Friday, March 25, 2011

ReFreshed...or trying to be!

This weekend is a crazy one in the Vogel household. Yesterday my husband led worship for and I attended the ReFresh conference here in Knoxville for Pastors and their wives.

It was a really great day.
Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle was there with his team. It was definitely an encouraging day. I'm just starting into this life of ministry, but I can already tell we have some tough times ahead of us.

I love how his ministry is focused on prayer. The point was made yesterday that we pray but don't really pray. Just like you can sing without worshipping, you can pray without being connected to the Holy Spirit. A huge part of this problem stems from the church! We don't teach people how to pray and then expect them to have rockin prayer lives. Everything we do in a church service should be to build up and strengthen the church. I think a lot of churches are not this intentional with their practices unfortunately. We all fall into traditions and ruts, but God wants us to seek His face every time we meet together.

Northstar makes a huge effort to pray corporately, and I think that is a huge part of it. Scott is always saying, "we are a church that believes in the power or corporate prayer to change things..." and it's true. There's not a Sunday that goes by that we don't pray together. This is huge and I'd like to see this grow even more.

We need to be teaching our children not just that prayer is important, but how to pray. I help teach the preschoolers and I think we ned to be starting that young! At least the foundation! Prayer is such an important part of our life and I know I have spent too many years in boring prayers. It's time to change that!

Check out Jim Cymbala and some of his books. we got some at the conference and I can't wait to read them. If you are a pastor or know of one, check out his 6:4 Fellowship. Really neat stuff.

Now it's on to Asheville for the Esther Experience conference. I think it's going to be a great weekend. David is leading worship and I'll be attending the conference. Crazy weekend, but hopefully I'll be changed afterwards. I'm praying that God does some things in my heart this weekend and helps me feel closer to Him. Pray that everything goes well!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I love communion.
Really, I do. It's one of my favorite acts of worship. For some reason it has just always been a practice that is close to my heart. It makes me feel connected to my church family and to my Father in a different way than anything else does.

Now that you know this, you can imagine my excitement when I found out we were having communion this Sunday at NorthStar! I have been attending this church for almost a year and a half and we have only done communion 3 times.

I grew up in a Nondenominational Christian Church and we took communion every week. I honestly didn't know that other churches didn't do that until I went to college. I thought everybody took communion every week out of trays with tiny juice cups and chicklet looking bread.

When I went to Milligan, I learned about other ways to do communion and grew to love it even more. We did communion all the time in Vespers and sometimes in Chapel and it didn't always look the same. Communion was always a very present part of our worship.

It was so strange to me to come to Northstar and find out they only do it a few times a year!

Some people think that taking it every week makes it less special, but I have to disagree. We don't pray just once a month because it would be less special if we did it all the time. We don't sing worship songs a few times a year to keep them special. Communion is an act of worship. It's a time to be joined in community with the people around you and remember the sacrifice of our Father. It is one of my favorite things in the whole world.
However, My experience this week helped me to see that it can be a good thing to not have it every week. Now I look forward to it with greater anticipation. You can bet I'm not going to miss a communion Sunday at NorthStar! It is nice to eagerly look forward to that meeting with my Father and my church over the Lord's table. It may be a while before I can partake in it again, but I'll have plenty of time to prepare my heart for it and I am thankful for that.

I can't tell you all the arguments behind how often you do communion or all the ins and outs of the scripture, but I can tell you that no matter how often you do it, communion is a powerful thing!

To end on a light note, I will share some of my favortie communion memories:

1. The first time I took communion was the day I was baptized. I was 8 years old and my baptism was part of the service so when I came back I realized I had missed my chance that Sunday and thought I'd have to wait. Thouroughly disappointed, I looked up and saw Mr. Houk with a juice and chicklet on a silver plate. I was so excited! He prayed with me and talked to me about why we take communion. I will never forget that moment!

2. My mom used to keep mints in her purse and every week after communion would pass them down the row so we wouldn't have bad breath. Just looking out for her family I guess! We still call that kind of mint, communion mints!

3. In high school one time we were on a retreat and our youth minister wanted us to understand that the Lord's supper was just that, a supper. So we had turkey sandwiches and grape soda for communion!

4. In college, I attended Grandview Christian Church where we took communion every week. They had servers who stood in the front, held a plate of delicious bread and a cup of juice. You tore off a piece, dipped it in the cup, ate it and returned to your seat. Well a teenage boy was holding the cup I went to one week and when I got up there I saw the biggest HORSEFLY in the world swimming in the juice. The look on this kids face was so funny because he had no clue what to do! I naturally did not dip and just ate my bread, but then watched the people in line behind me. The faces people made were hilarious, and even funnier were the people that missed the fly and dipped funny!

That's all the communion ramblings I have for now! I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do not let your heart be troubled

Today's been an interesting day. We finally got a signed contract for our house! So now we move towards closing. Pray the home inspection goes as it should next week!

I read John 14 this morning. Such a great chapter. It's one of the last conversations Jesus has with his disciples before he is betrayed. It's great because Jesus is trying to explain to them that even though He's leaving, He'll still be with them. He talks about being the Way and the truth and the life and about how the Father is sending the Holy Spirit as our advocate. Great stuff!

The thing that spoke to me the most though, was the very end of the passage.

"I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

Satan has no hold over us. Jesus had absolutely no fear of Satan. He was not intimidated by him in the slightest! He says that Satan's purpose is to show the world that Jesus loved and was obedient to his Father!

How does that relate to our lives? Satan is not someone to be feared! The only reason he's here is for us to show the world that we are obedient to our Father. We resist the Prince of the world to show our love to the Father. 

Don't fear the world, don't fear the prince of the world. See worldly temptation as an opportunity to show your love and obedience to your Father.

That's all for now. :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Remain in Me

So I attend an amazing church. It's definitely not perfect, but all I know is that my pastor, Scott Cagle, allows the Holy Spirit to speak through him and a word of truth is given out every single week. The worship is intense and powerful and God is definitely there. (And the worship pastor is pretty cute) :-)

On Sunday, Scott gave a message taken from John 15 where Jesus talks about how He is the true vine. It really struck a chord with me.

When I think of that passage, I often think about the song "His banner over me is love" that I used to sing as a child. One of the verses says "He is the vine and we are the branches, His banner over me is love."

Though I've heard this concept a million times in my Christian life, I've never truly understood it until this Sunday.

John 15:1 says that "I am the true vine and my Father is the Gardener." I just always thought this to be a happy little analogy of God's family, but do you get what this means? A gardener prunes away the branches that don't help the plant. He throws them to the fire! Why wouldn't he?

If we are the branches, it looks like we have two choices. We either remain on the vine and bear fruit, or we pinch ourselves off and get thrown into the fire! I choose option 1 please!

The only way to bear good fruit in this life, to do anything of value as a Christian, is to remain connected to the vine. The vine is our source of nourishment. How do we stay connected? The word, fellowship with other believers, and daily chats with our gardener.

If you do not allow God's love to flow through you, if you do not make life decisions based on His word then you are useless to the whole vine and you will be cut off.

I truly believe that there will be a ton of people on judgement day that claim to be Christians and even attended church every once in a while but chose to be connected to the world and the world's standards instead of the vine that will be sorely dissappointed. This breaks my heart.

This challenges me to improve my connection. I have definitely allowed myself to become somewhat lazy in my walk at times and I fear being pruned away because I'm not producing fruit. I want my life to count for the kingdom, and more than anything, I want the love of God to flow through me and be evident to the people around me.

Remain in the word. Remain in the vine. Remain in God's love. The vine doesn't move, only I do, and I choose to stay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here we go...

I have tried blogging before and have been pretty unsuccessful with it. However, I am in a new phase of my life and I spend a lot of time on my computer. I figured it might be nice to have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings and ideas. We'll see how it goes!

So quick update...I got married on July 16th, 2010...

I left my dear friends and second graders at Davis Elementary, my family, and church home and moved myself and my sweet Bonnie to the great state of Tennessee!

Much to our dismay, I did not get a teaching job in Knoxville in the Fall and so I began subbing in September....Pretty interesting experience for me, but of course God grew me A LOT during that time. I got to spend a lot of quality time with my new husband and I learned a lot about being a teacher.

Just like he always does, God surprised me with a different plan. In mid-December I was offered a job writing curriculum for a digital school. Families who home school or private schools can purchase curriculum from I write the math lessons for third grade students for this curriculum. They will launch the third grade component in the Fall. I am a contract worker and I work from home. 

In the same week, I was offered a tutoring job at Amherst Elementary. I work with a small group of Kindergarteners three days a week.

I am so grateful for this opportunity and God's provision, but there has been a lot of adjusting that I've had to do.

I almost forgot our newest addition, little Chloe Reese.

So rebellious...

Lots of new things on the horizon. We are under contract on a house here in Knoxville and will probably be moving and doing a lot of fixing up in May! I am trying very hard to become a "couponer" and better cook.

I am not nearly as creative as I want to be, so I stressed about a name for this blog. I finally chose "One Step at a Time" because that is my husband's favorite thing to say. No matter what happens or how stressed we get, he always reminds me to just take it one step at a time. :-)

Lots to come....I'll keep you posted ;-)