Glad you found us! This site has one objective: to help you win the spiritual battle for purity, in every sense of the word. Society encourages us to throw away our virtue; the message sent out by the media is: "everyone's doing it!" We are here to prove that statement wrong! Come in, read some encouraging testimonies, chat with others who strive to remain pure, and reaffirm your belief that purity, sexual and otherwise, is not only possible, but totally worth it!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Think on These Things: Merry Christmas!

Mini nativity 119030 Pictures, Images and Photos
Luke 2:14     Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (NKJV)

Merry Christmas, one and all!  Thanks so much for your support of the Armed and Virtuous ministry.  What a wonderful year it has been!  God has blessed us tremendously.  We're looking forward to all God has in store for Armed and Virtuous in 2012, and to sharing it with you.

I hope you enjoy the following videos.  The first one is just lighthearted fun:


2010 You Will Behave Like Gentlemen by Craig West from Douglas Schultz on Vimeo.


The other, one of my favorite Christmas memories, reminds us of the reason we celebrate Christmas:





Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and we'll see you in 2012! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

And The Winner Is....



Well, that's the end of our giveaway, thank so much to all who participated.  The results are in, and the winner of the Armed and Virtuous T-shirt is. . . Angela!  Congratulations! 

Shirts will be available to purchase in January, hopefully toward the beginning of the year.  (I'll send out a message letting you know when we're up and running.)  :)

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!  God Bless, and thanks again!



April
Psalm 37:4-5

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis the Season for a Giveaway!!



Welcome back!  Since it is the season of giving, we decided to give something away of our own.  Introducing the Armed and Virtuous T-shirt!  It's a trendy, yet powerful way to proclaim the message of purity, whether you're a youth or an adult.  The shirts come in adult sizes Small through XX Large . Medium and Large sizes come in a choice of regular or feminine cut.  We have gone to great effort to make them fashionable, yet modest.  Here's a picture of me wearing my shirt, (thanks to my awesome photographer, Jason Anderson!)



Here's a close up of the front (dogtags) and back. The back is enlarged so you can read the text.




There are several ways to enter, and each activity counts as an entry:

1.  Like us on Facebook (just click the like box on the top right corner of the page, you may need to sign in to Facebook to complete the process.)
2.  Become a follower of armedandvirtuous.org ( click on the "join" button under followers and follow the instructions.)
3.  Invite others to follow the blog or like us on Facebook. (1 entry per friend like or join!)
4.  Leave a comment telling us who you could share the message of purity with by wearing the shirt.  (Keep it general, no names, please)  :)

After completing each activity, please leave a comment on This Blog Post telling us that you have done so.  We are keeping track of entries from the activity on this post.  If you are already following the blog, or already like us on Facebook, please leave a comment on this blog post saying so, and you will receive credit. 

We will announce the winner on Friday evening at 9:00 CST, so you have five days to enter.  If you win this giveaway, we will contact you by email for mailing information. 


So, enjoy!  We are very proud of this product, and will be making it available for sale at the beginning of the new year, date TBA.  Have a Merry Christmas and we'll see you Friday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let's Give Thomas A Break!



John 20:25b . . . "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. (NKJV)"


This is a little something God shared with me the other morning, and I hope it encourages you. 

In John 20:24-29 we read Thomas' doubts about whether the other disciples had seen the Risen Savior.  Most of the time we think "Shame on Thomas, he doubted!"  But let's take a look at what might have motivated his words:

Just a few verses earlier (v.19-23), Jesus appeared to all the other disciples.  They got to see and experience Jesus risen from the dead!  What an amazing opportunity!  I'm sure Thomas saw the glow of excitement on their faces when they told him about the experience.  What would your reaction be?  I would be thinking:  Man, I missed it!  All the others got to take part in the greatest miracle of all time except me, and now I'll never see Him again!  Most likely, he was hurt, and although his doubt was genuine, at least in my opinion, it was likely born out of his disappointment.  He probably couldn't bear the thought of missing a visit from the Risen Savior.

But eight days later, what happens?  Jesus appears again, and this time Thomas is with them.  He singles out Thomas and tells him to put his fingers in the nail prints and his hand into His side.  Thomas then believes with all his heart.  Does Jesus correct his attitude?  Yes, but He also brings Thomas comfort, reminding him that he is loved, and that what matters to Thomas matters to Christ. 

Do you ever worry about opportunities passing you by?  Unfortunately, I do, and I'm sure you do too at times.  Here's the bottom line:  God is never going to allow us to miss out on any good thing that is part of His plan.  We need to learn to hold onto life a little more loosely.  We truly cannot control what happens, and worrying only causes harm (Psalm 37:8).  Just as God loved us enough to send His Son, just as Jesus loved us enough to die in our place, He also loves us enough to provide our needs and encourage our hearts. 

So, cast your cares upon Christ, and be thankful that God loves doubting Aprils and doubting You just as much as he loves doubting Thomas. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deck the Halls...But Keep Perspective

grain of wheat Pictures, Images and Photos


But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor (NKJV)."

Well, it's the Christmas season and all the stores are enticing us to come out and shop.  From now until Christmas Day we will be assaulted with commercials, specials, and last-chance offers to take advantage of "great deals."  If your calendar is anything like mine,  most of the weekends are already full of parties, church events, and family gatherings.  The Christmas list of things to do, buy, bake, mail and take care of is long and the time is short.  It's "the most wonderful time of the year," but it's also the most hectic time of the year. 

We get so caught up in the festivities of Christmas, the giving of gifts and the planning of parties that it's easy to forget the main point of Christmas.  Yes, we celebrate the gift of God's Son on Christmas day, but we tend to forget that He was born for the purpose of dying.  Yes, there was joy on the night of His birth, great joy, because hope had come for mankind.  At the same time, the hope that arrived was a child whose destiny was sacrifice.  He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but how terribly steep was the price of our salvation!

This verse from John 12 comes immediately after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  As he rode through the streets, people broke off palm branches and sang praises to Him:  "Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  The King of Israel!"  People were flocking to see Him, desperate to meet with Him.  It was the ultimate party atmosphere, but Jesus' response to the disciples was all about His death.  He was fully aware of what was about to take place and yet He accepted the responsibility.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone.  Jesus was explaining to His disciples that He must die.  Without His death, salvation would not come.  They didn't understand what He was trying to tell them.  Most likely, it was a confusing message with all the sounds of celebration around them. With Jesus at the height of His popularity, power, and acceptance, it was ridiculous to consider something as melancholy as death. 

 . . . but if it dies, it produces much grain.  Through the death of Jesus, payment would be made for sin, and mankind would be able to have a relationship with God.  Much "grain" would be produced through Jesus' sacrifice.  So, even though the city was a whirlwind of activity, even though the mood was festive, Jesus had His eye on the task at hand. 

If we "love this life" more than we love our Lord, we will lose it.  The bottom line is, we cannot control anything, and the more we try, the more we will fail.  If we "hate our life in this world," by focusing on what truly matters, living our life to glorify Him and serve others, we will live eternally in heaven. 

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.  That means following Him to the cross.  It means laying down our desires, our "to-do" list, and allowing Him to live through us.  If our Master is willing to be at a soup kitchen, then we should be there as well.  If He wants to wash others' feet, then so should we. 

If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.  The upside to all this service?  Being honored by God, Himself.  Jesus fulfilled His destiny on earth and now sits at the right-hand of God.  As we fight off the temporary distractions, and are faithful to live out our calling, God will honor us.  He will open the way before us, and provide everything we need to complete His work.  He will groom us for the task He has specifically designed for us, a task that will satisfy our heart's deepest longing. 

As I sit here writing this, I'm looking at a lighted and decorated Christmas Tree.  I have many plans to make, presents to buy, and goodies to bake.  Nevertheless, I'm committed to keeping this season in perspective, both for myself and my family.  I'm going to give because I've so richly received, not because it's expected.  I'm going to celebrate because I'm grateful for the gift of salvation, not just to have fun, or because it feels good.  May we manage to keep the somber reality of why Jesus came in our hearts this season, and allow it to keep our actions, motives, and budgets in check. 


What are you looking forward to this Christmas?  Are the expectations pleasant, or are you sad at this time of the year?  Leave us a comment or send us an email and we'll be happy to encourage you.  God Bless!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Godliness with Contentment, part 2

Thanks Giving, woman giving thanks to the sun Pictures, Images and Photos

I Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain (NKJV).

During this season, we're all talking about the many reasons we have to be thankful, and we certainly should.  We are a tremendously blessed people, and our discussions will only begin to scratch the surface of the blessings God has given.  Today, I'd like to remind us all of how incredibly loved we are by our Heavenly Father, and by our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Of all the pictures given in scripture of our relationship with God, my favorite is the idea of Jesus as the Groom and we, His church, as the Bride. 

If you ever start feeling lonely or unloved, take a look at what Christ did to win your heart and compare it with the Jewish marriage customs of Biblical times:

In order for a Jewish man and woman to be married they must first become betrothed.  This involved establishing a marriage covenant.  The man would leave his father's house, come to the home of the prospective bride, and there he would negotiate the purchase price for her.  Once the price was paid, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were considered husband and wife.  From that point on, the bride was considered "sanctified," set apart exclusively for her husband.  To symbolize the establishment of this covenant, the couple drank from a cup of wine which had been blessed with a betrothal blessing. 

After establishing this covenant, the groom left the bride's home and returned to his father's house.  They would live separately for a year, and although they were considered legally married, they could not partake in the sexual aspect (consummation) of their marriage until after the wedding.  The bride used this time to gather her things for her future home, and the groom would prepare a place for them to live as man and wife. 

At the end of the year of separation, the groom would return to take his bride.  It usually happened at night, and the groom, best man, and other male escorts would leave the father's house in a torch light processional to the bride's house.  She knew he would be coming soon, but never knew the exact time or day, so she had to be ready at all times.  The groom's coming was preceded by a shout, which alerted the bride to that the groom was coming.

Once the bride was received, she and her female attendants joined the wedding processional.  They returned back to the father's house, where they enjoyed a beautiful wedding ceremony, feasted several days, and the bride and groom were finally able to completely enjoy their married life together.

John 14:1-3  Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 

Jesus instituted Communion, or the Lord's Supper, on the same night as He spoke these words to His disciples.  The cup of wine He declared to be "the new covenant in My blood."  (I Cor. 11:25)  In other words, He was about to pay the purchase price to establish a marriage covenant with us!  The cup was actually a celebration of that heavenly betrothal!

Jesus then proceeded to give His life on the Cross, rise again, and ascend into Heaven (back to His Father's house).  During this time of separation, He is in heaven preparing a place for us to live with Him.  We have been sanctified exclusively for Him and we must be ready when He comes.  One day, He will return to take us to His Father's house, where we will be able to completely enjoy our relationship with Him! 

It's the greatest romance ever, and completely worth all the waiting and longing here on earth.  Our purchase price was steep; it cost the life of Christ, Himself.  However, He gave it gladly, knowing that the time would come when we would belong to Him and live with Him forever in paradise. 

So, no matter how life is treating you right now, no matter how your "love life" is going, you are loved beyond compare by Jesus Christ.  He has removed your burden of sin, paid your purchase price, and is working to create a home for you even now.  If you've been saved, then rest in that knowledge and don't let the world steal your joy.  If you don't know Him, His offer of marriage is being extended to you, as well.  All you must do is accept His marriage proposal. 

So count your blessings, and remember that the best is yet to come! 

source:  http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/jewish_marriage_customs.htm







 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Think on These Things: Calibrate Purity Conference!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).


I'm really excited to share this week's "thing" with you, but time is running out to get involved.  Calibrate is an awesome conference whose focus goes beyond sexual purity.  They're striving to create the new counterculture; to empower high school and college students to pursue a life of holiness and reject the world's ideas of what is and what is not beautiful, acceptable and successful. 

It's being held at Praise Christian Center in Beaumont, TX this coming Friday and Saturday, November 11-12th.  According to the website, registration ends today, but I've talked with the youth pastor and they are extending registration until Wednesday, November 9th

Throughout the weekend, students will be learning how to set standards in personal modesty, define proper boundaries to safeguard their heart, learn how to date in a manner that pleases the Lord, and determine their self-worth and identity in Christ.  No, they will not be discussing STD's nor trying to "scare" students into choosing purity.  Instead they will focus on Christ's love, with the desire that students make the correct choices out of a response to Him. 

The key-note speaker will be Mike Guzzardo.  For the last several years Mike Guzzardo has dedicated the entirety of his energies to traveling the world inspiring people to a deeper commitment to Christ. He is a frequent speaker at conventions and conferences such as "Acquire the Fire" with over 150,000 in annual attendance. Mike recently released his first book entitled "All In" and co-authored "Battle Cry for My Generation" with Ron Luce.

Here's a youtube video of Mike at Dallas Battlecry 2008:




You can check out the conference schedule and the tracks offered to get a better idea of what to expect.  Basically, there will be large group sessions with Mike Guzzardo, praise and worship with the Micah Tyler band, and then on Saturday there will be tracks devoted to the topics of modesty, dating, boundaries and peer pressure.  (By the way, Armed and Virtuous has been invited to share on boundaries!  Sooo excited!) The last track will be a question and answer session with a panel of the speakers, so if you have questions, here's a great opportunity to receive solid, godly advice. 

The cost is $50 and again, registration is open until Wednesday.  If you've got a free weekend, I can't think of a better way to invest your time than with other young people who are striving to honor God in their bodies and spirits.  I hope to see you there! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Godliness With Contentment: part 1

Thanks Giving, woman giving thanks to the sun Pictures, Images and Photos


I Timothy 6:6     Now godliness with contentment is great gain (NKJV).

Okay, so it's the Thanksgiving season.  Lots of people are beginning to post on facebook what makes them thankful, and more people will be "counting their blessings" as the holiday draws nearer.  You might see it as just a ritual; a little exercise that gets forgotten the day after Thanksgiving as we dive headlong into the most materialistic season of the year.  If you think about it, even preparing the Thanksgiving meal requires lots of shopping, gathering (hopefully before the stores run out,) and stress.

So, what's the big deal about Thanksgiving?  Why does it matter?  In our world, we're almost constantly assaulted with the idea that we need something more to be happy.  It's vitally important to step away from the noise of the crowd, take note of the thousands of blessings God has provided, and give Him thanks. 

Over the next few weeks we'll be looking at several very good reasons to be thankful.  I don't know about you, but I find it quite a struggle to remain content, even though I know how tremendously I'm blessed.  Hopefully, taking stock of all that we have going our way will help us keep the correct perspective on Christmas, and on life in general. 

Feel free to share what makes you thankful, either by leaving a comment on this post, or on our facebook page.  See you soon

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Wisdom of Submission

THE BEAUTIFUL JEWISH-PERSIAN QUEEN, ESTHER Pictures, Images and Photos

Welcome back!  We're changing things up a little this week.  God has been revealing some amazing truths to me about Esther, the Jewish orphan girl who became Queen of Persia.  I wanted to share them with you, so we'll be touching on several verses throughout the book of Esther today. 

Most of us know that Esther rose from obscurity to the highest position a woman could achieve during her day.  We also know that God used her to save the Jews from annihilation.  Obviously, she possesses many admirable qualities that we should wish to reflect in our own lives, but one in particular caught my attention as I read.

Throughout her story, Esther follows the directions of those whom God places over her.  In other words, she submits to her God-appointed authority.  With each instance of her obedience, God grants her favor, and she rises to prominence.  Not for her glory, but for God's.

In the first instance, after the King issued a decree that beautiful virgins of the land were to be brought to the palace so that he might choose a new queen,  . . . Esther also was taken to the king's palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem (Esther 2:8).  She submitted to the laws of the land.  Scripture does not say whether or not she wanted to go, but the fact is, she went, and there begins our story.  The result of her obedience?  The girl pleased him and won his favor.  Esther received extra beauty treatments, special food, was given several attendants and moved to the best location in the harem. 

Next, Esther continued to submit to the authority of Mordecai, her guardian.  Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so (2:10).  Esther's Jewish name was Hadassah, but Mordecai asked her to go by her Persian name, to hide her background.  He also told her not to reveal her nationality, most likely because they lived among their enemies.  Esther followed Mordecai's advice, which later is pivotal in saving the Jews. 

After a year of beauty treatments, special food, and training, each girl was to go before the king.  She came to the palace in the evening, and the next morning, she was sent to the house of the concubines, to live like a widow, unless the king called for her by name.  It was a pampered, but a tragic existence.  Each girl was allowed to take whatever she wanted from the harem to the king's palace when it was her time to appear before the king.

When the turn came for Esther . . . to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch. . . suggested.  And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (2:15).  Again, Esther follows the advice of the people God has placed in charge of her.  Even in the harem, she takes the good advice given to her.  This is what happens as a result:  Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins.  So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen . . .(2:17). 

Even as queen, Esther continues to follow Mordecai's advice.  He uncovers a plot to  assassinate the king and tells Esther, who brings the news to King Ahasuerus.  When Haman, the king's right-hand man convinces the king to make a decree which will destroy the Jews, Esther again heeds the voice of her adopted father.   He asks her to go before the king, reveal her family background, and beg for mercy for her people. 

Esther is faced with a tremendous dilemma.  Although she was blessed with such favor from everyone, including the king, she has not been called by him for thirty days.  Who knew if the king still felt favorably toward her?  Also, . . . any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law:  that he be put to death.  The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life (4:11).  To appear before the king uninvited was a death sentence unless the king saw fit to spare  that person's life. 

Mordecai reminds her that hiding in the palace will not save her life.  He encourages her by adding . . . who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (4:14)  Esther's response to this difficult task?  Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me . . . When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish (4:16)!

The complete story has many more interesting twists and turns, but in summary, Esther appears in the king's inner court, her life is spared, and she invites the king and Haman to a banquet.  She reveals her heritage, pleads for her life and the life of her people.  Haman is hanged for his crime, Mordecai is given Haman's position, and the Jewish people are allowed to not only defend themselves, but . . .  many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them (8:17). 

Now, you're probably thinking:  Great story, but how does this apply to me?  I'll tell you.  There is great wisdom in acknowledging that you don't know everything.  Choosing to follow the instructions of those God has placed over you is a tremendous sign of maturity.  Our world would tell you that you are the master of your own destiny.  You call the shots.  If it feels good, do it.  This is contrary to God's plan and ultimately, contrary to your happiness. 

If you, as a teenager or young adult can make the choice to honor your parents, obey the people in authority, and follow the loving advice of those who are older than you, great blessings will come as a result.  It's easy to rebel, it's much more difficult to listen, trust and obey, especially when you can't see the benefit from your perspective. 

 Obviously, we follow the direction of God above anyone else. If a law or a directive given by a person is contrary to God's word, then we are to ignore the law of man in order to follow God. Esther, herself did this, but only as God directed.  It was her submission, not her defiance, that raised her to greatness, and it was her reputation for loyalty that caused the king to look on her with favor, even as she disobeyed his command. 

I challenge you to take on this trademark characteristic of Esther.  We live in a world full of enemies.  Many people who would give us "advice" are not looking out for our benefit.  If God has placed loving people in authority over you, respect their position, follow their direction, and develop a reputation of honor that will follow you wherever you go! 


Do you struggle with following authority?  Are you finding it difficult to submit?  Leave a comment or email us at requests@armedandvirtuous.org and we'll be happy to pray for and encourage you! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Think on These Things: Courageous!


Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).

Most likely, this isn't news to anyone, but just in case you haven't seen this movie yet, I thought we'd spread the word.  It is the weekend, after all, and what better way to spend your entertainment money than on a movie that will leave you uplifted, and will support God's work?

Unfortunately, I have not yet seen this movie, so I can't speak from first-hand experience.  My hubby and I made plans the other weekend, but then we had some unexpected things come up (speaking to mountains, remember?)  Nonetheless, we plan to see it as soon as possible.  This is the synopsis of the movie as found on their website:

Honor Begins At Home

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.  While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.  When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children?  Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.   Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That's courageous.

Here is the trailer:




(There are several other previews available on the website.)

You can check the website for theaters in your area, and purchase tickets by clicking here.  I called the Cinemark theaters in Beaumont and Lake Charles and found out that Courageous is still showing, and although they cannot say with certainty how long it will be running, they expect it to run for at least another week.  (I don't know if that includes the following weekend, though, so take advantage of this opportunity while you can!)

If there are no theaters in your area playing Courageous, you're not out of luck.  You can head up an action squad to bring this movie to where you live. 

I am a huge fan of the movies made by Sherwood Pictures.  They keep getting better and better.  The messages are always uplifting and God-honoring.  Like I've said before, if we as Christians would like more wholesome entertainment options, it's important to support the people who create such products.

If you have already seen Courageous, leave us a comment and tell us how you liked it!  I've heard from several people that it's a great movie, and an enjoyable experience. 

Have a great weekend, and if you're looking for something fun to enjoy, check out Courageous! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Speak to Your Mountains!

moving mountains Pictures, Images and Photos

Matthew 21:21     So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, . . . if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done (NKJV).


Welcome back, folks!  My apologies for the delay in posting.  I've been facing several mountains lately.  However, my grandfather gave me some tremendous advice about how to deal with them, and I thought I'd pass it along. 

If you're like me, you've read this verse all your life.  I've always found it comforting; inspirational even, but I've generally  enjoyed the "warm-fuzzy" feelings and then went about my day.  What I didn't realize was, I missed the point entirely.  This is not simply a verse of encouragement, it's a "how-to" verse; a tool for dealing with the problems that seek to overwhelm us.

Like you, I take my concerns to God.  I lift them up to Him in prayer, asking Him to help me through the situation, or solve the problem.  That is where I usually stop, though, and therein lay my problem.  According to this verse, who are we supposed to speak to?  The mountain!  Don't get me wrong, of course we are to cast our cares on Christ because He cares for us.  We shouldn't stop there, though.  We should, in faith, speak to the problems that loom before us and declare in Jesus' name that they cannot and will not overcome us. 

Am I promoting a "name it and claim it" attitude?  No.  God is our Master, not the other way around.  He gives, He takes away, and we are to praise Him during both seasons.  Nonetheless, Jesus tells us to speak to our mountains and command them to move out of the way!  In my life, I spoke to the problems that were taking over and declared that they would not overcome me or my family.  I declared that, in Jesus' name, they would move out of the way, and that God would provide whatever was needed to move forward with His plan.  In one situation, within hours of my little "discussion," the mountain was moved, at no cost to my family! 

Yes, it's a little weird to speak to your problems, but it's faith in action.  I'm not suggesting that you draw a crowd and stand on your spiritual soapbox to do this, but I do suggest that you find some time, look your mountains in the eye, and declare with your mouth that in Jesus' name, they cannot overcome you.  Your God has no limits of power, connections, money or whatever resources are necessary.  You are not a beggar's child, you are the child of the King of Kings.  He has promised that if you acknowledge Him in all your ways, that He will make your path straight (Proverbs 3:6). 

What kind of life could we live for Christ if we truly embraced this concept?  Let's find out together! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Think on These Things: Worth the Wait Conference on October 8th!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).


Welcome back, all!  Guess what?  The conference we told you about several weeks ago is almost upon us.  I'm talking about the Worth the Wait conference in Buna, TX.  It's taking place this Saturday, October 8th from 8:30-3:00.  The cost is free, lunch is provided (hamburgers, yum!), and there's going to be something available for everyone, so don't miss out!

The theme of this year's conference is "Know."  The overall focus will be on three areas that are important to know in order to remain sexually pure:

1.  Know God – We must know God’s love and find our worth in Him to be
able to remain sexually pure.

2.  Know Yourself – Guys and girls are created differently. Girls are more
emotional. Guys are more visually stimulated.

3.  Know the Situation – The best way to remain sexually pure is to know
what situations to avoid.

This event is going to be both intense and light-hearted at the same time.  We'll be facing all sides of the purity issue head-on, but at the same time, taking breaks for giveaways, "minute to win-it" competitions, and other fun events.

Here's the schedule:

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.     Registration / Games
9:00 – 10:15 a.m.   Welcome/Message 1 – “Know God”
10:20 – 11:10 a.m.  Session 1    
     Girls: April Anderson teaching
     Boys: Cody Hogden teaching
11:15 – 12:00 p.m.  Boy’s Lunch/ Girl’s Message: Sanctuary “Know Yourself”
12:05 – 12:50 p.m.  Girl’s Lunch/ Boy’s Message: Sanctuary “Know Yourself”
12:55 – 1:45 p.m.    Session 2              
     Girls: Jennifer Sigler teaching
     Boys: Jared Hollier teaching
1:50 – 3:00 p.m.          Ending Worship – “Know the Situation”


Just to give you an idea of what to expect, here's a little peek at the team of speakers/worship leaders at this Worth the Wait conference:







Lead Speaker
Tim Ramsey – Associate Pastor and Student Minister of Fellowship of Huntsville Church in Huntsville, Texas. Tim has been with FOHC since September 1992.  Tim has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from the College of Biblical Studies - Houston. He has a passion for teaching students God’s Word in a relevant way that applies to their lives. 







Worship Leaders
Micah Tyler Band – Micah Begnaud was a Student Minister for more than 10
years in Buna, Texas until he and the four other members of the band felt God’s call
to follow Him in to leading worship full time. All together they have spent 6 years
playing at camps, retreats, revivals, conferences, and more. Daniel Begnaud,
Will Gallagher, Caleb Johnson, and Haley Warren make up the team. Their goal is
to form hearts that want to see God’s people draw near to him through the praise of
His people.






Girls' Speaker-Session 1
April Anderson – April lives in Kirbyville with her husband and children. Formerly a
band director at Kirbyville CISD, she now is a full-time mother and writer along with
being fully devoted to a ministry she started called “Armed and Virtuous”. This is a
ministry for girls dedicated to promoting abstinence until marriage.

(No picture available)
Girls' Speaker-Session 2
Jennifer Sigler - Jennifer is a nurse practitioner at Southeast Texas OB/GYN Associates
in Beaumont, Texas. She has a passion for sharing her faith in and out of the workplace.
She believes in the remaining sexually pure before marriage and teaches about the
possible physical consequences of having sex.

(No picture available)
Boys' Speaker- Session 1
Cody Hogden – Cody was a student minister for 4 years at Winfree Baptist Church in
Orange, Texas. His family resides in Bridge City, Texas. Cody felt God’s call to step
out of the traditional ministry and open an area wide ministry to high school and
college students called “The Refuge” located in Bridge City, Texas. He teaches Bible
studies on Mondays and Thursdays while keeping it open other days for students to
come and hang out.

(No picture available)
Boys' Speaker- Session 2
Jared Hollier – Jared is the Senior Pastor at Peachtree Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas.
He graduated from East Texas Baptist University where he studied Religion. Jared has
spoken at children’s camps, Disciple NOW’s, and many other events along with
preaching and teaching at his church each week. His humor and charisma is sure to
bring enjoyment to his listeners as they study God’s Word.

We're expecting God to do some great things at this year's conference.  There are about 20 different churches registered, with approximately 300 students expected to attend!  So, if you've got a free weekend, come and get encouraged in your commitment to purity.  The worship's going to be awesome, the fellowship with God's people sweet, and Central Baptist Church, Buna is working and praying hard to make this conference a blessing to the people of Southeast Texas.

Hope to see you there! 



    

    

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Amazing Safety Net!

First Steps Pictures, Images and Photos


Psalm 121:3-4     He will not let your foot be moved (ESV).


I don't know about you, but it brings me great comfort that God "will not let my foot be moved."  I am terribly accident prone.  Almost weekly I stub one or more toes as I walk around the house; my husband says I should wear steel-toed boots!  I have fallen off the church platform before.  (Luckily, not while the service was going on.)  If someone is going to trip and fall over a crack in the sidewalk, it's going to be me.  That's just how it is.  In fact, at my own wedding rehearsal, it was suggested that the processional be changed from "Here Comes the Bride" to "What if I Stumble, What If I Fall?"

As embarrassing as it is to literally stumble, we often worry about stumbling socially or, as Christians, spiritually.  We have a reputation to uphold!  We want to appear collected, professional, and confident.  How mortifying to go against what's popular, or worse, be caught in sin while professing Christianity!  Sometimes the fear alone prevents us from following the direction God places on our hearts. 

That's why this verse brings such comfort.  While we see stumbling as something to dread, God sees it as growth!  God views our stepping out in faith just like a baby taking their first steps.  When my children took their first steps, I held my breath, stretched out my arms, and drank in every aspect of the moment.  I wanted to remember every detail.  In their cases, they took a few steps and then stumbled.  Did they actually fall to the ground?  No, because I was there, hovering all around, waiting to catch them.  Was I disappointed that they stumbled?  No!  I was thrilled that they tried something new, and reached a new milestone!  Shortly after the event, phone calls were made to every family member, and the child was praised and doted upon.

So, if God is directing you to step out of the mold and do something for His glory, don't be crippled by the fear of failure.  God is with you!  The last thing He's going to allow is His precious child, who is following His lead, to mess up.  He's right there next to you, providing the strength you need to take those steps, and He won't allow you to fall.  In fact, he won't even let your foot be moved!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Have Another Winner!



Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).


We were so excited to have another opportunity to offer Armed and Virtuous readers a chance to win Lilla Rose products!  The result of our second drawing is in, and the winner is. . . . Stefanie!  Congratulations!  We will be emailing you with the details of how to redeem your free flexi clip, or $15.00 in Lilla Rose products.

Again, thank you to all who entered our giveaway.  Your participation made this second drawing possible.  We have plans to introduce some Armed and Virtuous products in the near future, and we plan to do a giveaway of our own, so stay tuned!





What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us an email at suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org or leave a comment, and we'll discuss the things that interest you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great News!



What's better than one giveaway?  TWO giveaways!  Our first drawing was such a success that we're doing it again, so here's the deal:

If you entered before, you will be automatically entered for this second drawing.

If you have not entered, follow this link and complete the requirements for entry.  Each task counts as an entry, so you may enter up to three times.  Make sure that you leave a comment, either on this post, or the original post stating you have completed one or more of them, as we will draw from those who leave comments. 

We will announce the second winner on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.  Good luck!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We Have A Winner!



The winner of our Lilla Rose drawing is: (drum roll please). . . .  Alicia!  Congratulations!  We will be emailing you with the details of redeeming your free flexi clip, or $15.00 of Lilla Rose products.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, you helped make this giveaway a success.  We plan to have other giveaways in the future, in fact, we hope to soon give away Armed and Virtuous products! 

Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What are You Banking On?

whole wide world, in his hands. Pictures, Images and Photos


Psalm 121:1-2     ...I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth (ESV).


This must be an important lesson in my life lately, because God has been actually singing this Psalm to my heart!  Have I been worrying?  Yes.  My family has done some major stepping out in faith lately and I'll freely admit, there are times I've felt ill-qualified for the task. 

Some of those steps involved leaving earthly securities behind.  In a way it seemed like we were forging a new trail, but what I'm learning through all this "newness" is that I've created a problem where none actually exists.

The source of my security is not a bank account.  It is not the food in our pantry.  It is not approval from other people.  My help comes from the Lord, the Almighty One who created heaven and earth. Because He is my Heavenly Father, I as His daughter am rich, because He will supply my every need and I am powerful through Him to complete anything He asks of me!

Should I expect my every little wish to be granted?  No, but my true needs will always be met, as will the needs of my loved ones.  God wants me to come to Him, because He longs to help me.  He loves me and desires to show me, over and over that He is the true source of my blessings.  The more I rely on Him, the more He will prove Himself faithful. 

So, where does your hope lie?  In a boyfriend?  In your social status?  In your grades or awards?  As a person who is still learning this lesson, I humbly challenge you to take a good look at what you're "banking" on.  If it's anything less than God Almighty, it's going to fail.

The ugly truth about worry is, it's a lack of faith.  It represents trusting in something other than God.  If He is truly the Lord of your life, then recognize that you really have no control.  If your help comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth...what more can you possibly need?

May this bring you comfort this week, as it brings me, every time He sings it to my soul! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Giveaway from Lilla Rose!




Hello, ladies!  I'm so excited about this weekend's "thing," because it's our first giveaway on Armed and Virtuous.  (I don't know about you, but I always get excited about free stuff!)

The Lilla Rose company offers unique, functional, and well-made hair jewelery.  Their most famous product, the flexi-clip, comes in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and is designed to work in absolutely every hair type, length, and thickness.  This clip can make simple hair-dos like a pony tail or a half-up hairstyle look much more elegant.  They also work great in tails-up 'dos, and french twists. 




I was given an opportunity to try the flexi-clip myself.  My hair is naturally wavy and monstrously thick.  I have attempted without success the tails-up style many times with many clips, so that was the first style I tried with my flexi. (My hair is so thick that no clip can contain it!)  To my surprise and delight, it actually worked!  Here is a picture of me, wearing my flexi clip:


In addition to the original flexi clip, Lilla Rose produces many other types of hair jewelery.  They offer elegant hair sticks, hair bands, o-rings and bobby pins, as well as earrings, necklaces and decorative accessories. 

All this to say, Joeann Foster, independent consultant for Lilla Rose, is giving away a free flexi-clip, or $15.00 in Lilla Rose products to an Armed and Virtuous reader!  You may enter up to three times.  Each of the following things counts as one entry:

1.  Go to this page and watch the many different ways to use a flexi clip and find your best size.
2.  Like Joeann's Lilla Rose facebook page.
3.  Tell us which style is your favorite on the LR website.

Please make sure to leave a comment on this blog post stating that you have completed each activity.  We will draw a winner based on the comments received.  The winner of the drawing will be posted next Wednesday, September 7th at 9:30 p.m. 


So . . . enjoy!  There are so many beautiful styles to choose from, they even have seasonal clips which are super cute, too.  Happy Browsing!  :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Truest BFF!

holding hands Pictures, Images and Photos


Proverbs 22:11     He who loves purity of heart [And has] grace on his lips, The king [will be] his friend (NKJV).


Well, school started today, at least in my corner of the world.  Yesterday, I heard every possible reaction from my high school girls' Sunday School class regarding their feelings on the subject.  Some were excited, some were sad to see the summer come to an end, others were tired of sitting at home, and a few were indifferent.  No matter where you fall in this spectrum, I want to wish you a prosperous, blessed school year, and offer a thought to give you the best possible "send-off."

We all know that junior high and high school are all about relationships- way more than academics.  No matter who you are, and how much you care to make good grades, your emotional well being is directly tied to how you feel your friendships/dating relationships are going.  If all is well in your social world, then life seems to fall in line.  If you find yourself the victim of gossip, backstabbing, or betrayal for one reason or another, then it's really hard to focus on things like grades and planning for the future. 

Unfortunately, people can be absolutely cruel at times.  Even those you name as friends can turn with no warning, and deliver an emotional blow to the gut.  While I can't promise to prevent this from happening, I can offer you a better option for a "BFF." 

God loves you!  He loves you intentionally and individually.  If you will make a point to invest in your relationship with Him, He'll prove Himself to be the truest and best of friends.  When all other friends fail you, and they will, because we're all human and all make mistakes, God will not.  He will stand beside you, strengthen you during the tough times and the work you do in His strength will prosper beyond your imagination.

So, the question is this:  How close do you want to be to your Savior?  Do you want Him as a casual acquaintance, or as a close friend?  If you truly wish to be a friend of God, then you must love purity of heart.  In other words, you should strive for an innocent heart.  Don't put garbage into your mind.  Don't watch or listen to filthy things, and don't hang around people who gossip and betray others.  Secondly, have grace on your lips.  Rather than seeking revenge when you are hurt, seek to bless.  It's contrary to our nature, but it's exactly what Christ did for us. 

 It is such an amazing privilege that God desires friendship with us! Rather than taking that for granted, let's try to make ourselves a better friend to the King.



If you need prayer or encouragement, for any reason, leave a comment or email us at requests@armedandvirtuous.org.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Think on These Things- Worth the Wait Conference is Coming Up!



Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).

This week's "thing" is coming up soon, and it's definitely worth not only thinking about, but making plans to attend.  It's a purity conference for guys and girls, and Armed and Virtuous Ministries will be there!  I'm talking about the Worth the Wait conference at Central Baptist Church, in Buna TX.  It is a one day conference that takes place on October 8, from 8:30-3:00.   Here's how they describe this event:

Worth The Wait is a teen sexual purity conference for all people in the greater Southeast Texas area. It is an event paid for by local churches so your students can hear God's view on sexual purity. 

This conference takes place every other year, and hundreds of people come to get inspired and encouraged in their commitments to sexual purity.  The keynote speaker will be Tim Ramsey, President of One Road Ministries and Pastor of Student Ministries at Fellowship of Huntsville Church in Huntsville, TX. 

There will be break-out sessions for girls only and guys only throughout the day.  That's where Armed and Virtuous comes in!  We will be sharing in the girls only sessions, along with Registered Nurse, Jennifer Sigler.  For the guys' sessions,  the leaders are Cody Hogden of the Refuge and Jared Hollier, Pastor of Peachtree Baptist in Jasper, TX.  Worship will be led by the Micah Tyler Band. 

According to Worth the Wait's facebook page, the first 20 churches that like their page will receive a free t-shirt for their youth leader. 

So, check it out!  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Scott Hawk, youth pastor at Central Baptist at:   (409) 994-3641

We hope to see you there!



What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Drop us a line or leave a comment and we'll discuss the things that interest you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Think On These Things: God's Food Ministry!


Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (NIV).

Remember when we talked about gathering plastic grocery bags several weeks ago?  I recently had an opportunity to take those bags to the Taylor Food Ministry.  Although I anticipated blessing them with the bags we gathered, I received a much greater blessing in return, and learned a lesson or two about what a pure heart really looks like.

The Taylors are unassuming, Godly people with a heart for the needy.  Unlike many places that distribute food, they don't take down much personal information, or ask lots of intrusive questions.  They believe that, if someone comes to them asking for food, they are truly in need.  The bags that you gathered are used to package an assortment of canned, boxed and frozen goods to those who come for help. 


I was taken back to their shelves of canned goods and shown what staples go into the bags:  canned vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, and whatever is currently available.  Then they create another bag of boxed and packaged goods.  Finally, they give out frozen meats based on the number of people in the family. 

Several churches in the area support this ministry financially, and they have a few volunteers who regularly devote time by straightening and organizing bags, organizing the food onto shelves, and bagging up the goods.  Lots of hard labor was going on, and yet, everyone was smiling and seemed genuinely happy to be there.  Mr. Taylor, himself, was shaking hands, cracking jokes and looking for every opportunity to make someone smile.  When I asked him about it he said, "I make it my goal every day to send people away from here happy and blessed."  


This food ministry serves a much wider area than just their local community.  The owner of this car comes to the Taylor's weekly.  He fills his vehicle with as many bags of food as possible and distributes them in Orange, TX. 


As I talked with Mr. Taylor and was snapping pictures, I asked if I could take a picture of him.  I saw his smile fade just a little bit and he said something that spoke directly to my heart:  "I'd rather you not, and here's why:  people call this the Taylor food ministry, but it's not.  It's God's food ministry.  I don't want to give the devil even a toehold on what God is doing here.  I don't want to open the door even a crack to invite in pride." 

I was amazed!  How often do we slap our name on something to claim it as our own?  Even when we're doing God's work, it's so easy to fall into the trap of sitting back and congratulating ourselves.  It made me re-examine my priorities.  When God calls us to do a work, the work alone is the blessing, not any applause that might come afterward.  How I hope to hold onto that, to truly live out that attitude!  If we love God, we are to feed His sheep:  Meet their needs, and point to Christ, and Christ alone.

Mr. Taylor was so excited to share his latest idea with me, and I wanted to pass it along to you.  As helpful as our grocery bags are to their ministry, he began feeling convicted about the fact that grocery stores' names were attached to the gift of food, not the Lord's.  As God continued to lead, He placed an order for several hundred bags that will look something like this when they arrive: 

Photobucket


(My apologies for the poor quality of the picture).  If you can't read it well it says:  "Be Happy and Blessed in Jesus' name!  Matthew 25."  His desire is to point not to a store, but to Jesus as the source of our blessings and the Provider of our needs.  Yes, this was an investment of money, but God provided all that was needed to cover the cost!  (If this is to be an ongoing investment, however, I'm sure that funds will be needed in the future.)

I watched several people who were in need come, have their spirits uplifted, their needs met, and then sent off with a prayer.  Before anyone was allowed to leave the Taylor's, myself included, people joined hands and prayed.  There was such a joyful, sweet spirit in that place! 

I asked Mrs. Taylor if there was anything we could do to help and she said that they can always use toiletries:  toilet paper, feminine supplies, soap, toothpaste, etc.  Their main focus is food, but she says that people often pull her aside and whisper "Do you have any toilet paper?"  Women will come in and ask for feminine supplies, and it breaks her heart to say "no." 

So. . . the Armed and Virtuous ministry is going to look into what we can do to help God's food ministry in the way of paper goods and toiletries.  If you'd like to help, feel free to contact us at suggestions@armedandvirtuous.org.  Otherwise, we'll start planning, and let you know what God leads us to do.

I hope your summer has been great!  I hope you've had lots of opportunities to relax and have fun.  I also hope that you've been able to do something significant for the kingdom of God, just like the Taylors. 




Monday, August 8, 2011

The Ultimate "Make-Over"

girl looking at mirror Pictures, Images and Photos


I Peter 3:4-5     Do not let your adornment be [merely] outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on [fine] apparel-- rather [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible [beauty] of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (NKJV).

The new school year is almost here, all the stores have great sales going on, and the foremost thing on everyone's mind is:  Where is the best place to buy new, cute clothes for school?  Don't worry, I'm not trying to rain on your fashion parade, but I do hope to get you thinking, and help put some things into perspective before that first tardy bell rings. 

If school is still anything like it was for me, certain brands of clothing are more socially acceptable than others.  Those brands are usually much more expensive, which often leads to arguments with parents about what "everyone is wearing" verses "what we can afford."  Then there's what style of clothing is "in," and more often than not, this can create a modesty issue.  Even if it's not specifically against the school dress code, (or it is, but you know you can get away with it- that's another issue) your parents might have a problem with the cut of a neckline or the length of a skirt.  This can become such a frustrating time!  Is it possible for a teenage girl to dress fashionably, and yet, respect her parents' budget and honor the Lord? 

I say yes!  First, make it a matter of prayer.  If it matters to you, it matters to God.  He loves you, and enjoys giving you good things-even cute clothing.  Then, take a mental step back and think:  Who am I trying to impress?  Whose good opinion truly matters to me?  Is it worth spending more money than you can afford just to (maybe) make a good impression on the first day of school?  Is it more important to impress people who will turn around and gossip about you later, than to maintain your standards of modesty? 

Does this verse tell us not to wear trendy clothing?  No.  It just instructs us to make our beauty go beyond the surface.  If you can afford the expensive stuff, there's nothing wrong with wearing it, but don't measure your value by the clothing brands you can (or cannot) wear.  Instead, spend time molding and shaping your character.  The person you are on the inside.

Rather than spending so much time stressing out over the reflection in your bedroom mirror, spend some time looking into the mirror of God's word.  As you read the Bible, God will begin pointing out flaws in your character, areas that fall short of His expectations of you.  You'll feel convicted of your sin, but even when God corrects us, He does it in love.  He won't reject you, He'll just inspire you to change.  As you begin to see your image becoming more and more like Christ's your self-confidence will soar!  You'll realize that this is the ultimate "make-over," and truly worthy of your time and efforts.

Will your change be noticeable on the outside?  You bet!  When the Spirit of God abides in a person, the joy of the Lord transforms them.  It can be seen on their face, heard in their speech, and demonstrated in what they do.  If you truly want to make an impression on the first day of school, spend some time looking into the face of Jesus.  Make a concerted effort to mold your character according to His, and spend your energy on what He desires of you.  Not only will the world notice you, but God, Himself will find you beautiful! 



Are you concerned about the upcoming school year?  Whether your needs are great or small, we'd love to pray for you.  Just leave us a comment or email us at requests@armedandvirtuous.org.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Keep Thy Heart Conference!

heart Pictures, Images and Photos


Guess what?  There's a purity conference going on this weekend in our area!  I just found out about it, and I wanted to spread the word. 

Friendship Baptist Church in Beaumont, TX is hosting the Keep Thy Heart Ladies' Purity Conference.  It's this Saturday, August 6 from 9:30-3:00.  The guest speaker is Kayla Rawls, a cheerleader from Liberty University.  Here's her video:



Kayla will be addressing current issues regarding purity to our community's youth.  It's going to be an eye-opening experience!  The cost is $15 per person, and that includes lunch.  What a great boost to begin the next school year! 

To register, and for more information, contact Josh Fowler, Friendship Baptist's youth pastor, at 409-898-0249.

I hope you get to go!  Let us know if you do, and how the conference goes!

Monday, August 1, 2011

What I Can, and Can't Do...

signs Pictures, Images and Photosno traffic signs Pictures, Images and Photos


John 15:5     Without Me you can do nothing (NKJV). 
Philippians 4:13    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (NKJV).

Yes, this little devo. is coming from personal experience.  I'll admit to that from the beginning.  The past several weeks have been jam-packed with activity, responsibilities, and I've just about reached my limit.  The "to-do" list kept getting longer and longer while deadlines got closer and closer.  I've been madly trying to accomplish the task with the closest deadline first, appearing as if I had it all together, when actually I was coming apart at the seams.  Finally, God stepped in, and halted the madness:

April, you can't do everything on your own.  In fact, you can't do anything on your own.  You need Me involved every step of the way. 

I know these things in my head, but when life gets crazy, my heart wants to try and solve the problems in my own strength.  I think it's my job to find the money, time, resources or energy to get a job done.  That's not God's plan for my life.  He is the true source of my every need, not my bank account, my brain, or my heart.  If I'd just remember this lesson, life would be less stressful.  I only need to ask Him for my needs, trust that He'll supply what is best for me, and then walk as He directs. 

How on earth could this apply to you?  Well, although I hate to mention it, the summer is drawing to a close.  You might be looking forward to the next school year, or you might be dreading it.  Either way, the key to a succesful year is simple:  Be aware of what you can, and cannot do. 

We can't make anything happen on our own,no matter how much we desire to.  We need God's blessing, God's direction, and God's help every step of the way.  It's not a pleasant thought, but it's the cold, hard truth.  Luckily, though, that's not the end of the story.

Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  If we're abiding in Him, and acting based on His direction, there is nothing we cannot accomplish!  You might be about to step onto a university campus for the first time.  It's terrifying, I remember, but you'll thrive in this new phase of life, as long as you stay plugged into God's word.  Depend on Him for the courage, the friends, and the understanding.  He owns it all, and He delights in sharing good things with His children. 

It's a beautiful little irony:  We can do nothing without Him, and we can do everything through Him!  Cast your cares on Christ because He cares for you.  Lay your needs and desires at His feet and dare to believe that He'll come through as He promised.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The College 411- Shelby's experience part 2

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Well, here you have it, the last installment of the final interview in the College 411 series!  I hope it has been helpful for all you soon-to-be college freshmen, and those of you making college plans in the next few years.  If you get nothing else from our discussions, understand that college is a wonderful experience, just don't forget who you are and to Whom you belong.  Here's the rest of Shelby's interview, may it bless and encourage you all.  Good luck with all your college plans and activities, and God Bless!




April:  Is it challenging to stand strong in your faith as a college student?

Shelby: For me, it’s quite a challenge.  I do better staying in the Word when I have nothing else to do.  The summers are the best for me, because I can chill, open the Word and see what God has in store for me.  When I get busy, l barely have time to do anything I want to do, because of studying and classes, and I guess I tend to categorize spending time with God as something I want to do.  It’s easy for me to think I have to study so I can make a good grade on this test.  I have to sleep so I can be prepared to take this test.  Then I’ll realize that a week has gone by and I haven’t spent time in God’s Word.  It’s a mindset thing, you really have to stop and make the time to read the Word and listen to God’s voice.

April:  Do you feel further or closer to God than when you were in high school?

Shelby: I came into college from the mountaintop experience of church camp, so I definitely think that initially, God and I grew further apart.  Like I said, I got “busy” which contributed to that situation.  But then, I had to learn to trust Him day by day.  I had to lean on Him to show me how to make it through each day, and that has brought us closer.  He’s revealed to me a lot about who I am, some of the character traits I possess.  Some of them are good, and He encourages me to keep developing them, and with others He tells me Those have got to change!

April:  Do you feel like your faith has matured, that maybe you’re beginning to own your faith now? 

Shelby: Definitely!  I’ve actually started something I call Operation 119:11.  Psalm 119:11 says I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.  I’ve written down scriptures that prove why I believe what I believe.  In the past, I knew that the Bible “said” a certain thing, but I didn’t know where.  To an unbeliever, that doesn’t mean much. So, in order to be a stronger witness, I decided that I really need to study the Bible and memorize those scriptures.  The more I look into a verse, and the more I study individual words in that verse, the deeper I understand the meaning behind it.  I think this has to do with my stage of life.  In high school, I never really studied anything!  Now that I’m in college, I’ve learned how to study, and I think that I’m translating that skill to my Bible study. 

April:  Do you think that a Christian can remain strong in their faith while going to a large, public university like you do?

Shelby: Yes, I will say that my university is very conservative, and I believe that helps.  It might be harder if I attended a university that was really “out there,” but I do know this:  Everywhere you go, there will be a church.  You need to be involved in the church community.  I’m not just talking about attending Sunday morning services; you have to get “plugged in.”  Those people will support and help you through times of weakness.  Yes, there are lots of people at this university who don’t believe as I do, but I’ve found my core support group and they help keep me strong, that’s the key. 

April:  Do you have any last words of advice?

Shelby:  Be prepared for God to show you what He wants.  You’re about to dive head first into the rest of your life, and you really don’t want to do that without Him!  You’re going to come into contact with a lot of people who claim to be Christians, but you need to investigate and discover who they really are.  You also need to dig deep and discover who you really are.  Expect your faith to be tested, that’s why I believe God created college:  to test your faith, test who you are, and give you an opportunity to grow.  Your parents have done all they could to give you a great foundation, now you’re about to flourish; just make sure that you stay dependent on God.