Learning in the Valley

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

I felt like giving up today. Just giving up on Ministry. I was convinced that I’m not cut out for this kind of work of the Lord. I can plan things and I love watching lives change because of something we decided to do. But today….satan has been really attacking and I’m feeling VERY unqualified.

The truth is, I am unqualified. If it was not for the Lord I would never be able to do anything and especially not ministry. So I sit here trying to take my own advise and figure out exactly what I’m suppose to learn about this experience. What does God want me to “get” out of this valley moment (and yes Satan….it is a moment….I’ve won already!).

1.) Everyone should have a voice and everyone matters. However, the ONLY voice I should be listening to is God’s voice.

Matthew 6:33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

2.) Pray before you do ANYTHING. I can look back at the times I’ve sought the Lord’s leading and those times when I did not. The times I prayed worked out SO MUCH better.

Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

3.) Even the most seasoned Christian can make mistakes – choose the wrong way and hurt others unintentionally. Conversely, the milk drinking Christian can give some of the best advice. It ain’t about us….its about Jesus and listening when He speaks no matter who He speaks through.

Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Bottom line friends, I need to get my happy self back into the word, praying, fasting, and seeking the Lord in all I do. I need to be compassionate to others and really listen to their concerns but at the end of the day, my decisions need to be based on the Lord’s word and His leading — even when its hard and even when I feel like giving up.

Pray for me. Love y’all.

 

Did they forget who Jesus is?

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Photo by David Beale

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:4-6

From as far back as I can remember, my mother taught me to pray at night. I can remember the prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy & Daddy & everybody. Amen”

My parents at this time in my life weren’t saved (at least I know my dad wasn’t). When my father received salvation, we went to church whenever it was open. From the time I was 14 till the time my parents split up when I was 17, I was either in church or I was going to a Christian School. I was being “trained up” in the ways of the Lord.

When I graduated, I left the church but sadder than leaving church, I left the hope I had attained in Jesus behind. Not that I “lost” my salvation – I knew Jesus. I just left all I THOUGHT He stood for.

In my twenties my parents had front row seats to watch me marry the wrong man, smoke marijuana, drink,  go from job to job, and struggle financially because of my decisions. They got to watch their little girl who had so much promise fail. Not just fail a little, as we all do, but fail in an epic way. After all, I’m not sure I ever did anything half way – well anything bad that is.

I guess I’m telling you all of this to give you hope. If you are the parent of a child who has grown up knowing who Jesus is, and he/she has left – DO NOT LOSE HOPE. Keep praying. I can remember during my days while I sat in my backslidden state, how I could feel the prayers of my father. In fact, there was one day when I called him up and asked him to stop praying for me. I couldn’t take it and I hadn’t been to church in ages, I hadn’t prayed for a long time, and my relationship with Jesus was non-existent. The spirit inside, was pleading with me to come back to my first love. The praying was working and not only that, it gave my father hope.

When God said in scripture, “When he is old, he will not depart from it,” I take that as a promise. If you taught your child the ways of the Lord and they have departed from them, keep praying and hanging on to this promise. They will come back and they do remember. Trust me, they feel your prayers.

 

Trust God.

 

 

If you need prayers, we have a team of Jesus lovin’ women who would love to pray for you, for your child, your husband, or whatever need you have. Contact us here.  If you don’t know Jesus but would like to know more about my Savior, watch this video.

 

How did I get here?

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Photo by Eugenia Maximova

BY ELLEN SUTLIFF & CANDIE BALDRIDGE

Have you ever woken up and said, “how did I get here?” At one time or another we all have. Maybe because we find ourselves in a situation that just a few years ago we would have NEVER thought we would be. Maybe it was because other people did things that ultimately affected our life. Regardless, we have all been at that place in our lives where we have looked in the mirror wondering how we are where we are and wondering how we are going to get out.

There are addicts that wake up most mornings asking this same question; how did I get here? These can be people who are addicted to work, money, drugs, pornography, sexual activities, drinking, or violence. Those things that take over the body, mind, and soul to a point where without it, they are in withdrawal. People who find themselves in this situation don’t start out their life headed down this road. It all starts with, “I can handle this and just try it once.” It quickly turns into, “I need more so I will do whatever it takes.”

These are addictions satan uses to oppress and keep people in bondage. Our enemy takes advantage of our natural man. He uses those three areas in which to tempt and if this person doesn’t have the Spirit living within them, this is all they know.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I spiritually asleep and unaware of what’s going on around me; Am I so consumed with my own life and problems that I don’t want to recognize other people’s problems?” Or are we those who have no compassion for people in this situation? I know that as for us, both of us have thought to ourselves a time or two, “If that person really cared about their children and their family, they would straighten up and get their life together.” That is until addiction hit close to home. I think it is important for us to remember this verse:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

We need to be bearing these burdens in prayer. We need to have compassion for those who find themselves in the grip of addiction. Does that mean we say it’s okay – of course not. Does that mean we enable them to continue in their addiction – NO! But does that mean we mark them off as unlovable and not worth our time? NO! People who are in the grips of bondage need Jesus; no matter what situation in which they find themselves. We are called to love them.

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is , Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:29-31

The children of God must wake up from their spiritual sleep and have a burden for the lost and for those brothers and sisters in the Lord who find themselves in these places of addiction. We need to show the love of Jesus and show them that the hole in their lives they are trying to fill with their drug of choice should be filled with the Spirit of God.

Are you asking yourself how your loved one got to where they are? Are you tired of being the friend who always picks up the pieces? Or maybe you are that person who has just given up on your loved one and has no more compassion for their situation. Might we encourage you to keep praying. Lift them up to the greatest healer – Jesus.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

 

Ellen Sutliff is a 52 year old pastor’s wife and a mother. In her congregation she has people with family members in the throws of addiction. She has old friends with people who are homeless and living in the woods because of addiction. Ellen has family who are slowly losing their lives to addiction. She has chosen to fight the good fight in prayer for those who struggle with these strongholds. “How did I get here? By the love, mercy and grace of God. He filled my heart with my Lord Jesus!”

If you need prayer please contact us here. If you don’t know Jesus and want more information, watch this video – it could change your life!

God or His Stuff

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Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs

BY SHARON MABRY

I must confess when I started my relationship with the Lord 11 years ago I was deeply in love with Him. As years went by slowly and unknowingly my attraction became more focused on His stuff and what He could do for me rather than on He, Himself, the Creator of the universe.

My world began to shake three years ago when my mother died from metastatic breast cancer. If anyone had faith for a healing it was her. If anyone prayed earnestly with supplication for a miracle it was me. And then she died; and I was angry. Where was the God who hears and answers prayer?

My anger was fueled a couple months later when, after seven years of infertility I became pregnant only to have a miscarriage. I felt like a pawn in a game and my feelings didn’t matter. He didn’t heal my mother and He gave me a child only to take it away. Although I got pregnant again right away and have two precious little boys now I was still angry that I had to experience that hurt. I pictured God on His throne sitting in a cloud of injustice, laughing at the devastating heartache He had created in me. I sincerely thought about walking away from Him at that point, but I knew in my heart, that His heart towards me was good. I would tell myself to remember the heart of God was good, even though I couldn’t see His hand.

I started looking for answers. Why didn’t God heal anymore? Why did the God of today look so different from the God of the Bible? I thought that everyone got their healing because they had faith as a mustard seed, that they really had this immense joy all the time because the answer was always yes. I found out sometimes the answer is no.
I had opportunity to talk with my pastor one day after service just a few months ago and got real with him and asked why he thought we don’t see the miracles today like they did in the Bible. His answer, “I think in that time people were following after Jesus more than they were praying for comfort.” I instantly had a peace that I hadn’t had for a long time.

That is what I’d been doing. I’d been praying unknowingly with the wrong motive, I’d been praying for my comfort. I wanted my mother to live so I wouldn’t have to experience the hurt of loosing her. I had finally gotten peace about not having children only to experience a miscarriage, never mind I got pregnant again and had a precious little boy. I had been acting as though I was entitled to never feel hurt, to have all my prayers answered because I was a child of the most High, because I was ‘someone’. I wouldn’t listen to the Lord, so He, in all His love had to forcefully remove me from my high horse; and it hurt. He loved me enough to say no so that I could get back in right standing before Him.

I got back into the Word, I had to find out who did God say He was. I went to the gospels to look at the life of Jesus as he demonstrated the Heart of God to the people here. In Luke 5:17-25 a man with palsy was lowered through a roof by friends for a healing and Jesus forgave his sins. He didn’t heal him at first although that was what was sought after. Jesus healed him to prove to the Pharisees that He had power upon earth to forgive sins. Jesus took care of what was most important first, not this man’s ability to walk, but to have his sins forgiven so that he could live in freedom. This man got both, but sometimes the healing doesn’t come. Sometimes all we get is freedom, and that’s okay because after all, isn’t that the best part? My mother wasn’t healed, and I experienced heartache, but she was set free, why should I grieve for that? She got the best part.

Then I read in Mark 6:45-55 that Jesus sent his disciples to cross the sea while He went alone to a mountain to pray. Jesus had just fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, then we pick up in verse 48:

And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed them by.”

Stop there. Jesus saw they were in trouble, they were doing something He told them to do, and He was going to walk by! Seven years of infertility, fours years into it I finally get peace just to have a miscarriage three years later. I was toiling in that boat and you were walking by. Why? In verse 51-52:

“…and he went up unto them into the ship; and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”

Maybe, my heart had hardened…maybe I’d become entitled, maybe because I unknowingly had fallen in love with your stuff, maybe because I needed to spend an evening at sea toiling with the winds to remind me that it is only when God steps into the boat, into my situation with His Grace that the winds become calm. My heavenly Father loved me enough to send me out onto the troubled sea so that I would give him opportunity to step into my boat so that when I come to the other side I can say, that I know Him. Verse 54:

“And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,”

I’ve recently learned, that sometimes the answer is no, that it is good for me to experience life and all the hurts that it has to offer. That God is not my self-help genie to protect me from all things uncomfortable, but that He is my Father and He loves me, and He wants to mold me into the best individual possible so that I can contribute in this life and not just consume. That means sometimes the healing won’t come, and the night will be spent toiling, but when the fourth watch has come, He will step into my situation and the winds will cease, and I will know Him even more because the storm is what brought Him into my boat.

 

After a childhood of abuse, the Lord delivered Sharon Mabry from a life of alcohol and drug abuse as well as self-mutilation. Sharon is a walking testimony to the power of grace and love through Jesus Christ. She joyfully serves the Lord as she stays home to raise her children.

A Mother’s Testimony

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BY MEGAN SMEDLEY

At age five, when my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I said a mommy. Over time, that desire came and went in accordance to the level of orneriness of the children I was around. However, I never wanted kids more than in the moment I was told that children would not be a possibility for me.

At that time, I was a virgin. Kids weren’t exactly on my radar at that moment, but I am one of those people who always wants what she can’t have. You see, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when I was 15, but was never really informed of what my body was going through each time a cyst bursted. When I was told that the scarring to my Fallopian tubes was too extensive for an egg to pass through, I was devastated.

Fast forward two or so years later, and I was in a very serious relationship with the man who is now my husband. About six months into our relationship, I felt the need to inform him of the possibility that I would never be able to have children. His support came immediately. He said things like, “There are all kinds of babies in the world who need homes” and “I love you no matter what.” I married him in 2014, and we agreed that we wouldn’t even think about babies until I finished my Master’s Degree, which I completed last May.

We immediately started trying. Month after month passed, and no luck. Each time my period came was like a slap in the face…a reminder that I may never have any children. I was broken.

Then one night, I was covering an event, (I spent almost two years working as a reporter for the local newspaper), and I was about to interview the keynote speaker. Her name was Carol Everett, and she was speaking to guests of a pregnancy center’s annual fundraising event. Carol had spent a large portion of her life working in the pro-choice industry. She worked six years in an abortion clinic and was part of 35,000 abortions. In 1983, she gave her life to Christ and now uses her experience and faith to help women who are dealing with crisis pregnancies. Her story is truly inspiring.

Once I finished my interview, she looked me deep in the eyes, and asked me if she could ask me a personal question. She asked me if my husband and I were trying to have a baby. I said yes, and then she asked if she could pray with me. She took my hands and asked God to open my womb and bless me with a child. By the end of her prayer, I was crying. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

That was November of last year. On December 2, we found out we were pregnant. I fully believe in the power of prayer, and believe that because of Carol’s fervency, we were blessed with our little one, who is expected to arrive in August.

Philippians 4:6- Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Megan Smedley is a wife and soon-to-be mother. With her first born due in August,  life has shifted from a focus on working and housekeeping to an emphasis on learning how to be the best mother she can be. Although her child is not here yet, she says she plans to be a very hands-on mom, while teaching her son to be respectful and engaged in what is going on around him.