Thursday, April 28, 2016

The First Pitch!


Not everyone gets to do what my friend, Denise Ward, did this week. She checked something off from her bucket list. She sang the National Anthem for a sporting event; a minor league baseball game. First time up, and she nailed it!

Way to go, Ward! 

I've also had the honor of singing the National Anthem for many events including an Atlanta Braves game in three-part harmony with two of my friends. I'm not one to get nervous in front of crowds doing what I know well, and music is definitely something I've done all of my life.

Singing for Jesus, proclaiming His greatness through song, vocally and/or instrumentally, using my natural born talent has always been second nature.

But, embarking on a new adventure, doing something that hasn't been the focus of my entire life? It can be exciting, but also nerve-wracking.


Knowing God began uncovering and igniting a new passion in my heart 14 years ago, puts a lump in my throat and sends chills down my spine. He's proven His faithfulness in all He's called me to do, and now He's calling me again.

The next step of faith is to write a book.

There.

I said it.

I'm going to write a book.

Now I'm really nervous.

Although I have one Bible Study book self-published, and at least 10 editor articles published, non-fiction book writing is entirely different. I'm looking to throw out my first pitch ever between May 22 and 26, 2016 . I have a book idea to pitch to a publisher and I'm terrified of not making it to home plate, much less across home plate. This is something I do not know well.

My enemy rival keeps taunting me with doubts:
  • What if your idea is dumb? 
  • What if no one will want to read it? 
  • Can you really commit to this? 
  • Are you sure you're called to do this book thing?
While I struggle with these intimidating mind questions, I back away from the pitcher's mound. As I do, I hear the reassuring voice of my Coach, "Hey, Mel! Haven't we been down this road before? Remember the huge risk I asked you to take with Living Real Magazine in 2007? I proved My power at work in you then when you pitched the idea to your wise counsel. Just go for it! I've got you, baby girl, and I've got this book thing too! Just throw the ball and watch Me work."

His confident Voice pours confidence into me, not mine, but His! There is a big difference.

Haven't you questioned your ability when God's called you to something bigger than yourself? I thought so. I know I'm not the only one who's wallowed in the pit of self-doubt. Many refer to it as The Moses Complex. And, since Moses and I have so much in common, it's natural that I would doubt just like he did.

After the pep talk from the Coach, just like Moses, I'm believing that God will do what He says He will do if I'll just trust what He's taught me in practice. I can't tell you how many times on my salvation journey that I've dropped back with mouth open, eyes the size of Texas, struck by awe and wonder at the power God displayed, just because I believed.

I'm gearing up for another awe moment. I'm very aware that I am nothing and can do nothing apart from Christ's love, His grace and His strength. I just need to prepare, practice, and be patient.

We all tread lightly up to the pitcher's mound sometimes doubting that Jesus really called us to a task. We question that it was even our name He called. Maybe we misunderstood Him, or maybe it's like when we think we hear our children or spouse calling our name and they aren't even home. It was just our imaginations.

Maybe I should run back to the dug out. 

Or maybe I should just straighten my cap, hit my fist into my mitt, gird up my loins and walk out the bull pen with head held high, out to that mound in the strength and courage of the Lord.

We must learn to listen well and know the voice of God when He speaks to us. By practicing the art of listening, we learn how to remove any distractions that might interfere with our reception.

Focus on His Word. Spend time in prayer (without dominating the conversation), and be patient. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart, mind, and soul in His time.

Like young Samuel. Three times he heard God call his name, and each time he ran to Eli, the priest, thinking he had heard Eli's voice in the night. But after the third time, Eli, realizing that the Lord was calling Samuel's name. So he directed Samuel back to bed and instructed him in how to answer the next time God called his name by saying, "Speak, LORD, for your servant hears" (1 Samuel 3:9 ESV).

We must be ready with the same, "Speak, Lord, for your servant hears."

As I prepare for my first pitch, I will pray, practice listening, and a have a willing heart that's patient. I would love to throw a strike on the first pitch, nailing it like my friend, Denise, but I know that's not realistic. But, with God as my Coach, who knows? Anything's possible. He may amaze me again guiding my first pitch right down the middle.

Batter up!

My Pleasure,
Melanie


Monday, April 25, 2016

Sunday Scribbles: Treasure Leaking From Cracked Pots

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV).

What is this treasure? To fully understand verse 7 you have to back up to verse 6. The word "but" is a dead giveaway that you are missing something if you don't back up. Remember, context is king!

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

This treasure is the light of the glory of God, Jesus Christ.


Where is this treasure?

In jars of clay.

Jars of clay. Where does this analogy come from? I'm glad you asked.

Jars of clay, pottery, clay pots, the potter are all terms from Old Testament Scriptures carried into the New. These were terms people knew and understood from their routines of everyday real life. The New Testament comes alive with so much more illumination when read through the lens of the Old.

Isaiah 29:16 (NIV) You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"?

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) But now, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.

Paul comparing God's people to jars of clay and God being the Potter makes perfect sense now when reading 2 Corinthians 2:6-7.

Now, let's get to more of the good stuff!

We are pots formed by God, who have also been broken and cracked by sin. But God chooses to use broken down cracked pots; those who have surrendered to the hand of the Potter, to leak His Light ,by His power, into a world of darkness.

His Treasure. The Light of the world. The glory of God. Jesus Christ.

God uses broken and contrite hearts. (Psalm 51:17)

Confession. Repentance. Restoration. (Psalm 51:7-12)

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you (Psalm 51:13 ESV).

Want to know a little more about the Treasure? Jesus is described in Hebrews 1:3 as the radiance of God's glory and the exact imprint of His [God's] nature! 

Isn't that awesome? God chooses you and me - those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, (the Potter), healed of our brokeness from sin, restored and molded into new creations, crafted to spill Treasure - God's Light and God's glory into the world.

Thank You, Jesus, for empowering me through Your Holy Spirit to leak Your light, Your treasure, from this cracked pot into a dark world. I worship You, and You alone. I live for You, and You alone. May all who catch of glimpse of Your light shining out of me today see You, and You alone. Amen."

My Pleasure,
Melanie










Friday, April 22, 2016

What Really Matters


"I have to be willing for you to not like me very much for the sake for the Gospel." - Dr. Don Wilton

As Dr. Wilton, pastor from First Baptist Spartanburg, SC concluded his teaching on "Things That Really Matter" at the Living Real Conference, jaws were dropped, ears were begging for more, and eyes were glued to this humble man. He not only proclaimed Biblical truth to us from Acts 3-4 powerfully and unashamedly, but Jesus illuminated from deep inside him. Wilton emphasized how we must pay attention to the things that really matter, and not worry about what other people think, but let the Spirit do its work in us and through us for Jesus' sake.

In Acts 3, Peter was not only keenly aware of the moments he was called to reveal the glory of God, but he took action when those moments arrived.
The crippled man who sat at the temple gate at the same place and the same time every day taught us the power of one.

  • One Day: Peter recognized that what really matters is who God puts in front of us today.
  • One Man: Peter saw the one; the one who came to the temple gate at this specific time every day because of a need. 
  • One Truth: Peter didn't have money, but he knew the Truth and the power of the Truth, so he gave what he had to the man in need. He said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" (Acts 3:6)
  • One Change: This one man's life was transformed because of one man's keen awareness.
  • One Impact: The impact of one's obedience had a ripple effect throughout the crowd, the town, the first Christians, and even continues today.
  • One Response: Through one man's obedience, one responded. The one believed and was healed. As he worshiped and praised God, the people were filled with wonder and amazement.

When we do what God has created and purposed us to do, it will never be in vain. Concentrating on what really matters should be our focus every day.

What really matters?

What really matters is what really matters to God; loving and knowing Him, loving people, and being Jesus in the world. 

I've chewed on the truth of "ones" spoken by Dr. Wilton for several days and this is some of my take-away:
  • One Day: Today is my one day to focus on the task at hand.
  • One Man: God has placed at least one person in my path to minister to today.
  • One Truth: In the name of Jesus, God's power can heal, restore, and redeem. 
  • One Change: God can transform one life through my obedience to the One Savior today.
  • One Impact: Taking one risk on one person can be contagious as God's glory is displayed.
  • One Response: Believe that God is who He says He is, and faith walking with Him daily will cause others to believe, wonder, and be amazed.

How about you? What's your take-way? Are you aware of this one day you've been given? Have you been focusing on what really matters? Has your obedience caused one to believe and left others in awe of God?

My prayer is that through our uniquely Master-designed callings, no matter what that looks like, that we will all have one focus...

knowing, loving and being obedient to the One who knows the number of our "one" days. 

And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (Acts 3:10b ESV).

What really matters is Jesus!

My Pleasure,
Melanie



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why a Living Real Conference?

Besides the fun, food, fellowship, music, drama, vendors, speakers...why should anyone attend a Living Real Co-Ed and Kidz Conference?

Have you ever been to any type of conference? Why did you attend? Was it a requirement for your job? Was it for spiritual renewal and refreshment? Were you a speaker? An event planner?

What kind of experience did you have? Was it worth the investment of time, money and effort?

When Living Real Magazine became a reality in 2009, I knew God wanted to take these stories further than just the written page. Our readers and potential readers needed to see, hear, and meet those who've been transparent with their living real moments by sharing their personal stories in the magazine.

I've learned through the years that real people telling about their real life experiences in Christ can cause big splashes of wonder and amazement in the hearts and minds of people. People need real life evidence that Jesus is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. He just asks that we surrender and trust Him with a whole heart. The stories combined with biblical teaching and application can produce a ripple effect for the Kingdom as others begin to trust and tell.

I'm a people person and love connecting with people, but I also love connecting people to each other. Ministry for me and our team is all about encouraging and equipping believers to live out their real faith in Jesus Christ in their everyday real lives. In doing so, we are proclaiming Christ. And isn't that what we're called to do?

A Living Real Co-Ed and Kidz Conference brings the magazine to LIFE. We want you to hear the inflection of the voices, see the facial expressions, and experience the passion of real people who struggle in real life just like you and I do, and who are also continuing to learn that we can't do life alone. We need the strength and power of Jesus Christ working in us and through us to be an effective believer.

If you think conferences are a waste of time, you've never experienced one like this. Men, women and children are encouraged and equipped to live real for Christ wherever their day takes them, and hearing from others who are doing just that encourages and builds up the Body of Christ to live real too!

So, "Why a Living Real Conference?" If there's ever a time in history for the Church to be real, it's now. Authenticity is key, and we serve the only authentic, genuine, real God who is alive and active in the hearts of His people.

So, if you're in the Columbia, SC vicinity or even a couple of hours away, why don't you join us for a day well worth the effort, time and cost.

Saturday, April 16 from 9 am - 2 pm (doors open at 8 am for walk-in registrations) hosted by Trinity Baptist Church in Cayce, SC - 2003 Charleston Hwy, 29033. Cost: $10. 
Call the Church office and reserve your ticket today! 803-791-0440

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

My Pleasure,
Melanie

P.S. ~ If you would like Living Real to come to your area, please contact me at livingrealmag.com