Why is it that every time I think about “challenge” I’m directed to my “body image”. It might be cause that is one challenge that God hasn’t freed me from. My sinful nature has a hold on me.
Or maybe it’s that my body image is not the most important challenge that God has laid on my heart.
1 John 3:23 (ESV) And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
This is the one challenge that I’m focusing on. This is the one challenge that God wants me to get right before I go on to the next. And there will be the next. Our whole life will be about more challenges.
As far back as I can remember, I now can see how God was challenging me even during times that I didn’t know God was even there.
As a young child, making the choice to lie about something.
As an adolescent, choosing to walk away from a potentially dangerous situation even though it was seen as weird by my peers.
As a young teenager, making a choice to skip class to go with my boyfriend and do things I shouldn’t be doing.
As an older teen, choosing not to drive drunk.
As a new married woman, choosing forgiveness even though it hurt.
As a young mom, making a choice to allow my kids to see me go against my husband’s wishes.
As a wife, choosing not to place myself in a situation that most likely would have ending my marriage.
As a Christian, choosing love for others, over myself.
Oh, and so many more in between.
He was with me so long ago and walked each step with me, challenging me to seek Him in my choices. Challenging me to challenge His love for me.
You know I did do that. I challenged Him in 2006 to fix my life, my marriage, my family and He did. But with that challenge I had to choose to let Him guide my life.
So in any challenge that we find ourselves in, we must let Him be our guide.
His challenges are for our Good and to bring HIM Glory.
Take the Challenge!
Lord, thank you for challenging me to be better each day.
I was recently asked to speak at a Ladies Day where I previously attended church for 25 years. This is the church where I “grew up”. Not grew from child to adult but from “believer to follower”. And that growth continues still.
My talk was to be on my acts of service while I was there. And mainly concerning one specific area of service. It was interesting as I started typing that in about 3 minutes or less I could say what I had to say about me and my service but when I started adding the part that God played in the process of my service, it became much more.
The bible is very specific and shows many examples of people doing service. But if we’ve never even read the bible or been taught then where do we start? 2 Corinthians 9:12-13 is a good place!
2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (ESV) For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,
If we want to glorify God and we know that He placed us here on earth with a purpose and prepared us before we were formed with His gifts, then we must start! There is no better time to start than now!
I would like to share with you, what I shared with my friends and sister’s in Christ about my beginning in service.
Hi, I’m Rhonda Gould. I attended Friendly Ave for 25 years and moved from NC to KY, 7 years ago. For those of you who know me, bare with me. For those you who don’t, here’s a little about me. I moved to NC from TX in 1986 and began attending Friendly Ave, I came with a husband and a 2 yr old son. During my time here I had another son and divorced after 10 years of marriage and remarried a year and ½ later. Many of the women in this room raised their children along side of me. Many of the women in this room have seen me and my family in joyous times and in some, not so joyous. Many of the women in this room have seen me soar with the Lord and have seen me back slide. I am a rather normal woman. God created me a very shy and introverted girl but has shown me that if I’m willing to say “YES” then He will give me the power and the courage to follow His lead. Nicole asked me to talk about my time here and in what capacity I served this church family. I have served in many different capacities at Friendly, some were more behind the scenes and some more up front. The one that I’m going to focus on today is my service with ERLTC, if you don’t know what that is, it’s Eastern Region Leadership Training for Christ, which is a youth ministry for the Eastern USA. I won’t go into all the details of the program because the leaders here now can share that with you, but that role was where the growth in me started through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Now for a little history, Friendly Ave was involved in a program called Lads to Leaders for years. That is where I began my journey in service as an adult. Initially, I was a co-leader for a puppet team. That’s it! A far behind the scenes role and that is what I liked. The leaders of the program at that time were moving out of state and they needed someone to head up the whole program for Friendly. One day, 2 ladies came to me and encouraged me to take that role. Their words I fully don’t remember but I do remember them saying, “I believe you can do this!”. Yes, me a behind the scene puppet coach moving into a role of leader of the whole program. Now, I really wasn’t of the same heart as Isaiah, saying “here I am Lord, send me”. Initially I said, “No way can I do that”, but after praying about it (and honestly probably not much of that), my spirit was encouraged and through them the Holy Spirit pushed me to say “Yes”. That was the beginning that lead to today. I did take the role and got to work. I used the gift of administration that God had given me. Boy was I scared! Public speaking…… NO way! But I said “Yes”! We rolled along for about 2 years and several of the parents came to me and asked that I look into the LTC program out of Texas. I did and after many meetings it was decided that Friendly Ave would begin the LTC program. Because of the way LTC is structured, LTC for the Eastern Region had to be created from the ground up. So, we had a meeting with several eastern region Churches of Christ leaders and leaders of the Texas LTC program and wyaalaa the Eastern Regional LTC was born. During that meeting of the leaders, which was the beginning of a Board of Directors, it was said that someone had to be the Board Chairman and they all pointed to me. Yes, the behind the scene puppet coach was now being asked to head up the Eastern Region. YIKES! But at this point my initial “YES” several years prior, placed me in a position of being all in. So off we went. I and another leader flew to Dallas for a quick training and then had our first ERLTC convention in 2004. I served as board chairman for that program for 9 years and happily, but sadly, passed it on to another capable leader when we moved to Kentucky. I served through several roles in these ministries for over 14 years. Part of that time my children were involved and part of it they were not, because they had aged out. My husband was not involved but he supported me wholeheartedly. There were times when the ministry took more of my time than others but the 1 thing I had to always remember was that God put me here to serve my husband and my family first and then others. As long as my husband knew that he was a priority, he supported me in whatever I felt I needed to do. That can be a challenge at times in the church because we can feel like it’s our spiritual duty to serve others and it is, but not at the expense of our families or our own sanity. Self-love, family love and then other love.
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Were there challenges? Sure! Did each one of those challenges push me a bit more towards being who God created me to be? Sure did! Let me tell you what I’m not. I’m not the perfect wife, mom, friend or church goer. I’m not an educated professional. I’m not a bible scholar or trained speaker. I’m simply a child of God who decided to say “Yes”. I’m just ordinary. Nothing special. Just willing. There are many ordinary people in the bible, God told Noah to build a boat, Job was tested by God, Moses lead God’s people out of Egypt, David killed Goliath and became the second king of Israel, Daniel slept with Lions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego danced in fire with Jesus, Ester went before the king and saved her people and Peter healed many. They were just ordinary people. In each of their specific services or roles on their path, I’m sure there were challenges, but they knew that God sent them, and he would carry them through. Acts 4:13 says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
I definitley didn’t handle each challenge perfectly every time. But I can tell you that each time I forgot that my strength and courage was coming from God and not myself, is when I tripped up. Now 20 years or so down the road, I’m learning to trust in Him, pray to Him and wait for Him more. I want to reference Nehemiah. He was a Jewish cup bearer of the King of Persia. He was part of a group of Jews that was carried away into captivity by the Babylonians. Nehemiah asked a friend what had happened to the other Jews and what was the condition of the city of Jerusalem. What he learned saddened him. He tearfully poured out his heart to God confessing the sins of his people and asking for deliverance. Not long after, while Nehemiah was serving the king, the king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness. Nehemiah was struck with fear when the king inquired about his sadness. However, He immediately prayed to God about the matter. From that point on, Nehemiah found the King to be very accommodating in his sympathy and support for him. What started out as an ordinary day, ended up with the king providing Nehemiah the permission, the passage, the materials, and the help to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. Through this process, Nehemiah was able to plan the project without interference, put the right people in the roles that needed their specific expertise and skills, and maintain his humility as servant by praying for his wayward brethren and himself (Nehemiah 13:29-31).
Point being, he was an ordinary man, with an ordinary profession, who loved his people and was saddened by their disobedience and he felt deep fear. First thing he did was “cry out”, pray for them, asked for deliverance and he saw change and was provided for.
This is what I feel like is key to leading a successful ministry. Understanding that those serving beside you are simple, ordinary people. Love them so deeply that their weaknesses sadden you and you cry out to God for them. Remember that you also are ordinary and extend GRACE in heavy doses to all involved. Continue to cry out, pray, to God as it says in Nehemiah 13:31 “Remember me, my God, with your kindness”.
The greatest blessing that I have had in the areas of service that I do, is watching others bloom. I simply do as those 2 ladies did for me and recognize other’s gifts and skills and ask them to be involved. Don’t be afraid to allow others to soar higher than yourself and don’t make it a race, let it be a journey. That is key!
In his book, “If you want to walk on water then you must get out of the boat”, John Ortberg says, “There is always a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk the walk perfectly – not by a long shot. But because they say yes to God, they learn and grow even from their failures. And they become part of His actions to redeem the world.”
I have been blessed far beyond anything I could have imagined just because I was willing to say “YES”.
As a new Christian I had a women that loved me enough to walk with me in the area of service by serving with me. And from there God grew and blessed her efforts by placing me in positions to grow.
Where to start? Here & Now and Bring someone along with you.
Thank you Lord for placing people on my path to encourage me and thank you for giving me the courage to say Yes to service.
Your testimony is an outline of your experiences and how God has used them for HIS plan of salvation for this world. Make this one life count!
In 2013, I wrote my first testimony. As I shared my story, my life was outlined with experiences that had shaped me. How actions of others had shaped my thoughts of myself and led me down a wide path of sin, shame and guilt. It was a story of how I had overcome with a splashing of how God had played a part.
This picture of the rocky covered grounds meeting up with the softness of the waters just to find that once in those waters they too can become rough, tossing me around, perfectly represents my life. As I’m sure that most of you could say it represents yours too.
Testimonies are funny things. They never stop evolving because life never stops evolving. When I wrote my first testimony, it was like a badge of victimization and shame. Writing my story was a way to break down those barriers of anger, guilt and shame that I so long had buried within. Now several different versions and 6 years later, it has become a badge of honor to me. A way to express the gratitude I have to God for redeeming me, rescuing me and releasing me from my past.
Here’s a snippet …..
I’m here to share with you how Jesus made this “broken life”, BEAUTIFUL in spite of myself. I just thought I had worked through it but God had so much more he wanted to reveal to me. This is a story of love, grace, redemption and restoration. Jude 1 “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” and Romans 3 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”.
There are so many experiences that shaped me, that played a part in my life testimony and ultimately led me down a path to a closer walk with God, a greater appreciation for what Jesus did for me and the role that the Holy Spirit plays in my life today. My experiences may have shaped me but I know WHO formed me and that knowledge is what gives me hope and smooths out the rocky and turbulent parts.
Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I was a mess. I didn’t realize it till I was hit head on with so much pain that God seemed to be my last resort. I hate to say He was my last resort but I wouldn’t be honest if I said He was my first. I learned early on that I could sway the direction of the wind by acting certain ways or saying certain words. I felt like I could conquer the world, that is called codependency and I seemed to be a master at it. In my world, that was being the master at fixing everyone else’s problems while mine were imploding around me. Till I finally couldn’t stand on my own 2 feet and allowed God to hold me up. I dropped all that baggage that I’d been carrying around, some mine and some others, and allowed HIM to free me of it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Here’s a snippet…….
I gave up the fight in 2005! I knew for years that my God was there but I never reached out for Him. So I boldly called out…… ”God, I’m handing this over to you for 1 year, then I’m done”. I was ready to meet the God that Hagar speaks of in Genesis, “The God who sees me”. As that year passed, I saw change in me, change in my husband, change in my children and it gave me hope. Hope to hold on.
This one life of mine has had it’s bumpy and winding roads but it has also shown me who God created me to be. He was just waiting for me to ask Him to show me. I can boast now all the more gladly of my weaknesses, because I know that the power of Christ rests upon me.
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
So I type all this, to let you know that when I sought after HIM, He was found and I learned that His eyes always saw me, just as He is the God that sees you too!
Here’s a snippet……
Never underestimate, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE, what He can do through you!
Use your story, your experiences, your testimony to bring HIM glory.
Lord, thank you for allowing me to walk this journey and to share this journey with others so one day we will be with You.
The other night my 2 oldest grands and I were in the hotel and they began, as tween girls do, flipping the channel and it ended up on some cartoonish type show called, Big City Greens by Disney (not endorsing). Now we really didn’t watch much but it caught my attention because the dad was trying to get all his family together for a photo and “make” them smile. This is something that I do almost every time we are all together and I remember the days when it was like pulling teeth to get them to smile. I think they see the good in it now so they do it without grumbling. Anyway I digress. He got the picture and was so excited to have it developed and when he looked at them, it was evident that they were NOT happy. And he frowned! He then took them to the food court and they all got their favorite food and sat down to eat. As they sat there he looked around at them and noticed they were all laughing and smiling and having fun. He took at snap shot in his memory and in his mind said, “it’s better to be happy than to just look happy” .
In the day of everything being plastered on social media and everyone putting on the “happy” face, how do we distinguish between looking happy and being happy. Let’s face it. Life is hard and we can’t always keep that happy face on.
2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
But actually we can! Our face may not always look the part but in our heart, we can be.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
There is going to be hard times, if there wasn’t why would we have needed a savior. We are not promised a life with no troubles but we are promised that in HIS presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
Don’t allow those troubles to crush your spirit, let HIM be your good medicine and fill you with a joyful heart. If life gets tough, God will also place people on your path for you to share your sorrows with. Don’t walk alone, grab God’s hand and grab the hand of a friend and walk it together.
So turn that frown up side down and “BE HAPPY”!
Thank you Lord for giving me reason to be JOYFUL! Amen!
I don’t know about you but I have to turn my free will back over to God daily! I’m a constant work in progress but I’m trying with each new day!
Do you yourself struggle with wanting to stray from HIS path? Do you have someone you love straying right now?
As I’ve said, I have to turn myself back everyday. I also have had and still have those I love turn away and I pray that they will turn back before their time is up.
“Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
It is NEVER too late to turn BACK. Pray for them, pray for me and pray for yourself!
I have a Prayer of Intercessory that I love. I found it when I was studying the Celebrations of Discipline by Richard Foster and I hope it helps you.
Binding or Intercessory Prayer for Non- believers and
those who are held captive by the enemy.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
I bind _______________’s body, soul and spirit to the will and purposes of God
for his/her life.
I bind ____________________’s
mind, will and emotions to the will of God.
I bind him/her to the truth and to the blood of Jesus Christ. I bind his/her mind to the mind of Christ
that the very thoughts, feelings and purposes of HIS heart would be within
I bind ___________’s feet to
the paths of righteousness that his/her steps would be steady and sure. I bind her/her to the work of the cross with
all of its mercy, grace, love, forgiveness and dying to self-life.
I loose (break, smash, crush,
destroy) every old, wrong, ungodly pattern of things, attitude, idea, desire,
belief, motivation, habit and behavior from him/her. I tear down, crush, and destroy every
stronghold associated with these things.
I loose any stronghold in his/her life that has been justifying and
protecting hard feelings against anyone.
I loose the strongholds of unforgiveness, fear and distrust from
I loose the power and effects
of deceptions and lies from ___________. I loose the confusion and blindness of
the god of this world from ___________’s mind that has kept him/her from seeing
the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I call forth every precious Word of scripture and every Biblical truth
that has ever entered into the heart and mind of __________ that it would rise
up in power within him/her now.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
I loose the power and effects of any harsh or hard words (word curses) spoken
to, about or by ____________. I loose
all generational bondages and associated strongholds from ____________. I loose, crush, smash, destroy and break all
effects and bondages from ____________that may have been caused by mistakes I
(or others) have made. Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ, I crush, smash and
destroy generational bondages of any kind from mistakes made at any point
between generations. I destroy them
right here and now. They will not bind
or curse ___________ any longer.
I bind the strong man, satan,
that I may spoil his house, taking back every material and spiritual possession
her has wrongfully taken from _____________.
I loose the enemy’s influence over every part of ____________’s body,
soul, and spirit. I loose, crush and
destroy every evil device he may try to bring into ___________’s sphere of
influence during this day.
I bind and loose these things
in the Name of Jesus Christ. He has
given me the keys to the kingdom and the authority to do so. Thank you, Lord, for the truth. AMEN
“Who the Son sets free is
without a word
A member of a certain church, who previously
had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few
weeks, the preacher decided to visit him.
It was a chilly evening. The preacher found the man at home alone,
sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his preachers
Visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the
Fireplace and waited. The preacher
made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated
the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the
preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning
ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back
in his chair, still silent. The host
watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one
lone ember’s’ flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary
glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial
greeting. The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time
to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and
placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow,
once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around
it. As the preacher reached the door to
leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so
much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be
back in church next Sunday.’
live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little.
Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones
The Lord is my Shepherd —– that’s a
I shall not want —– that’s Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green
pastures —-that’s Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still
waters —–that’s Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul —– that’s
He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness –that’s Guidance!
For His name sake —– that’s Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death–that’s
I will fear no evil —– that’s
For Thou art with me —– that’s
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort
me —–that’s Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine
Thou annointest my head with oil —–
My cup runneth over —– that’s
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my
And I will dwell in the house of the
Lord —–that’s Security!
Forever —– that’s Eternity!
Lord, I ask you to be with those reading this post today, that they will seek guidance in YOU and they will pray for those they know are lost. You are a gracious and merciful God and I am so thankful! Amen!
The pace leader runs a steady pace and keeps track of that pace so that the group can achieve their goal of finishing the marathon at a particular time.
I choose the Holy Spirit to be my pace leader!
I’ve not always been that way. I never have been one afraid of making decisions or jumping feet first into something I thought was worth wild. If you had a minute or two with me, I bet I could come up fairly quickly with BIG decisions I made pretty fast without any one leading or prompting me. Although the willingness to make decisions on your own is a good quality, making them on your own and without doing your home work can some times, a lot of the times, head you down the wrong path, make you run out of steam or run yourself right off the edge of a cliff because you didn’t notice it while you were running so fast.
That has been me several times. Thank goodness God can make good out of our bad! Thank goodness God himself comes to us through the Holy Spirit to lead each of our steps in this race called life.
1 Corinthians 2:6-11 Wisdom from the Spirit
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?
Now don’t be fearful of making decisions. I’m simply suggesting to you and reminding myself daily to wait on HIM to lead us. I’m getting better at that and I’ve found that life is much more peace filled because it’s in HIS timing and not in mine.
Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
Don’t sit there stagnant! Don’t get comfortable and settle in! Don’t wait on someone here on earth to show you the way. HE will use all sorts of ways to talk to us and lead us. I have had a friend sit across from me and confirm what I have already felt was a prompting of the Lord but my prompting must come from the Lord for it to be HIS.
Wait, listen and Move! That is the PACE that HE has for you!
Thank you Lord for always following up with me! Amen!
Before I quit listening to Satan’s whispers in my ear!
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Now, I’m gonna admit something here. Self doubt runs a muck in my mind. It’s a learned trait. Never seemed to quiet measure up to those I sought love and admiration from. Not sure why and not blaming. It just is.
But now………. I know better. The ONE I seek love from created me, knows me and still loves me with un-measurable love.
Yet, when that crafty prowler gets in my ear, I still begin to listen.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
It happened to me just the other day. Some things were going on in my world and Satan was working overtime. But you know what, I recognized his skeeming and called him out on it. Satan ain’t gonna win this one! Cause my God has me!
I understand that as long as I live and as long as I’m seeking my God daily, living out my salvation given by Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me………….. Satan’s gonna keep trying!
Not today Satan!
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,