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For Adults, Uncategorized

Filling Our Spiritual Cup

By: Ana Batts

I opened the drawer that sits under my coffee maker.

Nothing. An empty drawer. The coffee pods were gone. My cup was empty.

Panic set in. How could I face my day with an empty cup?!? That quiet moment standing there contemplating the possibility of a $5 coffee run gave me a change to pause and reflect.

When it comes to spiritual things, how many days do I start with an empty cup? As a woman, mom, wife, mentor and friend I want pour into those around me. But when my cup is empty it is impossible to pour into those around me.

So how do we fill our spiritual cup?

1 Start where you are. Has it been a week since you lasted opened your Bible on a day that isn’t a Sunday? Or maybe a month? Or a year? Be honest with yourself about where you are and go from there. Don’t let the guilt of not being in the Word keep you from being in the Word.

2. Take time to reflect. Reading the Word is a powerful thing. However, taking the time to reflect on what it says and how it applies to your life is an important part that is often skipped. Copying down the scripture that we are studying is a great way to memorize it. Journaling what we are learning and how it applies in our lives is a great tool.

(My girls share about how they use writing in their personal Bible Study over here.)

3. Find someone to share with. Talking about spiritual things is a great way to pour into those around us. Making spiritual things part of our daily conversations also helps us hold one another accountable. Knowing that a friend will ask, “what have you been reading about in God’s Word lately?” can motivate us to build the consistent habit of being in the Word. Sharing spiritual struggles as well as personal discoveries of God’s Word can help us continue to fill our spiritual cup and to pour into those around us.

On the days when we feel spiritual empty, let us go do the One that always keeps His word.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

For Girls

Always Growing

By: Hannah Gorrell

In Matthew 7, we are cautioned to observe the fruits grown by all people. Matthew writes we should beware of those who come graciously disguised but are deceitful having intentions to harm.  We should know these imposters, he says, based on their fruit.

This concept seems abstract, but actually it is true that every person has a fruitful life in some way. Thankfully, we do not have fruit growing from our arms and legs. Instead, Jesus uses this analogy to explain that our lives show the products (fruits) of our decisions. For example, those who practice their sport for hours and hours may produce winning scores for their teams. Thus, the fruit they bear from their hard work would be a win.

Interestingly the passage never suggests that our lives bear no fruit, but only that our fruit will either be good or bad. This challenges us to always be aware of what we grow and cultivate with our time, thoughts, and actions.

John 15 gives further explanation reminding us that we, as branches, are to be rooted in the Vine, who is Jesus. It’s interesting to note the trunk nor vine is where the fruit grows. Instead the trunk feeds and supports the branches. John tells us when we rely on Jesus, the True Vine, we will bear much good fruit. Others will know this by observing our fruit.

Combining these parables reminds us we are to practice what we wish to bear. This practice requires us to be rooted in the One we want to resemble, our True Vine, Jesus Christ.

For Adults

Equipping the Next Generation

By: Casey Pontious

We teach them to use utensils, cushion their falls when they’re learning to walk, help them as they develop social skills, practice driving before taking their license test, and help them prepare for adulthood. These are just a few of the things we, as parents and caretakers, do for our children. The list is quite honestly endless. We would never let their first bites of food be a jawbreaker nor would we get them behind the wheel of a car without making sure they know which pedal is gas and which is the brake. Every milestone moment for our children is surrounded by our instruction and influence. 

Why is it, though, that studying scripture is a facet we miss? Now, not every parent misses this. However, I would argue that the vast majority of church-going, faithful Christian parents feel they do an inadequate job of discipling their children by showing them how to study the word of God. The result of not doing so is staggering by the throngs of students who walk out on their faith after leaving home, post high school. Another result is a generation of biblical illiterate young adults who are still infants in their faith. I would argue that most parents, if not all, do NOT want that for our children. 

If you are a student of the Word, wonderful! Pass that gift on to your children. Teach them to not just read the Bible, but to dig in and study it, then to apply it to their lives. Start small – one verse or passage at a time. Walk through it with them. It will be a sweet time with you and your child(ren). 

I truly believe, though, that parents discipling their children does not happen because the parents themselves have never been discipled. They have never been taught how to study the word of God, so how can they possibly teach their children what they do not know themselves? We do not want to send our children into this world and society without equipping them for the spiritual battle they will face and are facing. Just like we want to equip our children for the everyday life of society and adulthood, it is imperative that we teach our children how to study and apply God’s Word. 

When our kids are learning to ride a bike, there are steps we show them. They typically start with training wheels to learn how to make the bike move. When the training wheels come off, parents will push them along, holding on to help them balance. Then, they let go and watch them put those things to practice as they peddle away. Learning to study God’s word is much the same. Let’s take a moment to look to scripture and see how we, as parents, are to guide and instruct our children. 

Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6-9

1These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 

6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

To apply these verses, we must realize the purpose of the Word, the practice of the Word, and the power of the Word. The purpose is so that you and the generations to come will both know and fear the Lord. The practice is literally as you go about your day. What are you doing right now? Turn it into a discipleship moment. This is you holding onto that bike as they learn to balance and peddle. What do you do when you first wake up or right before you lay your head down at night? How about all of the moments in between? Discipleship moment after discipleship moment. The power of the Word? Eternal impact for generations. Who doesn’t want that? Here, we let go of the bike and cheer them on as they make their faith their own. What a beautiful gift we can give our children!

One last thing – if you’ve never been discipled, don’t fret. It’s never too late to grow in your walk with Christ. Don’t let your pride and what other people may believe about you (even if you’re a leader in the church) stand in the way of a close relationship with God and discipling the generations to come. It’s never ever too late. 

For Girls

Preparing For Battle

By: Casey Pontious

I was minding my own business putting laundry away when all of a sudden I felt the hit. Then another and another. I was taking on rapid fire and had nowhere to hide. Folded clothes in my hands were hardly shielding me. Nerf bullets came zooming at me from behind closet doors and under beds. With four boys in my house, I should know to always be prepared for anything. However, I was not prepared. 

That is a silly story, but it definitely relates to people of all ages. You see, there is a spiritual battle going on all around us. Some of us are armed, ready, and on alert while many others are “minding their own business” and ill prepared as I. 

A Nerf war is one thing, but a spiritual war is another. There is MUCH at stake in the spiritual world; eternity. We would never go into a Nerf war or a real war unarmed, not prepared, would we? So why do we go into battle, every day, spiritually not equipped for the war around us? 

I want to encourage you to study God’s Word. Ask a parent, pastor, or spiritual mentor to help equip you to study the Bible. It can certainly be intimidating, but with the right tools, you can confidently study the Word of God, grow in your relationship with Him, and prepare your heart and mind for the fiery darts of the devil. The Bible will provide encouragement, instruction, ways of protection, and much more. 

Listen, I know it can be intimidating. I also know that many of you have been in church for most of your life and don’t feel equipped to open the Bible and study it for yourself. Study it. Not just read it. Don’t miss that. Start now. Don’t wait. Your future self will thank you for investing in her. Never have I had a conversation with someone when they’ve said “man, I wish I had learned to study scripture later in life than I did.” But I’ve had dozens of conversations with men and women alike who regret not starting when they were young. Dig in. Ask for help. Look for tools to help you and someone to help teach you. You never know when a dart is coming your way!

For Girls

Mental Health

By: Caitlin Hayes

Mental health is a topic familiar to many of us. Maybe you yourself or someone you know deals with depression and/or anxiety. The more that life goes on, the more depression and anxiety seem to exist in people. It is important to remember that there are two classifications: clinical and situational.

Clinical depression/anxiety is when your brain chemistry is such that you physically and emotionally cannot control your depression/anxiety. This often requires medications and therapies to properly manage the condition.

Situational depression is when a certain situation in life produces a mindset of depression causing anxiety or nerves. The good thing is that there is an approach to combat this type of mental illness and it is so super easy! The one downfall to mental health is that it makes us focus on our problems and our lives and we tend to forget about others.

Someone once told me when I was in a time of deep situational depression that I needed to stop focusing on myself and look at how I could help others. It sounded harsh, but I knew the person telling me this truly cared about me and was not trying to minimize what I was going through. They were trying to help me realize that the world goes on and there are others around me in whom I needed to invest my time and energy.

I took this advice and started to looking for ways to help others. I found a few younger girls in my family and church to mentor and try to encourage. I began to volunteer more at church in the nursey and with the children.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV). I encourage you to read all of Philippians 2. I challenge you, if you are struggling and cannot seem to get out of a rut, find places where you can serve and give your time. It will not take long for you to see an improvement!

For Adults

Be Encourages, Not Doubters

By: Callie Milling

As parents and youth workers, we often find ourselves surrounded by teens that we love. We cheer them on, pray for them, and encourage them. We’re their biggest fans, believing in them and supporting them as they take on life’s challenges. We want what’s best for them, but how do we respond when God asks them to do something hard? Do we question their abilities, doubting whether they are capable of doing hard things? Or do we stand in the gap, doing what we can to equip and help them be obedient to God’s call on their lives, even when it means they will have to face adversity and challenges?

I often hear adults talk about the younger generation negatively more than any other way. They say they’re too wrapped up in their phones, they don’t know how to have a conversation, and they’re disrespectful. This younger generation is often put down and doubted, not even given a chance to prove themselves and show what they’re capable of. I know I’ve been guilty of this before. There have been times I haven’t even given teens the chance to show what they’re capable of because I allow my doubt and prejudice take over. 

What I’ve learned, when I do give them the chance, is that teenagers are capable of so much–often so much more than we give them credit for. God knows that, too. He knows His children, and He has a special purpose for each teenager, believing in their ability to live up to the calling He has placed on their lives. He has created them each with gifts and talents to glorify Him. 

Because we love them, we often desire to see teens live an easy life, wanting comfort and safety for them. However, God calls them to so much more than a comfortable life. He calls them, and us, to live a life that honors Him. He requires obedience of them, even when it’s hard and when it brings on adversity and challenges. If we really love them, we should encourage them to pursue God and His will, and push them to be obedient to whatever God has called them to–even the hard things. 

When a teen feels called to be a missionary in a foreign country, it can be scary for those who love them. There’s so many unknowns about what a life of missions will look like. Will they be safe? Will I ever see them if they live across the world? These are valid questions, and they certainly have their place. We, as trusted adults in their life, should be more concerned about whether they’re being obedient to the Lord. To raise up adults who trust Him, and who have given their life to serve Him, what greater joy is there as a parent and youth worker? Whatever they’re called to, let’s be encouragers instead of doubters!

Just because they’re young, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable. However, many of them believe that their age is a hindrance. They feel as if they’re too young to make a difference or to live a life that honors God, that what they do now doesn’t really matter. However, we know that’s not true. So let’s be people that build up and encourage teens instead of tearing them down for what we think are their faults. Teenagers are capable of doing hard things. Sometimes, we just have to get out of their way and allow them to walk that road of obedience.

For Girls

You Can Do Hard Things

By: Callie Milling

Did you know that most scholars believe Mary was between 12-14 years old when she was pregnant with Jesus and married Joseph? Can you imagine, not only becoming a mom, but becoming a mom to the savior of the world at such a young age? When the angel told her about the Lord’s plans for her, she simply replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). In other words, she told the angel that she was a servant of the Lord and would do whatever He asked of her. What an amazing attitude to have. Mary could have easily refused to do it or she could have done it with a bad attitude, but instead she said yes with a willing spirit. After the angel left I’m sure she sat down and thought about all the adversity she would face. She likely knew it would be a hard road. She didn’t know what it would look like to give birth to the son of God and she didn’t know how her fiance would react to this news. Despite all of the unknowns that lay ahead of her, she was faithful and willing to do what the Lord asked of her even though it was going to be really hard.

Mary was young when she was tasked with carrying the Son of God and raising Him up. Despite her age, God knew that she was the right girl for one of the most important roles in the redemption story. He didn’t see her and think, “Oh, well Mary is too young to do anything important for me. She doesn’t know enough yet. She doesn’t have what it takes. She’s not old enough to serve me yet.” No! Instead, He saw Mary and might have thought, “What a faithful young woman. I love her and I have a purpose for her. She is old enough to make a difference for me.” 

God thinks the same thing of you. He loves you and He has a purpose for you at twelve, thirteen, seventeen, or whatever age you may be. He doesn’t think you’re too young, He thinks you’re just right for the task at hand. So, what is God asking you to do that you feel you aren’t capable of doing? Are you wanting to lead a bible study but feel like you’re not old enough to lead a group of girls? Are you wanting to start a club at school but don’t feel qualified enough? I don’t know what the Lord is asking of you. I do know that you are valuable and that God can use you at any age. You are never too young to serve God.

You can do hard things, no matter your age. God has a plan for your life, and wants to use your talents and your life to honor him. You don’t have to wait until you’re in college, married, or get that job to do hard things for the Lord. God wants to use you now. You are capable of taking on challenging things. Your age is no excuse. If you are a believer, then God requires obedience of you, no matter how old you are. 

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul tells Timothy that he shouldn’t let anyone look down on him because of his age, but rather to set an example for other believers. Even at a young age, you can live a life that points people to Jesus. Why culture might doubt you or see you as immature, Jesus sees you as someone who can be bold for the cause of Christ. If you allow Jesus to work in your life and to reign as savior, then you can go forward with confidence knowing you have a purpose to live out. 

I know so many women who wish they would have served Jesus more faithfully as a teenager. Many of them feel like they wasted opportunities. They believed the lie that they weren’t old enough to make a difference. They wish they would have used their younger years to do things that they no longer can because they now have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that tie them down. One day you will be an adult and you will get to experience all the wonderful things that come along with adulthood, but right now you are a teenager and you get to live the years that so many women wish they could do over. Use your teenage years wisely–use them for the Lord. Don’t let them waste away because you think you’re too young. You can have an eternal impact on this world, no matter what your age is. Be bold, be faithful, and do hard things for the Lord!

For Girls

He Has Gone Before Me

By: Claire Ryan

There are times I sit outside on the back porch, simply to take in the beauty of creation. The sky is so blue, the grass so green, and the birds so talkative. They sing melodies back and forth, as if trying to outdo one another; each song is prettier than the last. Nature is alive.

Pawpaw and I enjoy watching the deer. A mom and her two babies like to roam the back woods, sometimes venturing out beyond the edge of the forest and into human territory. The babies are always curious, they enjoy frolicking into the unknown and experiencing the newness of life. However, when it comes to being out in the open, where there are no trees for coverage, they are somewhat timid. Their mother, perhaps, having taught them the dangers of exposure. Or, maybe, it’s an instinctive knowledge. The momma deer knows all too well what dangers they may face; so, taking charge, she leads the trot away from the forest. Her babies watch from further back, uncertain. Eventually, curiosity wins over and they join her, drawing strength from their mother’s courage. They trust her fully. If a problem arises, they believe she will protect them.

Trust. It isn’t always easy. It requires the giving up of control. When I stop and consider that, I am quickly reminded that nothing has ever truly been in my control in the first place. I have the freedom to make my own decisions, but God holds the gavel of my life.

Life can be really scary; the unknown, a daunting prospect. When I see those baby deer staring anxiously after their mother, sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. I am tiptoeing on the edge of my forest, looking out into the large, open world. There are so many dangers out there; especially, as a Christian. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 we will face trials and tribulations in this life; however, He is our blessed hope! We can take heart, we can rest in Him, because He has overcome the world. Like that momma deer, going before her babies, bravely marching outside of their comfort zone, Jesus Himself takes me by the hand and leads me into the open fields. He will never abandon me, but protect me in His perfect way.

Deuteronomy 31:8: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

He has gone before me.

For Adults

Helping our Girls Find God’s Will for Their Lives

By: Diana Bryant

Even before our daughters were born, we all had dreams of what they would do with their lives. Of course, at that point, those dreams were based on what WE thought would be an excellent idea. They were our dreams, but it didn’t take long to discover our daughters had their own minds, with plans of their own. Today, our girls live in an exciting time, with the world literally at their fingertips. And as they grow and mature, we must remember it’s God’s plan for their lives we want them to find and follow.

How can we help them discern God’s will for their life?

  •  There is no substitute for routinely and intentionally praying for our girls. Pray for God to reveal His will to them and for them to be receptive to His plan. Let your daughter know you pray for her and pray with her.
  • Make sure your daughter knows you want God’s will for her. That may be something you have to settle in your heart because God’s will sometimes lead our children to faraway places or to places we would not have chosen. We need to be convinced God’s plan for their life is the absolute best place for them to be, no matter how that corresponds to our dreams for them.
  • Not only teach your girls to read, love, and obey God’s Word, make sure you are modeling that for them. Let them see you use wisdom found in Scripture to make decisions. You might even have an opportunity to share when you didn’t follow that plan and the consequences that followed.
  • Pay close attention to the personality traits, talents, and abilities your child displays. Do what you can to provide encouragement and growth in these areas. Search for lessons, opportunities to use their talents, or places of service to make the most of your child’s abilities. These may be the characteristics God uses to prepare them for their future.
  • Expose your daughters to opportunities, organizations, and activities that make use of their gifts and interests. Provide ways for them to grow in the areas in which they excel. At the same time, help them experience ways to serve others. God may lead them to do things He will use in their future.  

It’s exciting to watch our girls grow and mature. It’s rewarding to see them walk with the Lord, following wherever He leads. No matter what our dreams were initially, the truth of 3 John 1:4 is the absolute highest aspiration we can achieve: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  Walk every day with your daughters, keeping that goal in mind. Trust God for the results. He is faithful!

For Girls

Finding God’s Will For Your Life

By: Diana Bryant

Everybody loves a good mystery, right? Just not when you have decisions hanging over your head and can’t figure out the right move to make. Many times sincere Christian young people want to find God’s will for their lives but get hung up looking for answers. Let’s look at some basic principles and steps you can take, so decision making is a little less scary and intimidating

Principle #1: Realize life is a series of choices and consequences. The sooner you can grasp good choices result in good, beneficial, and helpful consequences, the better. Bad choices bring about tough consequences. Learning to think through possible outcomes of your decisions can go a long way toward deciding the right path to take.

Principle #2: Be assured God is not trying to trick you. He’s not making a game out of His will, hiding it, and watching to see if you figure it out. God loves you and wants His best for your life! He will provide answers when you sincerely seek them.

Principle #3: Decide early on you are committed to doing whatever His will turns out to be. God may lead in ways you never dreamed of, but rest assured, doing His will ensures a joyful, fulfilling future.

There are several practical steps you can take to find where God is leading. Consider these:

  • Sincerely seek God’s direction. Read and obey Scripture. God will speak to you through the work of the Holy Spirit, and direction will follow. Pray, expecting answers.
  • *When you’re unsure what the long-term answer or direction is, do the next right thing. If you’re in school, the right thing is to study, pay attention, and keep your grades up. When choosing a college to attend, the next right thing is to meet deadlines for applications and essays. If you have a job but aren’t sure about a career track, do your best where you are. Be on time, have the right attitude, and refine the skills you use on that particular job.
  • Notice your gifts and abilities. Work on developing those areas of your life. Make the most of the talents God has given you; He had a reason for giving them to you!
  • Notice circumstances in which frequently you find yourself. God may be preparing you for a specific role.
  • Listen to the guidance from older, godly friends, pastors, and teachers. Many times they see possibilities that you may not realize.
  • Consider known aspects of God’s will first when making a particular decision. There are many things we KNOW are God’s will, like honesty and compassion. Are there principles that apply to your decision, like honoring your parents or giving up things that are not necessarily wrong but keep you from doing better things? If so, use these guidelines to your decision.
  • Be well-rounded. We all have particular things we love to do, watch, and experience. When we obsess on one activity and exclude everything else, it’s not healthy and limits the chances of discovering other exciting possibilities.  

Thankfully, God has promised wisdom when we ask; therefore, you can make decisions with confidence. He has promised to lead and be with us every step of the way. That’s no mystery, and it’s a promise!