Worth It

Guest Post by Mrs. Lisa Lamey

I think most of us at some point have compared one brand of a product to another brand name.  Maybe it was cosmetics or clothing. Perhaps you were looking to purchase a new handbag, a watch, or some perfume. It doesn’t take a person long to realize name brand products come with a higher price tag. A higher level of commitment from our wallets if we are to go with the brand named product.  

We often find that other companies offer imitations of the products we the consumers are looking to purchase.  According to Collins Dictionary of Business this is called a market positioning strategy- companies and manufacturers introduce a product which emulates or copies a product already on the market.  In other words, there is a level of competiveness among companies.

I once purchased a bottle of perfume that was a company’s imitation of a designer perfume. The label included the words “our version.”  While it had a different name, to me the smell was the same. It only cost less.

One day while shopping, a lady standing nearby turned and made a comment about my perfume. She even was able to name the fragrance. I thanked her but didn’t feel it was necessary to point out that what she smelled was an imitation of the brand name she thought her nose had detected. Would that detail have made a difference in the long run?

We can buy cheaper versions of products, use generic medications, and wear clothes missing fashion names without anyone really needing to know the particular name or brand we choose. Do those kind of details make a difference in the long run?

But there is a name that matters. Whose name is the detail that makes a difference in the long run.  It’s not a name on any earthly product but it’s a name written on hearts. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to The Father except through me.”

God, The Father is looking for the name.

He is looking for the original.

No other version will do.

No imitations accepted.

“Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 

There is a cost in pursuing the name of Jesus.  A higher level of commintment is required.  In the world there are many voices calling. So many things distracting us and competing for our attention and devotion. 

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34.  I don’t know about you, but some days it’s just out right hard “to come after” when my get up and come has left.  And those days when my flesh screams “Me! Me!” are not my proudest moments.  

But then thankfully, Jesus sends me a reminder that choosing His name makes a difference in the long run. It will be worth it in the end. 

And they shall see his face and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no light there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God shall giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:4-5

Just a reminder my friends,       

Jesus, the name that makes a diffence in the long run.                                                                                                      

It will be worth it in the end.

Get your mind right

Y’all the other day I found myself straight up rattled.

I have no idea why I was so flustered, and I didn’t even realize it until I caught myself being salty and sassy to my kids and my husband.

I had to stop and ask myself what in the world was going on. Why would the devil want me in such a foul mood?

VBS.

That’s where I was headed. And wouldn’t the devil love for me to be all kinds of cranky up in the church. And wouldn’t he love for me to get my entire family all out of sorts before they headed there as well.

In the words of every teenager across America – Sheeeeesh.

I knew what I had to do.

I had to redirect my mind in order to redirect my heart. And I had to redirect my heart in order to redirect my mind.

How?

1. Prayer

2. Praise & Worship

Right then.

Right there.

Why? Cause it works.

We have the power through Jesus Christ to put our emotions and feelings to the side. We have the power through Jesus Christ to control our space and our face. We have the power.

Don’t let the devil sabotage your spirit.

Don’t let the devil meddle with your mood.

And don’t you dare let him use you to hinder someone else’s heart.

“But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me!” Psalm 22:19

Be a good friend


“ You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

Guest Post by Miss Harley Perkins

Sometimes it’s hard sitting on the sideline. Sometimes it’s hard when you realize it isn’t your time to be in the spotlight.

When it’s not your time in the spotlight or time for a promotion at work, we can become discouraged and only focus on what we “don’t have” at that moment in our life.

But when it’s not our time to shine, maybe it’s time for our friend to shine and time for you to be their best supporter. Maybe it’s time for you to learn how to give the best hugs, speak encouraging words, and cheer them on to their greatest achievements.

Learning to be a friend can be the greatest gift in a time of waiting for our own opportunities to arise. We can learn how Jesus deeply loved his disciples and was the best friend to all people.

We can decide to focus on our bench warming season or be the biggest fan to our friend who is running towards the goals God has for them.

Cheering on your friends and being their greatest supporter takes nothing away from the victories and triumphs God has planned for you. Being a friend can give you a joy you’ve never known before.

So today, if you’re sitting on the sideline, don’t focus on your nonexistent playing time. Make a choice to love your friends who are climbing mountains and reaching goals that God has given them. Your time is coming, but trust me, when it’s your friend’s turn, your unconditional love and support is a sturdy foundation for their victories.

Be a great friend today. 🤍

Identity

Guest Post by Kylie Lyday

As a youth director, I hear a lot and see a lot. I perhaps see more than the parents do at times. They don’t know I’m watching or listening when I am. Many of our series and lessons are laid on my heart based off of what I know they’re facing. I know there are teachers and other ministers who can relate to this.

Many times when the Lord shares a lesson with me to teach them, it’s teaching myself as well. I say this because finding our identity in Christ has been a hot topic in our lessons here recently but also in our world. If I’m being honest, we care too much about what others think about us and not enough about what God says about us.

1 Peter 2:9 shares with us,

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a royal priest, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God. For he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

We do not have to feel or be chosen by this world. The Lord has already called upon us and chosen us. He wants us to take part in his Holy Nation. He looks at you as a great possession. You do not need acceptance from this world.

I say this all to remind you, do not allow this world or where you are to define your identity. Find your identity in Christ. Listen to what He says about you. With this, allow it to pass along to your children. Train them up knowing they matter, they are enough, and are already chosen. Then they will be a light in such a dark world.

“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

1 Peter 2:10

Never Alone

Guest Post by Miss Brooklynn Manzer

You aren’t alone and never will be.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalms 9:9-10

Man this verse hit deep. Reading it I started tearing up. I always knew that God heard my prayers and that I’m never alone, but sometimes you just need the reminders. He hears your prayers and He always answers them. It might not be a yes or a no, but He gives you an answer. It might not be one you were hoping for either.

When we seek Him, He doesn’t forsake us. He doesn’t put us into situations we can’t handle. If you pray to God and ask Him to open doors that need to be opened and close doors that need to be closed, don’t be surprised when He does things you weren’t wanting or expecting.

But remember that we can handle anything with God by our side. Whether it’s mourning over the loss of a loved one, moving away from your family, or watching your family move away. He’s with us and He will never leave us.

Dear Lord, I pray that you will give us those reminders. The things you put us in and the things we have to go through are for a reason and I pray that we would remember that. I pray that you would use the feelings that we have to make us stronger Lord. And bless the people in those situations you have us go through, that they know that you will never forsake them. In your Heavenly name I pray, amen.

Habits

Guest Post by Colton Deters

As some of you all know, I am a raider athlete. I play sports for the Lumberton Middle School and soon, Lumberton High School. But one problem I have always struggled with are my bad habits. Dribbling too high, side stepping when I run – guys, it’s a mess!

Plus, some bad habits outside of school I have are picking my fingers, messing with my brothers, and not doing chores. I can go on forever. I know there are so many worse things than what I just listed, but little things turn into big things, and those things become who you are. Even people you hang out with…in scripture, if you’ll turn to 1st Corinthians 15:33, it reads—

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Bad company corrupts good morals! You can’t let the people of this world, the flaws of society, or satan himself allow you to embrace bad habits. Habits turn into choices, and our choices make us who we are. Just as influential as bad habits are good habits… praying, studying, focusing on the Lord, and surrounding ourselves with people we hope to be like. Focusing on these things can become your habits, choices, and who you are.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING”.

Praying to God about our habits and friends is the first step in the right direction. Because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

Distractions

Short, sweet, and to the point this morning.

This past Sunday my pastor preached out of Romans. Two things he said have set heavy on my heart since then and have caused me to reflect heavily on how and what I need to do to remedy this in my own life.

1. We need less distractions.

2. Eliminate wasted time.

So there it is for the day. I hope you too will reflect on these two things and become more Kingdom focused through the process.

“Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Romans 16:19

Discipline

Guest Post by Mrs. Danielle Whitlow

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

-Hebrews 12:3

I’ve been thinking a lot about discipline lately. That’s no surprise considering that I teach 6th grade and it’s the end of the school year. But seriously, the topic of discipline comes up all the time in popular culture from everything to raising children to self-help plans. The general consensus seems to be that more of it is a good thing, right?

Recently, I participated in a Bible study on the book of Hebrews. The next to last chapter of this great letter focuses on the topic of discipline, specifically about God’s discipline of His children. It really got me thinking about my attitude towards God when He disciplines me. Honestly, I don’t like it when God disciplines me, so I started to dig a little into my attitude through prayer, study, and discussion with my group. Hopefully some of my thoughts can help you when facing a moment of hardship that you view as discipline from God.

First of all, God thinks about discipline differently than we do. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us to not take “lightly the discipline of the Lord” because “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” Sometimes, I struggle with Christian “karma.” You know this idea-if I am obedient, then my life will be fine-no bumps, no hurts, no struggles. But that idea is just flat out wrong. It’s not biblical. The Bible is full of examples of people who followed the Lord but endured many hardships.We don’t necessarily have to sin to experience His discipline, either. Look at Paul’s example. He was preaching the Word but had to endure trial after trial. Prison. Shipwreck. Sickness. Isolation. During a trial have you ever stopped to think about why it was happening to you? What is God’s purpose for your suffering ? I encourage you to keep digging and talking to God during these times. We may want to run from Him during hard times, but that is the moment we should draw near and pour our hearts out! Pray out loud. Sing. Cry. He will speak to us in our most painful moments.

Secondly, God’s discipline grows us in ways we couldn’t imagine. The author of Hebrews goes on to say “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” This idea really got me going-Me sharing in Jesus’ holiness? Wow! Jesus is the picture of obedience and lived a sinless life, yet he suffered the discipline of the cross on our behalf to complete God’s plan for salvation. One of our main tasks as believers on earth is to become more Christ-like. God uses discipline to further us on that path. This thought of Christ going ahead of me in discipline changes my attitude because I want to be more like Him.

Lastly, God’s discipline is rewarding. Rewards from pain? Yes. Check out what the author of Hebrews tells his audience in 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” I don’t know about you but peaceful anything sounds wonderful right now. Our world is so chaotic. People are seeking peace. People are also seeking righteousness. As a result of God’s discipline, I am more patient, less judgy, more faithful. I still have a long, long, long way to go, but looking back at times where I know He was disciplining me helped me to see the “fruit” He is growing in my life. Think about your path. What fruit do you see God growing?

God knows us and loves us. Spend some time in thought and prayer about His discipline.

“It is for discipline that you must endure. God is treating you as sons.” Hebrews 12:7

Unconditional Love

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.–John 15:12

Let us love one another for love is of God. And everyone that loveth is born of God. And knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; For God is Love. –1 John 4: 7-8

The definition of unconditional reads, “absolute and not subject to any special terms or conditions; it’ll happen no matter what else happens.” This past year was difficult for everyone on the planet.

Period!

Being a teacher for over 16 years, I have learned that unconditional love requires an abundance of grace. It requires inclusion, patience and loving others as they are, not as you wish them to be. As a follower of the Christian faith I became increasingly disappointed this year with our response to the pandemic crisis which brought forth division in our country.

This division revealed a need for us to do better at loving one another. My purpose in writing this is to inspire you to do two things; (1) Take a deeper look at how you love others (2) Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.

Take a deeper look at how you love others

As we dive into the first commitment in looking at how we love others, let this quote sink in and resonate with your heart.

“You cannot accept God’s grace for your life until you let go of your own righteousness.”

The definition of righteousness is to act in accord with divine or moral law; to be free from guilt or sin. The later part of that definition is where we need to be honest with ourselves. None of us are free from sin. Is there righteousness, judgement or exclusion for those who look different from us or love, believe or think differently from us?

As Christians we don’t get to pick and choose who to love. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou reads, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let us not forget that our job is actually quite simple…to love one another. Everyday we have an opportunity to decide to live with an open heart. To choose to offer a warm hug, a friendly pat on the back or an encouraging word. That is Christ-like love!

Choose and commit to loving someone unconditionally.

As a child I always thought about people who lived in underdeveloped countries. The burning questions in my mind were… “What if no one tells them about God? What if the messenger never arrives? How can they be saved if they don’t know about the savior?”

With age comes wisdom and I know now that the answer is this….God is within us. Not just in some of us but in all of us. God is in every part of the earth, in every living creature, in every soul. So what should we do if we meet someone who is searching for inner peace and looking to nurture their soul? Maybe they are looking for spirituality, a higher power or something to believe in. Couldn’t we become the messenger simply by showing them love?

Providing a long list of all the things they need to do in order to become a Christian is not where we start. It starts with a genuine message that they are loved as they are and from there to model acceptance, grace and tolerance. To be an example not just in our word but in our actions.

We can say we believe that light and love can drive out hate, but are we showing love in action when confronted with hate? Do we show love in everything we do? Or are we stopping to wonder whether or not they are worthy of love? Not just love but unconditional love? I challenge you to choose someone this year to love unconditionally. This person should be someone who is not easy to love. It could be a coworker who doesn’t share your political views, an acquaintance who has a negative attitude or maybe it’s a complete stranger who needs someone to show them unconditional love.

I realized this year that it’s easy to love others when everything is going great but what about when things aren’t so great. Choosing to love is not easy. It requires a disciplined heart that chooses love over hate, light over darkness and compassion over judgement. In times of struggle and division we must realize the importance of being good to people and contemplate what is best for all of us, not just some of us. May we not let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and fearful. But instead let them make us kinder, more open to what could be, to choose wisely how we respond and more importantly…. how to love unconditionally!

The gift of grief

Last November, December & January our family suffered the loss of my niece and two uncles. It felt as if grief wouldn’t stop coming, waves on waves. I didn’t have time to get my mind around one loss before another came along. During this time the word that I connected with the most was heavy. I felt heavy. Life felt heavy. The air around me felt heavy. Everything took enormous effort. Then one morning during this time, God gave me the phrase “the gift of grief”.

That’s confusing right? Gifts are good things. I should know, I’m a gift girl. It’s one of my love languages. I love a nice personalized, thoughtful gift. I don’t need expensive gifts, although I’d never turn my nose up at some nice jewelry. But even my favorite jewelry is personalized. I have a bracelet with 6 discs, each disc has handwriting from my most important people – my husband, my 3 boys, my momma and daddy.

So, if my definition of a gift is good, thoughtful and personalized, grief doesn’t fit the bill. Or does it?

Is it good to grieve? I think it is. God created us with emotions. We have to feel our feelings. We don’t have to be defined by them. We can take them to God and He is faithful to walk with us through them.

Is grief personal? A hearty AMEN to this one! There is no one way to grieve, we all do it differently. There may be stages of grief but there are not steps that we all complete one by one in the same order.

How about thoughtful? Death isn’t thoughtful. It’s quite rude actually – uninvited and unwanted. But grief brings with it lots of thoughts, it causes reflection. It arrives with loads of questions. Most of them start with why and they can drive you crazy.

BUT GOD…

But we do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

As believers, we are to grieve differently. We are to grieve keeping in mind the hope we have in Jesus. The gift of God’s love, grace, mercy and eternity with Him. We can take the questions that haunt us to God. He is attentive. He is faithful to comfort us and be near. For me, this meant bringing to mind memories, happy and sad. When the memories were sad and regrets started me spiraling, I had to be intentional about thinking about who God is, His character and what He says about me.

Perhaps grief is a gift intended to draw us closer to God. Perhaps grief is a gift to show us God the comforter. Perhaps I’ve learned to rely on God through my grief. I will never choose grief but when it comes I’ll try to use it to remember the life and impact of my loved one and the goodness of God.

Friend, if you’re grieving today, take it to God. He is faithful to comfort you. It’s not a quick process. Stay with Him, keep praying. Please don’t take this to say that you need to grieve alone with just you and God. I had people around me, listening to me, holding me up, loving me through this grief. And it’s ongoing. It does come in waves and on unexpected days. If you are feeling pulled under by your grief, please reach out to both God and people around you or to me. Grief must be witnessed because love must be witnessed.