On Milk and Honey Blog Series: Week One.

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You are here for a reason.

When I say, ‘here’; I don’t necessarily mean on earth.

Yes, your life is important and matters.

Yet, what I am speaking and trusting is this: you are HERE, at His Hands His Feet His Heart, doing the On Milk and Honey blog series, for a concise reason that only the Lord will be able to reveal to you.

For some of you, it took mustard seed faith to stammer out, ‘I’m in!’ For others, you dove quickly and fiercely. My God will meet you either way.

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I have mentioned before that one of my fears when I wrote On Milk and Honey was that it would be read and received as a story about our little family.

You see, while we are mentioned throughout the pages, it is not a story of Hugh, myself, or even Ally or Bailey Grace.

On Milk and Honey is a story about you.

I wrote it for Him, through Him, and to Him; yet His words have a distinct message in your very life.

I know this because He assured this to me as He wrote every word, page and chapter.

Next Monday, we will talk about Chapters 1 and Chapter 2. We will dive into this idea of control and the many areas of life that we are tempted to take the reigns instead of opening our hands to the sky. Yet today and the remainder of the week, I want you to ask yourself this simple question:

What is your Milk and Honey?

What is the land that God has brought you to that is not only unexpected, but disappointing?

What is the thing that He has had you walk through that you have been most tempted to not see His hand in?

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Some of you might know the answer to this question before it was even typed; others might have to dig a little deeper.

My prayer for this season, for this blog series, has been and will continue to be this:

That, just like rubbing alcohol to a wound, we would be able to accept the sting in order to receive the healing. I pray that we-that you- would be able to, in time, authentically surrender to the plans He has written and is writing. That we would look behind, before, and ahead and know He has absolutely been there and will absolutely continue to be. I am begging God to help you see Him in the Milk and Honey of this life. I can promise you this:

It is not easy.

But—

IT IS WORTH IT.

In the coming days, here is my challenge to you:

Personal growth: There are two options this week for personal growth. On the dedication page, I have Colossians 1:17 written. Option 1 will be memorizing this verse. As we memorize God’s word, because it is alive and active, we cannot help but be transformed by it. Never underestimate the power of one single verse and its ability to change your heart. Option 2 will be this: Keep a Bible by your bedside (easier to reach than your phone or some other distraction), or download a free Bible app, and start each day this week of with reading aloud Psalm 139 in its entirety. Sounds simple enough, yet starting your day off with those words engrained in your heart and spoken by your mouth is a powerful thing.

Communal Growth: God says where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there. If you are doing this series in a group, I would ask you to reflect on and discuss openly your different “Milk and Honeys”. I want to gently remind you that this is not a time to breed more bitterness or anger in each others’ hearts. This is a time to LISTEN- truly listen- to one another as we begin to flesh out some of these wounded places in our lives. May it be a time in which we seek to hold anothers’ hurts without encouraging more scarring. Loving someone is not spurring them to continue to fester negative emotions and thoughts in their spirit. I hope this makes sense. If you are doing this study alone (which by the way, I am so proud of you and thrilled that you are with us!), I would challenge you to find a trusted friend and open up with them about your specific milk and honey (and maybe ask this friend to join us for the remainder of the series!) If you truly do not have someone that you can comfortably do this with face to face, the His Hands His Feet His Heart message board is open. I will tell you that if you message me, as much as I would LOVE to start an open dialogue with each and every one of you, due to the volume of comments and messages, I just cannot respond with the love and care I would like to for each and every one. I am sincerely burdened by this and sorry for it, but want you to know that it is a last resort option for this challenge (and just because I don’t respond thoroughly doesn’t mean I am not honored by your vulnerability and praying for you. Sometimes I have the option to respond or to pray and the latter is much more productive!)

Pay it forward: This week, I would ask each of you to each write- as in handwritten- a snail mail card or letter to someone who is not in this study but could use some encouragement. The only requirements are that you be vulnerable and loving in whatever you choose to say.

Please spend some time asking God which option he would like you to choose in the Personal Growth segment, and then prayerfully determine the other sections as well. Friday will be the last day of this week’s challenge. Just message me and say that you have faithfully completed each portion. We will go by the honor system, however you will be entered more than once for sending me a video of yourself reciting the memory verse if you choose Option 1. You will be entered AGAIN if you post this video on your personal page!

I want you to know I mean it when I say I am faithfully praying, by name, for each of you. That being said, I cannot state enough that if you are not sure I know if you are participating or not, PLEASE make me aware.

I truly cannot wait to watch Him work in the coming days and weeks.

Through Him- we can accomplish the tasks He has set before us.

To God be all the glory.

Let’s pray:

(If you are doing this in a group or alone, you might use this time to pray aloud or together for one another).

Father, thank you for this time. Thank you for Your Son and for the wisdom you give us to press forward in all things, most especially those seasons that seem blurry and difficult to understand. We praise You that You are sovereign and that You have intricately planned all the details of our lives. God, we know that nothing- nothing- NOTHING- can be done without Your help and that ALL THINGS YOU ORDAIN can be accomplished through Your mighty power and strength. Lord, give us the vulnerability and courage to reach out to one another and authentically share our milk and honeys. Begin a new work in our hearts that causes us to see you in those things this week, if even for a second. God, we trust you to do that which only You can. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.

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From the Inside Out.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”- Matthew 23:25-26

Hypocrite.

Throughout Jesus’s time on earth, we saw Him connect with and show compassion on the masses. We read of Him reclining at the table with tax collectors and all kinds of sinners, embracing the souls of all while never once praising the sin of any.

He knew.

He knew he was going to die for each and every sin ever committed. He knew that even the most seemingly holy, those washed and scrubbed and ritualized through and through, were dirty without His sacrifice.

Yet, His focus in conversation leaned much into His love and healing power rather than the sin, and He never once called even the most well-known sinners a hypocrite.

In fact, quite the opposite.

It was those that were so concerned with looking holy that they forgot about their own hearts that He reprimanded.

Those who, despite the reality of their broken and dirty hearts, were determined to be seen as anything but.

Those who sought the praise and intimidation of man over the love and continual flow of grace from a perfect Savior.

“Ugh, I can’t stand it when I see myself in the Bible as the Pharisee in the story. I would rather be the sinner who was allowed at the table that the Pharisees are sneering at than the Pharisee Himself, and for good reason. Jesus was constantly getting on to the Pharisees for their lack of heartfelt worship. They continued to be more concerned with the outside appearance, with what man thought of them, than what God said or thought. I hate this. I don’t want to be this. But in so many different seasons of life or areas of my current life, I see it more than I would like to admit. Anytime we make the focus of the Gospel anything but Jesus, we have missed the point.” – p. 13, On Milk and Honey

I spent the first few years of my Christian life thinking that people would know I was a Christ-follower by a clean slate or a moral life. I think many of us slip into this dangerous line of thinking at times. As a high school girl, I truly thought if I could stay away from sexual activity, getting drunk, and talking bad about others, I would have arrived at some point of super spirituality. The problem was, I couldn’t seem to find a way to get it right. I would go on streaks in which I would behave, whatever that means, only to fall into old patterns and “dirty myself up”  again.

There were so many twisted aspects of the thought pattern above, to be summarized in this way:

That is not the Gospel.

The only thing my bad behavior has to do with the Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for it.

I spent so many years attempting to clean myself up and put my act together, yet it was when I finally gave up that I found Jesus.

You see, the greatest hypocrite of all is the one who doesn’t see their own sin; who pridefully thinks that outward holiness equals inward perfection.

 On page 13 of Milk and Honey, I go on to say this:

“…my sin does not begin from the outside, my sin begins directly at the heart. Sometimes I think we prefer to think that are actions are what make us sinful because we pridefully forget that we are guilt-ridden through and through.”

Guys, nothing- yes, I said nothing- that we do or don’t do can save us from this truth about ourselves. In a recent sermon, our senior pastor, Matt Mason, reminded us that our hands will always be dirty on this side of heaven. Justification and sanctification are two totally different things. We were justified once and for all at the cross; a work that only God Himself could do. If you are in Christ, you are continually being sanctified, but this process will not come to completion until you meet God face-to-face.

Now, don’t miss this: whenever you accept this justification done only through the blood of Jesus at the cross, you receive the Holy Spirit. This Spirit within causes you to no longer have blind eyes toward sin and to see it for what it is: death and destruction. If you are a Christ-follower, you may struggle with the same sin for years and years, yet you will not embrace your sin or the sins of others; you will hate sin and see it as God sees it. God did not send His only Son to die for sin only to watch the people He died for casually clinging on to the very things His blood did away with. Grasping both the truth that your salvation and holiness comes only from God while also understanding how God sees sin is critical in your spiritual growth. I spent years much more worried about what others thought about me than what God’s Word said about me, and because of that, I am passionate about not watching anyone else struggle through that false mentality.

The truth is, because it was for freedom that Christ set us free, we no longer have to hide. We should all be under the assumption that while our hands are dirty for different reasons, our hearts are all being made clean by the same One. We do not flippantly accept sin, yet we are aware that it exists in each of us and that saying anything but screams hypocrisy.

The day I began speaking and writing was no more clean than the day before. I still struggle with some of the same things, and while I am committed to battling the sin in my heart til the day Jesus calls me home, I am comfortable admitting to you and anyone who asks that my hands are dirtier than I would ever like to admit. This is why I’m so passionate about preaching His name, because He is the reason that I will one day see Holiness. I am not a “good person”; yet I am His and He promises me that He is making all things new. Friends, there is no greater joy than being so confident in His work on the cross that you can spend your days worshipping and praising Him while loving all the more as an outpouring of the love He has filled your heart with. My prayer for you today is that you would briefly see your dirty hands yet consistently look up to the One who can make them clean. May our praise exude from the inside out, and may we fight the temptation to pretty up the outside instead of seeking His grace to cleanse us from the inside out. He is able.

Keeping It Real.

Good morning!

Watch the video below and then scroll down to see some of the hashtag options. Praying for those of you who receive your book today, that it would be an encouragement and challenge to your hearts.

#keepingitrealwithonmilkandhoney

#onmilkandhoneyauthenticproject

#onmilkandhoneyfreedomproject

#onmilkandhoneykeepingitreal

#freedomwithonmilkandhoney

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”- Galatians 5:1

Book Announcement…

Can suffering be seen as joyful? How can we believe that God has good plans for each of us when brokenness and trials abound? Is there a God who truly and intimately knows the details of all that we walk through- even to the point of being in control of it all?

Endowed with severe special needs, Ally and Bailey Grace, the twin daughters of Hugh and Morgan Cheek, have had far from typical lives; but they have also been a huge catalyst for their parents to learn important lessons about the power of God’s grace and the importance of trusting Him in all things.

On Milk and Honey is the inspiring true story of Bailey Grace and Ally’s first eighteen months of life from the point of their mother. Through the unique trials faced by this loving family, readers will discover how God’s love can be found in the most unexpected situations, even in times of great suffering- and how letting go and trusting in His sovereign plans- most especially when they are different than we would anticipate- can be the key to experiencing true joy.

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Available on Amazon and Kindle beginning

July 13, 2015.