God's Blacksmith Shop

As believers in Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are instructed to take up the full armor of God in Ephesians 6. We are to take a stand with the belt of truth around our waist and feet sandaled ready with the gospel of peace. We’re instructed to pick up the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. A fruitful walk with the Lord requires us to do this, it is obedience sourced in Love.Some believe the Old Testament is just full of irrelevant stories, but those bits of history are packed with lessons which can be applied to our life today. While reading 1 Samuel 13 I learned that at that time in Israel’s history they would have to take their swords, spears, axes, sickles, and other agricultural implements to the Philistines to be sharpened. This meant Israel would have to take their weapons to their opponent in order to have sharp weapons for battle. How would you like to venture in to enemy territory in order to have your sword sharpened? Or what about your pitchfork for the coming harvest season?This dynamic is interesting and we learn a lot from what takes place. Despite a probable lack in sharp weaponry, the Israelites prevail over the Philistines because God fights for them. That being said, it got me thinking about today and our culture. I wonder how often we walk through the doors of our church or into a Bible study and asking someone else to sharpen the spiritual sword we carry. It’s tempting to allow others to do the work, but it’s not sustainable. While fellowship is necessary in the sharpening process, everyone’s spiritual sword is unique. God does fight for us, but we are called to join him.Sharpening our spiritual swords takes time, skill, and commitment. Stepping into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word is intimidating when we don’t know where to start. It’s easy to go to church, Bible study, or a small group to be spoon fed God’s Word. Please don’t misunderstand me, these things are vital to our walk with the Lord! Proverbs is a good reminder, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron. That means I need to have others around me who are sharp iron tools, willing to step into the blacksmith shop and do some work both on their own and together.My family enjoyed watching the first season of Forged in Fire via Netflix this winter. The show covers different types of weaponry and the processes of how each are made. My favorite part was the final round where contestants were sent home to their own forge. It was interesting to see each man’s tools, unique shop, and approach in working the metal. After a period of time, both contestants brought their forged weapon for testing before the judges.In this particular show the process of fire, pressure, and other factors were the same but forging was unique. Each bladesmith faced unique challenges, just as each person does. We are all tested and face trials, we each carry a spiritual sword for a unique purpose. My question is this – Are you willing to step into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word to allow transformation and sharpening to occur? How can you become that sharp iron who helps to sharpen another brother or sister in Christ?If you’re new to the Bible it’s easy to be intimidated by God’s Word, not knowing where to start. We’ve all been there at some point, so no judgement. But can I recommend starting somewhere in the New Testament gospels like the book of Luke?If you are a little more seasoned in God’s Word – where would you start? And, how are you being sharpened right now?God is so faithful to those who pursue him. Let's be brave together as we step in. We will not be forsaken stepping into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word. We need the specialized gifts God has equipped you with for battle, and we need you sharp in order to help sharpen others.Further study: 1 Samuel 13:16 – 14:23malcolm-lightbody-698733-unsplash.jpg 

Who Do You See?

Do you ever want to get to the bottom of something? Knowing all the details? While studying the book of Joshua for the Bible study Courageous Faith, I wanted to get to fully explore all there was to Joshua. But as I continued through the study process there was the constant reminder I would never get to the end of God's Word - it's alive and active! It's a text that contains mysteries meant to keep us coming back for more.As Christ-followers, we are called to continually seek God in order to know Him and reflect his likeness. God's word is an invitation to see and hear who he is, not just what he does. What he does is perfectly reflected in who he is. Much like our spouse, parents, children, friends, and even ourselves, we are always learning facets of our character. The minute we stop discovering, we put them or ourself into a false box of being fully known and discovered; we put God’s creation in a box. Neither God nor his creations belong in a box.We are called in a relationship of constant discovery and curiosity, with ourselves, others, and our Creator. When we begin to see and understand, in part, who God is, we can begin to see and understand who we are created to be. We can then begin to walk in a deeper relationship with the Lord, and with others. As image bearers of our Creator, surrendering to God’s refining allows us to more clearly reflect God’s creation.God reveals characteristics of himself throughout his word. We find God to be El-roi, God who sees, in Genesis 16:1-15. During Hagar’s encounter with the angel of the LORD, she proclaims she has seen the God who sees her. There in the wilderness, Hagar names the nearby well Beer-lahai-roi, which means well of the Living One who sees me. This encounter of being seen changed her perspective.You are seen. Not one day that goes by where you have not seen by our Creator. You are seen in the wilderness just as clearly as you are seen in the fruit-filled fields. When you feel invisible and unimportant, the truth is – you are seen. When the world seems to be falling apart, your legs knocked out from underneath you – you are seen. You may not understand what’s going on, but you can trust that you are seen. There is not one atom of a detail that sneaks past our Father’s eyes. When you feel as though you are sneaking through life – you are seen. Or perhaps you are sneaking around in the darkness. Guess what – you are seen. We are seen, and known.What does the knowledge of being seen provide? Our relationship with God can be positively enhanced as we grow and mature in our understanding of El-roi. We are created with a deep desire to be seen and known; it provides a structure for trust and connection. Being seen may lead us to feeling vulnerable at times, but when we understand we are seen by a loving Father it can become a source of comfort.Freedom occurs when we openly present ourselves to be seen by El-roi. Walking in freedom, we are positioned to reflect more clearly God’s character to others. Seeing others becomes opportunity for ministry. God ministered to Hagar in the wilderness; El-roi ministers to us as well. As Christ followers, we too can minister to others when we learn to be God’s servants-who-see.Understanding God's character is vital to fully trust God and walk in deeper faith. He sees our pain and suffering, mourning with those who mourn. El-roi sees our earthly victories, rejoicing with those who rejoice. We can trust we are always seen by El-roi; therefore, always known. Another part of being known, besides being seen, is to be heard. (We'll explore this revealed character of God next week.) Let’s rest and take comfort in knowing that we are clearly seen by the Creator of the universe.The following questions are not meant to condemn by any means. I'm asking myself these same questions, desiring to grow deeper in relationship with El-roi. Let's not take on any condemnation, but rather allow God's light to shine into any darkness we may have in our hearts and minds. Let's use the understanding of God being El-roi to be a deep well of life with the Living One.Is there anything you might be attempting to hide from El-roi?What would it take for you to bring it into the light before him?What do you risk by doing so? More importantly, what might you gain?El-roi (1)Abba, help us to see you clearly and know without the shadow of doubt that you see us. Unveil and give us eyes to see your activity around us. Help us to see ourselves and others as you intend. Help us to cast aside judgement, partiality, pride, and anything else that may be clouding how we see you and others. Speak to our hearts, letting us know how you see us. Refine and clarify our vision so that we would walk more closely with you, serving others and giving you glory. In Jesus name, amen.With Gratitude,Amy 

Courageous Faith

It occurred to me that I never announced the arrival of my "book baby"...over a month ago! September 1st to be exact. I guess thats what happens when you're taking care of a new born.The outpouring of love and support have been amazing. I'm so grateful and honored to have been on this journey with the Lord in writing Courageous Faith. The process continually stretched my thoughts and beliefs, yet with each challenging step I was met with God's grace and loving kindness. Countless times I experienced His perfect timing and guidance.IMG_9283This study continues to challenge me. You may know the Bible story of the walls of Jericho tumbling down, but Joshua’s journey with the Israelites is so much deeper. Faith is an action word, and Joshua’s life is filled with deep faith and courageous obedience as he lived out the promises of God. Each step of this journey has allowed my faith to take root deep into my heart, resulting in a close walk with the Lord and claimed ground. I'm praying that result for all who participate in this study.Courageous Faith is now available on Amazon. So - grab a girlfriend, your women's Bible study group, or challenge yourself to dig in to God's Word with Courageous Faith. May God be glorified in your deeper relationship with Him.  

Courageous Faith : Coming Soon!

It's nearly here, and I feel like this has been the longest gestation for a baby...EVER! Super excited to finally be able to share the first peak at my new Bible study : Courageous Faith, Claiming Your Promised Land Through the Book of Joshua.Two years ago I would have never called myself a writer - God has been transforming me. Through wrestling, tears, joy, and countless light-bulb moments, it's God's grace that has made this study possible. I pray that it would be a blessing and equip you with tools to grow your faith and claim  God-given ground.You may know the Bible story of the walls of Jericho tumbling down, but Joshua’s journey with the Israelites is so much deeper. Faith is an action word, and Joshua’s life is filled with deep faith and courageous obedience as he lived out the promises of God. Join me as we explore the Book of Joshua in this seven week study. Each step of the journey will allow your faith to take root deep into your heart, resulting in a close walk with the Lord and claimed ground.Anyhoo - Can't wait to share my new "baby" with you. I'll let you know details as to how you can get your hands on a copy as the time gets closer. And can I add that it's way past time to get back to a regular blog schedule?!Courageous_Faith_Coming_Soon  

Mint & Stongholds

Mint. I have a love-hate relationship with it. Spearmint - I love the smell, taste, texture, and hardiness; and, I hate its aggressive hardiness. Thus, my conundrum.I enjoy doing some personal gardening as a part-time job. Arriving on the job one morning, I began in the front yard. After pulling weeds, digging up unwanted iris, pruning and fertilizing, I moved around to the shaded cutting garden around back. My friend had added some new plants to the area, so I walked about checking things out before getting started. Roudning the last corner of the raised bed, my eyes bugged out. Mint. Without thinking, and without regard for the planter, I reacted and yanked the entire thing out. “Nooooooooo!”A split second of regret popped into my heart; I had clearly undone what someone else had planted with care. My regret didn’t last long. You see, mint has a way of completely taking over a garden space. We had diligently been working to create a space for a cutting and vegetable garden. Mint would have taken over and undone all of our hard work over the past couple of years. Had the mint stayed and taken root, the only thing stopping it would be concrete or multiple applications of herbicide.As my mind had the opportunity to process my feelings about this plant, yes I have feelings about plants, I began to equate mint to strongholds. One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of stronghold describes a stronghold as a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic.[i] I tend to think of strongholds with a negative connotation, like an addiction or challenge in one’s life. A stronghold may be something I struggle with in life and find it hard to experience freedom from, such as unforgiveness, anger, insecurities, food, believing lies you tell yourself, a physical activity, etc.Strongholds can be hard to root out. (Thus, our mint analogy.) Why don’t I react to personal strongholds the way I treated that mint, ripping it out without thought or question? Because it’s hard. It requires a deep, honest heart and mind work. It requires me to be really uncomfortable and intentionally practice self-control. Often, it’s hard to just acknowledge the stronghold, let alone root it out. Like the mint, we may have a love-hate relationship with it.Personally, I feel that God has been revealing strongholds in my heart. They aren’t huge, obvious ones. But they are strongholds none-the-less. While taking complete responsibility, Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians are a good reminder in the process of doing some hard work.“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)MintCan I encourage you to join me in asking the Lord to reveal the strongholds in our hearts? Our strongholds may not be “big,” but they can make deep roots – they are still strongholds. To me, this can be a scary prayer. But with a willing heart, we can do all things through Christ because He strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13) Let’s suite up with the armor of God – we’ve got this.How can I pray for you? [i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stronghold

Hello - My Lovely, New Friend!

Hey friends, so this is post is a little different than the norm – but I couldn’t help it. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity for a little get away to Springfield, MO. It was great! But one of my favorite things is that I got to visit the local LifeWay Christian bookstore. And, I had a 40% off coupon for one item. (Score!) The minute I saw that coupon, and realized it would be valid over my trip - my one item was pegged. A new Bible. The She Reads Truth Bible.I didn’t really need a new Bible – I have 3 sitting on a shelf in front of me, and another one to my left hand. I use them all, but did I really “need” another? But it’s pretty! And…it’s the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation I’ve been desiring, especially for study. Did I say it’s pretty?Well, I got it. So now I have two Bibles sitting by my left hand, with three more in front of me. It feels slightly selfish, but I use them all!IMG_6442What a gift. You see, a sweet friend had the opportunity to do some of the artistry within its pages. To me, this Bible is more than just a pretty, and new-to-me translation. It’s tangible evidence that God goes before us, His plans are good, and that He has an abundance of good gifts to give his children. And those gifts aren’t necessarily the tangible gift of a new Bible. It’s His love, and watching His plans unfold before us, it’s the gift of forgiveness and new mercy each day.Not only have I been enjoying the story behind this Bible – but the devotionals, maps & timelines (I LOVE maps & timelines!), and there's even space to take notes or journal. The extras are super enriching.  And even better, God is confirming messages to me within it’s pages.  Praise you, Lord!Looking for more info on this little treasure? You can read Carrie’s blog post and visit the She Reads Truth website.I’m not being compensated in any way to promote this Bible, just wanted to share my excitement with you. Happy studying!