Sow & Gather

What I've Learned This Summer

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 

Learning doesn't just happen between Labor Day and Memorial Day each year. While those of us with kids adjust to the rhythm of the school year, I find the months of summer often yield the greatest growth. 

It feels like our child matures overnight during the summer. Each May I think he'll never grow up. By August, I'm asking myself what happened to my baby.  

God can use these warm (hot) months, where things move a little slower, as teachable moments. I've tried for this season of summer to focus and be present every day and not just slog through. In doing this, I've asked God to teach me these last few months. 

Here are a few things I've learned: 

If I don't Rest, God Will Force Me

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 27:2 

The hamster wheel of life spins faster and faster. If I don't take intentional actions to slow down and enjoy this life, God will slow me down. My body will give in to the overload of stress – the laboring in vain. I'm constantly working for things that are good, but not of God. In those times of rest, I have to remember to seek God's will and prioritize my actions. 

I'm fortunate that during the summer months my business slows down. In the past, I've not accepted this as an offering of rest from God, but rather worried about the financial consequences. This year, I've gotten better about accepting the rest and knowing that God always provides. 

Eating Good Fat Makes Me Full Longer 

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Romans 14:3

Name the diet and I've been on it . . . several times. I try and remind myself daily that as a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives within me. My body is God's temple. Why do I act in such a way to destroy the value of the temple?  

Every day I make choices that are hard for me regarding food, exercise, and rest. Even when God shows me the path He wants me to follow, I still want to take a trail to the right or the left. This issue doesn’t just come up with food, but in all kinds of matters where clear direction is received, but I don't like what God is telling me to do. Even when I feel like I am not maintaining the temple, I know that God's mercies are new each morning. God allows me to begin again. 

Garbage In Equals Garbage Out

Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the Lord. Proverbs 20:12 

No longer is summertime TV viewing limited to re-runs. Many programs actually run a short summer season of new episodes. I love TV and I love books. Both are amazing modes of transportation for me to pursue a grand adventure in far-off lands. Well-done media tugs on my emotions. I find when I'm not resting and I'm not eating healthy, I tend to binge on TV and books.  

I have to back up and ask myself, why do I feel the need to binge watch or binge read? Is there something that is stressing or frustrating me that I need to take to God in prayer? Am I avoiding something? 

Then I have to assess the impact of what I'm doing. Am I consuming media that does not align with my values? Writing that sentence challenges me. Where are my eyes and ears focused? How am I using the good gifts that God has given me? 

As I'm writing this, summer is not over yet. I've still got about four weeks to enjoy before the grind of the next school year is in full swing. God has challenged me to grow in trusting Him with three areas of my life. Growth can be uncomfortable, but I'm ready to embrace the change. 

Dig Deeper |

James 1:1-18 

Action Item |

Ask God to show you what He's been teaching you over the last few months. Jot those items down and find scripture to support your journey. 

Prayer|

Dear God, You are the giver of good gifts, the provider of warm summer evenings and refreshing rain showers. Help us to see the lessons You have for us in the everyday things we do. Guide our choices and help us to honor You with our lives. Amen. 

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--2 Corinthians 5:17

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Watch for the Rock

Vacations/ReunionsMarci AnthonyComment

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 NIV 

Summer is my favorite season! It is the season to enjoy the outdoors, wear summer dresses, hang out with your kids and go on vacation!! Every year my family attempts to travel to a new destination and last year we had the privilege of visiting Yosemite National Park. The mountains, waterfalls, trees and rock formations were amazing. And as you can imagine, we saw several signs along the park roads which stated, " Watch for Rocks." Yes, in this park, rocks, big and small, are everywhere including on the road. 

Actually, these signs began to make me think about “the Rock”. (No, not Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Yikes!!) but the true Rock, Jesus. Yes, Jesus is truly the Rock. I know because he has been with me throughout my life. When I have struggled in life’s lowest moments like the death of family members, loneliness, and failures, the Rock has been my refuge and fortress. I have depended on Him and He has never let me down. And, even in the highest moments like my marriage, a new home, children and just going on vacation, I know the Rock is there providing strength and stability. 

He is strong, solid, and dependable. The LORD is waiting to be our refuge, fortress, shield and especially deliverer. 

So, start today and watch for “the Rock.” 

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 18

Action Item |

Search for rocks in your yard or park and meditate on Jesus. 

Prayer |

Jesus, Thank you for being the rock. Thank you for abiding with me during the lowest and highest moments in my life. Help me to always seek your strength. I love you. Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--John 14:6

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

Follow Me

Marci AnthonyComment

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  Mark 1:17 NASB

As a mom of a senior in high school, there is plenty of talk of what this senior will do after high school.  These conversations aren’t always productive, and often end with the senior emphatically stating, “I don’t know!” 

The first time a mom holds her baby in her arms, the dreams of all the amazing things that child will do in his or her life are so big.  As that child grows and begins to leave the nest, it can be hard to step back and allow them to make decisions about their lives, especially ones that don’t fit into those dreams.   

While reflecting on which path this child may walk, this verse in the book of Mark came to mind.  Here the author Mark, describes Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee and seeing Simon and Andrew (brothers) casting nets, as they were fishermen.  “Jesus says to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” (Mark 1:16–18)  

Simon and Andrew were young men working in the family trade of fishing.  In that ancient culture, if a young Jewish boy was not strong enough in understanding the Scriptures, they went to be trained in the family trade.  If they had an ability to interpret the Scriptures then they progressed on for further training, and then they would ask a Rabbi if they could follow them.   

Jesus was a Rabbi, a teacher with authority.  To have this Rabbi say to these young Jewish men, “Follow Me” was quite incredible.  Jesus went to ordinary men, doing ordinary tasks and told them to follow Him.  Jesus would now be their teacher and they would be His disciples. 

Isn’t that part of the Good News?  Ordinary men and women can be called by Christ to follow Him.  There is no seminary degree needed, no knowledge of the Bible needed, and no list of good deeds that must be performed.  Just a heart that has received Christ as Lord and Savior and a desire to follow Him! 

There is no greater dream a parent can have for a child than to have given their life to Christ and to chase Him with all their heart.  They may not know what to do or where to go, but if they know Who to follow --- then everything else will fall into place.  

Dig Deeper |

Mark 1:16–20; Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:2–11

Action Item |

Who are you following?  Do you need to hold loosely to your child as they make their own decisions?

Prayer |

Dear Father, You already know the path You want my child to take.  Please give him/her the desire to follow You wherever you lead and give me the strength to let go.  Amen

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--2 Corinthians 9:15

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV

When God Has a Better Plan

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

The Pharisees said to Him, "Do you hear what these are saying?"  And Jesus said to them, 'Yes, have you never read, "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise"?'  Matthew 21:16 (ESV) 

As a mom, my most exciting moments have been seeing spiritual markers in my kids’ lives.  It gives me joy, peace and hope to see my kiddos walking with Jesus. 

One such time happened when my son was only nine.  We had set sail on a cruise from Florida, expecting to have a fabulous, fun-filled trip.  We had already experienced disappointment since I was unfamiliar with cruises and had missed the deadline for signing up for the dolphin excursion.  My six-year old daughter did not receive the news well and had spent some time crying about that lost opportunity. 

On day two of our seven-day cruise, we learned that there were not one but two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the danger would force our captain to make the decision to reroute the trip.  I remember returning to the cabin as the news sank in that all previous plans had been cancelled and any new on-shore activities were uncertain.  We were pretty down and my daughter again began to sob. 

I can still see my sweet son's face full of hope, joy and child-like faith as he spoke fourteen little words.  "Maybe God has something better planned for us than we had planned for ourselves."  At that moment, my breath caught in my chest as I realized that he could be right. 

Now, I know that God does not give us everything we want, because He is at work through difficult situations just as He is in the good times.  On this occasion, though, He chose to affirm my son's faith and confirm his belief.  We experienced everything we wanted to, including a swim in the ocean with dolphins that had not previously been possible. 

This spiritual milestone in my son's life became a mom milestone in mine.   Even when I am not where I need to be, God is still working in my children's lives.  He will be more of a parent for them than I could ever be.  I just need to move out of the way and trust Him to do what I cannot. 

Dig deeper |

1 John 3:1-2, John 16

Action Item |

Are you trusting your child's future to God?  Or, are you trying to protect them from difficulties that are God's fertile ground for teaching?   

Prayer |

God, help me to trust Your ways are best for my child even when they experience unfavorable situations.  Help me have wisdom to know how to guide them through these times and teach them to lean on You.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Are You Gentle?

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 NIV 

What is the first thought that races into your mind when the word “grandmother” is uttered? I immediately think of gentleness. Gentleness means kind, soft and even tender. My own grandmother displayed this great gentleness. 

When I was a child, she would plop me on her lap and squeeze tightly exclaiming how much she loved me. She would sew cute clothes for me and always prepared a matching set for my dolls. She would bake sweet-smelling cinnamon rolls and other yummy favorite foods. She would even sit and listen as I sang silly songs written just for her. As I grew into adulthood, she continued to encourage me, showed interest in the activities of my life and displayed even more love. She exhibited gentleness. 

There is another person who is the perfect example of gentleness. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus showed this trait to many in His path. He would gather the children into His arms and bless them. Women like Mary Magdalene and the woman who had bled for 12 years of her life were healed by Jesus. And, when his friend Lazarus died, He wept. He grieved over his friend’s death with Lazarus’s family.  

Presently, Jesus continues to show gentleness to even me. He provides me with a home for rest and food to eat on a daily basis. He is with me and loves me despite my many weaknesses and even times of disobedience. He is merciful and shows amazing grace. He exhibits gentleness. 

With such an ideal example, I am to let my gentleness be evident to all, too. I am to be kind, soft and tender with my family, friends and those I connect with every day. I should exhibit gentleness.     

Digging Deeper |

Mark 10:13-16, Luke 8:40-47, John 11:17-44 

Action Item |

Be gentle! 

Prayer |

Lord, Thank You that You are gentle, God. Thank you for showing Your gentleness to me. Help me to be gentle toward others. I want to be like You. Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 23:1-2

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:1-2

Failure Only Defeats Us When We Quit

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your net for a catch. Luke 5:4 NASB

My mom is probably the best cook I know.  She is a country cook but her food is delicious and when there is a potluck, people actually ask her what she made so they can get a taste.  Unfortunately, I did not inherit that gene.  I remember one day when I was about twelve, my mom was gone for some reason so I was determined to make my dad dinner.  I decided to make biscuits, which I had never done before.  

I found my mom's recipe and began mixing in the ingredients.  I read the words "baking powder" but thought “baking soda”.  The little teaspoon was easy; it was the biggest spoon on the ring, or so I thought.  I mixed everything together and placed the biscuits in the oven.  They were so beautiful when they came out, but a little more yellow than my mom's.  I was so pleased.  I decided to taste my creation because I just knew it was going to be heavenly.  To my surprise, I was not even able to get the first bite down because the over-powering bitterness drew my mouth shut. 

So back to the beginning; I made a second batch.  This time I used less baking soda but, as before, they were bitter too.  My poor dad ate two even though they were awful. 

Though that day I had set out with great hope and determination to accomplish my goal, I failed.   

Peter experienced something similar.  Early in his walk with the Lord, Jesus told Peter to let down his nets.  Peter, being unconvinced, said to Jesus, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets." Luke 5:5.  Immediately, the nets were so full that the boat began to sink.  What if Peter had given up? 

Failure in a moment does not equal failure for a lifetime. 

From the roots of my own failure have sprung the tendrils of future success.  I believed that my failure was equated with my identity. But I am reminded that my identity now rests in Christ.  So I am encouraged to cast long and hard for whatever God has called me to do.  

Failure can only defeat me when I quit, but if I use it as a spring board of motivation, then accomplishment could be right around the corner. 

Digging Deeper |

James 1:2-42 Peter 1:5-8 

Action Item |

Where has God asked you to go deeper?  Decide to take the first step toward that calling.  Have you experienced failure at something you thought God wanted you to do?  Don't quit pursuing that goal. 

Prayer |

Precious Lord, help me when I don't want to go on.  Give me the grace to push forward, the courage to pursue You, and the wisdom to know what You desire for me.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

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Share The Message of Jesus

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.  Philemon 1:6 NIV 

Recently I went into a convenience store with my youngest son to purchase snacks and after thoroughly looking at the wide array of candy, he picked out mints.  As we left the store, he popped out the mint container and asked me if I wanted one.  

As he handed me the mints, I noticed that the container was round and flat like a hockey puck and the label was full of color. I examined the container closely and noticed there were two openings on either side to acquire the mints. One opening was labeled “not to share” and the other “to share.” Upon opening the “not to share”, half of the container opened and it was so easy to grab one of the little mints. However the opening “to share” was teeny, tiny and you had to shake it vigorously to have even one mint fall out.   

This exchange of mints challenged me to examine my life and I realized I live the same way. I am a believer in Jesus and like the first believers in the city of Anitoch, a Christian. (Acts 11:26) My purpose is to share and tell everyone about the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and how to have a relationship with Him and live with Him eternally. 

However, I falter and there are days I can barely shake any words out about Jesus and when I do, the words are far and few. But Jesus wants me to do more, He wants me to share actively and generously and boldly speak about His love and life. Jesus wants my life’s container to be wide open shaking out Him and His love to everyone.   

Dig Deeper |

Acts 1: 1-9, Matthew 28:18-20 

Action Item |

Do you actively share your faith in Jesus with others? Search for reasons you chose “not to share” and ask God to overcome these obstacles and begin “to share” with others. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, you are a saving God. Help me to share you with others in this world generously and with vigor. I want others to know and love you, too. Amen. 

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Treasure God's Word--Psalm 98:4

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Psalm 98:4

God’s Word Nourishes

reviewMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV

There is nothing more precious than watching a new born instinctively search for their mother’s milk which God designed perfectly for them to thrive.  

Spiritual milk is the sweet word of Christ in which believers also instinctively search for and grow in grace in their walk with Him. The word “craving” or “desire,” in other translations, means to yearn, intensely crave, earnestly desire and long after.  

Just as milk is physical nourishment for a baby, God’s Word is spiritual nourishment for the heart and mind. In Proverbs 4, it says that “God’s Word is life to those who find it and health to a man’s whole body.” 

If I am to grow in my walk with Christ, then I need to fill myself with His truth daily. I need God’s Word because it is living and active and it penetrates my soul and spirit, joints, and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). 

There have been many times I have desired worldly nourishment and not the life-giving water found in Christ. My supply never lasts and always leaves me feeling unsatisfied, weary, and longing for something else. 

Having tasted the goodness, kindness, and graciousness of the Lord, His Word not only fills me, but leaves me yearning for more of Him. I pray that above everything else, I would earnestly desire Him. What are you craving today?

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrew 4:12, Hebrews 6:4-5

Action Item |

Ask God to give you a desire for His nourishing Word daily. 

Prayer |

Dear Father, thank you for Your Word that nourishes my heart and mind. May my cravings only be for You. Amen.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

My Faith Is So Weak!

reviewMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #obedience

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  II Chronicles 20:15B   NIV

I find it amazing that God has to remind me often that He wants to be involved in my daily life.  I don’t know about you, but I simply forget that He’s standing by, just waiting for me to turn to Him and let Him guide me through my problems.  He constantly has to remind me that if I’m willing, my battles are not mine….they’re His!  

In II Chronicles King Jehoshaphat hears that three armies have united and are on the march toward Jerusalem!  He knows his army has no chance to stand against them, so he makes an appeal of protection to the Lord.  “O Lord, God of our fathers…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”   

God’s reply is immediate and wonderful:  They don’t need to be afraid or discouraged because the battle is His.   

But.....”Go out to face them tomorrow.”  What?!  God says He will fight the battle, but we still have to march up against an army that’s at least three times our size?!  

For King Jehoshaphat and all his fellow soldiers, it becomes a distinct matter of faith.  Is their faith in God real….real enough to march toward an army that will surely decimate them, unless God keeps His promise and enters the battle Himself?   

The way they respond is exemplary!  First, they all fall down and worship the Lord, then early the next morning they march – straight toward the enemy.  But then they set the bar really high for all believers who would follow in centuries to come (that’s us!), for not only do they exhibit great faith by marching toward this vast army, they also appoint a men’s choir to lead the way!  And as they march, with the choir in front, they sing praise to God for the splendor of His holiness!  Now that’s faith.  Simply amazing, life-on-the-line faith!    

Of course, God was faithful to His promise.  He ambushed the enemy armies and caused them to completely destroy each other.   

And I must remember that those soldiers were people just like me.  Same fears, same struggles.  But they sure stepped up to the plate and showed me what it means to put my life in the hands of my faithful God!

Dig Deeper |

II Chronicles 20:1-30; Ephesians 6:16

Action Item |

Do you sometimes feel that a vast army is coming up against you?  Do you truly believe God is willing to act on your behalf?  Pick up our shield of faith each morning before the day begins and allow Him to guide you throughout the day.

Prayer |

Lord, many times my faith is so weak.  Please help my unbelief.  Help me to take that first, hard step, believing that you will carry me the rest of the way.  And, Lord, help me to sing your praises as I go!!

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.

Treasure God's Word--2 Peter 3:9

scripture memoryMarci AnthonyComment

Is it sweet, salty, spicy, cold, hot? Terms you might not consider when you are reading God's word. God calls us to hide, treasure and taste His word. Join the contributors and readers of Sow & Gather in tasting and memorizing God's word this week.

Memorize It |

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Sweet Fellowship

reviewMarci AnthonyComment

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  I John 1:3    NASB 

Growing up the word “fellowship” meant Sunday lunches at my church. As a young girl, an all you can eat buffet of homemade dessert and playing hide and seek in the Sunday school rooms was pure joy! 

As an adult, fellowship has a deeper meaning for me. Fellowship is still gathering with other believers, possibly sharing a meal, but more importantly sharing life together. It doesn’t necessarily mean a large gathering, like my old church, but a smaller gathering.   

What makes this fellowship sweet are the people gathered together who have been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:9.  

It is a gathering where hurting hearts and struggling flesh are shared, answered prayers are celebrated and real life happens. It is a group of people who encourage you to stay steadfast in seeking the Lord and learning His ways.  Most importantly, there is a shared love for Christ and therefore a love for each other. 

There have been times in my life when I did not experience fellowship with other believers. Having lived without a church or a circle of godly friends makes me treasure the body of believers and the community it offers. 

“Be united with other Christians.  A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.” Corrie Ten Boom(1892-1983)  Dutch author, speaker and concentration camp survivor 

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 1:9, Acts 2:42 

Action Item |

You may find yourself today without a community of believers. Ask the Lord to show you the church you have been called to and a group of godly friends that you can fellowship with.   

Prayer |

Dear Lord, draw me to those friends who seek you first in all they do. May sweet friendships grow out of our love for you. Amen.

Join Us |

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.