News Travels Fast

This past Sunday morning, Neal shared with Bear Valley our decision to work with the Foote St. congregation in Corinth, MS.  Before the day was over, we were emailed, texted, called and even scooped.  Before our beloved Bear Valley family could absorb the announcement, before we had time to convince them how very much we love them and will miss them, the news was out.  Thanks to facebook, twitter, and every other information-age-device, the news traveled cyber fast.  My mind was blown.

But of course this wasn’t the first time I’d seen that kind of power in action.  Thanks to the news channels and facebook, we’ve all been able to keep up with the recent tornado destruction in Moore, OK.  What happened?  How can we help?  These questions and more were quickly answered.  Videos were shared of survivors and their stories.  (See the one about the lady’s dog that was found during her interview?)  On another personal level, we saw the effectiveness of social media when our son, Gary, got sick at Freed.  Since he was a gazillion miles away from us, we were grateful for the many friends who contacted us and offered to help, before Neal even arrived at the airport.  Good news and bad news travel faster than ever before.  What a powerful tool we have at our fingertips!

I’m in awe anew at the zeal of the first century Christians.  The command was given.  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  What happened?  “Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7).  But it didn’t stop there.  Paul wrote the church at Colossi, who also heard the good news, and said the gospel was “preached to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23).  How did they do that without TV or the internet?  Perhaps the answer is found in every phrase of Acts 5:42.

The Good News was their daily focus.  “And daily…”  Evangelism wasn’t reserved for Sundays, gospel meetings, and door knockings.  It was on their mind every day.  Is it on my mind every day?  Is it always included in a specific way on my daily to-do list?  This is a Thursday, a typical weekday for most of us.  What can I do today to share the news?

The Good News went everywhere with them.  “In the temple, and in every house…”  Whether public settings or private settings, those Christians shared the gospel.  Sometimes it wasn’t comfortable or safe, but that didn’t stop them from spreading the news anyway.  Where will I go today?  To the grocery store, work, post office, or restaurant?  I must take the News with me.  Keep a Bible in your car and pray for opportunities!

The Good News was their top priority.  “They did not cease teaching and preaching…”  Even when the Word was rejected by some, and even when they were ridiculed for sharing it, they didn’t stop spreading it.  They didn’t give up.  The Good News was all that mattered.  It’s still all that matters.  Let’s keep sharing it!  Instead of feeling outnumbered or overwhelmed, instead of feeling timid, instead of believing Satan’s lie that it won’t do any good, let’s never stop talking, sharing, texting, promoting, and writing about the gospel.

The Good News was all about Jesus.  “They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”  Jesus is the Way, the only Way.  Many don’t know that.  Many promote the complete opposite, like the COEXIST bumper stickers.  Messages that contradict what God’s Word says about Jesus Christ are being taught.  Let’s do all we can to spread the Truth!  There are other Bible principles that need to be taught as well, but the name of Jesus should be on our lips every day.

Thank God that news travels fast these days, because we have the best news of all!  “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3).

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to take advantage of the resources we have to spread the Good News.

Dale preaching at FPTC; Photo taken by David Parker

21 Reasons Why I Love Being a Preacher’s Wife

Yesterday Neal and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.  How do I feel after 21 years of being married to a preacher?  Very, very blessed.  And here’s why, in no particular order:

1.  Our coworkers- We work with the best people.  They’re all Christians.

2.  Uplifting events- Gospel meetings, seminars, lectureships, and ladies’ days provide lots of opportunities to get revived, refreshed, & renewed.

3.  Encouragement- Through the years we’ve been given some thoughtful notes.  Sure, we’ve also received some criticism, but who hasn’t?

4.  Prayers on our behalf- Many Sundays involve someone praying, “Please bless our preacher and his family.”

5.  Opportunities for growth- There have been more than a few moments when I’ve been nudged out of my comfort zone.

6.  Hospitality- We’ve enjoyed open hearths and open hearts in all kinds of homes.

7.  Great meals (because of #6)-  🙂

8.  Life events- We share in the lives of others when they get married, give birth, and bury their loved ones.

9.  Compassion- Some of my stumbles and goofs have been pretty public.  I’m grateful for the patience and love we’ve been given.

10.  My sons’ role model- Their dad is a preacher who always speaks highly of the Lord and His church.

11.  Mission trips- We don’t have to take time off from work; it IS our work.

12.  Fellowship- I can never get enough.

13.  Kindred spirits- I love the instant bond that forms when meeting other preachers’ wives.

14.  Support- The church family is so good about being there through thick and thin.

15.  Elders- God bless them for their labor of love.  They have the best hearts and make the best bosses.

16.  Baptisms- We rarely have to miss them.  Day or night, we can stop what we’re doing and head to the building.

17.  Preachers- We get to be around them, and get to know them.  We sure like them!

18.  Bible studies- I’ll never get tired of seeing the Truth work on the hearts of genuine searchers.  Joy and tears.

19.  People- We’re with all kinds…working, struggling, sharing, caring, learning, growing.  It’s what our job is all about.

20.  Friends for eternity- There are so many that we’ve met and loved through the years, and we never have to say goodbye.

21.  My husband- He studies, prays, leads, and puts God first.  What’s more attractive than a man with an open Bible?

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for my preacher, for Your church, and for the blessings you shower upon all of Your children.  

Gospel meeting in West Palm Beach

Know the Family–an interview with preacher’s wife, Carla Moore (and a recipe)

I’m encouraged by the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:7,8).   I love hearing about Christians who are striving to be Christ-like in their actions and attitude.  Periodically I’ll be interviewing someone I admire for their humble service in the kingdom.  My hope is that these interviews will be an opportunity to “consider one another to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).

I’m very excited about sharing this first interview!  Carla Moore is beautiful and down-to-earth.  She is genuine through and through, and I know you will love her insight and sense of humor as much as I do.  Pour a cup of coffee, if you like, and think of this as a comfortable chat at the kitchen table.  You’ll smile, you’ll be encouraged, you’ll get to know a member of your Christian family, and you might feel as if you’ve gained a new friend.

Thank you, Carla, for agreeing to this interview and for sharing your time with us.  First, please tell us a little about yourself–where you’re from, where you live now, what you do, etc.

I’m a Texan, born and raised! I was born in Corsicana, not far from Dallas, and we moved to central Texas when I was 8. I’ve only lived in three different communities: Corsicana, San Marcos and now Dripping Springs (which happens to be where John was born and raised.) Pretty unusual for a preacher’s kid and preacher’s wife! We’ve been blessed to stay in one area while our boys were growing up. Although I think it would be interesting to live in another part of the country someday!

As far as what I “do” – it seems to change daily! I stayed home with the boys while they were growing and did a lot of babysitting and odd jobs (like selling on eBay) to help with expenses during that period of time. For the past 13 years, I have worked one day each week with my brother and his wife, who own a heating and air conditioning business. (No, I don’t service air conditioners, ha! I help with bookkeeping and office work.) In addition, I love working every Tuesday with my daughter-in-law and her mother at their monogramming and gift shop – what a great job, to be able to be with people you love AND fancy machines AND great fabric! I work at my friend’s fun quilt shop here in Dripping Springs when she needs me. I stay pretty busy, but thankfully my employers are flexible with my schedule!

You also blog.  What’s it about?

Well, it has evolved from my original plan! John and I each lost about 75 pounds in 2011, and we had quite a few questions from people about how we managed it, and how we stayed motivated. So I started the blog, nomooreofmeplease.wordpress.com, with a post called “Hefty” describing what began my personal weight loss journey.  My intent was to hold myself accountable by publicly logging my food intake daily (with the idea that public shame would keep me from eating a funnel cake…ha!) Even though we have maintained our weight loss, the daily log fell by the wayside. I’ve written other posts about weight-loss related topics but more of them have had spiritual applications. Other posts I’ve written just for fun, like the one describing our kitchen/dining floor remodel. It was a huge project (we used garden tools, boiling water, hair dryers, 3 different irons and a blowtorch to get the linoleum off the cement floor- and I’m not kidding!) and we unashamedly took advantage of having all of our kids here to help – so I put lots of pictures of that “makeover” on the blog. And Micah and I had fun one night putting together a silly Pioneer Woman style pictorial step-by-step “how to make a sandwich” post. To answer your question, the blog is about whatever I have the urge to write about – things that move me or inspire me, and that I hope will have the same effect on others.

How did you and John meet, and how long have you been married?

Our paths crossed when we were young, but we didn’t really get to know each other until he came to college at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos (now called Texas State University.) The University congregation there has a Bible Chair program, the McCarty Student Center. At that time my father, Carl Garner, was the director, so I was blessed to take part in most McCarty activities even though I was still in high school. John and I had a lot of discussions sitting on the grass outside McCarty, and he liked my mother’s home-cooked meals….so we became friends. I also thought he was pretty cute, so I asked him to go with me to a “Sadie Hawkins” picnic in the fall of 1984. By the summer of 1985, we knew “this was it”. I graduated early from high school and enrolled at Southwest Texas, and we got married on June 14, 1986. Marrying at 18 (gasp!) may not be the best choice for every girl, but it was just right for me – I have never regretted any part of my life with John!

What do you enjoy most about being married to a minister?

I enjoy going along with John and meeting other Christians when he travels to speak. I’m able to do a little more of it now we only have Micah left at home (sniff) and he’s pretty independent (sniff sniff). I also enjoy the extra opportunities to invite people into our home. I’ve heard a few ministers’ wives complain about “living in a glass house” and their lives being wide open to criticism, but I’ve honestly never experienced that! Of course we have had situations where feelings have been hurt, just because we are human. But I could never attribute that to the fact that John is a minister.

What I love the most about being married to MY minister is that he is truly interested in the soul of every person he meets: no matter their age, their background, their history, their station in life. He completely believes in the mighty power of the word of God, and he does his best to get that word into the heart of the people with whom he comes into contact. He is the most encouraging, unselfish, kind, busy, sincere person I know. Of course he is human, but he learns from his mistakes. He’s my hero. (Thank you for letting me gush about my minister, can you tell that I love him?)

 Yes, I can tell that you love him, and isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  And I love how you appreciate the blessings of being a preacher’s wife.  Your boys are so handsome!  What are their ages?  As a mother of three sons myself, I can guess you might have some cute memories treasured in your heart.  Care to share one?

Oh, my boys! My favorite subject! I could talk for hours about them!

Jordan is 23, a super-smart, sober minded, hard working, athletic, serious outdoorsman. He will graduate on May 10 with a degree in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University. He and my favorite girl Erin have been married for almost three years, and we have two grandpuppies: Harlie and Nilla.

Jacob is 21. He is outgoing, a natural leader, and a reluctant but excellent speaker! He recently became engaged to his sweetheart, Alyssa (my other favorite girl) and we are so excited to add her to our family. Jacob plays football for Harding and is working towards a business degree. He is headed into the real estate field.

Micah is 15. He is a funny, friendly, tender-hearted, easy-going kid who loves football and understands math, but is completely confused by girls!

Above ALL, we are so blessed to see our sons walking in truth, growing in faith, active in the Lord’s work and forming faithful Christian families of their own. There truly is no greater joy!

Memories…too many to choose one. I will always be glad that we had Micah when Jordan and Jacob were a little older. Jordan was 8 and Jacob was 6 – old enough to be more interested in Lego sets and action figures than a baby brother, but they were both so loving and protective of him. I think they began to understand unconditional love because of how they felt about him. Micah would occasionally get a little irritated with their authoritativeness; one time he didn’t like how his brother was instructing him, and in his little 2 year old voice said “DON’T SAY TO ME!” But they are still Micah’s heroes and role models. Other memories – I’ll never forget Jordan’s face as his bride walked down the aisle toward him, and seeing Jacob standing next to him. Jordan jumping a fence to get to Jacob when he was hurt on a football field. It used to crack me up how 8 year old Micah would boss his big brothers’ football buddies around (and most of the time, they would do whatever he told them to!) Memories can be a blessing or a curse. I’m thankful that God trusted us with such wonderful boys who have made our memories a blessing.

As a foodie, I have to ask, what’s your go-to company meal?

Hmmm, probably Chicken Spaghetti, because you can stretch it and almost everyone likes it, plus I usually have all the ingredients in my kitchen. With a green salad and garlic bread, you’re good to go! Taco soup is another favorite that feeds a lot and is inexpensive and easy.

 Do you have a favorite recipe you can share with us?
Just one? 🙂 This is my newest favorite, adapted to have a little less fat than one I found on Pinterest.

 LASAGNA SOUP

1 ½ lbs extra lean ground beef (if you don’t mind extra fat, you can substitute or add sausage…the Owens or Jimmy Dean kind.)

Chopped onion, to taste

4 minced garlic cloves

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 small can tomato paste

28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

4-6 cups chicken stock

8 oz your choice pasta (I like shells)

½ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

salt & pepper

CHEESY YUMMY: 8 oz cottage cheese (or ricotta) ½ cup grated Parmesan, ¼ tsp salt, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown your meat in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions & cook until they’re softened. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, stir for a minute or two. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate, until the tomato paste turns a rusty color.

Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock (I start with about four cups and add more if it doesn’t look “liquidy” enough…) Stir to combine, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Cook your pasta separately (if you cook it in the soup, it gets mushy.) A few minutes before serving, add your fresh basil (if you don’t have fresh, you can use dried) and cooked pasta, and season to taste with salt & pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, combine all of the cheesy yummy ingredients. To serve, place a dollop of the cheese mixture in each soup bowl, then ladle the hot soup over the top. If you have extra mozzarella, you can add more to the top.

Next step: INVITE ME OVER!

 That sounds so good, and I can’t wait to try it!  Carla, what is something about yourself you wish others knew or understood?
I’m shy and I’m terrible about remembering names. When I’m meeting someone new, I’m a little nervous and too busy thinking of what I’m going to say next to remember what their name is. I’m trying to do better!
I have a sense of humor and love to laugh and tease. Sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone has my same sense of humor…
I do fight a tendency to be sarcastic and cynical. I don’t like having that cynicism in me – I want so badly to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4) and I don’t want to be “irritable or resentful…or rejoice at wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13) so it is a daily battle with me. Some might say that sarcasm is just part of one’s personality but I think it’s a character flaw. I might not be able to change my personality but I can change my character (and I believe God expects me to.)
 Thank you for opening up about that.  I think many of us can relate.  What are some of your favorite blogs, websites, or books?
I don’t read too many blogs. Not because I don’t like them, but because I like them too much…when reading one, I usually get pulled into reading 30 more and then three hours has gone by and I haven’t even brushed my teeth or changed out of my pajamas. I do love Come Fill Your Cup, and this other blog called Life and Favor (maybe you’ve heard of it?) 🙂 I often go to the Colley’s website to print articles to share in Bible class. I like Facebook, because I love being able to stay connected to faraway friends as well as making NEW friends! To me, Facebook can be tremendously encouraging social media. Yes, sometimes we see more than we want to but we CAN control of the buttons on our keyboard!

 Books. I love to read! Historical fiction favorite: the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I’ve read the series several times and each time is better than the last.  Also, Redeeming Love by the same author (Francine Rivers) is excellent. It’s a novelized account of the book of Hosea. I thoroughly enjoyed the book Claudene Connally wrote years ago called “I Walked By His Side” about their years as missionaries in Africa. We’ve used so many of Lottie Beth Hobbs’s books in ladies Bible classes, but I think my favorite was Choosing Life’s Best. And we loved studying through Celine Sparks’ Because I Said So – it was a hoot and very practical!

Thank you.  🙂  What do you do to unwind?

I love to get lost in a book! I know we’ve already chatted about books, though. (One more thing…I especially love to read about things that I would NEVER have the nerve to actually do – like climbing Mt. Everest or underwater cave exploration!)

Never in a million years did I think I’d ever say this, but exercise is a great relaxer! Really! If I have a headache or tension in my shoulders or if I’m just stressed out, I can get on the elliptical or take a good, brisk walk and leave the gym with a clearer head, feeling much better. That doesn’t mean I WANT to go do it – it just means I feel better when I do! 🙂

Music is another great way to unwind. There aren’t many genres of music that I don’t enjoy. Growing up, Mom always had the stereo on, playing her old record albums – so I love Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis. I love barbershop, and beautiful instrumentals like Yo-Yo Ma and Yanni (or, as the boys call him, Yawni!) My new favorite is a group called the Piano Guys. And of course I love gospel songs! I can’t imagine life without music – it just does something to my heart.

 What do you love most about the Lord’s church?
I love that we are a family. I love having sisters in New Hampshire and Illinois and Alaska and Japan and Singapore and all points in between, some whom I have never actually met face to face, but I still feel a kindred spirit with them. I love that there is a plain, simple pattern for the New Testament church that can be easily found in His word, and followed all over the world. I love that the Lord’s church belongs to Him, and not to a mortal man. I love seeing God’s wisdom in His organization of the church. I love the fellowship and the common bond we share. I love that the Lord’s church gives us a goal and a reason to serve. And I love that there is a place and a purpose for every individual Christian. I love that it is my life.
 Amen to that!  Please tell us a little about the Searching for Truth video.
In 2004, John and Rudy Cain (World Video Bible School founder) began discussing the need for an inexpensive, effective tool for evangelism. Jesus’ disciples reached the lost by foot or by courier or by boat – and John and Rudy wanted to employ the most effective means possible to reach the lost in our day and age. That was through video. I think their vision was wonderful. Knowing that many people today are reluctant to commit to a one-on-one personal Bible study, SFT begins with a short fifteen minute introduction that hopefully will pique the interest of someone who is truly searching for the truth.  It is easy to just hand to someone. Many congregations give them to anyone who would like a copy. We know of car dealerships that have a rack full of them, available to anyone. My mother often leaves them in the lobbies of her doctor’s offices. Erin included them in “thank you” bags for the clerks who helped her on Black Friday. It’s free to view online (www.searchingfortruth.org and on YouTube) and Rudy is always thinking up new ways for people to access it! John recently got a letter from a child who had viewed it. He said “I believe in God. He is my Father and Saver. I love him more than anything and I know you believe in Him too. You really seem like a nice guy on TV.” It made me smile!
That’s wonderful and exciting!  Searching for Truth is very effective in sharing the gospel.  We keep a stack of them on the visitors’ table at Bear Valley.  Would you mind sharing with us what your personal Bible study time is like?
I’m embarrassed to say that I am easily distracted so I have to have quiet (which doesn’t happen regularly around here!) And I can’t sit at my desk at the computer or I’ll find my fingers wandering over to do something else on another tab. My best study time is sitting at the kitchen table with Bible, pen and paper during the middle of the day when no one else is home. Right now I am transferring notes out of my old King James that I love and have used since 1993. It’s a Thompson Chain Reference, filled with so many good helps and maps and notes! Moving my notes to my new ESV has been so interesting and a great study.

 You do quite a lot of public speaking.  In fact, you’re one of the ladies’ speakers at Focal Point this week.  When you were asked to speak for the first time, what made you say yes?  Do you still get nervous?

A long time ago Mom told me about one of their elders in Corsicana, Rollin Harris. Mom was trying to pass on teaching the high school girls class, and he told her to go home and read Matthew 25 (parable of the talents). He told her “after you read that, if you still want to quit teaching, you can.” Of course, she couldn’t! She has passed that along to me, even though I don’t feel like my talent lies in public speaking. There are so many others who are much more effective speakers than I. Sometimes I feel like there is some sort of disconnect between my brain and my mouth, and I can’t seem to get across what I am trying to say. I would much rather write than speak. When I am writing, I can back up and delete, and think some more about my words. When speaking, I am afraid that someone will misunderstand me, or that I will unintentionally take something out of context or that someone will not be kind in their assessment of me. But I try to seek only the approval of God and not man, even though I’m human and don’t want people to think badly of me. The benefits: the study and preparation are much more beneficial to me than anyone else. And I get to go places and meet friends. And YES, I’m nervous!

That’s a great story about your mom!  I’ve heard you speak, and I can tell you, there’s no “disconnect.”  When did you become a Christian?

I was ten years old. I remember knowing what I needed to do and feeling burdened by sin (even at ten, I knew right from wrong!) I understood that Jesus had died for ME and that was humbling to me. I remember telling a “little white lie” and recalling the verse which stated that I was crucifying Him afresh (Heb 6:6). I knew that baptism wasn’t an easy, inconsequential decision, but rather the “answer of a good conscience toward God,” (1 Pet. 3:21). I wanted to be obedient. On the Sunday afternoon after my baptism, I had a soccer game. I remember so vividly running around that soccer field knowing I had a clean slate and feeling lighter than air because I knew I had obeyed God and He had made me “white as snow.” What a great day!

Is there anything else you’d like to say or share with us?
I would like for YOU to answer all of these questions! 🙂
Thank you, Carla, for sharing your wonderful answers with us!  I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better, and pray that God blesses you as you continue to live for Him.
 Carla would love to hear from you.  You can contact her at carmoore68@gmail.com.

Carla & John Moore

The Heart of a Good Eldership

Before worship began today, Clint Stephens, an elder at Bear Valley church of Christ, made a special request.  He explained that our five elders have been reaching out to several individuals for many months, individuals who have turned away from God.  He asked that we all join hands with the elders in reaching out to these dear, wayward members.

Mark Hanstein, another elder at Bear Valley, preached from John 4 this morning.  His lesson was powerful and heartfelt as he challenged us to be, in every sense of the word, the church OF CHRIST.  He said there are some things we learn about Christ from His interaction with the woman at the well.  First, Jesus cared about souls enough to seize every opportunity to teach them, even when it called for being unconventional.  Second, Jesus stood for truth always, which is why He exposed the woman’s previous marriages and current relationship.  With these thoughts in mind, Brother Hanstein asked us several questions.  When we ask the cashier, waiter, or neighbor, “How are you?,” do we really mean it?  If we know they’re not Christians, we know how they’re doing, and we know what they need.  Do we seize that opportunity to share the gospel?  As the church OF CHRIST, will we always stand for truth no matter what?  Will we teach the truth about marriage, divorce and remarriage, or will we turn a blind eye?  Will we teach the truth about homosexuality, no matter the political climate?  Mark Hanstein challenged us to think and act like Christ.

In one morning, these two elders gave us a glimpse into their hearts.  I thank God for them.  They are good leaders, true shepherds of the flock.  Why?  Because they are compassionate, demonstrated by their tireless efforts to reach those who have strayed.  They are evangelistic, evidenced by their constant reminders for all of us to “Think Souls,” along with their personal efforts toward that end.  And they are convicted.  They stand for truth.  They’re not afraid to uphold the Word of God.  And how reassuring to know that they will continue to do so, come what may!

Kristy Woodall shared these good words recently:

“Perhaps the only ones who can truly understand the service of an elder is his family. They see the countless meetings, the hunched shoulders as the burden seems unbearable, the hours of prayer and the tears. Let’s hold up their hands, honor, respect and pray for them. All they want to do is to help us get to heaven. Thank God for your elders and show them a little love too!”

That’s great advice, and I want to do a better job of praying for and appreciating our humble, hard-working elders.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, God, for Clint Stephens, Mark Hanstein, Dave Chamberlin, Ernie Barrett, Maynard Woolley, and all elders who truly love souls and stand for Your truth.

Four of Bear Valley’s elders with Gary