Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"I need your grace to rescue me
To heal me from within
To wipe away the darkness
That consumes my heart again

Renew me Lord, again I pray
And push my storms away
And if my storms are for your good
Then guide me on my way

For if the clouds and pounding rain
Are for your mighty plan
I'll take each blow and calmly know
This too, I can withstand

I know you are my shelter
My relief from inward pain
My healer and deliverer
Most High, I call your name

Stay with me and hold me close
In your protecting hands
So I will have the strength each day
To follow your commands"

by Natalie Tillett
Dear sweet sisters,

It's been two and a half years since I took on the challenge of leading the ministry of the Women of Hope at New Hope, and it's been a wild ride!
I have to admit that I came into it asking God to make me "want to" lead this ministry because I was very happy and content to just lead a Bible study a couple times a year and maybe begin teaching.  Thankfully, God is true to His promises and gives us everything we need to do the very thing He calls us to walk out, and He gave me a great passion for leading this ministry and reaching out to many of you along the way.  I've made some very awesome friends and I believe this ministry has helped to make some great connections with multiple women of New Hope to establish much needed relationships between godly women.

It's not been easy, by any means, but it has been an incredible blessing and honor for me to have served as the leader of a great team of women who have a deep desire to reach the women of New Hope and our surrounding community in a way that is unique to women.  I feel I have grown, too, in my faith and in my walk with God and have learned so much from each one of you that I have come in contact with and have served with.

This past September, I felt God had released me from this leadership role and that it was time for a new woman to lead, but who? and how? and when?
were all new questions I was looking to God to answer.  The "when" became clearer as my mother's illness progressed and my strong desire and need to be with her and care for her kept me from focusing on my responsibilities as a leader of the Women of Hope.  Then I began to get the "who" and "how"
in counsel with Lynn Burgess and Jill Crowe and seeking God along with the other women on the leadership team.

From there, Michelle Cox has stepped up as the interim leader with humility and grace and a great capacity for administration.  I am so grateful for her and for Donna Heydrick, Carol Huyck, and Crystal Thompson who have so compassionately given me the ability to step back from my leadership responsibilities so that I might concentrate more on my ministry to my husband, children and my mother at this time.  On top of that, I am so excited for what this team is now empowered to do; God has done so much through them and in them in the last several months that is magical to watch!

I am still planning on being around, mentoring these women and leading the Women Only Home Team, and Lord willing, I will be attending the April retreat at Sky Ranch (I'm really looking forward to that!).  My heart and my passion for women has not's just my role that has changed a bit.

I challenge each of you to consider what God is leading you to do, where He's leading you to go, and who He's leading you to reach out to in 2012 and to watch and listen for Him to give you what you need when you need it to do what He's calling you to do.  And I pray our Father's blessing is poured out on you and your precious families.

Humbly yours,

Wendie Beddingfield

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Keeping our focus on God

In today's times so many of us are having to do with less due to loss of jobs.  Then there are others who are suffering through illness of a family member or even themselves.  No matter what you are going through right now we have to keep our focus on God and look to the blessings that He gives us everyday. 

Come to Me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My Presence.  This is the day that I have made.  I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow.  Search for all that I have prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessings and accepting difficulties as they come.  I can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Me.

Come to Me with all your needs, knowing that My glorious riches are a more than adequate supply.  Stay in continual communication with Me, so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them.  Present your requests to Me with thanksgiving, and My Peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind.

Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:19 , 6-7

Monday, January 16, 2012

Women of Hope happenings

The Women of Hope Leaders Team has had their first meeting for the new year!  Today's meeting consisted of determining upcoming events and scheduling a planning meeting for the upcoming retreat. 

As some of you already know Wendie has stepped down as leader due to her mothers illness, please keep her and her mother in your prayers throughout the coming weeks.  Michelle Cox has stepped up to fill in for her till God gives us direction on who He has called to take her place.

Watch for info on upcoming bible studies and the retreat planned for April 20th through 22nd.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming events:

Bible studies start this week!

There's still time to jump in on a Fall Bible study:

Wednesday, September 14th:

The Power of a Praying Wife
at 9:30am at the home of Kendra Medina

The Life Ready Woman at 7:00pm
at the home of Lorraine Seawright

Tuesday, September 20th:
The Life Ready Woman at 7:00pm
at the home of Wendy Dean

Please e-mail Wendie Beddingfield at or call 469-751-3539 for more information.


Thursday mornings at 10:30am at the home of Rita Armenta

I never leave iWorship without feeling lighter, more at peace, and closer to God.... what we do on Thursday mornings is as much about my own relationship with God as it is praying for others. Rita has this awesome gift of helping us connect with our Father through the Holy Spirit through praise and worship and we are left with scripture that we meditate on throughout the week without having to purposefully do's just there. I would highly encourage any woman who is available on Thursday mornings to come and try's free... just takes a little time out of the busy day to focus in on our Father together with other women.

If you are a part of a home team that meets on Wednesday nights, she and her husband Rick have made themselves available to come and lead iWorship for your home team....take advantage and invite them to come regardless of what level of comfort your team has with prayer and worship or ask your leader to consider doing so. You will be blessed! We just had Rita come to our home team last Wednesday night with several women who had never experienced that form of prayer and worship together, and it was incredibly powerful and beautiful.

Baubles and Bling Gathering

Sunday, October 9th at 1:00pm

We've had a little bit of schedule changes, so our gathering that was initially scheduled for August is now on for October 9th at 1:00pm at New Hope. Please be on the look-out for an evite with information on this fellowship-with-a-purpose event. Also, don't throw out that broken or unwanted fashion jewelry--start collecting it now to bring with you on the 9th!

Questions and comments? E-mail Wendie Beddingfield, Women of Hope ministry leader at or call 469-751-3539.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New!! Upcoming Women of Hope Items

One of the best kept secrets at New Hope is iWorship with Rita Armenta!

Every Thursday at 10:30am, we women get together to worship and pray and share our lives with one another. We'd be pleased to have as many women as are able and interested to join us--even if it's just one time--you will not regret taking time out to pray and worship with us.

We are generally finished at noon.

We meet at the home of Rita Armenta: 2504 Royal Oaks, Plano, TX
(click on above link or call Rita at 214-923-1613 for directions if needed)

E-mail Wendie ( with any questions.

Also, a new Bible study is going to start on Wednesday, September 14th, and one starts on Tuesday, September 20th: the Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhaun and Robert Lewis (Shaunti is also the author of For Women Only)

We'll meet every Tuesday or Wednesday night (you choose) for 9 weeks going through this video-based Bible study that includes optional outside reading from the companion book to go deeper.

You can click on The Life Ready Woman to get more information on the study, and you can view the first video session here: Session 1

The cost of the workbook is $16.00, and if you would also like to purchase the companion paperback book, the total would be $27.00. If you think you'd like to join us, please e-mail Wendie ( or call 469-751-3539.

  • Tuesday group led by Donna Heydrick at the home of Wendy Dean.
  • Wednesday group led by Wendie Beddingfield at the home of Lorraine Seawright.

The Wednesday night group is going on right now, so if you're looking for a women's home team, please feel free to visit any time, even before the study gets started. Our group is focused primarily on women's gender-specific issues and women's Bible studies. You can also check out all the different home teams that are meeting by going to the new AccessACS site and selecting the available small groups category.

And ladies, don't forget to sign up to volunteer at the Summer Backyard Bash and/or invite your friends and neighbors to come hang out with us on September 4th starting at 11am! You can click on AccessACS and choose the available serving opportunities option to see the different areas you can help at the Bash. See you there!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's August!

Well, July is officially over, and the leaders at New Hope are beginning to jump into the full swing of fall with home teams, the Summer Backyard Bash, and KIDS Ministry will get started back up again in September.

I wanted to give everyone a quick update just to let you know that we're still here and gearing up for Bible studies and another Gathering. We had initially planned to get it all going in August, but we're going to push it back just a little (more details to come), so we'll get started after the Backyard Bash. Make sure you get your free tickets for that on Sunday mornings and get enough to invite one or two or more friends and neighbors to join in the fun!

I hope you have been enjoying your hot Texas summer, despite the heat wave, and I look forward to connecting with you all really soon at a Bible study or a women's event in the coming weeks!

Much love,


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daily Encouragement: 'Revising The Talk'

Last year, I led a group of mothers through a study by Vicki Courtney called "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter." Primarily, I led the group because I wanted to go through it myself (for my 2 daughters) and also get the added support and encouragement a group of women can give each other when going through a study together.

Vicki touches on several subjects like growing up, beauty and self-image, waiting for sex, marriage and motherhood and living a virtuous life, but today I am going to include an excerpt from the section called "Revising 'The Talk'" directed toward mothers who have found that their daughters have been having sex outside of marriage. This may not pertain directly to you, but consider what you would say to a dear friend who is dealing with this issue or a young woman who has confided in you that she has been intimate with her boyfriend.

"What would you do if faced with the decision as to whether to allow your sexually active teenager birth control (or how would you counsel a Christian mother who is facing the scenario)?

'Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.'
(1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

How does your position line up with 1 Corinthians 6:18-20?

If it doesn't line up, does this change your position? If so, how?

The truth is that Paul's advice to the first-century Christians is just as applicable today as it was then. We can't make allowances for sin--especially in an area so important to our girls' health and futures. Doing so is never in the best interest of our daughters.

The evidence presented regarding the fallout from sex outside of marriage is reason enough to remind those who have already had sex of the benefits of secondary virginity. (Remember, statistics show that nearly two-thirds of girls regret their decision to have sex and wish they had waited.) In this situation, I would highly recommend that a mother faced with this situation meet with her daughter on a weekly basis to discuss much of what we have learned thus far. In addition, she should draw boundaries and supervise her daughter as well as be very picky about whom she dates in the future (if she's allowed to date).

On the other hand, if after discussing the matter with her daughter, a mom discovers that she is unrepentant and unwilling to change her behavior, it is most likely because (A) she doesn't want to risk losing her boyfriend or (B) she has wandered from the path of God and is callous to His truth regarding sex outside of marriage.

Regardless, this mother must open the lines of communication in an effort to begin conversations about the information we have discussed. I would advise her to begin praying for the right time and setting to approach her daughter. I would remind her that God can do a mighty work in her daughter's heart. Prayer is a woman's most powerful tool; while a mother may not be able to sway her daughter's heart, God can.

If I faced this situation with my own daughter and it was clear that she was not broken over her sin and was unwilling to repent, I would continue to focus on God's standard and not deviate one iota. God's Word reminds us of the standard: 'Be holy, because I am holy' (1 Peter 1:16). I would certainly not sit her down and go over a list of birth-control options because to do so, in a sense, says, 'Hey, God's Word says to 'be holy,' but since you insist on being 'less than holy,' might I suggest a Plan B to help you cut your losses?' I could not say or do something that in good conscience would further encourage her to sin.

I realize that many Christians disagree with my position, but what's important is that we each go before the Lord and seek His guidance in the matter. If I have been faithful to educate my daughter about the fallout associated with sex outside of marriage and teach her God's design for sex, then I have been responsible with the assigned task. I will not be an accomplice to a decision that falls outside of God's will." from "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter" by Vicki Courtney

I was one of those girls. Pregnant at 17, out of wedlock. And while I would have loved to have been offered a Plan B by my mother, I am so very thankful she did not. I was instead given a chance to turn from my sin and walk in a secondary virginity that I received from God through repentance, and I whole-heartedly support the idea of allowing ourselves and our daughters to reap the consequences of sin (and deal compassionately with them) rather than encouraging it by giving our daughters or granddaughters talks on "safe sex." Sister, I would encourage you to do exactly what Vicki advises: "go before the Lord and seek His guidance in the matter" so that you, too, will be prepared if you are given the opportunity to minister to your own daughter or to a friend who is dealing with this issue.

Below, I wanted to include some statistics regarding sex outside of marriage (sources are listed in the book...too many to include here):

"Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs):
  • More than 1 in 4 teen girls has an STD.
  • Forty percent (or nearly half) of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired genital HPV infection.
  • Most HPV infections have no signs or symptoms; therefore, most infected persons are unaware they are infected, yet they can transmit the virus to a sex partner.
  • Chlamydia remains the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States. One in 20 women between the ages of 14-19 (4.6 percent) were infected, the highest proportion of any age group.
  • In the majority of infected women, chlamydia produces no pain, fever, or discharge. Because it often goes undetected, many women will discover they have it years later--when they can't conceive.
Teen Pregnancy:
  • More than 40 percent of young women in the United States become pregnant one or more times before they reach 20 years of age.
  • Between 22 and 30 percent of teen mothers under age 18 have a second baby within two years after the birth of their first baby.
  • Only 40 percent of teenagers who have children before age 18 go on to graduate from high school.
  • More than 75 percent of all unmarried teen mothers go on welfare within five years of the birth of their first child.
  • The Alan Guttmacher Institute has determined that by age 45, 1 out of every 2.5 women in the U.S. has had at least one abortion.
  • Abortion is not a quick fix. A Guttmacher study found that with the passing of time, negative emotions such as sadness and regret increased and decision satisfaction decreased. That is, more women reported sadness and regret two years following an abortion than one month after the event.
Future health of marriage:
  • Seventy-two percent of all married 'traditionalists' (those who 'strongly believe out-of-wedlock sex is wrong') reported a higher sexual satisfaction.
  • Couples who don't sleep together before marriage and who are faithful during marriage are more satisfied with their current sex life and also with their marriages compared to those who were involved sexually before marriage.
  • Several researchers with the Heritage Foundation analyzed data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth and found that for women age 30 or older, those who were monogamous (only one sexual partner in a lifetime) were by far most likely to be still in a stable relationship (80 percent). Sleeping with just one extra partner dropped that probability to 54 percent. Two extra partners brought it down to 44 percent.
Emotional consequences:
  • The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health found that 25.3 percent of sexually active girls aged 14-17 reported that they felt depressed 'a lot of the time' or 'most all of the time,' as compared with 7.7 percent who were not sexually active.
  • Another study of 6,500 adolescents found that sexually active teenage girls were more than three times as likely to be depressed and nearly three times as likely to have had a suicide attempt than girls who were not sexually active.
  • In a survey by Seventeen magazine, 91 percent of teens agreed that 'a girl can get a bad reputation if she has sex.' In the same survey 92 percent of teens agreed that 'it is generally considered a good thing for a girl to be a virgin.'
  • Oxytocin, a hormone that is sent from the brain to the uterus and breasts to induce labor, as well as to let down milk after a baby is born, is also released during sexual activity. This hormone is believed to initiate feelings of bonding and trust, whether between mother and child or husband and wife."
by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Lavinia Marin

Monday, May 30, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Come Back

Precious sister, has the Holy Spirit been convicting you of sin lately? Have you come before God to confess it, naming it specifically and seeking forgiveness? Or have you pushed it aside to deal with it later when you "feel" like it?

Well, girl, today is the day! What better day than Memorial Day to return to the Lord your God, to give Him your self, whole-heartedly and surrendering everything, asking Him to purify you and make you clean again?

See what the Lord is waiting to do for you when you do....

"Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your petitions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, 'Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you the sacrifice of praise. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle. Never again will we call the idols we have made 'our gods.' No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy.

The Lord says, 'Then I will heal you of your idolatry and faithlessness, and my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever! I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. It will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like those of beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedar forests of Lebanon. My people will return again to the safety of their land. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who looks after you and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green, giving my fruit to you all through the year.'

Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those who are discerning listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But sinners stumble and fall along the way."
(Hosea 14)

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Per Hardestam

Friday, May 27, 2011

Daily Encouragement: What You Got

Does living a Christian life seem to be overwhelming to you sometimes? So many bad habits to overcome, so many flawed thought patterns to be straightened out, so many principles still to learn, and so many relationships to heal and/or nurture--do you feel you haven't got it in you to do it all?

Thankfully, Peter gives us some encouragement and instruction in living a godly life that I think will help take some of the pressure off:

"I am writing to all of you who share the same precious faith we have, faith given to us by Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, who makes us right with God.

May God bless you with his special favor and wonderful peace as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better.

As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.

So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1b-8)

God blesses us with faith, with favor, with peace, with His promises and His power. As a follower of Christ, you've got it all in the Holy Spirit that is within you right now. All you have to do is lean on Him and take small steps forward (not all at once!) in growing "to have genuine love for everyone." You can do it, sister!

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Gail Rau

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daily Encouragement: What to Wear?

In my last post, I included an excerpt from the book, Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian, discussing the purpose for clothing in light of the original sin and its consequences. Today, I want to follow that up with the way we should dress.

I want to give credit where credit is due, and I just love the way Mrs. Kassian lays it all out. So, I'm including another excerpt from Girls Gone Wise to answer the question: "What then shall we wear?"

"Paul tells us in Romans 13:14 to wear Christ. 'Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires' (italics added). A Christian woman clothes herself with Christ. That's what she wears. That's how she covers herself. That's how she makes herself beautiful. The clothing of Christ is the most important item in her wardrobe. Her external appearance should display, and not deny or distract from, the righteous clothing of Christ that she wears. The visible should point to the invisible. The temporal should point to the external. The symbol should point to the reality. In the final analysis, your clothing is not meant to be about you--it's meant to display deep and profound spiritual truths about the gospel. That's why it's highly important that you wrestle with the practical question of what and what not to wear.

It's not an easy question. Pitfalls exist all around. Sin encourages us to throw off clothing and inhibition, and proudly display our nakedness. It tempts us to exalt external appearance and make clothing our god. It tempts us to deny the importance of appearance and walk around like slobs. It tempts us to become sirens. It tempts us to despise beauty and deny our femininity. It tempts us to slavishly follow contemporary fashion or haughtily spurn it by adopting the fashion of another era. It tempts us to think that clothing is overly important. It tempts us to think it is unimportant. It tempts us to be self-righteous about the way we dress and downright uncharitable toward the way other people dress. It tempts us to sin by remaining quiet and tolerating the flagrant unrighteousness of our sisters. When it comes to clothing and personal appearance, the dangers are many and varied. But Scripture gives us some clear advice on how to navigate our way through this quagmire.

To begin, the Lord wants His girls to be stunningly beautiful. But He repeatedly stresses that a woman's beauty--and her beautification--is something that primarily happens on the inside. 'Do no let your adorning be external...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart' (1 Peter 3:4). The heart is where we put on Christ and the clothing of Christ. A wise woman commits more time and energy dressing herself up on the inside than on the outside. She is like the Proverbs 31 woman, who makes strength and dignity 'her clothing' (31:25). The Girl-Gone-Wise puts on the new self (Ephesians 4:24). She puts on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, love (Colossians 3:!2-13). She puts on 'the whole armor of God' (Ephesians 6:11). She puts on a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). She clothes herself with these garments of Christ, 'so that the shame of [her] nakedness may not be seen' (Revelation 3:18).

Spiritual adornment is the reality. Physical adornment is the symbol of that reality. The external clothing we wear is of secondary importance. But it is important nonetheless. In 1 Timothy 2:9, the Lord provides three critical guidelines that help Christian women figure out what and what not to wear. 'She adorns herself with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.' The three guidelines are:

  1. Is it becoming or unbecoming? (respectable)
  2. Is it decent or indecent? (modest)
  3. Is it moderate or excessive? (self-controlled)
The word adorn (Greek: kosmeo) can also be translated as 'to decorate' or 'to beautify.' It means 'to put in order, arrange, make ready.' Elsewhere, Jesus' parable talks about wise bridesmaids 'trimming' (adorning) their lamps--ensuring that they are in good order, properly set up, and ready for the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:7). Women are to adorn their bodies in the same way. The three guide-lines help us ensure that our looks are in good order, properly arranged, and ready to display Christ." (Taken from Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian)

Precious sister, I encourage you today to clothe yourself with Christ and consider if your physical covering (your clothing) represents your spiritual covering (Christ) by asking the three questions noted above. Are there any wardrobe changes that should be made, and how will you go about your shopping in the future? Also, I encourage you to put Girls Gone Wise on your summer reading list if you haven't already started!

by Wendie Beddingfield

pic by roberto tostes

Monday, May 23, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Nakedness Covered

This past week our evening study group covered the chapter in Girls Gone Wise called "Appearance." Now, before your eyes start glazing over, thinking rules and regulations and legalism, please keep reading. I think you will find this a little eye-opening.

Included below is an excerpt from the book, Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian, referring to the Fall, when Eve took the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and how God chose to work in the situation:

"It all started when Eve decided that she wanted to be like God and call her own shots. The Serpent convinced her that she would receive all kinds of benefits if she did. He promised that a whole world of knowledge and experience would open up to her. ("Your eyes will be opened.") He assured her that she would be equal with God--that is, she could be her own god. ("You will be like God.") Finally, he promised that she would be able to decide for herself what was right and wrong. ("Knowing good and evil.")

The Serpent's promises came true, but in a horribly twisted way. Eve's eyes were opened to a new world of knowledge and experience--it was awful. She felt the horrible, oppressive force of evil wrap its ugly black tentacles around her heart. She did act "like God"--it was a farce. In trying to usurp His position, she enslaved herself to the Prince of Darkness, who was cast from heaven for the same rebellious sin. She did make her own decision about good and evil--it was a disaster. Apart from God, she was totally inept at discerning right from wrong. Eve's sin was self-exaltation. She arrogantly refused to acknowledge that God alone was God. When she took the fruit, she defied who He was and made herself out to be something that she was not.

After she sinned, Eve's eyes opened to the fact that she was not the goddess she had presumptuously made herself out to be. Nor was she the woman that God had created her to be. Not anymore. A massive chasm had opened up between what she once was and what she had become. For the first time ever, she experienced imperfection. She was flawed. Feelings of inadequacy swept over her like the rushing muddy waters of a Mississippi flood. She was not who she should have been. Her created beauty was marred. And this resulted in excruciating shame.

Shame is a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, disgrace, unworthiness, and embarrassment. Eve's attempt to clothe herself was a pitiful effort to conceal her disgrace. The ugliness in her heart made her feel physically ugly. For the first time ever, she felt unattractive. Imperfect. Flawed. Self-conscious. Her nakedness felt too revealing and too vulnerable. So she tried to conceal the gap between what she was and what she should have been by covering her most intimate, vulnerable parts with leaves.

The leafy apron Eve stitched together may have helped a bit when it came to covering the shame she felt in Adam's presence. After all, Adam had also sinned and had donned a leafy loincloth to cover his shame. But neither she nor Adam could cover their inadequacy before the Lord. When God drew near, they realized that the leafy aprons didn't suffice. They still felt naked. Eve couldn't cover her sin. Adam couldn't cover his. Nothing could hide the dishonor, disgrace, and embarrassment of their rebellion against their Creator. They could not conceal the fact that they no longer measured up to who He created them to be. So they ran and hid from His presence.

Pre-Fall nakedness symbolized the purity and innocence of humans before God. Post-Fall nakedness symbolizes the inability of humans to make themselves presentable before Him. God did what Adam and Eve were unable to do. He covered them and made them presentable. He shed the blood of an animal--probably a lamb--and clothed them with its skin. By means of a bloody sacrifice, He covered their sin and shame. Do you see the symbolism here? Do you feel the surge of hope? God's merciful solution to Adam and Eve's sin, and their inadequate attempt to cover shame, was to clothe them with something infinitely more adequate. The skin of the sacrificed animal pointed to the time when God would sacrifice His Lamb--the Lord Jesus Christ--to atone for sin, alleviate shame, and clothe us in His righteousness. 'And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them' (Genesis 3:21).

The Lord did not pretend that nothing had happened. He did not tell Adam and Eve to strip off the silly leaves and go back to being naked. He knew that Adam and Eve could never go back to their sinless state. It was impossible for them to return to their naked and shame-free existence. In clothing them, the Lord confirmed that they needed something other than their own skin. Covering up was the appropriate response to the disgrace of sin. The shame of their fallen condition demanded a covering, not to conceal it, but to confess and redeem it. This is a very important point. Clothing bears witness to the fact that we have lost the glory and beauty of our original sin-free selves. It confesses that we need a covering--His covering--to atone for our sin and alleviate our shame. It testifies to the fact that God solved the problem of shame permanently and decisively with the blood of His own Son. It also directs our attention forward to the time when we will be 'further clothed' with spotless, imperishable garments (2 Corinthians 5:3 NKJV, Revelation 3:5)."

I must say I had never made that connection before--I just thought, "Well, the leaves wouldn't hold up, so God must have made the animal skins because they would have been a more practical solution since Adam and Eve couldn't stand being naked anymore. My, what an awesome God we serve who provides for everything we need!

Today, I want to encourage you to consider what God has done for you to cover you, cover your sin and shame and redeem you through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Also, consider what your clothing is to you, the purpose of it and God's plan for it. How does it cover you? Is there a change that needs to be made in the way you dress in the light of what you understand its purpose to be?

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Glorious Prayer

Do you want to go deeper in your prayers? Do you long to be more eloquent or more effective when you pray? One of the best ways to pray is to use scripture, or rather to PRAY scripture. The words of the Bible are so beautiful, so eloquent and so very, very true! Many places, especially in the New Testament, have words of affirmation, of love, of exhortation, and are applicable to almost every situation. Looking at different situations of people in the Bible, we can see the attributes of God and acknowledge these in our prayers. Even in His very own words about Himself, we can speak these truths in our prayers and you will find yourself becoming what you long to be.

I came across this scripture today as I was asking God to show me what He wanted me to write, and it says it all for me--this is my prayer for you today, precious sister:

"When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you might inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen."
(Ephesians 3:14-21)

I encourage you today to take these words in and apply them to your current circumstances and also deeper in your relationship with God. And then turn around and pray them for someone else in your life that could use this, too!

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Lionel Titu

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Tipping the Scale

"Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, width, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry goods or liquids must be accurate. I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You must be careful to obey all of my laws and regulations, for I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:35-37)

We come today to the end of Leviticus 19, and I pray you have learned or have been reminded of many principles for living a life that glorifies God and also benefits you. Today's verses speak about your business dealings, but also to honesty in all areas where you are required to measure something (currency included).

First, let's address the business aspect we see here. God says not to use "dishonest standards," meaning, don't try to deceive your clients or vendors by using a different scale that what you both agree upon. He says they "must be accurate," meaning, it's not okay for you to say, "I didn't know the scale or the measurements weren't right." He says, "be careful," meaning, these are areas where thought and care must be put forth.

God is not excluded from your place of business--He's all over it! Even if you know or suspect someone has been cheating you in business, you do not have cause to do the same to that person or company. Consider the IRS. I believe this passage is directly applicable to the way we report our income to the United States government and our state governments. You should NOT pay what you do not owe, according to tax law, but you are required to accurately report what you DO owe and pay it accordingly. So, go on, find all the deductions you can and take them as long as you are honest and have the right to take them!

Secondly, when dealing with friends, neighbors and God, don't try to cheat or deceive anyone in a trade or in your giving. God is not fooled when you say you're giving a tithe (or a tenth) from your income, for example, and you really only give two percent. Look at the example of Ananias and Sapphira from Acts chapter five. They attempted to deceive the apostles and the Holy Spirit by lying about the amount of their giving and at the end of verse ten we find them both instantly falling to the floor, dead. Of course, this kind of thing doesn't happen all the time. This is to be used as an example to us to learn how serious God is about deception and trusting Him to take care of you when you are honest.

Today, I encourage you to consider your level of integrity in your business dealings as well as your personal and spiritual integrity. Does it line up with God's standards? What can you do to change so that it does? The Lord will surely equip you to do so; He longs to draw you closer to Himself and mold you to His likeness.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by michaelaw

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Foreign

"Do not exploit the foreigners in your land. They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God." (Leviticus 19:33-34)

We've come to the last two days of working through Leviticus 19, and today our focus is on our treatment of foreigners. This stirs up all sorts of things in me, so I'm going to try to focus on just a few.

First, let's look at what a foreigner would mean to those of us here in America, or more specifically, here in Texas. This of course would be anyone who is a "non-resident" or an "alien" of Texas whether legal or illegal. For us it is not only those who have moved here from Mexico (our neighbor to the south), but like many other states in the U.S., we have a huge variety of people who have come here because of the freedom and opportunity available here that is found nowhere else on earth.

God says that the non-residents or "foreigners" should be treated like everyone else and that we should love them just like we love ourselves. What does that mean to you? Consider how you think and talk about people who are not native Texans or full-fledged Americans--does this line up with how God wants us to think and talk?

A second piece that this stirs in me goes back to the study of the book of Ruth I've mentioned in recent posts. Ruth was a foreigner that arrived in Bethlehem with Naomi, her mother-in-law. There were God's laws that were to help and protect the foreigners, but the story of Ruth occurred during the time of the judges when the people were corrupt and "did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. Then they did what was evil in the Lord's sight." (Judges 2:10b-11) So, the fact that Boaz noticed Ruth and was kind to her was not an expected response taking in the current trend in societal behavior in the land of Judah at the time. If he had not treated her as God had commanded, we would not have this amazing story of God's redemption of a woman many of us can relate to on one level or another, and she would not have been in the record of the ancestors of Jesus, our redeemer. Of all things, Jesus had foreign blood in him, too!

Now, the third thing stems from our own status in God's kingdom for those of us who are not of Jewish descent. We were all considered gentiles or foreigners. We were all "far off" before we came to Christ and have been adopted into the family of God. The least we could do is to treat others who are foreigners in the same way we would like to be treated, and we need to go even further and love them with the love of Christ. How does He love you? In what ways does He show you? How can you imitate Him today?

I encourage you to consider your thoughts, your speech, and your actions today with regard to the non-residents and unbelievers with whom you come into contact. What needs to change in the light of Leviticus 19:33-34?

by Wendie Beddingfield

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Future Teller

Today we're going to skip a couple of sections in Leviticus 19 (verses 19b-26 to be specific), and if you're curious, you can certainly go there and fill in the gaps, but we're going to focus in on the second half of verse 26 and all of verse 31.

"Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.... Do not rely on mediums and psychics, for you will be defiled by them. I, the Lord, am your God."

To God, seeking out another person or thing to find out what you should do or what will happen in the future is on the same level as worshipping idols. He says "I, the Lord, am your God"-- not some other object or person.

Want to see how He really feels about it?

"And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The people you are about to displace consult with sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things." (Deuteronomy 18:10b-14)

God sometimes reveals the future to people through dreams, visions, and prophecies, but it is not the person, it is God who knows the future. Even though we may receive a vision or dream from God, we do not see the full picture and do not know how things will all play out. When we turn elsewhere for help, for understanding, we are considered unfaithful.... much like an adulteress woman as she turns to other men for love and attention.

"If any among the people are unfaithful by consulting and following mediums or psychics, I will turn against them and cut them off from the community. So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I the Lord, am your God. Keep all my laws and obey them, for I am the Lord, who makes you holy." (Leviticus 20:6-8)

Instead, God wants us always to run to Him for answers, for insight, for wisdom, and for help:

"So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting mediums and psychics? Do not listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God?" (Isaiah 8:19)

For a long time when I was growing up, I used to love going through the section of the newspaper that had the crossword puzzles, "Dear Abby," and the horoscope. I'd check what it said under my "sign," just for fun of course, and then do the puzzle. I never knew there was anything wrong with that, but much later on I heard a discussion at church about consulting psychics and about astrology and horoscopes and found out that this is something that God wants us to stay away from. I didn't know where the scripture was, but because I heard I wasn't supposed to go to the horoscope, not even for fun, I stopped. Now, I see what it really means to Him when we do such things, and I want to encourage you today to consider how you or even your children might be seeking any outside person or thing for answers to questions about the future, for insight, or even for "fun" especially with regard to mediums, psychics, astrologists, tarot cards, horoscopes, or even Ouija boards and do away with them altogether. Remember, it's not about the LAW, it's about the HEART.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by stephan zabel

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Hooked

"Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.

Confront your neighbors directly so you will not be held guilty for their crimes.

Never seek revenge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.

You must obey all my laws."

(Leviticus 19:17-19a)

People will always disappoint you, in one way or another. Many times we are the ones doing the disappointing. Men and women alike are imperfect and fail at all kinds of things--especially at obeying all of God's laws. This is why God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross as the perfect, unblemished sacrifice--so we could receive true forgiveness. The Israelites that were under the law could only receive temporary forgiveness through animal sacrifice, and they had to continue to sacrifice to receive atonement for sin.

We, on the other hand, have received forgiveness through Christ's blood that was spilled at the cross, once and for all. And because we have been forgiven, we can....

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)

I'm not saying that forgiveness is always easy, but it IS possible. We need the help of the Holy Spirit in order to have a willing heart to even consider the possibility. Holding a grudge or seeking revenge ultimately only really hurts you--building up walls between yourself and that other person but also walls between you and God. When we hold unforgiveness in our hearts, we carry around a great burden, a heaviness that weighs us down, but when we give our hurts and disappointments over to God and ask Him to help us forgive, we put that person or group of people over on to God's hook instead of ours and we are free.

Forgiveness = Freedom!

Precious sister, I encourage you today to evaluate your relationships and your disappointments. Are you holding anything against a friend, a relative, or brother or sister in Christ? If so, "do business" with God today and release that person so you can truly find freedom in Christ.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Danny de Bruyne

Monday, May 9, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Getting Ahead

We still have many excellent subjects to cover in this chapter of Leviticus. I pray that those of you who are new to the faith have learned much and have been encouraged in the application of what you are learning. For those who are more mature in your faith, I pray these have been a gentle reminder of what you have already acquired in your quest to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God.

"Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor's life, for I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:16b)

Here's my first question: What are you willing to do to get ahead? At work? At school? In your social circles? In your finances?

It is not ambition that is evil--ambitions and goals are wonderful to help you stay motivated to do the very things God has called you to do. However, when our ambitions are all about "me" and do not take into account what happens to the other people who could be affected, they become selfish and do not honor God.

Read James 3:13-16 to see what the Bible says about selfish ambition:

"If you are wise and understand God's ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don't brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don't brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil."

If you read on a little further, you will see that James helps us out and turns it around, comparing this selfish ambition with the wisdom that God gives....

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows not partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness." (James 3:17-18)

I encourage you today to seek this kind of wisdom and aspire to be peacemakers in a world full of selfish ambition and jealousy. You can do it, precious sister!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Idle Talk

One of the most difficult parts of a woman's nature to control is her tongue. Once we get lying out of the way, filthy language removed from our vocabulary, and name-calling tackled and eradicated, we think we have it tamed. However, women, in general, still like to talk, and some of the most interesting conversation can include a thing called gossip. Unfortunately, many of us do not even realize that we are spreading it or allowing another person to share it with us.

Gossip is, by definition, idle talk or rumors about others--it can even be a factual report of an intimate or private nature.

Here's what the Bible says about the subject starting with one from Leviticus 19:

"Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people." (Leviticus 19:16)

"A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends." (Proverbs 16:28)

"A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much." (Proverbs 20:19)

Okay, we must first become aware that we are doing it before we can stop, so think, when you are talking with a friend, what are you saying and who are you talking about. Are you praising them or are you sharing something they told you in confidence or something they experienced that might be embarrassing to that person. Once you are aware you are doing it, it is much easier to stop and check yourself before you say anything. If you start to let something slip, just stop right there and say something like, "Oh, I shouldn't be talking about her/him--please forgive me," and immediately change the subject.

Also, we must be careful not to take part in someone else sharing gossip. One thing that has worked for me is to quickly interrupt and politely ask if my friend if she should be sharing that information. If she does not d, I just explain what I am trying to avoid and consider changing the subject. This way you can begin to gossip less and less and your friends soon realize that gossip is no longer a part of your conversations. I encourage you today to consider what you say and listen to as you go about your day and continue to tame the tongue by eliminating gossip from your conversations.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by sanja gjenero

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Daily Encouragement: No Favorites

This is for all you judges out there--or all who have been given the position of "judge" over anyone. (I believe this also pertains to the way our government is run in general, but this is my opinion.)

"Always judge your neighbors fairly, neither favoring the poor nor showing deference to the rich." (Leviticus 19:15)

This pertains to anyone who is asked to judge between two people or groups. Just because a person is wealthy, we should not choose their side over another--either because we relate better to them or because we feel that they are wealthy because they always do what is right. On the other hand, we should not choose the side of a poor person simply because they are poor or because we feel sorry for them or are poor ourselves.

Check out what 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 says about lawsuits and judging:

"When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? Don't you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can't you decide these little things among yourselves? Don't you realize that we Christians will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn't there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments? But instead, one Christian sues another--right in front of unbelievers.

To have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? But instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your own Christian brothers and sisters."

What would it be like if we Christians sought out someone within the church to be judge between ourselves instead of going to lawyers and filing suits? Which one of you would be up to the task of acting as judge?

Some of you have heard, "Judge not lest ye be judged," and that is true--but read the rest...."For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged." (Matthew 7:1-2) This is not saying that we should not judge at all (especially when it pertains to settling disputes between two or more Christians), but that we must be extremely careful to deal justly, not showing favoritism toward anyone. Sometimes we can't get out of being a mediator or judge between friends and neighbors, co-workers, employees, or children for that matter--in fact, if we always try to get out of being "judge" then our brothers and sisters will be forced to seek justice outside the church and in front of unbelievers who will see how "well" we Christians can show the love of Christ to one another. So when you are judging, I encourage you to be fair and objective, not showing favor, but seeking the Lord for wisdom to be just.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Stephen Stacey

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Show

This morning's focus comes from Leviticus 19:14:

"Show your fear of God by treating the deaf with respect and by not taking advantage of the blind. I am the Lord."

How we treat others says a lot about who we are.

"....let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (I John 3:18-20)

Show your love for others and your fear of God by treating those with physical disabilities in a way that honors God. Understand that they are not helpless or in need of your pity either--just love and respect.

I encourage you to consider today how your actions reveal your fear and love of God--are you living in the truth?

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by ben kaye-skinner

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Lying, Stealing, & Cheating

For the majority of my life, I've been a rule-follower, especially in school. If the tardy bell rang at 8:00am, I was in my seat by 7:55am. If we had to read thirty pages in one night, I stayed up and finished it (even if I didn't remember what I read). And I never, ever cheated. So, when I found out that a classmate of mine was cheating on an important exam, I burned with "righteous anger." However, I failed to take into perspective the fact that I happened to lie somewhat often and gossiped and regularly snubbed those that did not meet my standards. Hmm....

This next portion of Leviticus may seem fairly easy for you to obey.... let's take a look:

"Do not steal.

Do not cheat one another.

Do not lie.

Do not use my name to swear a falsehood and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

Do not cheat or rob anyone.
Always pay your hired workers promptly." (Leviticus 19:11-13)

Lying, cheating and stealing generally are hurtful to the one we are sinning against, but we also begin to build a wall up between God and ourselves. When we steal, we are saying we do not have faith that God will provide us with the things we need. When we cheat, we are showing Him that we don't trust Him to get us through our trials. And when we lie, even the "little white lies," we are saying that we do not believe God will take care of us if we tell the truth (in love).

I used to exaggerate on a regular basis; I would say little white lies so that I would appear better than I was, and many times I would do this without being aware that I was lying. It took a close study on how God feels about lying and cheating and stealing to get me to consider my own actions.

"A false witness will not go unpunished, nor will a liar escape." (Proverbs 19:5)

"There are six things the Lord hates--no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

A "lying tongue" is right next to "hands that kill the innocent." God hates it when we lie.

Now, we are not required to say everything we are thinking or share a confidence with another simply because we are asked. (I learned this the hard way.) It takes a little thought sometimes when we are asked a question as to how to answer. Don't be afraid to take the time needed to answer honestly without saying more than what is necessary. Consider these proverbs:

"Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:4)

"A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered." (Proverbs 17:27)

I encourage you today to be aware of the words you say, to those you know and to those you don't. Desire to bring life and health through your words and grow in your faith by trusting God to take care of you when you obey Him.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Melodi T

Monday, May 2, 2011

Daily Encouragement: The Lord's Provision

The next portion of Leviticus 19 specifically relates to the study of the book of Ruth our Thursday morning group has been thoroughly enjoying:

"When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop--do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the Lord, am your God." (Leviticus 19:9-10)

Ruth was one of these foreigners who found herself in Bethlehem as the daughter-in-law of Naomi whose husband and both sons had died in Ruth's homeland. They were not only alone, but they had nothing. But God had a plan to provide for people just like Ruth and Naomi, and He had given this plan to the people of Israel even before they had ever made it to a place where they could plant and harvest crops.

The plan was not to harvest every single bit of grain and then separate out a small percentage to give to the poor and needy and foreigners. In fact, it was to leave what was dropped, refrain from harvesting the edges of crops or stripping every last bunch of grapes from the vines. That way, the poor and the foreigners could go out there and work for their food and provision. They were not stealing, and the land owners were not giving hand-outs so that the poor would be forever asking for more. God's plan is for all of us to work; that was His design from the beginning even before the Fall.

Ruth is one example of a foreigner who was destitute and said to her mother-in-law, "Let me go out into the fields to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it," (Ruth 2:2) and God me her there and provided abundantly through her willingness to get out there and work wherever anyone would let her. You'll have to read the book of Ruth to see how God orchestrates all of this--it's so beautiful!

All of this I say, precious sister, in order to encourage you to consider how God wants to provide for the poor through what He's given you, or if you are one of those in need, what work is He prompting you to do so He can meet you there with His abundant provision.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Nat Arnett

Friday, April 29, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Post-modern Idols

Television. Money. Success. Work. Sports. Food. Shopping. Possessions. A Man.

These can all be considered idols of the post-modern age. We no longer carve or form statues of animals as idols we depend on to fulfill our needs. Instead, our idols today are much more insidious--they become our idols without us placing them on the mantle and bowing down to them.

An idol is anything we go to in order to meet our needs that is not the Almighty, all-sufficient God. Here's what He says about it in Leviticus 19:4:

"Do not put your trust in idols or make gods of metal for yourselves. I, the Lord, am your God."

Going back to the ten commandments again, we see more detail, "Do not worship any other gods besides me. Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!" (Exodus 20:3-5a)

Idolatry shows what our heart is focused on, what we turn to when we're empty, lonely, financially or spiritually broke, or just plain bored. If we turn to anything but God we are dividing our affection for Him and going after something else that cannot truly satisfy our needs. Our loving Father wants to protect us from the inevitable disappointment and disillusionment of going after these false gods. The one thing He's after is our heart, and He will never let you down if you seek Him to satisfy all your needs.

Today, precious sister, I encourage you to examine your life, your habits, your choices--ask the Lord to reveal any idols you may have set up in your heart and determine to cast them down with the help of the Holy Spirit living in you.

by Wendie Beddingfield

pictures by Stella Levi, Michal Zacharzewski, D. Sharon Pruitt, leonardini

Daily Encouragement: Honoring God

Right after "be holy," we come across two more commands in the same sentence...

"Each of you must show respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest, for I, the Lord, am your God." (Leviticus 19:3)

These both go back to Exodus 20 and the ten commandments, and they actually deal not only with our relationship with God and our parents but also how we benefit by obeying them.

The first regarding our parents carries a blessing with it: "Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God will give you." (Exodus 20:12) We are to respect and honor our parents because of who they are--not because they are good parents or love us or have taught us well. Just because they are our parents. Honoring and respect when you are adults and out on your own, as my husband put it last night while talking to our children, looks different that when your are younger. As an adult you are not required to do everything your parents say, but it honors them to seek their advice, to listen to their counsel and to forgive if you have been hurt by them.

The second regarding rest on the Sabbath shows honor to God: "Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God." (Exodus 20:9-10) And we find the design for the Sabbath wasn't for God to set arbitrary rules to keep us in line in Mark 2:27 when Jesus said "The Sabbath was made to benefit people and not people benefit the Sabbath."

We see from both of these commands that while they do honor God and our parents, they are really more for our benefit, health and well-being than the ones we honor.

Here's a personal example of application:

Last year when I was working on laying the foundation for the women's ministry at New Hope, I knew I needed to address my personal life as well, specifically, I had to ask the question, "How am I going to keep a Sabbath day each week if I was working on many Saturdays and Sundays?" And, "How am I going to teach my children how to do it if I was working on their Sabbath?" I had to go "outside the box" as many people who work all different kinds of hours on various days have had to do. I decided after a few weeks of prayer, thought and trial and error, that my Sabbath day would not necessarily be the same day every week, and I didn't have to spend the day doing nothing, but I needed to find something that I truly enjoyed and that would rejuvenate me (that was not tied to the work of the ministry).

Because I am doing this, I feel a greater peace and see God's blessing all around. I find that when I have chosen not to have one during a certain "busy" week, I am dying for my day of rest the next week, and it is not missed again.

All this to say that the Sabbath will not look the same for everyone. If you are required to work on Sunday, this does not mean that you give up keeping a Sabbath. It was created for your benefit; God designed you to need it.

Today, I encourage you to seek God and ask Him first, "What can I do to show respect for my parents this week?" And second, reflect on how you keep a Sabbath day of rest. You will be honoring God and yourself by obeying these commands.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Robert Walker

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Holy Roller

Sometimes we look at the laws that God has laid out in the Bible and see them as being oppressive and picky and too difficult to follow--maybe even as we might have seen the rules our parents required us to follow as children. As I grow older, have children of my own, and study God's word more, I see these laws more in the light of God's desire to protect us.

The nineteenth chapter of Leviticus is full of laws regarding our relationships, so we will break it down and focus on a little at a time. First, with our relationship with God....

"The Lord also said to Moses, 'Say this to the entire community of Israel: You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:1-2)

The first thing that God says here to His people is "be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." How exactly is this possible? I sure don't feel like I'm holy like God is holy.

For the Israelites, it was actually only possible if they kept all the laws perfectly, and because this really wasn't possible, God sent Jesus and then the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers. So, as followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and we are made holy, so we are "no longer subject to the law." (Romans 6:14)

"But now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit." (Romans 7:6)

This, of course, does not mean that we throw out the law altogether. No, God actually holds us to an even higher standard where even lustful thoughts are considered adultery. (Matthew 5:27)

I 1 Peter 1 we see this command again to "be holy":

"So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are his children. Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God--who chose you to be his children--is holy. For he himself has said, 'You must be holy because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:13-16)

Walking in the Spirit enables you to do all of truly can be holy even as He is holy by His power and His grace.

Today, even if you don't feel holy, I want to encourage you to accept this truth and even speak it out that you ARE holy because you have the Holy Spirit within you as a follower of Christ and your job is to let your actions reflect the truth.

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Nat Arnett

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Daily Encouragement: Laws for Life

This week we're going to look at a couple of chapters in the book of Leviticus. Now, before you go and decide to click back over to your Facebook page, bear with me because there are some really clear instructions on living a godly life included in this book and it's not all rules about how to slaughter a sacrifice or being "clean" or "unclean."

I was recently asked about what the Bible says regarding homosexuality, and I know many Christians are confused about this issue because our society is encouraging this kind of lifestyle everywhere you turn. Our children are growing up inundated with the idea this this is normal and must be accepted, and yes, the people themselves should be accepted and loved, but the lifestyle....well, here's some instruction on that and a few other issues of sexuality directly from God's word:

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Say this to your people, the Israelites: I the Lord, am your God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to keep my laws, for I the Lord, am your God. If you obey my laws and regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.

You must never have sexual intercourse with a close relative, for I am the Lord. Do not violate your father by having sexual intercourse with your mother. She is your mother; you must never have intercourse with her. Do not have sexual intercourse with any of your father's wives, or this would violate your father.

Do not have sexual intercourse with your sister or half sister, whether she is your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether she was brought up in the same family or somewhere else.

Do not have sexual intercourse with your granddaughter, whether your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter; that would violate you. Do not have sexual intercourse with the daughter of any of your father's wives; she is your half sister. Do not have intercourse with your aunt, your father's sister, because she is your father's close relative. Do not have sexual intercourse with your aunt, your mother's sister, because she is your mother's close relative. And do not violate your uncle, your father's brother, by having sexual intercourse with his wife; she is also your aunt. Do not have sexual intercourse with your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife. Do not have intercourse with your brother's wife; this would violate your brother.

Do not have sexual intercourse with both a woman and her daughter or marry both a woman and her granddaughter, whether her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter. They are close relatives, and to do this would be a horrible wickedness.

Do not marry a woman and her sister because they will be rivals. But if your wife dies, then it is all right to marry her sister.

Do not violate a woman by having sexual intercourse with her during her period of menstrual impurity.

Do not defile yourself by having sexual intercourse with your neighbor's wife.

Do not give any of your children as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.

A man must never defile himself by having sexual intercourse with an animal and a woman must never present herself to a male animal in order to have intercourse with it; this is a terrible perversion.

Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the people I am expelling from the Promised Land have defiled themselves. As a result, the entire land has become defiled. That is why I am punishing the people who live there, and the land will soon vomit them out. You must strictly obey all of my laws and regulations, and you must not do any of these detestable things. This applies both to you who are Israelites by birth and to the foreigners living among you."

(Leviticus 18:1-26)

Today, I encourage you to "be careful to keep [His] laws....If you obey [His] laws and regulations, you will find life through them."

by Wendie Beddingfield

picture by Billy Alexander