Called: An Interview with Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth

Called: An Interview with Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth

Hello and welcome to anther exciting installment of Called! The amazing stories of ordinary people who respond to God’s call. Today we have an interview with one of our sisters in Christ, Lisa Morris author ofConforming to the Truth.net.

I first came into contact with Lisa through her scripture-teaching blog via WordPress. I was first intrigued by the words Free, Bible, and Study (I guess I’m just a nerd like that!). Her articles are relatable, real, and overflowing with truth. As I saw her posts from day to day, I soon felt an overwhelming need to reach out and say hi. Her accomplishments mirrored my vision for Pure Disciple and I just had to meet her. We have become fast friends over email and she has graciously agreed to allow me to interview her. So here is a little about Lisa. I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to check out Conforming to the Truth!

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What do you do for a living?

I am a stay at home mom. Before I had children I worked as a manager of a Baskin Robbins. Yummy, a great place to work. When Andrew our first born came I worked for a while. Roy and I played tag team. When I was at work Roy had him, when Roy was at work I had him. Then Sarah our second child came along. By this time Roy and I had decided that God was calling us to homeschool. I quit work and have been home ever since. We added our third child Hannah. I have been home with them for 19 years. I would not change it for anything in the world. 

What is the goal of your ministry?
I want to get women of all ages into the word of God. In my Bible Study at home, we have a mixture of ages ranging from 60 years young to 10 years old and all ages in between. Both older women and younger women are sharing what they have learned from the word of God!There is a generation of women, young and younger, who do not know the God of the Bible, nor the precepts that He has commanded. I pray that through these studies and this blog that God will grow a generation of women that know Him, live for Him, and stand on His word!

My desire is to guide women through the Bible using my free lessons. What makes these lessons different is that they guide you through the word one verse at a time through an entire book of the Bible. The Bible is your answer key. 

I also desire that God will raise up women who have a heart for His word and a desire to guide others through His word as well. That they will take this desire and start a study group in their home or church. If you have that desire please get in contact with me and we will pray and see where God leads. 

How did you come to this work? About 20 years ago during a Sunday School class, I was very convicted. The teacher was talking about how important it was to be in the word of God. I was not in God’s word as I should have been. In that moment, God put a great desire in my heart to study and know Him through His word. As time went on He grew a desire in me to teach and guide other women through His word. He opened doors of opportunity for me to be a leader in BSF Bible Studies. After several years in BSF He pulled me out and sent me to Precept Ministries in Chattanooga Tennessee. During this time, there was a growing desire to teach in my church and to start home studies. I taught a ladies Sunday School class for about 5 years. I have also led home classes for around 10 years. I currently hold a class in my home. 

What is the favorite thing in what you do? My greatest joy is to see God grow those who are in His word. I have seen God change and teach so many hearts. There is no greater joy! I also love those “A HA” moments, when a sister learns something about God that she had not understood before. All for His glory!

What is this most difficult part? Waiting and trusting. I desire so much for women who are in the word to grow. Sometimes it seems as if there is no growth at all. It seems that not much has changed in a life. I have to know and understand that in the times that there seems to be no growth that there really is growth. God always works on his time frame. I must be patient and trust in Him and His timing. 

What is one lesson that God has taught you in your career? That I am continually being conformed. When I first started teaching I thought I had to know everything. That sounds so prideful and it is! But, I thought teachers knew it all. I thought they had this direct word from God. They do, it’s His word:)  God is continually teaching me, and that is the way God has designed it. If I knew everything I would be God. I cringe to even write those words but they are so true!  If you ever come across a teacher who claims to know it all, flee! No one knows it all!

What do you think might be on the horizon for you? I hesitate to answer this because my flesh can be so deceiving! I am praying that God open doors of opportunity for speaking so that I might be an encouragement to women who are in the word. It appears He may be doing this. I covet your prayers!

Where did you grow up? I was born in Winter Garden Florida,  next door neighbor to Orlando, Home of Disney World. At the age of 5, we moved to the great state of Tennessee.  I have lived here ever since. I currently live with my family in Bon Aqua, Tennessee. 

What’s the first encounter with God you remember having? 
When did you first come to faith?
If you do not mind I am going to answer the last two questions together. 

I grew up in a Christian home and at the age of 13 God saved me. That would be the first encounter that I had with God. He has kept His promise of continuing the good work that He started in me. Through His grace and mercy, I grow to know  Him more and more each day!

 


Want to know more about what Lisa does?

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope you enjoyed today’s interview!
Please follow PureDisciple on Facebook, leave a comment below or email us at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love connecting with you! đŸ™‚
God Bless,
Molly

Seeking a church family

Seeking a church family

I’ve been struggling with this concept in my personal life lately. My husband and I recently moved to a new town with new churches and an entire new community. We have not yet settled on a place to attend. We are church-homeless.

Not that we expect the church we decide to call home to be perfect. We aren’t that naive. Instead, we search for the particular features that make us feel at home. Style of preaching. Good music. Professional sound team. Enough people our age.

But when I read Jen’s heartfelt exhortation to us this morning, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m searching for things that make me feel outwardly comfortable and proud to attend a certain place. I never thought about choosing the right kind of people.

They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.

That’s who I should be searching for. After all, the church is only a group of people. People aren’t attractive fliers, preachers, music, or donuts. And I want to make my church home a place where those people love Jesus more than anything else.

We are still on our search. (Please pray for us!)

I, like all of you, am going to an imperfect church this morning. I have failed it in innumerable ways, and I’ve felt the sting of disappointment there too. Church is hard.

But every single Sunday, every one, I find Jesus there. I am renewed in tiny or even enormous ways. But largely, when I look around the room, I see the faces of people that are so good, so courageous, so committed and loving, I cannot imagine doing life without them. They are, quite simply, the best people I know. The struggles and addictions and losses they have overcome would flatten you – it’s just a little middle school cafeteria but it is full of bravery. And they love well. They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.

That’s enough.

Folks, my prayer for you this morning is that you find your simple church where Jesus is lifted high and people are loved, and plant there with all your might. Your church will be so imperfect. SO. The staff and leaders will not magically make life fulfilling. People will let you down (and you them). Stuff will go sideways and have to be righted. There will be hard conversations and honest confessions and apologies and lots of forgiveness, but the presence of these things doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. It means you are building a church with human people and you love them too much to let it all slip through your fingers without fighting for unity.

May you find grace for your church today. May you find your people and put up a parking lot. And I hope that today, or maybe someday, you’ll look around the room like I do and marvel at what beautiful, wonderful people you are surrounded with, grateful that you get to love God and love each other and love people together, imperfectly.

-Jen Hatmaker, originally posted on Facebook

Seeking God: The Bread

Seeking God: The Bread

Reading: Psalm 143:1:12, John 6:35-37

Christ: You know when life gets too overwhelming and things start to fall apart? Maybe you don’t realize how you naturally react, but I can see you starting to reach out for comfort from the closest thing. That’s when I have to step in and remind you of who I Am. â€œI am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” 

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Think: What does it mean for be to be hungry today in 2016? I know that I am constantly craving something. Media, feed me entertainment. Credit card, feed me happiness. Food, literally feed me way too much. Technology, feed me social status (and virtual status!) As David is literally hungering for the Lord in this passage, can we also recognize the various hungers that we live with? Take a moment and think about what your “hunger” is right this moment. Maybe it’s hunger of healing, perhaps belonging, perhaps an impossible dream. Whatever it is, Only Jesus can satisfy that hunger beyond what you ever thought possible.

Pray: Dear Lord, Let us rise up and recognize Whose we are. You know our hearts and what it is that we are craving individually. Thank you for  already meeting our needs. Thanks to You, we can live without fear that we might not get our next meal. We no longer crave the things of this world, but the things of Heaven. Amen.

Seeking God: Keep a soft heart

Seeking God: Keep a soft heart

Reading: Psalm 95:1-7, Isaiah 40:11

Christ: Remember that I am your place of rest and your shelter of comfort. The cares of the world are stressful and not at all aligned with the original purpose for which you were made. The symptom of a hardened heart appears when you try to make a shelter of safety for yourself. I cannot do my work or you if your heart is hardened against me.

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Think: “The seed sown on the rock never brought any fruit to perfection” – Matthew Henry. When I lie, cheat, steal, I am hardening my heart against God’s heart for me. I may justify my choice, or ignore it altogether but it is still sin.

Pray: Dear Lord, let us keep the ground of our hearts as fertile soil which grows the seed of faith to perfection in the dew of your grace. Help me to notice the moment my heart refuses to receive your wisdom. Holy Spirit, make clear to me the state of my heart so that I may never miss out on the gentle leading of Jesus.


 

Seeking God: Like an oasis

Seeking God: Like an oasis

Reading: Psalm 1-7, Isaiah 35:5-6

Christ: I have not left you alone. I am with you, My Father is with you. Haven’t I sent you the Holy Spirit the Advocate to live in your heart? And not only that, have I not given you a community of believers to rest upon? Like an oasis in the desert these are so that you would not lose hope until that day when I come to bring you to your permanent home. The blind will see and the lame will dance and you will see me face to face. For now, hope in Me and rest in fellowship of others I’ve called so that we are united together.

Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.

Think: Through fellowship, we can know and be known. Connected to others and God through Jesus, we get to see God’s movement in ways we never thought possible. It may be awkward at first but through knowing and being known we get to see God’s work displayed in situations we may not otherwise come across. 1 John 1:3 says:

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Am I a committed part of a fellowship group? What holds me back from fellowship?

Pray: Dear Lord, your will is perfect. Let us not avoid being known and knowing others through a believing fellowship community. Let us be strengthened in You as we hear others’ stories. May our fellowship be glorifying to You and serve to build each other up for work in Your kingdom. Amen.


 

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

Why I’m dreading Lent this year

Why I’m dreading Lent this year

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Lent is this Wednesday. I know. “What? Already?” I believe my exact reaction was, “AGAIN?”

Every year it’s the same. I spend all kinds of time sitting at Starbucks with my laptop trying to decide whether it’s coffee or chocolate that will get the boot. “Hmm…maybe I should just give up Facebook,” I think to myself, washing down a bite of chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin with a swig of mocha latte.

Lent is like the Christian version of New Years Resolutions. You make up your mind to give something up or start doing something good, only to let yourself slide until you have completely forgotten about the funny promise you made to God 40 days prior. (Chocolate bunny, anyone?)

If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is what Christians call that stretch of time between Mardi Gras and Easter. It is a time set out in the church when believers usually focus on growing closer to God through Prayer, Fasting, and Giving. It’s actually a great opportunity to rekindle the dryness that periodically creeps into our faith-lives. Everyday life and responsibilities cause so much noise in our heads that we forget to focus on the One who is the only source of wisdom, comfort, and salvation. This is why I’m such a huge believer in the practice of Lent. We learn to slow down and establish a structure of prayer that is oftentimes missing from our lives. So why am I dreading it?

Over the past 2 months I my article-writing engines have been on overdrive and I have loved every stressful minute of it. I’m writing for and with God for you good people spread across the Interwebs and all the while, I hear my heart beating in step with each piece. It’s buzzing with excitement: you are doing exactly what you are meant to do. I have SO many ideas for how to glorify God with my writing and my blog.

However, Lent means I have to slow down. It means that I actually have to stop trying, pull it back a bit, and slow down so that I can commune with God. As much as I don’t want to slow my mad productive pace, my soul hangs in the balance if I do not. I’m like a toddler running out the front door and down the driveway before my mom has time to put a diaper on me — I tend to run way ahead of God’s plans before I’m ready.

But this relationship with the master of the universe is vastly more important than anything I post, write, plan to write. I’m hearing his still, small voice in my heart saying, Be still, Molly. Quit trying to prove to me how awesome you are.

I want to be intentional about this year’s season of Lent so I won’t be posting every single day, but only as the spirit leads. I will be listening for God’s voice and striving toward closeness with Him.

Won’t you join with me in search for an intentional Lent? Whether this is your first Lent season or 100th, let’s take Lent seriously together this year. Let’s both commit to being companions of Jesus, instead of competitors. ☩


I want to know how will you be celebrating Lent this year! Leave me a comment below and share what you will be reading/doing. Thanks for reading!
Your sister in Christ,
Molly

Why witness?

Why witness?

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15

I always read this verse as “always be prepared to give a lecture on Christian apologetics”. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand that “the reason for the hope that you have” is not the same as “the reason that you should believe”.

In college I volunteered for a pro-life organization. Part of the job included wielding signs on campus’s main thoroughfare and starting conversations with strangers on this heavy topic. Needless to say it was mostly enduring insults and dodging half-drunk sodas, but I did have a couple good conversations. One in particular sticks out because of my own ignorance of this verse.

My friend Michelle wanted to know why I felt so strongly about Pro-life issues. However, the stress of publicly declaring my stance on abortion had got me so flustered that it took me a few minutes to put together a coherent sentence. And she, not being a Christian, but a seeker (and a good friend) listened to me patiently.

I was kicking myself as she walked away. I hadn’t presented the answer as well as I should have. I had approached her, not as a friend telling another friend of the peace of God, but as an opponent, spitting out counter-arguments like some ball machine in a tennis court. I just kept swinging even though I had lost the point of the interaction.

Many Christians like myself fail at witnessing because we simply don’t know how to go about it. That’s why we need to be prepared for whatever situation may come; the potential impact of sharing the Gospel is just too wonderful to ignore.

But just look at what happens when a person believes in Jesus (from cru.org):

  • They become children of God.
  • Their bodies become temples of God.
  • All of their sins are forgiven.
  • They begin to experience the peace and love of God.
  • They receive God’s direction and purpose for their lives.
  • They experience the power of God to change their lives.
  • They have assurance of eternal life.
  • Witnessing will stimulate your spiritual growth, lead you to pray and study God’s Word, and encourage you to depend on Christ. You will experience the tremendous privilege and honor of representing Jesus to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20).

To say this is an important part of living out our faith would be a grave understatement. Missionaries aren’t just wacky families who decide to uproot their lives and head to Rwanda (although they are much needed!). They can be ordinary, local folks like you and me. After all, there may not be anyone else as well-suited for the people around you than you are.

It frightens me to think that close friends and members of my own family may choose to reject Christ in the end. I know it’s hard to believe that Jesus will come back and dole out justice, but don’t let that fool you into procrastination. It is not God’s will that even one is lost.

Here is an excellent article in getting started with sharing the reasons for your hope with others.

Why We Witness by Bill Bright

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God, thank you for blessing us with the opportunity to be partners with you in gathering up your scattered sheep. Help us to learn the right ways to witness our faith to the world. Steer us in the direction of people who will have ears to hear. Speak through our mouths and tear down the arguments of the prideful. We honor you and give you all the glory forever. Amen.

 

What to do when a sermon tests your faith

What to do when a sermon tests your faith

 

On my way home last night I decided to listen to a Christian radio channel. They usually air sermons which I like to listen to while driving. Some of my most profound thinking time happens in the driver’s seat.

However, last night I was surprised to encounter a message focusing on Nazis, Syrians, the wrath of God, and hellfire. Where was the story of brokenness, forgiveness and redemptive love? I still am wondering about the context of that message.

Now, please don’t misunderstand: I’m not advocating that we should never focus on the reality of God’s justice and wrath which will come swiftly (Deuteronomy 32:35). A gospel of feel-goodery is just as incorrect.

However it saddens me to think that someone somewhere might have flipped on that channel, and presumed misunderstand the meaning of that message, further spreading ignorance and incorrect beliefs.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11 NIV

 

That’s why I draw such encouragement from the Bereans. They are a perfect example of how we as Christians are to receive something we don’t understand. Paul would later exhort the Thessalonians to take the same attitude:

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 MSG

So, how do we respond when a message leaves us with more questions than answers?

  1. We must be humble: Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t assume you have all the answers.
  2. We must be open-minded: Do not despise prophecies. You don’t know if this is a message from the Lord or not.
  3. We must be cautious: Check out everything and hold to what is good. If the message you hear doesn’t immediately agree with the basic truths of Christianity, suspend judgement and seek help.

This is where being plugged into a local church community helps. Make an appointment with a trusted elder or pastor. Ask them to pray with you and help your understanding. There’s an old Russian saying that goes “There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.”

Is it a sin not to go to church?

Is it a sin not to go to church?

The convenience of a streaming church service is a double-edged sword. Indispensable to those who cannot leave their bed, but a tool of temptation for the devil.

I heard that whisper this morning: Why get up so early? It’s cold and you deserve a break, and who will notice you anyway? Whether you go or stay won’t make a difference. You’re still going to watch the sermon online, it’s not a sin to miss one week…

It got me thinking about why it’s important to go to church. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that it’s an outright sin not to go, nor does the Bible specifically say which day we are to worship.

So why should I go?

Tradition?

To see my friends?

Because Starbucks is on the way and I can get a treat?

Well, what does the Bible say about going to church? There are several reasons from scripture:

To encourage one another:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

To meet with God together:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

Friendship with other believers:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

To mature in faith:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

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As for whether it’s a sin or not, “sin” is a deliberate rebellion against God. That’s between Creature and Creator. Far be it for me to say yes or no on behalf of someone else, I’ll humbly say that in my case, I believe it would have been considered a sin. The reason being that I understand and agree with the importance of church attendance. As mere laziness, I’d be a hearer only and not a doer of the word. (James 1:22).

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I went anyway. And instead of losing comfort, energy, and time, I unexpectedly gained something even better: peace that my obedience meant something to God. I think he is proud of my response. And I can’t wait to obey again next week.

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How would you answer that question?  Bring the question of church attendance before the throne in prayer and ask God for his wisdom in the matter.

The One Thing God Can’t Do

The One Thing God Can’t Do

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

Do you believe this?

I had never given it much thought before today, until reading this quote from today’s homily from Pope Francis.

“The gift is God’s love, a God who can’t sever himself from us. That is the impotence of God.  We say: ‘God is all powerful, He can do everything!” Except for one thing: Sever Himself from us! In the gospel, that image of Jesus who weeps over Jerusalem, helps us understand something about that love. Jesus wept! He wept over Jerusalem and that weeping is all about God’s impotence: his inability to not love (us) and not sever himself from us.” [source]

There is one thing God can’t do: not love us.

Startling but true! That intense love is extended to every single person that ever was. It is up to each person to decide for him or herself whether to accept or reject that love.

Think about the times you may have deliberately run from God. There was something you saw, thought, and immediately decided in your heart to do or say, purposely ignoring the little voice of truth within. Realize that in those times we are actively choosing to reject God’s wisdom and therefore His love for us.

However, thanks to that amazing love, we have a new opportunity to accept every moment. Nothing from our past is so bad that we cannot reach out and accept His gift.