A New Year: Thrive 2/4

a-new-year-thriveAnd let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9)
That time of the year has come where we approach setting goals and try to change a habit or two. Looking and feeling lean has always been a goal of mine, and it will take determination to get there. I have had success within the first 21 days and I tell myself it’s not just for my appearance, but also for my overall health. But now that February has approached, I notice that I’m not progressing on my New Year’s Resolution as I would have hoped. So, I try different eating habits and exercise routines hoping the end result is not that I end up back where I was before I made this commitment to myself to make myself healthier.
We are stewards of this vessel God has given us and it is our job to nurture it. Our hearts are idol-making factories as Augustine once said. We fail because we focus on ourselves. We place ourselves as the goal.
Imagine if we focused on what God wanted us to do? We could use that same drive, determination, and motive behind our resolution and direct it toward God’s will and purpose for our lives. Will we be perfect? No of course not. We are sinners after all. Paul says not even he has achieved the goal, but presses on (Philippians 3:14). We should have a daily RESOLUTION to pray and study the Word of God. Just as my 21-day Fix videos tell me to take it one day and one pound at a time, we should daily ask God to keep us on track.
John Owen says we should be killing sin or it will be killing you. Let us press on toward the goal, the upwards calling of Christ Jesus.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the one thing you think you cannot do.
(Eleanor Roosevelt)
Jessica Statler
TVBC Youth Minister’s Wife
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A New Year: Thrive 1/18

a-new-year-thriveMy name is Madison. I am a teenage girl and this is my story.
As a very young toddler, weekends were a struggle. While my mom worked weekend shifts trying to keep our family afloat, my Saturdays were often spent taking care of my younger brother’s most basic needs, feeding us both while my dad was MIA or incoherent. By age four I was left without a father and the struggle to survive was greater. At the age of six I had a second little brother come into my world, but when I found out he was physically disabled and unable to communicate, my entire world came crashing down.
Over time, I learned to cope with the difficult days, but with my littlest brother Caleb needing special care and attention, I often felt pushed to the back.
At age seven I accepted Christ and have great memories of those tween years.
When I turned ten we moved away from our home town. Moving was difficult because it meant leaving the home, friends, and family I had always known. Two hours away seemed worlds away.
My mom remarried and I found myself in a new family. With now six kids under the roof, I again often felt overlooked for the next five years. Yelling and arguing became the norm with that many personalities colliding together.
The marriage didn’t last, and after the divorce, we moved back to the city I had once called my home. I was now thirteen and starting my eighth grade year. Eighth grade year began less eventful, and seemed smooth sailing until Christmas. Caleb, my youngest brother, took a huge dip in physical health and at the time, we thought he wouldn’t make it to Christmas Day.
I was shaken so hard when I was told.
I stopped eating for a while. I lost my appetite most days and I lost a lot of weight.
When Christmas Day finally came, he was still with us and I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it.
The summer went well, ninth grade year rolled around, and I was doing great. Then, at the beginning of January, I told my mom I needed help with some depression issues I was having. I felt I was almost to my breaking point. Once I started talking to my counselor, things got better. But it seemed just when things were taking a turn, I found out my one year old cousin, Mabry, was sick and in the hospital. I went to visit her and could not stop crying. I was so afraid to lose her and I still am. One of my biggest fears is to lose anyone I love. Whether it be by death or a lost relationship.
God has helped me through all of this by sticking by my side. One verse that helps me is,
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13
Christ will always be there. He’s always with you, so lean in and accept His help.

A New Year: Thrive 1/1

a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in all the new beginnings of a new year.  Get ready to belly laugh, shed a few tears (grab a tissue), and prepare your heart for God to speak through, “A New Year: Thrive.”

Second Chances

“I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me.” (Jonah 2:2).

When was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit nudging you a particular direction and your first instinct was to flee? If whatever the task before me requires battling insecurities, my flesh begs me to forgo the fight and just flee.

A few years ago I was asked to serve in a capacity I had only dreamed about in my home church. Almost as quickly as the excitement built at the thought of using my gifts and talents in this area, an equal amount of apprehension overwhelmed my spirit. I reflected on my previous track record with similar tasks. Isn’t that how we evaluate potentially new tasks, through considering and analyzing what we have been able to accomplish in the past?

Despite reciting scriptures encouraging me to trust God’s promise to enable and empower me to complete the task ahead, I stalled and filibustered when pressed to confirm. I was hesitating to step into leadership though I knew God was calling me to that specific purpose.

As God would have it, the next few weeks’ worth of sermons covered the book of Jonah. Though I was familiar with his story, Jonah’s experiences with second chances washed over me in a fresh and powerful way. Jonah flat out refused to obey God’s command to preach to the Ninevites. God could have used another prophet to preach His message of coming judgment, but He loved Jonah enough to punish him, leading Jonah to repentance.

Our God gives second chances. He delights in our steps toward the right direction. Furthermore, when He calls us to a task, He will empower us. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” This verse speaks truth in the face of apprehension. Not only does God work in me to accomplish the task, He also enables me to desire to complete it.

So if God is calling you to a specific role, task, or purpose, and you are hesitating to obey, know God delights in your steps toward His calling. Know He will birth the desire to complete it, and above all, He will work it through you for His good purpose and glory.

Love,

Sara Burt, Director of TVBC Women’s Ministry: Thrive

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It Isn’t Too Late

easter picPlease share this post. Someone needs to hear it isn’t too late.

I did not plan on posting today, but during my run God would not let go of me until I wrote this down.

Tomorrow is a colossal celebration. I have planned our menu, the kids’ meaningful gifts, and ultimately planned to protect our family time. Why? Well I can tell you it isn’t so my children can gorge themselves on candy from an Easter basket. I want my children to know this Sunday is different than all other Sundays. I need to be reminded this Sunday is different than all other Sundays. While every Sunday we celebrate Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week, tomorrow is a monumental Resurrection Sunday.

Over the course of the last few weeks, several fellow believers have suggested their family does not historically celebrate Easter as they do Christmas. “I mean, we celebrate, but it isn’t as big a holiday.” I wish I was shocked. The truth is the influence of culture is an obnoxious indoctrination, commonly leveraged undetected.

Without a doubt, we would not have a Saviour without His birth. However, without the resurrection, we don’t have Christianity! My faith in my future resurrection and eternal life is based on the resurrection of Christ.

Indeed, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

His resurrection means what I do now matters! It means my past, present, and future relationships matter for eternity (Galatians 6:7-8).

Maybe if we spent the weeks and months in between Christmas and Easter reflecting on the cycle of human rebellion and God’s grace that has existed since the garden of Eden, then just maybe Good Friday and The Resurrection Sunday would be “as big a holiday.”

I know who I am without Christ. I know He is ALL I have to boast in (Romans 15:17; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:3). Brothers and sisters, Christ’s resurrection is my only hope. If He had merely been born only to die on a cross, my life would be meaningless.

But His death was just the beginning. We have cause to celebrate tomorrow!

At Christmas we make less of the North Pole and more of the Manger. For the love of Christ, tomorrow make less of the Bunny and more of the Empty Tomb! It isn’t too late!

 

Christ is risen from the dead!

Trampling over death by death!

Come awake! Come awake!

Come and rise up from the grave!

(from “Christ Is Risen” by Matt Maher)