Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Intentionally Building Your Life Around Deepening Your Relationship with Christ" ~ by Rachel

There is a thought that is easy to forget about in the busyness of everyday life. But it’s one that, by the grace of God, will change your everyday life if you think about it. It changed mine.

“At the end of my life, when I stand before the throne of God… what will really matter?”

I often think about what it will be like to be in my Savior’s presence, worshipping before His throne, enjoying the glory of sinless perfection. And I wonder; what I will think of that short, vapor of a life that I lived?

Christ’s love for me will be unconditionally perfect. But I want to have lived a life that was pleasing and fruitful for Him. I want to have been walking in the good works He prepared for me to do (Eph 2:10).

1 Corinthians tells us that our works as Christians will be tested by fire on that final day:

Each one's work will become manifest... and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved...”
- 1 Corinthians 3:13-15

Will my life’s work survive the fire, or will it be burned up? This is an important question for us to ponder. I want to hear my Savior say, “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).

So as young ladies, we must ask ourselves, are we living deliberate lives for the glory of God, or are our lives slipping away, day by day, lost in the busyness? Are we living in light of eternity?

Some ideas for building our lives around deepening our relationship with Christ:

~ Daily Bible Reading and Prayer
We cannot overestimate the importance of spending time in God’s Word. Sometimes I get so busy that I decide to skip on my devotions. How wrong! Someone once said, “I have so much to do today, that I will spend the first three hours in prayer.” This is the attitude we must have. I so easily forget that unless the Lord is empowering me to do His work for His glory, all of my “busyness” is worthless (Ps 127:1). Jesus was our example in this, in that even though He was busy about the work of His Father, he rose early to pray (Mark 1:35).

~ Feeding Ourselves Spiritually

People who are in love spend all their energy figuring out what the other person likes. It’s amazing how much energy they will put into it! Everything from the other person’s favorite color to their favorite movie is of utmost interest. They want to know their entire history, and what makes them the person that they are. Why is this? Because people in love want to please the other person... because they really care.

Do we want to please Jesus? If we truly care, we will study Him. We will have a passion to know who He is, and what will please Him. We cannot love a person we don’t know, and we can’t please them if we don’t know what they like. In the same way, we cannot love a Savior we don’t know, and we can’t please Him if we don’t know what He desires. Learning to love Christ is a lifelong adventure!

One of the things we can do to grow in our spiritual understanding is to read good books. Read books that teach you more about Christ. Read about the lives of saints who have gone before and whose lives inspire you to follow in their godly footsteps. Supplement your Bible reading with books that encourage you spiritually and books that help you to understand the Bible.

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”
~ C.H. Spurgeon

~ Seeking Wise Counsel

Seek wise counsel from godly older people in your life, who know you well, and ask them what they think you should prioritize in your life. Especially heed the advice of your parents. Ask them how you can intentionally build your life around strengthening your relationship with Christ, and what they wish they had done when they were your age. I have gleaned so much wisdom from hearing what other ladies wished they would have done at my age, and how they could have grown more spiritually, when they were in my stage of life. They have that hind-sight that is 20-20 (Prov 15:22).

One other thing you can do is ask them ways that they think you should grow, personally. These can be character weaknesses, or practical things to learn and grow in (like writing or cooking). This one can be hard, and it takes a lot of humility. It’s easy to gloss over our “rough spots” in our own minds, but other people tend to be more honest. Pray that the Lord would give you the grace to be humble, and ask your parents and siblings where they think you could grow. Take notes. You may not agree with them, but don’t argue, just thank them for sharing, and pray over those things. Oftentimes, our parents, siblings, and friends can see the blind spots in our lives, or help us define our priorities.

This has been such an important part of my spiritual growth over the years. There have been so many areas that I would have never thought I needed to work on, had I not asked others who know my weaknesses better than I do. I was quite surprised at some of the things they said at first, but as time has gone on, I’ve seen how right they were (Prov. 12:15).

My Story:
I remember the moment vividly. I was woefully pondering my lack of spiritual growth in the past few years, and how I wished I could be spending more time reading. I desperately wanted to be learning more about the God I served, and how He wanted me to live. Why didn't I have the time? I was actually feeling quite sorry for myself, pitying the fact that I had to be so busy. Racking my brain, I tried to think of time that I might not realize I had... some spare moments I could use for reading.

Suddenly, conviction swept over me as I realized that I did have the time, I just wasn't utilizing it properly. With a blush, I thought about how much time I was spending every day listening to music. I quickly thought back through the weeks, adding up the hours I was spending on a regular basis - about 2 hours a day which made for a whopping 14 hours a week, or 60+ hours a month. Ouch. (I've realized since then that because it takes me about 30 minutes to read 25 pages, I could have read about 75 books in a year's time had I been using that time wisely.)

It was easy for me to listen to music because I did that whenever I had busy work: while driving, doing housework, or getting ready for the day. “What if…” I thought to myself. “What if I could take those hours and listen to sermons or audio books instead of music?” I soon filled my iPod with sermons Bible teachers, and audiobooks from deep, Biblical authors. Not to be cliché or anything, but my life has never been the same again.

Since then, I have incorporated more ideas into those hours- prayer, scripture memorization, and listening to the Bible - but that initial choice was what started the whole thing. Within only a few weeks my spiritual growth skyrocketed and my interests grew exponentially. It wasn't surprising really. How could I expect to be growing when I wasn't feeding myself spiritually?

So I challenge you... What time can you redeem? The days are evil, and we cannot afford to waste time on things that will not help us become better soldiers for our Lord (Eph 5:16).

I hope you will pray about where you can redeem the time, and perhaps, today is the day you will look back on, as the day you made a small choice with no small consequences.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Video Post ~ "He has made everything beautiful in its time"

Be encouraged today, friend! The Lord is working in the season you are in to bring you more of Himself, His work in you, His will for you, and His witness through you!  {Jer. 29:11}

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."  Ecclesiastes 3:11

This reality shared in this video has only grown deeper and more precious to me over the past months since it was recorded...I continue to see that Jesus "has done all things well"!  Mark 7:37

He knows just what "season" we need and can be fully trusted!  There is nothing like lying surrendered in the hands of the One Who is Love.

I am praying for you today - That you will rest in the hands of the One Who loves you!

His way is perfect,

{A side note - It is not snowing now, but when it does, I know it will be His perfect season for it. :)}

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jesus is at Work in Everything ~ by Amy Vest

Dear Friend,

Jesus is at work in everything ~
to give you more of Himself (Phil. 3:7-10)
work the character of Jesus in you (Rom. 8:29)
and pour His life through you (2 Cor. 2:14)
~ for His glory, your joy, others' blessing.

{I encourage you to pause for a moment and let this reality really sink in.}
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28

When I really embrace this Truth, it makes me want to embrace every moment of my life in surrendered longing for the Lord to have His way in me.

"...not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Life takes on a beautiful purpose ~ the happy times, the trials, the waiting ~ all present the opportunity to:
know my Jesus
become like Him
be prepared and used by Him for His glory.

"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13

This reality is bringing me so much joy today.

I sit on my bed, needing to rest instead of taking part in an activity that was planned for today.  In this resting, He is giving me more of His heart, working deeper surrender, and preparing me for something I don't fully see yet.

And the more I receive of Him, the more I know that all I want is Him, His will, and what He wants to give me.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Jer. 29:11

May the Lord give you beautiful rest in this reality today, dear Sister!

Grateful to be in His hands together,
Amy Vest

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Joy of Surrender ~ by Tara

Matthew 16:24-25 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Throughout my life God has brought many opportunities for me to grow in the area of surrender and I thought I would share a few of them with you.

When I was 7 years old, I underwent heart surgery. My mother has shared with me that when they were wheeling me into the operating room, I said, “God’s going to take care of me.” I was surrendering to what God wanted for my life and I knew he was in complete control. At an early age, I was beginning to understand what a heart of surrender looked like.

As a young lady the Lord continued to teach me surrender as I had many opportunities to be obedient to the choices Dad and Mom made for me. (e.g. what I would wear, what music I would listen to, who my friends would be, what functions I would attend.) I also had several instances in this season where I was faced with trials of various types. In these times I had to make a conscience decision to surrender and forgive the other individual who had wronged me, even in times where my counselors agreed I was not at fault.

Then there was a season of my life where I desperately wanted to be married. I would cry myself to sleep at night on occasion and cry out to the Lord often for a husband. In my early twenties there was a young man interested in me. I liked him and he liked me, but there were several areas where we just didn’t see eye to eye and there was enough of a difference that my parents and I felt we would not be equally yoked. I would have to say that going through that experience was probably the greatest struggle and test of surrender that I had known up to that point. I desperately wanted to get married and to start a family.

About one year after that relationship ended, the Lord saw fit for me to meet my future husband Stephen! On the flight home from one of our initial visits, I believed that he was not interested in me as I had hoped he would be. (Little did I know, the truth was completely the opposite and he was actually planning on calling my father in two weeks!) I remember sitting on the airplane and praying, “Lord, obviously he is not interested in me in that way, so I thank you for the friendship you have given me with him and his family, but I see this chapter has ended and the door has been closed. I am excited to see what you have for me in the future, Lord.” It was at that moment I came to the point of a deeper understanding of what surrender really meant.

Little did I know that the next season of my life would involve a complete crash course on surrender.

I became a wife and mother in my mid twenties. Although being a wife involves some aspects of surrender, (waking up early and fixing breakfast for your husband, packing him a lunch and being cheerful and attentive to him in the evenings) the birth of our first child brought me to a whole new level of understanding. Motherhood has called me to daily surrender to a full life of sacrifice, hard work, and serving others. Now I’m not just getting up early in the morning, but really early in the morning, 2 A.M. 5 A.M. and 8:00 A.M., as I care for little ones who need me. I daily choose to surrender my life, my time, my energy as I repeat the tasks of motherhood over and over again. It’s not only for a day, a week, a month or even a year but Lord willing for the next 20-30 years.

Then there is my time. I don’t wake up anymore in the morning thinking, “What would I like to do today? Hmmm?” I wake up each morning and immediately think “what do I need to do to take care of my husband and little ones today? What should my family have for breakfast this morning? What would be the most nutritious foods that will fuel and nourish them for their start to the day?”

What I’m endeavoring to communicate with you is that we are called to a LIFE of surrender. Daily surrender. Moment by moment surrender.

Many of the things I’ve shared today come from the vantage point of my life as a young wife and mother. I recognize that not all of you reading this are in the same season of life as I am. I hope that my testimony will challenge you and cause you to wrestle with the reality of what God has called you to, whatever the situation.

Here is my challenge:
The more you allow the Lord to develop and teach you surrender in the season of life you are in right now, the more prepared and equipped you will be for the next season of your life. A life of surrender is difficult and it’s not what our flesh wants, but remember what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25? “Then Jesus told
his disciples, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I have truly “found my life” so to speak. Yes, my days are filled with moment by moment surrender, but I feel so satisfied and my life is so full of joy and meaning in the midst of such surrender.

I know surrender in a way today that I did not know 10 years ago and I know that

I’ll know it in an even deeper way 10 years from now. God is so faithful to his children to continually bring us into life circumstances that cause us to fall on our knees and have no other alternative then to surrender our very lives to him!

Lose your life today and God says, you will FIND IT!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Don't Waste Your Youth - Videocast - with Amy Vest

Loving the Lord Videocast #6 - Don't Waste Your Youth
from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.
Youth is a precious and amazing time full of great potential and opportunity. The Lord calls us spend it correctly and lay a solid foundation for the rest of our life. 1 Timothy 4:12 tells us, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
If we do this, we will be amazed at what He will do – in us and through us! We are exciting to look at this together in this video! May the Lord bless you as you seek Him and seek to live your youth to the fullest for His glory!

For more information, you can visit the LTLM website ( and blog (!