Friday, November 25, 2011

No Worries for Tomorrow

This week’s verse: Matthew 6:34, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (NLT)

Devotion: It always seems like life comes down to 2 choices in every situation: To serve others, or to be served. To worry or not worry. To love or hate. To forgive or to be bitter. To believe or not to believe. It seems simple really, yet not everything seems to be black and white.

What about the gray area? This little area is where my mind tells me to not worry, but my heartache tells me to. Or my heart says to love someone when my mind says “but, I don’t like them”.

Currently, I am in this “gray” situation. A year ago I set out to take over the Olive Branch and did so with much enthusiasm. For one year, I have officially been a “blogger”; and this is something I never thought I would say. It has been fun and very emotional as I have laid my burdens for all to see. I have given over my weaknesses, my strengths, and my faults, exposing parts of my life I never thought I would.

BUT – now is my time to say goodbye. And because of this, the Olive Branch will once again experience change in management! Charity Pence will be posting but not near as often or on a schedule – but the Olive Branch will stay alive!

I hope that I can continue to post blogs whenever time allows, but for now, I will officially sign off as blog manager and welcome Charity to her new ministry at FCC!

Please continue to pray for the Olive Branch as it reaches women at FCC and beyond. Pray for Godly words to be spoken and for all who reads the blog to be exposed to Jesus and the power of his works here on Earth.

God Bless,
Bethany Lashbrook

Dear Lord, please help this ministry to continue to reach others through truth, love, and Jesus’ teachings. Thank you Father for allowing our country to speak freely of how we feel about you. Thank you Father that we live in a town that still accepts religion and belief of you the “norm”. Thank you Father for your Son and his sacrifice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Expectations

by Bethany Lashbrook

Recently, my children had a lot of adult situations poured onto them. Not by choice, but just because life happened. As we prepared for the days, my husband and I had a talk with them. They were to behave, to be quiet, to be respectful, to remember their manners, and to listen to what we told them and do exactly as we said without question.

Big conversation. Big expectations. Big girls.

Turns out, I have never been more proud of my girls. They behaved and not only that, they became beautiful young ladies in the process. They could have chose to not listen, to not behave, to blow off their mom and dad but they chose to do the opposite.

I wasn’t surprised that they behaved, because they behave a lot, but I was somewhat surprised that there were no questions as to why they were to behave. There were no questions as to why they couldn’t talk. There were no questions as to why they didn’t get a say in the matter.

Big conversation. Big girls listening. Big girls understanding of who was in charge.

As for myself, I don’t know if I can say the same. Many times the Lord speaks to me and says “no questions, Bethany”. But, I don’t seem to listen. I instantly say these words:

“But, I’m not the right woman for the job.”

“But, somebody else might do this much better than myself.”

“Are you sure I am to do this?”

“Father, I’ve failed at this before. I don’t want to fail again.”

Just like my girls, I must learn to listen to those times that it means something bigger than the Lord just telling me something. Sometimes, it brings on growth. Sometimes our conversation can make me more mature in my faith, in my increasing trust in Him. Sometimes, I just need to listen, to not talk back, to act in faith, to believe and to trust in his word. And then afterwards, realize:

Big conversation. Big expectations. Big growth.

Father, thank you for continuing to believe in me and asking me to do things, even though I have turned you down many times. Thank you for your constant forgiveness in my life and knowing that sometimes I AM the right person for the job. In your name I pray, Amen.

Application: Have you ever heard "don't ask the Lord for patience"? Well, sometimes I ask the Lord for something, but act disappointed when he gives it to me. Like growth. I ask him to grow me, yet when he gives me a task, I turn Him down. This week, let's ask for something, but then have the faith that we can finish the task!

Power Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:8, “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” (NIV)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let's Dance!

By Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: John 15:11 (KJV) “These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”


A few weeks ago, our Sunday school class was discussing how we worship during church. In particular, we discussed why some people do not lift their hands during worship services. Psalm 67:3 says, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.” (NIV) Showing our praise by doing anything that is considered out of the ordinary can be frightening, though. We fear judgment or ridicule even though we shouldn’t. Isaiah 55:6 tells us, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” (NKJ) When we are at church, our focus should be on God alone.

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t dare lift my hands. I prefer not to draw attention to myself. Therefore, lifting my hands when others were not was out of the question for me. That’s not the case anymore. Over the last few years I have had the chance to experience God’s presence in such a way that I couldn’t help but cut loose. I like the picture we have of David dancing in the street which is found in 2 Samuel 6:14. Unashamed, David allows his joy for the Lord to consume him. When his wife expresses her disdain for what he has done, he tells her, “I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.” (NKJV) David’s heart was on fire for God, and he wasn’t going to let anyone prevent him from expressing his love for his Lord.

Have you ever danced with God? I have! There’s a worship song I used to listen to regularly while dancing in the kitchen. And just this morning as I was considering this devotion, a song came to mind, and I started jumping up and down, praising God. I have to admit I will probably not be dancing or jumping around in my pew at church any time soon, but there is freedom in giving all I have to praise God. When my entire focus is on my heavenly father instead of what others are thinking, joy overwhelms me. And when I lift my hands, I’m not just lifting my hands in praise; I’m reaching for God and showing Him I want Him near.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to keep my eyes and heart on you while worshipping at church and throughout the week. We should all seek to please you and you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Applications: If this is too much for you, that’s okay. Some people worship quietly, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you ever feel the urge to offer your praise in such a noticeable way, don’t hold back!

Power Verses:

Psalms 100:1 “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” (NIV)

Proverbs 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (NIV)

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me early and diligently shall find me.” (Amp)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday's Ministry

This Week's Ministry: Samaritan's Purse; Operation Christmas Child

Click on the link above to find out all about Operation Christmas Child. In a nutshell, here is what you can do.

1. Find a shoebox (or 2 or 3) or a plastic container that is the same size. Pray for the child who will be receiving the shoebox.

2. Decide if you want your gift to go to a boy or girl (age specifications are clearly laid out on the website).

3. Fill the shoebox with gifts (the funnest part!)

4. Include $7.00 donation for the transport of the shoebox.

5. Find a drop off location. Our location is First Christian Church foyer!

Or you can mail it to:
Samaritan’s Purse
Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

First Christian Church has a goal of 100 shoeboxes! Any questions - direct them towards Sandra Ledermann. Collection week is November 14-21 so don't hold off!

This Christmas, spread the joy and the love of Jesus - just by sending a shoebox!