Big Sandy Family Conference – 2016

Apr
27

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One of the biggest highlights every year for our family is attending the family conference down in Big Sandy, TX. It is a time of refreshment, conviction, encouragement and lots of good fellowship with like-minded believers. photo 1DSC_0014

Here are some of the highlights we were challenged by this year:

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Abbie – My favorite session this year was done by Gil Bates based out of the Bible story where Lot pitches his tent towards Sodom. Where we set our eyes will ultimately determine our destination. “You will end up where you are headed.” This is a huge warning to us to evaluate our hearts and lives to see what we’re fixing our eyes on and where we will end up if we keep on the path we’re on – it could be good, if our eyes are on Jesus, but if we’re focused on someone or something else we could be headed for destruction. This is not something to lightly brush off and hope everything will be okay, ignoring the warning signs flashing before us, take heed and turn your eyes upon Jesus.

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Charity – I enjoyed a lot of the speakers this year but there wasn’t a particular message that really stood out, it was more of a topic that several of the speakers briefly touched on… but something I knew was meant for me! And that was the very important and crucial practice of meditating. Everyone meditates on something. It’s what you think about, daydream about. All that says a lot about a person! Everything starts as just a thought. The passage I choose for myself this year is John 15, and a critical part of being connected to the Vine and abiding in Christ is meditating on scripture and prayer! To know Christ more, I’ve GOT to spend time with Him, and if that is truly my heart’s desire, I will choose Jesus above ALL else!

Ps 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ps 104:34 – My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Phil 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Isa 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

2 Cor 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…

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Maggie – Like always, it’s hard to weed through all of the sessions and pick just one that meant the most! All of the sessions have such rich nuggets of truth that challenged or encouraged me, like:
Jobe Martin’s session on Creation Evangelism was super neat!
One of Mr. Bates sessions really encouraged me to take a step back and look at where my life will be 10 years from now if I continue on the same road I am now. If I am pursuing God to the depth I am now, will I wish I had strove for a deeper level?
One of Jamie Lash’s sessions really convicted me to re-discipline myself to daily meditation in God’s Word!
But I think I enjoyed Darren Myers sessions the most!!
His one on God, Morals, and Socialism has to be my favorite! I’d encourage you to check out their website here!
This past year I believe the Lord has opened my eyes (politics probably played a big part) to the situation our country is really in, where it is headed, and the evil that is creeping in to every part of our society! Darren Myers sessions were really informative and interesting! I felt like I could spend hours talking to him and listening to what he has to say! Maybe I just haven’t looked very far, but I was encouraged to hear someone speak on Socialism, Communism, what they are, and what God’s Word has to say about them, as well as how it would impact us, and how to stand up for truth! I also appreciated the statistics, surveys, and personal book recommendations that he shared! May God have mercy on us and may I/we not water down and ignore the way that Satan has snuck in and influenced so much of our culture! I pray that we will let God work through us to “…overcome evil with good.”  Rom. 12:17-21
~Psalms 2:1-12~

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Carinna – One of the topics that I was challenged by throughout the week was in the area of my words. The tongue is a small member that can cause big problems.
It has the power to dramatically alter my life, and those around me.
James 3:1-12 Prov. 26:28 Prov. 17:20 Prov.15:2 Ps 4:13 and there are many more.
The power of death is in the tongue. Prov. 18:21 “Death and life are in the
power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” 
 
Such a small thing can be a huge problem! It can be used by the devil to tear,
drag down, and hurt others. The tongue also has the power of life!
Maybe I’m not hurting others with with my words but am I pulling others down? 
If I am finding myself complaining and grumbling, I really need to look at my heart because…Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

Am I building others up with my words? Am I being an energy giver?
If not, where has my view of God gotten twisted? Where is my focus?
Where is my joy coming from? Is it rooted in Christ?
In humble gratitude for everything He is? Ps 35:28  Ps 37:30 John 15:5b…
When my perspective is where it should be, my attitude, words, and actions
will line up. Feelings follow actions. I have the tendency to say what I think when I think it. So I’ve been challenged to be wise in my conversations, to be grateful in everything, and to carefully choose my words…not just saying something, for the pleasure of saying really nothing, but being sensitive to the Holy Spirit on what needs to be said and when.

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Benjamin – The main thing that stood out to me was meditating on God’s word. I had heard people talk about it but didn’t really understand it. After one of the student sessions they had us practice it,  it finally made sense. I also enjoyed talking to some friends and playing lots of volleyball.

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We really enjoyed the opportunity to sing “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” as a special music.DSC_0016IMG_1150 …of course along with all that that all good fellowship I mentioned earlier, comes a lot of laughter…

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…homemade cookies and milk… =)

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… and a few rousing games =)

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“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22

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Eyes on Him

Aug
21

“…But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with the waves: for the wind was contrary.

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid.

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:24-31

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What do we see about the wind? It was contrary and boisterous. Do your present circumstances seem contrary to your plans? What else do we know about wind? It is something you can feel. Do you feel a lot of emotions (or lack of) and heartache due to those circumstances?  Are they loud and boisterous, and seem to be all you can think about right now?

Be encouraged that in the midst of all the wind in your life right now, Jesus is speaking. Listen to His voice. “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid.” He works ALL things together for GOOD to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28) ALL things. He is here. He is in control of the wind. He is working. Don’t be afraid!

Let’s take our eyes off of the wind and place them on Jesus. He gives peace to those who keep their mind stayed on Him, because they trust in Him. (Is. 26:3)

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A Part in HIS Story

Jan
24

I recently started meditating on Psalm 107:9 which says: “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Yesterday morning I was focusing on the second word “he”. Who does this represent? God obviously, but who is “he”? As I pondered who the One is that gave this promise, the Lord overwhelmed me with his love and mercy!

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalm 34:8

“He” is the God who created and sustains the entire universe, who spins the earth in space. “He” is the Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end. This whole thing is HIS story. His doing. His plan. “He” is the One who gives me each breath that I take. “He” gave me two eyes to SEE, two ears to hear, a mouth to communicate, feet to walk, a mind and heart to know and understand. butterfly zinna edited
“He” graced the flower with a fragrant perfume and put the glitter in their petals. “He” made the stars, so enormous, yet to our eyes they look like sparkles in the sky. “He” created the lovely moon and the warm sunshine.sunset
“He” created man who rebelled against him almost immediately. We deserved to be crushed by this King of Kings, yet he had mercy. “He” sent his Son to earth to pay the penalty and be the Sinbearer for our rebellion, and we spit in his face (Matt. 26:63-67). Again he should have crushed us, yet in his tender mercy he did not. Instead, he crushed his beloved Son Jesus, pouring out all of the wrath that we deserved, because of our rebellion to the Lord of all Lords. “…for the first time in all eternity He would experience the ultimate effect of sin: alienation from His Father.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick. He did this to make a way for us know GOD, the very One we rebelled against. This satisfied God’s wrath and he raised Jesus from the dead.

THEN, through Jesus he not only made us servants of the most High God, He not only adopted us as his children. In God’s story, He gave us the cherished, precious, treasured role as the BRIDE of CHRIST! This, is “HE” who “satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry with goodness.”

Remember and REJOICE in his mercy today.

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The gift, or the Giver?

Sep
06

“The greatest adversaries of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts.”

“It should not be surprising that the greatest competitors for our devotion and affection for God would be some of his most precious gifts.”

After reading these 2 lines from the book “A Hunger For GOD” by John Piper, an allegorical story began to come to me on how to illustrate this. Bear with me please, I am not a writer. =)

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“There was once a young girl who walked along a path, hand in hand with her Father. They were on the narrow road which leads to heaven.

As is the case with most dads, this Father loved his little girl very much, more than she could even imagine. He had proven his love to her several years ago on a day she would never forget. The day he bought her out of slavery with his own blood, adopted her, showed her the narrow road that leads to life, and promised to go with her, never leave or forsake her. (Heb. 11:5) The more she understood of the sacrifice he had made to purchase her, the more she loved him in return. Since that day, her Father continued to demonstrate his love to her by giving her gifts, just to remind her how very deeply he loved her.

On this particular morning, He picked a beautiful bouquet of flowers and gave them to his precious daughter. (the flowers in my story represent the people in our lives, grandparents, parents, siblings, friends…) Oh what a variety there were! One had a very strong perfume fragrance, another had thorns that poked her fingers and hurt sometimes, another had so much pollen that she sneezed every time she sniffed it, there were bright ones and pastel ones, some even had petals that glittered in the sunlight. But one of  her very favorites was a little red one, although it looked a little wind blown and faded, it must have been alongside the path a very long time, but oh how she loved it.

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As they continued on their way, often she would bring her bouquet up to her face and inhale the beautiful aroma, then she would remember who gave her those flowers, gaze up into his smiling face and say thank you.

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Too soon however, she let go of her Father’s hand, ran over to the roadside by herself and set the treasured flowers up on a rock so she could just sit and gaze at their beauty…as time went on she began to spend more and more time with them and soon forgot everything else and became obsessed with her flowers. She had just finished tending to them, making sure they had fresh water, and plenty of sunlight for fear she would lose one, when she heard her Father calling to her from the path to come and walk beside him. He knew and had told her that in His presence was fullness of joy. (Ps. 16:11) She could only be satisfied when in close intimate fellowship with Him…

She ignored his bidding however, and clutched her flowers tightly. You see, they had become her reason for waking up and now consumed all of her thoughts.

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Sadly, one day she awoke, and as she glanced over her treasured bouquet, she was very dismayed to find that her little windblown red one had begun to wilt. Suddenly, remembering her Father again, who not only gave her the flowers but had created them too, she picked up the little red one in one hand and grabbed the rest in her other hand and quickly ran back to the path where her Father was.

As she stood with him again, she suddenly realized how much she missed spending time with Him. She showed Him the now very wilted red flower and asked Him to touch it and make it fresh again. He responded by holding his hand out and asking her to give him the flower, assuring her that he would take care of it.

She had a choice to make. Oh how she loved that little wind-blown, red, faded flower. She wanted to cling to it tightly,spend time with it, and hold onto it forever. As she stood there with tears in her eyes, she thought back to the day  her Father had purchased her with His very own blood, adopted her as His child, and promised to walk this path with her. Reassured of His love for her, and knowing that He was asking only out of a heart of love for His daughter, she lifted up the wilted flower and placed it in His hand.

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He reached down and wiped the tears from her eyes, took her little hand in His strong one and began to lead her down the path again.

Although she missed her little red flower, and her bouquet just wasn’t quite the same without it, she was much very relieved of the burden of worrying about it and was able to rest assured that her Father could care for it much better than she could. 

A valuable lesson had been learned that day, even though she loved the gifts from her Father, they should never replace the love that she had for her Father, the Giver of the gifts.”

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The little red, windblown, aged, fading, and wilted flower in the story is my grandma. She is dying of cancer. We spend a lot of time helping take care of her and as a result, our relationship with her has deepened. As the days go by, she is getting weaker and more feeble. I don’t want to let her go, I want her to stay with me as I walk this path called life, I hate to see her in so much pain.

My heavenly Father is asking me to let go of her and cleave to Him. She is just a gift from the hand of a very loving Giver, who loves me more than I can comprehend. And He only asks me to surrender her back to Him, out of a heart of love for His daughter. Am I willing to give Him all of my “flowers”? Is He my greatest treasure?

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Eph. 3:19

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Only because of His mercy

Feb
26

The other day I was reading out of my book “Living in the Light of Eternity” by K. P. Yohannan, when I came across something that really shook me up.

It said “After all we have done, we are still unworthy servants. Nothing I am and nothing I have done gives me one square inch to stand on and say, “I’ve done a good job. I deserve some commendation…”

Nothing in my hand I bring,

simply to the cross I cling.”

Anything lasting for eternity will have been done by Him and Him alone.”

I was likewait a minute! What about everything I do for Him? What about the efforts I give to point others to Him? Don’t I get some credit here? As I sought Him on this, He took me back to an analogy He gave me when I attended Journey to the Heart…so I’ll take you back a couple of years.

The analogy was out of Matthew 14 about Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus. For me the boat was full of doubt and unbelief. God called me “out of the boat” to take Him at His Word, by faith, trusting Him, and walk “on the water” to Him. Now back to last week. =) The LORD revealed to me that if, by this journey of faith and obedience He has me on, somehow points others to Him and maybe even encourages them to “get out of their boats” and follow Him, that is only a work of Christ!

If it were not for His mercy, I’d still be in that boat. Like a galley-slave, doomed to die because of my sin that separates me from God. But the King of heaven in His amazing love and mercy came, unlocked the chains that bound me, and set me free from bondage and gives me abundant life! He is the One who saved me, He is the One that called me, He is the one that led me out of the boat, He is the One who keeps me from sinking right now as I seek to keep my eyes on Him and by faith, continue taking Him at His Word, and walking “on the water” to Jesus. Is it easy? Not so much. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Without Him I can do NOTHING. And even though it is encouraging to hear that others have been pointed to Christ, I cannot say in pride, look what I’ve done, look at how my example has influenced others. Check out my faith. It is ONLY by Him and because of His great mercy He has done a work to rescue this girl that was perishing.

Have you thanked Him for His mercy and faithfulness in your life today?

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