Proverbs 31 Woman: Investing in the Church


“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is praised.”

Proverbs 31:30


Here we are, the last of the Proverbs 31 Woman. I have a deeper understanding of who she is, how God sees her, and how she is an asset to the church. It is also apparent that we can all glean wisdom from this section of scripture, not just women.


Our church has needs: physical and spiritual. The church is the body of Christ, and sometimes, I think, we look at the church as only a building. Our minds automatically seem to hear the term “church” and we see a building. Is that you too, or is it just me?

As a church, do we invest in the physical building, or the people?

"If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel gifts that build up the church.”

I Corinthians 14:11-12

Invest spiritually

“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for strengthening the church.”

1 Corinthians 14: 26

Investing in a building is easier than investing in people, in my opinion. A building does not reject you because you are saying something it does not want to hear. It does not have days where it does not feel like helping, when an illness has taken over, or when life gets to be too much to handle. The building does not shy away from God, hiding the shame of sin.

When we invest in the church, we use our gifts to further Christ’s work; we are investing in people, not a physical structure. How can we invest in the church? What sorts of things can be done as an investment?


People overthink, or maybe it is just me? I used to think that the only way to invest in the church is with money. I never felt I had skills or gifts that would benefit anyone in the church.


I listened to a sermon by our pastor, and to be honest, I don’t remember what it was about, but I do remember him saying that we all have something that benefits the church. Whether it is being a great organizer, a fantastic cleaner, or a skilled teacher.

God gave us talents and gifts to be used to further His kingdom and to serve in the church.

Teaching

Teachers in the church are important, but some wonderful teachers do not feel they can do this job. They feel inept, under qualified, and lost when thinking about teaching. Our world says that teachers need special degrees to impact lives. God says that if he placed this in your life, you should teach. Listen to God, don’t listen to the world.

Mentoring/Praying

We spoke of the physical caring of the church, but we also need people to care for the people in the church. Mentoring the youth and mentoring new Christians is such an important role in the church. Not only are you investing in the person, but you are investing in the church.

”She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

Proverbs 31:26


“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God.”

Acts 20:28

Invest physically

The physical is easy as far as investing in the church, in my opinion. I am an introvert: I do better when I do not have to keep up with people, making small talk, meeting expectations. Unfortunately, we are called to love people, not things.

Monetary

Giving comes naturally to some people. It is not hard to give money, unless you struggle financially. Unfortunately, giving money is sometimes taken as: “I have done my part, now I don’t have to do anything else.” The problem with that philosophy is that the money is impersonal. You do not have to get emotionally involved, care, or love to give money.Our world screams that money makes things better, but I disagree. Only Christ can do that.

Maintenance and Upkeep

The physical building of the church needs tending. If you enjoy this work, then help in the church! Our world says that these types of jobs are not valuable, and are often looked down upon. I disagree. The act of physically caring for the church building is such a powerful way to serve and worship at the same time! How better to say “I love you” than by cleaning for others?


Basic Needs

We all have basic needs: food, shelter, and clothing, right? The act of caring for individuals in this way crosses into both areas. Feeding, sheltering, and clothing people is an act to care physically for the church, as well as showing the love of Christ. Beautiful, isn’t it?



The Proverbs 31 Woman invested in her church, and the people within. From this part of scripture, we can learn valuable lessons on all sorts of investing: the valuable kind that glorifies God.


“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:31


I have enjoyed writing these articles, and I hope you have enjoyed them as well!


May God bless you in your journey,and may you bless someone in return.

April 22, 2019



Proverbs 31: Investing in Faith, Trust, and Ourselves

When it’s time to have a quiet moment with God, are you ever too busy? Do you start with good intentions, perhaps thinking you will get the quiet time when the kids go to school, or the bathroom is clean? Our to do lists are never-ending, are they not? I, personally, feel like I will never catch my breath, I will never finish everything I have to do. Some days, I miss my quiet time with God. When that happens, I can tell. I feel disconnected, agitated, and angry. Why am I talking about quiet time with God? This is an investment. We must invest in ourselves and our faith, otherwise, what is the purpose?


“She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in linen and purple.”

Proverbs 31:22


The Proverbs 31 woman invested in her faith by investing in herself. I look at this differently than I had first imagined. When looking up the meaning of using the color purple in the Bible, I was surprised to see commentary about how the color purple denotes royalty and wealth. Do you find this interesting as well? The Proverbs 31 woman is “clothed in linen and purple.” She is royalty, but I don’t think this is because of her industrious spirit, or her wealth. I don’t think those are tied together at all. She is royalty because she is the daughter of God. Let that sink in: you, as a child of God, are royalty. He sent Jesus to allow you to be near God. Sin cannot keep you from Him. Wow! If you are struggling with self-worth issues, remember: God, your Father, sent Christ to die for you, and you are worthy.

How do we invest in ourselves?

Investing in ourselves sounds selfish, but it isn’t. When we invest in ourselves, by investing time with God, we are investing in our faith. How do we invest in this though?


  • Spend time in prayer every day

  • Create a quiet place to spend time with God

  • Spend time in the Word everyday-even if it’s 15 minutes

  • Volunteer to serve

  • Spend time with Godly friends

  • Consistent devotions with your spouse, kids, and family

  • Attend worship services to worship Christ

  • Take stock of your blessings


“She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Proverbs 31: 25


I like this verse; it reminds me of the armor of God. Being clothed in strength and dignity gives us the ability to, as the Proverbs 31 woman, laugh at the days to come. When we place our trust in Jesus, we are sure of what our future ultimately holds. Of course, we do not know what the world has in store for us, but we needn’t fret about that because God holds our ultimate future-with Him and Jesus in heaven. Again, wow!


Trust is something that people struggle with for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps, they lack trust because of fear. Fear can keep us from trusting in the future, and holding secure to God’s promise. But, how can we overcome this?


The same ways that we invest in ourselves and our faith, these same exercises help us to learn to trust as well. I struggle with trust-either I trust too much, or not at all. This hinders how I relate to people, how I take part in relationships, and how my relationships end up. How can we overcome this distrust?


When you spend time with God, your attitude and view of people, places, and situations is different. You see the world and situations in a better, different light-not because we are promised an easy life as a Christian though. This happens because we know that at the end of our struggles in this world, we will have life with our Lord. Ephesians says it best in the verse below: arm yourself with the power of God: use Scripture to ward off the attacks of evil and rest easy in the knowledge that God has a plan.


Are you like the Proverbs 31 woman? Do you place your trust and faith in your relationship with God?


“Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Ephesians 6:10-17


https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/10/31/what-does-the-color-purple-mean-or-symbolize-in-the-bible/


April 15, 2019



Proverbs 31: Family Investments

The dishes are stacked up again, and you feel like there is no end. Then, the laundry pile has morphed into something that resembles a monster, reaching into the depths of the laundry room. In the fridge, you thought you had just bought food, only nothing but emptiness stares back at you. Does all of this sound familiar? The never ending job of the household stares you in the face, daring you to think you are done. Sometimes, it feels hopeless, and you wonder when it will end. Why do these tasks seemingly grow and expand until you feel there is not light at the end of the tunnel?


These tasks, each and every one of them, is an investment in our families. God gave us spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc., and we are to invest our time, love, and effort in them to show the love of Christ. Do you ever think of the tasks that lay ahead of you as heavenly tasks?


“She gets up while it is still dark, she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.”

Proverbs 31:15


Have you ever wondered if you are making a difference? When the bills are piling up, and you are in a hardship season of life, has it felt that you are inadequate as a provider? We have been there. God provides, and sometimes, we forget that the provision is not always going to be what we think it needs to be. Often times, we think providing needs to be above and beyond life’s needs to include our wants. As long as we are caring for our family, paying our bills, providing the basics, and giving what we can, we are doing fine. Do you feel like that? Are you grateful for the basics?


The Proverbs 31 woman did what was necessary to provide for her family, including rising before the sun and making sure there was food for her family and her servants. She gave up her desires to sleep in to make sure her affairs were taken care of. Her day started early, and required her to work diligently to provide for those who depended on her.


I do believe that this looks different for some people. Perhaps you work the overnight shift to put food on the table for your family. Maybe you are suffering from health ailments, and you are unable to do some things, but still, other ways are used to provide for the family God gave you. I believe that if we are doing what we are called to do, and providing in some way for the ones God entrusted to us, we are following His will.


“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31: 27


Resting is a good thing, but being lazy is not. The Proverbs 31 Woman shows us that in order to follow God, we must take care of our business. We must not become lazy and waste time. In order to take care, and invest in, our families, we must be diligent in the work that God gives us. If you are like me, maybe you mistakenly think that the “mundane” tasks are not from God. Why do you supposed that we tend to think that grand is better in God’s view?


“When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Proverbs 31:21


Her family is safe. They believe in God, and they know Jesus as their Saviour. What more can a mother ask for? I may be off in my interpretation, but this tells me that she is looking after, and providing for, her family spiritually. We are given these people to minister to and share the love of Christ. Are we doing the best we can?


Investing in our families:

  • Attending Church as a family

  • Showing Children Humility, Admitting When You Are Wrong

  • Volunteering Together

  • Cooking Meals, Rather Than Eating Out

  • Showing How To Give With A Joyful Heart

  • Ministering To Those Who Are Ill

  • Spending Time Together

  • Words Of Encouragement And Love

  • Modeling A Good Work Ethic



By example, the Proverbs 31 woman is showing us that we are to invest in our family: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. How do you invest in your family?


“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you , then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the god of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15


April 8, 2019



Proverbs 31 Woman: Investing in the Poor

“However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all the commands I am giving you today.”

Deuteronomy 15:4,5


When we look at our communities, do we see those who are in need? Do we see the people who are struggling, hurt, or broken? What should we do when we see these people? God wants us to love and care for the poor in our community. This does not just mean those who are financially poor though. Investing in the poor in our communities includes those who are emotionally broken, oppressed individuals, and those who are spiritually in need.

How does the Proverbs 31 woman care for these people?


Proverbs 31:20

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”


Isn’t that what we are to do anyways? Our church particularly is making changes and taking steps towards showing up and extending our hands to the poor and needy. What classifies someone as poor and in need? Are we supposed to judge that?


  • Someone is can be “poor” in a myriad of different ways. The individual can be poor in spirit-when I think of these people, I think of not only unbelievers, but also those affected by abusive relationships.


  • An individual can be financially poor. They can be in need of the basic human necessities: food, shelter, and clothing. We need to take care of them, and help with their needs.


  • Spiritually poor is one that we usually can think of ideas for because our goal is to win people to Christ. We are to make sure that people know how much they are loved and valued by their brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as loved and treasured, sought after, by God Himself!


“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.”

Psalms 112:9


What should we do? Practical Application

Now that we know that we need to seek to see as God sees, what sorts of acts can we do?


Donate

An obvious answer is to donate. I’m not talking only financially, although, I’m most cases, this is exactly what we need to do. Giving to those who are in need, helping to support and care for others is a call that is placed in our lives as Christians.


I’m also talking about giving in time. What sorts of skills and gifts do you have that God has given you? Are you handy and able to repair items? Perhaps someone needs a car repaired, or a furnace, and you are able to do this. Maybe you are spectacular at organizing and cleaning, and an individual has been sick and unable to do this. Consider donating your time for tasks that you are able to perform for someone else.


Money is a great way to donate too, don’t get me wrong. We can also donate possessions. If you have more than you need, consider giving to those who do not have enough. I might be alone in this, well, except my grandma, but I would rather give something away rather than try and sell it. You never know who can use what you have. My kids have learned the value of giving away toys that are not used, stuffed animals, blankets, and clothes. We have been in the position of needing help, and my husband and I want our kids to remember others when giving.


“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Matthew 19:21

Feeding

We all need to eat, am I right? Many families, elderly, and others in our communities are struggling to put food on the table. When people are hungry, it makes everyday tasks that much more difficult. When preparing food for yourself and your family, consider making extra and giving to someone in need of a good meal. This simple act means more than you can imagine.

Love

How powerful is love? Think about it for a minute. Have you ever been in the position that you do not even like yourself, a deep dark pit of despair that you have no idea how to get out of, let alone love yourself? I have been there, and it is not pretty. Even people who are fully invested in their relationship with Christ can suffer from emotional problems and mental health issues. Love is such a beautiful thing, and it is often times underrated. How else can you show someone that they are loved other than giving your love to them? Think of the impact, not only on the person themselves, but the world. I truly believe that love has a ripple effect: you put the love out there for those who are needing it, and they in turn can love someone else. Wow! Imagine!


“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:3


***


“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

Proverbs 31:20


How will you go out into the world and tend to the poor? Will you tend to their spirit? How about their physical needs? Perhaps you will open your arms and tend to the very soul of the person, showing them love that they have not felt they deserve. We would love to hear from you! Get in touch and share your stories!


April 1, 2019





Proverbs 31: Community Investments

In continuing the Proverbs 31 Woman study, we will look this week at the investments she makes in her community. How does she interact with those around her? Is she doing her best to make sure that God is represented in everything that she does?


“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.”

Proverbs 31: 16-19


At first, I was confused about how this shows that the Proverbs 31 woman is investing in her community. I am referencing an article that you can find here, and I like where the author is heading with the community investments. She suggests that perhaps the Proverbs 31 woman is showing God in the workplace. This makes sense to me.


Consider that she is not working this field and vineyard alone-she must have workers. The Proverbs 31 woman is showing the workers goodness, faithfulness, and love; her actions are fruits of the Spirit. She is a good employer who works alongside her employees. While going about her duties for her husband, she is also seeing that her work is bringing good to those around her as well.

How can we invest in our workplaces?

Taking an example from this area in scripture, we are aware that we must bear the right fruit in our own lives, in order to make a case for Christ; we must show others Christ in everything we do. What does it mean to bear fruit, and which is the right fruit to bear?


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:22-26


When dealing with our fellow workers, we must remember that, even in these stressful situations, we need to show the fruit of Christ: gentleness, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Easier said than done sometimes, right? How often do we leave our faith at church when we leave on Sunday morning, after services? Shouldn’t we go out to our workplaces, spreading the love of Christ?


“But, wait, Angie, just a minute! In our world today, it is considered horrific to be a Christian! Christians are the worst kinds of people, in the eyes of the world.” To this, I say, we were never promised an easy life as a Christian, were we? Were we told life would be sunshine and rainbows? No, and we were also told that we would face persecution. It is hard to be a Christian right now, but nevertheless, we must still continue on the path of righteousness, and bear the fruit of Christ.


“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Matthew 7:15-20


Let’s look at practical examples for displaying the fruit of the Spirit in the workplace.

Joyfulness

Do you go to work joyful? If not, why? Is the work stressful, demanding, or something else? Maybe you have a hard time with co-workers? Why would God put me in a place where I am miserable, you may ask yourself.


Let’s turn the tables now, and ask, What can I do for Christ at work? Can you simply bring joy to the tasks at hand, letting Him shine through you? It is hard sometimes, isn’t it? The world lets us believe that work is something to endure and tolerate, but in reality, it is a gift from God, yes? Through working, we are given a daily chance to win others to Christ and shine for Him. We are given the chance to help, love, and uplift our co-workers. This is what the Proverbs 31 woman does. She is diligent, hardworking, and helpful. She sees the tasks to be done, and she does them, never being idle. She does not gossip, nor does she complain. She is joyful.


How big of an impact can you make if you see the joy, rather than the tediousness, of work? Will you then stand out as different? If you chose words of praise and love, instead of gossip and complaint at work, would you be different? Perhaps enough so that people will start asking why?

Self-Control

Have you ever had an instance at work where something slipped out that maybe you didn’t intend to? Or, have you ever wanted to just stop doing a task because you were the only one working? Did you give into negative thoughts about co-workers, knowing full well that it was wrong?


Having self-control in the world, let alone the workplace, can be tough. If you work in an environment that does not support the Christian point of view, it can be even harder. Our worldly jobs are meant to give us an opportunity to minister to those in our lives. It is meant to set a shining example for Christ. I believe, in the world, the best way to show Christ is through self-control. Our world today encourages us to indulge ourselves because we deserve it. So, to refrain from that, and to live within the laws of God, is a much better example of Christ than merely quoting scripture. (Scripture is vital for our hearts, and it is imperative that we memorize scripture in order to ward off attacks from the enemy. I was not intending to make light of that.) Our actions speak louder than words.

Faithfulness

How does faithfulness fit into our work lives? When we continually, day after day, show up to work ready and willing to go, then we are reflecting Christ. We are saying to the world: “I will faithfully complete the tasks my Father has given me, and one of them is working here.” Faithfulness is by far the easiest one, don’t you think?


When your co-worker gets a promotion, raise, or accolade, rather than being bitter or envious, show your faithfulness to their success by being happy for them. Faithfulness in the workplace also comes in the form of lifting each other up rather than continually competing against one other.


In conclusion, we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and display it daily so that we are set apart from the world. In regards to the Proverbs 31 woman, she did this by setting a shining example of a Godly boss and worker. How will you show Christ to your co-workers?


“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

John 15:1-2



Proverbs 31: Godly Investments

March 18, 2019


In the last installment, which I know was forever ago and I apologize, we discussed the idea of Lemuel’s mother’s plea to her son to stop wasting his life away on women and endeavours that  are not pleasing to God. She implores him to find a woman of worth.


Starting in verse 10, she begins to describe the most highly regarded woman she can imagine: one whose worth exceeds rubies. I was reading a commentary that said that rubies are the second most valuable stone-right under diamonds. Imagine, if you will, a woman held in such high regard! How would she act? What are her goals? Who can tell her apart from any other woman?


Most of the articles that I have read have taken on the characteristics or traits such as faith, wisdom, etc for the Proverbs 31 woman. I read one article that discussed her in terms of the investments that she makes. I would like to draw on this article, and expand even more. It is a fascinating idea, and the more you look at her investments, the clearer you can see who this woman is, how she is different, and what her goals are. You are able to then see God shining through her by the works of her hands, the care she gives, and the wisdom she displays.


After considerable thought on the subject of the Proverbs 31 woman, I have come to the conclusion that it is not just a blueprint for how women should act. There is much more here! I believe that it is a guide to show us how we should invest in our relationships. God wants us to invest in people. He wants us to lead by example, not by the words of our mouths. How else can we convince an unbeliever that God is real?


Let’s look, this time, at the Proverbs 31 Woman in terms of her investment in her husband. All of her investing into this relationship boils down to one fundamental principle, in my opinion, which is respect. She respects him, therefore, she acts accordingly.I do think that this is a universal topic-that the same things that apply to women here, also can be applied to men and husbands. More importantly, this is a valid topic to discuss to show ourselves what we should strive to be in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of men.


“Her husband is full of confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31: 11 & 12


“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Beautiful, yes? Now, how many of us can say we treat our relationship with our spouse this way? If you think about it, husbands are to act this way towards their wife as well as wives towards their husbands. I can think of times that I have failed here. It is embarrassing to think of times where I have been less than gracious in my attitude towards my husband. Am I alone?


“However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Ephesians 5:33


Respect is a big deal, and in the relationship between husband and wife, the area of respecting one another is vital for a healthy, Godly relationship. How can we show respect for our spouse?

Showing respect to our husband is actually easier than one may think. I am a true believer that showing respect is the reflection of you, not the other person. What are some examples of ways to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, and bring no harm to our spouses?

Being a Good Steward

With the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, she uses the resources entrusted to her by her husband, and she does not squander them. Her methods are meticulous, and she takes care to make good use of them. This is not only important to her husband, but also to God. We are called to be good stewards of the resources given to us by Him.

Refrain from Breaking Trust

The trust that we have with our spouse is sacred. I do believe that once that trust is lost, there is trouble ahead should we not seek to repair the wrong and seek forgiveness. God wants us to be faithful to our spouse, to maintain the relationship with that person just as we would with Christ. If we fail, we must ask forgiveness. We mustn’t let pride endanger our marriage. This is a tough lesson, but one that we must learn. If we love Christ, then pride should have no place in our lives-let alone our marriage.

Refrain From Harsh Words or Actions

This is so important. If you are constantly criticizing and nagging someone, they will not feel respected, let alone loved. The person you married, that you agreed to love and honor, is the first person who should see Christ through your words and actions. He should be able to say to others that you are a woman of God, and that you have nothing but kindness to share. If you struggle with taming your tongue, then that is between you and God, and needs to be dealt with in prayer and Bible study.

Small Gestures

The small things matter, don’t they? I am a firm believer that they do. Something as simple as washing the clothes of another person is so much more powerful than we can imagine. Making your spouse a cup of tea or coffee, doing something for them that they would enjoy, and taking part in something that is their passion is a great way to show them love and respect. It is a great way to show that they matter to you, and also that you are making an investment in them because they matter to you.

Affection

I am not a believer of public displays of affection, but I do believe that it is ok to show the world that this person was chosen by God, for you, and that you love them. So, how can we do that while still being appropriate? Hold your spouse’s hand, sit near them in church, speak quietly to one another in public. There is no need to be inappropriate, but affection is something that needs to be a part of how we treat our spouse.


I have listened to non-believers speaking about withholding affection from their spouse until the get their way. I pray this isn’t something that you have done! Affection, in it’s own way, allows us to show respect for one another. We hug our children, we hug our grandparents, and we shake hands with others: all showing that we value them. Why would we do anything different with our spouses? Remembering that people often times need physical touch to feel loved is a good reminder to us. Show your husband and wife you love them with a simple hug. Sometimes, that is all that is needed.


Proverbs 31 is more than the ideal woman, it is a guide for us to follow and learn how to invest in one another. This week it was how to invest in our spouse, and next week we will discuss how the Proverbs 31 woman shows us how to invest in our community. Let me know what your thoughts are at alarson1983@hotmail.com. I would love to hear from you!


“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2




Love matters most

 

What a great topic, am I right? Love is our ultimate command. Christians are called to do this, and we often let everything else get in the way. We let our own agenda hinder us, and often, the very fact that we are trying to love gets in the way. How? Well, we get caught up in the task of loving one another, and in the process, we forget that all we need to do is show our love. The process and the acts involved in showing Christian love become the important part, and thus, we strive to do more and lose the genuinely of our actions.

 

Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 22:37-39

 

I love this verse. The process is simple when we look at scripture: Love God, and then love everyone else. Why do we, as people, make it more complicated than it needs to be? Often, we let the flesh get in the way of what we know is true and right, and we forget that we should not pick and choose who we love. Christ did not pick and choose, so why should we?

 

I have learned over the years that the ones who are hardest to love, are those who need the love the most. Is it easy? Certainly not, but we were never promised easy, were we? It may be the hardest thing you have ever done, right? I would imagine. In my life, I know that it has been. In the end, is it worth it to love everyone? Absolutely and without a doubt! When you begin to love unconditionally the people around you, you notice a change in yourself. You notice more of Christ and less of the world.

 

Love is a choice that we need to make daily. There is no other way to look at it. We must consciously choose to love our brothers and sisters, and we must actively make that choice. There is a reason that the Bible says that the most important command is love. Think about it: Christ came to give us life and to make the ultimate sacrifice, done in love. If He does that, why can’t we?

 

Loving One Another

How do we show love actively, daily? It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? I promise that it isn’t. Love is the most rewarding act that a Christian can do. Not only for yourself but more importantly, to the person on the receiving end. Once you get into the habit of doing loving acts for others, it becomes second nature. Often it becomes a reflex.

 

Small things

It’s the little things that matter, do you agree? Love is not some grand gesture that is accompanied by praise and accolades. No, love, true and genuine love, is in the small, quiet actions that amount to the well-being of an individual. They can include:

 

Bringing a meal for someone

Penning a note

Visiting with someone

Giving a hug

Asking about them

Holding the door open

Giving up your space in line

Simply smiling at people

 

Do you remember talking hospitality? Don’t these things look similar? Hospitality is a display of love. These are just a few ways to practice the command, what else can you think of?

 

Why Love Matters Most

 

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:14

 

Imagine with me, if you will, a world without Christians. There are good people in the world who are not Christians, right? We pray for and share the Gospel with those people, and even with the people who are not necessarily “good.” When the trumpet sounds, and we are taken from this world, what will a world devoid of Christians look like?

 

I would hope the answer you came up with would be bleak. It would be bleak because those left behind have either chosen to not believe, or they were never told about the saving love of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

A world without Christians should also be even more jagged and broken than it already is. Imagine what our country would be like without those Christians who serve people daily in love. Would the world still have good, yes, I believe so, but it would not have the shining, unconditional love we are called to share?

 

By asking what the world will look like, I hope you begin to think about those who are serving in love. How many people are following the directive to love? I can think of many people in our community who make serving look at easy as breathing. It never seems to be a question for some, while others of us struggle. Does this mean that you are doing something wrong? I don’t believe so. We are each on our own walk with Christ. Your path won’t look like mine, and vice versa. The important thing to remember is that we love one another despite faults and differences. We are not the judges. Keep your eyes on Christ and His promise, and everything else will fall into place.

 

Galatians tells us that loving your neighbor is the greatest command. Keep in mind, nowhere did it say to only love your Christian neighbor or the neighbor that most resembles you. The Bible does not say to only love those who are nice to you. No, we are charged with loving everyone. We need to be the change in the world, and we need to be the love and light in the world. How else do we stand apart from non-believers?

 

As you go about your week, I challenge you to practice the act of loving one another. Show kindness however you can, even if It is a simple smile. Lift those around you and envelope them in Christ’s love. Have a great week!

 

The Perfect Woman (Or Man)?: A Look at Proverbs 31

Part 1: Wisdom for Men

 

I have rediscovered Pinterest and all the glorious information that I had forgotten about. Who doesn’t like finding all that information in one place? I often imagine my grandfather would have hopped on the Pinterest bandwagon because he loved information. If you had the blessing of knowing him, you would remember that he digested every fact he could find, and he often shared them with people! In that way, I am like him! I love the conglomeration of different useful tips, tricks, and life hacks you can find on Pinterest. I have found fantastic recipes to start the New Year, business tools for my fledgling enterprise, and my “Amen” board where I pin the Christian content that I find helpful. While searching through what I have already on that board, I began to remember when I first began the journey that would lead me to Proverbs 31 and the virtuous woman described in that part of scripture.

When I was in my early 20’s, I followed a blog named
A Virtuous Woman. The gal who operates it is a true role model for young women everywhere. Her name is Melissa Ringstaff, and from her, I learned the art of homemaking and why, Biblically, we need to practice this. I aspired to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, the key piece of scripture used in this blog. I was anxious to contribute to my household because, at that time, Nick was the only one working. I recall the myriad thoughts and overwhelming emotions of being a young mother with young children. The Virtuous Woman blog helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. Trying and failing was a common occurrence at this point in life. I learned valuable lessons and insights into Christian womanhood during that time. Striving to be the Proverbs 31 woman taught me many things, but most of all, I learned that no matter how hard we try, we will fail. The important thing is that we get up and start over, asking for and receiving forgiveness from our gracious Father.

 

We will break this chapter into 12 parts of a series. Each week, I would love to have you join me as we look at the traits of the Proverbs 31 woman and how they can apply to our lives. This is not a series only for women; men can learn just as much as women here. It is a good series for single people, married, and widowed. Our first installment will be on the verses 1-9 in which the mother of Lemuel is urging him to follow a righteous path and be a man and ruler who is worthy of a righteous, Godly woman.

Wisdom for Men
“Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:1-9

 

What a powerful part of scripture! It seems to be overlooked due to the enormous amount of valuable teachings in the rest of the chapter, though. I have overlooked this part many times. I would like to share my thoughts, and I would love to be corrected if I am wrong.

 

Lemuel’s mother is urging him to be a man of integrity. She has many warnings for him before we even are introduced to the woman whose qualities shine for God. Let’s explore the message to Lemuel today. I am intrigued, I’ll admit, because Proverbs 31 has always seemed to be an admonition and blueprint for women only.

 

First, a Warning


“Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.”

 

Here, Lemuel’s mother seems to be warning him about women who would take advantage of a man, seducing him away from God’s will. The women she is warning against would not strive to live for God, but rather be a part of the world and all its problems and distractions.

 

Would the women she is warning against be bad people necessarily? No, I don’t believe so. I believe they are like the many people in society today who are lost and do not know the love of our Father. Even good intentions are lost if they do not glorify the One who loves us.

 

These women, that his mother warns against, would distract Lemuel is what his mother is saying. With worldly distractions, how are we able to live a life fully for God? We lose our way, and we take wrong turns. I would like to go one step further, to show how the Bible applies to all of us, that this warning is a warning for all of God’s children. Do not be distracted by the men and women who come into our lives, lest they capture your attention and lead you away from God. This includes our spouses. God first, and then our spouse follows. If we cannot love God first, it is impossible to love our spouse. Our focus must be on the Lord, for without that, life has no true value.

 

Worldly Pleasure Warning


“It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.”


Do not forget why we are here: we are here to love God, serve Christ, and be filled with the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of showing the world God. We can do this in many ways:

 

  • Caring for the homeless, elderly, and those in need
  • Treating our neighbors with respect and love
  • Loving our enemies
  • Speaking of the Gospel and wonder of Christ’s sacrifice
  • Sharing our story

 

When Christ died for us, we no longer are disconnected from God. There is no reason to wallow in our agony and misery. Christ came for all of us, and we need to let the world know that He came for them as well.

 

Next, a Charge

 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

 

Over the course of a week, I have read and reread this passage many times while trying to digest it. The passage directly above is one of my favorites, and I love it more each time I read it. It makes me smile. Lemuel’s mother knew what she was talking about!

 

For those of you who know me, you would understand how this passage speaks volumes to my soul. In recent years, I have had the privilege to work with individuals with dementia, down syndrome, and autism.

 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Wow! I often, while working with this population, have felt that they need their voices heard. Have any of you watched sometimes how some, not all, people speak to those who cannot speak for themselves? Our world is full of evil, and that evil comes out in a myriad of ways. One that cuts to my heart every time is when it hurts those who have limitations. We are commanded in this passage to not sit idly by and allow these injustices.

 

“. . .for the rights of all who are destitute.” Love people. Our calling is to love people and fight against the evil that consumes the world. Love people who have nothing to return, and tell them that because of Christ, you do this. For millennia, we have had Christians fighting for those rights of people who cannot fight for themselves. Should we be different?

 

“Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Again, I say, love people. We love people by caring for their physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs. Using our Christian voices, we can speak up for those who cannot. In our country, it is not popular to be a Christian. I read a post on Facebook that cautioned Christians to speak up at their own risk. We will face persecution as followers of Christ, the Bible warns of that. Must we stop doing our duty as Christians though? Are we not commanded to not be fearful?

 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, not as the gives. Do not let your heart be troubled.” John 14:27

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’”

Romans 8:35-36

May we boldly go into the world to love people and to bring about change in the name of Christ by speaking up for those who cannot.

 

This post has been eye-opening to write. As I write more, it becomes clear that by overlooking this passage so often, I am depriving myself of the teachings about social responsibility. It is a beautiful way to show us to stand up for those who cannot do so themselves.

 

  • What have you gotten from this passage? Do you see the same teachings that I see, and are we making the same connections to our lives?

 

  • How has God spoken to you with this scripture?

 

  • In which way can you apply this to your lives?

 

It’s is perfect that we are given this information from a woman. Do you think she strived to be the “perfect woman,” a Proverbs 31 woman? How do you think she handled missteps that caused her to perhaps doubt her calling as a mother and woman of God?

 

Next week, we will look at the first trait of a Virtuous Woman: faith. Are you excited?

 

May Christ walk with you as you go about the week ahead. I pray that He guides any who read this and brings in any who do not know Him. Have a blessed week y’all!

 

Entertaining Angels

Hospitality. Quite a fitting topic for this time of year, right? Many of us will be the ones practicing hospitality, but some will be on the receiving end of the hospitality during Christmas. What does the Bible say about practicing hospitality? Let’s find out!


We are told to practice hospitality. But, what exactly is hospitality? The definition of hospitality is:


“The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”


Now, when looking at the Biblical definition of “hospitality” I think Matthew 25:35-40 does a fantastic job.


“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or in need of clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “

Matthew 25:35-40


The definitions line up well. Christ calls us to show hospitality to everyone-not just the people we happen to enjoy being around. Let that sink in. Does anyone feel guilty? I do, and to go one further, I feel ashamed.


As an introvert, I do not like to be around people much. My calling from Christ, though, tells me basically to suck it up and practice living like Him. This includes entertaining strangers, people who make me uncomfortable, and my enemies. As I write this, I contemplate what that looks like. Do I have to invite people over all the time? No, certainly not, but it is a good idea to entertain in your own home, surely. Right?


“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

1 Peter 4:9


This verse made me laugh out loud! It was a kick in the pants saying,’ Look Ang, do My will, do it with a joyful heart, and quit complaining.” After coming right out and saying it that way, by golly I had better do it!


Do you struggle with hospitality? I have gotten better over the years. I enjoy people coming to my home quite a bit more than I did. I enjoy having people stop by to chat and catch-up.


“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Hebrews 13:2


Have any of you grumbled when you see people panhandling? I have, and it makes me ashamed. In the last 6-7 years, I have given when I can. Do I believe every person has been in dire need that I have given money to? No, not at all, but who am I to judge who is in dire need? I know nothing of these people. I do know that I am called to love them though.


In Bemidji, when I am there, I usually see the same man with a sign that says: “Please help. Diabetic veteran.” This sign kills me every single time I see it. Every time I see this sign, I need to give the person something. The veteran part does not get to me as much as the diabetic part. For those of you who know me, you know my son has Type 1 diabetes. This, one day could be my son. Who would help him? Anyone?


“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:13


The Bible commands us to share what we have with everyone. Plain and simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. Offer hospitality without grumbling.

How can I practice hospitality?

So, you say to yourself, “Great! I can follow God’s command and practice hospitality! But what does that mean?” How can we practice practical hospitality that reflects Christ’s love for us?

Greet People

In church, we have greeters who are there to welcome us to the service. It is no coincidence that this is a form of hospitality that our church practices. How can this be applied practically, away from church? Simply by smiling, saying hello, or waving to the people that we encounter each and every day. I can not tell you how important it can be to smile at those we meet. No one ever knows the path someone else has walked, and a simple smile can turn someone’s day around!

Share a Meal

Eating together is often what we think of when we think hospitality. Sharing meals with others is a great way to connect and form a relationship with them. It allows us to relax and feel comfortable with others who we may not otherwise find a way to engage. What better way to show love than to have people over and feed them?

Host a Game Night

This is a fun suggestion! Less formal than a meal, game night is a good solution to entertaining different people and personalities. I find this suggestion to be a nice alternative to meals because you are able to focus on the people in your home, rather than worry about preparing food for a sitdown dinner.

Notice People

Another great way for hospitality to be practiced is simply to look for people on the fringe. In our church, I feel that the congregation does a great job with this. People are always welcoming the new individuals and engaging them. I had a co-worker once who was great at this! She would engage everyone: kids, staff, substitutes. It is a gift for people and often comes naturally to some. For others, like me, it is a struggle but a necessary one.


Let’s join the challenge of showing hospitality to all people we encounter. As you can see, it is more than inviting everyone into your home for a meal. Greet people, show love, and let the glow of Christ shine through to reach those who may not believe.


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23-24


P.S. If anyone has no one to share a meal with for Christmas, please contact me. I would be glad to have you in my home!






Christmas Challenge: Random Acts of Kindness

In honor of the Christmas season, I am issuing a challenge of sorts. This challenge is for the young and old, frail or hardy. I have gathered a list of 25 Random Acts of Kindness tasks for us to try to complete each and every day, all in the name of Christ’s love.


During the Christmas season, we are looking forward to the coming again of Christ, by celebrating His birth. We sometimes, as humans, get caught up in the material part of Christmas and let the true meaning slide by. As Christians, we are called to love and act like Christ, so what better time for Random Acts of Kindness then during the 25 days until Christmas?


In my list, I have gathered scripture to reflect upon as we are blessing others with love.

Random Acts of Kindness

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

1 John 3:16

December 1-Give up your spot in line



December 2-Pay for someone else’s coffee or drink


December 3-Donate to the food shelf-either with time, money, or food


“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.”

1 John 3:17-18


December 4-Donate pet supplies to the Humane Society


December 5-Help someone with a chore


December 6-Donate to the Violence Intervention Project


“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:7


December 7-Shovel for a neighbor, if you are able


December 8-Make get well cards for those who need them


December 9-Make holiday decorations for a church member


December 10-Feed the birds


December 11-Bake goodies for neighbors


“If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”

James 2:8


December 12-Bring flowers to the care centers in town


December 13-Take cookies to the police station


“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:10


December 14-Put up positive sticky notes in public places


December 15-Return someone’s grocery cart


December 16-Help someone load their groceries into their car.


December 17-Pay someone’s library fees


“Make sure no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.”

1 Thessalonians 5:15


December 18-Call one of the schools and arrange to pay a child’s school lunch balance


December 19-Leave a nice comment on social media


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35


December 20-Leave laundry detergent at the laundromat


December 21-Bake cookies for the mail carrier


December 22-Smile at everyone you see


“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32


December 23-Thank the sanitation workers with a yard sign or a card


December 24-Show love to your family


December 25-Pray for our congregation in a special and meaningful way.


“Each man shall give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7


Perhaps something made it onto my list that you are unable to complete. I encourage you to think of an alternative. I plan on putting my family up to this challenge as well as myself. While we should be showing Christ’s love daily, I feel like Christmas is also a great time to practice kindness towards others. May God bless you this Christmas season, and may you bless others!


“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”

Proverbs 14:21



Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels




Nurturing and Mentoring our Youth


I was scrolling through Facebook the other night, and I saw the most powerful image in regards to our teenagers. It was titled “7 Things Our Teens Need To Know.” The image listed 7 different Bible verses and listed truths that can be taken from them that are applicable to teens. We all know the teens years are difficult to navigate, but I would argue that as a Christian, the teen years are extraordinarily difficult.

Why are the teen years more difficult for Christians teens?

Do you remember being a teen? I do, and it is not a pretty picture! The pressure is unreal to fit in! If you don’t fit in, your self-esteem suffers. No matter what someone tells you about not minding being an “outcast” or “different,” I don’t buy that the individual is not affected in a meaningful way when they are not accepted.


As adults, it is easier to gravitate towards like-minded people. Not only do you have more control as an adult, but you also have the ability to remove yourself from situations. As a teen, you are tossed to the masses in a school setting where so many diverse personalities exist that it can be difficult to be true to you, and consequently, Christ.


When I was a teenager, Christianity was already starting to be attacked in full force. I know that over the decades, Christianity has always been attacked. What I am talking about is this: it was no longer, during my youth, a given that you were a Christian. I remember a girl I went to school with who was an atheist. She attacked every Christian she could find, and she was brutal. Her regular way of doing things was, if you did not agree with her, you were wrong and a fair target. Under this threat of attack, I hid who I was. I remember thinking that once I graduated, it would be easier to be a Christian.


Teens struggle with being accepted and often do things so out of character for them that parents start to question where this kid came from. Does anyone else do this? I do for sure! Others see your kid as spectacular and a leader, but you see an insecure child who needs guidance. This age group is phenomenal at hiding who they really are and wearing multiple hats and faces.

How can we guide our youth?

It is utterly important for our youth to know that they are loved, accepted, and wanted. While this is true for everyone, with teens, it is vital. How can we communicate this to them?

Listen

Listening can go a long way. Hearing the needs and thoughts of a teen can be difficult. They are at an age where they know everything and adults just “don’t get it.” Were you there as a teen?


While we need to listen, we do not need to agree or refrain from correction. I have found that the first step in building a relationship with young people is simply listening. If they struggle to open up, ask questions. If you just get a grunt, try again later but don’t give up!

Engage

While asking questions is a form of engaging, I am not talking about this. I am talking about taking part in something that the youth finds entertaining. Perhaps you have a gamer? Ask to be taught how to play their favorite game. Have a musician? Attend a concert together, learn a new instrument together, or ask them to teach you something.


In our house, I learn all sorts of new things. I have learned to make fry bread, slime, and Lego villages. Also, I have attended a concert after concert and listened to critiques by my music loving child. Do you see results right away? No, but the journey is completely worth it!

Mentor

We have the Big Brother/Big Sister program in our town. This is a great program that I was in as a child. However, a Christian mentor is the best thing for a Christian teen who is struggling with their identity in Christ. I have had numerous women from Church as mentors over the years. Most simply took time with me because of the fact that my mother was no longer with us. I value every one of those relationships. Can you think of a young person who may benefit from your mentorship?


My husband and I have mentored quite a bit of youth over the years. We have had to learn how to properly show a young man or young woman what it means to live a full life that is righteous and good. I enjoy watching Nick mentor youth; he just has a way about him that shows young men that they are loved despite past choices, despite disabilities, and despite current struggles. This is what it means to mentor. We need to show our youth what it means to become men and women of God. By showing that we fail too, showing how to seek forgiveness, and showing how to pick up and keep our eyes on Christ, we are doing our job. When we openly show our need for Christ, youth understand that, despite the world telling us we need to be perfect to claim Christ, we are all imperfect which is why we need Him.

Truths from Scripture for our Youth

I came across some powerful scriptures for youth to remember.


Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”


Even when life seems like it is never going to get better, you are being brought through the fire to become the person God knows you will be.


Psalm 139:14

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.”


You were made uniquely to serve God. He made you different because only the special balance of who you are is needed to serve. No one else can fulfill your role in the church and God’s kingdom. You are enough. You are valuable and special.


Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”


It is important to get an education but this does not make you who you are. Your talents, traits, and gifts from God make you who you are. You are a child of God, the brother or sister to Christ. What a privilege!


Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


If you are different, that is ok. Do not worry about fitting in. Continue to do what is good and righteous according to God’s will.


Galatians 5:1

“It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”


The past is the past. Your mistakes are behind you. Repent, receive forgiveness, and move forward with the will of God in mind. You are forgiven and sin is no longer holding you if you are in Christ.


Proverbs 19:20

“ Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end, you will be wise.”


People who walk the faith, who are older and wiser than you, are valuable. Surround yourself with these people in order to learn. You are never alone. God places people in your life for a purpose. If you are dealing with self-harm or abuse, you are never alone. Reach out to someone.


Galatians 1:10

“Am I now trying to with the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of God.”


As a follower of Christ, strive to win His approval, not those of classmates. Their opinions are not what matters.


Share these verses with the youth in your life. I look forward to hearing ideas from you! Email me at alarson1983@hotmail.com.










Food and Fellowship

“And let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25


It’s Sunday morning and you are getting ready for church. You are rushing around the house, getting the kids ready to go, and it hits you. It is the Sunday of the church potluck. What will you bring?


The amazing church potluck. A time of fellowship and food; a time to bask in the glow that comes from breaking bread with people you love. I love church potlucks, my kids love church potlucks, and my husband loves church potlucks. My kids and husband love the food-our church, in particular, is home to many stupendous cooks.


I love the church potluck for the fact that you can touch base with people. Before church, there is not always time to visit as you would like. After church, people are intent on getting going to fill their belly. The solution is a potluck.

The Anatomy of a Church Potluck

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 17:17


What makes a perfect potluck? My goodness, let’s discuss this! There are 5 parts to the perfect potluck: vegetable, hotdish (in Minnesota), easy side dish, salads (non-vegetable), and dessert. No potluck is complete without these 5 parts.

The Vegetables

I personally love the vegetable dishes. The salad options are endless, the tastes are more diverse than any other dish, and the variety is amazing! People seem to think that this is not an important part of dinner. I disagree. The love of whoever brought the dish is spectacular! They care enough to want to bring a dish that will nourish your body as well as feed your soul. Love and care go into these dishes for sure.


The Hotdish

In Minnesota and the Midwest, there are too many hotdishes to list. The main components are meat, potato/rice of some sort, cream soup, and possibly a vegetable. If someone is really trying to impress, they will add cheese. The hotdish gets a bad rep, but it is the ultimate Northern comfort food. The individual that makes and brings this dish is a planner. They enjoy being on top of the game, and the dish is usually quite elaborate in its simplicity. I personally have never brought a hotdish. I am not a planner.

The Easy Side Dish

This is my area of expertise. I usually am the one who is running around like a mad person in the morning and trying to figure out what is going on. Or, more to the point, I forget that it is Potluck Sunday. Anyone else? Please tell me I am not alone! Anyhow, the easy side dish is something like a bag of chips, a jar of pickles, something in a store bought container of some sort. Don’t get me wrong. I do not hold anything against this sort of dish. Without it, how would our meal be well rounded?

The Non-Vegetable Salad

These are one of my favorites as well. The cool-whip salads, the cookie salads, the glorious mixture that someone concocted from ingredients in their kitchen. These are a mainstay at our church it seems. Out in Montana, at our other church, I do not recall having these in attendance. My other family out there do not know what they are missing!

The Dessert

My grandmother has told me that we often should be able to have dessert before the regular meal to make sure we have enough room. I say, yes, I agree. Of course, I do not do that, but once in a while, I let the kids know I am ok with it occasionally. The cookies and cakes, the bars and delicate desserts that shine out at church potlucks are amazing!


When picturing the church potluck, which is your favorite part?

The People

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:12-13


In addition to the standard food fare found at the potlucks, there are also the people who seem to be a mainstay. In each of those groups, you can almost guess who will sit where and with whom. It is almost comical when you think about the routine of our church lives. We get complacent and comfortable, enjoying time with friends. Sometimes, we should move out of our zone and try something different.

The Overachievers

These are the people who always go above and beyond the call of duty. They spearhead committees, community outreach, and everything in between. I love these people because I am nothing like them! I admire their get up and go attitude.

The Wallflowers

These are my kind of people. We sneak into church hoping to not be noticed because the attention makes us uncomfortable. This group likes to slide through life with as little attention as possible. A helpful hint: we need to get over this and branch out!

The New and Young Parents

Bless these young couples! The days of pulling through church and a church potluck with small ones in tow are behind me, but I remember those days. You race through the morning trying to make sure everyone looks nice and presentable only to get to your destination with juice down the front of a child’s shirt or some unrecognizable substance stuck in someone’s hair. If you see these young families, it’s always helpful to offer aid. After all, it takes a village!

The Mainstays

By far my favorite group of people are the mainstays. These are the people who you cannot remember the church existing without them. As I write this, so many of you come to my mind, and I thank God for knowing you! These people take new Christians under their wings and help them find their footing. Most times, many of them bring the same type of potluck food for each one!

The “I stayed For the Food”

My oldest daughter has admitted this is her! As I said, the kids love the food! These people are not necessarily only there for the food, but they stay for the food. This is an important group to reach. The individuals who belong to this crew need outreach. Trying to nurture this relationship with a person here is a great opportunity to serve those who aren’t really involved elsewhere. Welcome them with open arms and show them Christ.


“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17


While there are people who don’t fall into any of these categories, the ones mentioned above are the main people you will meet at any church potluck. The opportunity brought on by a gathering to break bread is also an opportunity to learn more about those in the congregation.


Tell me, what is your favorite potluck dish? Which group do you belong to? How can we improve upon our monthly potlucks? Let us know your thoughts! I look forward to hearing from you!


“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

2 Corinthians 13:14


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Serving Our Church

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

Romans 7:6


On Sunday, Pastor Bert delivered an impactful sermon entitled “Look at me!” How many of you have felt that way? I know I have. Growing up, it always felt like I did not get the attention that I needed, so I would go after the attention that was negative. I did rebellious acts just to be noticed. In school, in order to make friends, I would do out of character things that would attract the wrong friends. At some point in our lives, we all have felt the need to shout “Look at me!”


“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:11


Putting into perspective what Pastor Bert was talking about, all around our community, there are people who are screaming for someone to notice them. All they want is to be noticed and shown compassion and mercy. They need someone to let them know that they matter. What better way to shine for Christ then by letting someone know that He loves them? How do we do it? Simple. We serve the person but instead of taking credit for ourselves, we need to give the glory to God.


Nick, my husband, and I were out in Montana for around five years. We grew emotionally and spiritually while out there. Our journey together out there was phenomenal. Neither of us had any family out there. It was rough for a while, but it was worth it. The first week we were out there, we found ourselves in need. I went to the Community Church to ask for help. That day changed my life. This church is dedicated to showing love to the community. They love God, and they love God’s people-even the unlovable.


It took me a while to settle into the community and the church. I remember feeling isolated and alone. Nick worked long hours while I was home alone with three small children. One woman in the congregation asked to bring us dinner on Wednesday night, and then she would take the kids to Awana. She sat with me that evening, having dinner with me and the kids, and she listened to what I was feeling. I cried and laughed, that night, but I remember her telling me that she had been a young wife too. She had traveled from Alabama to live with her husband in Montana. She struggled in the same way that I was struggling. When we moved home, she was at the good-bye dinner for our family. The people of this church became my family. I truly believe that God sent these people into my life, and those same people showed me God. They never took credit for acts of kindness. They never boasted with pride over their good works. That is how we need to serve our community.


Why would I tell you this story when we are talking about serving others with compassion, mercy, and love? If I had not met these people, I would be in a different place right now. They showed me the love of Christ through their acts of service. Due to that, I continued to return, even when we lived an hour away. I was drawn to the people there, but more importantly, I was drawn to love I felt. Going from a misfit to someone special is what every person deserves. We just need to make sure that the person seeks the “special” from God. Seeking anywhere else leaves you open to never feeling fulfilled. There will always be an empty spot until you invite Christ in, and allow Him to love you.


“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature, rather serve one another in love.”

Galatians 5:13

How can I serve others?

The opportunities are endless regarding ways to serve others. As Pastor Bert said, we need to notice and listen to the people of our community so that we can serve them. What needs do you see? Who in our community needs to feel the love of Christ?


When these questions were asked this morning, I felt my mind reeling. Day in and day out, I serve youth who need a home, love, and guidance. Honestly though? This does not feel like the sort of service Pastor was talking about. I felt like it would be too easy to say that I was listening and noticing those in our community by taking care of these children. It is a ministry for sure, but not the type of serving Pastor spoke about.


We all have our talents and gifts, and this makes a huge impact on how we serve others. Getting your hands dirty, as Pastor said this morning, is important. Of course, this could be taken figuratively rather than literally if dirt isn’t your thing. Getting into the trenches for Christ is an honor, and there are various ways to go about this.


I can’t tell you how or where you should volunteer. What I can tell you is that whatever you choose to do, pray and listen to God. Listen to where He is calling you. Look at what you do well, and look at what you enjoy doing. Where is your heart?


Please allow me to share where I feel I am called to serve. I have a heart for the elderly. More specifically, the elderly that suffer from dementia. Let me tell you, the crankier the better! I enjoy the people that society has forgotten and cast aside for whatever reason. Valley Home has a great volunteer program. When I was a medication tech out there, I loved being in memory care. It baffles me how some people are put out by the elderly and often forget them.


I also have a strong pull towards youth with special needs. More specifically, I have great love and compassion for young people suffering from Autism and Down Syndrome. Spending time with these individuals is rewarding.


Serving does not always have to be a hardship. Serving can be enjoyable. Life as a Christian should be enjoyable! Loving our neighbors? This should be enjoyable. We should love the thought of showing the love of Christ to everyone we encounter.


Serving does not have to be a long, drawn-out affair either. It can be just simply helping someone with their groceries. Mowing the lawn of someone is something we can do as well, or in our neck of the woods, shoveling someone’s driveway or sidewalks.


Pastor Bert told us this morning: we need to serve our community. If we do not do this, how are we following the directive of serving others? Christ did not come to Earth to have others serve Him. He came to serve others. If we are in Christ, we ought to try our best to live like Him.


“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:26-28


But what if I have physical challenges that keep me from being able to leave my house or physically help others? I hear you with this one. We are one and the same. I am looking, currently, for ways to serve. I have a pain disorder as well as an autoimmune disorder. Many times, it is impossible for me to physically help someone. You know what I could do? Buy someone groceries or even coffee. You could visit with someone who is a shut-in. A prayer is always an option for someone who does not leave home. Everyone needs prayer. Serving from home is not getting in the trenches, but I believe God wants everyone involved, even if it is behind the scenes. How can we support our brothers and sisters in Christ? What can we do to show His love to those who do not yet know Him?


Will you take up the challenge? How can we serve our community individually and as a church? We may be a small congregation, but the love in the hearts of our people is mighty and great. I look forward to serving with you in Christ.







Welcome!


“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness”

Titus 2-7


Hello! Welcome to the new blog for the Evangelical Covenant Church of Thief River Falls! I am excited to share ideas and thoughts with all of you. Our purpose for this blog is to join together in fellowship by sharing in the development of the blog.


When most people think “fellowship,” you are probably like me and assume it is the church potluck or the ice cream social. A fellowship is much more than that, however. The definition of fellowship is gathering with people who share common values. We do that at our church, right? But, do we necessarily need to be physically together to share in the fellowship as well, or is it acceptable to fellowship over the phone, email, etc.?


“Commit yourself in the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make righteousness shine like dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Psalm 37:5-6


My hope for this blog is to encourage the exchange of God’s ideas with fellow Christians and non-Christians as well. I encourage everyone to take a chance and write something. Perhaps you don’t write, but you draw. I would love to include everyone’s artwork and writing-both young and old. We are all God’s children with talents and strengths, gifts, etc. We are called to use these gifts for His glory. Will you share with us yours?


We hope that this blog will give you things to think about, help you as you walk your Christian path, and join us together in a wonderful discussion as we trade ideas. New posts will be posted on Monday of each week. I urge you to comment your thoughts, opinions, etc. so that we may truly share in an exchange that will challenge the way we think and lead us closer to God.


Some things to keep in mind:


  • In November, I will be writing an article about church potluck favorites. Help me choose! Comment on what your favorite is, please.

  • The first week of every month is guest post day. Contact me for your chance!

  • Email me or contact me to have your child’s artwork featured! We love kid’s work!

  • It would be fantastic to include your testimonial on our blog. How did you come to Christ? What have you struggled with? Share your story!

  • Youth: I encourage you to take part in this as well. Write a story or a poem, sketch a picture, create a graphic, make a video. The ideas are endless! I would love the chance to work with you!

  • While we welcome your blog submissions, we may not post everything submitted. We want our blog to honor God and God’s values.  If a submission does not reflect Christian, biblical values or beliefs it will not be posted.


This church is important to me. I have been a part of ECC since I was 4 years old. Some years I have been absent, but my heart has always been with you folks. Our church is great, and I love each and every person who makes up the congregation.


We hope that you join us on this new journey. Contribute ideas please, and let us know what you would like to see written. You can reach me by phone, email, or text. I look forward to hearing from you!


Angela Larson

alarson1983@hotmail.com

218-686-1289


“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Romans 8:6


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