All posts by Melissa Herring

There’s Safety In Community

Posted on Sep 19, 2017 | Download

Everyday is an illustrated sermon when raising sheep. Just as the kids were leaving for school this morning, a neighbor's dog came strolling up. The shepherd (my husband) knew why it was here: to chase those sheep. The sheep knew it too. The dog seemed harmless. He even rolled over on it's back when we would walk up to it. My husband tried to run it off but it kept coming back. The kids got upset because they just knew that the dog was friendly. The sheep are on high alert. They're frozen with fear. We watched closely to see if the dog would go after the sheep with us standing near. He catches their scent on the ground and within seconds begins to chase them. And the race is on! Round and round the barn they go as the shepherd starts to intervene. Down into the front pasture they sprint, startled and running for their lives. My husband strategically times his move and cuts in between the sheep and the dog. I help hold the dog off while the shepherd gets them safely to the sheepfold. All the while I am thinking back to the moment those sheep saw the dog. They stood clustered together, watchful and nervous. Had they just stood together and held their ground, the dog would not have chased them. In fact, he would've lost interest and moved along. But they ran. And ran. And ran. The shepherd said, "No, that dog won't likely attack them but he will run them in the ground. The pregnant females would lose their babies. They have to stop running." Our enemy, according to the Word, has weapons formed against us (Is. 54:17). He tries using them but we are promised that they won't prosper. The enemy may not destroy us, but he would be happy to keep us in a frenzy, running and running and running until we are so ragged that we fall. Perhaps this is a word for some of us. Stop running yourself ragged. Stand your ground. Stand safe in the community of fellow believers. Stop running and face the enemy head on. Don't let him chase you one more moment. Paul told us in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after battle (yes you will have to fight a few) you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground!" The first piece he lists is the Belt of Truth. TRUTH. Our ultimate and greatest defense against our Adversary, the opposer of Truth. Hurl Truth in the face of the enemy and watch him run. You do not have to listen to his lies. You do not have to reason with his shame. You do not have to hide from his intimidation. You do not have to run in a panic. You have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you! You are in the Good Shepherd's sheepfold and He has prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemy (Ps. 23:5). Take heart and fight the good fight.

How to erase anxiety from your life

Posted on Jun 7, 2017 | Download

Through the years of ministry, I have spoken to so many who struggle with fear and anxiety. It can hit like a tidal wave at any moment but the consensus say the middle of the night can be when it strikes the hardest. Ranging anywhere from mild anxiety that keeps their minds from resting to sheer panic that wakes them up in a flash of terror. Then the mental barrage of worse-case scenarios, what-if's and all the questions.....Who? What? When? Where? Why? I've had these moments myself and watched a pattern in my mental behavior that was completely opposite of how I live and what I believe. So I asked the Lord to show me what my response should be when those moments strike. I've shared before that I am learning to stop, take a deep breath and turn the focus from me or my problem or the scenario, and begin focusing on and speaking out truth and praise: Who God is. What He has done. When He has come through in the past. Where He wants to take me. Why He has given me grace.   Psalms 63:6-8 gives us a pleasant alternative to those middle of the night panic sessions. "I lie awake thinking of you (God), Meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; Your strong right hand holds me securely." I think God knew we would be prone to worry and fret. He also knows that the enemy of our souls is especially nocturnal.... he thrives in the darkness. When we practice turning our minds and thoughts to God, we are letting the light shine in the darkness and the reward is peace. It's the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) What a beautiful benefit He has given us in knowing Him and choosing to think of Him, even when anxiety and fear try to rule our hearts. We are held securely in Him. What peace! And what a reason to praise!    

9 Things God Has Called You To Do With Your Life?

Posted on Jan 5, 2016 | Download

If you ever find yourself wondering what God's will is for you life, this little passage makes it pretty clear. “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thess. 5:14-18 NASB). It’s helpful to take lists like this and turn the commas into numbers. Suddenly what seems like a series of vague concepts develops into a delightful list of do-able actions. We are talking about God’s will here. So let’s break down each one.   1. Admonish the unruly “The unruly are those who are out of order, using a military word that describes the soldier who breaks ranks or marches out of step. This is the self-willed person who simply demands to hold his own opinion or preference. These must be warned.” Guzik’s Commentary Depending on your personality, this might be difficult for you. Or enjoyable. Regardless, as Believers, if we see a fellow brother or sister demanding to hold his or her own opinion or preference and breaking the ranks of unity…call that out. Admonish means to warn, exhort or encourage. Speak up in love and help them get back in step.   2. Encourage the fainthearted “Those of little souls; the faint-hearted; those who, on the eve of a battle, are dispirited, because of the number of the enemy, and their own feeble and unprovided state. Let them know that the battle is not theirs, but the Lord's; and that those who trust in him shall conquer.” Clark’s Commentary In other words, there are brothers and sisters around us who are timid, feeble-minded, scared to death. They’re facing the forces of the enemy and would rather run and hide. Nothing encourages us for battle better than knowing we aren’t alone and that the battle belongs to the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31) Encourage one another.   3. Help the weak "Cling to the weak" is a lovely piece of advice. Instead of letting the weak brother drift away and finally vanish altogether, the Christian community should make a deliberate attempt to grapple him to the Church in such a way that he cannot escape. It should forge bonds of fellowship and persuasion to hold on to the man who is likely to stray away.” Barclay’s Commentary Romans 15:1 reminds us that “we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” Each of us have areas of weaknesses that could use the strength of others. We have all benefited from those special times when a stronger brother or sister actively and sympathetically assisted us in our moment of need. The benefits are mutual. The bonds unbreakable. Here is where true community is lived-out.   4. Be patient with everyone Patient means what you think it means but here are more ways of describing what patience looks likes in our lives. “To persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, To be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, To be mild and slow in avenging, To be long-suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.” Everyone means what you think it means. Every. One. Even the annoying ones. It means not being irritable, thinking before you speak the harsh words, taking a deep breath and extending the same amount of patience to them as you would want extended to you. “True Christianity is shown by its ability to love and help difficult people. We do not look for only perfect people to minister to and to minister with.” Guzik   5. See that no one pays back evil for evil “The moment we feel ourselves acting from a desire to “return evil for evil,” that moment we are acting wrong. It may be right to defend our lives and the lives of our friends; to seek the protection of the law for our persons, reputation, or property, against those who would wrong us; to repel the assaults of calumniators and slanderers, but in no case should the motive be to do them wrong for the evil which they have done us.” Barnes Revenge. Vengeance. “That’s what you get.” These are strong motivators so prominent in our culture. But as Believers, we are to see that no one ‘pays back’ for the evil which was done to them. We aren’t called to ‘get even.’ We are called to forgive. “Above every other virtue, the virtue of forgiveness characterizes the Gospel.” Stedman   6. Seek after that which is good for one another and all people “The phrase ‘to all men,’ seems to have been added to avoid the possibility of misconstruction. Some might possibly suppose that this was a good rule to be observed toward those of their own number, but that a greater latitude in avenging injuries might be allowable toward their enemies out of the church. The apostle, therefore, says that the rule is universal. It relates to the pagan, to infidels, sceptics, and persecutors, as well as to the members of the church. To every man we are to do good as we are able - no matter what they do to us.” Barnes Numbers 5 and 6 on the list fit together like a hand and glove. I imagine a fist balled up in anger and revenge releasing under the strain of mercy and forgiveness. Ok, so I’m not gonna punch you in the face now. That’s good. But it’s not enough. Now, put on a soft glove and extend goodness to that person. Yes, to those in the Church. Of course! But to those outside who will know us by our fruits. Goodness is on the fruit list. (See Galatians 5:22)   7. Rejoice always “To count your blessings, to be grateful and always realize how much God has done for you, and despite adverse circumstances, to always remember what a glorious future awaits you and how fortunate you are to be a Christian--this can never be stressed enough. Erdman reminds us, ‘If a person is not rejoicing, it is because he is not appropriating to his personal needs all the available riches of grace in Christ Jesus.’” Dunagan Rejoice. Celebrate and declare. That’s the easy part. Always. In every circumstance. There’s the rub. A true mark of maturity in Christ is when one learns to “rejoice in all things.” It’s certainly ok to acknowledge the sorrow, to grieve and hurt. The danger comes when we find ourselves despairing of the hope and future we have in Christ Jesus and forgetting the reservoir of grace, strength and power that comes when something has surpassed our ability to endure. Right there, in that moment, we have cause to celebrate but only if we know 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We have reason to rejoice. Always.   8. Pray without ceasing “You are dependent on God for every good; without him you can do nothing; feel that dependence at all times, and you will always be in the spirit of prayer; and those who feel this spirit will, as frequently as possible, be found in the exercise of prayer.” Clarke When you learn to gladly accept your dependency upon God you find yourself speaking to Him more throughout the day. Quick prayers for wisdom and direction. Supplications of needs and wants. Heartfelt prayers for healing on behalf of yourself and loved ones. Desperate prayers of protection in frightening times. Sudden declarations of praise and thanksgiving. The lines of communication are wide-open because your posture is one of receiving of Him. Praying without ceasing means two-way communication. Talking and listening.   9. In everything give thanks "When joy and prayer are married their first born child is gratitude." Spurgeon We can be thankful IN every situation and circumstance. That’s different than being thankful FOR everything. Who is really thankful for a serious illness, natural disaster or flat tire? When we are thankful IN a situation, we are acknowledging that God is sovereign and can redeem any situation. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God can cause everything to work together for the good of those who love Him. When we’ve been in an attitude of joy and a posture of prayer our hearts are already inclined to be thankful IN the everything. For THIS is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Simply put, God’s will is His desire or pleasure for us. It’s not His will therefore we MUST do it. It’s His will, therefore we CAN do it.

The Words of Eternal Life

Posted on Nov 11, 2015 | Download

John 6 Jesus just gave the very controversial message that His Body and His blood were the true food. The multitudes following Him began to complain and question the validity of His authority. The topic was just too much for them and many turned away and deserted Him. Jesus turns to the 12 and asks, "Are you also going to leave?" I love Simon Peter's response: "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life." Some days this is exactly how I feel. His Words are so much better than anything the world could offer me. Even when I might not understand all that the Spirit is trying to teach me. Even when I feel like I can't grasp the true depths of His words. Even when the world turns away and calls Jesus (and His followers) crazy. To whom would we go when we've already tasted and seen? To whom could we turn to that could satisfy us like Jesus? At the end of the day and all the struggles, one thing remains....He who has the Son has life. To quote the rest of Peter's response: "We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God." We have Jesus. We have life!

Small Steps To Stand!

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 | Download

Yesterday I was out buying some shoes with the boys. I remembered reading that Nike was one of the big supporters of Planned Parenthood and mentioned to Aidan that I would rather not buy products that I know the profits help fund abortions. We believe life begins at conception. No question. This conviction has little to do with a woman's right. It has to do with truth and standing for what you believe is morally right, regardless of popular opinion. This topic was news to my boys. While they know what abortions are I had not told them about the recent disturbing news of PP. So standing there in the middle of a shoe aisle I explained to the boys why I would rather not support them. I also let them know that I would no longer be drinking Starbucks. Aidan immediately asked what other companies are known supporters. So we stopped and looked them up and were shocked to learn that many of the products we buy support PP.  The moment was incredibly somber and tearful. The boys asked, "Mom, what clothes can we buy? What shoes can we wear? What phone service can we use? Everything seems touched by evil." What a lesson for my kids. And for me. We talked about awareness being the key. Educating ourselves then acting upon what we know. Start somewhere and take a stand for what you believe in. Even though we feel like we've been caught up in a huge snowball that is careening out of control, it doesn't mean we can't start digging our way out, one shovel at a time. The PP trail will be a long, slippery one and most likely as tearful as peeling an onion. But we've started the journey and we don't want to be herded like cattle along a path that leads to deception and compromise. For our family, we are starting with what we know. Taking small steps to stand for what we believe in. Our actions may not cause a huge corporation to stop supporting evil practices but it teaches and trains our hearts to fight for what we know is right, in subtle ways that don't require yelling at people or debating with a deceived world. "Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked." 1 Timothy 1:19

Encourage one another

Posted on Dec 22, 2014 | Download

Our words. They hold the power of life or death. Thoughts drain swiftly from our minds and swirl down the short passage to our mouths. In an instant we have the ability to build up. Or tear down. As with most things in our lives, we are faced with a choice. Restrain or release? (more…)