Bible study · Biblical Womanhood · spiritual growth

Strong Roots To Grow By

The fires that burned their way through the Great Smoky Mountains several years ago destroyed acre after acre of forestry, leaving only charred stumps where mighty oaks and evergreens had stood.  In an effort to restore the mountains to their beauty, forest rangers have placed small trees and plantings with hopes of restoring the color, blooms and life that had once been flourishing.

In our spiritual life, we must also have a time of planting.  We need times of digging our roots deep down so that we will not faint when the heat of life, trials and hardships come.  

In her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, Elizabeth George tells about a time of planting Fig trees. Thirteen were planted, and twelve did well, but one withered up and died. When her husband went out with a shovel to dig up the dead plant, he found that He didn’t need the shovel. The plant died because it had no roots, so it came easily out of the ground. That plant portrays an important spiritual truth – for us to have a heart of faith, we must be devoted to nurturing a root system deep in God’s Word! What’s going on in the root system becomes known to everyone! If the plant is flourishing, it’s because the roots are deep and strong. If the root dies, it’s because the roots are weak. So it is for us!

If you and I are going to be women devoted to God, we must have a root system anchored deep in Christ. 

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Our life must be hidden in Christ.

What will that look like?

  1. Roots are tucked away (unseen).  We must spend time unseen by others, and seen only by God.  Elizabeth explained that an iceberg is hidden under that water where 6/7 of the ice is hidden from view.  Even though a sailor can only see 1/7, the iceberg was something to be in awe of because of the part that was hidden away!  When you and I are in the public eye, they should be witnessing strength that comes  out of our time that is out of sight from others – the time we spend alone with God.

“The greater proportion of your day and life spent hidden in quiet, in reflection, in prayer, in scheduling, in preparation, the greater will be the effectiveness, the impact, the power, of the part of our life that shows.” Ray and Anne Ortland

The impact of your ministry to people will be in direct proportion to the time you spend away from people with God.  That will only happen by making wise choices. “We must say no not only to things which are wrong and sinful, but to things pleasant, profitable and good which would hinder and clog our grand duties and our chief work.” 

How do we know what to say no to?  It comes from that time in prayer as we give ourselves to God and ask Him to direct our paths – Prov 3:6

Henry Drommond said, “Talent develops itself in solitude.” Let’s think about a talent like piano playing.  When my girls were students, they didn’t learn by going around to all the recitals and hammering out their pieces.  It came from hours of practice alone on the piano bench.  If we’re going to learn the gift of prayer, of Bible study, memorization, or meditating on Scripture, it will only happen in solitude.  Those roots are growing while no one else sees. 

  1. Roots are for taking in. Elizabeth says that when we take in God’s Word, there’s an exchange that takes place.  

Weariness is replaced by strength
Weakness is replaced by power
Burdens is replaced by freedom
Frustrations is replaced by peace
Turmoil is replaced by calm

What do you need to give to the Lord in time alone with Him so He can give you His great exchange in its place?  Your roots need to take in His Word in order to receive it.

  1. Roots are for tanking up – Roots are a reservoir – Jeremiah 17:7-8 The person who trusts in the Lord shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river.  If we are tanking up on the life-giving water of God’s Word, we will…
    1. Not be afraid of the heat.  The reservoir we have stored up from the Word of God will sustain us through the fiery trials
    2. Bear fruit faithfully. Even when our situation is rough, we won’t wither up and die because we have the reservoir of God’s Word deep in our heart that will sustain us.  Psalm 84:7, 11

At times when perhaps we can’t even reach for our Bible, the well of water of God’s Word will feed us and sustain us during those difficult days.

D. Roots are for toughness – Without a network of roots, a plant will become top-heavy because it has no support.  Without a root system of God’s Word in our spiritual life, we will fall over and need to be supported when hard things come.

Elizabeth shared about how shipbuilders select a tree located on the top of a high hill as a potential and future mast for their ships.  They cut away all of the surrounding trees from that chosen tree. They take away the trees that would shield it from the harsh forceful winds.  As time passes, the winds would blow fiercely on that tree and it grows stronger and stronger until it was finally strong enough to be the foremost mast on the ship.  When we have a strong roots system, we will gain the strength we need to stand against the trials of our life.

Yes, but how?

  1. Develop the habit of drawing near to God.  Recognize that without this time, you are powerless!
  2. Design a personal time for drawing near to God – 
    1. When?
    2. Where?
    3. What aids?
  3. Dream of being a woman after God’s Own heart 
    Write down the growth you’d like to accomplish in one year – 

    Read through the Bible,
    Read 12 books
    Memorize 12 verses – chapters
    Be mentored for 12 months
    Mentor a younger woman
    Attend a Bible study 

How old will you be in 10 years?  What do you want to be like at that age?
Write it down.  Pray about becoming that woman for God’s glory.

What kind of plant will you be in a year?  In ten years? What kind of root system will you have? It’s your decision. Make today count.

Biblical Womanhood · Christian growth · God's Will · spiritual growth

How Do We Have a Hot Heart for God?

I am going through one of my favorite books…again.  A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George.  When I was a young mom, I began reading this book every other year because I found it so helpful for growth in every area of my life!
Now I have the blessing of going through it with a woman who is in the same stage of life as when I began studying these truths that Elizabeth carefully penned.  These principles are life-changing.  For that reason, I thought it would be helpful for me to share highlights from the chapters as I review them. I won’t give all the details, but will share the important truths from each chapter. I pray that you’ll find them as helpful as I have over these years.

Discipline – nothing great happens without it, and that includes spiritual growth.  We don’t grow by our grit, but by the steady commitment to being a woman who stays in God’s Word.  It cannot be a casual approach that studies when we have time, or only when there is a crisis.  But how do we have the discipline to be a woman after God’s heart?

We must choose God at every opportunity.

In Luke 10 we read the beloved story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha. Mary chose to stop all activity and listen to the Lord. She ceased all other activity so she could do just that. 

Perhaps we need to ask – 

  1. What activity in my life is keeping me moving, anxious and unable to listen to the voice of the Lord in His Word?
  2. How do I find myself “interrupting Him” as Martha did?  

It’s hard to hear and heed God’s Word without the discipline to sit still and listen. We must make the choice to choose the one thing that is needed. Then after we’ve given it to the Lord, He takes over.  He does the Psalm 32:8 thing ~

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”

Each day, commit yourself afresh and anew to the Lord. Give Him your time, your possessions and your home – even if they are few, yourself – even as weak as you are, and ESPECIALLY because of your weakness!! Give him your husband and each child. Name each one. If you are not praying for your husband, who is? If you are not praying for your child, who will?

Andrew Murray said, God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.

Elizabeth says to “cultivate a hot heart for God.” Cultivate is to “Foster the growth of,” “To improve by labor.”To have a hot heart for God is to go against the culture of this world where we are only encouraged to “have it your way!”  But we have to do the work necessary to have that heart that is burning for Christ! 

I’m always intrigued to read obituaries in the paper.  When I see that a Christian has died, I always wonder how they are described by their family.  “She loved the beach” “She loved to bake cakes for others.” “She was the best grandmother.” I pray I can be remembered as a woman who had a hot heart for the Lord!

How do you want to be remembered? If it’s your desire to be a woman who follows God and has a heart for Him, then you must make a daily decision to choose God’s ways, make a commitment of yourself to the Lord daily, and then a cultivate a heart of spiritual fervency.

What you’re doing with your life today is contributing to how you will be remembered. Make today count.

Biblical Womanhood · spiritual growth · Uncategorized

The Blessings of Reading Through the Bible in a Year

In a couple of weeks, I will have completed another read through the Bible. That’s saying nothing about me, but I do want to say something about God’s Word – it changes me!

The reason I started reading through the Bible many years ago is because I had not really gotten the “whole story” in my head. I had broken up segments of the Old Testament happenings I’d heard since my childhood. I knew some of the psalms and loved Paul’s epistles, but reading all the way through the Bible has taught me and profited me so much!

  1. Reading through the Bible has shown me the thread of redemption that is woven throughout all of Scripture. After the fall of man,, we see God providing, not just Adam and Eve’s present needs, but telling He would provide a sacrifice for mankind. Then all through its pages, we see pictures and types of Christ, coming to save us from our sin. From Abraham, Joshua, Moses, Joseph and the psalms, we are pointed to His suffering, death and resurrection!
  2. Reading through the Bible has given me a greater love for God’s Word. I see the way Scripture commentates on itself. I see Christ on each page. I see the way the Word is knit together like the yarns of a scarf through the weaver’s shuttle. It’s a Book like no other book! It is alive! It is powerful! It is life-giving!
  3. Reading through the Bible has caused me to grow spiritually. Oh, how dear it is to open my Bible and hear God speak Truth to my heart! The Spirit of God teaches me His character, gives me hope for the future, and convicts me of sin so I can get it right. All of this causes growth.
  4. Reading through the Bible has given me a greater desire to memorize Scripture. Because I see its value to change me, I know it’s essential to have it hidden in my heart. Psalm 119 is full of reminders why I need to memorize – it gives comfort, it gives me words to answer others, it guides me, it keeps me from sin…and so many other reasons.

I will definitely be reading through the Bible in 2022. Whitney shared on her blog this week that she’s going to be doing The Bible Recap. That is a chronological reading. I’m praying about whether to do that or to repeat the Bible in a year on you version. It takes you through the old and New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I love the variety. Through this plan I’ve also seen the redemption thread woven so beautifully.

Have you ever read through the Bible? If it seems daunting to you, realize you just take it one day at a time. I believe having a plan doesn’t overwhelm you, but it keeps you on track. Pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His word, and then make a plan to dive in come January 1, 2022.

You can go here to see a tool that has helped me as I’ve read the Bible.

Godly Character Traits · spiritual growth · Spiritual Refreshment

One Thing We Can Do To Grow Spiritually This Year

We are a family of “Foodies.” We plan out our meals. We anticipate them. We enjoy them. We record them. When a new, “successful meal” is complete, I make sure I’ve marked that recipe for future use. I have a written copy of that recipe either on-line, in one of my cookbooks, or in my recipe box because I want to be able to go back and re-do that menu!

I make notes about how I may have tweaked the recipe, a substitution I made, or even what I learned I need to do the next time I make it. I love flipping through my recipes and bringing up old recipes I’d forgotten about! Without that written reminder, it would have been lost forever because we eat lots of meal in a year’s time!

But even more than my physical food, the greatest “food” I partake of each day is the manna of God’s Word – the Bible. It is a feast that is never complete. There’s always more. It’s rich, sweet, and nourishing. I need it. I look forward to it. I remember it.

For many of us, we enjoy the taking in of God’s Word, but we do little in regards to making a memory of what we’ve read or what we’ve learned. Simply put – we don’t write anything down after we’ve read the Scriptures.
Here are four reasons I’m choosing to journal when I read God’s Word this year ~

  • It helps me remember the Truth I just learned. There’s something about putting it in ink that just cements it better in my heart and mind. That leads to the next reason…
  • It helps me meditate on those Truths throughout the day. As I’m driving, I’m thinking about what I wrote down. I talk to the Lord and ask Him questions about the things that come to my mind as I ponder it.
  • It helps me dig deeper into those Truths and add notes – things from commentaries or quotes from other authors that are a blessing.
  • It helps me see my spiritual growth. Just like the physical growth of a child isn’t seen day by day, but you see it when you compare it to last year’s growth chart, neither is my spiritual growth seen daily. However, my journal serves as my “growth chart,” if you will. As I look back a month or a year later on what I’ve written, I see how the Lord has increased my faith, taught me lessons, and revealed more about Himself to me. It’s so encouraging!

I‘ve had seasons when I didn’t journal and I truly feel I didn’t grow like I should have. See if you resonate with my reasons for not doing so. I think there are four basic explanations as to why most women don’t journal ~

  1. I’m not a writer. I think that can mean two things – 1. I don’t enjoy using a pen…it’s just not my favorite thing to do the process of writing. It’s tiring. It’s messy 2. I’m not really good at expressing myself creatively.
  2. I used to, but I’ve just gotten away from it. I got tired of the habit.
  3. It takes more time and that’s one thing I don’t have!
  4. I really don’t feel like I need to do that. I’m good with just reading. I can remember it without writing it down.

As we think back to all the physical meals we’ve eaten this past year, there’s no way we could give a commentary on each one. How could we answer, “What was the best part? What did you enjoy most?” However, if we had each recipe card in front of us, we could be reminded and have something to share, right? Let’s make the analogy – As we think back to all the spiritual meals we’ve been exposed to in this past year, (preaching as well as personal devotions) could we share one truth we learned from each one? Only if we wrote something down.

Oh how much more value there is in God’s Word than our physical food! Job said it well in Job 23:12 ~

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Could you and I really say that? It will show in how we value the Bible. Ask God to give you a greater love for His Word so that you will treasure it more than ever before!

Next Wednesday I’m going to share some practical answers to our four excuses and also share a guide in Bible journaling that can be simple, and effective!

Refresh your response to God’s Word,

Blog info · Celebrations · spiritual growth

Two Celebrations!

I love celebrations and today I’m enjoying two!

The first one is my daughter, Alli; it’s her 29th birthday! God gave us Alli, our third daughter, during our tenth year of marriage; a special gift we didn’t think we would be able to have. But God in His grace and kindness to us, sent us a daughter to fill our home with music and laughter (lots and lots!) through Alli!

She was the child who was sure life was a stage. She enjoyed nothing more than entertaining Whitney and making her laugh!

From a very early age, Alli showed a love and a gift for music. She was denied the joy of learning to play drums (!), but started taking piano lessons when she was five. After that, she went to violin when she was around ten. Every instrument she’d see, (especially strings) she would want to try to play. She took cello lessons and then taught herself guitar. Her keen ear and natural ability were God-given gifts, and we sought to give her every chance to develop those talents.

One precious memory was the day during home school that she began asking questions about salvation. As we talked, I could see that she had a clear understanding of her sin and her need for a Savior. After excusing herself from my presence, she came back a little while later and announced to me that she had gone off on her own to ask Jesus to save her! Though she had some difficult days in her late teens, that decision to trust Christ kept her tethered to Him, even when she struggled personally. How thankful I am for the Spirit of God that lives inside His children! She responded to His conviction and made things right with the Lord after a brief time of straying away.

Since then she has been resolute in following the Lord and living for Him. Perfect? No, she has her parents’ old sin nature! But like all sinners, she gets it right and moves towards Christ.

What a joy to watch her serve with her husband in our church, and also as she is training her sons. I truly have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. III John 4.

Happy 29th Birthday, sweet Alli!

The second celebration today is regarding my blog! This week marks my 12th blogging anniversary! It was started 2,750 posts ago! What? Thank you to each of you who read, comment, follow and encourage my heart here.

This has been such a joy to me. I have met the sweetest women around the globe through this simple blog. I’ve been blessed to have some of you come to Tennessee and visit our church! Some I’ve gotten to know just through messages, and some have continued our relationships that began in person.

This blog was started for my church ladies, and is still my focus. I wanted a way to reach out to you, BCBC, ladies on a weekly basis. I pray I’ve ministered and encouraged you through the years by this means. I love each of you and long to serve you and point you to our Savior!

Would you give me a gift today? I’d just love to hear from you! Tell me how long you’ve been reading and where you’re from, would you? You might also add what content you enjoy when you stop by.

Also, how about sharing my blog with a friend? That would be a great gift to me! Thank you!

I hope you get to celebrate something or someone this weekend! Again, don’t forget to leave a comment before you go!

Time for cake!