holiness, and perfection. Darkness represents Satan, and all of his demonic forces, in his lies, schemes, rebellion, evilness, and stupidity.

What is light? What does it do?

Let’s read the following Scriptures and note what each has to say about light.

* “For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”
Psalm 18:28, NKJV
In this verse, darkness comes from the Hebrew word choshek, which means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. Because of our sinful nature, we live in misery. Nothing we do apart from God will matter in the end. We are full of evil because we are ignorant to the Truth. The result of this life would be death, eternal separation from God. God, because He is the source of all Light and loves us so much, sent His Son to earth to reveal to us the darkness that consumes us.

* “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:8, NKJV
God’s Word is holy, it is pure, it is right. Reading and studying His Word, brings to light our sin. His Word shows us faults that we might never recognize on our own.

* “But the light will show what these things are really like. Light shows up everything…” Ephesians 5:13-14a, CEV
Here again, light shows everything. Nothing can be hidden when the lights are turned on.

* “I (Jesus) have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me (Jesus) should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46, NKJV
Jesus is the Light of the world. He was and is the only One who can rescue us from a heart that is darkened by sin. This was His very purpose for coming to earth. To follow Him, means that we will no longer live in bondage to sin, but we can live a life of freedom.

Spend some time right now jotting down your thoughts on each of these verses. Maybe one of them stood out to you for a particular reason; begin committing it to memory.
See you tomorrow as we continue on with what light is and what it does.


The Great Revelation, Part 4

At the close of our last look at 1 John, I left you with the following question: How could man’s relationship with God be restored after the fall of Adam and Eve? Today we are going to answer that question. Our study today will once again be interactive, so grab your Bible and a good cup of coffee and let's dig in.

How could man’s relationship with God be restored? There was only one way. Only through the life and death of Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate revelation of Himself to us, can we be brought back into fellowship with Him and receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Look back at 1 John 1:3b, “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”. This fellowship that John speaks of is koinonia. Koinonia is a Greek word meaning partnership, participation, benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship. When we are restored back to fellowship with God, we become partners with Him, we are allowed to participate in His work. We must be actively participating and communicating with Him in order for our relationship to be successful and beneficial and for our hearts to be filled with joy.

Joy is a happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and it even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe. Joy is a gift from God. All of this goes back to purposefully spending time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word everyday.

When we have true koinonia with God, it opens up the door for us to have true koinonia with other believers. Our relationship with Christ must be right before our relationships with others will be right. As Christians, we have all been called to a common goal. That goal is to lead others to Christ and to disciple them into a deeper relationship with Him (Matthew 28:18-20). Having true fellowship with God will result in true fellowship with other believers.

Read Psalm 119:97 & 119:147-148.

How is your partnership with God right at this very moment? Is it a one-way relationship? Are you an active participant? Are you spending time in His Word, meditating on His Truths?

Is everything right between you and God? Is your heart filled with joy? Is the joy of the Lord your strength?

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10b,

When people look at you, do they see joy or do they see bitterness, anger, and hate? Is your life bearing forth the fruit of the Spirit?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV
Spend time right now asking the Lord to give you a desire for His Word, a desire to know Him more. Thank Him for sending His Son to this sin scared world so that you can have a relationship with Him. Ask Him to fill your heart with joy even if your present circumstances might not be exactly what you desire.


Update on Baby Gabe

Update for this evening:

Gabe had another good day. They increased his oxygen intake, for surgery, up to 90% and dropped it down to 70% tonight and hope to continue to drop it even more this evening. They have also started to decrease his blood pressure medicine. Gabe is responding very well. Doctors are very pleased with him and the results thus far. Garrett & Traci still have a tough rode ahead, but we are hoping the now that the heart is functioning properly everything else will begin to heal as well.

Today I reflected over the events from the week and still sit in amazement at God's work. I tried to wrap my mind around what Traci must be going through (one mom to another) and couldn't. However, I did realize some of the things I took for granted with my son, has been a moment of rejoicing for Traci. Such as, on Monday, as the nurses were getting Gabe ready to be transported to Augusta, one of the nurses asked Traci if she had kissed Gabe. Traci politely said no and the nurse proceeded to uncover one of Gabe's little feet and told Traci to kiss the bottom of his foot.

Traci was very apprehensive and said no, but the nurse reassured her that it was okay. So Traci kissed Gabe's, sweet, tiny foot. What a blessing and powerful moment for Traci as a mother. Traci had not had the opportunity to kiss her son since he was born and I can not imagine that strong desire to love and kiss on my child and not be able to. I remember kissing my son for the first time and how great that was, but I don't remember the first time I kissed his foot, but for Traci, simply kissing the bottom of his foot was a huge milestone and probably an overwhelming amount of emotion.

The same nurse gave Traci a blanket Gabe had been wrapped in, so Traci could hold it during the ride and wrapped Gabe in another blanket that was filled with the smell and warmth of his mommy. The nurse was definitely one of God's angels brought to Traci at that moment to love and comfort a mother and son during an emotional and unsure moment.

Please continue to lift all of them up. Pray for Garrett and Traci to keep their strength up. Pray for Gabe's intestines to heal as they need to and pray for him to get stronger each day.
Aunt Melissa


Update from this morning:

Gabe had a good night...his heart rate and blood pressure is up just a little. Garrett & Traci have not seen the doctor this morning...they slept in this morning, due to complete exhaustion.
Mimi and Pops (Garrett's parents) are coming home today, but Grandad (Traci's dad) is staying there with them. He got in late last night.

Traci is doing better...she finally felt like eating last night and Mimi made her some potatoe soup and a sandwich.

Austin & I had a chance to speak with Garrett last night and he sounded great. He is so relieved the surgery went well. Most importantly he (and family) could not get over the outopouring of love the churches in Augusta have shown them. All of that would not have been possible without each of shared the story with everyone you know and through that God continues to open doors for them as they settle to make a home away from home for their little family.

THANK YOU! Our family has been so blessed by each of you...the love you share, the prayers and words of encouragement have left all of us in tears and in awe of your faith in God. You never lost hope and made sure Garrett & Traci didn't either.

I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude to each of you. THANK YOU!!
Aunt Melissa
P.S. Uncle Austin has given Gabe his first nickname, appropriate.


Update from yesterday afternoon:

PRAISE THE is over and Gabe did AWESOME. The doctors repaired the valve and drained the fluid off the heart. Traditionally the numbers go down, but Gabe's went up. They have left in his chest tube, just as a precaution.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and continued support. Garrett and Traci are so grateful for each of you. Please continue to pray for Gabe to get stronger and for his little body to heal. Aunt Melissa

WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE! Once again God has preformed a miracle right before our very eyes.


Psalm Friday

Goodness and Mercy
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;”
Psalm 23:6a, NKJV

Great importance has been placed on the diligent care of the shepherd for his sheep throughout Psalm 23. As we come to the end of this beautiful Psalm, I believe David has summed up for us the main idea of the entire Psalm in one statement, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” David is boasting in his God because no matter what may happen around him, he has total confidence in the Shepherd who will lead him through.

What about us? How many of us can say that no matter what may come our way- a lost job, a wayward child, a bad report from our doctor, an ailing parent, an empty bank account, bare cupboards, _____________ (you fill in the blank)- how many of us can say with complete confidence that goodness and mercy are sure to follow?

These are the times when the rubber meets the road; these are the times when one’s trust in God’s care for His children is tested; these are the times when faith is tested. When the world around us seems to be closing in can we say with complete confidence and trust in God that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”?

As I sit today and think back over my life to those valleys of death I traveled through, to those times when I've lived in the very presence of the enemy who desired to destroy me- I can say to you, that YES, goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. Those valleys that I thought would never let me out of their pits and those enemies who had a tight grip on my life, could do nothing to me because my Shepherd had a much bigger plan for me; He had a different path for me to travel, a path that would lead me up the mountain to sit at the table He had prepared for me to enjoy.

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, my Good Shepherd IS goodness and mercy. His mercy and goodness and compassion for His sheep are new every morning. My friend, know this today- the Good Shepherd will follow you through the valley, He be with you in the fire, He will close the mouths of the lions, He will calm the storms around you, He will lead you to His land of promises for His name’s sake. Why? Because He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep and He is all about goodness and mercy.


Update on Baby Gabe- Please continue to pray

Here is the most recent update I have on Baby Gabe. Please continue to lift up this precious family.

"Gabe's numbers look good this morning and they are planning to do surgery around 2pm. I will post as soon as they start and let you know how long the procedure will take.

Please continue to lift up this family as today and the next several days will be very difficult.

Today is 2 weeks since Gabe was born." Aunt Melissa

The Great Revelation, Part 3

Today our study of 1 John is going to be interactive. There will be Scriptures for you to read and questions for you to answer. I hope that you will take some time to engage God's Word and dig a little deeper.

Ready? Let's dig in. A third way that God reveals Himself to us is:

III. The ultimate revelation of God to us was through His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

"And he who sees Me (Jesus) sees Him (God) who sent Me.”
John 12:45 (NKJV)

God made Himself known to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s Word of life (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1) to us. To know Jesus is to know God. To know God is to know eternal life with Him. God proved His love for us by sending His Son to earth to die the horrible death that each one of us deserved. Because of sin, the perfect relationship with God that man originally possessed was lost. The only way our fellowship with God could be restored was through the death of Christ.

Let’s take a little field trip back in time to the Garden of Eden to find out how that perfect relationship with God was broken. This garden was paradise on earth. I don’t think that we can even begin to imagine how beautiful it was, but let’s try. Close your eyes and just listen. What do you hear? Can you hear the birds singing in the distance? Do you hear the wind whistling through the trees? Do you smell the sweet aroma of the flowers? Have a seat under that big tree over there. Maybe you’d like to dip your feet into the cool waters of the river. Isn’t it the most magnificent place you have ever seen? Can you believe that God, Himself, planted every flower, every tree, every bush just for Adam and Eve to enjoy? He knew exactly what would make them happy. Life for Adam and Eve was good; in fact, it was very good. They had everything they needed. They lacked nothing.

Now turn around. Look to your left. No, your other left. Now straight ahead. Do you see those two beautiful trees standing there side-by-side? It’s the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These trees were placed in the garden to give man a choice; a choice in whether to simply obey or disobey God’s instructions. The tree of life would sustain man’s physical and spiritual being. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would do the complete opposite; nothing about it would sustain man; it would eventually bring about physical death and ultimately separate man from God.

~God gave Adam specific instructions about eating from these two trees. Read Genesis 2:16 & 17. What were Adam’s instructions?

The Garden of Eden was not only for Adam’s enjoyment, but it was also his responsibility to tend to it and keep it up. I guess you could call him the grounds keeper. After God took Adam to his knew home (Genesis 2:15), He saw that Adam was the only one of his kind in the Garden. Adam was alone and needed a helper. Out of Adam’s own body, God made for him and woman to walk along side him and be his companion, his wife, his friend (Genesis 2:21-25). We don’t know exactly how long Adam and his wife, Eve, were in the Garden, but at some point Adam must have shared with her God’s instructions concerning the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when she was confronted by Satan she knew that she wasn’t suppose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

~Read Genesis 3:1-7. Did Adam and Eve obey God’s instructions?
Satan embodied a serpent in order to approach Eve without her being alarmed. The apostle John identifies this serpent as Satan in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, as does Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3. He was very wise in his advance to her because had in not been uncommon for Adam and Eve to have conversation with the animals, I think that she would have taken off like greased lightning. Satan had his eye on Eve and knew the perfect time to attack her. He had probably been watching the two of them for a while and knew that he could get to Eve, and her heart, with almost little effort. I tend to think that she was alone when Satan approached her. He specifically targeted Eve because he knew that she was the weaker one and needed the protection of her husband. He knew her weaknesses and used those to his advantage. Satan, first, made her question God’s instructions, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1, NLT, italics added) He got the wheels in Eve’s mind spinning. She began questioning the truthfulness of God. Did God really mean what He said? Maybe He didn’t.

Not only did Satan make Eve question God, he also flat out lied to her face.

“Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Gen 3:4-5, NKJV, italics added

Satan wanted Eve to think that God was keeping for Himself something that would be better for her than all she already had. He wanted her to think that God was holding back on her. Satan also implied that she would be like God in that she could do whatever she wanted to do. God did, in fact, know something Adam and Eve didn’t know and He was trying to keep them from it by giving these instructions. God was trying to keep them from sin. He was trying to keep them from a life of evil; a life that would separate man from God. Eve was convinced that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be beneficial to her.

~What happened when Adam and Eve disobeyed God? Read Genesis 3:6-24
Because Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they, along with Satan, suffered some serious consequences. For Eve, and all women, (Genesis 3:16), because she gave birth to sin for the human race, she would have pain in birthing her own children and in raising them. Raising children is hard because they inherited a sin nature from Adam and have an inborn desire to rebel against what in true and right. Her relationship with her husband was meant to be one of joy and blessing, but now her husband would rule over her, by God’s design (Ephesians 5:22-25), which would cause conflict in the marital relationship. Adam, and all men, (Genesis 3:17) would now have to work for everything that had once been provided for him by God. Through sweat and hard work, he would labor to provide for his family.
The serpent, having been used by Satan, faced consequences for his actions. “So the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life (Genesis 3:14, NKJV)’”. The serpent would spend the rest of his life lower than all the other animals having to crawl around on his belly. Snakes now represent all that is hateful, sickening, and low. They are identified with disgrace and avoided with fear.
Satan, himself, had consequences of his own to deal with for deceiving man. There will be hostility between Satan and his seed, his followers, and woman and her Seed, Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4), and His followers. Through a woman would the ultimate destruction of Satan come, for he will be defeated once and for all by Jesus Christ, who would be born of a woman (Luke 1:30-33).
God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey His instructions or to disobey. I’ve often wondered why God even gave them a choice. Why did He make two trees? Why not just the tree of life? God loves us and wants us to freely love Him. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we have to. Wouldn’t you much rather do something you want to do than be made to do it? God didn’t want a bunch of robots walking around programmed to love Him; He wants people whose hearts are truly committed to Him and that love Him completely.
Yes, Adam and Eve had some serious consequences to pay for their disobedience, but as bad as having pain in childbirth and childrearing and having tensions within marriage and having to labor to provide for your family might be, there is nothing worse than being eternally separated from the One who created you. Because of their sin, they were banished from the perfect life and fellowship with God they once knew. There was no longer a perfect world because sin had tainted it.
~How could man’s relationship with God be restored? We'll answer that question next time.



Gabe's vital signs were down this morning...they are a little better now. The doctors believe this has to do with his heart condition and they want to repair the heart valve in the next 12-24 hours. They are waiting to hear from the surgical team.

Please continue to pray for this family and Gabe. Gabe needs to be strong in order to pull through any surgery. He has been such the fighter and I know God will continue to strengthen and guide him. Lift up Garrett and Traci as they stay strong for Gabe and each other.


Please join me in praying for some very dear friends of ours. Garrett and Traci were blessed with a baby boy born November 27. Baby Gabe was born at 28 weeks. Traci's pregnancy was a difficult one causing her to be in the hospital on bed rest for over 8 weeks of the pregnancy. Baby Gabe has had good days and bad days since his birth.

I just got an email from Gabe's Aunt Melissa pleading for all of us to get down on our knees and pray for baby Gabe. He is not doing good today. PLEASE join me in praying for this precious family. Pray for strength and wisdom for Garrett and Traci to know how best to care for Gabe. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for Gabe. And, please lift up baby Gabe to the throne of grace.

Thank you so much for praying with me for this family. Our God is able to do exceedingly more than we ever ask or imagine.

WFW- Showers of Blessings

"I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; THERE SHALL BE SHOWERS OF BLESSING."
Ezekiel 34:26, NKJV

For more WFW visit the 160 Acre Woods.


The Great Revelation, Part 2

Today let's look at a second way God's reveals Himself to us.

II. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Tim 3:16-17, NKJV

God’s Word is His story about Himself to us. It is His message to us. When Scriptures speak, God, Himself, speaks (Romans 9:17; Galatians 3:8). What better way for us to know who God is than by reading His Word. I’ve often heard the Bible referred to as a road map for your life. It is our guide to teach us how to daily live godly lives. I had someone ask me not to long ago, “Do you mean that I can apply every verse in the Bible to my life?” Dear friend, everything in the Bible isn’t wrapped up in a nice pretty package with a big red bow on top, but it is all there to teach us, to mold us, to shape us, to instruct us, to discipline us so that when all is said and done we will be complete in the work that our Lord has called us to.

When was the last time you had some quite time with the Lord? Do you know what I mean when I say “quiet time”? A quiet time is simply an undisturbed time that you’ve set aside to spend time in prayer, in studying the Word, and in listening to God speak. I know that finding time to do this can be hard, but I speak from experience when I say that it will dramatically change your life. I believe that we make time for the things that are important to us and spending time with the Lord, in His Word, should be a high priority on our list of things to do.
Maybe you don’t know where to begin. I would suggest getting a devotion book or finding a copy of a Bible reading plan. Lately, I have been reading through the Book of James during my quiet time. I cannot even begin to tell you how God has spoken to me and changed me through this book of the Bible. There are many different ways you can have a quiet time. How you have your quiet time with the Lord isn’t as important as the fact that you are consistently spending time with Him. I can look back on my life and see those times when I wasn’t in His Word, spending time in prayer, or listening to Him speak to me and those are probably the most miserable periods in my life.
Spending time with the Lord results in us knowing Him better, and knowing Him better results in us knowing His will for our lives, which in the end, results in us living out our purpose and glorifying Him in all that we do and say.

I would love to hear how the Lord has been speaking to you lately in your times with Him. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Thanks!!


The Great Revelation

“the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
1 John 1:2-4, NKJV

Manifested is a big word, but it has a very simple definition. The Greek word for manifested is phaneroo meaning to appear, manifestly declare, to render apparent. Webster’s Dictionary defines manifested as to make clear, evident, show plainly, reveal, or to prove. Let’s begin today by looking at some of the ways God manifests or reveals Himself to us.

There are many different ways He has done this, but over the next few days we are going to look at three in particular.

I. He has revealed Himself to us through His creation.

"But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
Job 12:7-10, NKJV

You can look all around you and see the mighty power of God. In every bird that flies, every fish that swims, in every flower that blooms, in every newborn baby that cries, there is evidence of the hand of God at work. Creation screams out His majesty. God created this world for us to enjoy.

My children love to play outside. Will, my youngest, just wants to run and play. Give him a stick and he’s as happy as a lark. He’d much rather squish a bug than look at it. But, my oldest daughter Hannah soaks up everything. She would sit for hours and watch a tiny ladybug crawl around in the grass if she could. And, of course, she’d ask a million and one questions. She loves to go exploring in the woods with her daddy and find new things. When she was little bedtime prayers consisted of lists of thank you’s from her. She would thank God for the clouds, and the trees, and the sun, and the birds, and she go on and on and on. At first, I would get a little irritated, but then it hit me one night as I was walking out of her room, God DID create this earth for us to enjoy and we should stop and thank Him for it. Oh, how our child often bring things into perspective for us!

When was the last time you went exploring through the woods or watched a ladybug crawl by? Stop right now and thank God for creating this earth for you to enjoy.

"The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein."
Psalm 24:1, NKJV


Psalm Friday

His Anointing
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”
Psalm 23:5b, NKJV

The table has been prepared atop the summer mountain range. The shepherd’s precious sheep have arrived, eager to dine on the lush green pastures. But, there is a problem. Along with the lush green pastures of summertime come those ever pesky flies that will wreak havoc on the sheep as they graze. The attacks of bot flies, gnats, mosquitoes, black flies, and nasal flies, just to name a few, can disrupt any dining experience and leave a sheep totally miserable.

Nasal flies are one of the most annoying flies for a sheep. These flies will buzz around a sheep’s head, trying their best to lay their eggs in the sheep’s nose. If they are successful, the eggs will hatch, forming worm-like larvae. The larvae will work their way up the nasal passage, bury themselves into the sheep’s flesh and begin irritating the sheep, which in the end will lead to severe inflammation.

To gain relief from this agonizing pain sheep will beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or brush. They will rub their heads on the ground vigorously and thrash themselves against fallen branches or stumps. In the most extreme cases, sheep have been known to kill themselves during the pursuit of finding relief from the immense pain.

To protect a sheep from just horrific pain, the shepherd will apply to the sheep’s head an ointment that will divert the pesky flies. Gently and with much care, the shepherd will rub this ointment over the sheep’s nose and head. Once the ointment is applied the sheep are able to continue enjoying the lush green pastures that are before them. This is not a onetime application though. A good shepherd will be ever watchful of his sheep and when the flies come a botherin’, he goes to anointin’.

Think about your life and those things that seem to irritate you the most. I don’t know about you, but there are annoyances in my life that often times get under my skin wreaking havoc on my spirit. Trying to get rid of them myself, I run around acting like the fool; throwing temper tantrums, racking my brain trying to figure out how I can rid myself of the problem. I cannot rid myself of the annoyances on my own; you cannot rid yourself of your own annoyances. It is only the continuous presence and filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives that frees us of those aggravating frustrations.

Just as with the sheep, there must be a continual anointing of God’s gracious Spirit upon my life and yours in order to counteract those irritations that can so easily plague us. In Luke 11:13, Jesus urges us to ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit. It is the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit upon my mind that will produce in my life those traits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Friends, our anointing comes by spending time with the Good Shepherd. During this time He fills our minds and hearts with good things until our cups spill over. Without this anointing the challenges of the day will get the best of us; we will rack our brains trying to solve problems, we will make decisions without the guidance of His counsel, and we will walk in our own strength. But, if we set aside time EVERY DAY to spend with Him, He will anoint us with blessings from above, filling us with His strength and power so that we are ready to face the day.
“Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10b, NKJV


John's Joy

"That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon,
and our hands have handled,
concerning the Word of life-"
1 John 1:1
The day Jesus walked into John’s life, was the day John’s life changed forever. His life no longer meant anything; it was now all about Jesus, his Lord, his Master, his Messiah. John had probably heard about the coming Messiah from Peter and Andrew, but never expected the Messiah to come to his home town, much less for the Messiah to call out his name. When Jesus spoke John’s name, immediately, Scriptures tell us, John dropped his net and followed Jesus. He didn’t say, ‘Hold on a minute, I need to finish getting in this net,” or “let me check my schedule, next week might be a better time for me,” or “how much are you paying and what kind of benefits are you offering?” John said nothing; he asked nothing. Immediately, do you get that, immediately he dropped what he was doing and he followed Jesus.

Oh, that we would have a heart so full of love and devotion for Christ, that we would drop everything we are doing, the kid’s ballgames, dance lessons, the laundry, the dinner plans with the neighbors, the great paying job we waited all our life to get, the world as we’ve always known it and immediately follow Christ. John did just that and the joy from that first step of obedience never left his heart. Fifty plus years later, he still remembered what it was like to walk right beside Jesus day after day, witness miracle after miracle, have intimate conversations with His Lord, learn some very valuable life lessons from Jesus, watch as His Savior was crucified on the cross, and run to the tomb on the third day only to find it empty because His Messiah had risen.

John knew what it was to hear his Master speak and to hold on to His every word. He beheld the magnificent glory of his Lord while sitting at His feet. He had touched, with his own hands, the physical body of the Lamb of God that was sacrificed for him. John followed Jesus day after day anticipating a new revelation from His Lord and he was never disappointed. John KNEW Jesus.

I can just imagine that as John sat writing this epistle his eyes welled up with tears. “How good it was to sit at my Master’s feet. How undeserving I am that He chose me to follow Him. What a true honor it is to be a servant of the Almighty God. Oh, that I may be found pleasing in the eyes of my Savior.” The joy of John’s salvation had never left his heart. He never forgot all that Christ had done for him. His life with Christ was not just a “good time” that happened years ago and now was tucked away on a shelf collecting dust. Christ WAS his LIFE. He lived and breathed the very One who had breathed life into him. John knew what it was to suffer for Christ. But suffering didn’t matter to him because he knew he was doing what God had called him to do. He LOVED God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

In the original language of Scripture the Greek word for "looked" is theaomai, meaning to behold, perceive, gaze at, to look closely at, to visit. From this Greek word we get the English word theater. Think about this with me for a moment. What do you do when you go to a theater? You go in, find a nice comfy seat, get settled in, and wait, expecting to see a good movie. You don't leave until the movie is over. Your eyes stay focused on the screen watching every minute of the movie, soaking it all in. This was exactly John's experience with Jesus. He had sat at the feet of Jesus, gazing intently into the eyes of the Messiah, soaking up every word that flowed from the mouth of the Word made flesh. Those memories never left his mind or heart; he clung to them because they were his life source.

I wonder, do you remember the day you were saved? Do you still live in that moment or has it been lost? What does your salvation mean to you? When was the last time you sat at the feet of Jesus, gazed into His eyes, and waited there until you heard a word from Him? When was the last time you searched for something from God or even for God Himself? Have you taken your salvation for granted? Is it just “fire insurance” to you?

Precious Father, may we never lose the joy of our salvation. Keep us ever close to the cross. Help us to understand and never take for granted what you did for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving us. We love you. Amen.


We Give Thanks Tree Turned Jesse Tree

CHRISTmas. A time for us to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, who left His throne in glory to live among sinful man and who willingly gave His life so that you and I might live eternally. Hallelujah! Praise His Name!...
...Giving to others has been a theme in our house lately and I hope it continues. Some of you may remember that during the Thanksgiving season, the kids and I decorated our "We Give Thanks Tree".... I found the Jesse Tree. I am so excited about this idea.!What is a Jesse Tree? The Jesse Tree is ...
Join me at Truth Christian Academy to read the rest of the story. You're gonna love it!!!


Please Join Me in Prayer

My heart has been on the heavy side today. Do you ever have those days where you wonder what in the world the Lord is doing and why things seem to be going the way there are? The last few days have been like that for me. I'm going to be selfish for a moment and ask you to all join me in praying for the following situations. I know that God is in control; His Word clearly reveals that to me, but my flesh is crying out right now, why?

~Please pray for my Pawpaw. He has been in the hospital for several days. He has suffered with Alzheimers for over a year now. He is very confused right now. Within the week, my family will be placing him in a nursing home so that he is able to get the care he needs. Please pray for my Memaw as she adjusts to him being gone. Pray for his children as they seek to do what's best for their aging parents. Pray that my Pawpaw is not resistant to this change and that his transition is smooth. Pray that he has a roommate he can relate to. I am praising the Lord that my Pawpaw knows Jesus!

~Please pray for a dear couple who just had their second son at 28 weeks (their first son they lost due to a miscarriage). Pray for protection for the baby from infections. Pray that his body will continue to grow and function as it should and for there to be no long term affects from his pre-mature delivery. Pray for his mother as she recovers from an infection and for her body to heal from the c-section. Pray for his father as he ministers to his wife and baby boy. Pray that their eyes will continue to be focused on Jesus as they share His love with those around them. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for this precious baby boy.

~Pray for a family who just experienced a very horrific loss. Their oldest daughter was brutally murdered November 23. I went to college with this young girl. She was a joy to all those she met. Pray for her husband and their family as they work through this tragedy. Pray for those involved in this crime. Pray for their salvation. Pray for God to be glorified in the midst of all this pain. Praise the Lord this precious young girl knew Jesus in a real and personal way.

Thank you all so much for joining me in prayer. It means the world to me to know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ standing with me during this time. Love to all of you!

"For where two or three are gathered in My name,
there I am in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20