I'm over At the Well today for "To Have and To Hold". Won't you join me!?!
“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33b
I'm over At the Well today for "To Have and To Hold". Won't you join me!?!
“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33b
The Lord continues to amaze me and humble me before His throne of grace and mercy. I'm so excited to share with you a new adventure I'm on with my Jesus. A month or so ago I joined an incredible team of ladies who are using their gifts and talents to honor the Lord through an online Christian magazine. I was reluctant at first to fill the position that was presented to me- a marriage columnist. Who? Me? Write about marriage?
I prayed about it for a few days and knew without a doubt that this was exactly what God would have me do. Years ago, God did a miraculous work in my marriage. Mine was a marriage that was standing on the doormat of divorce knocking for someone to open the door. It was inevitable- the end was near. But, God had other plans; much better plans.
After my husband and I experienced God's healing hand on our lives and in our marriage, we both promised Him that we would tell our story any chance we were given and would spend the rest of our days helping those whose marriages were in trouble. So, there was no other answer I could give to Kristen (the editor of Exemplify) but "Yes!'. I excepted the offer and immediately began thinking about what I would write for my first article. Again, God clearly spoke to my heart and told me to share my marriage story. So, that is what I have done.
Today, I invite you to read the May 2009 issue of Exemplify. This is a wonderful magazine written my a number of different women who are passionate about Jesus. I know your heart will be blessed and challenged as you read through the pages of this magazine. Also, make sure to take some time to look at all Exemplify has to offer.
I would love to be able to pray for each of you. Please let me know ways in which I can lift you to the throne of grace.
I encourage you to complete this "Spiritual Gifts Discovery Tool" when you get a chance. The profile sheet will give you an explanation for what each of the gifts are.
"Examine me, O LORD, and try me; test
my mind and my heart."Psalm 26:2, NASB
"For Your lovingkindness is before my
eyes, and I have walked in Your truth."Psalm 26:3, NASB
"I do not sit with deceitful men, nor
will I go with pretenders."Psalm 26:4, NASB
"I hate the assembly of the evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked."Psalm 26:5, NASB
"I shall wash my hands in innocence,
and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, that I may proclaim with the voice of
thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders."Psalm 26:6 & 7, NASB
"O LORD, I love the habitation of Your
house and the place where Your glory dwells."Psalm 26:8, NASB
"Do not take my soul away along with
sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed, in whose hands is a wicked scheme,
and whose right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my
integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on a level place; in
the congregation I shall bless the LORD."Psalm 26:9-11, NASB
"Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone,
a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Himwill not be disappointed;
the stone was Christ."1 Peter 2:6, 1 Corinthians 10:4, NASB
As you can see we are having some spacing issues this morning- so sorry! Hopefully I will be able to fix them later (I have tried fours times already). All of you who know my OCD self know that this is driving me CRAZY!!! :)
Noah used the abilities God gave him to build the ark. I just imagine he was a very skilled carpenter to have been able to build an ark that was 450 feet long (one and half football fields long), 75 feet wide (the width of one and a half football fields), and 45 feet high (the height of a four-story building). That, my friends, is a mighty big boat! God gave Noah the task of building the ark because He had already given him the talents and abilities to be able to complete the work. I'm sure God watched Noah every day as he cut each board and hammered every nail and I bet He enjoyed every minute of it.
"The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights
in every detail of their lives."Psalm 37:23, NLT
"He has shaped each person in turn;now He watches everything we do."Psalm 33:15, MSG
"Without faith it is impossible to please God."
Hebrews 11:6, NIV
Remember playing "Simon Says" during recess when you were in elementary school. Your whole class would line up, four rows consisting of 5 students each. As the Simon of the day, you called the shots.
"Simon says, 'Jump on one foot,' " you'd bellow and then laugh as your classmates tried to jump on one foot without falling over.
"Simon says, 'Jump on one foot and pat your belly at the same time,' " came your next set of instructions. This time you laughed even harder as you observed how silly they all looked.
"Stop!" you'd scream followed up by a quick, "you're out, you're out, you're out! Simon didn't say stop!"
This elementary school game reminds me of our relationship with God. When God says something to us, no matter what it may be, we are supposed to do it. Whatever He says, absolutely no questions asked, just do it. What happens when we follow the instructions the world gives us? We disqualify ourselves from allowing God to use us. Through Noah's obedience to God, God was able to use him.
"Noah consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him." Genesis 6:9b, NLT
Noah loved God more than anything else in the world and served Him when no one else did. When you and I love God far above anything else in our lives, He smiles.
God's greatest desire is for us to love Him above everything else that is vying for our attention and to build a deep, intimate relationship with Him.
"Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
Matthew 22:37-38, NIV
I knew about Danielle before I ever met her in person. Her in-laws came to our house for dinner one night and through conversation, shared with us how excited they were to be welcoming their first grandbabies into their lives in the very future. Knowing that first-time parent's of twins would need lots of extra stuff, we passed along some of the baby things we no longer needed. It would be another year and a half before I would met Danielle and her family face-to-face.
Some months back I reconnected with a friend from high school. I think it's fair to say that neither of us were living our lives for the Lord back then. Praise the Lord that much water has passed underneath our bridges and God has chosen to bless both our lives more than we deserved. I have been so excited to talk with Susan and hear how the Lord has blessed her and her husband Chris. It has been a true joy to see her excitement for our Savior and her willingness to serve Him with all her heart.
Today I have asked her to share her story. I pray that you will leave encouraged knowing that God never walks away from His children and always welcomes them home with open arms. Please welcome my dear friend Susan Sykes.
I grew up going to church every Sunday. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I accepted Christ and was baptized. I’m not sure I really understood what was happening, but I did know that Jesus had died for the bad things I had done and would do. As I grew older, church became somewhere I went because that’s what I was supposed to do. I still believed in God and what Jesus had done for me, but I thought I could live how I wanted, and then come back to Jesus in my own time.
While I was in college, I never went regularly to church except for when I came home on the weekends. I do remember feeling guilty every Sunday morning because I had not found a church to go to. There’s no other way to describe it except to say that I had an empty space. I also knew exactly what I needed to fill it, but I chose not to. I wasn’t done with MY life yet. After college, I moved to the Outer Banks, and married my husband, Chris. We never attended a church regularly there either. I was good at talking about it though! I said every week that I was going to find a church to go to, but I never went.
After a while, Sundays just became the second day of my weekend. Deep down though, I wanted to find a church home. The empty space was still there; it was a very recognizable need in my heart, but I chose to ignore it. It was too hard to go to a church where nobody knew me and I didn’t know them. I thought that if I went and I didn’t like it, everyone would shake their heads me when I didn’t show up the next week. What would my friends say? “She went and got all religious”, I would imagine them remarking to each other. I told myself, “I’ll just find a sermon on TV to watch”, “I’ll worship God in my own house”, “I’ll just go to church the next time I go home.” I came up with all kinds of excuses, and did none of them. I was feeling guilty. The Holy Spirit was convicting me. Still, I ignored Him.
Soon, I became comfortable with not going to church on Sundays. Sometimes, well, most of the time, if I came home on the weekend, I would “forget” to bring something to wear to church. I’d also say I needed to go ahead and get back home early. It’s not that I didn’t believe in God anymore—it’s just that, that’s all I did! I believed there was a God. He made us, He loves us. For a while, I thought that was good enough. But something inside me was just not right. I felt guilty. This lingering guilt would not go away. I’d go out with my friends, have fun, feel guilty, and then go out and do the same thing the next weekend. God was working on me. He was weighing on my heart, convicting me of my sins. I just kept pushing Him further and further away. My pride and independence was more important to me than God.
I had drifted away from God, and I was now feeling the effects. God never left me, but I left Him- halfway promising to come back after I’d done what I wanted to do. All the while, I knew the consequences of choosing my own will. I was being selfish, choosing the world over Him. It was easier for me and more fun.
In January of ’06, Chris and I found out we were pregnant. We were so happy and excited. This pregnancy brought me back to those guilty feelings, but it was a little different this time. Now I was worried that I wouldn’t be a good parent that sets a good example for her child. I started to realize that God had trusted us with this little person inside me. It was going to be our responsibility to teach him or her about their Heavenly Father. Not long after finding out I was pregnant, Chris got a job offer back in our hometown.
So, we moved back home. The first couple of weekends, I excused myself from going to church on Sunday morning because we were working on fixing up our rental house. I was also hesitant because if I went one Sunday, I would certainly have to go the next and the next. It was a commitment I wasn’t ready to make. And there would certainly no anonymity at my home church! After the excuses ran out, we finally went to church. As we attended each Sunday, I noticed that at each worship service, I was being moved to almost tears, feeling as if I had a huge knot in my throat that reached all the way down to my stomach. God was convicting me and I knew I was not in the right place with Him. Church was making me uncomfortable, and I was fighting it. Week after week, I pushed back the tears and heartbreak and said no to Jesus one more time. “Maybe next week”, I’d say.
One Wednesday night, I went to the church family supper before the prayer meeting. Of course, I wasn’t going to go to the prayer meeting, just the dinner. My plan was to just enough to not feel guilty. On my way out, Ashley, now one of my closest friends in Christ invited me to attend one of her mission circle’s meetings. Needless to say, I tried to think of every reason not to go, but I knew deep down, I had to. God was tearing down the wall I had built. Attending that meeting and being accepted into a circle of Christian friends began my path back to Christ.
In September of ’06, Chris and I had a beautiful baby girl we named Molly. It was becoming increasingly apparent God was blessing us. God kept guiding Chris and me to church every Sunday. We were both feeling convicted, both wanting to learn more, and both of us experiencing God’s calling to our hearts like we never had before. I was still holding back the tears and convictions until finally, I was broken. God was preparing Chris and me both at the same time. On May 27, 2007 we were both baptized, Chris for the first time, me for the second. This time I understood, we both understood.
It was an awesome feeling. My heart was running over. I made the commitment, and this time I wasn’t afraid. I was excited! I finally knew what it meant to be free. It’s not always easy. In fact, Jesus promised a life lived for Him would be difficult, but the rewards are immeasurable! My life is not always a fairy tale, but I take great comfort in knowing how my story will end.
Susan Sykes, 31, lives in Edenton, NC. She is married to Chris, her wonderful husband of almost 6 years. They live an always exciting life with their 2 ½ year old daughter, Molly, two cats- Josie and Hazel, and Max, the wonder-dog . Chris and Susan serve at Rocky Hock Baptist Church. Susan is a stay at home mom and a silversmith. Chris is a computer network administrator. Susan's beautiful handy work can be found at Susan Designs.
God has a way of putting people in our lives exactly when we need them. Several months ago the Lord sent a wonderful, godly friend my way. Although we have yet to meet face-to-face, the bond we have is deep and strong, because it is built on our shared love for Jesus Christ. Victoria encourages me, challenges me, and inspires me.
God created you for His pleasure. Pleasure means enjoyment, delight, and satisfaction. Say this out loud with me, "God created me for His enjoyment, for His delight, and for His satisfaction." Wow! That's awesome! One of our chief goals in life should be to bring pleasure to our Heavenly Father.
One way we can go about accomplishing this goal is through our worship of the Almighty God. What do you think of when you hear the word "worship"? Most people think of singing and of praise music. Dear friends, worship goes beyond singing and a melody.
Worship is a lifestyle of praise and service to the Lord. You can worship God on your way to work and you can worship God while sitting in carpool line. You can worship God while cleaning toilets and while folding laundry. You can worship God in the midst of puck and diarrhea. You can worship God alone or in a group. God desires that you worship Him with every part of your life.
"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to
offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.Romans 12:1, NIV
"The LORD is pleased only with thosewho worship Him and trust His love."Psalm 147:11, CEV
In the Word