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I am extremely excited to announce a new ministry opportunity that has opened up for me beginning this summer. As many of you know writing and teaching Bible Studies is my passion. Just this past year we started uploading the audio of our Bible study lessons to SoundCloud. You can learn more about these on our Audio Bible Study page 

Now we are taking Bible studies to a whole new level – video Bible Studies! This has been a dream of mine for years, but due to costs, it was only a dream. Earlier this year a lady (whom I have never met) donated enough money to Ark Studio (a Christian recording studio located in Knoxville, TN) to  cover the filming of an initial series of Bible Study lessons. These studies will be 30 minutes in length and available to watch on youtube.

The title of the program will be “Hand to the Plow”

Those of you who know me, know that we live on a 225 year old family farm and our rich Appalachian heritage is very important to us. I am just a farm wife, mother, grandmother and writer whose passion is Bible studies. I have a definite Appalachian accent and make no apologies for it – it’s just me. I have been studying and writing for more than 40 years and now I have an opportunity to share that with you.

We will begin recording very soon and I will share those videos with you and information how you can subscribe to get a notice every time a new one is uploaded. This first series will be titled “Our Blessed Hope”. It is based on the last four chapters of the Book of Revelation. Every believer needs to know these facts. We do, my friends, have a “Blessed Hope” promised to us – and we need to learn how to share it with others! I hope you will pray for me and this new ministry!

And… (more exciting news) these videos are being designed with the format to be televised if a sponsor can be found. If you would like to support this ministry no donation is too small. We hope to raise enough to keep recording studies until God opens the door for television ministry. Please share this with anyone you know who would enjoy serious, verse-by-verse Bible studies!

We will soon offer PayPal for your online donations, but for now you can send donations to:

Betty Newman

P.O. Box 6675

Knoxville, TN 37914

I am not (yet) a non-profit ministry, so your donations will not be tax deductible (I assure you every penny will go toward the ministry) – but if you’d prefer to donate to a non-profit, send donations to:

Ark Studio

P.O. Box 6095

Knoxville, TN 37914

and designate that it is for Betty Newman.

Above all, I ask for your prayers, that God would direct me in His service! Amen!

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Most folks who know me, know that we live on a farm and always have a huge garden every year.

We can, freeze and preserve from this garden to feed our family for the next year (and I sell a little, too, to help pay the costs of the garden seed and plants).

As you can imagine, a garden this size requires a lot of work – and that’s before the canning starts! This morning I was pulling weeds out of the beans and came across a “parable”.

Can you tell the difference between the morning glory (a weed) and the beans in this picture?

Maybe this picture makes it a little clearer.

Much like Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, the morning glories and beans look very similar. The morning glories are the more pointed leaves, and the beans are darker green and more rounded – but as you can see, you have to look closely (discern) which is a destructive weed (of which morning glories most definitely are) and which is the food giving bean plant.

If you aren’t a gardener, you may actually buy morning glory seeds to plant for flowers – and they are very pretty – but they also can choke the life out of other plants. This is a picture of a morning glory in bloom from last year’s garden.

In the early morning, in the dew and fog – they are absolutely beautiful, but morning glories are a lot like sin and false teaching. It is very pretty, and very difficult, at times, to tell from the food giving plant (or truth). The morning glory is also very invasive. One morning glory plant left to itself can wrap around several food plants – and wrap in such a way that it is nearly impossible to remove it from the food plant without breakage or damage (and although weeds, broken off, grow back profusely – a food plant, once broken, dies).

The only way to remove a morning glory plant is to pull it out by the root – which is also hard to do because it is hidden among the plants. What you have to do is trace it out – back to the source (root) and pull it out.

Sin and false teaching is the same way. It must be traced back to the source, and pulled out – and destroyed. There is no other way. It cannot be allowed to live alongside true teaching, for no matter how “pretty” it is – it will destroy everything around it.

 

I love living on the farm, and I even love working in the garden – but I especially love it when God shows me truth in the midst of my daily life!

May God bless you today! Amen!

 

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That “Thy Will Be Done” Thing

Sometimes “life” just blindsides you, doesn’t it? You think you have a plan – and then things change. It’s that way for all of us, I think. I recently had a situation arise that was completely unexpected – and I’ll admit – it sorta knocked me off my feet for a moment. (Ha! “Moment” nothing – for a good while!)

But – on the farm – chores still have to be done, regardless. So, as I was walking up the road toward the barn, I was praying. “Lord! How’m I gonna do this? How can I…” and I began naming off the things that I was (am) responsible to do. “What do You want me to do”? I cried. “I thought ‘this’ was what I was supposed to be doing… and now there’s ‘this’ added on… And I don’t see how I can do it all!”

But as I walked, head down and hands in my coat pockets due to the cold, the phrase “Thy will be done” came to mind and I looked up and said, “It’s that ‘Thy will be done’ thing, isn’t it?”

God’s will, will be done – the only variable is – what is my reaction to it. How will I say, “Thy will be done…”

In a Lenten study I wrote a few years ago we come to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know the story – Jesus enters the garden and takes Peter, James and John with Him – and as Jesus agonizes in prayer, Peter, James and John immediately fall asleep. But what we study in that lesson is how do we learn to say, “Thy will be done”?

William Barclay puts it this way:

“It makes all the difference in what tone of voice a man says, “Thy will be done.”

  1. He may say it in a tone of helpless submission, as one who is in the grip of a power against which it is hopeless to fight. The words may be the death-knell of hope.
  2. He may say it as one who had been battered into submission. The words may be the admission of complete defeat.
  3. He may say it as one who has been utterly frustrated and who sees that the dream can never come true. The words may be those of a bleak regret or even a bitter anger which is all the more bitter because he cannot do anything about it.
  4. Or, He may say it with the accent of perfect trust. That is how Jesus said it. He was speaking to one who was “Father”; He was speaking to a God whose everlasting arms were underneath and about him, even on the cross. He was submitting, but he was submitting to the love that would never let Him go. Life’s hardest task is to accept what we cannot understand; but we can do even that if we are sure enough of the love of God.

This morning, standing in the cold as I prepared to do “farm chores” I had to decide just how I would say, “Thy will be done…” and I choose to trust.

God is perfect. He is Omnipotent – He is all powerful. He is Omnipresent – He is everywhere – and He is with me… He is Omniscient – He knows every single thing – and He knows what is best in my life and He knows what will bring Him glory. And so I choose to trust Him. But now, that’s not to say that I didn’t feel every single one of those other emotions. It’s just that at this point in my life I know that the only answer is to trust. I know that to “trust and obey” is truly the only to be “happy in Jesus”.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy – it just means that I choose to trust because it’s that “Thy will be done” thing.

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Nativity Scene – Beulah UMC – Knoxville, TN

 

Think About It – Mary and Joseph

Have you ever wondered why, that if “all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1), and that “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7) once they got to Bethlehem, why is it that every picture, every drawing, every depiction of Joseph and Mary that we see, shows them traveling alone? Why is that?

Did Joseph know some back road to Bethlehem to avoid the traffic? Did he evade the crowds by traveling when everyone else was stopped? And where was the rest of his family? If he was “of the house and linage of David” (Luke 2:4), where were his parents, and his brothers? Well, maybe he didn’t have brothers, but where were his cousins? And what of Mary’s family? She too, was “of the house of David” through David’s son Nathan (Luke 3:31). Where were all her kith and kin?

The fact is they were surrounded by people! It was like rush hour on a Friday afternoon. Everyone had to get to their “home town” to be registered and counted for the census. So, where were Joseph’s and Mary’s parents?

What we (Bible readers) have to realize, is that this wasn’t the first census to ever be taken! No, “counting people” was a way of life in this culture… well… in any culture! How else would the government know how many people lived where? And of course there had to be a way to calculate taxes!

So what about Mary and Joseph’s parents? Most likely they were “registered” the last time there was a census, and now that Joseph was his own “head of household” he, along with his wife, Mary, had to go to Bethlehem themselves. I know (being a mother) that their parents surely worried, and wished they could go with them, but in that day no one traveled “just because they wanted to…” And so, Mary and Joseph set out alone…

No, they were not “alone” in terms of the sheer numbers of peoples traveling along the same road, but they were “alone”, nonetheless…

Have you ever felt all alone in the midst of a crowd of people? Surely that’s how Mary and Joseph felt. It had been nine months since they’d had a Word from God, at least an “audible” word… But, in a few hours that would change.

The God who said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b and Joshua 1:5), will truly “never leave you nor forsake you” either! Think about it, and count on it!

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Hanging of the Greens – A Word on Peace

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This Advent wreath is from my friend’s church McBurg United Methodist Church

Devotional for Hanging of the Greens service 2016

I just want to share a brief word for this second Sunday in Advent and our Hanging of the Greens. All over the world – either last Sunday or this Sunday – churches are participating in this “Hanging of the Greens” service. This is a “traditional” service. What is it that tradition or routine brings us? Often times it brings us “peace”.

When there are times in my life, when things are “unpeaceful” the one thing that brings me peace (don’t laugh) is the very ordinary chore of doing laundry. I know that seems funny, but when I was a teenager my daddy wore uniforms in his work, and every week on Thursday, he would take his dirty uniforms to work and pick up clean ones. There was just something about that mundane, but routine task that gave me peace during those troubling teen years. No matter what was happening – on Thursday – Daddy took his uniforms to work. You could count on it.

These past few weeks have been very difficult for the people of Tennessee. For many, their lives will never be the same again – but even in that – there can be simple things that bring peace and comfort. I pray that the tradition of this service and the comfort of the familiar hymns during this Advent and Christmas season will bring you peace.

Hear these words from Isaiah 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His father David for all eternity. The zeal (The NLT says, “the compassionate commitment”) of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this!”

Has this prophecy been fulfilled yet? Part of it has. The Child was born – Jesus was born just like you and I were born. He came as a human to live a righteous life. And, the Son was given – the perfect Lamb given in sacrifice for the sin of mankind. That has been fulfilled. The second part of that prophecy has not been fulfilled – yet – but we can be assured that it will be. Because the first part has been fulfilled – we know that the second part will be as well because “the compassionate commitment of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this” – and that brings us peace – even in the most uncertain of times!

 

Let us pray:

Father, as our second Sunday in Advent brings the message of peace, I have to wonder – what is peace, really? It’s so much more than the absence of war. It’s more than a shaky truce or a temporary lull. It’s more than a momentary laying down of arms or a brief respite from conflict.

No, true peace wells up within us within times of war, within the ravages of the fiercest actions, and during the times when the whole force of hell assaults our souls. “The Peace of God,” said the apostle Paul “surpasses all understanding.” And Christ, Himself, said, “My peace I give you – not the kind the world gives. So don’t be afraid.”

True peace, Father, comes from You. It’s nothing we can conjure up, nothing we can “talk ourselves into” nothing we can “will” to be – it comes, (yes) comes from Thee.

So, how can we explain the conflict of the shaking hands and the calm heart? How can we understand the fear that ravages our minds while a peace pervades our soul? It doesn’t make sense Lord, but we’ve been there.

We’ve felt our hearts cry “Peace! Peace! The Peace of the Most High Sovereign God surrounds you and controls your being!” and all the while our minds are trying to grasp the reality of the moment – the pain that comes with uncertainty and fear, when our stomach turns and our limbs weaken…

And finally, we fall to our knees, grasping the promise that You made to never leave nor forsake us – and peace comes upon us, and we feel Your love.

It doesn’t always “change the moment”; there may still be “bullets” flying all around, whether actual, or figurative (sometimes the “figurative” ones hurt the worst!) But it changes us! And that is, what Peace is.

Thank You Father – we love You and Praise You in the Name of the Prince of Peace – Amen.

 

 

And now let us receive our tithes and offerings.

Prayer: Gracious and Eternal God – bless the gift and the giver – and give them peace. Amen.

 

 

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