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Can you imagine if someone said to you, “You can’t serve the Lord!”

I can just hear all of the arguments that would start!!

“Of course I can!”

“No one can stop me from serving God!”

“I will keep serving Him no matter what!!”

Yet that is exactly what Joshua said to the Hebrew people after that famous challenge: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Oh yes, they made a great claim! “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord!”  I mean, if you had a choice, wouldn’t you choose to serve the true God? ...Wouldn’t we all?

But there was something else… a matter of the heart. We can claim all we want that we have given God our lives and we are following Him alone, yet our actions (inside and out) speak louder than our words.  Joshua wasn’t so quick to accept their choice, but followed it up with a pretty harsh challenge. “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”

God sees past our words. God sees our heart. God sees our desires and our motives. He sees our pride, our self will, our true intentions.

The people in Joshua 24 insisted that they did choose to serve God, so Joshua gives them a challenge: “Put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”

It is good to honor God, to speak of God, to proclaim God’s goodness with our words, but if we have not inclined our heart towards Him, it is all in vain. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t just want us to fill our seat in the pew on Sunday. He wants our hearts towards Him alone. Jesus says the hypocrites “draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

When you make a choice to serve God and Him alone it is noticeable. We don’t just choose God and still keep everything else we want in this life. There are some things we must “put away” as we incline our hearts unto the Lord!  God knows the difference between heartfelt repentance and alligator tears!

Next time you see the phrase “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” take a look at your life. When God looks at your heart what does He see?

 
 
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Peer pressure. It can come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes we don’t even recognize it. Have you ever felt a little out of the loop, like you were the last one on earth to know about the latest fashion, trend, movie, song, or that video that just went viral. It’s definitely awkward when you’re with a group of people and all of a sudden you’re feeling like a middle-schooler hanging out in the teen group- just totally clueless as to what is going on around you. But let me cue you in on a little secret… it’s okay to not be fully informed on everything in the world today. If you haven’t noticed, our world is getting dirtier and shifting further from God each day. It’s pretty much on the fast track to hell, and if you have taken the opportunity to get off the devil’s ride and trust Jesus as your Saviour, there is no reason to keep standing in line to see what the world still has to offer. It will only bring destruction upon the life God has for you. Romans 16:19 says “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” It’s easy to question “am I too naive?” We can easily convince ourselves that everyone else knows what is going on and before long the thought sinks in… Just Google It! 

Way back as a teenager, before the cell phone/ internet is everywhere years, I made a personal decision not to watch things that did not line up with the way I should be living. I noticed a struggle within my mind. I knew it was wrong to watch most of the movies coming out and I wanted to abstain from evil, yet with all of the advertising, reviews, and big flashing signs there was a desire to see them, which caused a struggle to do what is right. A very simple decision made this struggle to keep my mind pure so much easier. >>Don’t read the movie signs. Don’t look at the entertainment page in the newspaper. If I pass an advertisement- just ignore it. ...So instead of inserting those worldly images into my mind and then struggling to keep my mind pure, I moved my focus to keeping out the thoughts and images in the first place. Still a short-term struggle, but I soon realized keeping my life pure was so much easier when I put some extra effort into keeping my mind pure.

Forward to 2016 where we are all just a tap away from everything… and I mean too much of everything! Instead of asking, “Should I learn about this?” we are saying, “Should I use Google or Bing?” In seconds or less we have a list of web, image, and video results to anything we type or speak into a search bar. It might be a  phrase we heard but don’t know the meaning to, an acronym, or a person on the news. The truth is… some things we don’t need to know. And many things we really don’t want to know! It’s pretty easy to look up something out of curiosity only to find more than we were expecting. (I am thankful for the filters and safety nets we have online, but that’s not the point I’m referring to here.) We need to be careful about how quick we can be to search something instead of first seek God’s will in our life to live pure. We are unknowingly choosing to make the Christian walk such an uphill battle when we fill our minds with so much of this world.

We want the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, yet according to Ephesians 5:9 “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,” not in the “filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting” (Eph. 5:4) of this world. Goodness. Righteousness. Truth. That is what we should be seeking. That is what we should be looking for, focusing on, learning about. That is what should fill our lives. The Bible tells us “it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Eph. 5:12) Christian, please, guard your mind. Set up boundaries for how you are going to live and stand strong! Plan ahead so you know how you will handle the temptation to fit in with the crowd. Be able to look at the crowd and see if the way they are going is towards the Lord, or are they standing in line going the way of this world. Read carefully through Ephesians 4 and 5 and see how God has made a change in the lives of His children. We are to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Eph. 4:22,23) The cleaner you keep your mind, the easier it will be to follow Christ from a pure heart, meditate upon His Word, and most importantly HEAR what the Spirit is speaking to you!

Our family uses Covenant Eyes on all of our internet browsers. 
What do you use to keep yourself & your family safe online?

 
 
When our first child came I was blessed more than I had ever imagined. Through the years there has been one song that comes to mind every time I think of her and my wishes, hopes, and aspirations for her life. Written by the Epley’s, here are the words to the beautiful song “All We Ask.” Cynthia- this is our prayer for you!

The years have flown by much too fast.
The days we have now are our last
Soon you’ll be gone and life won’t be the same.
We’ve tried to do our best for you.
Sometimes we’ve failed; we know it’s true
But still we pray that you’ll live to praise God’s name.

It doesn’t matter if we never see a place you’ve carved in history.
Fame is fleeting and riches soon will burn.
The only wish we have for you,
Please follow Him Who’s always true.
You will find you have so very much to learn.

And if some day you hear His voice
Calling you to make a choice to serve Him in a land that’s far away,
We’ll remember you’re not really ours at all.
You belong to Him; so heed His call.
That’s the reason that He made you anyway.

All we ask is that you live for Jesus!
We’ve tried to give you roots, and soon we’ll give you wings.
Fly toward the Lord!
Honor Him in all you do.
We’ll be so proud of you if you live for Him.
We’ll be so proud of you if you live for Him!


These 15 years have brought the greatest joy of my life- and I am thrilled to look forward to see the next 15 as our oldest daughter continues with a heart towards God! She has become so much more than I could have hoped for. Her servant’s heart and strong spirit have inspired me. God has brought us through so many things, yet He has always shown Himself present and able to much more than we could ever ask or think. And our children have been able to see the hand of God guiding and helping us along the way- which has only made their faith stronger. I am thankful that through my faults, Cynthia has seen that we must keep our eyes on the Lord.
 

Cynthia is very serious about music, piano in particular. She is now our church pianist and continues to progress even without lessons. She was 11 when she composed "A Waltz for Roy and Dale" and entered it into the York Symphony's competition.

You will be blessed by any of the Epley CD's. I encourage you to raise your family with Christ honoring music! Just click or tap here!!

 
 
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          We have been blessed with a busy summer around here! I would love to blog more, but as the mother of 5 and a pastor’s wife I have decided to keep the blogging on the lower portion of my priority list. As a result, I have a whole list of things I would like to sit and write about! (Yes, I’m keeping a list!) But today, I sat in on the last service for teen camp. It truly blessed my heart, and our oldest daughter assured me that every service this week has been just as good. I would like to share some of the Scriptures, along with the preacher’s three points, and hope that it is a blessing to you as well. If you’d like to hear the sermon for yourself just click or tap here to open the camp’s sermon page. 
It Is TIME to Trust God!
Proverbs 3:5,6
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
 



The Command  “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;”

Psalms 62:8 “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: 
God is a refuge for us. Selah.”

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: 
but whoso putteth 
his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” 

Psalms 4:5 “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.”


The Caution “lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Psalms 146:3 “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, 
in whom there is no help.”

Isaiah 5:21 “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent 

in their own sight!”

Proverbs 28:26 “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, 

he shall be delivered.”


The Covenant (Promise) “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 16:20 “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth 
in the LORD, happy is he.”

Psalms 40:4 “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust,

Psalms 34:8 “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”


Final Thoughts: God’s way is always the BEST way.

Psalms 9:10“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, 
LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”

Psalms 37:5“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; 
and he shall bring it to pass.”


Thank you Bro. Brubaker for this great challenge!! May God bless all of you serving the Lord and being such an example at Servant’s Heart Camp!
 

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