Basic Training

0This past weekend, we continued the latest teaching series at Mountain Lake Church, Call Of Duty. In it, we’re tackling some issues pertinent to us as Believers in God: submitting to authority and learning to defend ourselves against spiritual attack. You see, if we know how to follow our Commanding Officer, how to submit to His authority over our lives, and how to prepare ourselves to defend our faith, we’ll live lives that not only please God, but are also more victorious.  Who couldn’t use a little more victory in their lives, right?

So, Shawn taught out of Ephesians 6:12-18.  Take a look:

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Those words brought questions to my mind: How are my defenses?  Am I doing all I can to prepare myself to stand firm in my faith, lead others, and defend myself against spiritual attack?  Do I recognize when the enemy is attacking?  

What about you?  Are you prepping to be all you can be? Or, is the enemy catching you off-guard? A little basic training could help us all, couldn’t it?  So, for some practical wisdom about how to train yourself spiritually, click here and here.  I’ll give you an inside look into my own “basic training” regimen. And, if you have some helpful tips, I’d love to hear them!

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Sunday Summaries: Makin’ A Comeback

Making_ComebackWe’ve been inundated with stories of lies lately, haven’t we?  I’ve read stories about both Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o on news apps on my iPhone, watched talk show pundits give their two cents, and yes, I tuned in to see Oprah’s ground-breaking interview.  I watched two very different men dealing with two sides of the same coin.  One needs forgiveness for the lies he told; the other is the victim of lies told to him.

Two different stories with the same results: hurt, betrayal, and distrust.

Everyone has an opinion, of course.  A quick scan of the internet leaves no doubt that most people want to see justice done in both cases.  Naturally, we all want to see the bad guy get what he deserves, to suffer the consequences of his actions, and to see justice served.

Unless, of course, we’re the bad guy. 

When we’re the one on the hot seat, we take a much different approach, don’t we?  We hope people will assume the best about us, give us the benefit of the doubt, give us a second chance, or lessen the penalty.  After all, we had good intentions, right?  If they knew our heart, they wouldn’t be too hard on us, right? Yep, that what we hope to get….but it’s not always what we give.

This weekend at Mountain Lake, we took a closer look at a story of betrayal and forgiveness.  No, we didn’t watch Lance Armstrong’s interview. We listened to a story Jesus told in Luke 15 about a son who betrayed his father.  As the story unfolds, the father forgives, but the older brother harbors bitterness that his brother didn’t suffer more consequence from his bone-headed choices.

Our pastor shared an incredibly thought-provoking message, and in the end asked us a piercing question:

Who do you identify more with: the father or the older brother?

Do you tend to forgive others and release the pain of past hurts like the father, or do you find yourself angry or bitter about wrongs committed against you?

Sometimes, it’s not a matter of forgiveness; it’s a matter of future trust.  This weekend, Shawn helped us all find a way to release forgiveness and navigate the trust issue by showing us how Jesus responds to those who hurt Him.  If you missed this weekend’s message – or you simply need to soak it in one more time – click here to watch it for yourself.

And, join us next week at Mountain Lake as we continue Makin’ A Comeback. It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over!

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Help! I’m A Spiritual Zombie!

Zombies.  Half-dead, half-alive.  Not fully conscious.  They are numb to the life around them, and their only purpose is to make through the day.

In Atlanta, we’re zombie-crazy since the hit TV show, The Walking Dead, is filmed here.  I know several people who have donned their best zombie costumes and auditioned to be extras on the show.  My husband records every episode, and I try to watch along with him, but honestly, it gets too gross for me.  I’m such a wimp.  Those zombies freak me out.

The truth is, however, I’ve been a zombie.  So has my husband.  And the other pastors at MLC.  No, I haven’t auditioned to be on the show. But, I have been half-dead.

Spiritually speaking.

I have experienced the life-changing grace of God , yet I will admit that I have lived through seasons when I grew numb to the excitement that I felt when I first met Him.  I have, at times, been lulled into thinking that I’m ok because I’m busy doing good things. I have excused behavior that dishonors the God I claim to serve.  I have rationalized my actions.  Then, that line of thinking caused me to ignore or not hear the still, small voice of God in my life, and I missed lessons He wanted to teach or opportunities He placed before me.  Spiritually speaking, I’m wasn’t fully alive.  I’m was numb.

I have been a spiritual zombie….more than once.

Jesus has a warning for those of us who have been bitten by the zombie virus:

Revelation 3: 1b-3 “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.  Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.”

I bet you have been a zombie at times, too, but let me encourage you.  There IS more to life than going through the motions.  There IS more to faith than a list of do’s and don’ts.  There IS more to a relationship with God than checking church attendance off a list.

You CAN be fully alive. You CAN hear the voice of God.  You CAN recognize His activity around you.

At MLC, my hubby is teaching a message series called “Help! I’m A Spiritual Zombie!” and I’d love for you to join me.  Not local? Click here to watch online.  We’re even beginning a bible reading plan to bring us all back to life.

You don’t have to be a spiritual zombie.  There’s help for all of us.

 

Sunday Summaries: Do Something

This weekend my hubby kicked off our latest teaching series, Do Something.  We’re talking about faith.  Faith in action, actually.  Hence, the title DO SOMETHING.  Get it?

Here’s the bottom line: Discipleship is measured more by what we do than what we know. 

Let me explain.  Many of us have a working knowledge of the Bible.  We are familiar with tons of verses and can even recite a few.  We certainly know God’s Top Ten – you know, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery.  In other words, we KNOW what God says.

On the flip side, however, many of us don’t act on that knowledge.

We know it’s better to give than to receive, but we aren’t generous with our resources. 

We know we should put other people first, but we tend to look out for our own needs.

We know we shouldn’t lie, but that doesn’t stop us from telling those little white lies from time to time.

But, God clearly instructs His followers to DO SOMETHING!  Check out James 1: 22:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

According to Scripture, we must KNOW God’s Word and we must DO SOMETHING about it!

In our worship services, Shawn said a couple of things that nestled deep down in my heart.

“We only believe the parts of the Bible that we put into practice.” (Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?)

“DOING isn’t the means of becoming a good Christian, but it should always be the byproduct.”

Of course, he said so much more, too, so click here to watch the entire message for yourself.  You might just find yourself doing something!

Sunday Summaries: The Voice

I love watching all the singing competitions on TV.  Watching contestants chase their dreams – and sometimes have them dashed – makes for some good entertainment.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed them even more because I’ve known a few people who not only tried out for the shows, but made it pretty far.  Call it Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon if you want, but I feel like I know Blake Shelton now.  And, Adam Levine is a personal friend.  Kind of.

At Mountain Lake we’re having a little fun with a teaching series called The Voice. No, we’re not holding a talent contest, although I might have a decent amount of fun listening to amateurs who think they’re Bono.  We’re actually talking about THE Voice: hearing what God says to us.

In a world where people often do what feels good or seems right, followers of God must know the difference between our own desires and the will of God.  So, how do we know the difference? How can we know what God wants us to do….the decisions He wants us to make…..the paths He wants us to travel?

We listen to God.

This weekend at MLC, my hubby shared the ways in which we hear the voice of God.  Intrigued? You should be.  God definitely speaks…..He speaks to me consistently.  He is LOUD in my life.  Often.

If you need to hear from God, click here to watch the message and learn how God can be LOUD in your life, too. You’ll gain some extremely practical steps for hearing and understanding The Voice.

There’s absolutely no one else you need to hear from more.  Listen.

 

Sunday Summaries

When I think of the word legacy, my mind immediately goes to my family.  Let’s face it: our spouses and our kids are watching us.  They see our actions, our reactions, our good moments, and our well…..the times we completely lose it.  Like the time I told my oldest daughter she was never again allowed to turn the radio dial in my car because she drove me crazy with her incessant station-changing.

I was serious.

She laughed out loud.

Leaving a legacy of a flipped-out mom is not exactly what I’m going for, though.  To be sure, I flip out more than I’d like, but I also have a plan to model a Godly life for my family.  This weekend at MLC, our Family Pastor, Steve Aylor, taught us some key ways to do just that.  He shared some stories from his own life which motivated me to get my head in the game, so to speak.  That’s a good thing since Summer is here, the kids are with me full-time again.

My plan is nothing spectacular.  I simply have a goal to lead well as often as I can. The plan is two-fold: teachable moments and intentional living.

I take advantage of teachable moments – with my husband and my kids.  I share with my husband what I’m learning in Scripture or in relationship with others, which usually jump-starts a conversation.  You’d be surprised how much both of us learn from those talks.  And, of course, I use the things my kids see and hear as a springboard to share Godly wisdom.  Not in a preachy kind of way, either.  Just casual conversations to give and get insight.  Simple, really.

Intentional living is the other part of my plan.  Living life on purpose, for a purpose.  In other words, I plan out the good our family will do…..the ways we will honor God with our time.  Volunteerism, service, generosity, personal spiritual growth, etc.  Following God is important to me, and I want to leave a legacy of passionately serving Him.  So, my kids not only see me serving and leading, I pull them into the mix by helping them find ways to serve, too.  Again, simple.

Leaving a legacy for our families isn’t as difficult or unattainable as we might think.  As a matter of fact, you can start today!  Click here to watch this week’s message and get some ideas to get started.  Then, get your head in the game and start out-living your life!

 

 

 

Sunday Summaries: Leave a Legacy Weekend

This weekend, my church wrapped up our Legacy teaching series by coming together as a family to give a generous offering to accomplish some incredible goals.

It’s our way of leaving a legacy.  A legacy that will tell our friends, our children, and our community what – and Who – really matters to us.

I’ll be honest, though.  Giving an offering like that isn’t always easy.  I’m tempted to think of all the other ways I could spend money – a coat of paint on my house, a car, or a Mac – rather than how I might use money toward things with much more eternal value.  That’s why I think it’s important to get perspective on our lives….God’s perspective.

A quick look over my life reveals that God has lavished His love on me.  He has revealed Himself to me time and time again.  He has given my life purpose and fulfillment.  He has protected me, provided for me, and brought pleasure to my life.

But, I don’t serve God for what He does for me.  I serve God for WHO He is.

He is faithful. He is trustworthy.  He is good.  He is righteous.  He is love.  He is my Savior.

When I consider who God is and what He does, well, I am compelled to bless Him with my time, my service, my money, and my obedience.  And, more importantly, I gain a new perspective on my life….and what really matters.

So, I give.  I leave an eternal legacy.  And, I bless God.

There’s no better way to live.

Click here to watch the entire message for yourself.

What about you?  As a Believer, how can you thank God today for all that He has done for you?  Why not take some time to walk down memory lane with Him.  You just might find a new perspective on your life, too.

Sunday Summaries: Legacy

So we’ve been talking about legacy at MLC lately.  Did you know that you are leaving a legacy with the way you live your life?  It’s true.  Whether on accident or on purpose, you are influencing the people around you and leaving an indelible impression.

Thought-provoking, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get caught up in the daily details of my life and completely overlook the long-term impact of my life.

I find myself making school lunches, doing chores, running the kids to appointments, serving at church, and running late for my son’s baseball practice, only to get halfway there and discover he forgot his bat. Fail. Turn around.  Try again.  At the end of the day, I fall into bed….with a quick look at Pinterest…..and fall asleep.

I confess.  Plenty of days have slipped past without a thought to the legacy I’m leaving.

That’s why I have a plan.  A plan to serve.  A plan to show love to others.  A plan to give.  A plan to be generous. You see, with a plan in place to accomplish the good God wants me to do, I can go through my daily routine knowing I’m leaving a legacy, even when I don’t give it a second thought.

Let me give you some examples.

*Our financial budget is designed to set aside our tithe and offerings.  When the money is set aside for a specific purpose, it doesn’t get spent in another way!

*I schedule time to mentor others.  Literally, I set aside certain days of the month to spend with ladies I’m mentoring or close friends.  If I don’t schedule it, random busy-ness will overtake my life and rob me of this opportunity.

*Shawn and I have date nights and family nights on the calendar.  Although our lives might be full of appointments and travel, our family doesn’t get lost in the mix.

*I plan ways to celebrate special days for the people closest to me.  A simple card for a birthday or anniversary can speak volumes of love.  I should never be too busy for that.

These are certainly not the only things I plan for, but you get the idea.  With a plan in place, I will leave a Godly legacy: a mom who cherishes time with her kids, a Christian who spiritually invests into others, a friend who encourages, a follower of God who obediently gives her finances to advance the mission of the church.  My heart’s desire is to be generous with who I am and what I have.

At MLC this weekend, my hubby said something that stuck with me:

Generosity is the result of a decision, not of our circumstances.

If we wait until life slows down and circumstances are conducive, we’ll never be generous and do the good God wants us to do: get to know our neighbor, tithe, meet a friend for coffee, serve at church, or give focused attention to our families. But, with a plan in place, we’ll influence others and make a difference.

Check out Proverbs 4: 25-27: Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.  Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Click here to watch the message from this weekend, and you just might discover a new motivation to leave a legacy that will impact others…..and honor God.

Sunday Summaries: Legacy

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a classic.  Countless lessons, children’s songs, and sermons have been gleaned from the book of Genesis about this man and his family.

My favorite part of their story is when God paints a picture of their future, complete with phrases like “great nation” and “blessing” and “your name will be great.”  Of course, all those promises were conditional on Abraham’s and Sarah’s obedience.

So, what did they have to do to gain such greatness?  Oh, nothing really.  Just let go.

Let go of their family and move to….well, God didn’t really spell that one out for them.

Let go of familiar surroundings.  Moving from day to day had its fair share of stresses.

Let go of control.  Not knowing what tomorrow held probably left them feeling helpless at times.

Yeah, just let go.  No big deal.

Wait.  That IS a big deal.  I struggle to “let go” every day!  Letting go of my agenda, my schedule, my way of doing things, and my time is no easy feat.  Letting go of my wallet is taxing, too.  As a matter of fact, letting go is difficult in tons of areas.

What would have happened to Abraham and Sarah if they had not released control of their lives to God?  If they had not let go?  What if they valued their family, their house, their stuff, or their time more than they valued God?  Thankfully, Abraham and Sarah did obey.  Because they obeyed and didn’t withhold their best, God kept His promise to bless “all peoples on earth.”

That’s the transferable principle: Legacy is conditional on obedience.

What legacy are you leaving? Watch this weekend’s message from my hubby and discover how you might get involved in what God is doing right here at MLC and leave mind-blowing legacy! Have a great Monday!

 

 

Sunday Summaries: Scars

Scars. Emotional. Relational. Spiritual.

We all have them.

We’ve all experienced failure, loss, and disappointment.

We’ve all messed up and experienced the hurt that follows.

We all have scars.

This weekend at Mountain Lake Church, we heard the story of Peter, a man with a few scars of his own.  Maybe you know his story.  When the chips were down and Peter had the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jesus, Peter denied he even knew Jesus.  What??!!  Wasn’t this the same guy who professed undying love and loyalty to Jesus?  Yep.  Peter failed in an epic way for all the world to see.  He probably felt all the emotions you and I feel when we’ve fallen flat on our face – shame, regret, guilt, loneliness, and yes, he probably wondered if Jesus would still love him, let alone allow him back into His inner circle.

Can you relate to Peter?  Have you experienced an epic failure that made you feel like the church would cave in if you walked through the doors?  Have you been the focus of the water cooler talk?  Have you wondered if God would let you back in His inner circle? If so, you definitely relate to Peter.

You know what I love most about our God? He knows exactly who we are and what we’ve done (and what we’ll do in the future), and He treasures us anyway.  As a matter of fact, that’s what Easter is all about – Jesus paid the ultimate price to confirm His love for us….for people who have messed up…..for people with scars of regret, failure, and fractured relationships.  Read John 21 to see how Jesus confirmed His love for Peter, but what is most important is not HOW Jesus confirmed His love for him, but that He DID confirm His love.

Jesus loved Peter in spite of his failure, and Jesus will do the same for you and me.  Sometimes we have a hard time believing that, but Scripture is clear.  Jesus loves hurting, messed up people.  THAT’S good news!

Click here to watch the entire message from this weekend, and stick with us as we continue this teaching series.  I have a feeling God has a lot to teach us!