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Turning Away from the Former Days

Today, I want to bring you a glimpse into the blog, Happy, Healthy, Holy Home. A blog written by our dear sister in the Lord, and young mother. I want to give you an idea of how she tackles our preconceptions to the ground and reminds us that God’s word is right, good and just.

Why the Former Days are Not Where we need to Focus our Sights

Turning away from former days | R16Sixteen.wordpress.com #R1616

In this article she is bringing to light our tendency to rely on “the good old days” as if they serve as a banner for what was right and good. But, we must be careful when doing such, because the former days may not be what we hype them up to be. When we, in the church, seek to rely on the old things, we miss that we live in the here and now. We may be missing that we are the church, not that we were the church. Jesus IS, today! We must work for today, because tomorrow isn’t promised, but yesterday is gone.

When we seek to rely on what the church was, how things were in the “good old days” we may tend to belittle, exclude, or push aside those who are young. If we do this, we may be pushing them aside, quenching their desire to work for the Lord. We should rather, seek to encourage, uplift, and work alongside them both as teachers and servants, turning aside from the former days and turning to the here and now, embracing the church of today, bringing praise to God today.

Turning away from former days | R16Sixteen.wordpress.com #R1616

They Weren’t the Good Old Days [Lessons from Haggai]

Below is a preview of Chantelle’s article posted at Happy, Healthy, Holy Home. To read the post in its entirety please click over to read all that this beautiful sister in the Lord is bringing to light on His behalf.

Ah, the “good ol‘ days,” when tea was cheaper, people were nicer, and nothing bad ever happened. I think every young person has had to sit and listen while those older than them tell them how terrible things are now, how wonderful things were in the past, and how they will never be that good ever again. Everything was better then.

There is no point in arguing. Those days were the best, and they will never be that way ever, ever again… or so we are told.

In my youthful naivety, I used to believe what they said. I believed that the youth today just didn’t care as much anymore. I believed that the church was dying. I believed in the depravity of the present. I believed that the past growth was unable to be replicated.

But I don’t believe that anymore. In fact, I have come to believe that this attitude of pining for the past and putting down the future is one of the very problems we have with moving forward and experiencing church growth today, and I believe I have the Bible’s backing for my beliefs.

There is a verse that every person needs to hear, young and old:

“Say not, “What is the cause that the former days were better than these?” for you do not ask wisely concerning this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Solomon was an old man full of regret. If he were to look back, he could definitely say that the past was better for him, yet he said that this was an unwise thing to do. To paraphrase, he says, “It’s foolishness to talk about the “good old days.”

But why is it so unwise to dwell upon the “good old days? Well, when you look back and wish for the good old days, you have a number of problems that you face (as outlined by my amazing husband):

It wasn’t as good as you remember. You remember one thing, but the reality is in fact that those days were far, far different from what you remember. It’s like when you live overseas and dream of the food back home, then when you get back and eagerly order your first dish, it just isn’t quite right. Hindsight is not completely 20/20. It’s seen through rose-coloured glasses.

Even if it was as good as you remember, it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t change your present situation. It can never be that way again. If you look backwards instead of forwards, you will never be able to grow as God has asked you to.

It is very likely the failings of the past that have led to the problems of the present. Okay, so those days may have been good, but there must have been something lacking for the next generation to be “so bad.” As small but important things get neglected over time, things change for the worse.

Dwelling on “the good old days” gets you nowhere. When you look back, you miss the beauty and opportunities that are right in front of you. As long as you are looking backwards, you will never see the opportunities you have today to further the Lord’s cause.

by Chantelle Swayne Read the rest it only gets better.

Have you met, either online or in real life, our dear sister Chantelle Swayne? She is a young mom to a gorgeous new baby boy. She is from Australia, married to an American, and together they are serving as missionaries in Singapore. I ask if you’ve met her online because that’s where I’ve been privileged to meet her, although I’m hoping that this summer I will be meeting her at PTP.

She is bravely, boldly even, serving the Lord both in Singapore and online. She writes on her blog Happy, Healthy, Holy Home, tackling the roles of womanhood, motherhood, wife-hood, and most especially Christianity. She is sharing the truth from God’s word in every aspect of her life. She inspires me, and spurs me on with her joy, and dedication to her work.

That’s why I wanted to be sure you knew about her. If you are a sister in the Lord, I urge you to pop over and be encouraged by her yourself. You might find yourself challenged. You might find yourself looking within and asking yourself some hard questions. But, you will soon discover that it’s right and good to reflect on your heart and learn, grow and draw closer to the Lord as Chantelle encourages you to do so.

Follow Chantelle on Facebook: Happy, Healthy, Holy HomeHappy Healthy Holy Home

Team Member – Renée

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Undeserved Service

When Service Looks Unimaginable

unimaginable Service

Our roles in the body are complex. We have many parts to play. Learning to prioritize our roles can sometimes be a daunting task. But, perhaps, only because we make it so.

1 Corinthians 14:33, NKJV

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints”.

If we simply obey His word, put first things first and follow where He leads, we can’t go wrong.

We are called to be obedient to Christ, to worship our Father through Christ, to honor our roles in our families. Husbands are to be the head of the wife in love, wives as submissive to husbands, loving our children and being keepers of the home. Within the church we are to be submissive to our elders, working with our deacons, hospitable, loving and kind in fellowship within the body. In the world we are called to be lights of Christs love to others speaking truth in love.

For some the call to serve is in the mission field, for others it is in the local congregation and still for others it remains in the home training up children for their future service of the King. But, what if the place you are called to doesn’t at all look like what you imagined it would look like?

Lisa Smith from the blog Quirks and Chaos shares her thoughts on service when it doesn’t look like what you may have thought it would. Be sure to click See More to read through the entire post. It is a beautifully written post from the heart of a mother.

What did I do to deserve this?

Originally posted on Quirks and Chaos, Thursday, January 9, 2014 by Lisa Smith

What did I do to deserve a kid with special needs?
What did I do to deserve a kid that cannot express himself well enough to have a conversation?
What did I do to deserve a kid who cannot reciprocate my feelings of love?
What did I do to deserve a kid who can only think literally, a kid who never “gets” a joke, a kid who can never think “outside the box” or understand an idiom unless it is explained to him?
What did I do to deserve a kid that cannot empathize or sympathize with others, a kid who will never be able to see someone else’s perspective?

 See More…

Undeserved Blesssings

The Lord knows our hearts, after all He created it. He knows what we are capable of and where we can best serve within the body. He knows how we can best be of service to others and in what ways we can be glorify Him more than we know ourselves. He places us in just the right place and circumstances at just the right time. All He asks of us is a willing heart to be obedient to His will in our lives. Lisa understands this and chooses to see joy in the service of her King, even when it isn’t what she deserves.

Lisa SmithLisa Smith is a minister’s wife and the mother of seven children ranging in ages nine to twenty-five.  Lisa is a graduate of Harding University and writes Bible class material for Hanna Publications.   Her blog called “Quirks and Chaos” allows Lisa to share her experiences in parenting her two youngest children who have special needs.  Her readers are both entertained and educated as they discover what it means for a family to live with autism and ADHD.

~This Post Written by Team Member: Renee Brown

 

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Fixing our Eyes upon God

Encouragement for Times of Reflection and Prayer

Times of Struggle

As we seek to dedicate our lives in service to the LORD, we often find ourselves dwelling in the here and now. We get caught up in the struggles of this life and can lose sight of our goal.

Maybe you have been reading these articles of encouragement for service and thinking that right now is just not the right time, or that you are struggling just to make it through one day with your current responsibilities, so how can you add additional ones of service to others.

We at R16:16 want to say, it’s o.k. and we understand. We all go through periods of struggles, these are times when we are called to lean upon the Lord. In Christ’s ministry there were times when he was among the people serving as well as times when He was prayerful. Perhaps this is your time to be prayerful.

1 Timothy 2:5

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,”

You are not alone. You have a mediator with the Father,here on earth, became a man, and experience all points of temptation just as we do. So He stands at the ready with God, mediating on our behalf. He knows there are times of prayer and reflection and times of service and teaching, and so do we. 

Amy blogs at “Why Amy Smiles.” She too knows what it’s like to be in a place of struggle. She wants to encourage you as well. The following is an excerpt from her blog. Be sure to link through to see more and read her entire article. It is an excellent reminder that when we are in the valley, we should look up to the Father for peace and comfort.

Out With the Old

Originally posted: Jan. 2 2013 at Why Amy Smiles
All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible

2013 is done and gone. And frankly, I’m glad to see it go. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this past year has been one of the worst years of my life. But in addition to making one miserable, having a rotten year can also be an excellent and effective teacher. Here are three lessons I’ve learned:
First, I’ve learned to love the Psalms. They say misery loves company, and there is something very comforting about having someone else pour out his heart in words I can’t seem to find in mine. Just listen to a few of the many verses of the Psalms I’ve relied on this past year:
 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. (94:19)
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them. (34:7)
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (73:2, 23-24, 26)
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Use this time of reflection and pray for strength, knowledge and wisdom. Find comfort in God’s scriptures and allow Him to lead your heart to the place where once again you can find the call of service.
Amy AlbersAmy is a minister’s wife who lives in Texas and spends her days homeschooling her four kids. She believes there is always a reason to smile, but that sometimes you have to look really hard to find it. She usually has way too many irons in the fire, but thanks God daily for her full, busy life.
~ Article written by Team Member Renee Brown
 

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Virtuous Servant

Are you a Willing Participant in the Service of Our King

Willing Servant
Are you a virtuous servant? Do you lovingly, willingly set to the work of a servant? Or, do you grumble and complain each time the deacon comes to ask if you can help with____. Maybe you don’t actually grumble. But, in your heart/mind do you think, “Why doesn’t he get someone else, he always comes to me.”

We humans can get so caught up in our selves that we often forget that as Christians we are in communion with the Spirit of God. He knows our hearts, minds and attitudes. When we are asked to serve do we do it gladly as to the Lord?

This month, we encourage you to prayerfully consider how you are presenting your gifts of service to the Father. Listen truly to your heart and determine for yourself if you are a loving, willing participant in the service of our King.

10 Questions to Consider When Called to Service

  1. When asked to be of service do I grumble within my own heart?
  2. When acts of service are announced, do I willingly volunteer to fill any needed role?
  3. When I see something that needs to be done, do I wait to be asked, or do I jump in and serve the LORD?
  4. Do I look for someone else to pass the buck to, or do I receive the task gladly?
  5. Am I willing to receive instruction on how the task is to be performed, or do I only do it my own way?
  6. Do I think my way is better?
  7. Do I feel, even a little, superior because I get asked the most?
  8. How would I feel if a role I normally fulfill were suddenly given to someone else?
  9. Do I look at the service of others, elders, deacons, evangelists, teachers, etc., and think “I wish they would just… .” 
  10. Do I avoid certain people in the body for fear of being asked to do something that I may not want to do?

We talk often about the various roles that the virtuous woman played as found in Proverbs 31. We often overlook the foundational attitude with which she lived her life.

Today we are visiting with Ashlynfrom Consider the Lilies. She sought to look into the heart of the woman who Lemuel’s mother praised to see what led her to be so virtuous.

Serve Christ

Originally posted on Consider the Lilies by Ashlyn Bailey

(Pro 31:29) Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

The virtuous woman excelled. That is, after all, what she strived for. But what made her surpass others? Her attitude! She had the heart of a servant. In all that she did her main goal and desire was to please God! As a Christian we must become servants of Christ!

(John 12:27) If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

How do we serve Him? By following Him, obeying his commands.

(John 14:15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Obey just the commandments that are convenient to us? Or just the ones that we think are a good idea? No, we must obey all His commands!

 Ashlyn and her husband, Ryan, have been married for 5 years. She is currently an expectant mother. They worship with the Union church of Christ in Somerville, AL. Ashlyn enjoys writing and is a blogger at Consider the Lilies. She takes her title from Luke 12:27-40 She writes about biblical womanhood, stewardship & homemaking.
 
~ Article Written by R16:16 Team Member, Renee Brown
 

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A Servant of the Lord

Submitting to the Will of God

Servant of the Lord

A simple yet powerful statement is uttered in Luke 1:38* by Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is spoken after she has been told by the angel, Gabriel, that she will have a son – the Savior of the world! Mary responded,

Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.

What does it mean to be a servant of the Lord? The word Mary actually used comes from the feminine form of the Greek word doule meaning “bondservant” or “slave” and is usually translated “handmaid” or “maidservant”. Mary was indicating that she was not performing some casual service for the Lord, or serving Him when and if she felt like it or when it was convenient or appealing to her. Rather, Mary’s choice of word indicated she was dedicating all of herself to the Lord; that His will would always trump her own and be carried out faithfully because she was in total submission to Him.

God calls us throughout the scriptures to be His servants.

Deuteronomy 10:12*

“…what does the Lord require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”.

Joshua issued this challenge which resounds today

Joshua 24:15

choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

Jesus informs Satan in…

Matthew 4:10

“…It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve”.

And the apostle Paul appeals to the Roman brethren.

Romans 12:11

“not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”.

In so serving God, we are also called to serve others.

Galatians 5:13

“…through love serve one another”.

I Peter 4:8-10 tells us that,

Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, (ESV says “use it to serve one another”) as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Reflecting Service

Mary’s statement reflects a heart dedicated to the Lord, a willing attitude and love for Him that rose above her own wants, needs, and even fears. What faith she displayed and what a fine example of godly womanhood she is to us today.

May each one of us exemplify that same faith and dedication to our Lord and boldly say like Mary,

“I am the servant of the Lord.”

(This article is adapted from “A Servant of the Lord” from the book, “Heart to Heart – Devotional Thoughts for Women” by Heather Pryor, Pryor Convictions Media.) 

* All Scripture taken from the New King James Version, except where indicated.

~ Guest Post by Heather Pryor

Heather Pryor

Heather Pryor is a minister’s wife and homeschooling mother of three. She and her husband, Paul started a family business in 2013 called Pryor Convictions Media. They sell a Bible curriculum series for families and churches called “Growing Up in God’s Word” which Heather authored as well as other books for women, teens and children and audio CD’s of Bible stories for children. Many more books, CD’s  and a DVD series are in development. The purpose of their books and media products is to help build faith in families and encourage all ages to dig deeper into the word of God and live a life of faith and service to Him. Heather has homeschooled for twenty years and will graduate her youngest in 2015. In her spare time she enjoys reading, baking, and sipping cups of Earl Grey tea. She resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.

 

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In the Sowers Spotlight: Maidservants of Christ

Sending forth Christ’s Message of Unity

In our current spotlight we are featuring Maidservants of Christ.

Blogging about God's Truth

This blog is a collaborative blog by two friends Helene and Melissa. They met when Melissa started dating the best friend of Helene’s husband, she eventually married him.

Melissa now lives in Tennessee and is the mother of 3 children. Helene lives with her husband and 2 children, whom she is homeschooling, in Asia where they teach English as a second language.

While these sisters in the Lord live on opposite sides of the planet they are working collaboratively, along with occasional input from another friend, Jane, to bring focus on unity in Christ. They seek to encourage women in the word. They seek to be examples to other women that God’s desire is for us to be one in Christ and not divided by petty differences. Their goal is to provide a safe place on the web where women can discuss the truth of the word regardless of spiritual backgrounds so that they can turn the focus to Christ and his word.

Philippians 4:2-3 (NKJV)

 “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And  I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”

Just as the Apostle Paul encouraged these women from the congregation at Philippi, so too does Helene and Melissa seek to tell the truth with no sugar-coating, but in much love for souls.

Women's Blog for God's Truth

It isn’t always easy to reach out to others. It isn’t always easy to speak truth even when the truth leads souls to heaven. In a world where so many people deem that they have the right to seek their “own” truth opening the word in such a public was as a blog c

an be very uncomfortable. Yet that is the very goal of these sisters who are dedicated to honestly sharing the word, revealing Christs forgiveness of their own sin, and the promise the He has given through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Crown-of-Thorns

How can you help?

  • Visit Melissa, Helene and Jane on their blog, Maidservants of Christ, and join in the conversation on their regular posts.
  • Pray for each of them in the work they are doing with their families and on each side of the world in the communities in which they live.
  • Pray for the work they are doing to seek and save the lost souls who may happen to land on their web page, or those who also are regular followers.
  • Pray for their courage to be strengthened and that they will speak with all boldness of spirit, knowing that they are seeking a greater good for the lives of their readers.

Acts 4:31

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
~ This post written by Team Member Renee Brown
**Photos are not actual representation of the two bloggers mentioned in the article.
 

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Elevating Homemaking to its Rightful Place

Home is where Hearts are Shaped for Eternity

Homemaking is Holy

I washed the dishes with a huff and a sigh, feeling grumpy and anxious about all the other (more important) things I needed to do.

The look on my face must have given me away because my husband asked, “Do you even like being a homemaker?”

My heart sank.

I felt crushed. But it was obvious that my displeasure had been clearly visible for quite some time.

The sad part was, I did like being a homemaker, but had fallen into the trap of busy and piled so much on my plate that I no longer found much joy in anything, only stress and worry.

Preparing meals had become an after thought and inconvenience; why did people have to get hungry?!

Cleaning was something that also made me crazy. I had deadlines to meet!

If the kid’s bedtime dragged on too long I began to feel antsy.

There was just so much to do and not enough time to do it.

My husband’s question was a wake up call of sorts. I began to reflect on how I was spending my time, and more importantly, how I was thinking.

I’d forgotten that homemaking is holy and that home is a mission field.

Besides weeding out the things that were keeping me unnecessarily busy, I needed to renew the view I had of myself as a homemaker. The tasks at hand in this time of life were of no less value than those trekking across the world as missionaries.

Homemaking is holy.

Elevating Homemaking

Every dish washed is an act of service to God and to our family.

Our daily sacrifice of self is a fragrant aroma, pleasing to the Lord.

Home is where hearts are shaped for eternity and a dedicated mother can change the world.

The homemaker who focuses on cultivating a warm and loving place for her family, is not only raising future generations, but impacting those around her. The love and faithfulness she has for her family shines a light for Christ.

So, why am I telling you this embarrassing story?

I’m telling you because I want to remind you of the value of homemaking. If you’re finding that homemaking is merely a back seat project in your life and really more of an annoyance than anything, perhaps it’s time to rethink things a little.

I’m not suggesting you do everything yourself or that you can only cook and clean all day long, I just want to encourage you to make room for homemaking. View your position as a homemaker as the valuable role it is.

Elevate homemaking to it’s rightful place, a holy place, an act of worship and obedience. 

Give yourself to homemaking and it just might bring you the joy and satisfaction you’ve been seeking.

Stacy KThis guest post is written by Stacy. She is the wife of a preacher and homeschool mom of three kids. She blogs at A Delightful Home where she shares tips on natural living with God at the center.

 

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