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Burdened for us today

I emerged from my prayer time and Scripture reading this morning with a burden on my heart for our ranks. I see and hear of truly astonishing works of God in our day. The ink in my pen flows warm with affection this morning and free of pessimism and hopelessness. I don’t have the luxury today of writing an overly-involved article. I will jump straight to what’s on my heart.

We are warned in the Scriptures that darkness will increasingly rage as time hastens toward Christ’s return. We are not date-setters but this we know. His return is closer today than it was yesterday. And the enemy is angrier today than he was yesterday. (Rev.12:12) And he wants us. He wants our testimonies. He wants to render us ineffective and make us a laughingstock. He wants to come between us and distract us with ridiculous things, showy things, boastful things, petty things, divisive things so that we’ll miss the tidal wave of temptation and seduction begging to engulf us. Jesus told us to be prepared. And we’re not. If we were, we’d be poring over our Bibles and flat on our faces in prayer.  We’d come to our feet in the power of the Holy Spirit and preach and teach the Gospel with love and holy fire.

Instead, many believers – leaders and followers alike – will fall. Even servants who have had sincere and pure devotion to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 warns us this can happen.

And those many believers – leaders and followers alike – must be helped back to their feet. Biblically, compassionately, gently, diligently and completely. Churches must train mature men and women in the faith who walk in the Spirit to actively minister Galatians 6:1. You’ve got to know I’m not casting stones here. I well know what it’s like to be in the grips of bondage and in heaps of defeat and sin. I also know for a fact that, by the grace and mercy of Jesus, we can be transformed and old tendencies and repetitive cycles utterly broken.

We must hang on for dear life to the word repentance. Watch carefully as that word becomes less and less popular in our churches and on our Christian platforms. Do not think for a second there is no scheme of the darkness to see to it. I will not waste words here. I just ask you to go to the Scriptures and see all that hinges on repentance and start picturing the terrifying ramifications of its absence. In a Christian climate where we call less and less sin, we will call fewer and fewer to repentance. That’s not rocket science. Repentance is one of the most glorious rights hailed by the cry of Christ’s finished work on the cross. We get to repent. This is not our self-condemnation. This is not our self-loathing. This is our liberty. Our restoration. Our cleansing, whiter than snow. God delights to show us mercy and cast our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7)

No one wants to fall grievously and no one has to. Sin is not our master. We all sin and grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. We all long for the day when faith will become sight and that which is incomplete will be made perfect. But we do not have to fall headlong into a ditch and, if we do, not one of us has to remain there. Each person has the right to get up by the grace of Jesus. The one who refuses the fallen the right to get up – and on the same level ground – is in far graver sin than he or she.  God forbid that we would be a stumbling block to someone’s restoration.

We are  not victims of the darkness. We are children of light, children of the Day, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says. The difference between stumbling and falling is often the simple timing of our repentance. We don’t jump into a deep pit of sin. We take steps there. But, if we were to realize with that first or second step that we were already in trouble, we could repent right then. And we will have stumbled. But we will not have fallen.

Still, many will. And, by the power of Christ’s Cross and resurrection, each gets to grab hold of the hand of God and stand back up.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when He delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

I’ll end this with a cry to my sisters and brothers in Christ who are full of faith, believing voraciously in the power of the Word of God and for great works and wonders of the Holy Spirit in our day. Let’s tighten up our sanctification. Not our legalism, for the love of God. Our sanctification. Sanctification is a work of the Spirit and Truth, not of the law and the flesh. Let’s do some courageous self-examination and ask God to show us where we’re vulnerable to attack and where our feet are on the path toward a deep hole. Let’s shut illicit relationships down or they’ll shut us down. Let’s repent of our pride because it is the one guarantee of a pending fall. Let’s repent of our pretense. Let’s have the courage to face the brokenness in our lives and bring it without shame to Jesus. We can either deal with our stuff or I promise you our stuff will deal with us.

The enemy knows where we’re vulnerable. After thousands of years, he’s perfected his aim. He will not bother shooting many fiery darts where we are covered. He’s going for the bull’s eye, that glaring bald-spot where we refuse to come under the authority of Christ. We keep calling it a blind spot. Oh, we have blind spots alright but I don’t think they’re the biggest problem. We’re not blind to most of our disobedience and sin. We hope others are but we’re usually wide-eyed and well aware. It’s not a blind spot. It’s a bald-spot, uncovered because we so badly don’t want to give Jesus authority over it.

Here’s the thing. We who believe so much in the work of the Spirit in our day will be the biggest targets because the enemy knows the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. He can’t make it go away. He can only scheme to make it ineffective. And all that takes is to ridicule us into quenching the Spirit. Without the Spirit, the body of Christ is a corpse.

There is refinement and revival on the horizon according to the Scriptures. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to be part of it. I know you do, too. And we can. The burgeoning unpopularity of Christianity will prove over time to be purifying for us but God help us in the meantime. My plea this morning is that we open our eyes to the darkness coming for us. A tidal wave of seduction looms over us. We are being taken down behind the scenes by the thousands, feeling alone and isolated and having no idea how many are enduring the same kinds of suffering and defeat. Let’s come back together and get brushed off, cleaned up and educated in the Scriptures and fortified by the Spirit. Let’s own our brokenness, our enormous temptations and weaknesses and go back to the practice of true repentance and commit ourselves to the pursuit of sanctification. Let’s learn how to restore. Let’s learn how to recognize fruit of repentance. Let’s help each other back to our feet and learn how to stay on our feet.

Let’s be the Church, bruised but beautiful. Innocent as a dove. Wise as a serpent. Smart and humble.

 

 

 

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So Long, Insecurity…and a giveaway!

**CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS**
#388 – Debbie Kilgalin
#114 – Vachel Ping
#545 – Stephanie Bankhead
#253 – Karen Shivar
#105 – Missy Lukens
#775 – Faith Ragsdale
#132 – Sonya Lindgren
#533 – Kiersten Griffith
#757 – PTerronez
#89 – Susan McEachern
#62 – Emily Ann
#130 – Matt Devers
#600 – Grace W
#248 – Maxine Cobb
#411 – Vanessa
#519 – Marilyn F. Davis
#231 – Tammy Disch
#487 – Nancy D
#265 – Karen Edlund
#705 – Darla Barie
#170 – Fanci Benefield
#33 – Marcy Larance
#727 – Cari Batch
#219 – Jacquie Terada
#544 – Kelly Nickerson
#316 – Jaime G
#201 – Mary in NH
#461 – Kathryn M
#446 – Susan Lawrence
#814 – Amy Guth
#191 – Samantha
#58 – Bree McLaughlin
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Hi friends!
We have a fun giveaway for you today!   After watching Beth’s video below, leave your comment (one per person) to be a part of the random drawing. Comments will close Friday morning at 8:30AM CST, and 32 winners will be posted soon thereafter.  We hope you win!

 

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Want to Chime in with Questions to Work into 2nd Timothy Series?

Hey, you guys! I bet you can guess what my head’s down under right now.

Commentaries

 

Oh, man. It’s a ton of work but I love it so so much. Researching then writing in-depth Bible study curriculum is still my happy place. I’ve never gotten over it. Every few days I get a tweet from somebody who has just started or finished A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place and I think, often with a lump in my throat, what an invasive virus I caught from that very first journey. There in the pages of Exodus and in the detailed construction of that Old Testament Tabernacle and then in all that flipping to the New Testament to see it fulfilled, I fell so in love with Jesus and the Scriptures that I knew I’d study them in pursuit of Him for the rest of my days. Gah, I love it. I know so many of you do, too. The divine brilliance and beauty of the Bible still slays this woman right here.

The series I’m working on right now is on 2nd Timothy and will carry the title Entrusted. It will hit the shelves in September of 2016 so it won’t be a long wait at all. You will be so glad to know that Melissa is jumping in on this one with 2 articles a week like she did in the James series Mercy Triumphs. She also has a huge stack of resource books for her part of the study but the difference is, neither you nor I can read most of the titles of her books. I mostly point at her resources and say, “Man, that must be a real nail-biter.” But, boy, do I love what she does with them.

We won’t complete the written part of the series until June but the taping for the six sessions I’m teaching takes place next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I cannot beg your prayers loudly enough. Please ask God to pour out His Spirit on every part of the taping and on every participant and upon me as I serve and teach. WE WANT JESUS. We are seeking such a powerful and fresh work of His Spirit in this series. We’re looking for an Ephesians 3:20. Please intercede for us!

One of the concepts we will develop throughout the series is the profound connectedness between generations so poignantly illustrated in the relationship of Paul and Timothy. Our effectiveness for the sake of the gospel dramatically increases when our journeys overlap and our spiritual gifts converge and we learn with one another and from one another. We will be challenged to become vastly more deliberate in equipping and encouraging one another, on cheering one another on, and helping each other navigate difficulties and get back to our feet when we’ve been thrown on our backs. These things are invaluable in the journey of faith. They can be the difference between us staying the course and quitting.

Needless to say, our biggest objective will be to thoroughly study the verses of 2nd Timothy, deliberating on each exhortation and taking note of the process of connectedness between Paul and his son in the faith. But as an older woman who gets a huge charge out of seeing what Jesus is doing in fellow servants my age and watching Him raise up mighty servants in younger generations, I’ll also be weaving in whatever I have to give from my own experiences and my own journey where it seems appropriate. Things I learned the hard way. What’s been hardest and what’s been the most gloriously rewarding. Lord help me, there’s so much I don’t know and much I did wrong and much I can’t offer but, what I have, I want to give to this study. This is where you come in if you’re willing. I don’t just want to share aimlessly. I’d love to know what you wish I’d address.

So, here’s what I’d like for you to do. Think about what you wish you and I could talk about if we could grab a Starbucks together. Form it into a clear question – just one – and present it in a succinct blog comment to this post. You might even tell me very briefly why you’re asking. (For instance, I’m a 22 year old who feels called to…) Your question can be about walking with God in general or about leadership in particular or about teaching or communicating or about navigating ministry or family. What would you, a person of faith, ask of a woman of faith who’s been around the bend a few times? Anything’s game if it’s genuine and I’ll consider questions from brothers in Christ, too, if any feel like pitching one my way. I will carefully go through your questions and answer as many of them as I can through the process of teaching and writing this study.

If you read the comments and see that someone has already asked your question, tell me that you wanted to ask the same one. That will make it stand out in my selection. I’d love to be able to mention your first name and the city you call home when I share your question and my response if that’s okay but, if you’d rather I pose the question anonymously in the series, just say so and I’ll gladly do that.

Sound like something you’d like to take part in? I’d be so grateful! I want to serve. NOT JUST TALK. I want to know what you’d find most helpful from a woman of my sort, whatever that weird sort may be. This blog community proved absolutely invaluable in the Esther series (The Red Book!) and in So Long Insecurity through the surveys I offered to fit those themes. Your input would be solid gold in this one.

I’m so grateful for your help! Honored to serve you. Please pray for me as I prepare for next week’s taping! Bless you today!

Beth

 

 

 

 

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LPL Reno Recap Video

Living Proof Live Reno 2016 | Recap from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

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SSMT Celebration 2016 RECAP

We can’t let too much time escape without recounting all that God did at our recent SSMT Celebration. It was raucous fun! We had 43 states represented, a few Canadian sisters and even a sister from Spain! How is that for some JOY!! We know that many more of you wanted to come but were unable to due to illness, financial challenges and various other reasons. So, here’s a little peek into the weekend…Beth speaking 4842-49

Our Siestas came ready with spirals in hand and the Word of God on their lips. Some of them even donned matching t-shirts, boas and beads.worship 5239-35

Our very own Travis Cottrell was on hand to lead us in worship and Siesta Mama Beth gave a fabulous teaching on the word NEVERTHELESS.   worship 4890-61

 

If you are hitting yourself…wishing you could hear the message, we have good news! For the first time ever, we taped the message. The teaching will air at a later date on Beth’s new TV show, Living Proof, on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Keep your eyes open for that in the near future. The Siestas had a blast being part of the live audience and even got to take part in a little game called “Wheel of Favor.” Think “Wheel of Fortune” but Siesta Mama style.  Beth speaking 5077-56

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The weekend culminated on Saturday morning. Everyone recited their memory verses to a partner. As I looked across a sea of women with spirals in hand, I couldn’t help but think about the power of the Word being spoken out loud in those small groups. It was like incense rising to the throne of God. I thought of all the individual tears and struggles and victories won. As they spoke aloud their verses, I wondered what specific promise were proclaimed over challenging situations and the battles won. THESE are the moments this ministry lives for and anticipates with great faith. Over the weekend, we had 228 ladies say ALL 24 verses! AMAZING!

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If you’ve never tried to memorize the Word of God, we encourage you to give it a try. Grab an accountability partner and get ready to see God do something BIG. For those of you that participated with us in 2015, but couldn’t come…we want you to know that you were missed. We pray that you get to CELEBRATE with God in your own special way. Lastly, we do have a few SSMT charms left over from the weekend. If you completed the SSMT in 2015 with us, simply email your name and address to Jenn Hamm (jhamm@lproof.org) and she will put your name in the drawing to mail you a little sussy.  **UPDATE: Our drawing is over. Thank you so much for participating!!

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Thanks so much for journeying with us. We consider it the biggest blast to get to serve you. May God blow open the doors wide for His Kingdom in 2016. Keep Memorizing!

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Living Proof LIVE: Reno, NV – Scholarship Tickets!

 LPL_box_leaf_LONG 2016

NEVADA! This weekend Living Proof LIVE kicks off the year in Reno! Who is coming?

If you are new to Living Proof LIVE, we want you to know that you can count on a fresh word this weekend. Our teacher is diligently seeking God (as she does for each event) to know what message He would have her share with you. We have a good Father, and He sees and cares for each of you.

This year, our scholarship tickets are set aside especially for first-timers!
We have fifteen (15) tickets to share with you for Reno: first come, first served. If you have never attended an LPL, or if the cost would keep you from coming, one of these tickets is for you!  Newbies, just give Kimberly Meyer a call at our office and she will set you up. Toll-free 1-888-700-1999 (NOT 800).

We sure hope to see you this weekend! To purchase tickets, or for detailed information about this weekend, visit Lifeway.com here.

Come, as Beth opens up the Scriptures, taste and see that the LORD is good!

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 24!

Congratulations!! You did it!!

As we wrap a bow on our SSMT year and prepare for the upcoming Celebration, we want to send along our encouragement to you to continue in this great work.  Some of you have already told us you are continuing to memorize on your own, or have even formed your own local teams.  We couldn’t be happier to hear it!

Beth and LPM will plan to see you right back here next Jan 2017 to link arms together to hide God’s Word in our hearts. He is worthy!

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 23!

BethanyScott
Hi, Siestas! What a fun privilege it is to share this blog space with y’all today. My name is Bethany Scott. I’m twenty-six, and I live in Magnolia, TX (just north of Houston) with my husband of five years and our baby girl. My husband is a high school chemistry teacher and football coach, and I am blessed with my dream job of being a stay-at-home mom.

A little about me…
– My reading list (both fiction and non-fiction) is unending, and I’m always in the middle of two or three books.
– I believe life is better when faced with a Starbucks grande vanilla latte. Or a white chocolate mocha.
– I will almost always choose trees, birds, and good walking shoes over a shopping mall and stilettos.
– My church—Bayou City Fellowship—is my family, and is filled with the most generous, Jesus-loving, faith-FULL people I know.
– I love learning new things and began learning Greek this past year with a small group of women.

My verse is 2 Corinthians 1:10, in the New International Version: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.”

Some of the wording in this verse is pretty intense, but sometimes life is intense, isn’t it? To deliver, according to dictionary.com, means “to save, rescue, or set free from.” If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ you have been saved from certain spiritual death, rescued from darkness, and set free from condemnation. But this verse tells us that deliverance is not limited to a one-time event. Just days before I came across this passage, my family and I were in a very traumatic car accident. Our lives had been spared, and we were rejoicing in that fact. But my mind and my emotions had suffered a blow far worse than my bodily injuries. I had been “delivered from such a deadly peril,” but I needed to be delivered AGAIN.
From my fear
My memories
My doubt
My guilt
My nightmares
My anger
My sadness
My pain.

We often speak of deliverance as a thing of the past, and rightfully so. “He has delivered me from ____” is a testimony in a nutshell. What I love about 2 Corinthians 1:10 is that it’s facing forward. The things I need to be delivered from are usually connected with the past. But hope looks ahead with confidence. Because He has, we can know that He will. What hope. He has never left me sitting in a pit once I’ve asked Him to pull me out. When nothing else is certain, He is certain. He is my solid foundation and the only One who can save me from my sin, myself, my situation. Maybe you need deliverance from fear. From abuse. From chronic worry. From illness. From your thoughts. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have already been delivered once. And, Sister, he WILL deliver you again.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 22!

Amy
Hello Siestas! I pray you are well and blessed.

My name is Amy. I grew up in Texas and New Mexico. I’m blessed to have been raised in a loving home where I grew up as a Pastor’s kid. While I am no longer living in either of those states, I still claim Texas as my ‘Home Sweet Home.’ I love to read, cook, organize everything, and writing. Just recently I took up knitting!
 
I chose a scripture that while I know it – I don’t live it. For that reason I don’t have it memorized like I should. It carries so much promise I knew I needed to share it with you.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NLT

 

I could write about my insecurities and fears all day. In fact, I have re-written this post four times now. Why? I have a fear of what other people will think of me – of how I will sound when people read it. The funny thing is that I want to be a writer. My heart and passion are in encouraging others, listening to their stories, and teaching God’s Word.

 
It has taken me a few years to find out this is what I really want to do with my life. My education is not in English or Communication, but I have figured out that it doesn’t matter. As my pastor says, “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

 
For years I have allowed my insecurities and fears to control me. I allowed the enemy to use them to hold me back from God’s call on my life. It has crept into my life in many areas: with my weight (a struggle that has lasted over fifteen years now), in finding a spouse, with other relationships, with job opportunities, with life goals I’ve wanted to achieve, and so much more.

 
Coming into this year I knew I had to change focus. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t know the issues I needed to deal with, or even the solutions to those issues, it was in the action to take the steps to achieve them. We’ve all been there at one time or another, right? Take my weight issue, for example: I’ve known for years I’ve needed to admit it, work on it, and conquer it. My problem wasn’t admitting I needed to lose weight. I had admitted that to family, friends and even myself. My problem wasn’t in knowing what to do – I had read everything, been to a dietitian, nutritionist, a few trainers, and tried many diets. My problem was simply doing it.

 
I have a wonderful younger brother. He has grown into an amazing man of God. He is my best friend and the best person in my life when it comes to being honest. He isn’t afraid of hurting my feelings. He loves me enough to speak truth. He talked to me the other night about this very issue of weight. His words, while truthful and hard-hitting, held so much grace. While I was carrying on about feeling alone with no one around to help me, he said “Amy, in the physical sense you are alone. You are alone because you are the only one who can physically do this. I can’t step into your body and make you – it’s up to you. But in the spiritual sense, you should know better. You are so strong. Physically you are strong. Spiritually you are strong. But you’re also strong mentally. If there is anyone I know who can do this it is you. You really are a warrior. You just have these jabs the enemy keeps hitting you with. You are in this for yourself!”

 
I need to hear those words. My eyes watered when he called me a warrior. I don’t know that I’ve ever been called that before. It made me realize that I’ve allowed my insecurities and fears to control me for too long – not just in my weight, but in many areas in my life. To hear someone I admire so dearly call me a warrior! I associate warrior with words like boldness, courage, dedication, steadfast, determined, unstoppable. To see my brother’s confidence in me helped me to understand that is how Christ sees me – like a warrior! I needed this to kick me into high gear.

 
Now I’m determined. I won’t allow fear or insecurity to hold me back from what God is calling me to do. It doesn’t matter what the issue, I can conquer it. I am a daughter of the Most High God. Dear Siesta, you are too!

 
I want to encourage you that whatever issues you are facing this year, remember that Jesus adores you and calls you His daughter. His Word says that we can confidently walk forward in life wearing strength and dignity as our fashion statement. We can walk into our future knowing that we are warriors for Christ. We don’t have to know the future to face it with confidence. The Word says we laugh without fear of the future! We don’t have to fear what is to come, our future mistakes, our insecurities and how they will play out.

 
We just do our part and take a step. Our confidence comes in knowing he is taking us one step at a time as Psalms 37:23 says: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” NLT

 
My prayer for us, Siestas, is that we take Him at His Word. He delights in the details of our lives, He knows what is to come, and we can confidently take the step, the action, and move forward, without fear.

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LPL Toronto Recap Video

So many were praying for you, LPL Toronto! It sounds like you had a downpour of God’s presence where Jesus was pleased to show up and show off!

 

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