"Fall" for Grace

     Every day I get to serve alongside some of the most dedicated, creative, talented people in the world. From the high school principal that will drop anything to help you with something as insignificant as setting up a table so you can get your project done to the financial manager that will look you in the eye and gently answer your questions, these people are compassionate and genuinely concerned about your needs. From the new teacher that jumps right in to all things Grace by bringing in hundreds of box tops and planning after-school help classes to the veteran teacher that courageously learns new computer programs and teaching strategies, these people are committed to excellence and teamwork. From the teacher who coaches and sponsors multiple clubs in addition to spending late hours on campus to be prepared for the next day to the teacher who arrives before dawn to pray and prepare for the day, these people do not settle for mediocre in their lives or in their students'.

     I didn't even mention the headmaster that pulls money out of his own pocket when a child forgets his lunch, the teacher that still tutors alumni in their college courses, the guidance counselor whose open door welcomes students, parents, and others from the time she arrives till she leaves each day, or the athletic director that makes it a point to bring a smile to your face every time he walks in the door. I also didn't mention the teacher that spends time mentoring his students over lunch, the secretary who causes every person that walks into the building to feel as though they are her most important task of the day or the teacher who prepares detailed notes for announcing home ballgames giving excellence to the voice of the Golden Eagles.

     This barely begins to uncover what happens every day at Grace Baptist Academy, for I only mentioned a handful of high school faculty. While teachers in other places are complaining about their $70,000 salaries, the teachers at GBA are complaining that there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything they want to do in the lives of the families (yes, not just the students) who walk through the doors.

     If you haven't figured it out yet, I have fallen in love with this place! Our teachers are top-notch! However, because of the nature of a private school and the economic crisis in our country, these teachers not only serve for minimal salaries, but also make the most out of limited resources. While they do this very well, it is necessary for the survival of this ministry that funds be raised!

     As I write this, teachers are actively preparing for what could be the largest community-building event of the year. They have recruited help, rallied donations, and tirelessly pumped up their students for our Fall Festival next Saturday, September 22. In addition to their lesson plans and oh, yes, caring for their spouses and children, they've been working to make this day a success! And don't even get me started on the incredible parents who have been working since before summer to put together incredible auction baskets and items that you are sure to be fighting over!

     So why do I share this with you? Two reasons:
1. You have GOT to meet these people! They're amazing!
2. We need your money.
     From spending $15 to visit fun festival booths and a few dollars on rummage sale items to bidding on themed baskets and auction items, your financial support will not only help us to get rid of all this stuff we're collecting, but it will also encourage the people who work every day for a ministry they whole-heartedly believe in!

     Won't you "Fall" for Grace?
     Come join us next Saturday, starting at 9:00 A.M.!


Time to Grow Up!

Every once in a while I get the most brilliant ideas! You know...the ones that you just can't wait to tell people, because it will be life-changing for everyone! I had such an idea when I was an eighth grader. I know, shocking, right? It was the best prank anyone had ever come up with. I was a genius! I couldn't wait to tell the girls in my cabin at camp, because we'd been trying to think of something to do to the boys that would totally take them by surprise. They loved my idea, but we needed help. Youth pastors can't take sides, so naturally we asked him for what we needed...ketchup. I should have known he would ask why I needed it, and I almost hesitated to answer. But the idea was JUST TOO GOOD!!! So I told him. Imagine my complete and utter despair when he rejected it with a laugh!!!! To this day, I remember thinking, "He has no idea how great this idea is. Why can't he just see the awesomeness?" 

A couple years later, as a very mature, much wiser 15-year-old...you know, wise enough to know that my mother was completely ridiculous in her expectations of me which demanded that I show her I meant business by stomping up the stairs so loudly that even I thought I might fall through...I thought back on that moment and was immediately horrified and completely embarrassed that I'd told my youth pastor I wanted to put ketchup on feminine products and stick them to the walls of the guys' cabin, and that I had believed with all my heart that it was the prank of all pranks! Even now as I type I can feel the heat rising in my head.

By the time I was 24, I had it completely under control, no more slamming the door in my mother's face only to wonder what to do for the next few hours stuck in my room, because there was no way I was going out without her begging for me to forgive her for being so strict. And yet, my very own mother, who should have realized that I had been a legal adult for three years told me to "grow up" when I quite justifiably got upset with my sister for making my bed for me. Of course, that sounds like a nice thing to do, but she was only doing it because her soon to be fiance was arriving that day and she didn't think I would make the bed as good as she would...yeah, even now, I'm kind of siding with my mother. ;)

Looking back on some of the most intensely passionate moments of my "growing up" I am able to see that making decisions in the heat of the moment don't always prove to be the most sound.

This week, I studied Biblical maturity with my Regeneration girls. We learned that our mindset of insecurity, manipulation and helplessness is really immaturity! It's easy for me to assess the maturity level of women whose choices have ended them in a rehabilitation house. What's difficult is to look at my own life and find signs that there is still some growing up to do! I have sought affirmation when I needed to be confident in the brain and creativity God has given me. I have manipulated situations to go my way rather than simply speaking up and stating my ideas. I have played the "helpless victim" when I could have changed the situation with a simple step of action.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (HCSB)
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.

Jan Silvious says in her book, Moving Beyond the Myths, that we have listened to the lies of the great Deceiver when we act toward others as children and toward God as wise adults that don't need his help. It's the opposite that is true and freeing! When I go to my Abba Father as His beloved child, He gives me the affirmation, wisdom and strength to put away childish behaviors in my relationships with others. What a joy!!


Let Freedom Ring

I love Independence DayflagsfireworksparadespicnicsJohn Phillips Sousa marchessaying the pledges, and a "few good menif you know what I mean! ;) 

Everything about our country stirs within me a sense of pride, nostalgia and usually tears. I'm thankful for the men who stood up for freedom in 1776 and signed their names to a document that would establish the foundation for what would one day become "...the land that I love." I get chills when I picture the scene as they rang what we know now as the "Liberty Bell" so that the people would know, "You are now free!" I'm thankful for the men and women who have fought to maintain that freedom every day since. 

As I think about the freedom that I enjoy as an American, I can't help but think about the freedom I have as a Christian. I am no longer slave to sin. Nothing is holding me back from the abundant life that Jesus came to give. He has given me His nature, His truth, His Holy Spirit. Wow! I want to sign my new name really big like John Hancock did (so the king could see it without spectacles) so that others can see without straining what Christ has done. I want others to know and experience a burden lifted and sin wiped clean. I want them to know that..."It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal. 5:1 I want to proclaim the truth so that others may be free. I want to "...let freedom ring..."


Jump, Jump, Jump!

I love watching babies bounce in the jumpy thingy in the nursery! Sometimes, they jump and it starts the music. Other times, the music starts, so they start jumping. It always results in giggles and squeals...and the babies laugh too!

Yesterday, we celebrated Palm Sunday. It's the day we remember that Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the people praised with palm branches. It's the day our Savior came!
They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:7-9
 The Hebrew word, "hosanna", was used in the Old Testament only one time with the meaning, "please save" (Psalm 118:25). Like many of our words do today, it began to take on a different meaning in the New Testament, "Salvation has come" (Matthew 21:7-9).

The cry of "hosanna" in Psalms was a plea to save. The cry of "hosanna" in Matthew was a cry of thanks and praise for the Savior who had come. Our Savior has come. He has saved. It's past tense!! So sing "Hosanna" loudly this Easter week! It'll make you wanna jump, jump, jump!!


Bandaids or Stitches?

An incident this week reminded me of the time that I was quickly getting pink ribbons measured and cut for my cheerleaders to wear before a game. I hadn't even cut two before jamming the scissors into my hand. Who does that?? Simple gauze and a Band-aid weren't taking care of the problem. I had to leave the game and go get stitches for the first time in my life!
I spoke to a lady this week whose pink ribbons are her identity and whose scissors are her marriage. Over five years of using the simple gauze of "pretending her life was perfect" has caused infection and scarring. Her marriage is on the rocks, her identity is marred beyond recognition, and she is exhausted from trying to stop the bleeding on her own.
It made sense for me to go to the clinic to get stitches. A few hours of waiting and several days of carefully avoiding overuse of my hand was worth it.Similarly, it makes sense to go to the body of Christ for healing of emotional, spiritual wounds.
James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
As believers, we know that confession of sins is no longer necessary for salvation and approval before God. However, there is healing found in confessing to each other. The prayers of believers are powerful and effective! When we confess our sins, people can pray for us! We are not in this battle alone! Sharing our hurts, habits, and hangups allows us to find help and accountability. It would be ridiculous for me to have gone into that clinic and tell the doctor that nothing was wrong or to pull the stitches out early. So why do we hide from the healing powers that come from praying believers?
I remember the doctor carefully taking my hand, cleaning it, numbing the area he would be sewing and then ever so gently stitching me up. He gave me instructions to follow that would ensure complete healing. I have a little scar on my hand that reminds me of that time, but there is no more pain, and my hand has been restored to full usage.
When a brother or sister in Christ comes to the church for healing, be gentle, stitch carefully, and give wise counsel. It may take time, but full recovery is the goal. The doctor knew what I needed. I can't imagine that he'd get away with lecturing me on how to hold the scissors while avoiding my bleeding wound. Yet, we'll lecture a hurting member of our body about their particular issue while allowing their wound to go untouched.
It's time for healing. So whether you're the one hurting or the one healing, let's go get some stitches rather than trying to cover up deep wounds with small bandages! 
~Rebecca Phillips


My Freedom Journey (Part One) - New Nature

Jesus paid it ALL. Nothing is still owed.
Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow!

I owe nothing more. The debt has been paid.
I do not have a sinful nature. It's been placed in the grave.
My new nature is Christ's - love, joy, peace, patience
Kindness and goodness, faithfulness and temperance.
I'm still embodied in flesh, so sin crouches at my door.
But sin is not who I am. I'm that person no more!
At times I choose to believe the lies of the devil,
I'm saddened to know I've been deceived by evil.
But I'm no longer guilty. Righteousness is my coat.
Not of works that I've done, it's in Christ that I boast.
I am most me when I'm doing good deeds.
Because that's who Christ is, living in me.
I am completely and fully 100% saint.
Don't call me a sinner, cuz I 100% ain't!
My old nature was crucified with Christ on the tree.
Raised to walk in newness of life. I am now free.


All Things New

 New diet plan. New exercise goals. New Bible reading/study habits. New (you fill in the blank). New Year's Day marks a new beginning. According to an article by Dr. Saad in Psychology Today: "Most people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions - 22 percent after one week; 40 percent after one month; 50 percent after three months; 60 percent after six months; and 81 percent after 24 months.
I would fall into that 22 percent after one week category! I just don't do well with resolutions! I'm so thankful that I live under the new covenant and have a Savior who wiped my slate clean a couple thousand years ago! Because, I would NOT have survived in Old Testament days!
When I trusted Christ as Savior, everything about me was made new. I am no longer bound to a list of hundreds of laws I can't keep! In the gospels (while people were still under the law), Jesus declared the "new" law that He would bring at His death:
Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:32-35 (NASB)
 Whew! That's alot easier than keeping the Sabbath! Jesus Christ has given me new life (Rom. 6:4), a new spirit (Rom. 7:6) and a new law! He has made all things new!

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2 Corinthians 5:16-21
I don't know about you, but I just breathed a big sigh of relief! How often I forget that I've already had an extreme makeover! I don't have to do ANYTHING!  He has made me righteous. I've never been great at keeping New Year's resolutions anyway, so this year, instead of trying to keep a checklist of actions that make me a "better" person, I'm resolving to walk in the Spirit so that I might "...love the Lord my God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself" (Luke 10:27)! I'm off the hook! He has made all things new!


Some great new reads for 2012 you should definitely get your hands on: