Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lessons from Nehemiah

A group of the most amazing women I've ever known, and I are working hard toward a Ladies Precept Bible study retreat, which you've likely already seen the posts on here about.

Normally, I'm not a retreat girl..not unless it's by myself or with my hubby, that is.

Yet, I am COMPELLED by the vision that God has given us for this retreat!

Over and over again He is taking me to the book of Nehemiah. I just can't seem to get enough of it!

My guess is that the next 10 weeks of blogging are going to be about Nehemiah.
Hope you'll join me! :)

To start, just read the first few verses:

Neh 1:1
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, {in} the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol,
Neh 1:2
that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped {and} had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem.
Neh 1:3
They said to me, "The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire."
Neh 1:4
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

You know what jumps out at me in this passage? Right off the bat...the remnant.
Whose remnant were they?
Why and How do you think they were able to survive the captivity?
Why was Jerusalem so important to Nehemiah that he asked his brother and the men about it?
(If you don't know, stay tuned. God is going to answer these questions for us from Scripture!)

Then, Nehemiah's brother and the men from Judah tell him the condition of the people, the remnant. They describe it in great detail...

The wall is broken down! The gates are burned with fire!
They are in great distress! They are in great reproach!

During this time, the walls around a city served to fortify it. To protect it. (Do you remember the story of the walls of Jericho?) It's where the watchmen were stationed, in order to look out for enemies approaching.

The gates were where the elders of the city sat. In the city gates were the places where monumental decisons and judgments were often made. The gates were also the first entry to the city...a type of "holding room" if you will.

Yet, here's Jerusalem...the wall is broken down. The gates are burned with fire.

No protection for her. No place for her leadership to station themselves to govern the people. No safe entry-way for strangers to come through before having free access to the city.

Makes me ask..was anyone leading? Was anyone trying to protect her?

So, the men from Judah tell Nehemiah the condition of Jerusalem...the holy city...the place where God had caused His name to dwell.

And what is Nehemiah's response?

Does he say, "Well! I'll fix that! We've got work to do! Let's get going!"

What DOES he do?

Do you see it?

Do you do this? Or, do you just jump right in before seeking the Lord?

Oooooh! I've done that so many times that I've lost count...and I've always landed flat on my face!

Better to start out on my face, before the Lord, than to fall on it of my own doing!

Do you see how Nehemiah handled this horrible news?

He heard the report and he wept and mourned for days!

He fasted and he prayed before the God of heaven!

He was a wise man...he sought the counsel of the Lord. He didn't rush in like fools do.

Why was he weeping and mourning?
Was it just because of the condition of the walls and gates of the city?
(Scripture will give you the answer as you read on in this chapter.)

How much did Nehemiah attempt to accomplish in his own power?

Do you see the time period here?

It reads as though he was weeping and mourning and fasting and praying all at the same time.

So here's the application in my own life, just for these few verses....

It is so clear to me that God is calling our team to host this Precept Ladies Retreat. Not for the purpose of having "girl time", but because we have work to do!

People in this country need to know God's Word! I put myself at the top of that list!
We need to know how to study His Word, so that we'll know how to live in a way that honors and pleases the Lord.

The walls around the church in America have been broken down. The gates have been burned. We've gotten so busy asking the lost what they what they want to see in church, in order to get them through the door, that we've quit asking the Lord what and how HE wants us to minister to the lost!

We've started preaching to "felt" needs instead of being faithful to teach people God's Word.

Is this every church? No, praise the Lord, it isn't.

Yet, when the conditions within the church mirror those without, something is drastically wrong!

Someone has taken their eyes off of the Word. Who is leading the church? Who is governing?

And..what's to be our response?

Do we sit in little circles and click our tongues while we pass judgement on all those whom we think have dropped the ball?

Is that what Nehemiah did?

I don't see that as his response.

Instead, by his example, we learn that yes, we are to mourn the sin in our land. That's a right response. We are to mourn the sin in our own lives, and that which is tolerated in our churches today...and the consequences that stem from that sin.

We are to mourn and weep over the fact that people don't know God's Word for themselves.

However, during that time of mourning, let us turn to the Author and Finisher of our faith...let us seek the Lord and fast and pray and ask Him how He desires to use US to combat the conditions in which we now find our nation.

Let us be like Isaiah, and tell the Lord, "Here am I. Send me."

I gotta tell you, this retreat seems HUGE! It's so much bigger than my talents are, and so very much bigger than anything I first thought it might be. And while I think the women on our team are absolutely the most amazing women in the world, my guess is that they would tell you the same thing I just did...that this call is so much bigger than any of us!

Yet, God uses those who are willing to be used of Him...for His glory.

He wants people to know Him personally, and in order to know Him, we must know His Word.

So, that is our goal for this retreat...that women would learn how to study God's Word, and that they would return home COMPELLED to teach others.

For those who already know how to study..and for those who are already leaders, we hope and pray that this retreat will be a time of exchanging ideas of how they have used Precept Studies to reach people with God's Word. We also pray it will be a time to bring leaders together...that they might build lifelong relationships to encourage one another to stay the stand firm in the mission of establishing people in God's Word.

Nehemiah is going to teach us so much as we prepare for this retreat...I can't wait to dig into it with you further!

I hope you'll come back's so rich, and so full of great application!

Please pray for our retreat...for each woman who will come.

Much love,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ladies Precept Bible Study Retreat

Ladies Precept Bible Study Retreat!
Come join us the weekend of June 27th – 29th for a time of refreshment at a
Ladies Precept Bible Study Retreat
put on by fellow Precept students and leaders from Arizona.
To be held at the beautiful Living Water Retreat Center outside of Cottonwood.

Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
How can I be certain that I will inherit it?
How do I learn to trust God in the midst of adversity?
Find the answers to these questions and more as you learn to
“Discover Truth for Yourself”!

Along with corporate study, there will be several Breakout Sessions over the weekend:
Choose two:
  • How Can I Teach Little Children to Know God's Word?
  • Using the "Discover 4 Yourself" series to disciple kids 7+
  • Truth for Teens - for & by teen girls
  • Using 40-Minute Bible Studies - (Get started leading inductive studies!)
  • (For Precept Leaders only) - roundtable discussions to encourage & equip
So mark your calendars and invite your friends and family, (your teenage daughters too!).
Please request retreat registration information by e-mailing

Questions? Feel free to contact us at

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What a SWEET Day!

Today was homeschool mommy payoff day!

Two of the sweetest things happened today, and I just couldn't let the day go by without chronicling them for posterity sake. Hope they'll bless your heart like they did mine.

Shane and I made a decision recently to get Caedmon started in music lessons. He needs something to really challenge him at the same time that it blesses him in a way that he "gets". He also needed something that he was responsible for...a craft that he would need to invest time in each day.

Yesterday was his first guitar lesson. He learned a G-chord, and today he picked up his guitar no less than 3 times to practice. He's really taking ownership of it, and is so excited about learning to play!

Here's the sweet blessing...I was in the office today working on retreat stuff and he came in and sat down in the big lazy boy chair and said, "Mom. Listen to this!"

I thought he was going to play a G-chord for me, but much to my delight he played it as he sang a praise song that he had written to the Lord. It was so rich of precious words to our Father, and all I could do was weep.

Caedmon is named after a man from the 600s whom God gave the gift of song, and who spent his life from that moment on turning Scripture into song.

Nothing could have been more precious to me than watching as he fulfilled the very meaning of his name, to God's glory!

Then, on the way home from church tonight I called one of my friends whose father is dying. She is in another state right now, with her mom and brother, saying goodbye to her Daddy. I was driving as we were talking, and at one point I said to her, "I am praying for all of you. I would pray right now, but I know that I'd cry, and I don't want to cry while I'm driving."

We talked a little while longer, and then I told her good-bye.

The minute I hung up, Brennan (5) said, "Mommy. It's ok that you couldn't pray. You don't have to worry, Mommy, because I prayed! I just prayed in my head, but my eyes were open. :) And Mommy...did you know that when I pray in my head, I hear my voice?"

HOW SWEET is that?!

I can't wait to share that with my friend...I imagine she will be richly blessed knowing that sweet little Brennie-Bren was lifting her and her family before the throne of Grace.

I won't be at all surprised to find one day that Brennan's spiritual gift is mercy.

Oh, today was like a paycheck of the heart!

Thank you, Lord! Today was a time of reaping. Thank you so much. You knew I needed it!

Galatians 6:9
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Awesome New Resources for Pastors and Church Leadership from Precept Ministries!

Please click on the link to go to Precept Ministries' website and see the awesome new resources available for pastors and church leaders. It's so good!

They are even offering FREE TRAINING for them!

I'm am so excited about these new ministry developments and just had to share them with you!

Be sure to watch the's great!

"Discover. Go Deeper. Disciple." - LOVE IT!

Maybe you'll want to pray about how you can share these new opportunities within your own church body.

Think about what a blessing it could be to a pastor to know that the flock he is leading is learning to discover the truth of God's Word on their own time, and not solely dependent upon his Sunday morning message....that they are growing up in Christ and are ready to lead others in their own walks.

Sounds like the great commission to me. ;)

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."


A Dinner Update

The Lord is so gracious, isn't He? When we choose to walk in obedience, He gives us the words and the courage to do what He's called us to do.

I wrote yesterday about my friend who is coming to visit, and about the dinner quandry.

Well, we had an opportunity to talk today and I just told the truth, and said that I wasn't comfortable going out on the company's dime, and that Shane and I are accountable to the Lord, so we have to make the decision that we believe He wants us to.

My friend was so kind, and explained that it's actually written into their expense account policy that if they travel for business and end up staying with a friend instead of renting a hotel room, that they have permission to take the friends to dinner. The way it was explained, it will end up actually saving the company $369 dollars per night if my friend stays here instead of renting a room. So, that's why the company writes this in.

I suppose that if I hadn't worked in the corporate world and had an expense account myself, I might question this, but once my friend explained it, my memory was jogged and I too remember having similar freedoms.

My friend actually said the words, "I promise you it's approved. I wouldn't jeopardize my job over a dinner."

So, I guess we are going after all. So, if you've placed reservations for our cookout, we'll have to postpone. :)

Recalling those fun perks of being a sales person for a fortune 500 company....

My favorite was when we had our sales meeting in Puerto Rico, and the company was treating the sales people to all kinds of fun activities for the weekend...deep sea fishing, wave riding in the ocean, etc.

I ended up working the whole weekend from my hotel room, because I had some really big deals that were on the verge of closing, and our sales meeting was during the work week, and I just didn't want to lose that crucial time.

When my deals closed, and the week came to an end, my boss came to me and said, "I want to pay for you to stay over for the weekend. (everyone else was leaving on Friday) You've worked hard, and missed out on a lot, and I have permission to do this for you."


As it turned out, I couldn't find a hotel room anywhere on that island. I called and called, but for some reason everything was booked for the weekend.

My boss ended up encouraging me to look at some of the surrounding islands, and so I got to spend 2 days all by myself in a private villa on St. Croix!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The place I stayed is called Villa Madeline. It's wonderful. They were featured in Architectual Digest, and at the time were considered a 5 star restaraunt.

I had my own swimming pool overlooking the ocean. The food was fantasic. I chartered a sail boat with a nice couple I met there and spent the day on the ocean. (My favorite!)

It was the most amazing place I've ever been!

OK...strike that, Alaska was the MOST amazing, but this ran a close second!

So, what's my point in all of this?

I guess it was just a sweet victory for me today. This friend of mine knew me when I was lost, lost, lost...a pathalogical liar and only out for self.

Today was a clear opportunity to let my Light shine, and I hope and pray that through the conversation we had, that God was glorified.

Better yet, I hope and pray that my friend will one day glorify my Father Who is in Heaven, too!

If you would, please pray for our weekend. I love this friend dearly, and want so much for them to know the Lord. It would mean the world to me to have the weekend bathed in prayer.

Pray until Monday night, ok?



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Living in the Fulfillment of The Law

Our Precept class has been studying "The Sermon on The Mount", and next week we'll be looking at The Law.

I have had some HUGE "Ah-Ha" moments during this time of's been so rich! It's one of those times of learning that makes me just want to run out and tell everyone I know what God has taught me through this study.

However, some of the ladies in the class read this blog, so I won't spoil next week's discussion for them...I'll share with you after Monday what my big moment was. :)

One thing that we do see all through Matthew 5 is that Jesus took the Law straight to the heart. He by-passed all the excuses that man could come up with. The religious leaders of the day were living in such a way that they would point to the law and (in essence) say, "I don't do THAT! See...I'm righteous!".

But Jesus went to the heart. Like the sword of the Spirit, He cut through the legalism and addressed the heart.

Have you noticed how cliche' even the words of The Sermon on The Mount have become in our culture? I wish I had a dime for every person who tells me that they are "pure of heart" and "have the light", yet are living totally for self, apart from the righteousness of Christ.

I just had an opportunity come up today. A friend of mine is coming to visit soon, and when we were talking about dinner plans today, this friend said, "Hey. We'll just go out to eat on my company. We can expense it."

I tried to gently guide the conversation back to us just grilling out here, and didn't quite know how to handle this graciously.

But you hasn't left me all day long.

The truth is, we aren't clients of this person's company. We (my family and I) aren't counted on this person's per diem.

And, above all... we are the Light of the World. The Salt of the Earth. A City Set on a Hill.

That's what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5.

Once we give our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and are indwelt by His Holy Spirit, this is how He speaks of us, and of our responsibility to this world.

I don't want to lose my saltiness with this person. I don't want to put my light under a basket. I want to be a faithful follower of my Lord Jesus in everything....I want my life to shed so much light that this person is compelled to repent and follow Christ.

Jesus would tell me that going out to dinner on the company's dime would be stealing. I'm sure of it.

How can I be so sure? Because Jesus took everything back to the heart.

And He's made it clear in mine. Crystal.

Wanna join us for tacos al carbon at the house? We'll be grilling out! (Or going dutch!) ;)

I thought the picture above was amazingly coincidental to this post. :)